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POLITICAL AND MORAL ESSAYS



POLITICAL AND MORAL



ESSAYS



Mm

JOSEPH RICKABY, SJ.

i.Sc. Oxon.



NEW YORK, CINCINNATI, CHICAGO

BENZIGER BROTHERS

PRINTERS TO THE HOLY APOSTOLIC SEE
I902



Copyright, 1902,
By BENZIGER BROTHERS.



PREFACE

Of these Essays, the first, entitled A Disser-
tation on the Origin and Extent of Civil Au-
thority, was written for the Degree of Bachelor
of Science in the University of Oxford, where
the Statutes (tit. vi., sect, iv., § i, ed. 1899)
provide that " Science shall be taken to in-
clude Mathematics, Natural Science, Mental
and Moral Science." The Dissertation is here
published almost exactly as it was submitted
to the Examiners. Of the remaining Essays,
Numbers II., III., IV., V. have appeared in
the pages of The Month, more or less in
their present shape. A work by the same
author, Moral Philosophy, Ethics, and Natu-
ral Law (Longmans, London), has found
favour as a text-book in many Catholic schools.
The author begs all students of that work to
accept these Essays as supplying some of
its deficiencies from an historical point of
view, and improving upon several of its
statements.



CONTENTS

ESSAY PAGE

I. A Dissertation on the Origin and Extent

of Civil Authority i

II. Savages i75

III. Casuistry *97

IV. The Catholic Doctrine of Lying and Equivo-

cation 215

V. Socialism and Religious Orders . . -235

VI. Morality without Free Will . . . 249

VII. The Value of Sentiment in Ethics, an

Illustration 267

VIII. Occasional Notes: A. The Aristotelian Di-
vision of Justice. B. The Significance
of Types in the Theory of Morals.
C The Theory of Value . . . .285



vu



Political and Moral Essays



o^<>~-



ESSAY I

A DISSERTATION ON THE ORIGIN AND EXTENT
OF CIVIL AUTHORITY

lcr\vp6v Tt ttoAis icrrl <j)v(xei. — Plato, Politicus, 302 A

Part I. — Exposition

§ 1. I propose first to set forward my own
views, afterwards to criticise the views of others.
I shall treat of the ' origin ' of civil authority
theoretically, then historically : then I come to
the ' extent ' of civil authority. Having ex-
posed my own, I proceed to the discussion of
other opinions, in the course of which discus-
sion my own thought, such as it is, will more
fully appear.

§ 2. Civil authority is the supreme power of
command in a perfect community of the tem-
poral order. A perfect community is self-
sufficient, avTapKr)<;. It is not referred to any
other community as a part to the whole. It
takes the law from no other : it is a community



2 Political and Moral Essays

with sovereignty inherent somewhere within
itself. It supplies, or is capable of supplying,
all its own earthly needs. Were the rest of
mankind to perish, it could still subsist, and
flourish in some sort. Such a perfect com-
munity is the State. The State may be either
a city or a nation : a city with a small adjacent
territory, as the cities of ancient Greece and of
mediaeval Italy, or a nation, as States commonly
are now. Civil authority is supreme, final, ulti-
mate, in a State as such.

§ 3. Self-sufficiency, or the management by
a community of its own affairs in perfect inde-
pendence of all neighbours, is a position at-
tained by degrees, and these degrees sh^de
into one another. The United States have
been termed " a sovereign assembly of sovereign
States." But the war of forty years ago evinced
the conclusion that the Union alone is sover-
eign, not the individual States that compose it.
The question whether the British Empire is
one State or many is partly a question of words,
partly of fact, involving the right of the colo-
nies to secede at will, as to which right various
opinions have been expressed by various schools
of British statesmen. A colony is more like a
State than a dependency ; Canada, for instance,
than British India.

