Ethics from ῏ηθος, originally the Ionic form of ἔθος, in Germ. Sittenlehre, in English moral philosophy, though this last phrase sometimes covers the whole science of mind. Ethics are related to law and duty, and to virtue and vice. "Aristotle says that ῏ηθος, which signifies moral virtue, is derived from ἔθος, custom, since it is by repeated acts that virtue, which is a moral habit, is formed" (see Fleming's Vocab. Philippians page 171). "Ethics, taken in its widest sense, as including the moral sciences or natural jurisprudence, may be divided into,
1. Moral philosophy, or the science of the relations, rights, and duties by which men are under obligations towards God, themselves, and their fellow-creatures.
2. The law of nations, or the science of those laws by which all nations, as constituting the society of the human race, are bound in their mutual relations to one another.
3. Public or political law, or the science of the relations between the different ranks in society.
4. Civil law, or the science of those laws, rights, and duties by which individuals in civil society are bound — as commercial, criminal, judicial, Roman, or modern.
5. History, profane, civil, and political" (Peemans, Introd. ad Philosoph. page 96). Ethics, then, covers the science of all that is moral, whether it relates to law or action, to God or the creature, to the individual or the state. It goes wherever the ideas of right and wrong can enter.
I. Ethical science may be divided into philosophical ethics, theological ethics, and Christian ethics.
(a.) Philosophical Ethics. — The science, in this aspect, must find its root and its life, its forms and its authority, in the depths of the human constitution This leads necessarily to the idea of God. We do not affirm that ethics cannot be discussed at all without bringing in the notion of a supreme being. On the contrary, it is undeniable that we find in man a moral nature; whatever may be the character of his morality, the very doubts about that imply the fact of morality. He manifestly has relations to virtue and vice, to right and wrong, to blame and praise, to guilt and innocence. True, if he does not accept the idea of God, morals seem to lose their foundation. Why should a man obey the dictates of his nature, even when obedience seems to be right and useful, unless his nature is a product of wisdom, and reveals the law and the nature of an infinite intelligence? But truth is stubborn, and even a fragment of it, swinging in the air without a foundation, will live. Pulled up out of the soil of the doctrine of God, the moral ideas, however shorn of their strength and withered, still assert their authority and insist on obedience, from motives of utility, or fitness, or happiness. A genuine philosophical ethics, however, will find a Creator from the study of the creature, and will raise from the nature of man a law which will ground itself in the idea of God.
(b.) Theological Ethics. — This is grounded upon acme religion or theology. But in this aspect the science is broad enough to cover every religion. The ethics might be theological, and at the same time Buddhistic, or Mohammedan, or Brahminical. Theological ethics, therefore, might be a system on which the fundamental principle of morals had been perverted by the admixture of cruel and impure superstitions, just as a so-called philosophical ethics might be atheistic or pantheistic.
(c.) Christian Ethics. — Christian ethics is theological ethics limited by Christianity. As thus stated, it might appear to be narrower than either philosophical or theological ethics, but in reality it is far otherwise. Philosophical ethics is Christian so far as it is true and just, and, from the very nature of Christianity, as containing a complete account of human duty, it must even be broader and deeper than all human philosophies which relate to it. As to the relation of Christian ethics to any other supposed theological ethics, or to all other theologies in their moral aspects taken together, its position must be that of judge among them all; it must measure them all, eliminating whatever is false, restoring what is lacking, or rather supplanting them one and all as the only standard of moral truth and duty.
Besides, Christian ethics, considered as a science, and hence as a field for speculation, covers the whole ground. Philosophy and theology, in their ethical relations, are entirely within its scope. It must judge them both wherever it touches them. It has made ethics, and indeed all speculation, a different thing from what it was before it entered into human thought, and it aims to master all human thinking within its sphere. It is, to be sure, amenable to philosophical thought, and cannot repel the tests of right reason; it readily enters into the struggle with every adverse intellectual tendency, carrying with it a divine confidence that alone contains the infallible and indestructible norm of humanity regarded as moral.
Christian ethics, indeed, considered as speculative, is not infallible. God has given the ethical norm, but man is obliged to speculate for himself Evidently the complete form of Christian ethics, considered as philosophical, has not yet been reached. Its condition is yet militant, both in relation to false systems and to its own development. The genuine Christian ethics, in the scientific sense, lies scattered in various human treatises, in part is yet to be born, and remains to be evolved in the coming ages, and to be wrought into a system of beneficence and beauty which shall settle down on the whole human race, at once an atmosphere )f divine and filial love, and an antidote to discord, injustice, and all impurity.
"As between theological and philosophical speculation, so between theological and philosophical ethics, in so far as they are speculative, we must make a strong distinction. The latter pair differ precisely as the former do. But, much as philosophical and theological ethics differ, they are not opposites. Within the Christian world, Christian ethics, like philosophy in general, must always be' essentially Christian. It has always been so, as the result of an inviolable historical necessity, but in different degrees at different periods of time, and in the several stages of its progress. There may, indeed, arise a relative hostility between philosophical ethics and the contemporaneous Christian teaching, or even a hostility between ethical writers and Christianity in general; or, rather, such a hostility is unavoidable precisely in the degree in which humanity fails to be penetrated by Christianity. But, so long as this continues to be the case, it must be a proof of imperfection, not in philosophy only, but also in Christian piety. For even if Christian piety, looking at the doctrine in itself, should be convinced that it possessed the true results, yet she possesses her treasure without the scientific ability to understand it, or; to vindicate it to the understanding of others. It is, therefore, as science, still imperfect. A result of this will be that theological ethics will share in the imperfection. So long as the moral consciousness of the Christian, which is specifically determined by the church of which he is a member, does not clearly recognize itself in the forms of morality prevailing in his circle, a Christian ethical philosophy must remain a want — a desideratum. This, however, is only to say that this want will last while the general moral sentiment and that of the Church remain apart. The more nearly each approaches perfection in its own sphere, the nearer they come to being one. If we conceive of each as perfect, they remain two only in form, i.e., not different in their method, but only in the order according to which, under the same method, they scientifically arrange themselves.
