Manual Elements of Criticism: In Two Volumes: v. 1-2 (Natural Law Paper)

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NLT also claims natural law norms, or, at least, its supreme principles, to be self-evident evidently existing, evidently valid, in and by themselves. All men would be able to grasp them by means of their rational understanding. The history of NLT, however, shows that a plurality of different, often incompatible, natural law norms have appeared as self-evident to different natural law theorists for instance, concerning equality, slavery, private property, autocratic government, social welfare, etc.

Accordingly, from a strictly scientific standpoint, one must conclude that self-evidence fails as a reliable, objective, test for telling true from false natural law norms. Indeed, they cannot provide any guidance whatsoever to human actions, unless and until they are duly interpreted, specified, concretized, individualized, and coordinated. Unfortunately, as to the way of performing such necessary operations, NLT does not provide any reliable, scientific method.

Sometimes, NLT supports the epistemological claim by appealing to practical reason. From the perspective of rational-scientific philosophy, however, knowledge by practical reason must be rejected as unreliable. Indeed, the very idea of a practical reason, of a reason that simultaneously knows the good and wants it to be done, is self-contradictory. From a scientific standpoint, knowing and willing are two separate, though empirically related, faculties. Any claim about their ontological combination in one and the same faculty is to be rejected as unscientific: only metaphysical arguments and acts of faith can support it.

In so doing, it is a critique of the scientificity claim since it suggests that natural law theorists are in fact unable to do what they claim to be doing. Taking stock of the critique of the epistemological claim, this one is directly addressed to the scientificity claim and completes it, so to speak, by suggesting that natural law theorists do in fact perform a different, and indeed heterogeneous, task from what they claim to be performing.

In short, they are participating in an ideological enterprise, consisting in doing normative, subjectively value-laden, moral, political and legal philosophy, under the pretense of scientific exposition of an objective order of human affairs. NLT claims a natural law order does exist, that is endowed with absolute value and absolute validity, and is hierarchically superior to positive legal orders.

If we take such claims seriously, Kelsen suggests, we should come to the conclusions that, from the standpoint of natural law, positive law is to be considered either as superfluous, whenever its norms do correspond to natural law norms, or as invalid null, void , whenever its norms do not correspond to natural law norms.

This is so because, they add, many men, out of arrogance and vicious inclinations, would fly in the face of natural law norms unless there were positive law norms providing coercive sanctions. One may suppose such an incoherence to be the output of careless thinking. It is, furthermore, not by chance, so to speak, but by design. In fact, it denounces that most natural law theories have an unmistakable, built-in, justificatory goal : they tend to justify existing legal orders as — either presumptively, or all-things-considered — morally just and legitimate normative orders.

Such a function, however, is clearly ideological, not scientific. The ideological nature of NLT is suggested, according to Kelsen, also by another view which most natural law theorists endorse. This is the view that natural law norms are to be deduced not by human nature as a whole, but only from the good the rational, the right side of it. It is not from the nature of man as it actually is that Pufendorf — and all other writers — deduce what they consider to be the natural law: it is from the nature of man as it should be, and as it would be if it would correspond to natural law.

It is not the law of nature that is deduced from the nature, the real nature, of man — it is the nature of man, an ideal nature of man, which is deduced from a natural law presupposed in some way or another. In the first stage, the natural law thinker decides which are the principles of natural law: of the true, genuine, natural law. In the second stage, she finds support for them in the nature of man and human condition. In this way, the natural law theorist projects her view about natural law upon nature. Such a projection is denounced by the inevitable selection of natural data any natural law theorist performs, ruling out those data — those natural inclinations, or drives, of the human mind typically, the inclination to aggression, domination, free-riding, etc.

It may be recounted as follows. Natural law theorists claim to be scientific expositors of natural law as it really is. Leaving them aside, however, it seems possible to reach the same conclusion by the following questions: What is, what has been, in fact the historical, immediate, function of NLT? Does such a function belong to the sphere of scientific knowledge or, rather, to that of practice politics, morality, law? As the argument from incoherence already suggests, natural law theories have always played, and do play, a justificatory function: the idea of a natural law has been, and is being, used to justify either the conservation, or the reform, or even, in rare cases, the revolutionary change of existing governments and positive legal orders.

It is an ideological, normative function. Some of them are in fact open confessions of the ideological character of NLT.

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They are — the labels and reconstruction are, as before, mine: 1 the no charitableness argument, 2 the argument from the contingency of theism, 3 the argument from success, 4 the argument from no rigid separation between facts and norms, 5 the argument from the empirical un-tenability of ethical subjectivism. I will consider them in turn and see which reply, if any, can be made from a Kelsenian perspective. The point of departure of this approach may be simply a consideration of certain basic traits and needs of human beings which the law cannot afford to disregard.

For example, a statement to the effect that a human law prohibiting any sexual intercourse between men and women would be contrary to "natural law" would not necessarily require the support of theology. Religious believers as well as agnostics would agree that a law prescribing a working day of twenty-two hours contravenes the laws of nature which demand of men a certain amount of sleep. If laws unbearable to human nature are enacted, men will actively or passively resist such laws and set them aside at the earliest opportunity.

All that is involved in this particular aspect of the doctrine is a realization that there is an element in human nature that limits the power of the legislator and acts as a restraint on his arbitrary will. Such a position is compatible with a secular as well as a religious approach to the law. Furthermore, this unduly suggests, as Bodenheimer does in the afore-mentioned lines, the passage from the former to the latter to be a matter of course.

In order to support that conclusion, Bodenheimer appeals to the authority of Hugo Grotius, the father of 17 th century rationalistic NLT:. Grotius goes even further in his attempt to put the natural law on an immanent rationalistic foundation , declaring the law of nature to be binding on God and denying His power to alter it. He grounded it on an independent eternal reason pervading the cosmos, although he admitted the alternative possibility of a theological foundation.

