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very step where conclusive proof was indispensable. We do not care to follow him through this most interesting and valuable part of his book, because we entirely agree that the chief part of our knowledge is gained through observation and experience, and are ready to call him master in all the logical methods of induction. We even grant that the law of inseparable association can be made to account for many of the beliefs which have often been held necessary, and are convinced that all the discoveries which are to be made in speculative philosophy are hereafter to be gained through the method which he inculcates. We put our trust in the positive method of reducing the phenomena of mind to the accurate classifications of science, as much as Mr. Mill.
The next point in this discussion is his attempt to refute Sir W. Hamilton's theory of Causation. Hamilton states that, in addition to cause and effect, there is a first Cause which accounts for substances themselves, that this is creative energy, and that this power resides in the Divine mind. Mr. Mill faults this conception of cause because it is a reflex of "the power of our Self over our volitions.” It is based on the analogy of human experience. He himself is a strict causationist, but he sees in cause only invariable antecedence. This coincides with the doctrine of philosophical necessity as stated in his Logic, " that, given the motives which are present to an individual's mind, and given likewise the character and disposition of the individual, the manner in which he will act may be unerringly inferred.” But while he detects the flaws in Hamilton's scheme, we fail to be satisfied that we have no other notion of cause than the relation between antecedent and consequent. The design-argument we do not now insist upon; but our own observation and experience of cause and effect, whether the product of inseparable association or an original belief, irresistibly leads us away to a beginning and a Beginner, and the mind refuses to be satisfied with anything short of this. Expressed in set terms, Hamilton's theory of causation may be contradictory, but something like it has been the deeply rooted conviction of all races of men ; and it seems to us to be a part of that image of God in man, which convinces us that the intuitions of man are not unlike in kind to the thought of God. If this conviction is not a postulate of consciousness, it has been acquired through Revelation, and this does not at all impair its truth.
* System of Logic, p. 522.
In connection with the theory of causation is the Freedom of the Will, which as a philosophical dogma Mr. Mill attempts to refute. In this we do not think he is successful. He thinks that we are not conscious of being able to act in opposition to the strongest motive, and therefore that the balancing of motives is not a power of consciousness. In reply, we say, that even if we do yield to the stronger motive, we are conscious of the power of choice; and this is all that the freedom of the will need mean. The idea of balancing and then acting wilfully, which Mr. Mill supposes necessary, is not at all so. Having refuted, as he thinks, this view of the case, he turns to the argument from moral responsibility. " Responsibility,” he says, " means punishment.” Then he attempts to show that the idea of punishment, including that of justice, is not given. in consciousness, but derived from the teaching of others. Punishment, he holds, is amply justified on grounds of utility, and moral responsibility ceases to be anything more than the answer to a human tribunal. In such a light, the freedom of the will shrivels to a figment, or is lost in the invariable uniformity of law. This in brief is his refutation of IIamilton. Does it answer its purpose? His interpretation of moral responsibility is not broad enough. If the judgment of right and wrong be latent till called forth by experience, does it not point to a moral intelligence resident in man, which is not in antagonism to an intelligent Creator? In one view, Mr. Mill's statement of the opposition of freedom or liberty in man to the invariable laws by which we are governed, seems true; but in another, and even on his own showing, in his attempt to reduce, in the System of Logic, the laws of human character to scientific method, his own admission of the play of unregulated forces in man gives the postulate of freedom which we demand. Neither philosopher makes a satisfactory argument. Hamilton's is too mystical. Mill's is too narrow in its induction.
Thus far we have dealt only with Mr. Mill as a speculative philosopher, and we are deeply conscious that such a brief criticism of the main topics, omitting entirely the discussions on Logic, is unsatisfactory ; yet these salient points are really the only vital things in the work. The discussion of Hamilton's views is often one-sided and partial, not probably intentionally, but from the logical thoroughness of Mr. Mill's mind, which incapacitates him often to see on both sides of a straight line. His Examination he calls an attempt "to anticipate, so far as is yet possible, the judgment of posterity upon Sir W. Hamilton's labors”: but while he may not maintain the same rank as a philosopher which he held before this attack, we do not regard Mr. Mill's logical inductions as entitled to full belief. It is an apparent, not a real victory. We say this, with a prejudice for neither side, and conscious that the truth lies between the two extremes here indicated.
