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pt. I, chap. V. J. G. Schurman, Ethical Import of Darwinism. W. I. Thomas, Source Book for Social Origins, pt. VII. C. Read, Natural and Social Morals, chap. VI. I. King, Development of Religion, chap. XI.
On the question of moral progress: Dewey and Tufts, Ethics, pp. 187-92. W. Bagehot, Physics and Politics, chap. VI. H. G. Wells, New Worlds for Old, chap. I, secs. 2-4. J. Bryce, in the Atlantic Monthly, vol. 100, p. 145. E. Root, The Citizen's Part in Government, pp. 96–123. J. S. Mackenzie, Manual of Ethics (2d ed.), chap. XV. A. R. Wallace, Social Environment and Moral Progress. W. M. F. Petrie, The Revolutions of Civilization. W. H. Hamilton, Current Economic Problems, pp. 76–83. Henry Van Dyke, Essays in Application, chap. 1. J. Dewey, in International Journal of Ethics, vol. 26, p. 311. F. Younghusband, Mutual Influence, chap. vi. E.B. McGilvary, in Hibbert Journal, vol. 14, p. 43. Also Hibbert Journal, vol. 10, pp. 179, 273, 472, 599, 925. H. N. Chittenden, in Atlantic Monthly, vol. 109, p. 777.
INWARD DEVELOPMENT - CONSCIENCE
What are the stages in the history of moral guidance?
THERE may be said to be five stages in the history of moral guidance: guidance by instinct, by custom, by law and precept, by conscience, and by insight. No one of these guides is discarded with the development of the others; we rely to-day upon all of them in varying degree. Their evolu- . tion overlaps; the alteration of instinct still goes on, changing laws and customs still bring their pressure to bear from without
the individual; while our conscience and our insight have their roots far back in the past. Yet the prominence of each of these factors in turn marks a successive stage in the evolution of moral control. Inherited instinct, and then custom, unconsciously passed on by imitation and to some extent taught with a dimly conscious purpose, shape the crude morality of the animals — though the other
means of guidance are not wholly absent even in them. Among savages legal codes, unwritten and perhaps not even clearly formulated, yet exacting and strictly enforced by penalties, come to form an important supplement to instinct, custom, and proverbial wisdom. But quite as important is the gradual development of an inward guide — those very various secondary impulses and inhibitions which we lump together because of their common function and call the moral sense or conscience. We shall now consider briefly the origin of this internal steering-apparatus. The latest and most mature guide of all, reflective insight, arises in marked degree only when men become accustomed to
abstraction and analysis. There is no problem connected with its origin except the general problems of the development of human reason. How moral insight may be trained and brought to bear upon conduct will, it is hoped, be clear to the student who patiently studies this volume.
Out of what has conscience developed?
The "conscience" of our moralizing and religious literature figures as a sharply defined and easily recognizable "faculty,” like “will” or “reason.” But this classification, though useful, is misleading by its simplicity. If we observe by introspection what goes on in our minds when we "will" or "reason" or "listen to conscience,” we shall find all sorts of emotions, ideas, impulses, surging back and forth, altering from moment to moment, never twice the same. At another period of our lives, or in another man's mind, the psychological stuff pigeonholed under these names may be almost entirely different. A great many diverse mental elements have at one time or other taken the rôle of, or formed an ingredient in, the function we label "conscience." We will enumerate the more important:
(1) Experience quickly teaches her pupils that certain acts to which they feel a strong impulse will lead to an aftermath of pain or weariness, or will stand in the
of other goods which they more lastingly desire or more deeply need. The memory of these consequences of acts remains as a guide for future conduct, not so often in the form of a clearly recognized memory as in a dim realization that the dangerous act must be avoided, a vague pressure against the pull of momentary inclination, or an uncomprehended feeling of impulsion toward the less inviting path. This residuum of the moral experience of the individual is one ingredient in what we call his conscience.
(2) But there is much more than this. The individual is a member of a group. The customs and expectations of this group not only bear upon him from without but find a reflection in his own motor-mechanism. He hears the voice of the community in his heart, an echo of the general condemnation and approval. This acquired response, the reverberation of the group-judgment, may easily supplant his personal inclinations. Primitive man is sensitive to the judgments and emotional reactions of his fellows; the tribal point of view is unquestioned and authoritative over him. So important is this pressure in his mental life, though not understood or recognized for what it is, that conscience is defined by many moralists as the pressure of the judgment of the tribe in the mental life of its members, or in similar terms. Paulsen calls it “the existence of custom in the consciousness of the individual.” This is to neglect unjustly the other sources of the sense of duty; but certainly the pulls and pushes arising from these two sources, which we may call the inner aspect of individual moral experience and of loyalty to the community-morals, reinforcing one another as they generally do, produce a very powerful form of conscience.
(3) A number of primitive emotions join forces with them. Sympathy is generally on their side, and the instinctive glow of patriotism or pride in the tribe's success. The shrinking from disapproval, the craving for esteem, the very early emotions of shame and vanity, help to pull away from the self-indulgent or selfish impulse. The spontaneous admiration of others for their virtues and anger at them for their sins is applied involuntarily by a man to himself; contempt for his own weakness and joy in his superiority according to the generally accepted code are powerful deterrents. The consciousness of the resentment that others will feel if he does evil, the instinctive application to himself of a trace of the resentment he would feel toward another who should act thus toward him or toward these fellow tribesmen of his - such complex states of mind complicate his mental processes and help check his primary instincts.
(4) To these ingredients we must early add the more or less conscious fear of the penalties of the tribal law, of the vengeance of chiefs or powerful members of the tribe, of the tribal gods and their jealous priests. These fears may be but dimly felt and not clearly discriminated; but however subconscious they may be in a given case of moral conflict, they play a large part. The peace of mind that accompanies a sense of conformity to the will of rulers or of gods, contrasted with the anxiety that follows infraction, gives a greatly increased weight to that growing pressure of counterinstincts which comes so largely to override a man's animal nature.
Most of the sources of conscience thus date far back beyond the dawn of history. But they can be pretty safely inferred from the earliest records, from a study of existing savage races, and from the study of childhood. The definite conception of "conscience" is very late, scarcely appearing until very modern times. And the fact that conscience itself, even in its rudimentary forms, was much later in growth than the underlying animal instincts which it developed to control and guide, is shown by its late development in the child — not, normally, until the beginning of the third year. The early life of the individual parallels the evolution of the race; and the later-developed faculties in the child are those which arose in the later stages of human progress. But the existence of our well-defined moral sense, with its significant rôle in modern life, needs no supernatural explanation. It has grown up and come to be what it is as naturally as have our language, our customs, and our physical organs.