"What has now been said of the relation between philosophical and theological ethics, holds of the latter only so far as it is conceived of as speculative. In other modes of treating theological ethics, especially in the traditional, it is easy to conceive that the relation would be different... . It must be distinctly affirmed that a Christian character belongs to philosophical ethics throughout the Christian world. We do not mean that it ought to be so, but that it really is so; not, indeed, always in the highest and fullest sense, and as it ought to be, but still, in such a sense, whatever men may be conscious of, that without Christianity it never could have been what it is. In the Christian world there is no element of the moral or intellectual life which is not associated with some result of Christianity, itself undeniably the ground-principle of the historical development of our whole, Christian times. It can never be sufficiently remembered, especially in our own times, that what is actually Christian, and, indeed, what is essentially and specifically Christian, reaches, in all the relations of life, far beyond the sphere to which usage gives the name of Christian, or of which the present generation is at all conscious as Christian. The Christian element inheres in the very blood of that portion of humanity which passes under the name of Christendom. This is not the less true because certain individuals belonging to the Christian community may not feel its regenerating power. Besides, that would be a poor ethical system, considered as philosophy, which should ignore the great facts through which morality becomes Christian, and which should refuse to those facts the controlling position which actually belongs to them in making the moral world what. in point of science, it has become. These great facts, let men close their eyes as they will, are the breaking out of sin and the development of its destructive power in the world on the one hand, and the entrance of Jesus, the God-man, and the historical redeeming power proceeding from him on the other. Even philosophical morality, if it would not degenerate into mere unphilosophical abstractions, must make the moral life, considered as historical and concrete, scientifically comprehensible; the concrete historical form of the moral world, however, is, for us at least, before everything else, Christian, just as general history since the time of Christ is itself Christian.
"But, so long as we follow Schleiermacher, and, in explaining the relation between philosophical and theological ethics, make the religious consciousness the opposite of speculation, we shall never escape confusion. The religious consciousness finds its antithesis not in speculation, but in the not religious, and speculation finds its opposite not in piety, but in empirical reflection: empirical reflection and speculation stand in very similar relations to piety. The larger number of theological writers are still of the opinion that the distinction between philosophical and theological ethics lies in the former being the universal, the abstract, the ethics of humanity, and the latter the concrete and specifically Christian, because it rests on history. Thus Schmid and Wuttke. These writers hold that the great facts which form the angles of the Christian theory of the world, namely, sin and redemption by Christ, are, according to their nature, inadequate as the basis of any purely a priori or speculative theory. They lay great stress on this. But why reason thus? At bottom, because they start with the presupposition that there is no other necessity but the necessity of nature. But, in spite of all the confident assertions of the contrary, we cannot doubt that from the specifically Christian consciousness of God, which is the subject treated here, sin and redemption should be deduced as a logical necessity" (Rothe, Theologische Ethik, 1:57).
II. Position of Ethics in Theology. — "Ethics is a part of systematic theology, which also includes dogmatics. As systematic science, it is to be distinguished from exegetical and historical theology. Its office is not merely to show what is the original, and thus normative Christian ethics, nor what has been accepted as such, but rather to teach that Christian ethics is the genuine ethical truth." ... . "On the other hand, ethics must be separated from the various branches of practical theology among which it has often been placed. The two sciences are different both in scope and aim. Ethics embraces the whole Christian idea of good, and not merely the Church, in which it finds only its culmination, and points away from itself to practical theology, the aim of which is, of course, practical" (Herzog's Real-Encyklop. art. Ethik).
Place in Systematic Theology. — "In ancient times, and down to the Reformation, it was not independent, but held a subordinate place in the science of dogmatics. From the 17th century the two have been separated, and, following P. Ramus, most writers have distinguished between them as between theory and practice. In point of fact, dogmatics has practical importance, and ethics, as the science of the good, has a theory" (Herzog's Real-Encyklop. art. Ethik). "Dogmatics and ethics are as certainly independent disciplinae as God and man are separate beings. Only a point of view like that of Spinoza, in his Ethics, which denies the existence of a real creation and a moral world separate from God, can controvert the independent position of ethics by the side of dogmatics" (idem).
These views are substantially correct. "Christian ethics has a right to an independent position in the sphere of systematic theology, and it and dogmatics are as certainly distinct as are God and man." Still it is none the less true that, God and man conceived to be such as they are, ethics cannot be practically separated from religion. Ethics finds its highest sanctions in religion, as religion must consist largely in prescribing ethics. God and man being presented to the mind, ethics must cover the character of each, and also the relation between them.