§ 4. Commerce and rapid travelling and



Origin and Extent of Civil Authority 3

transmission of news have thrown all States
into dependence on one another for the neces-
saries and luxuries of life. A State is no longer
able or willing to isolate itself and live on its
own resources, cLVTaipKrjs re /cat avTovpyos, a con-
dition which the theorists of old wished to
realise in their model State, 1 though even they
despaired of its perfect attainment. The an-
cient, ample, and exclusive empire of China is
ceasing to be an exception to this rule. We
are fed and clothed by the products of foreign
States. Financial disorder in one State means
confusion to many. Men need one another,
and live by one another, all the world over,
more than men ever did before. We are ap-
proaching " the parliament of man, the federa-
tion of the world," but approaching it as the
solar system is approaching the constellation
Hercules, — never to arrive there. To the
end of all history, so far as we can foresee,
there will exist States, several and indepen-
dent, fairly well answering to the Aristotelian
definition of a State as an ' independent com-
munity.'

§ 5. Instead of self- sufficiency, avT&pKtia,
which characterises the State to Aristotle,
modern minds substitute the note of moral
personality. The State, they tell us, must be a

1 See the opening of Plato's Laws, IV.



4 Political and Moral Essays

moral person. The change of view is not very
great. Without sounding the depths of the
mystery of personality, I observe that a per-
son is (a) one, and not many; (6) distinct
from and mainly independent of others ;
(c) self-conscious ; (d) has a will of his own. 1
Unity, independence, self-consciousness, and
volition are notes of personality, and attach
to the State as a moral person. The greater
number of the States that figure in history
are in one way or another imperfect, either
by immaturity or decay: consequently they
do not possess these notes perfectly. Unity
distinguishes a State from a federation, or an
aggregate of powers : such an aggregate was
the State under the feudal system (cf. p. 53,
note). The most difficult problems in politics
arise in determining the proper import of the
maxim, which no one denies, that the State
should be one. Aristotle (Politics, II. 1261 a)
blames Plato's socialistic proposals as carrying
this unity too far. Erastianism, I should say,
is another excess of unity. The second note,
the Aristotelian avrapKeia, of itself alone always
suffices to mark the State. The State is a
Sovereign Body, or a body bearing sovereignty.
The third note, self-consciousness in a State,

1 I need hardly say that in laying this down I do not intend to
specify the meaning of hypostasis in any theological sense.



Origin and Extent of Civil Authority 5

may be identified with national spirit, patriot-
ism, conscious enjoyment of a common power,
and, from another side, conscious acquiescence
in a common subjection : this consciousness is
often defective, but never entirely fails. About
the will of the State, otherwise called the General
Will, or the Real Will, I shall have to treat
more in detail hereafter. I shall also have to
observe that there are in States, in large empires
especially, inorganic elements, or masses of pop-
ulation that enter but slightly into the national
will and consciousness.

§ 6. The first theory of the origin of civil
authority is at once Aristotelian and theologi-
cal, a theory, I may add, universally taught in
the Catholic schools. It is a theory of Divine
Right, not of monarchy alone, but of any and
every lawful form of civil government, monarchy
being but one lawful form out of many. The
civil ruler is God's vicegerent. There is no
power but of God, mid the powers that be are
ordained of God (Rom. xiii. 1). Soberly ex-
plained, this theory must commend itself to any
man who believes in God at all. God is the
author and finisher of nature no less than of
faith (Heb. xii. 2). His laws are founded
upon the exigencies of nature : what nature as
a whole requires, God commands : what nature
as a whole abhors as subversive of itself, God



6 Political and Moral Essays

forbids man to do. But, the argument goes
on, human nature absolutely requires the insti-
tution of the State and the setting up of civil
authority : society is of the essence of humanity,
and society supposes government : human na-
ture abhors anarchy. Therefore God forbids
anarchy, as He forbids poisoning: but to for-
bid anarchy is to command and charter civil
authority. In this argument two things are
remarkable. First, that it supposes no positive
intervention of God to found the State, no
revelation from heaven, no theocracy. Chris-
tian divines maintain that God did positively
descend from heaven to found the Church, that
He prescribed to the Church a certain consti-
tution, and that the Church to this day is a
theocracy established for the salvation of souls.
But, they observe, the State is not a theocracy:
any particular form of government which the
State may assume is always of human insti-
tution. It was far from the Apostle's mind
to affirm that the powers that be are all theo-
cracies. The second thing to remark is that
the theological account of the origin of State
authority presupposes the philosophical, is based
upon it, and has no standing without it. We
know that government is of God, because what-
ever is truly natural, or meets a true exigency of
human nature, is of God. It remains then to



Origin and Extent of Civil Authority 7

show on philosophical grounds that the State
is a natural institution.

