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CHAPTER VI - George Turnbull, The Principles of Moral and Christian Philosophy. Vol. 1: The Principles of Moral Philosophy 
The Principles of Moral and Christian Philosophy. Vol. 1: The Principles of Moral Philosophy, ed. and with an Introduction by Alexander Broadie (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2005).
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Another class of laws. Those relative to society and the dependence of human happiness and perfection on social union and rightly united force.Let us consider another law of our nature. “The law of society. In consequence of which all men are not only led to society by several strong affections and dispositions; but man is so framed for society, that private and public happiness and perfection exceedingly depend upon our uniting together in a proper manner, or under proper<175> laws, and a right form of government, for promoting our common happiness, dignity and perfection.”
We are led to society by an appetite after it, which cannot be satisfied without company, fellowship, and social communication: nay, so social is our make, that neither the pleasures of the body, nor those of the mind, separated from society or public affection, can afford us any lasting enjoyment.A general view of our social make or form.
We have all the affections which are necessary to the maintenance of society, and to receiving happiness by social correspondence and participation: an inclination to propagate our kind; natural affection to our offspring and to our parents; disposition to friendship; tenderness to the sex; regard to reputation, or desire of fame and esteem; gratitude, sympathy and compassion; delight in the happiness of others, in that particularly which is of our own giving or procuring to them; satisfaction in whatever presents us with the agreeable idea of the power, improvement and perfection belonging to our nature. All these affections and dispositions are deeply emplanted<176> in us, as we may be as sure, or rather surer by experience, than we can be of any properties belonging to external objects of sense. And suitably to these affections and dispositions, men have different turns, capacities, genius’s and abilities, insomuch that they are as distinguishable from one another by their different moral features, as by their outward airs, shapes and complexions; and as are dependent upon one another as they can be conceived to be, in order to render society at the same time necessary and yet agreeable or the object of voluntary choice. For if we were not united together at once by such affections, and by such reciprocal wants as necessarily result from diversity of interests, abilities and tempers; society would only be merely necessary or merely agreeable; but being so tied and connected together as we are, society is neither solely necessary, nor is it merely matter of choice; but it is equally requisite and satisfactory.
It is needless to dwell long upon proving, that we are formed and made for society, and dependent one upon another: our very manner of coming into the world, and education to the state of manhood, the source of many endearing relations, and agreeable affections and offices sufficiently prove it. And what can be more obvious, than that no considerable improvements can be made in the arts and sciences, or in true grandeur and elegance, without social union and rational virtuous confederacy? In order, however to give a just view of the extent and usefulness of this law, and of the phenomena belonging to it, I shall offer the few following observations.a <177>
Man is in as proper a sense made for society as any machine for its end.I. We cannot more certainly pronounce, that a watch or any other machine is formed for a certain end from the consideration of the parts of which it is formed; than we may conclude from all the parts of our constitution, and their mutual references to one another, that we are formed for society and for social happiness; and if it be fit, wise and good that it should be so, then must our constitution as such, be wise and good.
Hardly will any one call into doubt, the fitness, the wisdom and goodness of our being designed and made for society, of our being made one kind, and our having as such a common stock, a common end, a common happiness. One of the greatest objections brought against our frame and constitution is, that society is not natural but adventitious, the meer consequence of direful necessity; men being naturally to one another wolves; that is, not as wolves to wolves for there a kind of union and society takes place, but as wolves to sheep, and devourers and destroyers. Men, say they, are made for rapine and plunder; to fight for victory, and to subdue and enslave each as many of his fellow-creatures as he can by force or stratagem. In one word, men, according to this scheme, are made to be a prey one to another: The only natural principle or instinct those philosophers acknowledge in our nature is, the lust of power and dominion, and an insatiable desire of tyranizing: And were this a true account of our nature, and of the state for which our author has intended us by our make, a state of perpetual war;67 then indeed it would be impossible to conceive a good opinion of his disposition towards<178> his creatures.The fundamental error of Hobbs consists in his considering the desire of power which is natural to man as his only natural passion or instinct. But so far is this from being a true description of human nature, that nothing is more repugnant to feeling and experience.aCicero, indeed, and all the best ancient philosophers, have taken notice of a very laudable greatness in the human mind, which makes its capacity for great virtues and noble efforts, in consequence of its natural desire of principatus, as Cicero calls it: that is, of power and rule or independence. But this disposition or instinct is not the only one in our frame; it is ballanced by several others which serve each in its turn as a