His treatment of moral questions is confined chiefly to a tract on Utilitarianism in the Dissertations and Discussions, and to the Essays upon Dr. Whewell's Moral Philosophy, Prof. Sedgwick’s Discourse, Bentham, and Coleridge. It is also set forth in the System of Logic; but all that is necessary to our purpose is contained in the tract. This was written latest and embraces all that he has said elsewhere. Mr. Mill is a most consistent and earnest advocate of the utilitarian theory. "The creed which accepts as the foundation of morals, utility, or the greatest happiness principle, holds that actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness, wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness.”ı He makes right and wrong " questions of observation and experience.” He denies that there are innate principles, or a moral sense, which teach us right or wrong directly. The experience of mankind, from the evidence of pleasure and pain, lead us to desire what is pleasant, to avoid what is painful. Thus the science of morals is strictly human and capable of progressive development. A higher civilization gives a higher and juster code, since it brings larger observation and experience. It is true that the happiness principle is always an invariable term, but opinions change as to what the highest happiness is, and in Mr. Mill's opinion should change continually for the better. According to the theory of utility, therefore, there is no invariable standard.
1 Dissertations and Discussions, Vol. III., p. 308.
He even tries to show that our ideas of justice are the product of human experience as expressed in law. This is his view of conscience :
“A feeling in our own mind—a pain more or less intense, attendant op violation of duty, which, in properly cultivated moral natures, rises in the more serious cases into shrinking from it as an impossibility. This feeling, when disinterested and connecting itself with the pure idea of duty, and not with some particular form of it, or with any of the merely accessory circumstances, is the essence of conscience." When this pure idea has been incrusted over with collateral associations” derived from religion, from education, from affection, it assumes, he thinks, whatever of moral obligation there is in it.
This view of morals from a human stand-point may satisfy a heathen like Socrates, because his only appeal is from his own nature to the world in which he exists; but it does not satisfy a man who believes in God. Mr. Mill uses the law of parsimony in eliminating original principles with the same destructive force in morals as in metaphysics. The fault with his theory is not that it is untrue, but that he makes it take the place of Christian ethics. He takes for granted that no religion is true, and that we can only build upon a human foundation ; and thus this utility theory is the legitimate outcome of the association philosophy. He claims, indeed, that you may add the sanctions of religion or a belief in God to utilitarianism, but it is not necessary.
It is impossible, at this age of the world, to tell how much bas been added to our simple, innate ideas by the aggregate knowledge of mankind, but even Mr. Mill is obliged in the last analysis to admit that we have a pure idea of duty, although he claims that the distinction between right and wrong in man is only the contrast of pleasurable and painful feeling, independent of external education. What he admits, however, is the very thing which seems to us fundamentally necessary. Believing as we do in a Divine Being who governs the world, we can not conceive that man's morality is different in kind from God's If our sense of right and wrong is not founded on the same
? Dissertations and Discussions, Vol. III., pp. 338, 339.
eternal distinction between right and wrong which belongs to God, then we have only the utilitarian morality, or the consequences of actions, to go by. But if our sense of right has been created in us, however feebly, as we believe it has, and this is conscience, and this moral sense is the inward regulator by which we test outward action, the basis exists in man for Christian ethics, and the utilitarian morality is simply the human or practical existence in affairs of the distinctions which God, in creating man, has made possible for every one of us. Mr. Mill's excessive desire to get on without Christianity has led him to sink out of sight or gloss over this starting point of morals, and so to deny any divine sanction to ethics. But granting this view, and it is the only one possible to a Christian mind, the conscience, being the inward guide, is continually enlightened by divine revelation as given through the Christian church; especially is this so, since the advent of Christ. Thus it is that an enlightened conscience becomes an adequate guide ; thus it is that a man's power of judging for himself is held as sacred, and not to be interfered with ; thus it is that we escape from the sphere of invariable law in human life, by the consciousness given in conscience that we are acting in accordance with truth; thus it is that man looks forward through the training of his conscience to spiritual perfection as an end, thus it is that he becomes capable of heroism, of resignation and self-sacrifice; thus it is that a sense of duty leads us to the highest spiritual attainments and the costliest sacrifices of humanity.
Revelation is here understood as the truths of the Bible, interpreted by the Christian church; and this need leave no one in doubt as to his duty, while it always holds up the true idea that conscience is governed by an infallible authority. Thus Christian ethics give us the invariable law by which conscience is to be educated, and the utilitarian theory laps on to this, as the lower part of practical morality which is chiefly relegated to common experience and observation. Mr. Mill's error is in trying to make his theory cover the ground of Christian ethics --to expand a mundane system to the proportions of one which all here hold to be divine. This is much like trying to change
I These views are well stated in Henry Holbeach, Vol. II., in a Letter on the Sphere of Law, addressed to John Stuart Mill. This whole work is worthy of a careful reading by students in mental philosophy.