§ 7. The old name for a ' nature ' was a
' kind.' ' Natural ' is that which is proper to
a kind. I suppose, what even J. S. Mill admits,
that there are ' kinds ' of things. Thus I am
sitting at a table : the table is one kind of thing
and I am another. For present purposes it does
not matter how I come to be differentiated from
the table : all I need say, and this I can very
truly say, is that there is a difference of kind
between us. Very different therefore are the
things proper to us in our several kinds, or in
other words, our natural requirements. The
natural requirements of a table are few, and
those of a negative character, not to be subjected
to a crushing weight, not to be knocked about,
not to be burnt. Left alone, the table will last
for centuries. Man's requirements are incessant,
to match the incessant changes occurring in his
body and the continual movement of his mind.
They are incessant, because, unlike such a thing
as a table, the perfection of which is stationary,
man goes through a progressive development
and a subsequent decay both of mind and body.
For the furtherance of this development, and
the retarding of this decay, he needs continual
refreshment from without, and continual ac-
tivity on his own part, as well organic as voli-



8 Political and Moral Essays

tional activity. From these elementary facts
we may gather a definition of what is natural
to man. That activity is natural to man which
makes for human conservation and development.
Thus every healthy activity is a natural activity ;
and unhealthy activities, such as hard drinking
and profuse gambling, are unnatural. But the
definition needs eking out by a distinction,
according as the bearing of any given activity
upon the conservation and development of man
is essential or accidental. An activity may
further this development, yet so that the said
development might still be sufficiently secured
without that activity. Thus, healthful and
suitable though it be for persons of both sexes
to glide about on wheels, and for one sex at
least to receive a university education, yet
neither cycling nor the resorting to a university
is simply indispensable to the possession of a
sound body, or of a duly developed mind. On
the other hand food is so necessary, and some
education is so necessary. Eating, then, and
education in general cleave more to nature,
and are more strictlv natural, than such par-
ticular exercises as riding, drawing, verse-
writing, or music. In this stricter sense, a
natural activity is an activity which is simply
indispensable for the conservation and develop-
ment of man. In the absence of such a natural



Origin and Extent of Civil Authority 9

activity a man cannot be a man indeed, worthy
of the name : he will only be some stunted fig-
ure of a man. In this sense speech is natural,
but playing the flute would not come under the
definition. In the same sense the construction
of houses and the making of clothes is natural
to the species, not to every individual of the
species. We must all wear clothes, and some
of us must be tailors. 1

§ 8. We cast out as irrelevant to our pres-
ent discussion the sense of ' ready-made,' or
' spontaneous,' which the word ' natural ' bears
to some minds, as though that alone were nat-
ural which comes of itself and is not acquired
by human effort. Thus teeth are natural, and
the fundamental activities of sensation, of which
Aristotle says : " We have them and put them
in practice : we did not come to have them by
practice " (fyovTes i)(pr)(To.jxeda, ov ^piqcraLievoi
eor>(oixev, Nic. Eth. II. 1103 a, 31). That
meaning of the word is too narrow. It would
be most unnatural for man to remain havino-
nothing, and doing nothing, but what his physi-
cal constitution supplied him with, and blindly
led him to do. By appointment of nature, man

1 Perhaps the best modern equivalent of the Aristotelian <f>vai<;
is ' development ' ; and (frvo-et ttoXltlkov £woj/ would be rendered,
' a living creature who reaches his term of development only in
the 7r6Ats.'



io Political and Moral Essays

is the architect of his own fortune. Many
things are natural to him which it takes an
effort of his intelligence and will to compass. 1

§ 9. Again, there are things ' natural in the
advance of nature,' and of them we have made
our definition ; and things ' natural by defect
of nature,' such as sickness and death: these
latter are excluded from the definition and from
all the argument yet to follow. Both are of
God as Author of nature : but the former are
' of God commanding,' the latter, ' of God
permitting,' where ' permission ' is not to be
taken in any moral sense, but denotes the mere
absence of hinderance. We should say that
civil authority is natural and of God ; and
plague and famine and death are also natural
and of God, but not in the same way : civil
authority is of God commanding, in view of
the exigency of human nature for its due de-

