Francis Hutcheson.

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

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Moral " we fure that what we approve, all 0-

fowtted " tkerS ^ al1 aW a PP r Ve ?" Of thiS WC

JJiieafon.can be fureupon no Scheme ; but 'tis highly
probable that the Senfes of all Men are
pretty uniform: That the DEITY allb
approves kind Affections^ otherwife he
would not have implanted them in us, nor
determined us by a moral Sen fe to approve
them. Now ftnce the ^Probability that
Men jhall judge truly, abftra&ing from
any prefuppofed 'Prejudice, is greater than
that the y Jhall judge falfly ; 'tis more pro-
bable, when our Actions are really kind
and public -:ly iifeful, that all Obfervers
ihall judge truly of our Intentions, and of
the Tendency of our Actions, and conle-
quently approve what we approve our
ielves, than that they ihall judge falfly
and condemn them.

IF the Meaning of the Queftion be,
*' Will the doing what our moral Senfe
?' approves tend to onr Happinefs, and to
^ c the avoiding Mifery?" 'Tis thus we
call a Tafte wrong* when it makes that
Foods*, tys&ot. grateful, which fhall occa-
fipa future Tains, or "Death. This Quef-

t K


tion concerning our Self-Inter efl muft beSecSt 4.
anfvvered by iuch Reafoning as was men-
rioned above, to be well managed by our
Moralijts both antient and modern.

THUS there feems no part of that Rea-
fining which was ever uled by Moralifts*
to be f uperfeded by fuppofing a moral Senfe.
And yet without a moral Senfe there is no
Explication can be given of our Ideas of
Morality ; nor of that Reafonablenefs fup-
pofed antecedent to all Inftinffs, Affec-
tions, or Senfe.

" BUT may there not be a right or
" wrong State of our moral Senfe, as
" there is in our other Senfes^ according
" as they reprefent their Objeds to be
' ' as they really are^ or reprefent them o-
" therwife ?" So may not our moral Senfe
approve that which is vicious* and difap-
prove Virtue ', as a fickly 'Palate may dif-
like grateful Food, or a 'vitiated Sight
mifreprefent Colours or T>imenfans ? Muft
we not know therefore antecedently what
is morally Good or Evil by our Reafin, be-
fore we can know that our moral Senfe is
right ?

T o anfwer this, we mud remember that
of \hzfenfible Ideas, fome are allowed to
be only 'Perceptions in our Minds, and not
Images of any like external <juality^ as


282 Illujlratwns upon the

Se<5t 4. Co/ours, Sounds, Taftes, Smells, Tlea-
^^r*s fare, 'Pain. Other Ideas are Images of
fbmething external, as 'Duration, Number,
Extension, Motion, Reft: Thefe latter,
for diftin&ion , we may call concomitant
Ideas of Sen fat ion, and the former///n?/y
fenfible. As to the purely fenfible Ideas,
we know they are altered by any Diforder
in our Organs, and made different from
what arife in us from the fame Objects at
other times. We do not denominate Ob-
jedts from our Perceptions during the 'Dif-
order, but according to our ordinary 'Per-
ceptions, or thofe of others 'vn good Health :
Yet no body imagines that therefore Co-
lours , Sounds, Taftes, are not finjible
Ideas. In like manner many Circumflati-
ces diverfify the concomitant Ideas : But
we denominate Objects from the Ap-
pearances they make to us in an uniform
Medium, when our Organs are in no dif-
ordcr, and the Object not very di ft ant from
them. But none therefore imagines that it is
Reafon and nQtSenfe which difcovers thefe
concomitant Ideas, or primary Qualities.