counterpoise to it. All these natural dispositions or instincts are enumerated and explained by Cicero, in the first Book of his Offices at the beginning, as the foundation of all the virtues which constitute human dignity,Our natural desire of power as it is conjoined in our frame with other equally natural desires is a most noble and useful instinct. perfection and happiness, as we have already had occasion to shew: viz. the desire of knowledge, the desire and love of society, and a moral sense, or a sense of beauty and deformity in affections and characters, analogous, as he observes, to our sense of beauty and proportion in corporeal forms. Now our desire of power and rule, as it is united with these other dispositions, is so far from being a hurtful principle in our nature, that it is of admirable use. It serves to push us on to improve all our powers and faculties; it impels us to exert ourselves with all our might to attain to the highest perfection in knowledge, and in every ability we are capable<179> of.Greatness of mind or love of power, how useful in our frame. It serves to excite us to take a very high aim; to despise mean and low objects, and to delight in whatever presents us with a very high idea of our own capacity, force and perfection. Without such a principle, man would indeed be a low, a timid, unaspiring creature, incapable of fortitude and magnanimity: incapable of ruling his sensitive appetites; incapable of great attempts, and of despising dangers for the sake of virtue. But then, on the other hand, were not this loftiness of mind, this desire of power and rule checked by the love of society, by generous public affections, and by a sense of beauty in good affections and actions, it would indeed make every man naturally a tyrant; and produce all the horrible evils, which Hobbs says, must be the product of men’s natural disposition, till they resolve to live quietly, and make a voluntary league for the sake of safety and peace.68 It is impossible to have a just idea of any whole by considering any part of it singly or abstractedly from all the other parts. But if we consider our disposition to seek after power, as it is joined in our frame with the other equally natural and strong dispositions in our nature which have been mentioned, we shall be led immediately to Cicero’s conclusion, That by these dispositions, as they are united together in our constitution, we are made to acquire prudence, to exercise benevolence, and to study order and beauty in our moral behaviour, and for fortitude and magnanimity. This natural greatness of mind, considered with regard to our equally natural appetite after knowledge, conduces to prompt us to seek after large and comprehensive views of nature; knowledge of the most enlarging, ennobling and exalting kind; such knowledge as will be most conducive to increase our power and dominion: It makes us delight in contemplating great objects; objects which wonderfully fill and delate the mind; objects which prove its force and put its grasp to the trial: hence the origine of the sublime in sentiments,<180> in discourse, and in actions, and of all the pleasure it gives, as Longinus has observed.69 This natural greatness considered with respect to our love of society, serves to save it from degenerating into too tame and simple submissiveness for the sake of ease and quiet to every proud usurper of dominion: and it excites us to aim at power in order to do good, in order to spread happiness round us with a liberal hand. Our natural greatness of mind or desire of Power is indeed the source of ambition: but of what ambition is it naturally the source; as it is conjoined in our mind with benevolence but generous affection? Thus it tends to excite the great and God-like ambition of being able to do glorious and meritorious services to our fellow-creatures: it excites us to seek after inward liberty and independency. To no other ambition does it, or can it excite us as it is directed by the love of society, and the benevolent principle with which it is united in our frame, that it might co-operate with it. For it is that different springs or movements may work jointly that they are placed together in any piece of mechanism: and it must be so likewise in moral constitutions. Finally, this natural desire of power and rule, or independency, when it is considered together with the love of order, and regularity in affections, conduct and society, prompts us to pursue regularity and good order in all our behaviour, and to subdue all the passions which tend to introduce irregularity and disorder into our own breasts, inconsistency and irregularity into our own outward actions, and proportionable disorder and irregularity into society. All these instincts or dispositions therefore as they are contrived by nature to ballance one another, and to co-operate in our minds, make a very beautiful constitution, or a constitution adapted to very noble ends and purposes. If any of them be too strong or vehement, then is the ballance disturbed, and so far is our frame disordered: but that any one of them which is most indulged<181> should become stronger than the rest which are less so, is the effect of an excellent general law with regard to temper and habitude of mind already explained. It is just so in natural compositions or machines, in which some particular spring may acquire too much force in proportion to the rest, and the end of the whole, by various causes: and as it is in mechanism, so is it in moral nature. When all the springs and wheels are sound and right, and in a just ballance, then and then only all will go right. The happiness as well as the proper business of man as a rational agent, consists in exerting himself to understand his frame; and understanding it, to give due attention and diligence to keep all his moral springs and movements in their due and proportioned strength, as benevolence and his love of beauty and order direct, and as self-love itself requires for interest’s sake: virtue and happiness being the same, as has been proved.
