Page:Review of Franz Brentano's The Origin of the Knowledge of Right and Wrong.djvu/8

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International Journal of Ethics

however, a great pleasure in what is bad seems certainly to be both a great positive evil and worse than a less pleasure in the same. It follows that one thing may be better or worse than another, even though it does not contain more good or bad parts respectively; and hence that the facts admitted above give us no reason for pronouncing either pleasure or knowledge to be good in themselves. It does not follow, indeed, that pleasure is not good in itself; only, if it is good, we must also dispute the principle that two good things are always better than one of them—must deny, at least, that the value of the whole formed by them is always equal to the sum of the values of its parts.

The third great excellence in Brentano’s Ethics is his clear recognition of the distinction between what is merely a means to good and what is good in itself, and of the fact that the one supreme rule of Practical Ethics is that we ought always to do that which will cause the whole state of the Universe to have as much intrinsic value as possible—that for an action to be “right” in the ordinary sense of the word, it is both sufficient and necessary that it should be a means to this result. He states the consequences of this principle very clearly in several points in which they are frequently overlooked. In particular, the text of the book, which consists of a lecture delivered before the Vienna Law Society in 1889, under the title “The Natural Sanction for Law and Morality,” is arranged with a view to showing, as against the relativistic views of Ihering, that, although there is no “natural law,” in the sense of laws of which the knowledge is either “innate” or universal, the above principle is a “natural moral law” in the sense that it is universally valid; and that all positive laws have “natural sanction” or are truly binding, if, and only if, their observance does have the best possible results.

The book consists of this lecture, together with a number of notes, of much greater bulk than the text, and two Appendices, one of a review of “Miklovich on Subjectless Propositions,” which first appeared as a feuilleton in the Vienna Evening Post, and the other a brief account, by the translator, of Brentano’s life and philosophical achievements. The longest note, which consists of a criticism on Sigwart’s theory of judgment, is, like the Appendix on Miklovich and some other long notes, relevant to the subject of the lecture only in that it serves to confirm Brentano’s theory of judgment and of the analogy between belief in the true and love of the good. Many notes, again, are directly historical. Never-