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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but, on the contrary, all Qualities requisite
to excite at lead Benevolence or Compaf-
Jion : It may be juftly faid to be in the
'Power of every one, by due Attention,
to prevent any malicious Affections, and
to excite in himfelf kind Affections to-
ward all. So that the intricate Debates a-
bout human Liberty do not affect what is
here alledged, concerning our moral Senfe
of AfTe&ions and Actions, any more than
any other Schemes.

SOME alledge, that MERIT luppoies,
befide kind Affection, that the Agent has a
moral Senfe^ reflects upon his own Vir-
tue, delights in it, and chufes to adhere
to it for the Tleafure which attends it*. We
need not debate the Ufe of this Word Merit :
'tis plain, we approve a generous kind Ac*
tion, tho the Agent had not made this Re-

* Sec Lord Shafteflttry's Inquiry concerning Virtue. Part i

300 ] ilujtrations upon the

Seel. ^.fleCtion. This Refle&ion {hews to him a
IXVNJ Motive of Self-Love, the joint View to
which does not increafe our Approbation :
But then it muft again be owned, that we
cannot form a juft Conclufion of a Cha-
ratter from one or two kind, generous Ac-
tions, efpecially where there has been no
very ftrong Motives to the contrary. Some
apparent Motives of Intereft may after-
wards overbalance the kind Affections,
and lead the Agent into vicious Actions.
But the Reflection on Virtue, the being
once charmed with the lovely Form, will

Idifcover an Intereft on its fide, which, if
well attended to, no other Motive will
overba'iance. This Reflection is a great
Security to the Character ; this muft be
fuppofed in fuch Creatures as Men are, be-
fore we can well depend upon a Conftancy
in Virtue. The fame may be laid of many
other Motives to Virtue from Intereft ;
which, tho they do not immediately ir>
fluence the kind Affections of the Agent,
yet do remove thefe Qbft teles to them,
from falfe Appearances of Intereft, Such
are thefe from the Sanctions of divine
Laws by future Rewards and Punifhments*
and even the manifeft Advantages of Vir-
tue in this Life: without Reflection on
which, a fteddy Courfe of Virtue is fcarce
to be expected amidft the prefent Confufion
of human Affairs.


MOR AL SE N S E. $01
Sect. 6.


How far a Regard to the ^Detty is
necejfary to make an Affton vir*

I. Q1 O M E do imagine, that " to make
[j " an Action virtuous, it is necefla-
" ry that the Agent mould have previoufly
*' known his Action to be acceptable to
" the DEITY, and have undertaken it
** chiefly with defign to pleafe or obey
" him. We have not, fay they, reafbn
" to imagine a malicious Intention in many
" of the worft Actions: the very want
" f &d Slffeftions in their jufl ^Degree*
" muft conftitute moral Evil. Jf fo, then
* ' the moral Evil in the want of Love or
'* Gratitude ', muft increafe in proportion
" to the Caufes of Love or Gratitude vo.
" the Object : by the Caufes of Love,
" they mean thoje Dualities in the ObjeEt
** upon Obfervation of which Love ox
*' Gratitude do arife in every good Tera-
" per. Now the Caufes of Love toward
" the DEI T Y are infinite ; therefore the
" want of the higheft poffible Degree of
" Love to him, muft be infinitely evil.
To be excited more by /mailer

Motives .

3 oi IJJuJtratwns upon the

Seel:. 6-" Motives or Caufes than by greater; to
love thofe who are lefs lovely, while
" we neglect him in whom are infinite
" Caufes of Love, muft argue great f Per-
" verfenefs of AfTe&ions. But the Caufes
" of Love in the DEITY, his infinite
' Goodnefs toward all, and even toward
c our felves, from whence fprings all the
" Happinefs of our Lives, are infinitely
" above any Caufes of Love to be found
" in Creatures : Therefore to ad: from
*' Love to them without Intention to pleaie
** GOD, muft be infinitely evil."

IF this Reafoning be juft, the beft of
Men are infinitely evil. The Diftin&ion
between habitual and attual Intention will
not remove the Difficulty, fmce thefe Ar-
guments require attual Intention. An
habitual Intention is not a prefent ad of
Love to the DEITY, influencing our Ac-
tions more than actual Love to Creatures,
which this Argument requires ; but a prior
general Refolution not at prefent repeated.