All our affections, not only the public ones, but even the private, respect society, and are formed with a view to it.Our affections, no doubt, one and all of them are often matter of uneasiness to ourselves, and sometimes occasion misery to others; it must be so when any one is indulged and nourished into a degree of strength above its proper tone; but the question is, which of them we could have wanted without greater loss and suffering in the whole. They are by nature ballanced one against another, as the antagonist muscles of the body, either of which separately would have occasioned distortion and irregular motion, yet jointly they form a machine most accurately subservient to the necessities, conveniencies, and happiness of the whole system.a We have already observed whence the ultimate necessity arises of adding certain uneasy sensations to all our desires, from which they have the name of passions.a And we have a power of<182> reason and reflexion by which we may discern what course of acting will naturally tend to procure us the most valuable sort of gratifications of all our desires, and prevent all intolerable or unnecessary pains, or provide some support under them. Nay we have wisdom sufficient to form right ideas of general laws and constitutions, so as to preserve large societies in peace and prosperity, and promote a general good amidst all the private interests. Now as to take away our passions and affections would be to deprive us of all the springs and motives, all the principles necessary to action, and to leave nothing to our reason to govern and guide; so, on the other hand, to rob us of our reason, would be to deprive us of a guiding principle, and to reduce us to the lowest condition of animals impelled and driven by instinct and appetites, without any foresight, without capacity of chusing, and consequently without all capacity of virtue or merit. As well therefore may one deny that we are made for walking erect, and not to grovel on the ground, as that we are made for society; since all our powers and affections are contrived for the good of our kind. Even those of the private sort are plainly so; for do they not then only work towards private good when they preserve that due proportion which the common good of mankind requires? and becoming too strong or too weak with regard to the general good of our kind, do they not likewise become disproportioned with regard to the private system and its well being? This is plain from the very principle of self-preservation, or the love of life, that becomes unable to answer its end in the private system, producing inability to save ones self when it is too strong; and when it is too weak, is the occasion of equal mischief to ourselves and others. For as the timorous and fearful cannot help themselves and others, so the rash and adventurous do not bring more hurt upon others<183> than upon themselves. Thus therefore the private affections are equally well adjusted to private and publick good. But if they should be said to belong merely to the selfish system, and to have no farther respect in their contrivance and tendency, there are however many other affections in our nature, which do not immediately pursue merely private good, but which in many cases lead us directly beyond ourselves, violently interesting us in the concerns and for the affairs of others in their adversity as well as prosperity, and conducing to make us regardless of ourselves, or at least to make us prefer the interest of our fellow creatures to our own private ease. What else are our compassion and friendly sense of sorrow, but the alarms and impulses of kind nature, watchfula for the whole, to engage us in the interest of others, and to prompt us to fly to the relief of a suffering brother? What are the στοργη; i.e. natural affection to offspring, sympathy, friendship, the love of ones country; or, in one word, all our social feelings, which make up,b or lay the foundation for so much of our happiness, but so many necessary ties by which we are linked together and make one system? By these each private agent, is originally and independently of his own choice, made subservient to the good of the whole. And in consequence of this mechanism of our nature, he who voluntarily continues in that rational union, cultivates it, and delights in employing his powers and talents for the general good of his kind, makes himself happy; and he who does not continue this natural union freely, but voluntarily endeavours<184> to break it and disunite himself from mankind, renders himself wretched; and yet he cannot totally burst the bonds of nature. His moral and public sense, his desire of honour and esteem, and the very necessities of his nature will continue to make him dependent on his kind, and oblige him to serve it whether he inclines to it or not.
Society or variety of social happiness requires variety of talents and characters.II. But let it be observed in the second place, That men could not be made fit for society, or for the social happiness which arises from partnership, from communication and participation, and the reciprocal interchange of friendly offices, without being so constituted that they should mutually stand in need of each other; and hence it follows that in order to society, not only diversity, but inequality of talents, mental as well as bodily, is absolutely necessary;a for otherwise there would be no dependence, and consequently no place for social affections to exert themselves, or for the mutual contribution toward public good, which is involved in the very idea of society and community. Now this diversity and inequality which partnership,<185> communication, and social intercourse require, is in our case in a great measure (as has been observed)a the necessary result of our being related to a sensible world; or of that mutual union between our minds and bodies which is requisite to our having the pleasures of every kind we are susceptible of in that way, which have been enumerated.The exigencies of our animal life require diversity. So strict and closs is the concatenation of things with regard to our make, that whatever is found to be fit or necessary in one respect, is so in all regards and views. The bodies by which we have a communication with a sensible world, and are capable of enjoying it, must be supported, nourished, and defended by methods which require diversity and inequality of powers; diversity and inequality of situations; superiorities and inferiorities arising from several varieties and differences. Minds united with bodies must be affected with the laws of matter and motion; and their different manners of being affected with these laws must be uniform and fixed, so that like effects may always<186> proceed from like causes and connexions. But all these dependencies on matter are the foundations of social exercises, and necessary to the pleasures and advantages of united social life. So complete then is the whole building, if I may so speak, that if any one part is altered, the whole can no longer stand or subsist, but must fall to the ground.Moral happiness requires the same diversity. What is necessary or fit for our progress in knowledge, and to our enjoyment of a sensible world, is likewise requisite to our moral perfection and to social happiness; and reciprocally whatever is necessary to the latter is necessary to the former; for social happiness must in the nature of things be a happiness of participation and communication; it must be a happiness that is reflected, as it were, from one creature to another, and that admits of various changes and modifications. Now different textures of bodies are not more necessary to the various reflexions, refractions, and transmissions of light, which constitute all the visible beauty of the corporeal world, than different structures and modifications of human minds are to the various reflexions and refractions, so to speak, of social happiness, which are requisite to the beauty and happiness of society.A variety of different tempers and characters is requisite to make various reflexions or modifications of social happiness. The only question with regard to the latter is, Whether they are not the properest to produce in the whole of things as equal a distribution of happiness, as those in the sensible world do of light and heat; that is, as equal a distribution as is consistent with the very nature of reflected happiness itself, and with the other useful laws relative to our frame? But hardly can we conceive better provision made for the equal distribution of reflected and participated happiness consistently with it as such, than by the strength which nature hath originally given to our generous affections and to our moral sense: that is, to our desire of spreading happiness, and to our delight in the contemplation of that beautiful order which the<187> regular exercise of benevolent affections naturally tends to produce.
