Francis Hutcheson.

An essay on the nature and conduct of the passions and affections. With illustrations on the moral sense online

. (page 12 of 18)
Online LibraryFrancis HutchesonAn essay on the nature and conduct of the passions and affections. With illustrations on the moral sense → online text (page 12 of 18)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

And confecjuently that all thefe things were
adventitious, or the Effeft of Art.

BUT if we call " that State, thofc
" *&ijfojitions and Attions, natural, to

" which

of the PASSIONS.

" which we are inclined by fome part- ofSecl:. <5.

" our Conftitution, antecedently to any ^v^

" Volition of our own ; or which flow

" fromfbme ^Principles incur Nature, not

'* brought upon us by our own Art, or

" that of others ;" then it may appear,

from what was (aid above, that " a State

" of Good-will, Humanity, CompaJJlon^

" mutual Aid, propagating and fupport-

" ing Offspring, Love of a Community or

" Country, 'Devotion, or Love and Gra-

" titude to fome governing Mind, is our

" natural State," to which we are naturally

inclined, and do actually arrive, as univer-

fally, and with as much uniformity, as we

do to a certain Stature and Shape.

IF by natural we underfland " the
" highefl Terfettion of the Kind^to which
' any Nature may be improved by culti-
" vating its natural Difpofitions or Pow-
" ers ;" as few arrive at this in the Growth
of their Bodies, fb few obtain it in their
Minds. But we may fee what this Perfec-
tion is, to which our natural ^Difpojltions
tend, when we improve them to the ut-
moft, as far as they are confiftent with
each other, making the weaker or meaner
yield to the more excellent and ftronger.
Our feveral Senfes and Affections, publick
and private, with our Powers of Reafon
and Reflettion^ fhew this to be the Ter-
fettion of our Ktnd^ viz. " to know,
O 4 love,

200 The Nature and

Se6h 6." love, and reverence the great AUTHOR.
of all things ; to form the moft exten-
" Jive Ideas of our own true Interefls, and
" thofe of all other Natures^ rational or
" fenfitive ; to abftain from all Injury ;
" to purfue regularly and impartially the
" moft univerfal abfolute Good, as far
" as we can ; to enjoy conftant Self-Ap-
* probation, and Honour from wife Men ;
" with Trujt in divine PROVIDENCE,
" Hope of ever laft ing Happinefs, and a
" full Satisfaction and dffurance of Mind,
" that the whole Series of Events is di-
*' reeled by an unerring Wifdom, for the
* greateft univerfal Hapfinefs of the


To aflert that ' Men have generally
' arrived to the TerfecJion of tfreir Kind
" in this Life," is contrary to Experience.
But on the other hand, tofuppofe " no Or-
* der at all in the Conflitution of our Na-
" ture, or no prevalent Evidences of good
" Order," is yet more contrary to Expe-
rience, and would lead to a Denial of
PROVIDENCE in the moft important Af-
fair which can occur to our Obfervation.
We adually fee fuch Degrees of good Order,
of focial Slffettion, of 'Virtue and Honour ',
as make the Generality of Mankind conti-
nue in a tolerable, nay, an agreeable State.
However, in fbme Tempers we lee the
felfJhTaJJlons by Habits grown too ftrong ;


of the PASSIONS. 201

in others we may obferve Humanity, Corn-Sett. 6*

fajfion, and Good-nature fometimes raifed ^v^
by Habits, as we fay, to an Excefs.

WERE we to ftrike a Medium of the
feveral Patfions and AfFedions, as they ap-
pear in the whole Species of Mankind, to
conclude thence what has been the natural
Ballance previoufly to any Change made
by Cuftom or Habit, which we fee cafts the
Ballance to either fide, we fliould perhaps
find the Medium of the publick Affections
not very far from a fufficient Counter-bal-
lance to the Medium of the Selfiih ; and
confequently the Overballance on either
fide in particular Characters, is not to be
looked upon as the original Conftitution^
but as the accidental Effect of Cuftom, Ha-
bit, or AfTociations of Ideas, or other pre-
ternatural Caufes : So that an univerfal in-
creajing of the Strength of either ; might
in the whole be of little advantage- The
raifing univerlally the publick Affections,
the Dcfires of Virtue and Honour^ would
make the Hero of Cervantes, pining with
Hunger and Poverty, no rare Character.
The univerfal increafmgof Selfiflmefs, unlefs
we had more accurate Underftandings to dif-
cern our triceftlnterefts, would fill the World
with univerfal Rapine and War. The
Confequences of either univerfally abating*
or increajtng the Defires between the Sexes,
the Love of Offspring^ or the feveral