JUST fb in our Ideas of ^cJ ions. Thefe
three Things are to be diftinguifhed, i. The
Idea of the external Motion, known firft
by Senfe, and its Tendency to the Happi-
nefs or Mifery of fame fenjitive Nature,
often inferred by Argument or Reafon.
2. 4ffwfcitjion or Opinion of the Affec-


tions in the Agent, concluded by our Rea- Se6t 4.
fon : So far the Idea of an Action repre- -x~v^o
fents fomething external to the Obierver.
3 . The 'Perception of Approbation or <Dif-
approbation arifmg in the Obferver, accord-
ing as the Affections of the Agent are ap-
prehended kind in theirjw/? 'Degree, or de-
ficient, or malicious. This Approbation
cannot be fuppofed an Image of any thing
external, more than the fleajure of Har-
mony , of Tajie, of Smell. But let none
imagine, that calling the Ideas of Virtue
and Vice Perceptions of a Senfe, upon ap-
prehending the Actions and Affections of
another does diminifh their Reality, more
than the like Affertions concerning all
'Pleajitre and Tain, Happ'mefs or Mifery.
Our Reafon does often corred: the Report
of our Setifes, about the natural Tendency
of the external Action, and corrects rajb
Conclufions about the Affections of the A-
gent. But whether our moral Senfe be
iubjecl: to fuch a Diforder, as to have dif-
ferent Perceptions^ from the fame appre-
hended Affections in an Agent, at different
times, as the Eye may have of the Colours
of an unaltered Object, 'tis not eafy to
determine : Perhaps it will be hard to find
any Inftances of fuch a Change. What
Reafon could correct, if it fell into fuch a
*Diforder, I know not ; except fuggefling to
its Remembrance its former Approbations,
and reprefenting the general Senfe of Man-

284 Illustrations upon the

Seel:. 4. kind. But this does not prove Ideas of
txw; Virtue and Vice to be previous to a Senfe ,
more than a like Correction of the Ideas of
Colour in a Perfon under the Jaundice^
proves that Colours are perceived by Re a*
fon, previoufly to Senfe.

IF any fay, ** this moral Senfe is not
a Rule:" What means that Word ? It is

not a y?rrf/> rigid Body : It is not a
ralTropoJition^ Jhewing what Means are
ft to obtain an end : It is not a Tropofiti-
o%, afferting, that a Superior will make
thofe happy who aft one way, and mifera-
ble who at the contrary way. If thefe
be the Meanings of Rule, it is no Rule ;
yet by refle&ing upon it our Underfland-
ing may find out a Rule. But what Rule
of Adions can be formed, without Rela-
tion to fome End propofed ? Or what End
can be propofed, without prefuppofmg /;/-
ftintts, T>cjlres^ Affettions, or a moral
) it will not be eafy to explain.





Shewing that Virtue may have <what~
ever is meant by Merit $ and be
rewardable upon the Suppojitwn,
that it is perceived by a Senfe,
and elected from Affection or In-

SOME will not allow any Merit in
Attions flowing from kind Inftinfts :
Merit, fay they, attends A&ions to
which we are excited by Reafon alone,
or to which we freely determine our
felves. The Operation of Injlinfts or
Affettions is neceffary, and not 'volun-
tary ; nor is there more Merit in them
than in the Shining of the Sun, the
Fruitfulnefs of a Tree, or the Over-
flowing of a Stream^ which are
lickly ujeful?

BUT what does Merit mean ? or Traifi
worthinefs? Do thefe Words denote
" Quality in A&ions, which gains ' Apfro-
" bat ion from the Oblerver ? Or, 'idly, Are
thefe Actions called meritorious, ** which,
" when any Obferver does approve all o-
** ther

186 Illujlvatiom upon the

Seel:. j" tner Obfervers approve him for his Ap-
*' probation of it; and would condemn
" any Obferver who did not approve thefe
" Actions?" Thefe are the only Meanings
of meritorious, which I can conceive as
diftinft from reivardable, which is confi-
dered hereafter feparately.

* V N o w we endeavoured already to (hew,
that " no Reafon can excite to Action
" previoufly to fome End^ and that no
" End can be propofed without fome /-
" f'tntt or Affection." What then can
be meant by being excited by Reafon, as
diftin& from all Motion of Inflintis or

THEN determining our felves freely,
does it mean aft'mg 'without any Motive
or exciting Reafon 1 If it did not mean
this, it cannot be oppofed to atting from
Inftintt or Ajfettions^ fince all Motives
or Reafons prefuppofe them. If it do mean
this, that " Merit is found only in Adions
" done without Motive or AffeEH&ti, by
" mere Election, without prepollent 5De-
" Jlre of one Action or End rather than
" its oppofite, or without c l)ejire of that
*' Tleajiire which * fome do fuppofe fol-

' lows

* This is the Notion of Liberty given by the Archbifliop
of Dublin, in bis moft ingenious Book, De Grigine Mali.