In fact, they beg the question. Unfortunately, he provides no support for such claims: except, perhaps, for an appeal to their self-evident correctness. Indeed, from a Kelsenian perspective, one could reply as follows. For the following reasons:. By this approach, the alleged chasm between value and fact is spanned by numerous solid bridges.

It is indeed a clear instance of ignoratio elenchi. Let us see why. It amounts to the logical impossibility of deriving normative conclusions from purely factual premises. The doctrine of ethical relativity loses its force if it is proved that 90 per cent or 95 per cent of the historically known societies agree on the need of out-lawing certain practices deemed incompatible with the requirements of organized social life. It is not even necessary, however, in order to disprove the theory that all law and ethics are relative, to show a universal agreement among all peoples with regard to certain standards of conduct.

If it can be demonstrated that civilized and mature societies tend to share certain value judgments and concur in some fundamental axioms of socially desirable conduct, we would thereby carve out an important area of absolute or near-absolute standards of civilized men. It was, in fact, a natural law of this type that the classical law-of-nature jurists had in mind.

Hart calls it , 57 however, simply says that life, limbs and goods must be protected, if a society is to be viable. It does not say anything, though, about how life, limbs and goods ought to be protected; nor does it say anything about whose life, limbs and goods ought to be protected. From a strictly empirical, scientific, standpoint, they are relative to these men and their culture. Indeed, if it succeeds in something, its success consists, paradoxically, in showing that NLT is really no scientific undertaking at all, but a value-laden, ideological, enterprise grounded on moral and political argument.

At the end of the essay, George claims to have established the following points:. In fact, he expressly considered that line of thought in other of his writings devoted to the criticisms of NLT. The core of the theory runs as follows: natural law principles are objective, self-evident, reasons for action, which men can know, and be motivated by, by means of their practical reason.

I think it is by no means so. Unlike many later theorists of natural law, Aquinas eschewed the voluntarism implied by this conception of moral obligation. The force of practical—including moral—principles, according to Aquinas, is rational ; these principles state reasons for action and restraint; to defy them is wrong inasmuch as it is unreasonable.

It is, rather, intrinsic to human beings; its fundamental referents are the human goods that constitute human well-being and fulfillment and precisely as such are reasons for action. That argument, if you remember, claimed that provided natural law norms are norms and not empirical statements, there must be a norm-giving authority which, by hypothesis, must be a transcendent deity by whose will they are created. I think it can. Perfection, here, is an objective notion, independent of human reason and will.

The whole picture, then, is clearly informed by the Aristotelian doctrine of entelechy : it is a teleological picture of man, as a being with an inbuilt objective drive to an objective goal of perfection. Such a teleological picture cannot be but the design of some maker of the universe. Accordingly, a theological foundation eventually seems to pop out, even in a natural law as reasons for action approach. Suppose that the reasons for action identified by practical reason can stand by themselves, as Grotius himself suggested. But conditions 9 and 10 conceal ambiguities, since it is not clearcut what is to count as the counterpart of any given act of nourishment.

For example, is eating 5 potatoes the counterpart of eating a part of a shank of a zebra, or is perhaps eatin g 9 carrots the counterpart? Definitions could be provided here, e. Now, if theses 8 - 14 are true, it follows that the law of predation E is ultimately evil. For if 8 - 14 are true, then E satisfies the above-mentioned eightfold sufficient of being an ultimately evil law.

If E is ultimately evil and is actually instantiated, then there is actually no being that is omnibenevolent, omnipotent and omniscient. Or so it might be argued. But if this is to be argued successfully, some additional defence is needed for the theses 8 - This is particularly the case for 13 , which is the claim most vulnerable to attack. In the following section I shall consider and respond to some familiar objections to claims of this sort. It is arguable that it is implicit in Swinburne's theodicy in The Existence of God that it is false that.

Swinburne's theodicy arguably implies that instances of the law of predation causally contribute to the provision of moral agents with the knowledge necessary for morally significant action, whereas instances of a law V of vegetation-nourishment would not. Since the aggregate of all events of morally significant actions and all other causes and effects of instances of E outweighs in positive value the aggregate of causes and effects of the instances of V in the closest pure V-world i. But let us examine some of the particulars in Swinburne's argument. According to Swinburne, natural evil is morally justified by the "need for knowledge"; natural evils are logically "necessary if agents are to have the knowledge how to bring about evil or prevent its occurrence" 8 and opportunities for such knowledge are outweighing goods relative to the evils.

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This argument, however, breaks down when it comes to instances of E, for there are no plausible candidates for "opportunities for ethically relevant knowledge" that both logically require instances of E and outweigh them in positive value. Swinburne mentions as one candidate the opportunities to learn about the potentially disastrous consequences to animals of our choices to change the environment and mutate genes; he explains that.

The invalidity of this argument clearly appears if we isolate the relevant inferences. Swinburne infers from. But 17 does not follow from Imagine that the only animals that ever have existed are pets and farm animals.

It would then be a well-confirmed theory that suffering never or rarely happens to animals except such as humans can prevent. But would it then seem that we do not have the opportunity to engage in actions that would cause or prevent subsequently unpreventable suffering to future generations of animals? Of course not. Suppose some pesticides are used in a limited area and blind all pets and farm animals in that area and cause all generations of offspring of these animals to be blind.

This would provide us with knowledge of an action use of this pesticide everywhere that would cause unpreventable suffering blindness to all future generations of animals. Swinburne also suggests that instances of E provide humans with helpful knowledge pertinent to themselves: " Swinburne's remarks might suggest the following argument about self-preservation E-knowledge:.

Although both 18 and 19 seem false, I shall content myself with showing that 18 is false. The idea that self-preservation knowledge gained from instances of E is an outweighing good relative to instances of E is based on the fallacious assumption that it is good that an evil of a certain type exists since its existence provides an opportunity to learn how to prevent future instances of the evil. In particular, the assumption is that "It is good that animals savagely attack, kill and devour each other and occasionally humans, so that animals and humans can learn to avoid being savagely attacked, killed and devoured on some occasions in the future".

