Life and Morals

Life and Morals

Life and Morals

Life and Morals

Excerpt

In the present volume morals have been treated from a naturalistic viewpoint in the determination of which biological concepts have inevitably played an important part. For this reason I had thought of entitling it The Biologicd Outlook on Mords, but since frequent references are made to psychological factors and social forces, the term "biological" would have to be construed in a sense that might be deemed too inclusive to be appropriate, especially when employed by a biologist. Hence after much futile effort to find a better title, I finally decided upon Life and Morals, which does not altogether please me, although, so far as it goes, it truly designates what the book is about. After all, life is very much the same sort of thing fundamentally, whether it is manifested in the behavior of cells, the instincts of animals, or the moral conduct of men.

It is, as I have attempted to show, highly advantageous in many ways to look upon morals as a purely natural product, a form of life intimately associated in nature and origin with other forms of living. This outlook on morals has the advantage of affording a basis for a scientific interpretation of its subject matter. Traditionally morals have long been concerned to no small degree with the relations of man to existences beyond his actual world--to gods, and other supernatural beings, to occult powers more or less amenable to control by magic, and to a future life for which it is important to . . .

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