The Ethics of Hercules: A Study of Man's Body as the Sole Determinant of Ethical Values

By Robert Chenault Givler | Go to book overview

CHAPTER II
A PHYSIOLOGICAL EXPLANATION OF THE ANTAGONISM BETWEEN ALL SUCH WORDS AS "GOOD" AND "BAD," AND RIGHT" AND "WRONG"

"A word is the shadow of an act."

DEMOCRCRITUS.

It is a fact of the greatest significance that the words by which we convey our ideas of value always occur in pairs, one of which is the opposite of the other. In esthetics the beautiful is contrasted with the ugly, and the charming with the disgusting; in logic the true clashes with the false, and in philosophy the real with the unreal; in matters of public and private economy the cheap is antithetical to the expensive, and the generous to the miserly; while in ethics we constantly hear the words good and bad, right and wrong, virtuous and vicious employed to denote the opposition and contradiction of human interests and ideals. What is the ultimate reason why we thus employ such pairs of antonyms in our judgments of praise or blame, our expressions of desire or aversion, and in our estimations of merit or defect?

This modern question, upon which the founding of a true science of ethics depends, cannot be an-

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