Lectures on the Ethics of T.H. Green, Mr. Herbert Spencer, and J. Martineau

By Henry Sidgwick | Go to book overview

LECTURE VII
GREEN'S TREATMENT OF HEDONISM

IT is sometimes considered that Green's attack on Hedonism is effective, granting his metaphysical doctrine that the Self, like the Eternal Consciousness of which it is a reproduction, is 'outside time.' Now it is doubtless true that Green affirms the Self--the Subject, or Self-distinguishing Consciousness, which is non-natural and therefore free--to be not in time. 'There could be,' he says, 'no such thing as time, if there were not a self-consciousness which is not in time' (§ 52).

At the same time, in both the strictly metaphysical and the ethical parts of his reasoning, Green continually applies terms with a temporal meaning to 'spirits' or self-conscious subjects, and to me at least these time-determinations appear quite essential to his conception of the universe. Take e.g. the brief summary in § 180, p. 189, where he says that under certain limitations 'the one divine mind gradually reproduces itself in the human soul. In virtue of this principle in him, man has definite capabilities, the realisation of which . . . forms his true good.''They are not realised, however, in any life that has been

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