If the assumption underlying this argument were true, then it would be a sound argument th at "It is good that millions of humans die agonizing deaths of cancer, since this provides humans with opportunities to learn how to prevent some people from dying of cancer in the future". This assumption is false since the opportunity to learn to prevent some evils of a certain type does not outweigh in positive value the negative value of the extant evils of this type. If it did outweigh them, we should be rejoicing in the AIDS epidemic since the instances of AIDS combined with the opportunities to learn how to prevent AIDS would result in an overall increase in the positive value in the universe.

John Hick's account of instances of E is also based in part on counterintuitive moral principles. Hick suggests that seemingly unjustified natural evils are necessary if humans are to have a natural environment that does not automatically incite faith and love of God but requires this faith and love to be freely chosen from an epistemic 'distance'. In Hick's words, " This entails his immersion in an apparently autonomous environment which presents itself to him etsi deus non daretur, 'as if there were no God'".

But this argument fails since the instantiation of E is not necessary for the existence of an environment that seems morally ambiguous or theologically doubtful to humans. The occurrence of natural disasters that befall humans, such as plagues, wheat famines, floods and tornadoes is sufficient by itself to create a questionable natural environment.

We are at an epistemic "distance" from God due to the sufferings and horrible deaths nature sometimes inflicts upon us, and the hundreds of millions of years of animals preying on each other before we even evolved are not needed for this "distancing". But there is a second and more fundamental problem with Hick's theodicy; it ascribes to God the morally pernicious attitude of "speciesism", to borrow a term from Peter Singer.

Animals are sentient creatures capable of suffering and as such are moral ends in themselves; the failure to treat them as such is a sign of selective benevolence and callousness and is inconsistent with the definition of God. If God intended to create a questionable natural environment for the human species, he could and would have done so without violating the rights of animals. For those who hold, contra Regan, 15 that animals have no rights but that their welfare is of value, this point may be put by saying that an omnibenevolent creator could and would have created a questionable environment without callously neglecting the welfare of animals.

The "no best possible world defence" of natural evil, most thoroughly developed by Schlesinger, 17 is also inadequate since the alleged fact that there is no best possible world does not license God to create just any world. Schlesinger's argument does not show that every world creatable by God contains instances of ultimately evil natural laws, or that every creatable world without such instances is inferior in over-all positive value to worlds with such instances, and thus his argument is open to the objection that a perfectly good, wise and powerful being would have created one of the worlds devoid of such instances.

Furthermore, the fact that there is no best possible world does not show that it is morally permissible to create our E-world with its massive amount of gratuitous animal evil rather than the closest pure V-world W with no E-evil but similar goods to the actual world. By analogy, the fact that there is no best possible political system does not morally permit politicians to choose Nazism rather than some version of constitutional democracy as the actual political system. In fact a much stronger case can be made against Schlesinger's argument, as Keith Chrzan 18 has recently demonstrated.

Schlesinger's "no best possible world defence" shows only that there is no world with a maximal positive value and not that there is no world without any natural and moral evil ; consequently, this defence fails to demonstrate that natural and moral evil is a necessary implication of creation and thus fails to explain how God's existence is compatible with the actual world.

Reichenbach's argument 19 is that the possibility of natural evil is necessary for the outweighing good of rational agents making moral choices. A more effectual method to alienate the tender mind from abstract science, is beyond the reach of invention: and accordingly, with respect to such speculations, our youth generally contract a sort of hobgoblin terror, seldom if ever subdued. Those who apply to the arts, are trained in a very different manner: they are led, step by step, from the easier parts of the operation, to what are more difficult; and are not permitted to make a new motion, till they are perfected in those which go before.

Thus the science of criticism may be considered as a middle link, connecting the different parts of education into a regular chain. This science furnisheth an inviting opportunity to exercise the judgement: we delight to reason upon subjects that are equally pleasant and familiar: we proceed gradually from the simpler to the more involved cases: and in a due course of discipline, custom, which improves all our faculties, bestows acuteness on that of rea- Edition: ed; Page: [ 9 ] son, sufficient to unravel all the intricacies of philosophy.

Nor ought it to be overlooked, that the reasonings employed on the fine arts are of the same kind with those which regulate our conduct. Mathematical and metaphysical reasonings have no tendency to improve our Edition: current; Page: [ 16 ] knowledge of man; nor are they applicable to the common affairs of life: but a just taste of the fine arts, derived from rational principles, furnishes elegant subjects for conversation, and prepares us for acting in the social state with dignity and propriety.

The science of rational criticism tends to improve the heart no less than the understanding. Pride and envy, two disgustful passions, find in the constitution no enemy more formidable than a delicate and Edition: ed; Page: [ 10 ] discerning taste: the man upon whom nature and culture have bestowed this blessing, delights in the virtuous dispositions and actions of others: he loves to cherish them, and to publish them to the world: faults and failings, it is true, are to him no less obvious; but these he avoids, or removes out of sight, because they give him pain.

On the other hand, a man void of taste, upon whom even striking beauties make but a faint impression, indulges pride or envy without controul, and loves to brood over errors and blemishes. In a word, there are other passions, that, upon occasion, may disturb the peace of society more than those mentioned; but not another passion is so unwearied an antagonist to the sweets of social intercourse: pride and envy put a man perpetually in opposition to others; and dispose him to relish bad more than good qualities, even in a companion.

How different that disposition of mind, where every virtue in a companion or neighbour, is, by refinement of taste, set in its strongest light; and defects or blemishes, natural to all, are suppressed, or kept out of view! In the next place, delicacy of taste tends no less to invigorate the social affections, than to moderate those that are selfish. To be convinced of that tendency, we need only reflect, that delicacy of taste necessarily heightens Edition: current; Page: [ 17 ] our feeling of pain and pleasure; and of course our sympathy, which is the capital branch of every social passion.

