British Moralists, Being Selections from Writers Principally of the Eighteenth Century - Vol. 1

British Moralists, Being Selections from Writers Principally of the Eighteenth Century - Vol. 1

Read FREE!

British Moralists, Being Selections from Writers Principally of the Eighteenth Century - Vol. 1

British Moralists, Being Selections from Writers Principally of the Eighteenth Century - Vol. 1

Read FREE!

Excerpt

The moralist and the satirist are not always suited to understand each other. The moralist seems to the satirist to discourse of a state of things which is not and never was, and to assume the prevalence of motives which never entirely determine and do not considerably influence the actions of ordinary men. When the moralist says that men ought to regulate their conduct on certain principles and ought to cultivate certain motives in preference to others, the satirist tests the possibility of these principles, by asking whether in fact men do usually or ever act on them: he does not ask how far men recognize them as ideals or standards of conduct. It is enough for the satirist that men do not practise what they preach, and the significance of the preaching itself does not concern him. Satire stops short of philosophy, even of sceptical philosophy.

On the other hand, the moralist is apt to regard the satirist less as scourging the unworthy than as denying the existence of worth altogether and dissolving morality into nothing at all, or replacing it by something which is positively immoral. In reality, the whole force of satire, as distinguished from cynicism . . .

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