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even health and the common beauties of nature, but above all the peaceful reflection on one's own conduct? What comparison, I say, between these, and the feyerish, empty amusements of luxury and expence? These natural pleasures, indeed, are really without price; both because they are below all price in their attainment, and above it in their enjoyment,
Α Ρ Ρ Ε Ν DI Χ Ι.
CONCERNING MORAL SENTIMENT,
F the foregoing hypothesis be received, it will now
be easy for us to determine the question first started *, concerning the general principles of morals: and though we postponed the decision of that queftion, left it should then involve us in intricate fpeculations, which are unfit for moral discourses, we may resume it at present, and examine how far either reason or sentiment enters into all decisions of praise or censure.
One principal foundation of moral praise being supposed to lie in the usefulness of any quality or action, it is evident, that reason must enter for a considerable share in all decisions of this kind; since nothing but that faculty can instruct us in the tendency of qualities and actions, and point out their beneficial consequences to fociety and to their poffeffor. In many cases, this is an affair liable to great controversy: Doubts may arise ; opposite interests may occur; and a preference must be given to one side, from very nice views, and a small overbalance of utility. This is particularly remarkable in questions with regard to justice; as is, indeed, natural to suppose, from that ipecies of utility which attends this virtuet. Were every single instance of justice, like that of benevolence, useful to society, this would be a more simple state of the case, and seldom liable to great controversy. But as single instances of justice are often pernicious in their firit and immediate tendency, and as the advantage to fociety results only
from * Sect. I.
+ See Appendix III.
from the observance of the general rule, and from the concurrence and combination of several persons in the same equitable conduct, the case here becomes more intricate and involved. The various circumstances of society; the various consequences of any practice; the various interests which may be proposed : These, on many occasions, are doubtful, and subject to great discussion and enquiry. The object of municipal laws is to fix all the questions with regard to justice: The debates of civilians; the reflections of politicians; the precedents of history and public records, are all directed to the same purpose. And a very accurate reason or judgment is often requisite, to give the true determination, amidst such intricate doubts arising from obscure or opposite utilities.
But though reason, when fully assisted and impro. ved, be sufficient to instruct us in the pernicious or useful tendency of qualities and actions; it is not alone sufficient to produce any moral blame or approbation. Utility is only a tendency to a certain end; and were the end totally indifferent to us, we should feel the same indifference towards the
It is requisite a sentiment should here display itself, in order to give a preference to the useful above the pernicious tendencies. This sentiment can be no other than a feeling for the happiness of mankind, and a resentment of their misery; since these are the different ends which virtue and vice have a tendency to promote. Here, therefore, reason instructs us in the several tendencies of actions, and ! humanity makes a distinction in favour of those which are useful and beneficial.
This partition between the faculties of understanding and sentiment, in all moral decisions, seems clear from the preceding hypothcfis. But I thall luppose that hypothesis false: It will then be requisite to look out for some other theory that may be satisfactory; and I dare venture to affirm, that none such will ever be found, so long as we suppose reason to be the fole
source of morals. To prove this, it will be proper to weigh the five following confiderations.
I. It is easy for a false hypothesis to maintain some appearance of truth, while it keeps wholly in generals, makes use of undefined terms, and employs comparisons, instead of instances. This is particularly remarkable in that philosophy, which afcribes the discernment of all moral distinctions to reason alone, without the concurrence of sentiment. It is impofsible that, in any particular instance, this hypothesis can so much as be rendered intelligible; whatever specious figure it may make in general declamations and discourses. Examine the crime of ingratitude, for instance; which has place, wherever we obferve good-will, expressed and known, together with good, offices performed, on the one side, and a return of illwill or indifference, with ill offices or neglect, on the other: Anatomize all these circumstances, and examine, by your reason alone, in what confifts the demerit or blame: You never will come to any issue or . conchufion.
Reason judges either of matter of fact or of relations. Enquire then, first, where is that matter of fact which we here call crime; point it out; determine the time of its existence; describe its ellence or nature; explain the sense or faculty, to which it discovers itself. It resides in the mind of the person, who is ungrateful. He must, therefore, feel it, and be conscious of it. But nothing is there, except the passion of ill-will or absolute indifference. You cannot say, that these, of themselves, always, and in all circumstances, are crimes. No: They are only crimes, when directed towards persons who have before expressed and displayed good-will towards us, Consequently, we may infer, that the crime of ingratitude is not any particular individual fact; but arises from a complication of circumstances, which, being presented to the spectator, excites the sentiment of blame, by the particular structure and fabric of . his mind.
This representation, you say, is falfe. Crime, indeed, confifts not in a particular fact, of whose reality we are assured by reason: But it confifts in certain moral relations, discovered by reason, in the same manner as we discover, by reason, the truths of
geometry or algebra. But what are the relations, I ask, of which you here talk? In the case stated above, I see first good-will and good-offices in one person; then ill-will and ill-offices in the other. Between these, there is the relation of contrariety. Does the crime consist in that relation? But fuppose a person bore me ill-will or did me ill-offices; and I, in return,
were indifferent towards him, or did him good-offices: Here is the same relation of contrariety; and yet my condud is often highly laudable. Twist and turn this matter as much as you will, you can never reft the morality on relation ; but must have recourse to the decisions of sentiment.
When it is affirmed, that two and three are equal to the half of ten; this relation of equality I understand perfectly. I conceive, that if ten be divided into two parts, of which one has as many units as the other; and if any of these parts be compared to two added to three, it will contain as many units as that compound number: But when you draw thence a comparison to moral relations, I own that I am altogether at a loss to understand you A moral action, a crime, such as ingratitude, is a complicated object. Does the morality confift in the relation of its parts to each other? How? After what manner? Specify the relation: Be more particular and explicit in your propositions, and you will ealily see their falsehood,
No, say you, the morality consists in the relation of actions to the rule of right; and they are denoIninated good or ill, according as they agree or difagree with it.
with it. What then is this rule of right? In what does it confift? How is it determined? By reason, you say, which examines the moral relations of actions. So that moral relations are deter