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of dissatisfaction is generally experienced ; and this is especially true in regard to persons of feeble intellect.'—vol. i. p. 80.
Now, passing over the question whether in the pointing' and * patting' referred to there may not be some agreeable sensations, we contend that such instincts have nothing to do with ‘morality,' from their blind nature, such blindness simply ipso facto eliminating every vestige of morality from an action.
Mr. Darwin certainly exaggerates the force and extent of social sympathetic feelings. Mr. Mill admits that they are *often wanting;' but Mr. Darwin claims the conscious possession of such feelings for all, and quotes Hume as saying that the view of the happiness of others communicates a secret joy,' while the appearance of their misery throws a melancholy damp over the imagination.'* One might wish that this remark were universally true, but unfortunately some men take pleasure in the pain of others; and Larochefoucauld even ventured on the now well-known saying, that there is something in the misfortunes of our best friends not unpleasant to us.' But our feeling that the sufferings of others are pleasant or unpleasant has nothing to do with the question, which refers to the judgment whether the indulging of such feelings is 'right' or wrong.'
If the social instinct' were the real basis of the moral sense, the fact that society approved of anything would be recognised as the supreme sanction of it. Not only, however, is this not so, not only do we judge as to whether society in certain cases is right or wrong, but we demand a reason why we should obey society at all; we demand a rational basis and justification for social claims, if we happen to have a somewhat inquiring turn of mind. We shall be sure avowedly or secretly to despise and neglect the performance of acts which we do not happen to desire, and which have not an intellectual sanction.
The only passage in which our author seems as if about to meet the real question at issue is very disappointing, as the difficulty is merely evaded. He remarks, “I am aware that some persons maintain that actions performed impulsively do not come under the dominion of the moral sense, and cannot be called moral' (vol. i. p. 87). This is not a correct statement of the intuitive view, and the difficulty is evaded thus: “But it appears scarcely possible to draw any clear line of distinction of this kind, though the distinction may be real!' It seems to us, however, that there is no difficulty at all in drawing a line
* • Enquiry concerning the Principles of Morals,' Edit. 1751, p. 132. Vol. 131.-No. 261.
between a judgment as to an action being right or wrong and every other kind of mental act. Mr. Darwin goes on to say :
• Moreover, an action repeatedly performed by us, will at last be done without deliberation or hesitation, and can then hardly be distinguished from an instinct; yet surely no one will pretend that an action thus done ceases to be moral. On the contrary, we all feel that an act cannot be considered as perfect, or as performed in the most noble manner, unless it is done impulsively, without deliberation or effort, in the same manner as by a man in whom the requisite qualities are innate.'—vol. i. p. 88.
To this must be replied, in one sense, ‘Yes;' in another, 'No.' An action which has ceased to be directly or indirectly deliberate has ceased to be moral as a distinct act, but it is moral as the continuation of those preceding deliberate acts through which the good hal
was originally formed, and the rapidity with which the will is directed in the case supposed may indicate the number and constancy of antecedent meritorious volitions. Mr. Darwin seems to see this more or less, as he adds: “He who is forced to overcome his fear or want of sympathy before he acts, deserves, however, in one way higher credit than the man whose innate disposition leads him to a good act without effort.'
As an illustration of the genesis of remorse, we have the case of a temporary though for the time strongly persistent instinct conquering another instinct which is usually dominant over all others.' Swallows at the proper season seem all day long to be impressed with the desire to migrate; their habits change; they become restless, are noisy, and congregate in flocks. Whilst the mother-bird is feeding or brooding over her nestlings, the maternal instinct is probably stronger than the migratory; but the instinct which is more persistent gains the victory, and at last, at a moment when her young ones are not in sight, she takes flight and deserts them. When arrived at the end of her long journey, and the migratory instinct ceases to act, what an agony of remorse each bird would feel, if, from being endowed with great mental activity, she could not prevent the image continually passing before her mind of her young ones perishing in the bleak north from cold and hunger.'-vol. i. p. 90.
Let us suppose she does suffer "agony,' that feeling would be nothing to the purpose. What is requisite is that she shall judge that she ought not to have left them. To make clear our point, let us imagine a man formerly entangled in ties of affection which in justice to another his conscience has induced him to sever. The image of the distress his act of severance has caused may occasion him keen emotional suffering for years, accompanied by a clear perception that his act has been right. Again, let us
suppose another case: The struggling father of a family becomes aware that the property on which he lives really belongs to another, and he relinquishes it. He may continue to judge that he has done a proper action, whilst tortured by the trials in which his act of justice has involved him. To assert that these acts are inerely instinctive would be absurdly false. In the cases supposed, obedience is paid to a clear intellectual perception and against the very strongest instincts.
That we have not misrepresented Mr. Darwin's exposition of conscience' is manifest. He
that if a man has gratified a passing instinct, to the neglect of an enduring instinct, he 'will then feel dissatisfied with himself, and will resolve with more or less force to act differently for the future. This is conscience; for conscience looks backwards and judges past actions, inducing that kind of dissatisfaction, which if weak we call regret, and if severe remorse' (vol. i. p. 91.), Conscience certainly looks back and judges, but not all that looks back and judges' is 'conscience. A judgment of conscience is one of a particular kind, namely a judgment according to the standard of moral worth. But for this, a gourmand, looking back and judging that a particular sauce had occasioned him dyspepsia, would, in the dissatisfaction arising from his having eaten the wrong dish at dinner, exercise his conscience !
