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an aggregate of the most lovable mental states and the most charming inconsistencies; but it points out that these matters are not in dispute. The one and only question is, What is the logical outcome of a certain impersonal system? And, finally, it adds that even when logical consequences seem absurd, to state them is not to ridicule the system, any more than to state the untenable consequences of the emission-theory of light is to ridicule it. Backed by this high authority of the fundamental reality, we venture to point out that the human mind in general, the inner face of the unknowable, is so constituted that the nascent motor excitations which produce the idea of automatism will not combine with those which produce the ideas of responsibility and demerit; and it is further so constituted that where the former set get the mind to themselves, the resulting nascent motor excitations are apt to be of a kind which would be described in the obsolete terminology of the past as earthly, sensual, devilish. In the common mind the idea of automatism explodes the idea of duty and cancels all sense of responsibility. Now, if a consistent reasoner were possible, it would be his duty either to reconcile these antitheses or to abandon one or the other. Mr. Spencer has done neither. His nascent motor excitations have borne him off to write, or, rather, they themselves have written of ethics without considering whether and how ethics is possible. Still the outcome is as good as could be expected. The treatise is the product of a series of nervous changes, and there is no warrant for believing that any state of consciousness can produce any physical change. Thought, then, having had nothing to do with its production, one cannot wonder at occasional marks of thoughtlessness. On the contrary, it is really surprising that the plexuses have done so well. That they have not done better is a part of the misery of being; that they have not ground out better logic is one of the pessimistic features of existence. There seems to be an innate irrationality in the unknowable which forbids consistency. Formerly, when engaged in theology, it was notoriously illogical, and it does not seem to have improved now that it has taken to philosophy. If ever we looked longingly toward the new era, it was from the belief that there we might be logical and be at peace. The new era has arrived, and has been received with all the honors; but, sadly enough, bad logic still reigns supreme.
Rationalism is as odious a nuisance in the new faith as it ever was in the old; and the methods of dealing with it are the same, namely, indignant repudiation and the like. Alas ! that it should always be naughty and wicked to ask questions. We thought we might ask any question when the new ethics should arrive.
The ethics of evolution is based on the conception of physical automatism. Why, then, are not duty, responsibility, and guilt, empty words? And if empty words, why should we as rational beings regard them? The illusory idea of freedom is at the bottom of these “pseudo-ideas,” and they disappear with it. These are crucial questions of ethical theory. Already many are using the positions of the new ethics as a reason for relaxing moral restraint, and ominous mutterings are coming from the under-strata of society. But we have our theory to maintain; and what can we do with the questions? Nothing is easier. Since we cannot answer them, and since we dare not avow the conclusions of logic in the premises, and since we hate to abandon our theory, let us escape the difficulty by judiciously and colossally ignoring the whole subject. If we next add a few remarks about altruism and a bit of commonplace moral exhortation, we can safely trust to the average dullness, not only to overlook the sleight-of-hand, but even to defend us against the critic. To help on this good end, while we make men machines in theory, we must be very careful to deal with them as men in practice; and above all, we must resent as slanderous all demands that we shall not use language which has a meaning only in a system we reject. Certainly we have as much right to our common language as our opponents. Finally, let the critics be repudiated with great firmness, yet kindly, and more in sorrow than in anger, taking care always to remark that this hardness of the critical heart has been foreseen and forgiven, and success will be complete. Of course there is a kind of brutal hard-sense in those seeking an excuse for moral laxity which will not be deceived with such chaff; but, then, the wicked have always been a great embarrassment in every theory.
