The Ethics of Hercules: A Study of Man's Body as the Sole Determinant of Ethical Values

By Robert Chenault Givler | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER VIII
IS CONSCIENCE ALWAYS A PATHOLOGICAL PHENOMENON?

"When the rookery is pretty well filled, and the nest- building is in full swing, the birds have a busy and anxious time. To get enough of suitable small stones is a matter of difficulty, and may involve long journeys for each single stone. The temptation is too strong for some of them, and they become habitual thieves. The majority remain stupidly honest. Amusing complications result. The bearing of the thief clearly shows that he knows he is doing wrong. He has a conscience, at least a human conscience, i.e., the fear of being found out. Very different is the furtive look of the thief, long after he is out of danger of pursuit, from the expression of the honest penguin coming home with a hard-earned stone.

"An honest one was bringing stones from a long distance. Each stone was removed by a thief as soon as the owner's back was turned. The honest one looked greatly troubled as he found that his heap didn't grow, but he seemed incapable of suspecting the cause.

"A thief, sitting on his own nest, was stealing from an adjacent nest, whose honest owner was also at home, but looking unsuspectingly in another direction. Casually he turned his head and caught the thief in the act. The thief dropped the stone and pretended to be busy picking up an infinitesimal crumb from the neutral ground."

-155-

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