Indeed, elsewhere (vol. i. p. 103) Mr. Darwin speaks of the standard of morality rising higher and higher,' though he nowhere explains what he means either by the standard or by the higher; and, indeed, it is very difficult to understand what can possibly be meant by this ‘rising of the standard, if the standard' is from first to last pleasure and profit.
We find, again, the singular remark: If any desire or instinct leading to an action opposed to the good of others, still appears to a man, when recalled to mind, as strong as or stronger than his social instinct, he will feel no keen regret at having followed it' (vol. i. p. 92).
Mr. Darwin is continually mistaking a merely beneficial action for a moral one; but, as before said, it is one thing to act well and quite another to be a moral agent. A dog or even a fruittree may act well, but neither is a moral agent. Of course, all the instances he brings forward with regard to animals are not in point, on account of this misconception of the problem to be solved. He gives, however, some examples which tell strongly against his own view. Thus, he remarks of the Law of Honour
- The breach of this law, even when the breach is known to be strictly accordant with true morality, has caused many a man more agony than a real crime. We recognise the same influence in the sense of burning shame which most of us have felt, even after the interval of years, when calling to mind some accidental breach of a trifling, though fixed, rule of etiquette' (vol. i. p. 92). This is most true; some trifling breach of good manners may indeed occasion us pain; but this may be unaccompanied by a judgment that we are morally blameworthy. It is judgment, and not feeling, which has to do with right and wrong. But a yet better example might be given. What quality can have been more universally useful to social communities than courage ? It has always been, and is still, greatly admired and highly appreciated, and is especially adapted, both directly and indirectly, to enable its possessors to become the fathers of succeeding generations. If the social instinct were the basis of the moral sense, it is infallibly certain that courage must have come to be regarded as supremely 'good,' and cowardice to be deserving of the decpest moral condemnation. And yet what is the fact? A coward feels probably self-contempt and that he has incurred the contempt of his associates, but he does not feel
wicked.' He is painfully conscious of his defective organization, but he knows that an organization, however defective, cannot, in itself, constitute moral demerit. Similarly, we, the observers, despise, avoid, or hate a coward; but we can clearly understand that a coward may be a more virtuous man than another who abounds in animal courage.
The better still to show how completely distinct are the conceptions enduring or strong instincts' and 'virtuous desires' on the one hand, and transient or weak impulses' and 'vicious inclinations' on the other, let us substitute in the following passage for the words which Mr. Darwin, on his own principles, illegitimately introduces, others which accord with those principles, and we shall see how such substitution eliminates every element of morality from the passage :
Looking to future generations, there is no cause to fear that the social instincts will grow weaker, and we may expect that enduring [virtuous] habits will grow stronger, becoming perhaps fixed by inheritance. In this case the struggle between our stronger [higher] and weaker [lower] impulses will be less severe, and the strong (virtue] will be triumphant' (vol. i.
As to past generations, Mr. Darwin tells us (vol. i. p. 166) that at all times throughout the world tribes have supplanted other tribes; and as social acts are an element in their success, sociality must have been intensified, and this because "an increase in the number of well-endowed men will certainly give an immense advantage to one tribe over another.' No doubt! but this
only only explains an augmentation of mutually beneficial actions. It does not in the least even tend to explain how the moral judgment was first formed.
Having thus examined Mr. Darwin's theory of Sexual Selection, and his comparison of the mental powers of man (including their moral application) with those of the lower animals, we have a few remarks to make upon his mode of conducting his argument.
In the first place we must repeat what we have already said as to his singular dogmatism, and in the second place we must complain of the way in which he positively affirms again and again the existence of the very things which have to be proved. Thus, to take for instance the theory of the descent of man from some inferior forın, he says :—the grounds upon which this conclusion rests will never be shaken' (vol. ii. p. 385), and 'the possession of exalted mental powers is no insuperable objection to this conclusion' (vol. i. p. 107). Speaking of sympathy, he boldly remarks, this instinct no doubt was originally acquired like all the other social instincts through natural selection' (vol. i. p. 164); and the fundamental social instincts were originally thus gained' (vol. i. p. 173).
Again, as to the stridulating organs of insects, he says :-'No one who admits the agency of natural selection, will dispute that these musical instruments have been acquired through sexual selection.' Speaking of the peculiarities of humming-birds and pigeons, Mr. Darwin observes, the sole difference between these cases is, that in one the result is due to man's selection, whilst in the other, as with humming-birds, birds of paradise, &c., it is due to sexual selection, that is, to the selection by the females of the more beautiful males' (vol. ii. p. 78.) Of birds, the males of which are brilliant, but the hens are only slightly so, he remarks : “these cases are almost certainly due to characters primarily acquired by the male, having been transferred, in a greater or less degree, to the female' (vol. ii. p. 128). "The colours of the males may safely be attributed to sexual selection' (vol. ii. p. 194). As to certain species of birds in which the males alone are black, we are told, there can hardly be a doubt, that blackness in these cases has been a sexually selected character' (vol. ii. p. 226). The following, again, is far too positive a statement:— Other characters proper to the males of the lower animals, such as bright colours, and various ornaments hare been acquired by the more attractive males having been preferred by the females. There are, however, exceptional cases, in which the males, instead of having been selected, have been the selectors' (vol. ii. p. 371).