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convinced that 'the barbarism of the Osmanlies is, from the very nature of their institutions, utterly ineradicable, and that they have no claim to the character of civilisation with which the British public were then disposed to credit them.'
On Tuesday, the 5th of February, 1833, he took his seat in the first Reformed Parliament as one of the Members for East Norfolk. In 1838 he was appointed a Groom in Waiting, and one of his first duties was to attend Her Majesty to Westminster on the morning of her coronation. In March, 1851, he succeeded, on the death of his brother, to the family title and estates, and took his seat in the House of Lords. Some of his personal experiences of both Houses are well worth telling and graphically told. In 1852 he published Memoirs of the Marquis of Rockingham and his Contemporaries,' a useful contribution to the party annals of the period. The fifty years' close in 1854 with a dinner at Rogers's, St. James's Place, at which Sir Robert Adair, the Duke and Duchess of Bedford and himself were the guests.
We do not go quite so far as Gray in his remark to Walpole, that if any man were to form a book of what he had seen and heard himself, it must, in whatever hands, prove a useful and entertaining one.' But when a man, with Lord Albemarle's advantages and opportunities, sets down what he has seen and heard whenever it has happened to be worth seeing or hearing, a book so formed could hardly fail to be, what this is, both amusing and instructive-to satisfy, in fact, the highest expectations that could have been formed of the best sort of diary by Gray.
ART. VII.-The Methods of Ethics. By Henry Sidgwick, M.A., Lecturer and late Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge. London, 1874.
HE serious and comprehensive work of which we have prefixed the title to this article is one that deserves some notice at our hands. It is a work professedly critical, and the bent of the author's mind is evidently inclined towards criticism. Nevertheless, amidst all his critical bias, the wish to be constructive preponderates; and towards the end of his work he purely and simply advances the theory which is his sole and final conclusion.
That conclusion is the very popular theory of ethics commonly
*Narrative of a Journey across the Balcan, with a Visit to Azani in 1829–30.' Two volumes. 1831.
known as Utilitarianism. In saying this, we speak of Utilitarianism as a known and definite view. And so we think it is; it is a view having certain strong and characteristic features, partly, in our opinion, right, partly wrong; and our object in this article will in great measure be to discriminate its sound. from its erroneous parts. Nevertheless, though we speak of Utilitarianism as a single theory, there are great differences between its different expositors. The Utilitarianism of John Stuart Mill is not the Utilitarianism of Bentham; the Utilitarianism of Mr. Sidgwick again differs from that of either of his predecessors.
But, with whatever differences, it is impossible, in noticing a book of the Utilitarian school, to avoid recognising the common stamp impressed upon it, which marks it as one of a series of writings imbued with a common tendency, and inculcating that tendency upon the world at large. Moreover, though this common tendency, this adherence to a particular school of thought, is seldom the most important thing in an original book, it must for the most part be the primary topic in any criticism on the book; and for this reason that all adherence to a school, except where such adherence is absolutely and completely justified by reason, is a kind of knot in the tangled skein of philosophy, a knot which, till it is untied, perpetually collects about it jarring and discordant forces, which ought to be pursuing their way in the serene course of enlarging knowledge. We do not hold Utilitarianism to be perfect truth; but we think it has in it that element of truth which needs disentangling from the erroneous implications with which it is surrounded.
Let us, without troubling ourselves with the object and scope of moral philosophy, about which so much could be written, proceed at once to state that which we conceive to be the strong point of the Utilitarian thinkers. That is, their recognition of happiness as the final fruit of all good action; their assertion, that we cannot conceive an action to be good, without conceiving that it will be productive of happiness in the total outcome, and that the better it is, the more happiness it will produce. To think that one action is better than another, and to think that in its whole result it will make the sentient world, the world of living beings, less happy than the other action would have done (the two being alternatives), is impossible. Goodness and happiness are correlatives, as the seed and the fruit.
Wherein, then, do we differ from the Utilitarians? In this, that besides saying that happiness is the final fruit of good action, they say that it is the sole pre-determinant of action beforehand;
beforehand; that, if we are in doubt which of divers courses to pursue, the only method of decision consists in imagining the results of each course, weighing each result against each, and considering in which the preponderance of happiness lies. This is quite a different assertion from the former.
The consequence of actions, the degree of happiness which we or others shall derive from them, is often quite unknown to us. It may be said that this ignorance is an unavoidable calamity; that we must judge of consequences as well as we can, that error is to be expected here as elsewhere, and that we must hope to eliminate it by time. This, in its measure, is true, but it is not adequate. For it often happens that actions, whose consequences we are quite incapable of estimating, are yet such as we feel ourselves strongly impelled to perform from some quarter or other of our nature. Here then quite a new question arises, and one not included in the morality which guides men by the simple estimate of resulting happiness. The question is no longer: What course of action shall I institute? But it is this: Shall I, or shall I not, be deterred from this action, to which my vital impulses so strongly bear me, by any prevision of consequences that I can command? In the man who thinks thus, there is no longer the mere scientific spirit seeking to survey; there is the vital spirit bearing him on of itself whither he knows not.