By means of different moral qualities, tempers, and situations, the same kind of happiness has no less various effects than light by its various reflexions and transmissions in the sensible world. Happiness is thus modified or changed into various appearances and effects no less useful as well as beautiful than the variety of colours which make the harmony of the visible world. But by means of a moral sense and of a social disposition, mankind are as firmly tied together as they can be consistently with the power of regulating themselves, or with the dependence of their temper upon their own care to form it, or upon habits of their own contracting.All social virtues suppose mutual dependencies and wants, for they may all be reduced to these two, giving and receiving. There can be no society, no mutual dependence, without supposing mutual wants; for all social exercises may be reduced to giving and receiving. But these two necessarily suppose differences among mankind, and insufficiencies in every one to be happy by himself. And in fact, such amidst great diversity is the equality of mankind, that none can ever be without wants which he himself is utterly incapable to supply, however extensive his power of giving may be. But what can be happier than deficiencies and wants, which are the foundation of so many and so great goods; of social union, of love and friendship, of generosity and kindness, gratitude and reliance, and sympathy? If these are removed, what remains in human life worth enjoying? Even the gratifications of sense, as has been observed, dwindle into nothing; as is plain from considering one, which will readily be acknowledged to be none of the least; where the spes mutui credulaanimi70 is felt to be the principal ingredient.
Natural diversities make different materials for a variety of good by our own improvement, or of our own acquisition.If we take an impartial view of mankind, we shall find, that with all the inequalities which social happiness or intercourse of good and kindly offices require, there is however such an equality, that every man does in reality bring into the common stock, together with his share of the natural affections common to all men, a certain peculium, something proper to himself, which is of great use or rather necessity to the common welfare of the kind: and that can be nothing else but some particular ability, or some peculiar modification of the natural and common affections. This will plainly appear if we distinguish well between what is natural and what is acquired; and remember that, as nothing could be acquired were there nothing natural,<189> since art or exercise can only diversify what was originally of nature’s growth or implantation, and that according to settled methods and connexions fixed by nature for making acquisitions of any kind by exercise and art possible; so were nothing left to art and exercise, nothing would of course be left to ourselves to do; we could make no acquisitions at all. There are indeed acquired dispositions which are very prejudicial to society; but these are affections in themselves exceeding useful, perverted by wrong associations of ideas and bad habits: and what diversity is there among mankind with respect to ability, genius and temper, that there is ground to think natural, which is not necessary to the various employments and pursuits without which there cannot be merit of different kinds, nor a sufficient variety of happiness and perfection in human life? What natural talent or turn of mind is not a good foundation to work upon, or may not be improved to the great advantage of society? Let us but think what an insipid state ours would be, were there not that diversity of turns and casts of mind, so to speak, among mankind which now obtains; or if all men had the same qualities precisely in the same degree; and there were no differences among them at all? Variety is as necessary to general beauty, perfection and good, as uniformity: it is uniformity amidst variety, which produces beauty and good in the sensible world. And it is uniformity amidst variety amongst mankind, which alone could render them capable of similar beauty and good in the moral way; or make them a system of beings in which variety of beauty and good of the moral sort could have place, equal or analogous to that variety of beauty and good, which constitutes the riches and greatness, the magnificence and fulness of the corporeal world. In fine, ’tis as impossible that there can be society amongst mankind without great diversity of powers, abilities,<190> and dispositions, as it is that there can be a whole without parts, of various natures adjusted to one another by their differences, and so making a whole.
