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Tllnivereiti? of Mieconein




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Bapmonli S. WttX ;^leiitoriaI

LettwreK on %xmnxi^ti. ^wam,

CoiOitutt 9M |)itiii«i Dettin;



WHY WE MAY BELIEVE IN LIFE AFTER

DEATH. By Charles Edward Jefferson.

191 1.
THREE LORDS OF DESTINY. By Samuel

McChord Crothers. 1913.
IS CONSCIENCE AN EMOTION? By Hast-

ings Kashdall. 1914.

HOUGHTON MIFFLIN COMPANY

BOSTON AND NSW YOSK



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IS CONSCIENCE AN
EMOTION?



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BapmoiOi S. Wttsi iSemoriBl LecttttM



IS CONSCIENCE AN
EMOTION?

ri>r^^ Lectures on Recent
Ethical Theories

BY

HASTINGS RASHDALL

•I

0.UTT., O.C.L., LL.D., PILLOW OP THX BRITISH ACAOXMT

PILLOW AND LICTUKIS OP NIW COLLIGI, OXPORD

CANON RIUDINTIAmY OP HIKIPORD




BOSTON AND NEW YORK
HOUGHTON MIFFLIN COMPANY

1914



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COPYRIGHT, I914, BY HASTINGS RASHDALL
ALL RIGHTS RB8BRVBD

Published October tqt4



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194026

APR 22 1915

I

PREFATORY NOTE

This volume represents the third of the series
of Raymond F. West Memorial Lectures at the
Leland Stanford Junior University. These
lectures were delivered on October 8, 9, and 10,
1 9 13, by Dr. Hastings Rashdall, Fellow and
Lecturer of New College, Oxford, England.
The conditions of the lectureship are set forth
in the following letter from its founders :

In memory of our beloved son, Ra}miond
Frederic West, a student in Leland Stanford
Junior University, who was drowned in Eel
River, in California, on January 18, 1906, be-
fore the completion of his college course, we
wish to present to the trustees and authorities of
the Leland Stanford Junior University, at Palo
Alto, California, the honored Alma Mater of
our son, the sum of ten thousand dollars
($10,000), to be held as a fund in perpetual
trust, for the establishment of a lectureship on
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PREFATORY NOTE

a plan similar to the Dudleian Lectures and the
IngersoU Lectures at Harvard University.

By this plan, in each collegiate year, or on
each alternate year, at the discretion of the Board
of Trustees, from one to three lectures shall he
given on some phase of this subject : ^* Immor-
tality, Human Conduct, and Human Destiny.''

Such lectures shall not form part of the usual
college or university course, nor shall they be
delivered by any professor or instructor in active
service in the institution. Such lecturer may be
a clergyman or a layman, a member of any
ecclesiastical organization, or of none, but he
should be a man of the highest personal charac-
ter and of superior intellectual endowment. He
shall be chosen by the faculty and the Board of
Trustees of said University in such manner as
the said Board of Trustees may determine, but
the appointment in any case shall be made at
least six months before the delivery of said lecture.

The above sum is to be safely invested, and
the interest thereof is to be < divided, at the dis-
cretion of the Board of Trustees, into two parts,
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PREFATORY NOTE

the one an honorarium to the lecturer, the other
for the publication of the said lectures, or the
gratuitous distribution of a number of copies of
the same if published by the author.

The manuscript of the course of lectures shall
become the property of the University, and shall
be published by the University unless some
other form of publication is more acceptable.

The cotirse of lectures shall be known as the

^'KsLjmond F. West Memorial Lectures on

Immortality, Human Conduct, and Human

Destiny."

F. W. WEST.
MARY B. WEST.

Sbattlb, Washington,
January i8f igio.



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AUTHOR'S PREFACE

Thbsb lectures were delivered as the West
Lectures in the Leland Stanford Junior Univer-
sity, California, in October, 1913.

When I published my book on The Theory
of Good and Evil (1907), the first volume of
Prof essor Westermarck'« Origin and Develops
, ment of the Moral IdeashsAovlyyxBidc^^^esjctA
— too late for me to undertake any serious criti-
cism upon it, while Dr. McDougall's Social
Psychology was not published until a year later.
I was, therefore, obliged to confine my atten-
tion to earlier forms of naturalistic and emo-
tionalistic ethics. The present lectures give me
the opportunity of attempting some reply to the
position taken up by these writers. It was,
however, hardly possible to make such a reply
intelligible to students not well acquainted with
the subject, or to explain my own views to more
advanced students of philosophy who had not
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AUTHOR'S PREFACE