III. The Ethical Faculty — Conscience. — There has been a great waste of controversy on the question whether or not conscience is a distinct and separate faculty of the soul, or only an application of the reason or judgment to moral subjects. The truth is that, the mind being a unit, all its faculties are only so many powers of applying itself differently according to demand. A faculty is a power of doing or acting, and a separate faculty is the power of acting in a particular, direction, as distinguished from other directions. The mind is as certainly and distinctly moral as it is intellectual, on imaginative, or volitional. Each of these expresses a distinct power of the one mind.
This faculty of forming moral judgments we call conscience and, if the views now expressed be correct, there is little propriety in discussions respecting the origin of conscience. It has no origin but that of its possessor; it is born with him, though from its nature it is only developed farther on in life, just as reason and imagination are. It has been asked, in reply to this view, whether conscience is not made what it is in any given case by the circumstances about it — In teaching, by the man's own acts — in short, by all the influences brought to bear upon him. We answer it is as to its form but there was first conscience, a moral faculty in the man to be shaped. We concede that neither moral ideas nor ideas of any sort, are innate; lent the capacity, nay, the constitutional necessity for moral ideas is innate.
IV. The Ethical Standard is, of course, according to Christianity, to be found in the Scriptures, but there is still in the sphere of science a wide diversity as to their meaning. But when the standard is supposed to be understood on a given question, and the conscience submits to it, there must follow a perfect self-abnegation; degradation miust result fronc disolbedience. In the case of a conflict between the conscience and the law of the state, for example, in which case the conscience of the lawgiving majority collides with the individual conscience, who shall yield? The answer, from the very nature of the case, is neither. They must fight it out. The state, from its nature, is supreme, and cannot yield; but for the man the conscience is also supreme. The man can only die, or make some other atonement, and thus maintain allegiance to the highest tribunal.
V. History of Ethics. —
(a.) The sources of knowledge here are Christ, his person and teaching; also the writings of flee apostles, as shown in the New Testament. In the Old Testament the whole contents are authoritative, except as modified or repealed by the New Testament. By the side of these objective sources we have a subjective source in the New Covenant; it is the influence of the Holy Spirit in the faithful. To this Barnabas, Justin, and Clement of Alexandria bear witness. This life of the Spirit in the Church was by-and-by supplanted by the supposed efficacy of ordination, by which the Spirit was bound to the priesthood exclusively. There came now an outward law of the Church to modify the New Testament, and it controlled the ethical consciousness of Christendom until the Reformation.
(b.) Abundance of ethical material is found in the apostolical fathers, who base ethics on individual personality, on marriage, the family, etc. The most effective of the earlier writers was Tertullian (220). His ethical writings were very numerous, such as concerning spectacles, concerning the veiling of virgins, monogamy, penitence, patience, etc. His idea of Christianity was that it was a vast and defiant war power, separated from all the heathen customs of the Old World, and resolved to bring upon that world the judgment of Heaven. Cyprian, with his high claims for the episcopate, exercised great influence on the ethical sphere of the Church. He concentrated the truth of the Church in the episcopacy, in which he saw the vehicle of the Holy Ghost, and the instrument by which unity and the Holy Spirit should be assured to the Church forever. He, carried this idea of the dignity of the episcopate, and the sanctity and sanctifying power of orders, to a ridiculous extent. His doctrine of the efficacy of orders and the dignity of bishops was set over against certain sects — Novatians, Montanists, Donatists — who held that the holiness and unity of the Church demanded that none but holy persons should be members. Augustine fell heir to this controversy. As the Church grew into an earthly kingdom, her ethics took more and more the direction of a so-called higher virtue, whose chief forms were celibacy, poverty, conventual life, and self- imposed torture.
Asceticism not only formed a part of the Church life, it became also the center from which the Christian life was forced to receive rule and law. It determined what was sin, and what was right and good: it dictated to councils; and, getting control of the state, it dispensed at will its spiritual and temporal awards; penitential books in great numbers were compiled, and, bad as the system was, in itself, it became a powerful instrument in bringing to order the various heathen peoples. For the books and writers on these subjects, see Herzog's Real-Encyclop. 4:194, where the relation of asceticism to mysticism is well presented, and it is shown that all these terrible struggles had their root in the consciousness of the infinite demerit of sin, and found their happy solution in Luther's doctrine of faith.
The Reformation not only conquered the prevailing errors b) leading men back to the holy Scriptures, but it established positively the real principle of Christian ethics. It did this through justifying faith which, working by love, creates the possibility of Christian ethics. Love, springing from faith, is the fulfilling of the law. It is ethics in the soul, ready to take shape in noble action. This, working in time community inwardly, proceeds to mold all relations, private and public-marriage, family, church, state, science, art, and culture. The great reformers did not write complete ethical treatises, though they discussed many ethical subjects, such as prayer, oaths, marriage, etc.; but they especially discussed ethics in their explanations of the Decalogue in the Catechism. Indeed, the original form of Christian ethics is the Catechism. See Paul of Eitzen, Ethicae doctrinae, lib. 4 (1751), with later additions; also David Chytrdus, 1600, Virtutum descriptiones in praepta Decalogi distributae (1555); Lambert Daneau (t 1596), Ethices Christianae, lib. 3 (Geneva, 1577); Thomas Venatorius, De Virtuto Christiana, lib. 3; comp. Schwarz, Thomas Venatorius, and the beginnings of Protestant ethics, in connection with the doctrine of justification, Stud. u. Krit. (1850), heft. 1. See also Melancthon, in his Philosophia Moralis (1539), his Enarratio aliquot librorum Aristotelis (1545), and his Phiysica. Add to these Keckerncaun, Systema ethicae tribus liris adornatum (Geneva, 1614); Weigel, Johann Arndt, Valentin Andrea, Spener, Nitzsch, Henry Muller, Scriver, and others, all mystics. The Reformed have also done something in this line, especially G. Voetius, C. Vitringa, H. Witsius, Amesius, Amyraldus (Morale Chretienne, 6 volumes, 1652-1660).