Benevolence or social affection naturally works in these proper proportions which the general good of society requires.III. Let it be remarked, in the third place, with regard to our natural qualifications for society and social happiness; that the social or uniting principle in us is fitted by nature to operate in those proportions, which are most conducive to the common good of our kind. I cannot better explain this than by comparing the uniting, benevolent principle in our nature to attraction in the material system. It is indeed moral or social attraction,a and operates like the other proportionally, as best suits to the upholding of the whole fabric in perfect order: it is strongest and most sensible when close cohesion is absolutely necessary, as betwixt parents and offspring: and it diminishes in proportion as we are removed from one another.It operates like attraction in the material world. Yet so are we framed, that with regard to our whole kind, when that idea is reflected upon or presented tous, it is experienced to be exceedingly warm and strong. We all feel that the general good cannot be considered without such due affection towards it, that there is a disposition and tendency in our breasts to submit all particular connexions and attachments to it, with a strong conviction of the fitness of such submission. Man must first be able to conceive a large whole, and to consider mankind as one family, before he can feel affection to his kind as such: but as one can hardly think at all without being led to perceive the common relation of men to one another as one kind; so every one soon attains to this idea, or rather it obtrudes itself upon all men whether they will or not; and the idea of one’s own child does not more necessarily excite natural<191> affection, than the notion of one kind begets strong public affection toward it as such. Hence it is that no person capable of reflexion is not touched with the distress of a man as man, without any other attachment; and does not, on the other hand, rejoice and perceive pleasure, even at the recital of happiness enjoyed in any part of the world, or at any period of time, however remote from all his private interests. Now this is the cement or attraction towards a common center, which together with the particular attractions between persons nearly joined and related, or particularly adapted and suited one to another, holds the whole system of mankind together, or by which it coheres. This is indeed the natural progress of the human mind.
The notion of a public good is no sooner formed than due affection arises towards it.The notion of a public good, or of the universal happiness of our kind, is a complicated idea, which is not immediately apprehended so soon as one sees or feels, but requires some reflexion and a progress of the mind to form it; whereas particular generous affections are immediately excited by their proper objects, some of which are ever assailing the mind; (as in the case of natural affection, properly so called, sympathy with the distressed,<192> and complacency with the happiness of others, naturally dear and near to us.) And our mind is so fitted by nature to form that notion that we cannot avoid forming it. But nature has fitted the mind to form the idea of our kind, and of its general good; for every particular exercise of the mind in the benevolent social way, naturally tends to beget and establish such a prevalency of good humour, tenderness, and benevolence in the general temperature of the mind; as when it is formed, must naturally dispose it to seek for exercise and entertainment to itself in the most enlarged way; and thus the inclination to extend benevolence growing with every particular exertion of it, the idea of good to be pursued, will naturally expand itself, till it not merely comprehends our own kind, but takes in and embraces all beings in general, or the whole system of nature. As the excitement of every particular object naturally supposes its object present to the mind, either really or in fancy; so the notion of public good must precede the desire and pursuit of it; but in proportion as the temper is sweetned by particular exercises of generous affection, the mind will enlarge and open itself to make more room for benevolence to exert all its benignity; and so a more comprehensive object will naturally be imagined. And when the idea of public good is but once so far extended as to take in our own species as one kind, it naturally, and as it were necessarily inflames the breast with affection, large, extensive and overflowing, in proportion to the greatness and comprehensiveness of the idea which bestirs it.
But benevolence, like other affections, is liable to changes, and may be diminished or strengthened.This will be strongly felt, if one who hath experienced any of the particular and more limited outgoings of the mind in natural affection, compassion, or friendship, will but ask his own heart.—And if this be duty, what then does my country require at my hands?—Hath the public no claim upon me?—For if he but understands these questions, and can put them to himself; nature will quickly give the<193> answer by a sudden overflowing of the warmest affection towards the public,a to which he will feel every other passion submitting itself, as conscious of its fit subordinacy or inferiority to it.
Let it however be remarked, that the analogy between moral and natural gravitation must fail in this respect, that whereas the latter is only a mechanical principle which we cannot change; the former is a moral principle, and therefore subject to diversities superinduceable by ourselves, in consequence particularly of the law of habits and associations of ideas already mentioned; insomuch that benevolence may be exceedingly weakened and diminished, thro’ the prevalence of other passions. If therefore in some constitutions benevolence is very weak, and self-love is almost the only prevailing principle, let it be called to mind that in other constitutions self-love is really too weak, and some generous affection is too strong. From hence it follows, that as in the latter case it would be absurd to argue from some few instances, that the principle of self-love had originally no place in our frame; so, by parity of reason, it would be equally absurd to infer from a few particular instances, where self-love is too strong, and benevolence almost quite extinct, that originally there was no social principle in our nature. Such changes are all accountable whether on the one side or on the other, and in general with regard to all passions, in the same way; that is, from different associations of ideas, and different contracted