Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 20.djvu/788

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wrong. But we can easily see how, in both cases, the philosophy of the "Data of Ethics" breaks down. It finds itself involved in a hopelessly bewildering calculation of the relative amounts of pleasure and pain attending either line of conduct in its bearing on the sensation of the agent and of other people. Whether any other philosophy capable of distinct statement holds good is, of course, a different question, as we bear in mind throughout.

By the very method of his inquiry the author of the "Data of Ethics" is cut off from any appeal to human morality as essentially distinct from that of other animals. He is committed to the position that the conduct and ethics of man are merely an evolution of those of the mollusks. When he takes a woman suckling her child as his highest type of a right action, it is difficult to see why he might not as well have taken any other mammal. The sentence would run just as well, "Consider the relation of a healthy cow to a healthy calf. Between the two there exists a mutual dependence which is a source of pleasure to both. In yielding its natural food to the calf, the cow receives gratification, and to the calf there comes the satisfaction of appetite—a satisfaction which accompanies furtherance of life, growth, and increasing enjoyment." There is a caveat, as was said, to be entered against "higher" and "lower," applied to the earlier and later products of evolution; they carry with them the suggestion of a moral difference which might form a foundation for ethics. But, if the evolutionist were asked why the latter and more complex was higher than the earlier and simpler organism, we apprehend his only answer would be, that it was higher because it was later and more complex. If the pleasures of the other animals are less intense so are their pains, and from a large class of the pains which beset humanity they are altogether free. A sea-gull lives, it is said, longer than a man: it has found a sphere in which it has few enemies; it knows no care for the morrow, no moral effort, no moral conflict, no strivings after an unattainable ideal. At least it gives no sign of anything of the kind. Why is it to be dubbed lower?

Besides the list of pleasures denoting the conduciveness of the action to vitality, there may be said to be in the "Data of Ethics" a set of characteristics derived from perfection of evolution. Such are "adjustment of an action to an end," "definiteness," "exactness," "heterogeneity," "complexity," "multiformity" subordination of immediate to remote objects and of motives connected with presentative to those connected with representative and re-representative sensations, all regarded as placing the highest mammal at the top of the ascending scale; while the mollusks, with whose rudimentary ethics Mr. Spencer sets out, are at the lowest. Such, also, are the criteria stated in the terms of Mr. Spencer's special and, to common minds, mysterious theory of the movement of evolution, his "rhythms," and his perfect state of "moving equilibrium." Mr. Spencer, as he has