" lows upon any Election, by a natura/Se&. 5.
*' Connexion :" Then let any Man confider ^v~'
whether he ever adts in this manner by
were Election, without any previous 'De-
foe ? And again, let him confult his own
Bread, whether fuch kind of Adtion gains
his Approbation ? Upon feeing a Perfon
not more difpofed by Affection, Compaf-
fan, or Love or Dejirejco make his Country
happy than miferable, yet choofing the one
rather than the other, from no 'Dejire of
publick Happinefs, nor Averfan to the
Torments of others, but by fuch an unaf-
fettionate 'Determination, as that by which
one moves his fir ft Finger rather than the
fecond, in giving an Inftance of a trifling
Action; let any one ask if this Action
fhould be meritorious : and yet that there
ihould be no Merit in a tender compaf-
fanate Heart, which Ihrinks at every
Tain of its Fellow-Creatures &\\& triumphs
in their Happinefs ; with kind Affections
and ftrong Dejire labouring for the pub-
lick Good. If this be the Nature of me-
ritorious Actions ; I fancy every honeft

This Opinion does not reprefent Freedom of Ele&ion, as
oppofite to all Infiintf or Defire; but rather as arifing from
the Defire of that Pleafxre fuppofed to be connected with every
Election. Upon his Scheme there is a Motive and End pro-
pofed in every Election, and a natural Inftinft toward Hap-
pinefs prefuppofed : Tho 'tis fuch a Motive and End as
leaves us in perfeft Liberty. Since it is a Pleafure or Hap-
pinefs, not connected with one thing more than another,
but following upon the Determination itfelf.

3 -Heart

288 niujtrattons upon the

Sect. 5. Heart would difclaim *\\ Merit in Morals -,
as violently as the old Trot eft ants rejected
it in ^ujlifcation.

BUT let us fee which of the two Senfes
of Merit or 'Praife-'worthincfs is founded
on this ( I won't call it unrcafonahle or
cafiial) but unaffectionate Choice. If Me-
rit denotes the Quality moving the Spec-
tator to approve^ then there may be unaf-
fettionate Election of the greatefl Villany,
as well as of the. mod ufeful Actions ; but
who willfay that they are equally approved?
But perhaps 'tis not the mere Freedom of
Choice which is approved, but the free
Choice of public k Good, without any Af-
fection. Then Actions are approved for
publick 'Vfefulnefs, and not for Freedom.
Upon this Suppofition the Heat of the
Sun, the Fruit fulnefs of a Tree, would
be meritorious : or if one fays, " thele are
'* not Actions? they are at lead merito-
rious Qualities, Motions^ Attractions, &c.
And a cafual Invention may be merito-
rious. Perhaps Free Election is a

Conditio fine qua non, and publick TJfeful-
nefe the immediate Caufe of Approbation ;
neither feparately, but both jointly are^<?-
ritorious : Free Election alone is not Me-
rit ; 'Tublick IJfefulncfs alone is not Me-
rit \ but both concurring. Then ihould
any Perfon by mere Election, without
any "Defire to ierve the publick, fet about


Mines \ or any ufeful Manufacture ; or Sec5h 5-4
fhould a Perfon by mere Election itab
Man, without knowing him to be a pub-
lick Robber ; here both free Election and
ptiblick IJfefulnefs may concur : Yet will
any one fay there is Merit or Virtue in fiich
Actions ? Where then mall we find Merit,
unlefs in kind Affettions^ or 'Defire and
Intention of the publick Good? This
moves our Approbation wherever we ob-
ferve it : and the want of this is the true
Reafon why a Searcher for Mines, a. free
Killer of an unknown Robber, the warm-
ing Sun, or the fruitful Tree^ are not
counted meritoriits.