1 "Other beings are complete from their first existence, in
that line of excellence which is allotted to them : but man
begins with nothing realised (to use the word), and he has to
make capital for himself by the exercise of those faculties which are
his natural inheritance. Thus he gradually advances to the ful-
ness of his original destiny. Nor is this progress mechanical,
nor is it of necessity : it is committed to the personal efforts of
each individual of the species: each of us has the prerogative of
completing his inchoate and rudimental nature, and of develop-
ing his individual perfection out of the living elements with which
his mind began to be. It is his gift to be the creator of his own
sufficiency ; and to be emphatically self-made. 1 ' — Cardinal
Newman, Grammar of Assent, p. 349.



Origin and Extent of Civil Authority n

velopment: plague and death are of nature
failing, and God permitting it to fail. No
wonder then that, while he that resisteth the
power resisteth the ordinance of God (Rom.
xiii. 2), the feeding of the hungry and the
tending of the sick are works rewarded in
heaven (Matt. xxiv. 34-36). Hunger and sick-
ness, though permitted, are evils that we should
endeavour to take away : but the endeavour
to overturn the State is treason and deadly
sin, inasmuch as the State is not simply per-
mitted, but required and commanded.

§ 10. There is little room for originality in
the proving of propositions like these, — that
human nature, for its full and fair development,
requires life in society, domestic and civil :
that civil society is impossible without some
civil authority to control it; and that, there-
fore, in the strict sense laid down above, civil
authority is in the highest degree a natural
institution : that treason, anarchy, and disrup-
tion of States is the subversion of human
nature, in contradiction to the will and behest
of its Creator. A proof of all this, a little less
hackneyed than other proofs, may be derived
from consideration of the pursuit of objective
truth, upon which all human minds are engaged
with more or less of diligence, fidelity, and
success. Objective truth is the same for all



12 Political and Moral Essays

minds, variously apprehended, comprehended
by none except by the Supreme Mind, with
which it is ultimately identified in the ideal
order of being. 1 Such truth is not of human
thinking, but is the standard to which human
thinking is conformed whenever it is right think-
ing. Thus there is an affinity of cognition
between the minds of all men. All march,
some in straighter, some in more tortuous
paths, some nimbly, some with lame and falter-
ing steps, towards the same goal of knowledge ;
and on the road that leads thither company
is a necessity, if we are to travel far or fast
or safely. It is our own thought that gets us
along, not any one else's thought ; but fellow-
thinkers stimulate our thinking, give us things
to think about, and check our errors. Com-
monly speaking, a man who sets to thinking
all alone will either give up his task or become
a visionary. If, therefore, thought and know-
ledge are natural to man, and indispensable to
the due elaboration of his being, the common
pursuit of knowledge is indispensable also.
But knowledge can only be pursued in common

1 By the 'ideal order' I mean the order of possibilities and
necessities. The ideal order covers the actual and transcends
it. It is the order of science and of art also, so far as science
and art reach beyond actualities. As leading to the ideal, history
is the ladder of poetry. But all this speculation is out of my
subject.



Origin and Extent of Civil Authority 13

on the firm and ample ground of civil society,
and under the shelter of civil authority. Wher-
ever that ground has been broken up, and that
authority shaken, the course and flow of know-
ledge has been interrupted, as in the overturn-
ing of the Roman Empire by barbarian and
by Mohammedan. Civil society is the nidus
of thought, culture, science, art, invention ; and
is naturally requisite, as those pursuits are nat-
urally requisite, for the development of man.
But civil authority is the bond of civil society :
that authority, therefore, is in the nature of
things requisite and indispensable.

