CHAPTER I
EGOCENTRIC HEDONISM

Are we justified in formulating a theory for the explanation of moral phenomena? Or shall we assume that conduct is a succession of unrelated feelings and endeavors which are directed by some happy intuition, no law of conduct being ascertainable? History has voted with great emphasis for the former proposal, and we therefore have before us several finely articulated systems, appealing alike to logic and the æsthetic love of symmetry. If a theory is to be successful in any sphere of inquiry, it must present at least the four facets of truth that J. S. Mill has described at length.1 It must deal with objective facts; it must be able to establish a relation of similarity between them; it must set them down in a series discernible both in space and time; and it must exhibit some sort of causal nexus between appropriate parts of the series. The analysis of psychological materials which we have just completed may convince the candid reader that the necessary facts are at hand. They await a comprehensive interpretation.

But interpretation cannot depend on the chance opinion of a naïve observer. The suggestion of the Cambridge Platonists, misreading altogether the nature of Plato's Ideas--that intuition can penetrate at once into the substance of a virtuous act--is without foundation in experience. It is built upon a grossly inaccurate psychology. To interpret is to describe. Hence, the group of facts which we have assembled require what we have ventured to call a scientific treatment. If Mill is right in applying this formidable term to the fluctuating sequences of thought--not fear

____________________
1

"System of Logic," Bk. III, Ch. 24.

-159-

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