habits. The only inference, experience leads to with regard to them is, “That passions are overpowered by passions; and that passions grow more powerful in proportion as they are indulged; or<194> as circumstances have conduced to excite and employ them; since by repeated acts all passions are proportionably wrought into temper.”It is difficult to determine the original forces of any affections in our hearts. It may indeed be difficult, perhaps impossible, to determine the original forces of benevolent passions in any particular constitution antecedent to all particular exitements and exercises; since from the beginning objects which naturally excite and employ them are continually affecting us, and calling them forth into exercises or acts: but then it is no less so for the same reason to determine precisely the forces of the private or selfish affections. We see variety in both cases, and we know how this variety must arise from circumstances of exercise and action in either case.But it cannot be asserted that there is nothing social in our nature, without denying the most evident truths or facts. But he who denies any social tendency in our nature to our kind, or the original implantation in us of any principles besides the meer selfish affections, and ascribes all that is social or kindly in us to education, custom and superinduced habits, is obliged to give an account of moral phenomena, which are absolutely in explicable upon that supposition; since we may appeal even to the most selfish person, to him who has studied and laboured the most to make himself such, and to extinguish all regards to others, whether he has been able to succeed: whether he can attain to his ends, so as never to feel any stirrings within him of social and public affections; and whether he can ever seriously and deliberately, in conversation with his own heart, approve to himself such an aim. If benevolence is superinduced, and not originally from nature, whence comes it universally that this customary and superinduced nature, is stronger than original nature itself; insomuch that, far from being capable of being totally destroyed, it is ever thwarting the selfish passions, and creating discontent and remorse in a narrow, sordid breast. This truly cannot otherwise be explained, (unless it is affirmed that habits may be contracted by repeated acts,<195> without any design or appointment of the Author of nature that it should be so) but by saying, that though nature has not planted in us originally any social propensions, yet the circumstances of human life are so ordered by the Author of it, that these propensions must necessarily arise in every mind to such a degree of strength, that nothing shall be able afterwards to eradicate them; nay, so much as to hinder them from exciting bitter dissatisfaction with ones self in the selfish mind whether he will or will not; or at least, from creating horrible disturbance and remorse within such breasts, as often as they sincerely ask themselves, whether the selfish conduct be right or wrong, approveable or disapproveable. If he says, the part that man ought or ought not to act, right and wrong, fit and unfit, are cheats, or meer words without any meaning, he is not one bit nearer to the solution required of him for the phenomena now under consideration. Because the question still returns, why are human affairs so ordered; if these words express no moral immutable differences of affections and actions, and correspondent obligations, that yet universally every thinking man, as often as he thinks, must approve or disapprove, according to that deceit or false imagination, and cannot possibly approvea or<196> disapprove according to any other rule, however he may act? For this is as certain as attraction, elasticity, or any other quality of bodies perceived by our senses, that no person ever can, at any time of life, reflect upon his actions, and approve of falsehood, dissimulation and dishonesty, not to say barbarity and cruelty: or not approve truth, veracity, candour, gratitude and benevolence, and public spirit.
How the mind is differently affected by any ideas or objects, is matter of experience, and therefore the fact rests upon the same indubitable evidence which ascertains other facts, that is, experience. But in accounting for this fact, it is necessary to resolve it ultimately into our being originally so framed as to be so affected; in which case, the original sociality of our nature is acknowledged; or it must be resolved into a secondary intention of nature, to bring about our being so affected by moral objects, which, so far as it has any meaning at all, must be, to all intents and purposes, the same with a primary and original intention or appointment of nature. There is no middle hypothesis between these two, to explain the matter by. And to say that this, or any influence of objects upon the mind, may be totally the effect of education, custom, exercise, or art, or any cause whatsoever, without any intention or appointment of nature that it should be so, must terminate ultimately in saying, that effects may be produced without causes, or without any appointed manner of their being produced. Now how absurd would it appear to every one, if a person should say, that an artist may work matter into any intended form, any how, at random, without any means, or by whatsoever means he pleases; or that he could do it, though there were no certain knowable way of doing it. This would unanimously be owned to shock all common sense: and yet it is the very same thing that must<197> be said by those who ascribe all that is social in our nature to art, custom, and superadded habit, without nature’s having at least appointed the way in which art, custom, and superadded habit may produce such an effect.The absurdity of supposing social or any affection to be produced by art. For were there not originally in us certain qualities for art and exercise to operate upon, according to certain fixed methods of nature’s institution, there would be no materials for art to work upon; nor no means of operating by any moral art or exercise. In moral nature, as well as in the material world, no quality can be superinduced which is entirely the product of art. All arts of the one kind, as well as of the other, are but certain methods of bringing forth into action qualities naturally belonging to subjects, according to the means appointed by nature for bringing them forth into action, in this or the other degree or proportion, and with these or the other appearances. I shall conclude this head with an admirable description of nature, our social nature in particular, by the excellent moral poet so often quoted.