Sym- Edition: ed; Page: [ 11 ] pathy invites a communication of joys and sorrows, hopes and fears: such exercise, soothing and satisfactory in itself, is necessarily productive of mutual good-will and affection. One other advantage of rational criticism is reserved to the last place, being of all the most important; which is, that it is a great support to morality.

I insist on it with entire satisfaction, that no occupation attaches a man more to his duty, than that of cultivating a taste in the fine arts: a just relish of what is beautiful, proper, elegant, and ornamental, in writing or painting, in architecture or gardening, is a fine preparation for the same just relish of these qualities in character and behaviour. To the man who has acquired a taste so acute and accomplished, every action wrong or improper must be highly disgustful: if, in any instance, the overbearing power of passion sway him from his duty, he returns to it with redoubled resolution never to be swayed a second time: he has now an additional motive to virtue, a conviction derived from experience, that happiness depends on regularity and order, and that disregard to justice or propriety never fails to be punished with shame and remorse.

Rude ages exhibit the triumph of authority over reason: Philosophers anciently were divided into sects, being Epicureans, Platonists, Stoics, Pythagoreans, or Sceptics: the speculative relied no farther on their own judgement but to chuse a leader, whom they implicitly followed. In later times, happily, reason hath obtained the ascendant: men now assert their native privilege of thinking for themselves; and disdain to be ranked in any sect, whatever be the science.

Bossu, 2 a celebrated French Edition: current; Page: [ 18 ] critic, gives many rules; but can discover no better foundation for any of them, than the practice merely of Homer and Virgil, supported by the authority of Aristotle: Strange! It could not surely be his opinion, that these poets, however eminent for genius, were intitled to give law to mankind; and that nothing now remains, but blind obedience to their arbitrary will: if in writing they followed no Edition: ed; Page: [ 13 ] rule, why should they be imitated? The fine arts are intended to entertain us, by making pleasant impressions; and, by that circumstance, are distinguished from the useful arts: but in order to make pleasant impressions, we ought, as above hinted, to know what objects are naturally agreeable, and what naturally disagreeable.

That subject is here attempted, as far as necessary for unfolding the genuine principles of the fine arts; and the author assumes no merit from his performance, but that of evincing, perhaps more distinctly than hitherto has been done, that these principles, as well as every just rule of criticism, are founded upon the sensitive part of our nature. What the author hath discovered or collected upon that subject, he chuses to impart in the gay and agreeable form of criticism; imagining that this form will be more relished, and perhaps be no less instructive, than a regular and laboured disquisition.

His plan is, to ascend gradually to principles, from facts and experiments; instead of beginning with the former, handled abstractedly, and descending to the latter. But Edition: ed; Page: [ 14 ] though criticism is thus his only declared aim, he will not disown, that all along it has been his view, to explain the nature of man, considered as a sensitive being capable of pleasure and pain: and though he flatters himself with having made some progress in that important science, he is however too sensible of its extent and difficulty, to undertake it professedly, or to avow it as the chief purpose of the present work.

To censure works, not men, is the just prerogative of criticism; and accordingly Edition: current; Page: [ 19 ] all personal censure is here avoided, unless where necessary to illustrate some general proposition. No praise is claimed on that account; because censuring with a view merely to find fault, cannot be entertaining to any person of humanity.

Writers, one should imagine, ought, above all others, to be reserved on that article, when they lie so open to retaliation. The author of this treatise, far from being confident of meriting no censure, entertains not even the slightest hope of such perfection. Amusement was at first the sole aim of his inquiries: proceeding from one particular to another, the subject grew under his hand; and he was far advanced before the thought struck him, that his private meditations might be publicly useful.

In public, however, he would not appear in a slovenly dress; and therefore he pretends not otherwise to apologise for his errors, than by observing, that in a new subject, no less nice than extensive, errors Edition: ed; Page: [ 15 ] are in some measure unavoidable. Neither pretends he to justify his taste in every particular: that point must be extremely clear, which admits not variety of opinion; and in some matters susceptible of great refinement, time is perhaps the only infallible touchstone of taste: to that he appeals, and to that he chearfully submits.

The Elements of Criticism, meaning the whole, is a title too assuming for this work. A number of these elements or principles are here unfolded: but as the author is far from imagining that he has completed the list, a more humble title is proper, such as may express any number of parts less than the whole. This he thinks is signified by the title he has chosen, viz. Elements of Criticism.

Edition: ed; Page: [ 16 ] Edition: ed; Page: [ 17 ]. A man while awake is conscious of a continued train of perceptions and ideas passing in his mind. It requires no activity on his part to carry on the train: nor can he at will add any idea to the train. The question is of importance in the science of human nature; and I promise beforehand, that it will be found of great importance in the fine arts. It appears, that the relations by which things are linked together, have a great influence in directing the train of thought. Taking a view of external objects, their inherent properties are not more remarkable, than the various Edition: current; Page: [ 22 ] relations that connect them together: Cause and effect, contiguity in time or in place, high and low, prior and posterior, resemblance, contrast, and a thousand other relations, connect things together without end.

Not a single thing appears solitary and altogether devoid of connection; the only difference is, that some are intimately connected, some more slightly; some near, some at a distance. Experience will satisfy us of what reason makes probable, that the train of our thoughts is in a great measure regulated by the foregoing relations: an external object is no sooner presented to us in idea, than it suggests to the mind other objects to which it is related; and in that manner is a train of thoughts composed.

Such is the law of succession; which must be natural, because it governs all human beings. The law however seems not to be inviolable: it sometimes happens that an idea Edition: ed; Page: [ 19 ] arises in the mind without any perceived connection; as for example, after a profound sleep. But though we cannot add to the train an unconnected idea, yet in a measure we can attend to some ideas, and dismiss others. There are few things but what are connected with many others; and when a thing thus connected becomes a subject of thought, it commonly suggests many of its connections: among these a choice is afforded; we can insist upon one, rejecting others; and sometimes we insist on what is commonly held the slighter connection.