iox fhe Nature and

Seel:. 6. Taftes and Fancies in other Pleafures,
v/w; would perhaps be found more pernicious to
the whole, than the prefent Constitution.
What feems mod truly wanting in ourNature,
is greater Knowledge, Attention and Confe-
deration : had w 7 e a greater Perfection this
way, and were evil Habits, and foolifti
dffociations of Ideas prevented, our Taf-
Jions would appear in better order.

BUT while we feel in our felves fo much
publick Affettion in the various Relations
of Life, and obferve the like in others ;
while we find every one defiring indeed his
own Happinefs, but capable of difcerning,
by a little Attention, that not only his ex-
ternal Convenieticy, or worldly Interefl,
but even the mod immediate and lively Sen-
fat ions of 'Delight, of which his Nature is
mfceptible, immediately flow from a 'Pub-
lick Spirit, a generous, human^ compajpo-
nate Temper, and a fuitable 'Deportment ;
while we obferve fo many Thoufands en-
joying a tolerable State of Eafe and Safety,
for each one whofe Condition is made in-
tolerable, even during our prefent Corrup-
tion : How can any one look upon this
World as under the Direction of an evil
Nature, or even queftion a perfectly good
PROVIDENCE? How clearly does the
Order of our Nature point out to us our
true Hdppinefs and Terfeffion, and lead us
to it as naturally as the feveral Toivers of
2 the

of the PASSIONS. 203

the Earth, the Sun, and Air, bring < PfantsScQ >
to their Growth, and the Perfection
their Kinds ? We indeed are directed to it
by our 'Vnderftanding and Affeflions, as
it becomes rational and atti f ue Natures ;
and they by mechanick Laws. We may
fee, that " Attention to the moft univer-
" fal Inter eft of all fenfitive Natures, is
" the Perfection of each individual of Man-
" kind : " That they mould thus be like
well-tuned Inftruments? affe<5ted with every
Stroke or Touch upon any one. Nay, how
much of this do we actually fee in the
World? What generous Sympathy, Com-
paffion, and Congratulation with each o-
ther ? Does not even the flourifhing State
of the inanimate Tarts of Nature, fill us
with joy ? Is not thus our Nature admo-
nifhed, exhorted and commanded to cul-
tivate univerfal Goodnefs and Love, by a
Voice heard thro 7 all the Earth, and Words
founding to the Ends of the World*


20 5



TH E Differences of Actions from
which (bme are conftituted morally
Good, and others morally Evil, have
always been accounted a very important
Subject of Inquiry : And therefore, every
Attempt to free this Subject from the ufual
Caufes of Error and Difpute, the Confufion
of ambiguous Words, muft be excufable.

IN the following Difcourfe, Happinefs*>efini.
denotes pleafant Senfation of any kind, ot ttons '
a continued State of fiach Senfations ; and
Mifery denotes the contrary Senfations.

SUCH Actions as tenet to procure Hap-
pinefs to the Agent, are called privately
ufeful: and fiich Adions as procure Mile-
ry to the Agent, privately hurtful.


206 Illustrations upon the

ACTIONS procuring Happinefs to others
may be called publicity ufeful, and the
contrary Actions publickly hurtful. Some
Actions may be both publickly and pri-
vately ufeful, and others both publickly
and privately hurtful.

THESE different natural Tendencies of
Actions are univerfally acknowledged ; and
in proportion to our Reflection upon human
Affairs, we mail enlarge our Knowledge of
theie Differences.