Three men, according to J.A. Dorner (in Herzog's Real-Encyklop. 4:199), form the transition stage to the emancipation of philosophy — Hugo Grotius (De jure pacis et belli), Puffendorf; with his school, and Christian Thomasius. Then come Wolf, Mosheim (in his Moral, 9 volumes), Steinhart, Bahrdt, Buddeus, Chr. Aug. Crusius and J.F. Reuss (Elementa theolegia Moralis, 1767). Even the Roman Catholic Church of the last two centuries has felt the influemlce of the modern philosophy; the following Romanist writers are Wolfians: Luby, Schwarzhuber, Schanza, and Stadler; and the following are Kantians: Wanker, Mutschelle, Hermes, with his disciples Braun, Elvenica, and Vogelsang. Weiller is a Schellingian; independent. and, at the same time, mild and evangelical, pious and rich in thought, are Michael Sailer and Hirscher. Geishuttner is a Fichtian.
Kant's "practical reason," the metaphysics of ethics, occupies in the philosophy of morals a most important place, and, notwithstanding certain defects, it has the immortal honor to have discovered that the most certain of all things is the conscience in its relation to the practical reason, and to have made an end of the eudaemonism of ethics by means of the majesty of the moral law, which he compares with the glory of the starry heavens. To his "categorical imperative" certain rationalistic Kantians adhere; for example, J.W. Schmid, Karl Christian Schmid, and Krug. Some of the supernaturalists,: as Staudlin and Tieftrunk, Ammon and Vogel, incline to Jacobi's philosophy, See also Fichet, System of Ethics (1797). To the Jacobi-Friesian school belong De Wette (Christliche Sittenlehre, 4 bde. 1819-23), Kahler, and Baumgarten-Crusius. To the school of Hegel belong Michelet (System der Philosoph. Moral, Berlin, 1828), L.V. Henning (Princip. der Ethik in historischer Entwicklung, 1824), Vatke, Von der menschl. Freiheit im Verhaltniss zu Suinde und Gnade, 1843); Marheineke (Christliche Moral, 1847), Daub (Christliche Moral, 1840). Of this school, yet more under the influence of Schleiermacher, are Martensen (Syst. Moral Philos. 1841), Wirth (Sys. specul. Ethik, 1841), H. Merz (Syst. Christl. Sittenlehre, nach den Grundsatzen des Protestantismus, etc., 1841).
The activity of Schleiermacher in Christian ethics, as in other departments of theology, was immense. From 1819 he published his treatises on "the idea of virtue," "the idea of duty," and on "the relation between the moral law and the law of nature;" also on the idea of what may be "allowed" and the "chief good." His system was not further published by himself, but after his death A. Schweizer edited his Philos. Ethik in 1835, and Jonas his Christl. Sitte in 1843. See also Sartorius, Heil. Liebe; Harless, Christliche Ethik; and especially Rothe, Theolog. Ethik (2d edit. 1867). Rothe (translated by Morrison, Clark's Library, Edinlurgh, 1888, 8vo) seeks to combine Hegel's standpoint of objective knowledge with Schleiermacher's fine moral tact and organizing power, and to excel them both in his highly original method. See also Ritenick's Christl. Stenlehrle (1845); Gelzer, De Religion im Leben, etc. (1854); Schwarz, Evan. Chr. Ethik (1836, 3d ed.); Wendt, Kirchliche Ethik v. Standpunkte d. christl. Fr iheit (2 volumes, 8vo, Leipz. 1864-65); Culman, D. christliche Ethik (Stuttgardt, 1864-66, 2 volumes, 8vo). This sketch of the history of ethics is chiefly condensed from Dorner's article (Ethik) in Herzog, Real-Encyklop. 4:165 sq. (B.H.N.)