Where ideas are left to their natural course, they are continued through the strictest connections: the mind extends its view to a son more readily than to a servant; and more readily to a neighbour than to one living at a distance. So far doth our power extend; and that power is sufficient for all useful purposes: to have more power, would probably be hurtful instead of being salutary. Will is not the only cause that prevents a train of thought from being continued through the strictest connections: much depends on the present tone of mind; for a subject that accords with that tone is always welcome.

Thus, in good spi- Edition: ed; Page: [ 20 ] rits, a chearful subject will be introduced by the slightest connection; and one that is melancholy, no less readily in low spirits: an interesting subject is recalled, from time to time, by any connection Edition: current; Page: [ 23 ] indifferently, strong or weak; which is finely touched by Shakespear, with relation to a rich cargo at sea:.

Another cause clearly distinguishable from that now mentioned, hath also a considerable influence to vary the natural train of ideas; which is, that in the minds of some persons, thoughts and circumstances crowd upon each other by the slightest connections. I ascribe this to a bluntness in the discerning faculty; for a person who cannot accu- Edition: ed; Page: [ 21 ] rately distinguish between a slight connection and one that is more intimate, is equally affected by each: such a person must necessarily have a great flow of ideas, because they are introduced by any relation indifferently; and the slighter relations, being without number, furnish ideas without end.

This doctrine is, in a lively manner, illustrated by Shakespear:. Marry, if thou wert an honest man, thyself and thy money too. Thou didst swear to me on a parcel-gilt goblet, sitting in my Dolphin-chamber, at the round table, by a sea-coal fire, on Wednesday in Whit-sun-week, when the Prince broke thy head for likening him to a singing man of Windsor, thou didst swear to me then, as I was washing thy wound, to marry me, and make me my Lady thy wife.

Canst thou deny it? And didst not thou, when she was gone down stairs, desire me to be no more so familiarity with such poor people, saying, that ere long they should call me Madam? And didst thou not kiss me, and bid me fetch thee thirty shillings? I put thee now to thy bookoath, deny it if thou canst? On the other hand, a man of accurate judgement cannot have a great flow of ideas; because Edition: ed; Page: [ 22 ] the slighter relations, making no figure in his mind, have no power to introduce ideas.

And hence it is, that accurate judgement is not friendly to declamation or copious eloquence. This reasoning is confirmed by experience; for it is a noted observation, That a great or comprehensive memory is seldom connected with a good judgement. As an additional confirmation, I appeal to another noted observation, That wit and judgement are seldom united. Wit consists chiefly in joining things by distant and fanciful relations, which surprise because they are unexpected: such relations, being of the slightest kind, readily occur to those only who make every relation equally welcome.

Wit, upon that account, is in a good measure incompatible with solid judgement; which, neglecting trivial relations, adheres to what are substantial and permanent.

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Thus memory and wit are often conjoined: solid judgement seldom with either. Every man who attends to his own ideas, will discover order as well as connection in their succession. There is implanted in the breast of every man a principle of order, which governs the arrangement of his perceptions, of his ideas, and of his actions. With regard to perceptions I observe, that in things of equal rank, such as sheep in a fold, or trees in a wood, it must be indifferent in what order they be surveyed.

But in things of Edition: ed; Page: [ 23 ] unequal rank, our tendency is, to view the principal subject before we descend to its accessories or ornaments, and the superior before the inferior or dependent: we are equally averse to enter into a minute consideration Edition: current; Page: [ 25 ] of constituent parts, till the thing be first surveyed as a whole.

It need scarce be added, that our ideas are governed by the same principle; and that in thinking or reflecting upon a number of objects, we naturally follow the same order as when we actually survey them. The principle of order is conspicuous with respect to natural operations; for it always directs our ideas in the order of nature: thinking upon a body in motion, we follow its natural course; the mind falls with a heavy body, descends with a river, and ascends with flame and smoke: in tracing out a family, we incline to begin at the founder, and to descend gradually to his latest posterity: on the contrary, musing on a lofty oak, we begin at the trunk, and mount from it to the branches: as to historical facts, we love to proceed in the order of time; or, which comes to the same, to proceed along the chain of causes and effects.

Why this difference in matters that appear so nearly re- Edition: ed; Page: [ 24 ] lated? I answer, The cases are similar in appearance only, not in reality. In an historical chain, every event is particular, the effect of some former event, and the cause of others that follow: in such a chain, there is nothing to bias the mind from the order of nature.

Widely different is science, when we endeavour to trace out causes and their effects: many experiments are commonly reduced under one cause; and again, many of these causes under one still more general and comprehensive: in our progress from particular effects to general causes, and from particular propositions to the more comprehensive, we feel a gradual dilatation or expansion of mind, like what is felt in an ascending series, which is extremely pleasing: the pleasure here exceeds what arises from following the course of nature; and it is that pleasure which regulates our train of thought in the case now mentioned, and in others that are similar.

These observations, by the way, furnish materials for instituting a comparison between the synthetic and analytic methods of reasoning: the synthetic method, descending regularly from principles to their consequences, is more agreeable to the strictness of order; but in following the opposite course in the analytic method, we have a sensible Edition: current; Page: [ 26 ] pleasure, like mounting upward, which is not felt in the other: the analytic method is more agreeable to the imagination; the other method will be preferred by those only who with rigidity ad- Edition: ed; Page: [ 25 ] here to order, and give no indulgence to natural emotions.

It now appears that we are framed by nature to relish order and connection. When an object is introduced by a proper connection, we are conscious of a certain pleasure arising from that circumstance. Among objects of equal rank, the pleasure is proportioned to the degree of connection: but among unequal objects, where we require a certain order, the pleasure arises chiefly from an orderly arrangement; of which one is sensible, in tracing objects contrary to the course of nature, or contrary to our sense of order: the mind proceeds with alacrity down a flowing river, and with the same alacrity from a whole to its parts, or from a principal to its accessories; but in the contrary direction, it is sensible of a sort of retrograde motion, which is unpleasant.