T o find what is juft on this Subject, we
may premife fome Propofitions of , which
Men muft convince themfelves by Re-


II. T H E R E is in Mankind fuch a

naturally, that they defire the Hap-
of pinefs of any known fenfit'we Nature,


when it is not inconfiftent with fomethingSect 6.
more ftrongly defired ; fo that were there ^v x *'
no Oppojltions of Intereji eirher private or
publick, and fufficient Power, we would
confer upon every Being the higheft Hap-
pinefs which it could receive.

BUT o\K e ~Underftanding and Tower are
limited, fo that we cannot know many
other Natures, nor is our utmoft Tower
capable of promoting the Happinefs of
many : our Actions are therefore influen-
ced by fome Jlronger Affections than this
general Benevolence. There are certain
Qualities found in fome Beings more than
in others, which excite ftronger^D^^jof
Good-will, and determine our Attention to
their Interefts, while that of others is neg-
lected. The Ties of Blood, Benefits
conferred upon us, and the Obfervation of
Virtue in others, raife much more vigo-
rous Affections, than that general Bene-
volence which we may have toward all.
Thefe Qualities or Relations we may call
the Caufes of Love.

HOWEVER thefe Affections are very
different from the general Benevolence to-
ward all, yet it is very probable, that there
is a Regularity or Proportion obferved in
the Conftitution of our Nature ; fo that,
abftra&ing.from fome acquired &/>/, or


304 Illujlrattons upon the

Seel:. 6 .Affectations of Ideas, and from the more
l/vv fudden Emotions of fome particular Pa
fions, that Temper which has the mod
lively Gratitude^ or is the mod fuiceptive
of Friendjhip with virtuous Characters,
would alfo have the ftrongeft general Be-
nevolence toward indifferent Perfbns : And
on the contrary, where there is the weakelt
general Benevolence, there we could ex-
peel: the lead Gratitude, and the leafl
Friendjhip, or Love toward the Virtuous.
If this "Proportion be obferved, then, if
we exprefs all thefe Defires of the good of
others by the Name of Benevolence, we
may denote the feveral '[Degrees in which
Men pofTefs thefe feveral kind Difpofitions
by the Goodnefs of the Temper: And the
Degrees of Defire toward the Happinefs of
any Perlbn, we may call the Quantity of
Love toward him. Then,

THE Quantity of Love toward any
Perfon is in a compound Proportion of the
apprehended Caufes of Love in him, and
of the Gcodnefs of Temper in the Obfer^-
ver. Or L = C x G.

WHEN the Caufes of Love in two Ob-
jects are apprehended equal, the Love to-
ward either in different Perlbns is as the
Goodnefs of Temper ; or L = G x i .



Sect. 6*

WHEN the Goodnefs of Temper is the
fame or equal, the Love toward any Ob-
jects will be as the Caufes ; or L = Cx i.

THE Goodnefs of any Temper is there-
fore as the Quantity of Love, divided by

the apprehended Caufes , or G= -. Arid

fince we cannot apprehend any Goodnefs in
having the 'Degree of Love above the 'Pro-
portion of its Caufes, the moft virtuous
Temper is that in which the Love equals
its Caufes, which may therefore be expref-
fed by Unity *.

'liu.tonr.VHU unfi.,Di:j -old*"*!
HENCE it follows, that if there were
any Nature incomparably more excellent
than any of our Fellow-Creatures, from
whom alfo we our felves,. and all others
had received the greateft Benefits; there
would be Jefs Virtue in any fmall Degree of
'Dejire of his Happinefs, than in a like
"Degree of Love toward our Fellow-Crea-
ture. But not loving fuch a Being, or
having a Jmaller 'Degree of Love^ muft
evidence a much greater 'DcfeEi in Virtue*
than a like want of Love toward our Fel-
low-Creatures. For the Caufes of Love
being very great, unlefs the Love be alfo

* See Trent, z. Sift. 3. Art. n. laft Paragraph.

