Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 45.djvu/458

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Either prevailing theory is egregiously wrong, or else much of present practice, measured by that theory, may be fairly termed barbarous in its complete disregard of scientific principle. If there is one thing in theory upon which all schools are agreed, it is that conduct is not moral except as its motive is pure except, that is, as free from reference to personal fear of punishment and hope of reward. The intuitionalist insists that duty must be done for duty's sake; the empiricist, that while consequences make the moral criterion, yet the agent is truly moralized only in so far as his motive is regard for the consequences which follow intrinsically from the act itself. And yet the main motive actually appealed to is the desire to avoid either actual punishment, whether from God or from one's parent, or else the reflex into one's self of their displeasure in the way of being grieved or hurt. The last motive appealed to, it would seem, is that connected with the act itself. Enlightenment as to the true nature of the act performed, irrespective of the source of its imposition, irrespective of the favor or disfavor which the act will arouse from others (save, of course, in so far as that disfavor or favor is, through the social structure, one of the intrinsic constituents of the act) and the development of interest in that act for its own sake, seem to be the last things aimed at.[1] It is commonly said, I know, that a child can not understand the moral bearing of his acts, and that therefore rather arbitrary and external motives must be appealed to. Of this, I would say two things: First, it is true that the child can not see in the act all that an adult sees in it. There is not the slightest reason why he should. If he did, it would be an entirely different act, an act having different conditions, a different aim, and a different value. The question is whether the child can be made to see the reason why he should perform the act, not why some other older person should perform it. Limiting the question in this way, it loses, I think, a large part of its force. As for what remains, it may still be said that the ideal is to appeal to the child's own intelligence and interest as much as possible. One of the strongest impressions made upon me by the papers is the natural strong interest of children in moral questions—not, indeed, as consciously moral, but as questions of what to do and

  1. I hope I shall not be understood here as arguing for the principle of doing right because it is right. In the first place, the phrase is very ambiguous, meaning either doing the act for the sake of something light, in the abstract or at large, a right whose connection with the particular act is not seen; or else doing the act for its own sake, for the meaning which the act itself has for the agent—a principle which is the extreme opposite of the other sense. But, in the second place, I am desirous to state the matter in terms upon which all schools are agreed; and I understand that (however differently they may phrase it) all schools are agreed that an act has really moral worth only when the agent does it because of what he sees and feels in it.