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hold the avowal of a just and brave act, it will go unwitnessed and unloved. One knows it — himself — and is pledged by it to sweetness of peace and to nobleness of aim, which will prove in the end a better proclamation of it than the relating of the incident.” And, we may add, a greater joy.
But even in view of the cases where no apparent compensation comes to the individual, the ideals of justice and chivalry, like the more general concept of duty, are among the most valuable possessions of man's fashioning. Cross our inclinations as they often do, cost dearly as they sometimes will, the habit of unquestioning allegiance to them is one of the greatest of all gains as means to the attainment by mankind of a stable and assured happiness.
A brief discussion of the conflict of duty and inclination will be found in Dewey and Tufts, Ethics, chap. XVII, first few pages. Carlyle's declamations against happiness are too scattered and unsystematic to make reference to specific chapters useful. The general point of view may be found, more temperately stated, in F.H. Bradley's Ethical Studies, the chapter entitled “Why Should I be Moral?” Contemporary accounts of the nature of obligation will be found in the International Journal of Ethics, vol. 22, p. 282; vol. 23, pp. 143, 323.
A discussion of the motto, “The end justifies the means," will be found in F. Paulsen's System of Ethics, bk. 11, chap. I, sec. 4. The justification of justice is treated in J.S. Mill's Utilitarianism, chap.v.
in the consequent adjustment of our desires, the enlistment of our selfinterest on the side of falsity. The purifying influence of public confession springs from the fact that by it the hope in lies is forever swept away, and the soul recovers the noble attitude of simplicity.”
THE JUDGMENT OF CHARACTER
Wherein consists goodness of character?
CHARACTER is the sum of a man's tendencies to conduct. Our estimate of a man's character is a sort of weather forecast of what he will do in various situations. Goodness of character consists, then, of such an organization of impulses as will lead to good acts — to acts productive ultimately of a preponderance of intrinsic good, or happiness. The blame and approval that attaches in our minds to certain acts becomes attached also to the disposition that is fruitful of such acts. A good man is he whose mind is so set and adjusted that it will turn away from evil deeds and espouse the right. We can say, then, with Dewey and Tufts, "Goodness consists in active interest in those things which really bring happiness.”! Similarly, Paulsen writes, “Virtues
may be defined as habits of the will and modes of conduct which tend to promote the welfare of individual and collective life.”And Santayana puts it more tersely in the statement, “Goodness is that disposition that is fruitful in happiness." ;
It is easy, then, to understand the enthusiasm that men feel for goodness; it is the resultant of the passionate longing to be delivered from the domination of evil impulses, the instinctive joy in splendid and unselfish acts, the sense of relief and gratitude felt toward those from whom one has nothing to fear. Contrariwise, the shrinking from a bad man springs primarily from the dread of what he may do, 1 Ethics, p. 396.
System of Ethics, Eng. tr., p. 476. 8 Reason in Common Sense, p. 144.
from the disgust which the sight of his foolish and ruinous acts inspires — and from various other reactions of the spectator which we need not enumerate. If character were a sort of merely inward possession, unconnected with conduct, we should not feel thus toward it. Merely to feel virtuous is pleasant, but it is not important. Imputed goodness must be judged by the kind of conduct it yields, and that conduct in turn by its consequences. “By their fruits ye shall know them.”
But this inward disposition, though important chiefly for its effects, is more important therefor than we are apt to realize. “As a man thinketh in his heart, so he is.” The scientific study of psychology has emphasized the fact, which is open to everyday observation, that even secret thoughts and moods influence inevitably a man's outward acts. What we do depends upon what we have been thinking and imagining and feeling. The Great Teacher was right when he bade men refrain not merely from murder, but from angry thoughts; not merely from adultery, but from lustful glances; not merely from perjury, but from the desire to deceive. Epictetus puts it, “What we ought not to do we should not even think of doing.” And Marcus Aurelius writes, “We should accustom ourselves to think upon nothing that we should hesitate to reveal to others if they asked to know it." This is sound advice. Without attempting to settle the problem of determinism or indeterminism, which falls properly within the sphere of natural rather than of moral philosophy, it is evident that our conduct is largely the result of that set of potentialities which we call character, that our happiness is in great degree shaped by our inward mental states.
Hence the large rôle of "motive" and "intent" in ethical theory. High motives and good intentions lead sometimes to disastrous acts - we know what place is paved therewith. We need the wisdom of the serpent as well as the innocence of the dove. But other things being equal, pure desires tend to right conduct. A man whose mind dwells upon the good side of his neighbors, who loves and sympathizes, and enjoys their friendship, will be far less likely to give vent to acts of cruelty or malice than one who indulges in spiteful feelings, fault-finding, and resentment. Our habitual thoughts and desires make us responsive to certain stimuli and indifferent to others. The words of our mouth and the meditations of our heart, as well as the trifling acts that we perform, in themselves however unimportant, have their subtle and accumulative influence in determining our momentous acts. The familiar case of the drinker who says, "This glass does n't count," can be paralleled in every field of life. It pays to keep in moral training, to cultivate kindly and disciplined thoughts, to forbid ill-natured and unworthy feelings, and self-indulgent dreams. Otherwise before we know it the barriers of resistance will crumble and we shall do what we had never supposed we should do, some act that is the fruit of our unregulated inner life.1
Can we say, with Kant, that the only good is the Good Will?
It is not uncommon for instrumental goods to come to receive a homage greater than that which is paid to the ends they serve. It is notably and necessarily so with the various aspects of the concept of morality; virtue, conscience, goodness of character are actually more important for us to think about and aim for than the happiness to which they ultimately minister. But this apotheosis of goodness leads
1 Cf. George Eliot in Romola: "Tito” (who, having posed as a rich and noble gentleman, being unexpectedly confronted with his plebeian father, on the spur of the moment disowned him with the merciless words, “Some madman, surely!") "was experiencing that inexorable law of human souls, that we prepare ourselves for sudden deeds by the reiterated choice of good or evil that gradually determines character.”
at times to a denial of its fundamentally instrumental value. As with the miser who rates his bank-notes more highly than the goods he could purchase with them, an abstract moralist occasionally exalts the means at the expense of the end. We are told that only goodness counts; that its worth has nothing to do with its relation to happiness; that goodness would command our allegiance even if it brought nothing but misery in its train.
The best-known exponent of this blind worship of goodness is Kant. He writes, “A Good Will is good, not because of what it performs or effects, not by its aptness for the attainment of some proposed end, but simply by virtue of the volition; that is, it is good in itself. . . Its fruitfulness or fruitlessness can neither add nor take away anything from this value. .. Moral worth cannot lie anywhere but in the principle of the Will, without regard to the ends which can be attained by the action.” 1
So far does Kant carry this worship of the idea of goodness that he separates it from the several virtues that make up goodness in the concrete and bows down before the resulting bare abstraction Good Will, the will to do good. This leads him to a curiously dehumanized position. Prudential acts, he declares, are obviously good in their consequences; they therefore deserve no praise; whatever one does calculatingly, with view to future results, has no moral worth. And on the other hand, whatever good acts one does instinctively, pushed on by animal impulses, including love and sympathy, deserve no praise and have no moral worth. It is only what one does from the single motive of desiring to do the right that awakens Kant's enthusiasm. “The preservation of one's own life, for instance, is a duty; but, as every one has a natural inclination to preserve his life,
1 The Metaphysic of Morality. To be found in Kant's Theory of Ethics. tr. by Abbott, pp. 10, 16.