X very

306 Illttftrations upon the

Seel:. 6. very great, the Quotient which exprefies
^-nr^ the Goodnefs of Temper will be very much
below Unity.

T . , r v r *Jt*

The gene- HI. T o apply this to the D E i T Y is very
l f*A* obvious. Our Affections toward him arife in
*e Love tne ^ me manner as toward our Fellows, in
of God. proportion to our Attention to the Caufes
of Love in him, and the Goodnefs of our
Temper. The Reflection on his Good-
nefs railes Approbation and Complacence,
his Benefts raife Gratitude* and both oc-
cafion Good-will or Benevolence. Some
imagine, that " his Happinefs is wholly
" detached from all Events in this World,
" abfblute, and unvaried in himfelf." And
yet the lame Inclination of Mind might
remain in us, tho we had this Opinion.
When the Happinefs of a Friend is in
Sufpenfe^ we defire it ; when he has ob-
tained all that which we defired, the lame
Inclination of Mind feems to remain to-
ward him, only without that 'Vneajinejs ac-
companying Defire of an uncertain Objecl: :
Thus Gravity may be faid to be the fame
when a Body is refting on a fixed Bafe, as
when it caufed defcent.

UPON this Scheme of the divine Hap-
pinefs, it is not eafy to account how our
Love to him could excite us to promote the
Happinefs of our Fellows. Our frequent
Contemplation of fuch an amiable excellent



Nature, might indeed tend to reform or Sect. 6.
improve our Temper.

I F we imagine that the D E i T Y has fuch
'Perceptions of Approbation or ^Dijlike to-
ward Actions as we have our felves, then
indeed our Love to him would directly ex-
cite us to do whatever he approves, and
fhun what he condemns. We can fcarce
avoid imagining, that the frequent recurring
of Events dij approved, muft be uneafy to
any Nature, and that the obferving ap-
proved Actions muft be delightful.

I F we imagine that the divine Happi-
nefs, or any part of it is connected with
the Happinefs of his Creatures, fo that
their Happinefs is conftitutcd the Occafion
of his ; then indeed our Love to the DEITY
will directly excite us to all manner of be-
nefcent Actions. 'Tis true, many good
Men deny thefe two laft Opinions, yet it
is probable, when their Minds are diver-
ted from Speculations \ by Opportunities
of Action, there recurs fome Imagination
of Offence, IJneafinefs, and Refentmerit
in the DEITY, upon obferving evil Ac-
tions \ of 'Delight and Joy in beholding
good Actions ; of Sorrow upon obferving
the Mifery of his Creatures, and Joy upon
feeing them happy : So that by their Lovf
to the DEITY they are influenced to be-
neficent Actions , notwithstanding their
X 2 ffecu-

308 Illufirations upon the

Sect. 6^fpcculative Opinions. In our Conceptions
v^vx-/ of the DEITY, we are continually led to

imagine a Refemblance to what we feel in

our lelves.

O/' ; .' " v

WHOEVER maintains thefe Opinions of
the DEITY to be true, muft allb fuppofe
" a particular 'Determination of all Events
" in the Univerfe ;" otherwife this part of
the divine Happinels is made precarious
and uncertain, depending upon the unde*
term'med Will of Creatures.

THE Diverfity of Opinions concerning
the divine Happinefs, may lead Men into
different ways of accounting for the Influ-
ence which the Love of GOD may have
upon our Actions toward our Fellows : But
the AfFedions toward the DEITY would
be much the lame upon both Schemes.
Where there were the lame juft Apprehen-
fans of the divine Goodnefs in two Per-
fons, the Love to the. DEITY in both
would be proportioned to the Goodnefs of
Temper. Tho the higheft potfible ^Degree
of Love to a perfectly good DEITY, would
evidence no more Virtue of Temper* than
a proportioned Love to Creatures \ yet
the having only fmaller Degrees of Love
to the DEITY, would evidence a greater
T)efeff of Goodnefs in the Temper, than
any want of dffeftion toward Creatures.




