Page:Evolution and Ethics.djvu/35

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all possible worlds, it nevertheless proved itself a very inconvenient habitation for the ideal sage.

The stoical summary of the whole duty of man, 'Live according to nature,' would seem to imply that the cosmic process is an exemplar for human conduct. Ethics would thus become applied Natural History. In fact, a confused employment of the maxim, in this sense, has done immeasurable mischief in later times. It has furnished an axiomatic foundation for the philosophy of philosophasters and for the moralizing of sentimentalists. But the Stoics were, at bottom, not merely noble, but sane, men; and if we look closely into what they really meant by this ill-used phrase, it will be found to present no justification, for the mischievous conclusions that have been deduced from it.

In the language of the Stoa, 'Nature' was a word of many meanings. There was the 'Nature' of the cosmos and the 'Nature' of man. In the latter, the animal 'nature,' which man shares with a moiety of the living part of the cosmos, was distinguished from a higher 'nature.' Even in this higher nature there were grades of rank. The logical faculty is an instrument which may be turned to account for any purpose. The passions and the emotions are so closely tied to the lower nature that they may be considered to be pathological rather than normal phenomena. The one supreme, hegemonic, faculty, which constitutes the essential 'nature' of man is most nearly represented by that which, in the language of a later philosophy, has been called the pure reason. It is this 'nature' which holds up the