TWO Quef- WHEN thefe natural 'Differences are
tions about known, it remains to be inquired into :
Morality. jft> <4 yf^ Quality in any Adtion deter-
mines our Election of it rather than the
contrary?" Or, if the Mind determines
tfelf, " What Motives or ^Dejires excite
to an Action, rather than the contrary,
or rather than to the Omiffion .?" 2dly,
What Quality determines our Approba-
tion of one Action, rather than of the
contrary Action?"

THE Words Election and Approbation
feem to denote fimple Ideas known by Con-
fcioufnefs ; which can only be explained
by Jynonymous Words, or by concomitant
or confequent Circumflances. Election is
purpofing to do an Adion rather than its
contrary, or than being inactive. Appro-


bation of our own Action denotes, or is
attended with a Pleafure in the Contempla-
tion of it, and in Reflection upon the Af-
fections which inclined us to it. Appro-
bation of the Action of another is pJealant,
and is attended with Love toward the

THE Qualities moving to Election ; or
exciting to A ft ion* are different from thofe
moving to Approbation : We often do
Actions which we do not approve, and ap-
prove Actions which we omit : We often
defire that an Agent had omitted an Action
which we approve ; and 'wijh he would
do an Action which we condemn. Appro-
bation is employed about the Actions of
other S, where there is no room for our

N o w in our Search into the Qualities
exciting either our Election or Approba-
tion, let us confider the feveral Notionszdi-
vanced of moral Good and Evil in both
thefe Refpects ; and what Senfes, Inflinfts,
or Affections , muft be necetfarily fuppofed
to account for our Approbation or Elec-

THERE are two Opinions on this Sub- The ^-
ject entirely oppofite: The one that of^^
the old Epicureans, as it is beautifully ex-
plained in the firft Book of Cicero, *De

fnibus ;

208 Illuflratiom upon the

fnibus ; which is revived by Mr. Hobbes,
and followed by many better Writers :
" That all the Defires of the human
*' Mind , nay of all thinking Natures,
" are reducible to Self Love y or f ]JeJire of
" private Happinefs : That from this
" Defire all Actions of any Agent do flow."
Our Chriflian Moralifts introduce other
forts of Happinefs to be deftred, but dill
'tis the Trofpect of private Happinefs,
which, with fbme of them, is the fole
Motive of Election. And that, in like
manner, what determines any Agent to
approve his own Action, is its Tendency
to his private Happinefs in the whole,
tho it may bring prefent Tain along
with it ; That the Approbation of the
Action of another, is from an Opinion
of its Tendency to the Happinefs of the
Approver ', either immediately or more
remotely : That each Agent may difco-
ver it to be the fureft way to promote
his private Happinefs, to do publickly
iifeful Actions, and to abftain from thole
which are publickly hurtful : That the
neglecting to obferve this, and doing
4 publickly hurtful Attions, does mifchief
to the whole of Mankind, by hurting
any one part ; that every one has fome
little damage by this Adtion: Such an
inadvertent Terfon might pofiibly be
' pernicious to any one, were he in his
Neighbourhood ; and the very Exam-

" pie


pk of fuch A&ions may extend over the
whole World, and produce fome perni-
cious Effects upon any Obferver. That
therefore every one may look upon fuch
A&ions as hurtful to himfelf, and in
this view does difapprove them, and hates
the Agent. In the like manner, zfub-
lickly ufeful Action may diffufe fome
fmail Advantage to every Obferver ,
whence he may approve it, and love
the Agent."

THIS Scheme can never account
the principal Actions of human Life f :
Such as the Offices of Friendjhip, Grati-
tude, natural Affection, Generojity, pub-
lick Spirit, Compaffton. Men are confci-
ous of no fuch Intentions or acute Reflec*
tions in thefe Actions. Ingenious fpecula-
tive Men, in their draining to fupport an
Hypotbefis, may contrive a thoufand fub-
tie felfijb Motives, which a kind generous
Heart never dreamed of. In like manner,
this Scheme can never account for the fud-
den Approbation, and violent Sen/eof fbme-
thing amiable in Actions done in diftant
Ages and Nations, while the Approver has
perhaps never thought of thefe diftant Ten-
dencies to his Happinefs. Nor will it bet-
ter account for our want of Approbation

* See Treat. 3. Sett, it

P toward

2 1 o Ilhijlrations upon the

toward public kly ufeful Actions done cafu*
ally.) or only with Intention of private
Happinefs to the Agent. And then, in
thefe Actions reputed generous, if the A-
gent's Motive was only a view to his own
^Pleafeire, how come we to approve them
more than his enriching himfelf, or his
gratifying his own Tafle with good Food ?
The whole Species may receive a like Ad-
vantage from both, and the Obferver an
equal Share.