Utilitarian philosophers do not indeed always ignore the consideration here advanced. For instance, Mr. Sidgwick, in the book before us, says (p. 41):
To sum up, in contravention of the doctrine that our conscious active impulses are always directed towards the production of agreeable sensations in ourselves, I would maintain that we find everywhere in consciousness extra-regarding impulse, directed towards something that is not pleasure; that in many cases this impulse is so far incompatible with the self-regarding, that the two do not easily co-exist in the same moment of consciousness, and that more occasionally (but by no means rarely) the two come into irreconcilable conflict, and prompt to opposite courses of action.'
This is very nearly, if not quite, a complete statement of the actual case. But Mr. Sidgwick is in part of his book an original thinker, and in part the disciple of a school, and when he speaks in his former capacity, he sometimes says things which in his latter capacity he presently ignores. Thus in his fourth book, where he adopts and defends the specifically Utilitarian position, he thus lays down the fundamental rule of action (p. 440):
'Still, as this actual moral order is admittedly i perfect, it will be the
the Utilitarian's duty to aid in improving it. The question therefore arises, under what circumstances or by what method will he attempt to modify or supplement it? Here our investigation seems to leave, after all, as the only possible method-until the science of Sociology shall have been really constructed that of pure empirical Hedonism. The Utilitarian must represent as accurately as possible the total amount of pleasure and pain that may be expected to result respectively from conformity or disobedience to any given rule, and adopt the alternative which seems to promise the greatest balance of pleasure over pain. That this method is liable to the most serious errors, and this comparison must generally be of the roughest and vaguest kind, we have already seen, and it is highly important to bear this in mind; but yet we seem unable to find any substitute for it.'
There is pure Utilitarianism. Now, we put this question to Mr. Sidgwick. Supposing the Utilitarian, while engaged in that process of moral judgment described in this last passagewhile 'representing as accurately as possible the total amount of pleasure and pain that may be expected to result respectively from conformity or disobedience to any given rule,' and seeking to adopt the alternative which seems to promise the greatest balance of pleasure over pain.' Supposing, we say, while engaged in this process, he should happen to feel strongly one of those extra-regarding impulses, directed towards something that is not pleasure,' described in the first passage, how will he combine, or, if combination is out of the question, how will he decide between these two factors in his moral judgment? Is it not clear that pure Utilitarianism, as described in the last passage, must require the excision of the 'extra-regarding impulse directed towards something that is not pleasure,' described in the first passage? But in view of the terms employed by Mr. Sidgwick in the first passage, we cannot suppose that he would think it right in every case to eliminate and consider of no account the extra-regarding impulse. Perhaps, when the science of Sociology shall have been really constructed,' an escape may be found out of this dilemma; meanwhile we suggest the following considerations :
All vital impulse is extra-regarding. This is a statement which not only appears true to ourselves, but for which we may claim the high authority of Goethe. (We quote from memory; his expression is, we believe, 'the faculties of man all tend outwards, and it occurs in his conversations with Eckermann.) Impulse springs from desire; it tends to a certain mark or end. An infant desires its mother's milk; a boy, an apple, or a game at cricket; a father, the health and vigour of his children; a merchant, the success of his ventures; a statesman,
that the measures proposed by him should be carried, and should have the result he intends. Impulse has, it is true, its retroactive, inward-seeking current, which is nothing else than the deep religious tendency in man; but the outward regard is always there.
Now, doubtless, happiness is prefigured as attending the attainment of the mark or end to which vital impulse tends; were this not the case, desire would be impossible. But it is an error, and indeed the characteristic error of Bentham and his school, to separate this prefigured happiness from the desired object, and to say that the object is only desired for the sake of happiness. This is not so; the things that we truly desire, we desire for themselves, and not for an ulterior end; no intellectual knife is so keen as to separate in two parts the vital impulse of the spirit.
Mr. Sidgwick very correctly (p. 67) divides the doctrine of Bentham into two parts; the psychological doctrine, that every man invariably desires his own greatest happiness; and the ethical doctrine, that every man ought to desire the greatest happiness of the greatest number. Now it is perfectly true that the first of these doctrines was, in Bentham's hands, to a considerable extent a life-giving and salutary doctrine. Though an inadequate, it is yet a partial representation of the truth, and it served to recall men from many erroneous paths to a point of real light. But that which was simple inadequacy in Bentham's psychology became confusion in his ethics, and his successors, speaking generally, have but made the confusion worse con
If people invariably desire their own greatest happiness, how can it happen that they ought' to desire something else? What is this impertinent word, which, after it has been settled definitely what man's ultimate aim must be, proceeds to alter that aim? It may be said that we always come at last to something that cannot be explained; true, but if the inexplicable term is also contradictory to what we have previously laid down, it shows that we have gone wrong somewhere.
Having gone wrong in following Bentham's guidance, let us retrace our steps. We do then desire happiness, so far Bentham is right; but we desire it not alone, not as an abstract entity; it is the something or other that shall make us happy which is the object of our desire. Nor primarily can we need any other guide to action than nature; that is, there is a spontaneous movement within us, a spontaneous seeking after something felt to be desirable, which is at once the essence of life and at first