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cism 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. А 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.
| 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 on 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, incked, 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 has 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
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
1 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.
atheism into theism ; and Mr. Mill's system is nothing short of atheism, since it excludes Divinity from morals.
Our objection to Mr. Mill's theory of morals has in fact anticipated what we have to say upon his religious influence. This is everywhere negative. Too deferential to received opinions to speak disrespectfully, he ignores Christianity like a heathen philosopher. His object is to go no further than sight, but he attempts to make our sight or sense-given knowledge cover the entire circle of human wants. He is a believer in progress not only in metaphysics and in physical science, but even in ethology or the science of human character. It was Burke who said that no new principles were to be discovered in morals or government, but Mr. Mill takes the ground that there are, and yet his own fixity of opinion, through many years of thinking on these . very subjects, shows that he has gained nothing new. In the department of the physical sciences and of sociology we look for improvement, but not in morals, or in theology. Here our only work is to bring out and appiy anew to the wants of mankind, the principles which God has given to man.
When a philosopher puts himself in antagonism with the theological issues of speculative opinion, and overlooks, if he does not deny, the changes which practically Christianity has made in our methods of arriving at certainty in the highest truths, he at once narrows his own vision and his
comprehensive thought. From whatever cause, here is Mr. Mill's great defect. He does not deny, nor attack, he ignores Christianity. And this gives to his writings on speculative and ethical subjects a bad, depressing influence upon the reader. They are not elevating. In Sir W. Hamilton, you are now and then raised to some point of elevation, from which you see where you are : in Mr. Mill, never.
But in his chosen province of positive philosophy, as the application of the inductive method to science and polities and even in part to metaphysics, he has done a noble service. His acute and logical mind marches through his subjects without fear or hesitation. His higher essays are admirable specimens of clearness of conception, and to whatever subject in the domain of phenomena he applies himself, the result is always an advance in the line of distinct thought. Nothing can be finer as a logical
exercise, than to follow him through the Examination. He advances as if he were the complete master of his subject. And in his synopsis of Comte, the simplicity and clearness with which he states his views is admirable. No one should fail to read his writings for their method alone; but, added to this, in the field we have pointed out, the systematizing of opinion, he is a master from whom we can all learn, and whose opinions and thoughts are most instructive: and in this respect his other writings, which we intend to examine in a future article, will be found to be even more valuable than those already considered.
At no time in the history of Christianity has there been such need, as now, of an earnest, enlightened faith on the part of every one of its disciples. Though human nature remains the same, no more opposed to the truth, and no less, yet a long course of ages seems to have made the restless spirit of man more ingenious in devising new forms of scepticism ; while false religion, having the form of godliness without the power, by its protestations of "no creed," or "broad church,” is drawing crowds of followers ; and, feigning friendship for the truth, is really joining hands with scepticism to pervert and destroy a pure Christianity. Again, the condition of society is no longer what it once was, only a few educated, only a few thinkers, the masses ignorant and indifferent; but the people are being educated, the people read and think, believe or doubt. Accordingly, while this age of general enlightenment has brought great blessings, it has also brought great dangers ; and he alone can be pronounced truly happy, who humbly recognizes the divine source of all these blessings, and whose knowledge ever held subservient to a heavenly wisdom.
Surely, if the character of the time in which we live be such as we have briefly stated, it should well become every Christian,