W E R E our Approbation of Adionsdone
in diftant Ages and Nations, occafioned
by this Thought, that fuch an Action done
toward our felves would be ufeful to us,
why don't we approve and love in like man-
ner any Man who finds a Treafure^ or in-
dulges himfelf in any exquifite Senfation,
fince thefe Advantages or Pleafures might
be conferred on our felves ; and tend more
to our Happinefs than any Actions in dif-
tant Ages?

THE Sanctions of Laws may make
any Agent chufe the Adtion required, un-
der the Conception of ufeful to himfelf,
and lead him into an Opinion of private
Advantage in it, and of detriment in the
contrary Adions ; but what fhould deter-
mine any Perfon to approve the Actions
of others, becaufe of a Conformity to a



Law, if Approbation in any Perfbn were
only an Opinion of private Advantage ?

THE other Opinion is this, " That
" have not only Self- Love > but benevo^
" lent Affections alfo toward others, in
" various Degrees, making us defire their
" Happinefs as an ultimate End, without
" any view to private Happineis : . That
" we have amoral Senfe or Determination
" of our Mind, to approve every kind Af*
" fetfion either in our felves or others, , ,
" and all publickly ufeful Actions which
" we imagined do flow from fuch AfFec-
" tion, without our having a view to our
private Happinefs^ in our Approbation
'* ofthefeAdions."

THESE two Opinions feem both intel-
ligible, each confident with itfelf. The
former feems not to reprefent human Na-
ture as it is ; the other feems to do it.

THERE have been many ways o
fpeaking introduced, which feem to %
nify fomething different from both
former Opinions. Such as thefe , that
*' Morality of AdHons confifts in G?-
" formity to Reafon^ or ^Difformity from
44 />:" That " Virtue. \s ading accord-
'* ing to the abfolute Fitnefs and "Unfit-
" mfs of Things, or agreeably to the
P 2 " N&

Illujtrations upon the

" Natures or Relations of Things," and
many others in different Authors. To
examine thefe is the Defign of the fol-
lowing Sections ; and to explain more
fully how the Moral Senfe alledged to
be in Mankind, mull be prefappofed even
in thefe Schemes.




Concerning the Character of Virtue,
agreeable to Truth or Reafon.

SINCE Reafon is underftood to de-
note our 'Power of fnding out true
'Propofitions, Reafbnablenefs mufl denote
the fame thing, with Conformity to true
fropojitions, or to Truth.

REASONABLENESS in an Action is
a very common Expreflion, but yet upon
inquiry, it will appear very confuted, whe-
ther we fuppofe it the Motive to Election,
or the Quality determining

THERE is one fort of Conformity
Truth which neither determines to the one

i i .... i ' w

or the other ; i;/^s.that Conformity which
is between every true ^Propojltion and its
Object. This fort of Conformity can never
make us chufe or approve one Action more
than its contrary, for it is found in i\
Actions alike : Whatever attribute can be
afcribed to a generous kind Attion, the
contrary Attribute may as truly be afcribed
to a felfijh cruel Action : Both Propofi*
tions are equally true, and the two con-
trary Actions, the Objects of the two
P ' Truths

1 1 4 Illujl rat ions upon the

Sect. \.Truths are equally conformable to their
v^v^ feveral Truths, with that fort of Confor-
mity which is between a Truth and its Ob-
ject. This Conformity then cannot make
a Difference among Actions, or recommend
one more than another either to Election
or Approbation^ fince any Man may make
as many Truths about Villany, as about
Heroifm, by afcribing to it contrary At-

FOR Inftance, thefe are Truths con-
cerning the Trefervation of ^Property.
>' It tends to the Happinefs of human So-
" ciety : It incourages Induftry : It ihali
" be rewarded by God." Thefe are alfo
Truths concerning Robbery. " It difturbs
*' Society: It difcourages Induftry: Itihall
" be punifhed by God." The former three
Truths have the T refers at ion of 'Property
for their Qbjett\ the latter three have
Robbery. And each Clafs of Truths hath
that fort of Conformity to its Object, which
is common to all Truths with their Objects.
The moral 'Difference cannot therefore de-
pend upon this Conformity^ which is com-
/non to both.