§ 11. Thus far of the theoretic and ethical
ground of civil authority, or of the reason why
such authority ought to be among men. There
is further question of the actual and historical
origin of this authority, how in point of fact it
has come to be in the world, a highly complex
enquiry. Had all mankind, from the first,
formed one State with a continuous history,
advancing in steady progress from less perfect
to more perfect stages, then the rise and growth
of authority in that State would have been
evawoiTTov rt, like Aristotle's model city: it
could have been grasped by the mind's eye as
a whole, and pointed out and exhibited and
rationally explained. Given a volume of liquid,
the temperature of which always rises and



14 Political and Moral Essays

never falls, or always falls and never rises,
never rises in one portion while it falls in an-
other, never rises or falls faster in one portion
than in another, the variations of temperature
in that liquid are not difficult to register and
explain. But with a vast volume of liquid,
steaming hot here, frozen there, where areas of
increasing heat coexist with areas of heat de-
creasing, where what has been increasing in
heat suddenly begins to cool, and what has
been losing heat turns to recovering it, the
thermometrical record of that liquid, accurately
made out, must be cumbersome and intricate.
There have been countless States in the world ;
thousands are extinct: each has had its own
history. Authority has rung its changes in
those countless States in endless variety of
ways. There are buried and extinct civilisa-
tions that once covered large portions of the
earth. 1 And civilisation means the develop-

1 So Plato, Laws, III. 676 B, C : —

" Must we not admit the rise of thousands upon thousands of
States within this period, and a proportionate number of cases
of the ruin of States? And must not these States, each on its
own ground, have run through the whole cycle of revolutions,
now waxing, now waning, now improving, now deteriorating ? "

This and the following pages (676-681) show Plato to have
been no stranger to the historical or dynamical conception of the
State. He insists on what is perhaps too little noticed by evolu-
tionary historians, that there have been losses as well as gains to
civilisation. He supposes recurring catastrophes by deluges,



Origin and Extent of Civil Authority 15

ment of the State. There have been ebbs and
flows of civilisation. The State was less devel-
oped in England under Edward the Confessor
than at Athens under Pericles fifteen centuries
before. England was then an adolescent
Nation : Athens, in the days of her glory, was
a City State, ripe and mature. 1 The most I
can do is to set forward some typical instance of
the origin of government. I will gather certain
facts of archaeology into an historic parable,
or mythus, false as history, but, I hope, not
wholly inadmissible as an illustration of his-
tory.

§ 1 2. The land of Kasava was pleasant and
productive. Like other lands, it existed before
its population. The wild fruits ripened while
yet there was no human hand to gather them.
The animals ranged and fed, sometimes on one
another, but no man had arisen to kill and eat.
Kasava was not the cradle of the human race.
When man did come, he came in a multitude :

pestilences, and other causes. He describes the survivors gradu-
ally recovering the arts of life, and reweaving the web of a po-
litical community.

1 This dissertation might have been divided into two parts :
Civil Authority in Europe, Civil Authority in Asia. The
two accounts would have differed widely. The political mind
of European and Asiatic has never been the same in history.
Nevertheless the study of anthropology reveals a course of human
development more uniform on the whole than could have been
anticipated.



1 6 Political and Moral Essays

for, take him at his lowest, man is a gregarious
animal. ' The individual ' is quite a late con-
ception in human history. There was little
individuality in primitive times. There is little
even now among the poor. The poor man has
not a free hand : he is bound up with his class,
even when he is an outcast and a tramp. Primi-
tive man was no solitary wanderer. He was a
member of a ' horde,' that is, of a community
having no fixed abode, still keeping together
and wandering over the earth in company, as
gipsies do to this day. The company protected
its members from the attacks of men of other
companies and from wild beasts. The members
rendered mutual services to one another, do-
mestic, medical, religious. They lived by the
chase and shared the quarry in common. The
individual was tethered to the multitude by the
strongest social ties. He had no thought of
setting up for himself. Nor would he easily
pass from the horde to which he belonged to
any other community. He might be welcomed
and eaten, if food were scarce. There were
great men and small men in the horde of the
Lapas : so these nomads were called, the first
men to appear in the land of Kasava. There
were Lapas who pushed, and got things arranged
to their liking ; and there were quiet Lapas who
gave way; also indolent and incapable and



Origin and Extent of Civil Authority if

vicious Lapas. Thus, while all was supposed
to be done by the consent of the grown men of
the horde, the active and leading spirits really
governed. They directed the migrations of
the horde within its 'sphere of influence,' or
tract of territory within which this mundane
planetary body had its orbit, and was accus-
tomed to revolve. There were other hordes
besides with their several spheres of influence.
The orbits of migration were fitful and irregu-
lar. The spheres of influence came to intersect


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