Appendix. — It is proper to add to the above a brief account of the history of ethics, or moral philosophy, in England. A survey of this field will be found in Mackintosh, General View of the Progress of Ethical Philosophy (Encyc. Britannica, Prelim. Diss.), separately printed in his Miscellaneous Works (Lond. 1851, 12mo), and in a separate volume (Phila. 1832, 8vo); also in Whewell, Lectures on the Hist. of Moral Philosophy in England (Lond. 1852, 8vo); there is also a summary sketch of the history in Brando, Dictionary of Science, Literature, and Art, 1:821 sq. (Lond. 1865, 3 volumes, 8vo). From these, and other sources we condense the following sketch:
The modern English theories may be classed as selfish or disinterested, according as they found virtue on a selfish or a benevolent principle. The Selfish theory is advocated by Hobbes (1679), who makes self-love the exclusive passion, and considers pleasure the only motive to action (see his Human Nature, his Leviathan, and our article SEE HOBBES ). The same theory is adopted in substance by Jeremy Bentham (t 1832), who assumes Hobbes's principle as self-evident, that every object is indifferent, except for its fitness to produce pleasure or pain, which he declares are the sole motives to action. "Bentham is the most distinguished propounder of the principle of utility as the basis of morals, a principle explained by him as in contrast, first, to asceticism, and next to 'sympathy and antipathy,' by which he meant to describe all those systems, such as the moral-sense theory, that are grounded in internal feeling, instead of a regard to outward consequences. In opposing utility to asceticism, he intended to imply that there was no merit attaching to self-denial as such, and that the infliction of pain or the surrender of pleasure could only be justified by being the means of procuring a greater amount of happiness than was lost" (Chambers, s.v.). See Bentham, Treatise on Morals and Legislation; and our article SEE BENTHAM, JEREMY. Locke (t 1704) denied the existence of a separate faculty for perceiving moral distinctions. In his Essay on the Human Understanding (book 1, chapter 3), he maintains that virtue is approved of, not because it is innate, but because it is profitable. Paley (t 1805) also rejected the doctrine of a moral sense, and held, in substance, the utilitarian theory, maintaining that "virtue is the doing good to mankind, in obedience to the will of God, and for the sake of everlasting happiness" (Moral and Political Philosophy). The utilitarian theory is taught by all the recent English writers of the materialistic school: see James Mill, Analysis of the Human Mind (Lond. 1829; SEE MILL, JAMES ) ; Austin, Province of Jurisprudence determined (2d ed. London, 1861); John Stuart Mill, Dissertations and Discussions (1859); and his Utilitarianism, reprinted from Fraser's Magazine (1862; 2d ed. 1864); Bain, The Emotions and the Will (Lond. 1859); The Senses and the Intelect (Lond. 1855); also his Mental and Moral Science (Lond. 1868, 8vo), where he teaches that conscience is solely the product of education. See also in reply to these writers, The North British Review, September, 1867, art. 1; The British Quarterly January, 1868, art. 6.
Opposed to the utilitarian theory there are two theories, which may be called the instinctive and the rational. The former refers the moral principle to the sensitive or emotive part of man's nature; the latter, to the perception of moral good and evil by the intellect. To the first class belongs Adam Smith (t 1790), whose Theory of the Moral Sentiments (Glasgow, 1759; London, 1790, and often) refers the moral sense to sympathy. His view is thus stated by Mackintosh (Ethical Philosophy, Philadelphia, 1832, page 149): "That mankind are so constituted as to sympathize with each other's feelings, and to feel pleasure in the accordance of these feelings, are the only facts required by Dr. Smith, and they certainly must be granted to him. To adopt the feelings of another is to approve them. When the sentiments of another are such as would be excited in us by the same objects, we approve them as morally prosper. To obtain this accord, it becomes necessary for him who enjoys or suffers to lower his expression of feeling to the point to which the bystander can raise his fellow-feelings, on which are founded all the high virtues of self-denial and self-command; and it is equally necessary for the bystander to raise his sympathy as near as he can to the level of the original feeling. In all unsocial passions, such as anger, we have a divided sympathy between him who feels them and those who are the objects of them. Hence the propriety of extremely moderating them. Pure malice is always to be concealed or disguised, because all sympathy is arrayed against it. In the private passions, where there is only a simple sympathy — that with the original passion — the expression has more liberty. The benevolent affections, where there is a double sympathy — with those who feel them and those who are their objects — are the most agreeable, and may be indulged with the least apprehension of finding no echo in other breasts. Sympathy with the gratitude of those who are benefited by good actions prompts us to consider them as deserving of reward, and forms the sense of merit; as fellow-feeling with the resentment of those who are injured, by crimes leads us to look on them as worthy of punishment, and constitutes the sense of demerit. These sentiments require not only beneficial actions, but benevolent motives for them; being compounded, in the case of merit, of a direct sympathy with the good disposition of the benefactor, and an indirect sympathy with the person benefited; in the opposite case with the precisely opposite sympathies. He who does an act of wrong to another to gratify his own passions must not expect that the spectators, who have none of his undue partiality to his own interest, will enter into his feelings. In such a case he knows that they will pity the person wronged, and be full of indignation against him. When, he is cooled, he adopts the sentiments of others on his own crime, feels shame at the impropriety of his former passion, pity for those who have suffered by him, and a dread of punishment from general and just resentmment. Such are the constituent parts of remorse. Our moral sentiments respecting ourselves arise from those which others feel concerning us. We feel a self-approbation whenever we believe that the general feeling of mankind coincides with that state of mind in which we ourselves were at a given time.
'We suppose ourselves the spectators of our own behavior, and endeavor to imagine what effect it would in this light produce in us.' We must view our own conduct with the eyes of others before we can judge it. The sense of duty arises from putting ourselves in the place of others, and adopting their sentiments respecting our own conduct. In utter solitude there could have been no self-approbation. The rules of morality are a summary of those sentiments, and often beneficially stand in their stead when the self delusion of passion would otherwise hide from us the nonconformity of our state of mind with that which, in the circumstances, can be entered into and approved by impartial bystanders. It is hence that we learn to raise our mind above local or temporary clamor, and to fix our eyes on the surest indications of the general and lasting sentiments of human nature. 'When we approve of any character or action, our sentiments are derived from four sources: first, we sympathize with the motives of the agent; secondly, we enter into the gratitude of those who have been benefited by his actions; thirdly, we observe that his conduct has been agreeable to the general rules by which these two sympathies generally act; and, last of all, when we consider such actions as forming part of a system of behavior which tends to promote the happiness either of the individual or of society, they appear to derive a beauty from this utility not unlike that which we ascribe to any well-contrived machine"' (Theory, 2:304, Edinb. 1801).
