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continual or infeparable accompanyment of one with the o- PART II. ther. Wherever the cause exifts, there must the effect exift alfo. CHAP. II. And the converse. They are ever to be found together, and in the fame proportions.
Upon these principles, actual utility, whether private or public, will not account for the phenomenon of moral approbation.
For, apart at least from any private utility, it must be acknowledged that men approve of virtue, as it was exhibited in scenes long fince past, and on occasions in which they could not poffibly have any private or interested concern.
The fentiment of approbation, therefore, is certainly not proportioned to the private benefit actually received from the action approved, by the person who approves.
Utility, as it concerns mankind indifcriminately, and without any limitation of perfons and times, is certainly more likely to account for this phenomenon.
Virtue is no doubt of a nature to be useful to mankind; but if, under the title of utility, as is probable, we refer to the external effects of virtue, we fhall not find moral approbation keep pace with the actual measure of benefit mankind received from this or any other caufe.
There are many examples of great utility, in which no subject of moral approbation is conceived. Land is fertile; a tree is fruitful; a steer performs much useful labour; yet, in these there is no fubject of moral esteem. The fuppofed caufe, con
trary to rule, is found to exist in many fuch inftances, without SECT. lil. producing the effect it is brought to explain.
In answer to this objection, it ufed to be admitted, by the author of this fyftem, "that moral approbation does not extend to matters of mere physical utility; or is limited to mind, and its "active exertions." This limitation, accordingly, may be admitted: But actual utility, even in affections of mind, does not always amount to a fubject of moral approbation. What more useful in nature, than the difpofition of every man to preferve himself; for, on this the safety of the whole depends: Yet its most reasonable effects are merely tolerated, feldom applauded as virtue, and often reprobated as selfishness and vice.
This effect, also, of moral approbation is fometimes found without the actual utility which is supposed to be its cause.
The mere attempts of a virtuous man to ferve his friend, or his country, is an object of moral esteem; not only where he may have failed in his purpose, but even where the event may have been calamitous to himself, or to others. The perfon, who dies with his friend, in attempting to fave him; the person who finks under the ruins of his country, in ftriving to preserve it; is no less an object of moral approbation, than the most successful adventurer in either cause. And, if fuccefs, for the most part, give luftre to enterprize, the tender melancholy that arifes from a tragic event, is well known alfo to enforce the love of virtue, without regard to utility, of which the idea is excluded by the want of fuccefs.
It appears plain from these instances, that moral approbation, 3 though
CHAP. II. SEC г. III. n
though limited to the exertions of mind, yet does not accompany PART. II. every useful exertion; nor even where it applies, does it require any actually useful effect. The will alone is fufficient to procure it: This, in other words, is to admit that benevolence, not actual utility, is the object of moral approbation: And, concerning this, moft parties may be agreed. Even Mr Hutchison, who affumed a moral sense, as being a specific faculty, required to distinguish between moral good and evil, confidered benevolence, nevertheless, as the effence of moral good, or that quality which mankind, by their fenfe of right and wrong, are enabled to diftinguith as good.
The benevolent will concur, one with another, in every thing that is for the benefit of mankind; but, in accounting for moral approbation, we must ftill return to the confideration of that peculiar fentiment of eftimation, of which virtue is the object. And the whole muft end in a confeffion, that virtue, of which a principal part is benevolence, is estimable in itself, not merely as the means of obtaining any other end.
If, in the term utility, we include whatever is beneficial, or tends to the benefit of mankind, then is virtue itself, or its constituents of wisdom, goodness, temperance, and fortitude, the greatest good of which human nature is fufceptible: And we only rifk misleading the mind from its principal object, by fubftituting utility for the more proper expreffion of a blessing important to the person whofe character it is, more than even to thofe on whom any of its external effects are bestowed.
It were prepofterous to exprefs the value of happiness, by cal-
PART II. ling it useful. Or, if a person who is happy in himself be thereby difpofed to be useful to others, it were prepofterous to fay, that the happiness of one person is valuable only fo far as it is ufeful to another.
Virtue is, no doubt, fupremely ufeful, even in the ordinary fenfe of this term. Justice, liberality, and charity, appear in acts of beneficence; and render those who are inclined to practife them, the guardians and friends of their fellow creatures. Even what we term acts of prudence, fortitude, or temperance, though seeming to terminate in the welfare of the person acting, are in fact preservatives of good order, and contribute to the welfare of mankind. The benevolent man is the more ferviceable to his fellow creatures, that he is in himself prudent, fober, and intrepid. The oppofite vices are destructive, pernicious, or unferviceable.
This tendency of virtue has been set forth in colours of glowing and fuperior eloquence *.
The external effects of virtue are acknowledged ; but we cannot suppose that the sentiment of love, or refpect, of which virtue is the object, is resolveable into a mere confideration of convenience or profit; nor can we overlook its value in conftituting the worth and felicity of those by whom it is poffeffed, for the sake of a convenience it may procure to others, who, without any merit of their own, may wish to derive benefit from the external effects of merit in other men.
*See Hume's Moral Effays.
Upon this principle of utility, the diftinction of right and PART II. wrong appears to be resolved into a mere difference of tendency, SECT. Ill. or external effect in the actions of men. In another ingenious attempt to explain the fame phenomenon, the approbation of virtue is refolved into Sympathy, or what may, for ought we know, be a kind of accidental humour in those who approve or condemn a fuppofed virtuous or vicious action.
Sympathy, in common language, is limited to commiferation or pity; but, has of late, by men of speculation, been extended to fentiments of congratulation alfo. It may be fuppofed either merely instinctive, and a contagion of fentiment, as when without any knowledge of a caufe, we laugh with those who laugh; become gay with the joyful; or fad with the melancholy: Or it may be supposed to proceed from a conception of the occasion or caufe, whether joyful, provoking, or melancholy, that is the motive of action, or object of paffion. And it appears to be in this last sense, that sympathy is affumed as the principle of moral approbation.
When the observer feels, in a certain degree, the passion or motive by which another is actuated, upon a supposition that the fame thing had happened to himself; this participation of fentiment is fuppofed to constitute approbation. Thus, when a perfon complains or exults, if the obferver, upon a state of the cafe, partake in his forrow or his joy, it is faid, that he cannot but approve of it.
If the joy or grief exceed what the obferver can go along with, it is condemned as weakness or levity: if it fall fhort of what the obferver is difpofed to feel, it is condemned as infenfibility: if