And here may be remarked the great influence of order upon the mind of man: grandeur, which makes a deep impression, inclines us, in running over any series, to proceed from small to great, rather than from great to small; but order prevails over that tendency, and affords pleasure as well as facility in passing from a whole to its parts and from a subject to its ornaments, which are not felt in the opposite course.

Elevation touches the mind no less Edition: ed; Page: [ 26 ] than grandeur doth; and in raising the mind to elevated objects, there is a sensible pleasure: the course of nature, however, hath still a greater influence than elevation; and therefore, the pleasure of falling with rain, and descending gradually with a river, prevails over that of mounting upward.

But where the course of nature is joined with elevation, the effect must be delightful: and hence the singular beauty of smoke ascending in a calm morning. I am extremely sensible of the disgust men generally have to abstract speculation; and I would avoid it altogether, if it could be done in a work that professes to draw the rules of criticism from human nature, their true source.

We have but a single choice, which is, to continue a little longer in the same train, or to abandon the undertaking altogether.

Natural Law Ethics Lecture

Candor obliges Edition: current; Page: [ 27 ] me to notify this to my readers, that such of them as have an invincible aversion to abstract speculation, may stop short here; for till principles be unfolded, I can promise no entertainment to those who shun thinking. But I flatter myself with a different bent in the generality of readers: some few, I imagine, will relish the abstract part for its own sake; and many for the useful purposes to which it may be applied. For encouraging the latter to proceed with alacrity, I assure them beforehand, that the foregoing speculation leads to many important rules of criticism, which shall be unfolded in the Edition: ed; Page: [ 27 ] course of this work.

In the mean time, for instant satisfaction in part, they will be pleased to accept the following specimen. Every work of art that is conformable to the natural course of our ideas, is so far agreeable; and every work of art that reverses that course, is so far disagreeable. Hence it is required in every such work, that, like an organic system, its parts be orderly arranged and mutually connected, bearing each of them a relation to the whole, some more intimate, some less, according to their destination: when due regard is had to these particulars, we have a sense of just composition, and so far are pleased with the performance.

Homer 2 is defective in order and connection; and Pindar 3 more remarkably. Regularity, order, and connection, are painful restraints on a bold and fertile imagination; and are not patiently submitted to, but after much culture and discipline. In Horace 4 there is no fault more eminent than want of connection: instances are without number. In the first fourteen lines of ode 7.

The parts of ode The 1st, 2d, 3d, 4th, 11th, 24th, 27th odes of the 3d book, lie open all of them to the same censure. The first satire, book 1. After illustrating the observation in a sprightly manner by several examples; the author, forgetting his subject, enters upon a declamation against avarice, which he pursues till the line In the Lutrin, 6 the Goddess of Discord is introduced without any connection: she is of no consequence in the poem; and acts no part except that of lavishing Edition: current; Page: [ 29 ] praise upon Lewis the Fourteenth.

The two prefaces of Sallust 7 look as if by some blunder they had been prefixed to his two histories: they will suit any other history as well, or any subject as well as history. Even the members of these prefaces are but loosely connected: they look more like a number of maxims or observations than a connected discourse. An episode in a narrative poem, being in effect an accessory, demands not that strict union with the principal subject, which is requisite between a whole and its constituent parts: it demands, however, a degree of union, such as ought to subsist between a principal and accessory; and therefore will not be graceful if it be loosely connected with the principal subject.

Pity it is that an episode so extremely beautiful, were not more happily introduced. I must observe at the same time, that full justice is done to this incident, by considering it to be an episode; for if it be a constituent part of the principal action, the connection ought to be still more intimate. In a natural landscape we every day perceive a multitude of objects connected by contiguity solely; which is not unpleasant, because objects of sight make an impression so lively, as that a relation even of the slightest kind is relished.

This however ought not to be imitated in description: words are so far short of the eye in liveliness of impression, that in a description connection ought to be carefully studied; for new objects introduced in description are made more or less welcome in proportion to the degree of their connec- Edition: ed; Page: [ 31 ] tion with the principal subject.

In the following passage, different things are brought together without the slightest connection, if it be not what may be called verbal, i. The introduction of an object metaphorically or figuratively, will not justify the introduction of it in its natural appearance: a relation so slight can never be relished:. The relations among objects have a considerable influence in the gratification of our passions, and even in their production.

But that subject is reserved to be treated in the chapter of emotions and passions. There is not perhaps another instance of a building so great erected upon a foundation so slight in Edition: ed; Page: [ 32 ] appearance, as the relations of objects and their arrangement. Relations make no capital figure in the mind, the bulk of them being transitory, and some extremely trivial: they are however the links that, by uniting our perceptions into one connected chain, produce connection of action, because perception and action have an intimate correspondence.

But it is not sufficient for the conduct of life, that our actions be linked together, however intimately: it is beside necessary that they proceed in a certain order; and this also is provided for by an original propensity. Thus order and connection, while they admit sufficient variety, introduce a method in the management of affairs: without them our conduct would be fluctuating and desultory; and we should be hurried from thought to thought, and from action to action, entirely at the mercy of chance. Edition: ed; Page: [ 33 ].

Of all the feelings raised in us by external objects, those only of the eye and the ear are honoured with the name of passion or emotion: the most pleasing feelings of taste, or touch, or smell, aspire not to that honour. From this observation appears the connection of emotions and passions with the fine arts, which, as observed in the Introduction, are all of them calculated to give pleasure to the eye or the ear; never once condescending to gratify any of the inferior senses.

The design accordingly of this chapter is to delineate that connection, with the view chiefly to ascertain what power the fine arts have to raise emotions and passions. To those who would excel in the fine arts, that branch of knowledge is indispensable; for without it the critic, as well as the undertaker, ignorant of any rule, have nothing left but to abandon themselves to chance.

