The Map of Life, Conduct, and Character

By William Edward Hartpole Lecky | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VII

IT is impossible for a physician to prescribe a rational regimen for a patient unless he has formed some clear conception of the nature of his constitution and of the morbid influences to which it is inclined; and in judging the wisdom of various proposals for the management of character we are at once met by the initial controversy about the goodness or the depravity of human nature. It is a subject on which extreme exaggerations have prevailed. The school of Rousseau, which dominated on the Continent in the last half of the eighteenth century, represented mankind as a being who comes into existence essentially good, and it attributed all the moral evils of the world, not to any innate tendencies to vice, but to superstition, vicious institutions, misleading education, a badly organised society. It is an obvious criticism that if human nature had been as good as such writers imagined, these corrupt and corrupting influences could never have grown up, or at least could never have obtained a controlling influence, and this philosophy became greatly discredited when the French Revolution, which it did so much to produce, ended in the unspeakable horrors of the Reign of Terror and in the gigantic carnage of the Napoleonic wars. On the other hand, there are large schools of theologians who represent man as utterly and fundamentally depraved, 'born in corruption, inclined to evil, incapable by him-

-76-

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The Map of Life, Conduct, and Character
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Chapter I 1
  • Chapter II 7
  • Chapter III 19
  • Chapter IV 30
  • Chapter V 44
  • Chapter VI 62
  • Chapter VII 76
  • Chapter VIII 88
  • Chapter IX 108
  • Chapter X 136
  • Chapter XI 198
  • Chapter XIII Money 268
  • Chapter XIV Marriage 300
  • Chapter XV Success 316
  • Chapter XVI 328
  • Chapter XVII `The End' 343
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