Lord Shaftesbury (t 1713) published in 1699 his Inquiry concerning Virtue (also London, 1709, and in his Characteristics), which, according to Mackintosh, "is unquestionably entitled to a place in the first rank of English tracts on moral philosophy, and contains more intimations of an original and important nature on the theory of Ethics than perhaps any preceding work of modern times." This praise rests on the fact that Shaftesbury developed the doctrine of a moral sense. The "most original, as well as important of his suggestions is, that there are certain affections of the mind which, being contemplated by the mind itself through what lie calls a reflex sense, become the objects of love, or the contrary, according to their nature. So approved and loved, they constitute virtue or merit as distinguished from mere goodness, of which there are traces in animals who do not appear to reflect on the state of their own minds, and who seem, therefore, destitute of what he elsewhere calls a moral sense. These statements are, it is true, far too short and vague. He nowhere inquires into the origin of the reflex sense. What is a much more material defect, he makes no attempt to ascertain in what state of mind it consists. We discover only by implication, and by the use of the term sense, that he searches for the fountain of moral sentiments, not in mere reason, where Cudworth and Clarke had vainly sought for it, but in the heart, whence the main branch of them assuredly flows. It should never be forgotten that we owe to these hints the reception into ethical theory of a moral sense, which, whatever may be thought of its origin, or in whatever words it may be described, must always retain its place in such theory as a main principle of our moral nature. His demonstration of the utility of virtue to the individual far surpasses all attempts of the same nature, being founded, not on a calculation of outward advantages or inconveniences, alike uncertain, precarious, and degrading, but on the unshaken foundation of the delight, which is of the very essence of social affection and virtuous sentiment; on the dreadful agony inflicted by all malevolent passions upon every soul that harbors the hellish inmates; on the all-important truth that to love is to be happy, and to hate is to be miserable; that affection is its own reward, and ill-will its own punishment; or, as it has been more simply and more affectingly, as well as with more sacred authority, taught, that to give is more blessed than to receive, and that to love one another is the sum of all human virtue" (Mackintosh, History of Ethical Philosophy, page 95).
Bishop Butler (t 1752) sets forth his moral doctrine in his Sermons (often reprinted), which have been recently published as a text-book by the Reverend J.C. Passmore, under the title Bishop Butler's Ethical Discourses (Philadelphia, 1855, 12mo). He is undoubtedly the greatest of modern English writers on the true nature of ethics. "Mankind," he says, "have various principles of action, some leading directly to the private good, some immediately to the good of the community But the private desires are not self-love, or any form of it; for self-love is the desire of a man's own happiness, whereas the object of an appetite or passion is some outward thing. Self-love seeks things as means of happiness; the private appetites seek things, not as means, but as ends. A man eats from hunger, and drinks from thirst; and though he knows that these acts are necessary to life, that knowledge is not the motive of his conduct. No gratification can imideed lie imagined without a previous desire. If all the particular desires did not exist independently, self-love would have no object to employ itself about, for there would be no happiness, which, by the very supposition of the opponents, is made up of the gratification of various desires. No pursuit could be selfish or interested if there were not satisfactions first gained by appetites which seek their own outward objects without regard to self, which satisfactions compose them mass which is called a man's interest. In contending, therefore, that the benevolent affections are disinterested, no more is claimed for them than must be granted to mere animal appetites and to malevolent passions. Each of these principles alike seeks its own object for the sake simply of obtaining it. Pleasure is the result of the attainment, but no separate part of the aim of the agent. The desire that another person may be gratified seeks that outward object alone, according to the general course of human desire. Resentment is as disinterested as gratitude or pity, but not more so. Hunger or thirst may lee, as much as the purest benevolence, at variance with self-love. A regard to our own general happiness is not a vice, but in itself an excellent quality. It were well if it prevailed more generally over craying and short-sighted appetites. The weakness of the social affections and the strength of the private desires properly constitute selfishness, a vice utterly at variance with the happiness of him who harbors it, and, as such, condemned by self-love. There are as few who attain the greatest satisfaction to themselves as who do the greatest good to others. It is absurd to say with some that the pleasure of benevolence is selfish because it is felt by self. Understanding and reasoning are acts of self, for no man can think by proxy; but no one ever called them selfish. Why? Evidently because they do not regard self. Precisely the same rule applies to benevolence. Such an argument is a gross confusion of self, as it is a subject of feeling or thought, with self considered as the object of either. It is no more just to refer the private appetites to self-love because they commonly promote happiness, than it would be to refer them to self-hatred in those frequent cases where their gratification obstructs it. But, besides the private or public desires, and besides the calm regard to our own general welfare, there is a principle in man, in its nature supreme over all others. This natural supremacy belongs to the faculty which surveys, approves, or disapproves the several affections of our minds and actions of our lives. As self-love is superior to the private passions, so conscience is superior to the whole of man. Passion implies nothing but an inclination to follow it, and in that respect passion differs only in force. But no notion can be formed of the principle of reflection or conscience which does not comprehend judgment, direction, superintendency. Authority over all other principles of action is a constituent part of the idea of conscience, and cannot be separated from it. Had it strength as it has right, it would govern the world. The passions would have their power but according to their nature, which is to be subject to conscience. Hence we may understand the purpose at which the ancients, perhaps confusedly, aimed when they laid it down that virtue consisted in following nature. It is neither easy, nor, for the main object of the moralist, important to render the doctrines of the ancients of modern language. If Butler returns to this phrase too often, it was rather from the remains of undistinguishing reverence for antiquity than because he could deem its employment important to his own opinions. The tie which holds together religion and morality is, in the system of Butler, somewhat different from the common representations, but not less close. Conscience, or the faculty of approving or disapproving, necessarily constitutes the bond of union. Setting out from the belief of theism, and combining it, as he had entitled himself to do, with the reality of conscience, he could not avoid discovering that the being who possessed the highest moral qualities is the object of the highest moral affections. He contemplates the Deity through the moral nature of man. In the case of a being who is to be perfectly loved, 'goodness must be the simple actuating principle within him, this being the moral quality which is the immediate object of love.' 'The highest, the adequate object of this affection, is perfect goodness, which, therefore, we are to love with all our heart with all our soul, and with all our strength.' 'We should refer ourselves implicitly to him, and cast ourselves entirely upon him. The whole attention of life should be to obey his commands' (Sermon 13, On the Love of God). Moral distinctions are thus presupposed before a step can be made towards religion: virtue leads to piety; God is to be loved, because goodness is the object of love; and it is only after the mind rises through human morality to divine perfection that all the virtues and duties are seen to hang from the throne of God" (Mackintosh, History of Ethical Philosophy, 116 sq.).