read my book, without to some extent going over
ground which I had already traversed in that
work. Lecture I, therefore, is devoted to a brief
and rather popular discussion of the general
question whether our moral judgements are to
be considered the work of Reason, and therefore
to possess objective validity, or whether they
can ultimately be analysed into a kind of feeling
or emotion or "Moral Sense." The second lec-
ture deals with the arguments in favor of the
latter view, which Professor Westermarck and
Dr. McDougall base upon the anthropological
facts connected with the origin and early history
of morality — and which have been considered
in some quarters as introducing a new epoch in
the history of Ethics, the first, indeed, according
to some, which can be described as scientific at
all. In Lecture III I have tried to clear up and
illustrate what is meant by asserting a definite,
intellectual, sui generis concept of '*good'* or
** value," to show the relation in which such
judgements of value stand to our desires and
emotions, and to meet the attempt made by the
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AUTHOR'S PREFACE

late Professor James and many others to identify
the concept of "good" with mere ** satisfaction"
or *' satisfactoriness."

My appointment to the West Lectureship,
one of the conditions of which is that the lectures
should be published by the University, may, I
hope, be a sufficient apology for the inadequacy
of the treatment which was ineviteble in so short

a course.

H. RASHDALL.
Oxford, July^ tgt4.



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CONTENTS

I. Moral Reason or Moral Sbnsb? i

II. The Morality of Savages . . 53

III. Value or Satisfaction?. . .142



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IS CONSCIENCE AN
EMOTION?



MORAL REASON OR MORAL SENSE?

We are all of us conscious of approv-
ing some kinds of conduct and con-
demning others. We all of us attribute
some distinctive meaning to the terms
"right'' and "wrong.'' In the present
lecture I shall venture to assume that
much — and something more. I shall
not occupy your time with examining
the attempts which have at various times
been made to analyse away altogether
these terms — to twist the term " right '^
into meaning merely " conducive to my
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IS CONSCIENCE AN EMOTION

own pleasure," or to explain away the
idea of moral obligation into an artificial
invention of crafty kings and -priests
devised for their own benefit, appeal-
ing merely to the fears or to the vanity
of mankind, and being at bottom, as
the old cynic Mandeville expressed it,
nothing but the "political progeny of
prejudice begot on pride.'' Such attempts
are now abandoned by serious and sci-
y entific writers. I shall assume in fact the
/ reality of what we popularly call "Con-
science,'' considered simply as a psy-
chological phenomenon, as a distinct
element in the psychical endowment of
the normal human being. The question
which I propose to discuss is the nature
of this phenomenon — the question,
What is the real character and mean-
ing of the mental act which takes place

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MORAL REASON OR MORAL SENSE

in our minds when we call this act right,
that one wrong?

Almost all through the history of
moral philosophy there have been two
explanations of this mental act There
have been those who treat moral appro-
bation as essentially an act of judgement,
as the work of Reason, as coming from
the intellectual side of our mental na-
ture; and there have been those who
regard it as simply a particular sort of
feeliflg or emotion or a complex of emo-
tions, the share of the intellect in the
moral life being reduced to that of reg-
istering the occurrence of the feeling.
There have been those who treat our
ultimate moral judgements as self-evi-
dent intellectual propositions, like "two
straight lines cannot enclose a space,''
or 2 + 2 = 4, or "A cannot be both A
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IS CONSaENGE AN EMOTION

and not A at the same time/' or "a syl-
logism with an undistributed middle in
it is invalid.'' And on the other hand,
there have been those who treat moral
/ approbation as an emotion immediately
1 and spontaneously excited by the con-
1 templation of certain conduct, just as
we immediately experience a sensation
c^ green on looking at the grass, or an
emotion of pity at seeing another human
being suffer torture. At first sight the
question will probably seem to those
who are unfamiliar with such inquiries
a rather barren and uninteresting one
— at all events, as a technical question
of no great practical significance. So
long as we know the difference between
right and wrong, they may think, what
does it matter by what sort of faculty
we know it? So long as we have a Con-

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MORAL REASON OR MORAL SENSE

science, what does it matter whether
we call it " Reason ''or a " Moral
Sense''? "A rose by any other name
would smell as sweet" I hope I shall
be able to show you, before I have done,
that in the whole range of philosophy \
there is hardly another inquiry of such
momientous import — whether we look
to its bearing upon our general specu-
lative view of the universe or to its
practical consequences for the well-
being of human society.

In the earlier history of philosophy \
constructive views of ethics were al-
ways associated with the rationalistic
view of the moral consciousness. All
the earlier champions of morality against
sceptical assaults — men like Plato and
the Stoics in ancient times, men like
Cudworth and Cumberland and Clarke

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IS GONSaENCE AN EMOTION

in the seventeenth and early eighteenth
f centuries — were agreed that moral dis-
1 tinctions were the work of Reason: the
only writers who attempted to deny the
existence of distinct intellectual con-
cepts of good and evil were men like
the ancient Epicureans, or Thomas
Hobbes and his followers, who reduced
the ideas of good and evil to pleasant
and painful.