Destitute of that branch of knowledge, in vain will either pretend to foretell what effect his work will have upon the heart. The principles of the fine arts, appear in this view to open a direct avenue to the heart of man. Edition: ed; Page: [ 34 ] The inquisitive mind beginning with criticism, the most agreeable of all amusements, and finding no obstruction in its progress, advances far into the sensitive part of our nature; and gains imperceptibly a thorough knowledge of the human heart, of its desires, and of every motive to action; a science, which of all that can be reached by man, is to him of the greatest importance.

Upon a subject so comprehensive, all that can be expected in this chapter, is a general or slight survey: and to shorten that survey, I propose to handle separately some emotions more peculiarly connected with the fine arts. Even after that circumscription, so much matter comes under the present Edition: current; Page: [ 33 ] chapter, that, to avoid confusion, I find it necessary to divide it into many parts: and though the first of these is confined to such causes of emotion or passion as are the most common and the most general; yet upon examination I find this single part so extensive, as to require a subdivision into several sections.

Human nature is a complicate machine, and is unavoidably so in order to answer its various purposes. The public indeed have been entertained with many systems of human nature that flatter the mind by their simplicity: according to some writers, man is entirely a selfish being; according to others, universal benevolence is his duty: one founds morality upon sympathy solely, and one upon utility.

If any of these systems were copied from nature, the pre- Edition: ed; Page: [ 35 ] sent subject might be soon discussed. But the variety of nature is not so easily reached: and for confuting such Utopian systems without the fatigue of reasoning, it appears the best method to take a survey of human nature, and to set before the eye, plainly and candidly, facts as they really exist. These branches are so interwoven, that they cannot be handled separately. It is a fact universally admitted, that no emotion or passion ever starts up in the mind, without a cause: if I love a person, it is for good qualities or good offices: if I have resentment against a man, it must be for some injury he has done me: and I cannot pity any one who is under no distress of body nor of mind.

The circumstances now mentioned, if they raise an emotion or passion, cannot be entirely indiffer- Edition: ed; Page: [ 36 ] ent; for if so, they could not make any impression. And we find upon examination, that they are not indifferent: Edition: current; Page: [ 34 ] looking back upon the foregoing examples, the good qualities or good offices that attract my love, are antecedently agreeable: if an injury did not give uneasiness, it would not occasion resentment against the author: nor would the passion of pity be raised by an object in distress, if that object did not give pain.

What is now said about the production of emotion or passion, resolves into a very simple proposition, That we love what is agreeable, and hate what is disagreeable. And indeed it is evident, that a thing must be agreeable or disagreeable, before it can be the object either of love or of hatred. This short hint about the causes of passion and emotion, leads to a more extensive view of the subject. Such is our nature, that upon perceiving certain external objects, we are instantaneously conscious of pleasure or pain: a gently-flowing river, a smooth extended plain, a spreading oak, a towering hill, are objects of sight that raise pleasant emotions: a barren heath, a dirty marsh, a rotten carcass, raise painful emotions.

Of the emotions thus produced, we enquire for no other cause but merely the presence of the object. The things now mentioned, raise emotions by means of their properties and qualities: to the emotion raised by a large river, its size, its force, Edition: ed; Page: [ 37 ] and its fluency, contribute each a share: the regularity, propriety, and convenience of a fine building, contribute each to the emotion raised by the building. If external properties be agreeable, we have reason to expect the same from those which are internal; and accordingly power, discernment, wit, mildness, sympathy, courage, benevolence, are agreeable in a high degree: upon perceiving these qualities in others, we instantaneously feel pleasant emotions, without the slightest act of reflection, or of attention to consequences.

It is almost unnecessary to add, that certain qualities opposite to the former, such as dullness, peevishness, inhumanity, cowardice, occasion in the same manner painful emotions. Sensible beings affect us remarkably by their actions. Some actions raise pleasant emotions in the spectator, without the least reflection; such as graceful motion and genteel behaviour. But as intention, a capital circumstance in human actions, is not visible, it requires reflection to discover their true character: I see one delivering a purse of money to another, but I can make nothing of that action, till I learn with what intention the money is Edition: current; Page: [ 35 ] given: if it be given to discharge a debt, the action pleases me in a slight degree; if it be a grateful return, I feel a stronger emotion; and the pleasant emotion rises to a great height, when it is the intention of the giver to relieve a virtuous fa- Edition: ed; Page: [ 38 ] mily from want.

Thus actions are qualified by intention: but they are not qualified by the event; for an action well intended gives pleasure, whatever the event be. Further, human actions are perceived to be right or wrong; and that perception qualifies the pleasure or pain that results from them. Emotions are raised in us, not only by the qualities and actions of others, but also by their feelings: I cannot behold a man in distress, without partaking of his pain; nor in joy, without partaking of his pleasure.

The beings or things above described, occasion emotions in us, not only in the original survey, but also when recalled to the memory in idea: a field laid out with taste, is pleasant in the recollection, as well as when under our eye: a generous action described in words or colours, occasions a sensible emotion, as well as when we see it performed: and when we reflect upon the distress of any person, our pain is of the same kind with what we felt when eye-witnesses. In a word, an agreeable or disagreeable object recalled Edition: current; Page: [ 36 ] to the mind in idea, is the occasion of a pleasant or painful emotion, of the same kind with that produced when the object was present: the only difference is, that an idea being fainter than an original perception, the pleasure or pain produced by the former, is Edition: ed; Page: [ 40 ] proportionably fainter than that produced by the latter.

Having explained the nature of an emotion, and mentioned several causes by which it is produced, we proceed to an observation of considerable importance in the science of human nature, which is, That desire follows some emotions, and not others. The emotion raised by a beautiful garden, a magnificent building, or a number of fine faces in a crowded assembly, is seldom accompanied with desire.

