Immagini della pagina
PDF
ePub

would be a chapter of Ethics, or Ethics itself; because every moral determination implies, at the same time, a negation of its contrary.

Further, conscience tells us that to conduct oneself economically is not to conduct oneself egoistically ; that even the most morally scrupulous man must conduct himself usefully (economically), if he does not wish to act at hazard and consequently in a manner quite the reverse of moral. If utility were egoism, how could it be the duty of the altruist to behave like an egoist ?

If we are not mistakeil, the difficulty is solved in a Economic manner perfectly analogous to that in which is solved will and

moral will. the problem of the relations between expression and concept, Æsthetic and Logic.

To will economically is to will an end ; to will morally is to will the rational end. But whoever wills and acts morally, cannot but will and act usefully (economically). How could he will the rational end, unless he also willed it as his particular end ?

The converse is not true; as it is not true in æsthetic Pure science that the expressive fact must of necessity be economicity. linked with the logical fact. It is possible to will economically without willing morally; and it is possible to conduct oneself with perfect economic coherence, while pursuing an end which is objectively irrational (immoral), or, rather, an end which would be held to be so at a higher grade of consciousness.

Examples of the economic, without the moral character, are Machiavelli's hero Cæsar Borgia, or the lago of Shakespeare. Who can help admiring their strength of will, although their activity is only economic, and is developed in opposition to what we hold moral ? Who can help admiring the Ser Ciappelletto of Boccaccio, who pursues and realizes his ideal of the perfect rascal even on his death-bed, making the petty and timid little thieves who are present at his burlesque confession exclaim: “What manner of man is this, whose perversity neither age, nor infirmity, nor the fear of death which he sees at hand, nor the fear of God before whose judge

The economic side of morality.

ment-seat he must stand in a little while, have been able to remove, nor to make him wish to die otherwise than as he has lived ?"

The moral man unites with the pertinacity and fearlessness of a Cæsar Borgia, of an Iago, or of a Ser Ciappelletto, the good will of the saint or of the hero. Or, rather, good will would not be will, and consequently not good, if it did not possess, in addition to the side which makes it good, also that which makes it will. So a logical thought which does not succeed in expressing itself is not thought, but at the most a confused presentiment of a thought beyond yet to come.

It is not correct, then, to conceive of the amoral man as also anti-economical, or to make of morality an element of coherence in the acts of life, and therefore of economicity. Nothing prevents us from conceiving (an hypothesis which is verified at least during certain periods and moments, if not during whole lifetimes) a man altogether without moral conscience. In a man thus organized, what for us is immorality is not so for him, because it is not felt as such. The consciousness of the contradiction between what is desired as a rational end and what is pursued egoistically cannot arise in him. This contradiction is anti-economicity. Immoral conduct becomes also anti - economical only in the man who possesses moral conscience. The moral remorse which is the indication of this, is also economical remorse; that is to say, sorrow at not having known how to will completely and to attain that moral ideal which was willed at first, instead of allowing himself to be led astray by the passions. Video meliora proboque, deteriora sequor. The video and the probo are here an initial volo immediately contradicted and overthrown. In the man without moral sense, we must admit a remorse that is merely economic; like that of a thief or of an assassin who, when on the point of robbing or of assassinating should abstain from doing so, not owing to a conversion of his being, but to nervousness and bewilderment, or even to a momentary awakening of moral consciousness. When he has come

back to himself, such a thief or assassin will regret and be ashamed of his incoherence ; his remorse will not be due to having done wrong, but to not having done wrong ; it is therefore economic, not moral, since the latter is excluded by hypothesis. But since a lively moral consciousness is generally found among the majority of men and its total absence is a rare and perhaps non-existent monstrosity, it may be admitted that morality, in general, coincides with economicity in the conduct of life.

There need be no fear lest the parallelism that we The merely support should introduce afresh into science the category the error of of the morally indifferent, of that which is in truth action the morally

indifferent. and volition, but is neither moral nor immoral; the category in short of the licit and of the permissible, which has always been the cause or reflexion of ethical corruption, as was the case with Jesuitical morality, which it dominated. It remains quite certain that indifferent moral actions do not exist, because moral activity pervades and must pervade every least volitional movement of man. But far from upsetting the established parallelism, this confirms it. Are there by any chance intuitions which science and the intellect do not pervade and analyse, resolving them into universal concepts, or changing them into historical affirmations? We have already seen that true science, philosophy, knows no external limits which bar its way, as happens with the so-called natural sciences. Science and morality entirely dominate, the one the æsthetic intuitions, the other the economic volitions of man, although neither of them can appear in the concrete, save the one in the intuitive, the other in the economic form.

This combined identity and difference of the useful Criticism of and the moral, of the economic and the ethical, explains and the reform the success at the present time and formerly of the of Ethics and utilitarian theory of Ethics. Indeed it is easy to discover

of Economics. and to illustrate a utilitarian side in every moral action ; as it is easy to reveal the æsthetic side in every logical proposition. The criticism of ethical utilitarianism cannot begin by denying this truth and seeking out absurd and

non-existent examples of useless moral actions. It must admit the utilitarian side and explain it as the concrete form of morality, which consists in this, that it is inside this form. Utilitarians do not see this inside. This is not the place for the fuller development that such ideas deserve. Ethics and Economics cannot however fail to be gainers (as we have said of Logic and Æsthetic) by a more exact determination of the relations that exist between them. Economic science is now rising to the activistical concept of the useful, as it attempts to surpass the mathematical phase in which it is still entangled ; a phase which was in its turn a progress when it superseded historicism, or the confusion of the theoretical with the historical, and destroyed a number of capricious distinctions and false economic theories. With this conception, it will be easy on the one hand to absorb and to verify the semi-philosophical theories of so-called pure economics, and on the other, by the introduction of successive complications and additions, to effect a transition from the philosophical to the empirical or naturalistic method and thus to embrace the particular theories expounded in the so-called political or national economy of

the schools. Phenomenon As æsthetic intuition knows the phenomenon or and noumenon nature, and the philosophic concept the noumenon or in practical activity. spirit; so the economic activity wills the phenomenon

or nature, and the moral activity the noumenon or spirit. The spirit which wills itself, its true self, the universal which is in the empirical and finite spirit : that is the formula which perhaps defines the essence of morality with the least impropriety. This will for the true self is absolute freedom.

VIII

EXCLUSION OF OTHER SPIRITUAL FORMS

In this summary sketch that we have given of the entire The system of philosophy of the spirit in its fundamental moments, the the spirit. spirit is thus conceived as consisting of four moments or degrees, disposed in such a way that the theoretical activity is to the practical as the first theoretical degree is to the second theoretical, and the first practical degree to the second practical. The four moments imply one another regressively by their concreteness. The concept cannot exist without expression, the useful without both and morality without the three preceding degrees. If the æsthetic fact is in a certain sense alone independent while the others are more or less dependent, then the logical is the least dependent and the moral will the most. Moral intention acts on given theoretic bases, with which it cannot dispense, unless we are willing to accept that absurd procedure known to the Jesuits as direction of intention, in which people pretend to themselves not to know what they know only too well.

If the forms of human activity are four, four also the forms of are the forms of genius. Men endowed with genius in genius. art, in science, and in moral will or heroes, have always been recognized. But the genius of pure economicity has met with repugnance. It is not altogether without reason that a category of bad geniuses or of geniuses of evil has been created. The practical, merely economic genius, which is not directed to a rational end, cannot but excite an admiration mingled with alarm. To dispute as to whether the word "genius

"

« IndietroContinua »