According to this view Reason had
nothing whatever to do with conduct
beyond merely determining the means
by which our desires could be gratified.
And the Reason that does this is, of
course, no distinctive moral Reason, but
simply the ordinary Understanding by
which we generalize from experience,
i Such thinkers did not admit the exist-
ence of any distinctively moral feeling
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MQRAL REASON OR MORAL SENSE

or emotion distinguishable from the
mere feeling of pleasure and pain. The
first school which asserted that there is
such a distinctively ethical feeling was
what is generally known as the " Moral
Sense '' school, of which the third Lord
Shaftesbury, the famous author of the
"Characteristicks,'' and the Ulster phil-
osopher, Francis Hutcheson, are the
classical exponents.

In its origin this school represents
a reaction against the philosophy of
John Locke. The philosophy of Locke
was really just as empirical, just as
hedonistic, as that of Hobbes — though
from a practical point of view Locke
was quite " on the side of the Angels.'*
Locke continued to use the language
of the rationalistic school, but the spirit
of it was gone. He talked a great deal

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IS CONSGIENGE AN EMOtlON

about morals being a matter of demon-
stration, the work of Reason, and so on;
but in reality he assigned to Reason
no function other than that of calcu-
lating what course of action was like-
ly to produce most pleasure, and what
to produce most pain. At bottom all
that Locke meant by moral truths be-
ing matter of demonstration was that
it could be demonstrated that people
would go to hell if they were not
moral. He believed that the morality
of an act could be demonstrated just
because he did not believe in any ulti-
I mate, intrinsic distinction between right
and wrong. The true ground of moral-
ity, according to him, was "the will
and law of a God, who sees men in
the dark, has in his hands rewards and
punishments, and power enough to call
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MORAL REASON OR MORAL SENSE

I to account the proudest offender.'''
Historically the theory of a " moral \
sense '' was a protest — a very valuable :
protest in its way — against this system i
of theological hedonism. To compare j
morality to mathematics now seemed
to have ended in making morality a
mere matter of calculation in the com-
mercial sense of the word: to compare
moral distinctions to mathematical ax-
ioms seemed to be turning morality
into a mere arithmetic of self-interest.
There arose a cry that morality was a \
matter of heart, not of the head. And j
this cry found expression in what is
known as the " Moral Sense '' school.

Starting from Locke's belief that all
our knowledge came to us ultimately
from " ideas," by which was practically

* Essay, book ii, chap. 3, S ^

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IS GONSGIENGE AN EMOTION

meant " sensations '' or "feelings/' these
writers sought to place morality upon
an unassailable foundation by treating
moral approbation as a distinct kind of
idea or feeling — a ^reflex ide^'' (as
they called it), which entered into our
minds when we reflected — turned our
thoughts back — upon our own think-
ing and our own acting. On contem-
plating an act of cruelty, or, rather, on
contemplating the motive which in-
spired such an action, we immediately
and spontaneously experience another
idea — an "idea of disapprobation'': in
contemplating the passion of benevo-
lence in our own breasts, or an action
suggestive of such a passion in another,
we experience a distinct idea or feeling
of approbation. There was no attempt
to resolve this idea into a mere pleasure

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MORAL REASON OR MORAL SENSE

on a level with any other pleasure. The
distinctive — indeed, the authoritative
— character of this feeling was strongly
insisted on. It was supposed to be given \
us by a distinct kind of sense — which
they called the " moral^ense.'' The
ideas of this sense were absolutely suz
generis — as distinct from any other
feelings of our nature as seeing is differ-
ent from hearing or the emotion of pity
from that of anger. These men had no \
suspicion that there was anything de- j
structive or subversive in their teaching. /
Shaftesbury was, indeed, attacked by
the orthodox of his day as a Deist, but
he was not irreligious; and his main
object in writing about Ethics was to
defend the disinterestedness of the moral
motive against those who based moral
obligation solely upon the fear of hell
ir



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IS CONSGIENGB AN EMOTION

and the hope of heaven.' Francis
Hutcheson was an earnest Presbyte-
rian minister — liberal, according to the
standard of his time, but sincerely the-
istic and Christian. I cannot resist the
temptation of illustrating his theologi-
cal attitude by quoting the criticism
pronounced by an elder of his father's
church upon his first sermon. The fa-
ther, himself also a Presbyterian minis-
ter, had been preaching elsewhere. On
his return to his own manse, this was the
way he was greeted by the orthodox
elder: "We a' feel muckle wae for your
mishap. Reverend Sir, but it canna be
concealed. Your silly loon, Frank, has
fashed a' the congregation wi' his idle

