Page:Ethical Studies (reprint 1911).djvu/90

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

For morality and religion believe in some end for the man and for the race to be worked out; some idea to be realized in mankind and in the individual, and to be realized even though it should not be compatible with the minimum of pain and maximum of pleasure in human souls and bodies, to say nothing at all about other sentient organisms. The end for our morality and our religion is an idea (or call it what you will), which is thought of both as the moving principle and final aim of human progress, and that idea (whatever else it may be, or may not be) most certainly is not the mere idea of an increase of pleasure and a diminution of pain. What we represent to ourselves as the goal of our being we must take as a law for the guidance alike both of this and that man, and of the race as a whole; and if you do not use the vague phrase ‘happiness,’ but say fairly and nakedly that you mean ‘feeling pleased as much as possible and as long as possible,’ then you can not, I think, bring the Hedonistic end before the moral consciousness without a sharp collision.

Now I am not saying that what is commonly believed must be true. I am perfectly ready to consider the possibility of the ordinary moral creed being a mistaken one; but the point which I wish to emphasize is this: The fact is the moral world, both on its external side of the family, society, and the State, and the work of the individual in them, and again, on its internal side of moral feeling and belief. The theory which will account for and justify these facts as a whole is the true moral theory; and any theory which can not account for these facts, may in some other way, perhaps, be a very good and correct theory, but it is not a moral theory. Supposing every other ethical theory to be false, it does not follow that therefore Hedonism is a true ethical theory. It does not follow, because it has refuted its ‘intuitive moralists’ (or what not?), that therefore it accounts for the facts of the moral consciousness. Admitted that it is workable, it has still to be proved moral—moral in the sense of explaining, not explaining away morality. And it can be proved moral by the refuting of some other theory, only on the strength of two assumptions. The first is, that there must be some existing theory which is a sufficient account of morals, and that is an unproved assumption; the second is, that the disjunction, that the ‘either—or’ of ‘intuitive’