-6b'>^ '-'. ..::,L Vj <>:- : C 9M2 CZO^'J ': ::i\!cV

BUT it may be faid, that to make att
Action meritorious, it is neccfTary not only
that the Adion ^ public kly nfeful, but
that it be known or imagined to be Juc h,
before the Agent freely chufes it. But
what does this add to the former Scheme ?
Only a Judgment or Opinion in the *D-
derftanding, concerning the natural Ten-
dency of an Action to the publick Good :
Few, it may be prefumed, will place Vir-
tue in A [ffent or 'Diffent* or 'Perceptions.
And yet this is all that is fuperadded to
the former Cafe* The Agent muft not
dejire the publick Good, or have any kind
Affettions. This would fpoil the Freedom
ef 'Choice, according to their Scheme, who
infill on a Freedom oppofite to Affections
U gr

290 Illttftrations upon the

Sett. 5. or Infimtts : But he muft barely know
Tendency to publick Good, and with-
out any *Propenfity to, or ^Dejire of, the
Happinefs of others, by an arbitrary E-
leffion, acquire his Merit. Let every Man
judge for himfelf, whether thefe are the
Qualities which he approves.

WHAT has probably engaged many into
this way of (peaking, *' that Virtue is
" the Effect of rational Choice, and not
" oflnftmffs or Afettions" is this ; they
find, that " fome Actions flowing from
" particular kind Affections, are fometimes
' condemned as evil? becaufe of their bad
Influence upon the State of larger Socie-
ties ; and that the Hurry and confufed Sen-
fations of any of our Paflions, may di-
vert the Mind from confidering the whole
Effect of its Actions : They require there-
fore to Virtue a calm and undiflurbedTem-

THERE is indeed fbme ground to re-
commend this Temper as very neceflary
in many Cafes ; and yet fbme of the mod
fajjlonate Actions may be perfectly good.
But in the calmejl Temper there muft re-
main Affection or 'Defire, fome implanted
Inflintt for which we can give no reafon ;
other wife there could be no Adion of any
kind. As it was ihevvn above in the firft



I F meritorious Attions are thefe which
whoibever does Dot approve^ is himfelf
condemned by others ; rhe Quality by
which they are conftiruted meritorious in
this Senfe, is the lame which moves our
Approbation. We condemn any Perion
who does not approve that which we our
felves approve : We prefume the Senfe of
others to be configured like our own ;
and that any other Perion, would he at-
tend to the Actions which we approve,
would alfo approve them, and love the A-
gent ; when we find that another does not
approve what we approve, we are apt to
conclude, that he has not had kind Affec-
tions toward the Agent, or that fome evil
Affettion makes him overlook his Virtues,
and on this account condemn him.

PERHAPS by meritorious is meant the
fame thing with another Word ufed in like
manner, viz. rewardable. Then indeed
the Quality in which Merit or Rewarda-
blenefs is founded, is different from that
which is denoted by Merit in the former

REWARDABLE, or deferving Reward,
denotes either that Quality which would
incline afuperior Nature to make an Agent
happy: Or, 2dly, That Quality of Ac-
tions which would make a Spectator ap-
U 2 frove

29 * Illnjlrattons upon the

.Sect. 5. prove afuperior Nature, when he confer-
fW; red Happinefs on the Agent, and difap~
prove that Superior, who inflicted Mtfery
on the Agent, or punijhed him. Let any
one try to give a Meaning to the Word
rewardable diftinct from thefe, and not
fatisfy himfelf with the Words worthy ofr
or deferring, which are of Very complex
and ambiguous Signification.

Now the Qualities of an Action de-
termining a powerful Nature to reward it,
muft be various, according to the Confti-
tution and AjfecJions of that Superior.
If he has a moral Senfe^ or fomething ana-
lagous of a more excellent fort, by which
he is determined lotove thofe who evidence
kind Affeflions, and to defire their Happi-
nefs, then kind Affeftion is a Quality
moving to Reward.