' His ethical views are most fully expressed in the
" Inquiry concerning Virtue," in the Char act eristicks.
The most characteristic writing of Hutcheson is the
Inquiry concerning^ our Ideas of Beauty and Virtue*

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MORAL REASON OR MORAL SENSE

cackle: for he has been babbling this
oor aboot a gude and benevolent God,
and that the sauls o' the heathen them-
sels will gang to Heeven, if they follow
the licht o^ their ain consciences. Not
a word does the daft boy ken, speer,
nor say aboot the gude auld comfort-
able doctrines o' election, reprobation,
original sin and faith. Hoot, mon, awa'
wi^ sic a fellow I''' It was just this
sincere theism of his which prevented
his seeing the destructive tendency of
his creed. The very reason why such \
a man did not see in the moral-sense
theory anything destructive of the full-
est belief in moral obligation was this
— that he thought of this distinctive
faculty as divinely implanted, a sort

* Quoted in the Life of Francis Huickeson^ bjr W. R.
Scott, pp. ao-3x.

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IS GONSGIENGE AN EMOTION

I of divine monitor specially implanted
/ in the human heart by an essentially
righteous and benevolent God to
prompt us to actions agreeable to his
will and to warn us against those which
He disapproved. Although it was a
" sense '^ which revealed the right course
of action to man, it was assumed that
God Himself, in giving us this sense,
took care to connect it with the right
. objects. God was thus supposed to be
influenced by a real distinction between
: good and evil inherent in the nature of
\ things. Hutcheson forgot to ask himself
what reason, if Conscience meant noth-
ing but a comfortable feeling, he had
for believing in any essential or eternal
distinction between good and evil, for
thinking of God as essentially righteous,
or for treating the emotion of moral
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MORAL REASON OR MORAL SENSE

approbation as throwing light upon thcv
character of God — any more than the
emotions of hatred or jealousy or ambi-
tion, which are no less original and un-
deniable emotions of the human heart,
no less, upon the theistic view of the
universe, ultimately put into the soul
by God. The deliverances of Reason^
we naturally believe to be the same for
God and man: nobody seriously sug-
gests that the multiplication table is a
merely human affair, and that for God it
is quite possible that 2 + 2 » 5, But why
should we assume that God's emotions
are exactly the same as ours, or that one
emotion of ours influences Him rather
than another ? If Conscience means Rea-
son, we have every ground for supposing
that whatever Conscience approves, is
approved by God. If Conscience is

IS



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IS CONSGIENGB AN EMOTION

merely a "sense/' there is no basis
whatever for the religious conception
which treats the voice of Conscience as
the voice of God.

The real tendency of this moral sense
theory was first brought out by the
arch-destroyer, David Hume.* Hume
was far too observant a student of hu-
man nature to deny the existence, or
the distinctive character, of the "reflex
idea of approbation'' as a matter of mere
psychological fact. But his whole theory
of knowledge compelled him to regard
it as being at bottom (like all our other
" ideas ") nothing but a particular sort
of sensation; and he saw with unerring
insight that the mere distinctiveness of
this sensation could not give it any claim
to authority or superiority over other
emotions. The contemplation of certain
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MORAL REASON OR MORAL SENSE

kinds of action gives us a certain dis-
tinctive feeling which may be called a
feeling of approbation. This feeling was,
he recognized, a very distinctive kind
of feeling — quite unlike^ for instance,
the pleasures of eating and drinking. But
after all, if the sense of approbation is
merely a particular kind of feeling, there
was no reason for preferring this partic-
ular feeling to any other if you happened
to like another feeling better. The only
ground for its being preferred must be
that it is found more pleasant than other
feelings. If the idea of approbation is
simply a feeling, there is no reason why
it should be attended to except in so far
as it is found pleasant. " 'T is evident,''
says Hume, ^* that under the term pleas"
ure^ we comprehend sensations which
are very different from each other, and
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IS GONSGIENGE AN EMOTION

■which have only such a distant resem-
blance, as is requisite to make them be
expressed by the same abstract term.
A good composition of music and a
bottle of good wine equally produce
pleasure; and what is more, their good-
ness is determined merely by the pleas-
ure. But shall we say upon that account
that the wine is harmonious, or the
music of a good flavour?''' No one
would contend that, so long as we look
at them merely as pleasures, a man who
happens to prefer music to wine should
not do so merely because the taste of
wine is a very distinctive taste, a taste
which the purveyors of temperance
drinks have unfortunately never suc-
ceeded in imitating. Equally little rea-

«" Treatise of Human Nature," in Pkilosofkical
WorkSf ed. Green & Grose, vol. u, p. 247-248.

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MORAL REASON OR MORAL SENSE


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