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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 accom
. plishment, 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 setting 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 its ems to us what M. Jouffroy has regarded as the principal ethị 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
from motives, but follows instinctively his natural tendencies, and obeys them without the least reflection. He is not properly moral in this epoch, performs, in fact, no moral act, and is neither praiseworthy nor blameworthy, - is not a man with
a faculties, but a thing with properties. This epoch is of uncertain duration, but with many, perhaps the majority, it lasts through life.-2. The selfish epoch ; in which man governs his tendencies by reason and directs them to a common end, to wit, his own individual interest. He now acts from a rational motive, but not a moral motive. - 3. The benevolent epoch ; in which man seeks to subordinate his own interest to the interest of other beings beside himself, and to make the general good of other beings the motive of his conduct. In this epoch he is translated out of selfishness, but hardly into the region of morality. - 4. The moral epoch. In this epoch, his reason developed, man perceives that the universe tends to a common end, to wit, universal order, or absolute good. The realization of absolute good becomes now his motive, the end to which he directs all his efforts. Now he is moral, virtuous, meritorious.
1. This sounds well, but it will hardly bear examination. Virtue, we grant, is in the will or motive from which we act; but we are not able to act from purely disinterested motives, as M. Jouffroy himself seems to admit; consequently, we cannot will this absolute good in the purely disinterested sense demanded. It is impossible for man to will without more or less reference to himself. In our moments of exaltation we may fancy we put ourselves entirely out of the question, and can will our own damnation, as our Hopkinsian friends teach ; but we deceive ourselves. We do not even love God disinterestedly. Some one says,
“God! I would fear thee, though I feared not hell;
And love thee, though I had no hopes of heaven," and with truth, if he means no other hell than that of not loving, and no other heaven than that of loving. We always seek to possess what we love, and in some sense t possess it. In loving God, we in some degree participate his infinite beauty and goodness, and if we did not, we would not and could not love him. In love, charity, we are united to him, and he to us ; we become one with him. Is not this the highest reward we can conceive of ? and what but reference to this reward, this ineffable joy which we experience in this love, makes us will to persist in loving ? What but the desire of possessing this in a still greater degree draws us nearer and nearer to God, and fills
us more and more with his divine charity ? Assume that in loving God we found not this reward, this ineffable joy, that we in fact gained nothing, tasted nothing, — could we love him ? Nay, what is more to our purpose, could we will to love him? What would be the motive of such a will ?
Moreover, virtue and duty are closely related, for virtue is always obligatory, and may be enforced as a duty. But how enforce a duty without appeal to rewards or punishments ? If I gain nothing by doing my duty, and lose nothing by not doing it, I am the same whether I do it or not. How, then, find any motives to persuade me to do it, or to dissuade me from neglecting it ? The good I am to will is absolute good ; then it is independent of me, and remains unaffected, let me will what
What motives, then, can influence me to will it, save such motives as appeal directly or indirectly to my own good or evil ?
But we may be told, this good we are to will is the good of others, and that the motive to do good to others without hope of reward is sufficient to induce us to will it. But, in the first place, it is not yet settled, that what I am required to will is for the good of others. It is called universal order, absolute good ; but, at bottom, it is merely the satisfaction by each being of all its natural tendencies. Whether this is good or not can be determined only by determining what is good in itself, which M. Jouffroy has not done. In the second place, the simple willing of the good of others is not virtue. I must will their good, as my own, for the sake of absolute goodness, in order to be virtuous, according to our author himself.
2. Virtue consists in willing the supreme good; but the universal order we are required to will is not the supreme good, for it is merely the sum total of the separate goods of the several parts or beings which make up the universe. Supreme good is, as we have seen, the good in itself, that by participation of which this or that is good. How, then, in willing this
, universal order, am I virtuous ? Suppose I do act in reference to it, what is my merit, since I am not acting in reference to the supreme good ? Will it be said, that virtue, consisting entirely in the will, cannot be destroyed by a mistake of the understanding? We do not deny this. A man may, doubtless, be virtuous in acting from the motive here supposed, but only on condition of invincible ignorance ; for a mistake of the understanding is no less culpable than perversity of will, if possible to be avoided. But the object of moral science is to enlighten the understanding. It will hardly do, then, for a