HERE it mud be remembred, that i
arguing concerning the Goodnefs of Temper
from the degree of Love directly, and the
Cattfes of Love inverfly, actual Attention
to the Caufts of Love is fuppofed in the
Perfbn. For 'tis plain, that in the beft
Temper no one Affettion or Idea can al-
ways continue prefent, and there can be
no Affetfion preient to the Mind, toward
any Object, while the Idea of it is not
prefent. The bare Abfence therefore of
AfTe&ion, while the Mind is employed up-
on a different Object, can argue no evil
in the Temper, farther than want of At*
tention may argue want of Affeflion. In
like manner, in the beft Temper, there can
be no Love toward an Objed: unknown :
The want therefore of Love to an Objett
unknown , can argue no evil in the Temper,
farther than Ignorance may argue want of
Affettisn. It is certain indeed , that he
who knows that there is a good DEITY,
and actually thinks of him, and of all his
Benefits, yet has not the flrongefl Love
and Gratitude toward him, muft have a
Temper void of all Goodnefs ; but it will
not follow, that that Mind is void of Good-
nefs which is not always thinking of the
DEITY, or actually loving him, or even
does not know him. How far the want
of Attention to the DEITY, and Igno-
rance of him, may argue an evil Temper,
X muft

3 1 o Illujlratwns npon the

Se<5t 6. mud be fliown from different Topicks, to
confidercd hereafter.

IV". Bur previoufly to thefe Inquiries we
greet of muft confider " what 'Degrees or Kinds of
nwfiry " AfTedion are neceffary to obtain the
toinno. " fimple Approbation of Innocence." 'Tis
ccncc. pl a i n , the ^r^ Ab fence of all Malice is
not enough. We may have the general
Benevolence toward a mere fenjitive Na-
ture, which had no other defire but Self-
Lave-, but we can apprehend no moral
Goodnefs in fuch a Being : Nay, 'tis not
every Jrnall degree of kind Affections
which we approve. There muft be fbme
proportion of kind Affections to the other
Faculties in any Nature, particularly to its
^nderftanding and atJive Towers to ob-
tain Approbation. Some Brutes evidence
fmall Degrees of Good-will^ which make
them be approved in their Kind ; but the
fame Degrees would not be approved in a
Man. There is an higher Degree expedted
in Mankind, to which, if they do not
come up, we do not account them inno-
cent. It is not eafy to fix precifely that
^Degree which we approve as innocent by
our moral Senfe. Every kind Affection,
if it be confidered only with relation to its
own Object, is indeed approved ; fuch as
natural Affection , Gratitude , Tity ,
Friendjloip : And yet when we take a
rpore extenfive View of the Tendency of



fome Adtions proceeding even from thefeSecl:. 6.
Affections, we may often condemn thefe
Actions when they are apprehended as per-
nicious to larger Syflems of Mankind. In
the fame manner we often condemn Ac-
tions done from Love to a particular
Country, when they appear to be perni-
cious to Mankind in general. In like man-
ner, Self -'Prefer vat ion and purfuing pri~
vate Advantage abftradly confidered, is
innocent : But when it is apprehended as
very pernicious in any cafe to the Safety
of others, it is condemned.

MANKIND are capable of large exten-
five Ideas of 'great Societies. And it is ex-
pected of them, that their general Bene-
volence fhould continually direcl: and limit,
not only their fe 'Ifi 7 /h Affeffions, but even
their nearer Attachments to others: that
their Defire of pttblick Good, and Aver-
flon to publick Mifery, mould overcome
at lead their Defire of pojltive private Ad-
vantages, either to themfclves or their
particular Favourites ; fo as to make them
abftain from any Action which would be
pofitively pernicious or hurtful to Man-
kind, however beneficial it might be to
themfelveS) or their Favourites. To un-
dergo pofitive Evil for the fake of pofitive
Good to others, fecms fome degree of Virtue
above Innocence * which we do not univer-
fally cxped:: But to reject fofitive at-
X 4 tamable

1 ^ Illustrations upon the

Seel:. 6. tamable good, either for our felves or our
particular Favourites, rather than occafion
any confiderable Mifery to others, is re-
,quifite to obtain the Approbation of Inno-
cence. The want of this Degree we po-
fitively condemn as evil ; and an Agent
mud rife above it by pojltive Services to
Mankind, with fome Trotible and Exfence
to himfelf, before we approve him as viVr
tuous. We feem indeed univerfally to ex-
ped: from all Men thofe good Offices which
give the Agent no trouble or expence :
Whoever refufes them is below Innocence.
But we do not pojltively condemn thofe as
evil, who will not facrifice their private In-
tereft to the Advancement of the pofitive
Good of others, unlefs the private Intereft
be very Jmall, and the publickGood very