To the same school belong Hutcheson (t 1747), who taught that moral good is simply what the word itself expresses, which is not explicable by any other phrase. From this he argues that moral good must be perceived by a sense, because the senses alone are percipient of simple qualities (see his Inquiry into the Original of our Ideas of Beauty and Virtue, Glasgow, 1725, and often). Hume (Inquiry concerning the Principles of Moral,) asserts, indeed, that general utility constitutes a uniform ground of moral distinctions, and that reason judges of the utility of actions. But he asserts also that we approve of good and disapprove of evil in virtue of a primary sentiment of our nature (distinct from self-love), which he calls benevolence or humanity, but which is identical with conscience, or the moral sense. As to the idea of moral obligation, he makes it simply a judgment of the understanding that happiness flows from obedience to the moral faculty rather than from obedience to self-love. For the doctrines of Mackintosh, we must refer our readers to his admirable sketch (so often cited in this article) of the History of Ethical Philosophy.
Of the so-called Rational school, the distinctive characteristic is "that it considers the idea of good to be an a priori conception of reason, in which the idea of obligation is necessarily and essentially implied. As to the nature of the idea itself, two opinions have been held, viz. 1, that it is simple and immediate; 2, that it derives its explanation and authority from some higher notion of the intellect. The most distinguished representatives of the latter opinion are Clarke and Wollaston, while the former has found able advocates in Cudworth, Price, and Stewart" (Brande, 1.c.).
Dr. M'Cosh (American Presbyt. Review, January 1868, art. 1) classes the modern views on ethics in Great Britain into the two schools of Sensational and Rational (or priori), "corresponding to the two schools of philosophy which have divided Europe since Descartes and Locke." Under the latter he classes Cudcworth, Clarke, Coleridge, Reid, Stewart, and Sir W. Hamilton; "none of them, however, except Coleridge, taking up so high a priori grounds as Descartes and Cousin in 'France, or Kant and Hegel in Germany." The Protestants of England, in the main, at this time, according to the same writer, do not agree with those Roman Catholic writers who deny an independent morality apart from the authority of the Church; while, on the other hand, they do not agree with the philosophers who assert not only the independence, but the sufficiency of ethnic or natural morality. (See the article cited for a view of the relations Of the modern sensational doctrine to theology and religion.)
Among American writers, Jonathan Edwards (t 1758) is first to be named in this field. In his Dissertation concerning the End of true Virtue, and that On the End for which. God created the World (both contained in his Works, N.Y. ed. volume 2), he sets forth an ethical theory marked by the subtlety and originality which characterize all his speculations. Mackintosh sums it up as follows: "True virtue, according to him, consists in benevolence, or love to being 'in general,' which he afterwards limits to 'intelligent being,' though sentient would have involved a more reasonable limitation. This good will is felt towards a particular being, first, in proportion to his degree of existence (for, says he 'that which is great has more existence, and is farther from nothing, than that which is little'); and, secondly, in proportion to the degree in which that particular being feels benevolence to others. Thus God, having infinitely more existence and benevolence than man, ought to be infinitely more loved; and for the same reason, God must love himself infinitely more than he does all other beings. He can act only from regard to himself, and his end in creation can only be to manifest his whole nature, which is called acting for his own glory." See also, on his ethical theory, the article SEE EDWARDS in Appleton's Cyclopedia, 7:18; and the Bibliotheca Sacra, April 1853, page 402 sq. There are many excellent manuals, prepared for text-books, by American writers, such as those of Adams, Wayland, Alexander, Haven, Alden, Hopkins, etc., for farther mention of which we have not space. Hickok (System of Moral Science, 1853, 8vo) treats the subject froan the a priori point of view, and also in its relations to Christian theology, in a very masterly manner. He makes duty an end in and of itself. The voice of conscience is imperative. "There is an awful sanctuary in every immortal spirit, and man needs nothing more than to exclude all else, and stand alone before himself, to be made conscious of an authority he can neither dethrone nor delude. From its approbation comes self-respect; from its disapprobation comes self-contempt. A stern behest is ever upon him that he do nothing to degrade the real dignity of his spiritual being. He is a law to himself, and has both the judge and executioner within himself, and inseparable from him." "We may call this the imperative of the reason, the constraint of conscience, or the voice of God within him; but, by whatever terms expressed, the real meaning will be that every man has consciously the bond upon him to do that, and that only, which is due to his spiritual excellency." "To be thus worthy of spiritual approbation is the end of all ends; and as worthy of happiness, this many now righteously be given and righteously taken, but not righteously paid as price or claimed as wages. The good is to be worthy, not that he is to get something for it. The highest good — the summum bonum — is worthiness of spiritual approbation" (Moral Science pages 45-49).
