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MORAL MAXIMS-SUMMARIES OF EXPERIENCE.

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that judgment, by any subsequent exertion of a faculty that has no jurisdiction in the cause.

The established rules and impressions of morality, therefore, we consider as the grand recorded result of an infinite multitude of experiments upon human feeling and fortune, under every variety of circumstances; and as affording, therefore, by far the nearest approximation to a just standard of the good and the evil that human conduct is concerned with, which the nature of our faculties will allow. In endeavouring to correct or amend this general verdict of mankind, in any particular instance, we not only substitute our own individual feelings for that large average which is implied in those moral impressions, which are universally prevalent, but obviously run the risk of omitting or mistaking some of the most important elements of the calculation. Every one at all accustomed to reflect upon the operations of his mind, must be conscious how difficult it is to retrace exactly those trains of thought which pass through the understanding almost without giving us any intimation of their existence, and how impossible it frequently is to repeat any process of thought, when we propose to make it the subject of observation. The reason of this is, that our feelings are not in their natural state when we would thus make them the objects of study or analysis; and their force and direction are far better estimated, therefore, from the traces which they leave in their spontaneous visitations, than from any forced revocation of them for the purpose of being measured or compared. When the object itself is inaccessible, it is wisest to compute its magnitude from its shadow; where the cause cannot be directly examined, its qualities are most securely inferred from its effects.

One of the most obvious consequences of disregarding the general impressions of morality, and determining every individual question upon a rigorous estimate of the utility it might appear to involve, would be, to give an additional force to the causes by which our judgments are most apt to be perverted, and entirely to abrogate the authority of those General rules by which alone men

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USE OF GENERAL RULES.

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are commonly enabled to judge of their own conduct with any tolerable impartiality. If we were to dismiss altogether from our consideration those authoritative maxims, which have been sanctioned by the general approbation of mankind, and to regulate our conduct entirely by a view of the good and the evil that promises to be the consequence of every particular action, there is reason to fear, not only that inclination might occasionally slip a false weight into the scale, but that many of the most important consequences of our actions might be overlooked. Those actions are bad, according to Mr. Bentham, that produce more evil than good: But actions are performed by individuals; and all the good may be to the individual, and all the evil to the community. There are innumerable cases in which the advantages to be gained by the commission of a crime are incalculably greater (looking only to this world) than the evils to which it may expose the criminal. This holds in almost every instance where unlawful passions may be gratified with very little risk of detection. A mere calculation of utilities would never prevent such actions; and the truth undoubtedly is, that the greater part of men are only withheld from committing them by those general impressions of morality, which it is the object of Mr. Bentham's system to supersede. Even admitting, what might well be denied, that, in all cases, the utility of the individual is inseparably connected with that of society, it will not be disputed, at least, that this connexion is of a nature not very striking or obvious, and that it may frequently be overlooked by an individual deliberating on the consequences of his projected actions. It is in aid of this oversight, of this omission, of this partiality. that we refer to the General rules of morality ; rules, which have been suggested by a larger observation, and a longer experience, than any individual can dream of pretending to, and which have been accommodated, by the joint action of our sympathies with delinquents and with sufferers, to the actual condition of human fortitude and infirmity. If they be founded on utility, it is on an utility that

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THE HIGHWAY OF MORALITY.

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cannot always be discovered ; and that can never be correctly estimated, in deliberating upon a particular measure, or with a view to a specific course of conduct: It is on an utility that does not discover itself till it is accumulated; and only becomes apparent after a large collection of examples have been embodied in proof of it. Such summaries of utility, such records of uniform observation, we conceive to be the General rules of Morality, by which, and by which alone, legislators or individuals can be safely directed in determining on the propriety of any course of conduct. They are observations taken in the calm, by which we must be guided in the darkness and the terror of the tempest; they are beacons and strongholds erected in the day of peace, round which we must rally, and to which we must betake ourselves, in the hour of contest and alarm.

For these reasons, and for others which our limits will not now permit us to hint at, we are of opinion, that the old established morality of mankind ought upon no account to give place to a bold and rigid investigation into the utility of any particular act, or any course of action that may be made the subject of deliberation; and that the safest and the shortest way to the good which we all desire, is the beaten highway of morality, which was formed at first by the experience of good and of evil.

