Ideals of Conduct: An Exposition of Moral Attitudes

By John Dashiell Stoops | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XXVI
THE LARGER INDIVIDUAL

The idea of mind, will, conscience, as prior to objects and behavior is a survival from the mediæval and Protestant conflict between soul and body, mind and world, ideal and fact. We do not start in our thinking today with an inner preconditioning categorical imperative or moral intuition which imposes its ideals on objective facts, which in theory claims to be independent of objective facts, which pronounces sensations and impulses and a physical environment and social conditions external and indifferent. Modern science has given us a living organism in vital contact with a physical environment. This living biological process contains certain innate ways of responding toward certain objects in the environment. In the human, in contrast to the animal, world there is greater plasticity of response to the environment. There is not such a definite correlation between impulse and stimulus. Nevertheless the only linkage between the mind and the objective world is through the organism with which and through which the mind has been evolved. This correlation of organism and environment though plastic in the human sphere is the biological foundation of the psychological correlation of mind and environment.

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