ETHICS AND ITS HISTORY 235
not always openly and consciously, ethics has been throughout history.
As study of the conditions of action with a view to action, ethics is plainly in accord with what was said of all questions properly being leading questions; for to define ethics so is only to say in a special way that the answer to a question must be found in just those things which have given the question its rise and determined the manner of its putting. Two and two are what? Two and two are four. Man ought to do what? Man ought to do, only more simply and directly, more wisely and more effectively, more as if in a single sum, what he has always been doing. Still, let us now turn to ethical inquiry in history, and see how there our present view of ethics has been exem- plified.
Without going into any of the details of history, whether of the history of the Greeks or of the history of the English, by both of whom peculiarly significant contributions to ethical theory have been made, it is safe to say, without fear of being charged with dogmatism, that the inquiry, What ought man to do? has always arisen as a most natural incident of a changing life. Has conduct ever become problematic, either in isolated personal experience, or in experience involving a whole class or a whole people, then there has been change of a more or less violent and radical sort ; and this is merely to say that the ethical question not to mention what may be true of the other questions also is simply an incident of that conflict, typical in all life, between the old and the new ; the old as something that, because most cer- tainly having a part in what is real, is bound to survive, and the new as something that, because with equal certainty having a part in what is real, is bound in its turn to be born. The old and the new, what is conservative and what is radical, what is formed and what is unformed, law and license, the institution and the free life, reason and sense, or finally man, that is, civi- lized man, and nature these, in their natural conflict, each having some claim to recognition else there would be no real conflict have ever given rise to ethics; and these, being the formative conditions of ethical inquiry, have determined also