pass now to consider some of the specific features of Mr. Spencer's ethics. Ethics he regards as the science of conduct, and conduct is an adjustment of the individual to his surroundings. Conduct is distinguished from action in general by being limited to action performed with purpose, but this is a logical inconsequence. Purpose in this sytem has nothing to do with action. By viewing conduct as adjustment, it is brought into line with his definition of life and mind, and is made to appear as only the highest form of a process essential to all organic existence. The process is simply the adjustment of inner relations to outer relations. In the “Principles of Biology" this simple formula is made to exhaust the significance of animal life in all its forms. In the “Principles of Psychology” it is extended to include all mental phenomena. In the “ Data of Ethics” it is made to cover conduct. The formula has been worked out with great apparent thoroughness, and it has so impressed many minds of an inert and passive type that they view it as a magnificent generalization, scarcely, if at all, inferior in significance and indicated genius to Newton's discovery of the law of gravitation. The formula is indifferently given as the adjustment of inner relations to outer relations, and as the correspondence of inner relations to outer relations. We may get some idea of the apparent thoroughness from the fact that eleven chapters are devoted to its exposition in relation to mind. When food drifts against a polyp's tentacles, they contract, the polyp is fed and lives. This is one of the lowest and simplest forms of correspondence, or adjustment. It is direct and homogeneous. The squirrel, acting as if he foresaw the winter, gathers a store of nuts and thus lives till spring. Here the correspondence is vastly more extended than in the previous case, but it is still a correspondence. Finally the man adjusts his thoughts to the movements of the seasons, of the stars, and by mastering nature's laws he reads the past, and foresees and provides for the future. Here the adjustment, or correspondence, is of the most complex and far-reaching type, but it is still correspondence. It is of essentially the same character as that first movement of the polyp's tentacles in response to external excitation. It is throughout an adjustment of inner relations to outer relations. It is easy to see that conduct comes under the same lead. A man who feeds his children, pays his taxes, and does not rob his neighbor, is simply adjusting himself to external relations. The outline is at once so simple and so vast as to be very imposing indeed. And yet what does this formula mean? First of all, what is meant by this adjust
ment or correspondence ? In one way or another every thing is adjusted and corresponds to every other. The chemical elements are perfectly adjusted to one another. The coal corresponds beautifully to the oxygen which consumes it. The planets correspond most wonderfully to the sun and to one another. Every atom within the grip of gravitation is adjusted with perfect accuracy to every other. The parasite is adjusted to the organism which it devours. Correspondence and adjustment of some sort are universal, and unless all correspondence is intelligence, the mental correspondence must be of a peculiar kind. If we say that the peculiarity of this adjustment is that it is a mental adjustment, the definition (includes the thing. It is not, then, adjustment in general which constitutes life and mind, but the adjustment of inner relations to outer relations. But what is an inner relation on this theory? If a living, thinking being is simply a combination of physical elements which are all as external to one another as are the members of the solar system, this notion of an inner relation is a suspicious one. As applied to a living thing, it secretly recognizes a vital agent with a definite range of activity; and as applied to mind, it can only mean consciousness. Mind, then, is the adjustment of relations in consciousness to external relations. But what is a relation? Wherever there are relations, there must be things related. By internal relations Mr. Spencer seems to mean thoughts and their orders of co-existence and sequence. By external relations he seems to mean external things and their orders of co-existence and sequence. So, then, the formula for mind whittles down to the statement that mind is the adjustment of thoughts, and their order, to things, and their order; or, more briefly, it is the adjustment of thought to thing. With this clearing up, the eleven chapters devoted to the elaboration of the idea of adjustment or correspondence reduce to the commonplace statement that our knowledge of reality grows from more to more. The air of awe and mystery which attends the use of unfamiliar terms for familiar things of course vanishes, but the meaning is the same. It is also plain that the formula contains an implicit abandonment of the theory that thought is only the powerless symbol of the physical series, for if that series goes along by itself, then the absence of thought, to say nothing of its maladjustment, would be physically without significance. To bring in thought as effective cancels the physical completeness of the system, and to leave it out cancels the formula. That the formula has a different meaning when applied to life is evident. Its apparent identity for life and mind is due to the use of terms which are made to include every thing by excluding all definite meaning. Knowledge cannot fail to be unspeakably advanced by formulas of this kind.
In addition to this vagueness, a glaring defect of the formula, as has been ably pointed out by Dr. James, (“Journal for Speculative Philosophy,” January, 1878,) is, that it takes account of the mind as knowing only, and not as feeling, or as moral, religious, and esthetic. For the development of this point we re fer the reader to the paper in question. We next point out that nothing has been said as to how the adjustment is secured. Do the thoughts adjust themselves, or do the outer relations first produce the inner, and then adjust them? The latter is Mr. Spencer's view. Any other, he thinks, shows an insufficient belief in causation. To hold that his thought and purpose have had any influence on his philosophy would show an imperfect appreciation of causation. But when are inner relations adjusted to outer? In some sense they are always adjusted; hence by adjusted we must mean rightly adjusted. But what is a right adjustment? Here appears one of the most curious features of Mr. Spencer's system. The test of right adjustment is in every case survival, and true thoughts and right conduct are simply such as lead to continued exist
The ill-adjusted or non-corresponding animal dies, and the ill-adjusted mind also perishes. Although neither we nor our thoughts have any power over physical changes, yet when our thoughts are maladjusted the organism comes in conflict with reality, and destruction results. Survival is the only test of adjustment, and hence of truth and righteousness. Mr. Spencer assumes that there must be survival, and he often speaks almost as if it were a necessary aim with the unknowable, to secure the continuance of the organic world. At this point he borders on Hartmann's doctrine of the unconscious world-force which has aims without knowing any thing about them. Mr. Spencer recognizes ends in the most liberal fashion. He speaks (page 171) of "the naturally revealed end