BUT farther, if this Superior be bene-
volent, and obferves that inferior Natures
can by their mutual Actions promote their
mutual Happinefs ; then he muft incline to
excite them to publickly ufeful Actions,
by Profpecls of private Intereji to the
Agent, if it be needful : Therefore he will
engage them to publickly ufeful Actions by
Trofyeffs of Rewards, whatever be the
internal Principle of their Actions, or what-
.ever their Affections be. Thefe two Dua-
lities in Actions, viz. flowing from kind


Affect ions ) and public k^fefulnefs concur- Sect. 5
rin, undoubtedl incline the be

ring, undoubtedly incline the benevolent
Superior to confer Happinefs : The former
alone, where, thro' want of Tower, the
Agent is difappointed of his kind Inten-
tions, will incline a benevolent Superior to
reward ; and the want of Tower in the
Agent will never incline him to punifli.
But the want of kind Affections, altho
there be public kly 11 feful Actions^ may be fb
oflenfive to the moral Senfe ofthcfitperior
Nature, as to prevent Reward, or excite
to punijb ; unlefs this Conduct would oc-
cafion greater publick Evil, by with-
drawing from many Agents a neceffary 'Mo-
tive to publick Uiefulnels, viz. the Hope

of Reward.

J ^t 5

BUT if the Superior were malicious
with a moral Senfe contrary to ours, the
contrary Affections and Tendency of Ac-
tions would excite to reward, if any fuch
thing could be expected from fuch a

\ F Actions be called rewardable, when
" a Spectator would approve the Jitperior
' Mind for conferring Rewards on fuch
*' Actions :" Then various Actions mud
be rewardable, according to the moral
Senfe of the Spectator. Men approve re-
warding all kind Affections : And if it
will promote publick Good to promife
U j Rewards

Ilhf rations upon the

Sect. 5. Rewards \Q public kly ujeful Aftions from
v^v^ whatioever Afftttions they proceed, it
will evidence Benevolence in the Superior
to do fo. And this is the Cafe with human
Governors^ who cannot dive into the Af-
fections of Men.

whether S o M E ftronely aflert ( which is often

Motives or , i T- I t r

indmati- the only Proot) that " to make an Action
ns to Evil rewardable, the Agent ihould have had
b r e y n t e otale" Inclinations to evil as well as to good."
an Agent What does this mean, That a good govern-

r tu? rda ' * D ^ l N p ^ s OD ^ i nc ^ lie d to make an
Agent happy, or to confer a Reward on
him when he has fome evil Affections*
which yet are furmounted by the benevo-
lent Affections ? But would not a bene-
volent Superior incline to make any bene-
volent Agent happy, whether he had any
weaker evil Inclinations or not ? Evil In-
clinations in an Agent would certainly
rather have (bme Tendency to diminifh the
Love of the fuperior Mind. Cannot a
good Mind love an Agent, and defire his
Happinels, unlefs he obferves fome Quali-
ties, which, were they alone, would ex-
cite Hatred or Averfion ? Muft there be a
Mixture of Hatred to make Love ftrong and
effectual, as there muft be a Mixture of
Shade to fet off the Lights in a Picture,
where there are no Shades ? Is there any
JLp,vg, where there is po Inclination fo


make happy ? Or is ftrong Love made up of Sect. 5
Love and Hatred ?

'Tis true indeed, that Men judge of
the Strength of kind Affections gene-
rally by the contrary Motives of Self-
Love, which they furmount : But muft the
D E IT Y do fo too ? Is any Nature the lefs
lovely, for its having no Motive to make
itfelf odious? If a Being which has no
Motive to evil can be beloved by a Supe-
rior, mail he not defire the Happinefs of
that Agent whom he loves ? 'Tis true,
fuch a Nature will do good Actions with-
out Profpect of any Self-Interefl \ but
would any benevolent Superior ftudy the

lefs to make it happy on that account ?

But if they apply the Word rewardabk
to thofe A&ions alone, which an Agent
would not do without Trofyett of Reward:
then indeed to make an Action in this
Senfe rewardable, 'tis nece(Tary that the
Agent mould either have no kind Affec-
tions , or that he fliould live in fuch Cir-
cumftances, wherein Self-Love fhould lead
to Actions contrary to the publick Good,
and over-power any kind Affections ; or
that he Ihould have evil Ajfettiom, which
even in a good Conftitution of the World,
his Self-Love could not over-ballance
without Reward.


1 9 <5 Illujlrations upon the

Sea. 5.

