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

By Henry Sidgwick | Go to book overview

LECTURE III
DATA OF ETHICS--CHAPTERS V. TO VIII.

ONE chief difficulty which I find in dealing with Mr. Spencer's argument in chapters v. to viii., inclusive, to which I now pass, lies in the fact that, as we have seen, he takes as established that coincidence between Life and Happiness, which, according to me, he has yet to prove. He has no doubt that the cosmic evolution or progress which has tended continually to make the living more alive, has tended to increase happiness pari passu. He seems to hold, therefore, that what the Utilitarian has to do is to trace the characteristics of this evolution, as specially manifested in that part of the actions of living things with which, as a moralist, he is specially concerned; and that in this way he will attain the truly scientific method which Mr. Spencer wishes to substitute for ordinary empirical Utilitarianism. Now if I am right as to the divergence of the two ends, this method is obviously illegitimate.

The question placed before us at the end of chapter iv. of The Data of Ethics is this: Assuming that--as stated at the end of chapter iii.--'the ultimate moral aim' is 'a desirable state of feeling called gratifica-

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