The necessary dependence of social happiness and perfection on right social union.IV. I shall now take notice of something that is yet more particularly the result of our social make, or of our being formed to promote common happiness by joint endeavours. And it is, that in consequence of such an end, and of the make proper to that end, the perfection and happiness of human society must depend on the aptitude of the union into which it is formed, that is, upon its fitness and propriety to promote that end. If happiness must be promoted by joint endeavours, or united application, as social happiness must be according to the very definition of it, then is uniting necessary to it: but joining or uniting in one method, or according to one form, cannot be so proper to promote the end of union, which is public<199> happiness, as joining or uniting in another form. Need I stay to prove what is as evident, as that there may be a better and a worse mechanism for the end of a watch? Yet if this be true, it evidently follows, that the greatest common happiness and perfection of society cannot be effected, but in proportion to the fitness of the form in which society is constituted, to procure that end. Accordingly, the most remarkable differences among societies are such as result from their political forms, or from the natural tendency of their laws, government, and civil policies. There are, indeed, other differences, as with regard to climate, soil, and other such things depending on physical causes. But are not the chief differences confessed to be such as result from civil constitutions, or the various forms of government? If, for example, the flourishing of all the ingenious arts, of philosophy in all its branches, of poetry, statuary, painting, sculpture, architecture, &c. constitute a very considerable part of the happiness and grandeur of society, as being the properest methods for employing men’s noblest faculties, and all the wealth that may be purchased by commerce: If it be true, that it is the polite arts which give taste and lustre to human life, or add elegance and a due polish to it; that they are the grandeur and grace,aand comely pride of mankind, without which wealth rots a nusance: if this be true, it is at the same time equally certain, that one form of government is fit for promoting these arts, and another is quite the reverse. “Hence it is that these arts have been delivered down to us in such perfection by free nations, who from the nature of their government, as from a proper soil, produced the generous plants; whilst the mightiest bodies and vastest empires, governed by force and despotic power, could, after ages of peace and leisure, produce no other than what was deformed and barbarous<200> of the kind.”75Some states are adjusted to one end, some to another. It was in consequence of this natural fitness or unfitness of certain moral means with respect to certain moral ends, that the laws of Lycurgus, according to the confession of Aristotle, Plato, and other wise and observing politicians, tended to make men ferocious, and to prevent their being civilized and polished by the humanizing arts: there was no provision made by that institution for their culture and advancement; but, on the contrary, all was calculated to exclude them; and therefore they could not possibly be engendered, far less could they come to perfection in such a state: whilst, on the other hand, at Athens they flourished, because every thing concurred to promote them. But it is not my business now to examine different forms of government. All that belongs to our present purpose is, to remark that men are capable of a very great degree of grandeur and happiness, as we feel by experience, in consequence of our own most happy constitution, and its aptitude to promote public spirit, virtue, and arts, beyond any other in the world: and that the perfection and happiness of mankind must depend upon the natural fitness of the form of government they live under, or of their civil and religious constitution, in order to produce that end, is as certain as that there are proper and improper means with relation to any end; or that no end can be accomplished, but by the means fit to attain it: an universal self-evident truth in moral as well as natural mechanism, or with respect to moral ends as well as natural ones.Every moral end, as well as every natural one, hath its natural and necessary means, by which alone it can be accomplished. In consequence of which it is that the science of politics consists in judging of the propriety and fitness, moral and political, of means to bring about and promote the sole end of government, the happiness of subjects. And hence it is accordingly that philosophers and politicians have been able, in many instances, to form such true judgments of the different forms of government, laws and policies, as<201> (like Polybius,a with regard to the Roman republic) to foretel the revolutions and changes of government which must happen, merely from the exact knowledge of the necessary effects of moral causes. Here, as well as in the natural world, effects may be with certainty inferred from their causes; for in both cases, from a certain concurrence of circumstances or causes, certain consequences necessarily result.Hence it is that politics is a science. To be satisfied of this, one needs only look into the political reasonings of any good writer on politics, Aristotle, Polybius, or our own Harrington. So that we may lay down all that is requisite for our purpose to make out as an indisputable truth. That such is the natural dependence of men upon each other, that they cannot attain to the perfection and happiness for which they are intended by nature, but by their uniting together, in order to promote it by their joint application: and that there are in the nature of things, improper and proper means of acting for obtaining that end. We are certainly intended by nature for whatever happiness and perfection we are qualified to pursue and attain to, whether singly or by united force. But all means and manners of uniting together, can no more be equally proper for attaining to an end in moral combinations of powers or qualities, than in natural<202> ones. And the wisdom and goodness of our Author clearly appears in making us social, and reciprocally dependent; in fitting us for attaining to a very great degree of happiness and perfection in that way; in prompting us by our natural benevolence, and other dispositions, to establish ourselves into the best form for that end; and in directing us to find it out by our moral sense.
Nature could not have dealt more kindly with us than it hath done, by making us social creatures, and by pointing and prompting us to right union by our natural disposition to society, and by our moral sense.This is all the provision nature could make for uniting us together in the properest form, consistently with making our chief interest dependent on ourselves, or happiness to be our own acquisition. And thus nature appears to be exceeding kind, especially when we call to mind, that though social happiness makes social dependence absolutely necessary; yet at the same time, the chief happiness of every private man, as far as it can be acquired singly, or independently of society rightly constituted and modelled, consists in the exercise of the same virtuous temper, which fits for and points to the proper manner of uniting, in order to promote general happiness or perfection; it being in every one’s power, considered as one individual, to regulate his affections according to the real nature of things or truth; from which government of opinions and affections no unhappiness results; but from it, on the contrary, do many goods naturally spring, in comparison of which, all other enjoyments are of very little consideration or importance, equally gross and unsatisfactory, as has been already observed.Conclusion. “Thus, then, it plainly appears that we are excellently formed for procuring to ourselves that true perfection and happiness, which must, in the nature of things, be the effect of right government, or well-constituted society.” Let us now consider, whether man, who is made for virtue and society, hath any further respect; or whether he is not likewise made for the pleasures of true religion and pure devotion.<203>
[66. ]Pope, Essay on Man, IV.35–48.
