The Basis of Morality

By Arthur Schopenhauer; Arthur Brodrick Bullock | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VI.
THE VIRTUE OF JUSTICE.

IF we look more closely at this process called Compassion, which we have shown to be the primary ethical phaenomenon, we remark at once that there are two distinct degrees in which another’s suffering may become directly my motive, that is, may urge me to do something, or to leave it undone. The first degree of Compassion is seen when, by counteracting egoistic and malicious motives, it keeps me from bringing pain on another, and from becoming myself the cause of trouble, which so far does not exist. The other higher degree is manifested, when it works positively, and incites me to active help. The distinction between the so-called duties of law and duties of virtue, better described as justice and loving-kindness, which was effected by Kant in such a forced and artificial manner, here results entirely of itself; whence the correctness of the principle is attested. It is the natural, unmistakable, and sharp separation between negative and positive, between doing no harm, and helping. The terms in common use—namely, “the duties of law,” and “the duties of virtue,” (the latter being also called “duties of love,” or “imperfect duties,”) are in the

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