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This study can disclose to us only the end to which we are predestinated by our nature ; and from experience we can learn only that the gaining of this end does not satisfy our nature ; which may, indeed, lead us to suspect that our natural destiny is not, after all, our veritable destiny.
Nor does M. Jouffroy get beyond our natural destiny, even by admitting a life after this life. Man, he reasons, has capacities, - natural capacities, which are not and cannot be fulfilled in this life. Our destiny is not accomplished in this world. But, in creating us with these capacities, the Creator has given us a pledge of the means and conditions of their fulfilment. Hence another life, in which may be completed the destiny begun, but left unfinished, here. But this only demonstrates a future natural existence, not the life and immortality brought to light through the gospel. It is not the “ eternal life"
” promised as the reward of the just. It is only a prolongation, in another state, of our present life. Its admission is not the admission of a supernatural destiny, nor of an end to which we may not attain by our natural strength and development, provided our natural existence be but continued. Hence, the admission of this future prolonged existence would demand no rules for the conduct of life, which would not be demanded, in like manner, in case our existence terminated at the grave.
But we take higher ground, and deny that from nature alone it is possible to conclude even to our natural destiny. The destiny of a being is its final cause, that for which it exists, which it is the purpose of its being to accomplish. But nature nowhere reveals to natural reason final causes.
We know from reason that all created existences must have a final cause, as well as a first cause ; for we know from reason the existence of God, and even his eternal power and Godhead, that he is wise and good, and must therefore act to a wise and good end. We know, therefore, that the universe has a final cause, that each particular being of the universe has its final cause, and that this cause is wise and good. But what this final cause or end is, we cannot, either in the case of the whole or of a part, in a single respect, from the study of nature alone, ever ascertain. I may, perhaps, from the study of the nature of the bee, ascertain that it is fitted to make honey, and infer that it was designed to make honey ; but to make honey is not the final cause of the bee, for to what end shall it make honey? To live? But to what end live? We may, from the study of man's nature, ascertain that it is adapted to the performance of certain functions, and hence infer that he was intended to perform them ;
but this tells us nothing of the final cause of his existence. To what end perform these functions ? So as to perfect his nature ? But to what end perfect his nature? Why, the end of man is to perfect his nature. Man was originally created imperfect; his law is progress ; his end is perfection. That is to say, the end of man is to be perfect man! But what is perfect man for ? That the end of imperfect man, that is, of incomplete man, quoad incomplete, is to become perfect, we do not doubt ; but this is not our question. When we ask what is the end of man, we ask the end of perfected no less than of unperfected man. Man was not made imperfect; but suppose he was, and suppose that by progressive development he has become perfect, what now does he exist for ?
M. Jouffroy says, man is predestinated by his nature to a certain end, which is his destiny, and that by a perfect knowledge of man's nature we may know what this destiny is. But this destiny, according to his own system, is simply the satisfaction of my natural tendencies, by gaining the natural objects they seek. These tendencies are myself. Consequently, my destiny is to satisfy myself. But what is myself for? I have a natural tendency to eat, to drink, to sleep, &c. Was I made for the simple purpose of eating, drinking, sleeping, &c.? Of course not. For what, then, was I made ? To fulfil my destiny. What is my destiny? The satisfaction of my tendencies. But to what end satisfy my tendencies ? So that I may exist as a perfect man. But to what end exist as perfect man ? To satisfy my tendencies ! " The millions,” somebody says, “live to dig, and dig to live.” Nature turns for ever in a vicious circle. Not so.
M. Jouffroy, it may be said, gets out of it. He identifies our destiny with our good. We are to satisfy our natural tendencies because that is our good, and it is our good because it is a fragment of the good of the race, which is a fragment of universal good, identical with universal order, which is absolute good. But wherefore is universal order good ? Universal order is ultimate, and we are not required to go beyond the ultimate. But we demand the proof that universal order is ultimate. It may, indeed, be as far as your system can carry you, but are you sure it is as far as the truth requires you to go ? Does the universe exist solely for the purpose of realizing order? What is order ? The proper arrangement or adjustment of the several parts ; nothing more, nothing less.
So the universe exists for the sole purpose of having all its parts adjusted, or properly arranged !
VOL. II. NO. I.
Order is nothing in itself, but is a mere state or condition. We may as properly ask why order is good, as why this or that particular act is good. Order is, no doubt, good as a means or condition ; but that it is good as an end cannot be conceived. If we ask why universal order is good, - we can answer, because it is the necessary condition of securing to all the beings of the universe free scope to develope their nature and satisfy their natural tendencies, – that is, free scope to accomplish what M. Jouffroy calls their destiny. It is not that accomplishment, but its condition. It therefore leaves us to turn, as before, in our vicious circle. To what end the satisfaction of a given natural tendency? The total satisfaction of the individual. The total satisfaction of the individual? The total satisfaction of the race. The total satisfaction of the race ?
The total satisfaction of the universe. The total satisfaction of the universe ? The establishment of universal order. The establishment of universal order? The establishment of the necessary condition of the satisfaction of the natural tendencies of all and of each. " The millions live to dig, and dig to live."