But our objections do not apply merely to the foundation of Mr. Bentham's new system of morality: We think the plan and execution of the superstructure itself defective in many particulars. Even if we could be persuaded that it would be wiser in general to follow the dictates of utility than the impressions of moral duty, we should still say that the system contained in these volumes does not enable us to adopt that substitute: and that it really presents us with no means of measuring or comparing utilities. After perusing M. Dumont's eloquent observations on the incalculable benefits which his author's discoveries were to confer on the science of legislation, and on the genius and good fortune by which he had been enabled to reduce morality to the precision of a science, by fixing a precise standard for the good

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BENTHAM LEAVES MORALITY AS IT WAS.

and evil of our lives, we proceeded with the perusal of Mr. Bentham's endless tables and divisions, with a mixture of impatience, expectation, and disappointment. Now that we have finished our task, the latter sentiment alone remains; for we perceive very clearly that M. Dumont's zeal and partiality have imposed upon his natural sagacity, and that Mr. Bentham has just left the science of morality in the same imperfect condition in which it was left by his predecessors. The whole of Mr. Bentham's catalogues and distinctions tend merely to point out the Number of the causes that produce our happiness or misery, but by no means to ascertain their relative Magnitude or force; and the only effect of their introduction into the science of morality seems to be, to embarrass a popular subject with a technical nomenclature, and to perplex familiar truths with an unnecessary intricacy of arrangement.

Of the justice of this remark any one may satisfy himself, by turning back to the tables and classifications which we have exhibited in the former part of this analysis, and trying if he can find there any rules for estimating the comparative value of pleasures and pains, that are not perfectly familiar to the most uninstructed of the species. In the table of simple pleasures, for instance, what satisfaction can it afford to find the pleasure of riches set down as a distinct genus from the pleasure of power, and the pleasure of the

unless some scale were annexed by which the respective value of these several pleasures might be ascertained ? If a man is balancing between the pain of privation and the pain of shame, how is he relieved by merely finding these arranged under separate titles ? or, in either case, will it give him any information, to be told that the value of a pain or pleasure depends upon its intensity, its duration, or its certainty? If a legislator is desirous to learn what degree of punishment is suitable to a particular offence, will he be greatly edified to read that the same punishment may be more or less severe according to the temperament, the intelligence, the rank or the fortune of the delinquent; and that the circum

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HIS DISTINCTIONS MOSTLY QUITE USELESS.

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stances that influence sensibility, though commonly reckoned to be only nine, may fairly be set down at fifteen? Is there any thing, in short, in this whole book, that realises the triumphant Introduction of the editor, or that can enable us in any one instance to decide upon the relative magnitude of an evil, otherwise than by a reference to the common feelings of mankind ? It is true, we are perfectly persuaded, that by the help of these feelings, we can form a pretty correct judgment in most cases that occur ; but Mr. Bentham is not persuaded of this; and insists upon our renouncing all faith in so incorrect a standard, while he promises to furnish us with another that is liable to no sort of inaccuracy, This promise we do not think he has in any degree fulfilled ; because he has given us no rule by which the intensity of any pain or pleasure can be determined: and furnished us with no instrument by which we may take the altitude of enjoyment, or fathom the depths of pain. It is no apology for having made this promise, that its fulfilment was evidently impossible.

In multiplying these distinctions and divisions, which form the basis of his system, Mr. Bentham appears to us to bear less resemblance to a philosopher of the present times, than to one of the old scholastic doctors, who substituted classification for reasoning, and looked upon the ten categories as the most useful of all human inventions. Their distinctions were generally real, as well as his, and could not have been made without the misapplication of much labour and ingenuity : But it is now generally admitted that they are of no use whatever, either for the promotion of truth, or the detection of error; and that they only serve to point out differences that cannot be overlooked, or need not be remembered. There are many differences and many points of resemblance in all actions, and in all substances, that are absolutely indifferent in any serious reasoning that may be entered into with regard to them; and though much industry and much acuteness may be displayed in finding them out, the discovery is just as unprofitable to science, as the enumeration of the adverbs in the creed, or the dissyl

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