THIS poor Idea of Rewardablenefs is
taken from the 'Poverty and Impotence of
human Governors : Their Funds are foon
exhaufted ; they cannot make happy all
thole whofe Happinefs they defire : Their
little Stores muft be frugally managed ;
none muft be rewarded for what good
they will do without Reward, or for ab-
flaining from Evils to which they are not
inclined. Rewards muft be kept for the
mfolent Minifter, who without reward
would fly in the Face of his Prince ; for
the turbulent 'Demagogue, who will raife
Factions if he is not bribed ; for the cove-
tous, mean-fpirited, but artful Citizen,
who will ferve his Country no farther than
it is for his private Intereft. But let any
Jcind honeft Heart declare what fort of
Characters it loves ? Whofe Happinefs it
moft defires ? Whom it would reward if
it could ? Or what thefe 'Difpofitions are,
which if it faw rewarded by a fuperior
Nature, it would be moft pleafed, and
moft approve the Conduct of the Superior?
When thefe Queftions are anfvver'd, we
ihail know what makes Actions reward-

.'BK;VV<. : '*T>

IF we call all Actions rewardabU, the
rewarding of which we approve ; then in-
deed we ihall approve the rewarding of all
which we affrove, whether the



Agent has had any Inclinations or Mo-SeGt. 5-.
fives to Evil or not : We (hall alfo approve v-*^v>^
ihzpromijing of Rewards to all publickly
ufeful Actions i whatever were the Affec-
tions of the Agents. If by this Trojpett
of Reward either malicious Natures are
reftrained from Mifchief, or felfifl? Natures
induced to ferve the Publick, or benevolent
Natures not able without reward to fur-
mount real or apparent felfijb Motives : In
all thefe Cafes, the propofing Rewards does
really advance the Happinefs of the Whole,
or dimini(h its Mifery ; and evidences Be-
nevolence in the iuperior Mind, and is con-
fequently approved by our moralSenfe.

I N this lad Meaning of the Word re-
wardable, thefe Difpofitions are rewarda-
ble. i. "Pure unmixed Benevolence. 2. Tre-
pollent good jljfeflions. 3 . Such weak Be-
nevolence^ as will not without Reward
overcome apparently contrary Motives of
Self- Love. 4. Unmixed Self-Love, which
by 'Profpefl of Reward may ferve the
publick. 5 . Self-Love, which by djfijlance
of Rewards, may overbalance fome mali-
cious Affections. If in thele Cafes pro-
pojing Rewards will increafe the Happi-
nefs of the Syftem, or diminifti its Mifery,
it evidences Goodnefe in the Governor,
when he cannot fo well otherwife accom-
plifh fo much good for the whole.


298 Ilfajlrations upon the

Sea. 5.

IF we luppofe a Neceflity of making
all virtuous Agents equally happy, then in-
deed a Mixture of evil 'Difpojitions , tho
furmounted by the good, or of ftrong
contrary Motives overbalanced by Mo-
tives to Good, would be a Circumftance of
fbme Importance in the Diftribution of
Rewards : Since fach a Nature, during the
Struggle of contrary Affections or Mo-
tives, muft have had lets Tleafure than
that virtuous Nature which met with no
Oppofition : But as this very Oppofition
did give this Nature full Evidence of the
Strength of its Virtue, this Confcioufnefs
may be a peculiar Recompense to which
the unmixed Tempers are Strangers : And
there ieems no fuch neceffity of an equal
Happinefs of all Natures. It is no way
inconfiftent with perfect Goodnefs, to make
different Orders of Beings ; and, provided
all the Virtuous be at laft fully content ,
and as happy as they defire, there is no-
thing abfurd in fuppofing different Capaci-
ties and different degrees ; and during
the Time of ^Probation, there is no ne-
ceflity, not the lead fhew of it, that all
be equal,

THOSE who think " no Terfon fu-
' nifhable for any Quality or* Action, if
' he had it not in his Tower to have had
" the ofpofite Duality, or to have ab-


" famed from the Action if he had
" led it-" perhaps are not miftaken :
but then let them not afTert on the other
Handy that it is unjuft to reward or make
happy thofe, who neither had any 1>if-
po fit ions to Evil, nor could poflibly de-
Jire any fuch Difpofhions. Now if Mens
Affedions are naturally good, and if there
be in their Fellows no Quality which would
neceffarily raife Malice in the Oblerver ;

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 16 18

Online LibraryFrancis HutchesonAn essay on the nature and conduct of the passions and affections. With illustrations on the moral sense → online text (page 16 of 18)