Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 29.djvu/39

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DEVELOPMENT OF THE MORAL FACULTY.

heart; is free from the suspicion that has attached, and probably with justice, to so many of the Mexican Presidents, of using his power, through contracts and expenditures, to enrich himself illegitimately; and has appreciated the necessity and favored all efforts for establishing and extending popular education. It is not, furthermore, to be denied that many of the men associated with the present or recent administrations of Mexico are of very high character and fine abilities; the recent representative of Mexico in the United States, Señor Zamacona, and the present minister, Señor Romero, for example, being the peers of the representatives of any of the governments of the Old World.


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DEVELOPMENT OF THE MORAL FACULTY.[1]

By JAMES SULLY, M.A.

IT has been long disputed whether the moral faculty is innate and instinctive, or whether it is the result of experience and education. The probability is that it is partly the one and partly the other. The child shows from an early period a disposition to submit to others' authority, and this moral instinct may not improbably be the transmitted result of the social experience and moral training of many generations of ancestors. Yet, whatever the strength of the innate disposition, it is indisputable that external influences and education have much to do in determining the intensity and the special form of the moral sentiment. We have now to trace the successive phases of its development.

A consciousness of moral obligation arises in the first instance by help of the common childish experience of living under parental authority at the outset. The child's repugnance to doing what is wrong is mainly the egoistic feeling of dislike to or fear of punishment. By the effect of the principle of association or "transference," dislike to the consequences of certain actions might lead on to a certain measure of dislike to the actions themselves. And such an effort would greatly strengthen the innate disposition to submit to authority.

When the forces of affection and sympathy come into play, this crude germ of moral feeling would advance a stage. An affectionate child, finding that disobedience and wrong-doing offend and distress his mother or father, would shrink from these actions on this ground. Not only so, the promptings of sympathy would lead the child to set a value on what those whom he loves and esteems hold in reverence. In this way love and reverence for the father lead on naturally to love and reverence for the moral law which he represents, enforces, and in a measure embodies.

Even now, however, the love of right has not become a feeling for

  1. From "Elements of Psychology, with Special Applications to the Art of Teaching." In press of D. Appleton & Co.