BUT as the Defire of fojitive private
Good is weaker than Averfion to private
Evil, or Pain ; fo our ^Defire of the pofi-
tive Good of others, is weaker than our
Averjion to their Mifery : It feems at leaft
requifite to Innocence* that the ftronger
jpublzck Affeffion, viz-, our Averfion to
the Mifery of others, ihould fin-mount the
weaker private Affeffipn, the Defire of
pofitive private Good; fo that no profpecl:
of Good to our felves, fhould engage us
to that which would occafion Mifery to '
pthers. It is in like manner requifite to


MOR A L S E N S E. 313

Innocence, that our Averfion to the Mifery Seel:. 5.
of greater or equal Syftems, fhould fur-
mount our Defire of thepo/ttive Good of
theie to which we are more particularly

How far it may be neceflary to Inno*
cence to fubmit to fmaller private fains
to prevent the greater Sufferings of others,
or to promote fome great ^0/fr/w Advan-
tages ; or how far the Happinefs of pri-
vate Syflems fhould be negleded for the
Happinefs of the greater , in order to ob-
tain the Approbation of Innocence, it is
perhaps impoiTible preciiely to determine,
or to fix any general Rules ; nor indeed is
it necefTary. Our bufmefs is not to find
out " at how cheap a Rate we can purchafe
" Innocence, but to know what is moft
*' noble, generous and virtuous in Life."
This we know confifts in facrificing all/0-
fitive Interefls , and bearing all private
Evils for the publick Good : And in fub-
mitting alfo the Interefts of all fmaller
Syftems to the Interefts of the whole:
Without any other Exception or Rcfcrve
than this, that every Man may look upon
himfelf as a Tart of this Syftem, and con-
fequently not facrifice an important pri-
vate Intereft to a lefs important Intereft
of others. We may find the fame Ibrt of
Difficulty about all our other Senfes, in
determining precifely what Objects are in-

3 1 4 lUitf rations upon the

Se&. 6,dtff&tnt^ or where Pleafare ends, and Dif-
begins, tho the pofitive Degrees of
the grateful and ungrateful are eafily

I T is alfb very difficult to fix any pre-
cife'Degreeof Affe&ion to ward the DEITY,
which "fhould be barely requifite to Inno-
cence. Only in general we muft difapprove
that Temper, which, upon Apprehenfion
of the perfect Goodneis of the DEITY,
and of his innumerable Benefits to Mankind,
has aotflrOKgtr Affections of Love and
Gratitude toward him, than thofe toward
any other Being. Such Affections would
DccefTarily raife frequent Attention and
Confideration of our Actions ; and would
engage us, if we apprehended any of them
to be ofFenfive to him, or contrary to that
Scheme of Events in which we apprehen-
ded the DEITY to delight, to avoid them
with a more firm Refolutiou than what we
had in any other Affairs. Tojitive Virtue
toward the DEITY muft go farther than a
refolute abstaining from Offence^ by en-
gaging us with the greateft Vigor, to do
whatever we apprehend as positively
f leafing, or conducive to thofe Ends in
which we apprehend the DEITY delights.
It is fcarce conceivable that any good Tem-
per can want fuch Affections toward the
DEITY, when once he is known, as were
above fuppofed neceffary to Innocenw. Nor



can we imagine /0/fr/-z/' 'Degrees of Good- Sedt. 6
nefs of Temper above Innocence, where O^YNj
Affections toward the D E i T v do not arife

WHAT is here faid relates only to the
Apprehenjions of our moral Senfe, and
not to thofe Degrees of Virtue which the
DEITY may require by Revelation : And
every one's Heart may inform him, whether
or no he does not approve, at lead as in-
nocent , thofe who omit many good Offices
which they might fojjlbly have done, pro-
vided they do a great deal of good ; thofe
who carefully abftain from every appre-
hended Offence toward the DEITY, rho
they might poflibly be more frequent in
Acls of 'Devotion. 'Tis true indeed, the
Omijfion of what we know to be required
is pofitivcly evil ; fo that by a Revelation
we may be obliged to farther Services than
were requifite previoufly to it, which we
could not innocently omit, after this Re-
velation is known : Bur we are here only
confidering our moral Senfe.

