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facts, which constitute the history of man ; we must compare, digest these facts; arrange them in classes ; separate those which are consequent from those which are primary, which have no antecedent; and thus ascend to those qualities, which constitute the elementary nature of mind, which reveal the will of its author, and which, if in this analysis any rule can be discovered for assigning to each primary quality its respective place of worth and dignity, will, in every application, fix the standard, and pronounce the judgment of moral.
It may be thought by some, that the whole of this essay
is unnecessary, because they have never entertained the idea of philosophizing on the subject of mind and moral in any other mode than what is here recommended. But to me nothing appears more unsettled than the subject of moral,
less deserving of the name of philosophy than the crude and contradictory theories of mind and moral, which divide the plaudits of the modern world. If the
same mode of reasoning as in the study of
suffice to show, that some favourite theories and doctrines respecting mind and moral will not abide the experimental test.
I might summon many writers to this examen, some who have composed professed theories, others who have only in a desultory manner discussed the subject of moral, though to such discussions their fame has been not a little indebted. This, however, would carry me too far. Indulgence to a few queries on the two favourite theories of the useful and the selfish is all, if not more than it becomes me to expect.
Do those, who make utility the foundation and origin of morals, derive their system from a sober analysis of man? Is it a fact
in the history of man, that the useful is always or generally present to the mind, before moral judgment is passed, and that the latter is only as a corollary from a geometric truth?' In the rapidity of moral decisions, must a conviction of the useful necessarily precede; must the mind wait, till this inquiry, always not a little perplexed and involved, be satisfactorily determined? When the moral and the useful are both present, and separately appeal to the mind as judge, is sentence never pronounced in favour of the moral, while the remonstrances of utility are dismissed with scorn? In all such collisions, is it not true, that the general sense and approbation of mankind is in favour of the moral determination ? Independent of all considerations of utility, and when not the very idea of it is present, does not the mind contemplate the moral, look upon it, with reverence or delight; does it not feel, acknowledge, that in its own nature, it asks not why, there is something which is won
drously attractive, something which captivates like the beautiful and sublime ?
These are queries which direct to facts, and are not to be decided by subtle reasoning, but by careful and honest observation, by that appeal which every one may-make, but where there must be no previous interest or concern about the answer. Whatever theory cannot meet these tests, has not been attained by the same careful process as in natural philosophy; it is not the ingenuous truth of human nature. Deceit, both of ourselves and our fellow man, frequently insinuates itself into moral as well as physical inquiries, by confounding the necessary consequences of phænomena with the causes of the phænomena, especially when these causes are not obvious to the sense. the questîon is not whether the moral, and the useful as a consequence, may not generally, or even always be found to coincide. But if the attributes of man, and what is primary in him, be the subject of inquiry,
from what principle does the mind imperiously decide? What, as fitted to the temper of the mind, constitutes the attraction to the moral? Is it, because we connect it with the idea of utility; or simply, that it appears in the character of a beautiful object of sight? That the useful should be the consequent, is nothing wonderful, when the whole is referred to the providence of the benevolent Creator. But it deserves consideration, that in many instances, the useful in the eye of the Creator neither is, nor can be, in the contemplation of man, being indeed beyond the reach of his ken ; and that, even with the best intentions, man often entertains very erroneous conceptions of utility. It is, indeed, a most fortunate truth, that our judgment of the moral is much more correct than our judgment of the useful.
It is another question, that if by utility, as the origin of all moral judgment, be understood a regard to the greatest public good; What is it that carries the individual out of himself, and makes the interest of others de VOL. II,