CONCLUDING REMARKS

THE position we are now in can be put very shortly. Morality is an endless process, and therefore a self- contradiction; and, being such, it does not remain standing in itself, but feels the impulse to transcend its existing reality.

It is a self-contradiction in this way: it is a demand for what can not be. Not only is nothing good but the good will, but also nothing is to be real (so far as willed) but the good; and yet the reality is not wholly good.1 Neither in me, nor in the world, is what ought to be what is, and what is what ought to be; and the claim remains in the end a mere claim.

The reason of the contradiction is the fact that man is a contradiction. But man is more; he feels or knows himself as such, and this makes a vital difference; for to feel a contradiction is ipso facto to be above it. Otherwise, how would it be possible to feel it? A felt contradiction which does not imply, besides its two poles, a unity which includes and is above them, will, the more it is reflected on, the more be seen to be altogether unmeaning. Unless man was and divined himself to be a whole, he could not feel the contradiction, still less feel pain in it, and reject it as foreign to his real nature.

So we see that the moral point of view, which leaves man in a sphere with which he is not satisfied, can not be final. This or that human being, this or that passing stage of culture, may remain in this region of weariness, of false self-approval and no less false self-contempt; but for the race, as a whole, this is impossible. It has not done it; and, while man is man, it certainly never will do it.

And here we should close these Essays, since here we go beyond morality. But, that we may make the foregoing

____________________
1
[Cf. p. 322. 'Real' and 'reality mean here 'existing'.]

-313-

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Ethical Studies
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface to the Second Edition v
  • Author's Preface to the First Edition viii
  • Contents xi
  • Introduction xiii
  • Essay II Why Should I Be Moral? 58
  • Essay III Pleasure for Pleasure's Sake 85
  • Essay IV Duty for Duty's Sake 142
  • Essay V My Station and Its Duties 160
  • Essay VI Ideal Morality 214
  • Essay VII Selfishness and Self-Sacrifice 251
  • Concluding Remarks 313
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