V. N o \v let us inquire how hrfimple Ig- HOW far
norance of a D E I T Y, or unaffettedAtheifm 1 ****'
does evidence *\\ evil c Difpofit ion, Of 2jfe-/* & '
feft of good Affections below Innocence.

T. AFFECTIONS arifing upon apparent
Canfes, or prefect Opinions, rho falfe, if


$v6 Il/ujlrations upon the

Seel:. 6. they be fach as would arife in the heft
*SY**>) ] Temper, were rhefe Opinions true, cannot
argue any prefent want ofGoodnefs in any
Temper, of themfelves : the Opinions in-
deed may often argue a want of Goodnefs
at the time they were formed : But to a
benevolent Temper there is no Caufe of
Malice, or Defire of the Mtfery or Non-
exiflence of any Being for itfelf. There
may be Caufes of Diflike, and Defire of
Mifery or Non-exiftence, as the Means of
greater Good, or of leflening Evil.

2. No Object which is entirely tin-
known, or of which we have no Idea, can
raile Affection in the beft Temper ; conic-
quently want of Affettion to an unknown
Objecl: evidences no evil. This would be
the Cafe of thofe who never heard even
the Report of a DEITY, if ever there
were any fuch : Or who never heard of
any Fellow-Creatures, if one may make
a Suppofition like to that made by Cicero *.
And this is perhaps the Cafe, as to the
DEITY, of any unfortunate Children, who
may have fome little 'Vfe of Reafon, before
they are inftru&ed in any Religion.

I F there really were an Innate Idea of a
DEIT Y fo imprinted, that no Perfon could

* De Nat, Deor. Lib. i. cap. 37- E* Ariftotele.



be without it ; or if we are fo difpofed, aSg A
neceffarily to receive this Idea, as foon as
we can be called moral Agents : then no
Ignorance of a DEITY can be innocent ; all
Atheifm muft be affected, or an Opinion
formed, either thro 7 evil Affection, or
want of good Affection below Innocence.
But if the Idea of a D HIT Y be neither im-
printed, nor offer itlelf even previoufly to
any Reflection, nor be nniverfally excited
by Tradition, the bare Want of it, where
there has been no Tradition or Reflection,
cannot be called criminal upon any Scheme.
Thofe who make Virtue and Vice relative
to a Law, may fay, " Men are required
* ' to reflect, and thence to know a D E IT Y."
Butthey muftallow^V -omu Igat 'ion neceffary,
before Difbbedience to a Law can be cri-
minal. Now previoufly to Reflection it is
fuppofed impofllble for the Agent to know
the Legijlator, .or to know the Law re-
quiring him to reflect, therefore this Law
requiring him to reflect, was not antece-
dently to his Reflexion publiihed .to. him.


THE Cafe of human Laws, the Igno-
rance of which does not excufe, is not pa-
rallel to this. No Perfon under any Civil
Government can be fuppofed ignorant that
there are Laws made for the whole State.
But in the prefent Suppofition, Men antece-
dently to Reflection may be ignorant of the
DEITY, or that there are Laws of Na-


3 1 8 IliuJlYations upon the

Seel:. 6.ture. If any Subject could thus be unaf-
^^r*s priz,ed, that he lived under Civil Govern-
ment, he fhould not be accounted Compos
Mentis. The Suppofirion indeed in both
Cafes is perhaps wholly imaginary, at
lead as to Perfons above Childhood. One
can fcarce imagine that ever any Perfon
was wholly unapprized of a governing
Mind, and of a Right and Wrong in Mo-
rals. Whether this is to be afcribed to in-
nate Ideas, to univerfal Tradition^ or to
fome nece/ary ^Determination in our Na-

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 17

Online LibraryFrancis HutchesonAn essay on the nature and conduct of the passions and affections. With illustrations on the moral sense → online text (page 17 of 18)