We must be careful, M. Jouffroy admonishes us, not to confound the satisfaction of a tendency with the pleasure which follows it. The pleasure is no part of the satisfaction, but its simple accident. It is not the good, but its attendant, and therefore is not the end to be sought. The good is solely in gaining the natural object of the tendency. This must not be forgotten. Now, the point to be proved is, that the gaining of this object, which is what is meant by satisfying a natural tendency, is good. Is it good, and for what reason ? This is what we want shown.
Now, good may be taken in two senses ; absolutely, as the end, and relatively, as the means of gaining the end. The satisfaction of our tendencies is not good in the first sense, unless we are prepared to say that we live to eat, instead of saying that we eat to live. Is it good in the second sense . ? But how can we answer, till we know what is our destiny, and what are the means of fulfilling it ?
M. Jouffroy assumes it to be good in both senses. It is good as an end to the individual, because it is his destiny ; good as a means, because it contributes to absolute good.' But it cannot be good as a means, unless it is also good as an end ; for the absolute good of which M. Jouffroy speaks is nothing but the aggregate goods of the several parts of which the universe is composed. It can, then, contain nothing not to be found in the parts. The total satisfaction, in universal order, of the natural tendencies of the universe can be called good, only on condition that the satisfaction of the tendencies of each of the parts is in itself good without relation to the sum total. When, therefore, M. Jouffroy pronounces the satisfaction of my tendencies good, because by satisfying them and establishing order in my own bosom I contribute to absolute good, he merely begs the question.
Nor is this all. M. Jouffroy really admits no absolute good. A good, which is the mere aggregate or sum total of separate goods, is not absolute; for absolute good must be independent, self-subsisting and self-sufficing. It is a contradiction in terms to say, that what depends on the several beings of the universe, and is made up of their separate goods, is absolute ; for destroy these separate goods and it would be dissolved. But we can at any time resolve it into these separate goods, and thus dissolve or destroy it. These separate goods themselves, moreover, can be good only by virtue of participating of absolute good. They cannot compose it, because they must participate of it or not be good. If independent of them there is no absolute good, of which they can participate, and by virtue of which they are good, there can be no good at all, neither absolute good nor relative good. The absolute must precede the relative, for the relative exists only in relation to the absolute. Then, either there is an absolute good existing in itself, independent of all partial and relative goods, neither diminished nor augmented by them, or there is no good. If independent, it is not made up of the separate goods of individuals, and then the satisfaction of my tendencies cannot be good because it goes to make up the sum total of the good of the universe, or because necessary to make up absolute good.
Now, before M. Jouffroy can pronounce the satisfaction of my tendencies good, he must prove that by satisfying them I participate of absolute good, of the good in itself, self-subsisting and self-sufficing. Is he able to do this? Is he able to say what absolute good is ? This is an ontological question, and must be answered before we can answer what is good psychologically. But, unhappily, M. Jouffroy denies the possibility of attaining to ontological existence. He confines philosophy within the sphere of psychology, and denies that it can attain to ontology, or know the reality of any thing lying back of the psychological phenomena. Hence, he has never considered absolute good in an ontological sense, as absolutely existing; but has considered it merely as phenomenal, or as an aggregate of phenomena ; which is pure atheism. If he had fixed in his mind, that there can be no particular good but by virtue of participating of absolute good, he never would have defined our good to be the fulfilment of our nature or the satisfaction of our tendencies ; for he would have seen that this satisfaction could have been good only on condition of its causing us to participate of absolute good, the good in itself. Nor would he, in the next place, have sought to legitimate this satisfaction and prove it to be good, on the ground of its contributing to absolute good ; for he would have seen that absolute good precedes relative good, and is not made up of separate, partial goods, but is that by virtue of which they themselves
But we ought, in justice to M. Jouffroy, to say, that he does not consider this satisfaction in relation to absolute good for the purpose of settling the question of good, so much as for settling that of virtue. He regards it as good in itself, as we began by stating. Good is to gain the end for which we were made, which, according to him, is nothing but what we have called the satisfaction of our tendencies. This is good. But, if this be good, what is virtue? It is this question, rather than the question of good, which has preoccupied him, at least in those of his works which have been published. But having, perhaps too hastily, decided that good is fulfilling our natural destiny, or attaining to the end indicated by our nature, which is, as we have seen, simply obtaining the natural objects craved by our tendencies, he has passed on to the question of virtue, and asked, if this satisfaction of our nature be good, wherein consists our virtue? The common sense of mankind revolts at the assertion, that a man is virtuous solely in seeking his own natural satisfaction. It pronounces such a man selfish, and, if not vicious, at least void of merit. Yet, man ought to seek good; and if the satisfaction of his own nature be good, he ought to seek it. How shall he vindicate his right to seek it, and prove that in seeking it he may be meritorious ? Here is the question, and it seems to us what M. Jouffroy has regarded as the principal ethical problem.
To get at his answer to this question, we must take up a portion of his system which we have not yet presented. We must remember that he is a psychologist, and is concerned only with what he calls the moral facts of human nature.
In studying these facts, he is led to recognize in the life of man, as developed in this world, four epochs :- 1. The instinctive epoch, which begins as soon as man exists, and in which man does not act