Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 29.djvu/43

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33
DEVELOPMENT OF THE MORAL FACULTY.

should be supplemented by the page of history and of fiction. In this way a wider variety of moral action is exhibited, and the level of everyday experience is transcended. Such a widening of the moral horizon is necessary both for enlarging and refining the feeling of duty, and for rendering the meaning of moral terms deeper and more exact. And it stimulates the mind to frame an ideal conception of what is good and praiseworthy.

The problem of determining the exact relation of intellectual to moral culture is one which has perplexed men's minds from the days of Socrates. On the one hand, as has been remarked, the enlightenment of the intelligence is essential to the growth of a clear and finely discriminative moral sense. On the other hand, it is possible to exercise the intellect in dealing with the formal distinctions of morality without calling the moral faculty into full vital activity.

This practical difficulty presses with peculiar force when we come on to the later exercises of moral instruction. The full carrying out of the process of informing the moral intelligence naturally conducts to the more or less systematic exposition of the ideas and truths of ethics. An enlightened conscience is one to which the deepest grounds of duty have begun to disclose themselves, and which has approximated to a complete and harmonious ideal of goodness by a systematic survey and coordination of the several divisions of human duty and the corresponding directions of moral virtue and excellence. Something in the shape of ethical exposition is thus called for when the child reaches a certain point in moral progress. But the educator must be careful to make this dogmatic instruction supplementary to, and not a substitute for, the drawing forth of the whole moral faculty on its sensitive and on its reflective side alike by the presentation of living concrete illustrations of moral truth. Divorced from this, it can only degenerate into a dead formal exercise of the logical faculty and the memory.

The education of the moral sentiment is, as we have seen, carried out in part by the influence of the child's companions. To surround him with companions is not only necessary for his comfort, but is a condition of developing and strengthening the moral feelings, as the sentiment of justice, the feeling of honor, and so on. The larger community of the school has an important moral function in familiarizing the child's mind with the idea that the moral law is not the imposition of an individual will, but of the community. The standard of good conduct set up and enforced by this community is all authoritative in fixing the early directions of the moral judgment.

This being so, it is evident that the moral educator must take pains to control and guide the public opinion of the school. And in connection with this he should seek to counteract the excessive influence of numbers, and to stimulate the individual to independent moral reflection.