THE Number of Truths in both cafes
may be plainly the fame ; fb that a good
Action cannot be (uppofed to agree to more
Truths than an evil one, nor can an evil
Action be difagreeable to any Truth or
i Com-


Comfages of Truths made about it ; for Seel:. i.
whatever Propofitions do not agree with ^^T^
their Objeds are not Truths.

IF Reafonabltnefs % the Charader of
Virtue, denote fome other fort of Confor-
mity to Truth, it were to be wifhed that
thele Gentlemen, who make it the original
Idea of moral Good, antecedent to any
Senfe or Affections ', would explain it, and
mew how it determines us antecedently to
a Senfe, either to Election or Approbation.

THEY tell us, " we mud have fbme
Standard antecedently to all Senfe or
Ajfeflions, fince we judge even of our
Senfes and Affedions themfelves, and
approve or difapprove them : This
Standard muft be our Reafon^ Conformi-
ty to which muft be the original Idea of
moral Good."

BUT what is this Conformity of Afl i
to Reafon ? When we ask the Reafon of an
Adion wefbmetimes mean, ' What Truth '
" Jhewsa Quality in the Aflion, exciting
" the Agent to do it ?" Thus, why does a
Luxurious Man purfue Wealth ? The Rea-
fon is given by this Truth, * Wealth is
" uleful to pur chafe Pleafures." Sometimes
for a Reafon of Actions we fliew the
Truth exprejpng a Duality y engaging our
Approbation. Thus the Reafon of hazard-
P 4 ^

2 1 6 llluf rations upon the

Se<5t. i. ing Life in juft War, is, that " it tends
VV^" to preferve our honeft Countrymen, or
" evidences publick Spirit : " The Reafen
for Temperance, and againft Luxury is
given thus, " Luxury evidences a felfifh
" bafe Temper." The former fort of
Reafbns we will call exciting, and the lat-
tvtj unifying. * Now we mall find that all
exciting Reafons prefuppofe Inftintfs and
Affetlions ; and wGJxjkfjting prefuppofe a
Moral Senfe.

Exciting As to exciting Reafons, in every calm
fiW&4f- rationa l A&ion fome end is defired or in-
fections. tended ; no end can be intended or defired
previoufly to ibme one of thefe Clafles of
Afre&ions, Self-Love, Self-Hatred, or de-
fire of private Mifery, (if this be poffible)
Benevolence toward others, or Malice :
All Affections are included under thefe ;
no end can be previous to them all ; there
can therefore be no exciting Reafon previ-
ous to Affection.

WE have indeed many confufed Ha-
rangues on this Subject, telling us, " We
** have two Principles of Action, Reafon,
*' and Affection, or TaJJion {i.e. ilrong
" AfTecSlion ) : the former in common with

Thus Gntius diftinguiflies the Reafons of Wat, into
) and SuaforU,



4t Angels, the latter with Brutes: NoSed. i
" A&ion is wife, or good, or reafouable,
' ' to which we are not excited by Reajon,
*' as diftincl: from all Affeftions\ or, if
" any iuch Actions as flow from Affec-
" tions be good, 'tis only by chance ; or
*' materially and not formally? As if
indeed Reafon, or the Knowledge of the
Relations of things, could excite to A&ion
when we propofed no End, or as if Ends
could be intended without *DeJire or Af*

BUT are there not alfb exciting Reafons,
even previous to any end, moving us to
propofe one end rather than another ? To Ends.
this Arijlotle long ago anlwered, " that
' there are ultimate Ends defired without
" a view to any thing elle, zn&Jiibordivate
" Ends or Objeds defired with a view to
" fomething elfe." Tofuhordinate Ends
thofe Reafons or Truths excite, which ihew
them to be conducive to the ultimate End,
and ihew one Objeft to be more effectual
than another : thus fubordinate Ends may
be called rea finable . But as to the ultimate
Ends, toiuippofeexcitingRea/oMs for them,
would infer, that there is no ultimate End,
but that we defire one thing for another in
an infinite Series.

