Page:Principia Ethica 1922.djvu/144
66. In this chapter I propose to deal with a type of ethical theory which is exemplified in the ethical views of the Stoics, of Spinoza, of Kant, and especially of a number of modern writers, whose views in this respect are mainly due to the influence of Hegel. These ethical theories have this in common, that they use some metaphysical proposition as a ground for inferring some fundamental proposition of Ethics. They all imply, and many of them expressly hold, that ethical truths follow logically from metaphysical truths—that Ethics should be based on Metaphysics. And the result is that they all describe the Supreme Good in metaphysical terms.
What, then, is to be understood by ‘metaphysical’? I use the term, as I explained in Chapter II., in opposition to ‘natural.’ I call those philosophers preeminently ‘metaphysical’ who have recognised most clearly that not everything which is is a ‘natural object.’ ‘Metaphysicians’ have, therefore, the great merit of insisting that our knowledge is not confined to the things which we can touch and see and feel. They have always been much occupied, not only with that other class of natural objects which consists in mental facts, but also with the class of objects or properties of objects, which certainly do not exist in time, are not therefore parts of Nature, and which, in fact, do not exist at all. To this class, as I have said, belongs what we mean by the adjective ‘good.’ It is not goodness, but only the things or qualities which are good, which can exist in time—can have