Other emotions are accompanied with desire; emotions, for example, raised by human actions and qualities: a virtuous action raiseth in every spectator a pleasant emotion, which is commonly attended with desire to reward the author of the action: a vicious action, on the contrary, produceth a painful emotion, attended with desire to punish the delinquent.

Even things inanimate often raise emotions accompanied with desire: witness the goods of fortune, which are objects of desire almost universally; and the desire, when immoderate, obtains the name of avarice. The pleasant emotion produced in a spectator by a capital picture in the possession of a prince, is seldom accompanied with desire; but if such a picture be exposed to sale, desire of having or possessing is the natural consequence of a strong emotion. It is a truth verified by induction, that every passion is accompanied with desire; and if an Edition: ed; Page: [ 41 ] emotion be sometimes accompanied with desire, sometimes not, it comes to be a material enquiry, in what respect a passion differs from an emotion.

Is passion in its nature or feeling distinguishable from emotion? I have been apt to think that there must be such a distinction; but after the strictest examination, I cannot perceive any: what is love, for example, but a pleasant emotion raised by a sight or idea of the beloved female, joined with desire of enjoyment? In general, as to passion of every kind, we find no more in its composition, but the particulars now mentioned, an emotion pleasant or painful, accompanied with desire.

What then shall we say? Are passion and emotion synonymous terms? That Edition: current; Page: [ 37 ] cannot be averred; because no feeling nor agitation of the mind void of desire, is termed a passion; and we have discovered, that there are many emotions which pass away without raising desire of any kind.

How is the difficulty to be solved? There appears to me but one solution, which I relish the more, as it renders the doctrine of the passions and emotions simple and perspicuous.


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The solution follows. An internal motion or agitation of the mind, when it passeth away without desire, is denominated an emotion: when desire follows, the motion or agitation is denominated a passion. Edition: ed; Page: [ 42 ] A fine face, for example, raiseth in me a pleasant feeling: if that feeling vanish without producing any effect, it is in proper language an emotion; but if the feeling, by reiterated views of the object, become sufficiently strong to occasion desire, it loses its name of emotion, and acquires that of passion.

The same holds in all the other passions: the painful feeling raised in a spectator by a slight injury done to a stranger, being accompanied with no desire of revenge, is termed an emotion; but that injury raiseth in the stranger a stronger emotion, which being accompanied with desire of revenge, is a passion: external expressions of distress produce in the spectator a painful feeling, which being sometimes so slight as to pass away without any effect, is an emotion; but if the feeling be so strong as to prompt desire of affording relief, it is a passion, and is termed pity: envy is emulation in excess; if the exaltation of a competitor be barely disagreeable, the painful feeling is an emotion; if it produce desire to depress him, it is a passion.

To prevent mistakes, it must be observed, that desire here is taken in its proper sense, namely, that internal act, which, by influencing the will, makes us proceed to action. Desire in a lax sense respects also actions and events that depend not on us, as when I desire that my friend may have a son to represent him, or that my country may flourish in Edition: ed; Page: [ 43 ] arts and sciences: but such internal act is more properly termed a wish than a desire.

Having distinguished passion from emotion, we proceed to consider passion more at large, with respect especially to its power of producing action. We have daily and constant experience for our authority, that no man ever proceeds to action but by means of an antecedent desire or impulse.

So well established is this observation, and so deeply rooted in the mind, that we can scarce imagine a different system of action: even a child will say familiarly, What should make me do this or that, when I have no desire Edition: current; Page: [ 38 ] to do it? Taking it then for granted, that the existence of action depends on antecedent desire; it follows, that where there is no desire there can be no action.

This opens another shining distinction between emotions and passions. The former, being without desire, are in their nature quiescent: the desire included in the latter prompts one to act in order to fulfil that desire, or, in other words, to gratify the passion. The cause of a passion is sufficiently explained above: it is that being or thing, which, by raising desire, converts an emotion into a passion. When we consider a passion with respect to its power of prompting action, that same being or thing is termed its object: a fine woman, for example, raises the passion of love, which is directed to her as its object: a man, by injuring me, raises my resentment, and becomes thereby the Edition: ed; Page: [ 44 ] object of my resentment.

Thus the cause of a passion, and its object, are the same in different respects. An emotion, on the other hand, being in its nature quiescent, and merely a passive feeling, must have a cause; but cannot be said, properly speaking, to have an object. The objects of our passions may be distinguished into two kinds, general and particular.

A man, a house, a garden, is a particular object: fame, esteem, opulence, honour, are general objects, because each of them comprehends many particulars. The passions directed to general objects are commonly termed appetites, in contradistinction to passions directed to particular objects, which retain their proper name: thus we say an appetite for fame, for glory, for conquest, for riches; but we say the passion of friendship, of love, of gratitude, of envy, of resentment. And there is a material difference between appetites and passions, which makes it proper to distinguish them by different names: the latter have no existence till a proper object be presented; whereas the former exist first, and then are directed to an object: a passion comes after its object; an appetite goes before it, which is obvious in the appetites of hunger, thirst, and animal love, and is the same, in the other appetites above mentioned.

By an object so powerful as to make a deep impression, the mind is inflamed, and hurried to action with a strong impulse. Where the object is less powerful, so as not to inflame the mind, no- Edition: ed; Page: [ 45 ] thing is felt but desire Edition: current; Page: [ 39 ] without any sensible perturbation. The principle of duty affords one instance: the desire generated by an object of duty, being commonly moderate, moves us to act calmly, without any violent impulse; but if the mind happen to be inflamed with the importance of the object, in that case desire of doing our duty becomes a warm passion.

The actions of brute creatures are generally directed by instinct, meaning blind impulse or desire, without any view to consequences. Man is framed to be governed by reason: he commonly acts with deliberation, in order to bring about some desireable end; and in that case his actions are means employed to bring about the end desired: thus I give charity in order to relieve a person from want: I perform a grateful action as a duty incumbent on me: and I fight for my country in order to repel its enemies.

At the same time, there are human actions that are not governed by reason, nor are done with any view to consequences.