Christian ethics, as distinguished from moral philosophby in general, has not received the same attention from English and American writers as from German. The earlier Looks on Casuistry (q.v.) and Cases of Conscience, however, belong under this head. Most of the standard English and American writers commingle philosophical morals with Christian ethics. Butler brings out with clearness the relations of ethics to the Christian religion. Wardlaw's Christian Ethics (Od ed. Lond. 1837, Boston; 5th ed. Lond. 1852) asserts that "the science of morals has no province at all independently of theology, and that it cannot be philosophically discussed except upon theological principles (Boston ed. page 367, note). Watson (Theolog. Instzt. part. 3) treats of Christian ethics under the title "The Morals of Christianity," and denies the is priori method (see Cocker, in
Meth. Quart. January 1864). Spalding (Philippians of Christian Morals, Lond. 1843, 8vo) has "recourse both to science as derived from an examination of mcan's moral nature, and to revelation as derived from an examination of the Scriptures." In France, the orthodox Romaim Catholic writers have generally confirmed themselves to the so-called Moral Theology (q.v.). The Cartesian school SEE DES CARTES, cultivated Ethics in the new philosophical spirit; its best representative is Malebranchme. Virtue he defines to be the love of universal order, as it eternally existed in the divine reason, where every created reason contemplates it. Particular duties are but the applications of this love. He abandoned the ancient classification of four cardinal virtues, and for it substituted the modern distinction of duties toward God, men, and ourselves. The French school of Sensualismi, of which Condillac was the head SEE CONDILLAC, regarded all intellectual operations, even judgment and volition, as transformed sensations; and Helvetius, applying the theory to morals, held that self-love or interest is the exclusive motor of man, denied disinterested motives, made pleasure the only good, and referred to legislative rewards and punishments as illustrating the whole system of individual action. La Mettrie maintained an atheistic Epicunanism, and Condorcet wished to substitute an empirical education for the ideas and sanctions of religion and morality. The most complete and logical elaboration of the materialism, atheism, and fatalism of the period, which had pleasure for its single aim and law, was given in D'Holbach's Systeme de la nature. Of the later French writers, Jouffroy is perhaps the most important. He gave a peculiar explanation of good and evil. Every thing is good in proportion as it aids in the fulfillment of our destiny. The problem of human destiny, therefore, lies at the foundation of morality. There can be no a prior judgment as to the moral quality of actions, since that is relative to the agent, depending on the influence they may have on the destiny for which he was created. Good, in the case of any particular being, is the fulfillment of its own specific destiny; good, in itself, is the fulfillment of the destiny of all beings; and an interruption in the accomplishment of destiny constitutes evil. His system of Ethics is chiefly laid down in his Cours dam Droit naturel (2 volumes, Par. 1835; a third volume was edited after his death by Damriron, 1842), his most eloquent work, which, besides ethics, treats of psychology and theodicy. Some points are more fully developed in a series of essays, which first appeared in periodicals, and of which subsequently two collections (Melanges philosophiques and Nouveaux melanges philosophiques) were published.
See, besides the authors named in the course of this article, A Sketch of the History of Moral Philosophy, in the introduction to St. Hilaire's translation of Aristotle's Politics (Politique d'Aristote, Paris); Meiners, Allgem. Krit. Geschichte d. alteren u. neueren Ethik (Gottingen, 1801, 2 volumes); Hagrenbach, Encyclop. u. Methodologie, § 92; Cousin, OEuvr. Philosophiques (Paris, 1846-52); Bautain, Morale (Paris, 1842, 2 volumes); Damiron, Cours de Philosophie, volumes 3 and 4 (Paris, 1842); Jouffroy, Introd. to Ethics, transl. by Channing (Boston, 1840, 2 volumes, 8vo); Janet, Hist. des ides morales et politiques (Paris, 1856); Neander, Vorlesungen ui. d. Geschichte d. christl. Ethik (Berl. 1865, 8vo); Neander, Relations of Grecian to Christian Ethics; Christ. Exam. 29:153; 30:145; Bibl. Sac. 1853, 476 sq.; article Ethics in Chambers' Encyclopcedia, and in the Penney Cyclopaedia, both in the interest of the sensational philosophy; North British Review, December 1867, arts. 4; Wuttke, Handbuch der christl. Sittenlehre (2 volumes, 8vo, 1861-62; 2d edit. 1866); Maurice, Moral and Metaphysical Philosophy; Maurice, The Conscience: Lectures on Casuistry (London, 1868). On the nature of evil, SEE EVIL; SEE SIN. On liberty and necessity, SEE WILL. For the Roman Catholic way of treating ethics, SEE MORAL THEOLOGY.