THUS ask a Being who defires private

llaffinefs, or has Self-Love? " what

4 Reafon

1 1


Ilhtjlrations upon the

Reafon excites him to defire Wealth"?
will give this Reafon, that " Wealth
'* tends to procure Pleafure and Eafe."
Ask his Reafon for defiring Pleafure or
Happinefs : One cannot imagine what
Propofition he could affign as his exciting
Reafon. This Propofition is indeed true,
" There is an Injlinft or Ttefire fixed
" in his Nature , determining him to
" purfue his Happinefs ;" but it is not
this Reflection on his own Nature, or this
'Propojition which excites or determines
him, but the Infiintt itfelf. This is a
Truth, " Rhubarb (Irengthens the Sto-
" mach :" But 'tis not a 'Proportion which
ilrengthens the Stomach, but the Quality
in that Medicine. The Effect is not pro-
duced by Proportions (hewing the Caufe 9
but by the Cauft itfelf.

IN like manner, what Reafon can a be-
nevolent Being give, as exciting him to
hazard his Life in juft War? This perhaps,
luch Conducl: tends to the Happinels of
his Country." Ask him, " why he
ferves his Country ? " he will fay, " His
Country is a very valuable Part of Man-
kind." Why does he ftudy the Happi-
nefs of Mankind? If his Affedions be
really difinterejled, he can give no exciting
Reafonsfor it : The Happinels of Mankind
in general, or of any valuable Part cf it, is
an ultimate End to that Series of Defires.



W E may tranfiently obferve one Mif- '
take which many fall into, who in their
Philofophical Inquiries have learned to form
very abftratJ general Ideas : They fuppofe,
becaufe they have formed fbme Conception
of an infinite Good, or greatejlpojfible Ag-
gregate , or Sum of Happinefs , under
which all particular Tleafures may be in-
cluded ; that there is alfb fome one great
ultimate End, with a view to which every
particular Object is defired ; whereas, in
truth, each particular Tleafure is defired
without farther view, as an ultimate End in
the felfi/h Ttefires. "Tis true, the Tro-
fpetJ of a greater inconfiftent Pleafure may
fiirmount or flop this Defire ; fo may the
Fear of a prepollent Evil. But this does
not prove, that " all Men have formed
" Ideas of infinite Good, or greatefl pof-
" fib le Aggregate, or that they have any
' Inft'mft or 'Dejire^ without an Idea of
" itsObjecl:." Juft fo in the benevolent Af-
fections, the Happinefs of any onp Perfon
is an ultimate End, defired with no farther
view : And yet the obferving its Incon-
fiflency with the Happinefs of another more
belovdd, or with the Happinefs of many, tho
each one of them were but equally beloved,
may overcome the former Defire. Yet this
will not prove, that in each kind Atfion
Men do form the abflract Conception of
dll Mankind, or the Syftem of Rationals.


no llhiftrattons upon the

Seel:, i. The forming fuch large Conceptions is in-
IXW deed ufeful, that fo we may gratify either
our Self-Love or kind Affections in the
fulleft manner, as far as our Power extends ;
and may not content our felves with fmaller
Degrees either of private ox publick Good,
while greater are in our power : But when
\ve have formed thefe Conceptions, we do
not ferve the Individual only from Love
to the Species, no more than we defire
Grapes with an Intention of the greateft
Aggregate of Happinefs, or from an Ap-
prehenfion that they make a Part of the
General fum of our Happinefs. Thefe
Conceptions only ferve to fuggeft greater
Ends than would occur to us without Re-
flection ; and by the Trepollency of one
Defire toward the greater Good, either
private or publick, to (top the Defire to-
ward the fmaller Good, when it appears

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 12 14 15 16 17 18

Online LibraryFrancis HutchesonAn essay on the nature and conduct of the passions and affections. With illustrations on the moral sense → online text (page 12 of 18)