[a. ]—Quae quidem omnia contingent, si quis remp. bene constitutam nanciscatur. Id quod quidem Amaltheae quod dicitur cornu voco. Etenim in recta legum constitutione sunt omnia; neque maximum naturae humanae bonum vel existere absque ea, vel comparatum & auctum permanere possit. Nam & virtutem & ad virtutem viam haec in se continet, quandoquidem in ea partim naturae bona procreantur, partim & mores, studia, leges optime se habent & recta ratio, pietas, sanctimonia, magnopere vigent. Quamobrem qui beatus futurus & feliciter victurus est, eum in bene constituta repub. & vivere necesse est & mori, &c. Hyppodamus Thurius Pythag. de felicitate. [Hippodamus Thurius, De felicitate: “All these things will happen if people hit upon a well-ordered city. And these things, I say, are what is called the horn of Amalthea. For everything depends upon good order and without it the greatest good of human nature cannot come into existence, nor can it endure if it does come into existence and grows. For good order includes within itself virtue and the road to virtue, since through good order in part the goods of nature are produced and in part so also are our customs. Our endeavors and laws are as good as they can be, and right reason, piety, and sanctity flourish magnificently. Hence someone who wishes to be happy and to live a successful life must live and die in a well-ordered city.” In Gale, ed., Opuscula mythologica, physica et ethica. Graece et Latine. . . . (Amsterdam, 1688), 662–63.]
[67. ]Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan, ed. Richard Tuck (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991), pt. 1, chs. 10–13.
[a. ]See the first Book of Cicero’s offices. Huic veri videndi cupiditati adjuncta est appetitio quaedam principatus, ut nemini parere animus bene a natura informatus velit, nisi praecipienti, aut docenti, aut utilitatis causa, juste & legitime imperanti: ex quo animi magnitudo existit, humanarumque rerum contemptio—Omnino fortis animus & magnus, duabus rebus maxime cernitur: quarum una in rerum externarum despicientia ponitur, cum persuasum sit, nihil hominem nisi quod honestum, decorumque sit, aut admirari, aut optare, aut expetere oportere: nullique neque homini, neque perturbationi animi nec fortunae succumbere. Altera est res, ut cum ita sis affectus animo, ut supra dixi, res geras magnas, illas quidem & maxime utiles, &c. [Cicero, De officiis: “To this passion for discovering truth there is added, as it were, a hungering for independence, so that a mind well-moulded by nature is unwilling to be subject to anybody save one who gives rules of conduct or is a teacher of truth or who, for the general good, rules according to justice and law. From this attitude come greatness of soul and a sense of superiority to worldly conditions” (I.iv.13). “The soul that is altogether courageous and great is marked above all by two characteristics: one of these is indifference to outward circumstances; for such a person cherishes the conviction that nothing but moral goodness and propriety deserves to be either admired or wished for or striven after, and that he ought not to be subject to any man or any passion or any accident of fortune. The second characteristic is that, when the soul is disciplined in the way above mentioned, one should do deeds not only great and in the highest degree useful, etc.” (I.xx.66). Cicero, De officiis, trans. Walter Miller, Loeb Classical Library (London: Heinemann; Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1938).]
[68. ]Hobbes, Leviathan, pt. 1, ch. 13.
[69. ]This is a major theme of Longinus in his De sublimitate.
[a. ]See Mr. Hutcheson on the passions, whose words I here use. [Francis Hutcheson, An Essay on the Nature and Conduct of the Passions. . . . (1728); ed. Aaron Garrett (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2002), I.VI.iii.]
[a. ]In the second chapter.
[a. ]See Mr. Hutcheson on the passions. [This doctrine is dealt with throughout Hutcheson’s Passions, but see especially section I.III.]
[b. ]See Cicero, de legibus, lib. 1. And de officiis, lib. 1. No. 7. Sed quoniam ut praeclare scriptum est a platone non nobis—solum nati sumus—in hoc naturam debemus ducem sequi & communes utilitates in medium afferre, &c.—See how he refutes towards the end of this book those who held that we are not of a social make.[Cicero, De officiis, I.vii.22: “But since, as Plato has admirably expressed it, we are not born for ourselves alone . . . in this direction we ought to follow nature as our guide, to contribute to the general good, etc.”]
[a. ]Cicero often takes notice of the likeness among mankind to one another in their frame, whence it plainly appears that we are, as he expresses it, ad justitiam nati. Id jam patebit si hominum inter ipsos societatem conjunctionemque perspexeris. Nihil est unum uni tam simile, tam par quam omnes inter nosmet ipsos sumus, &c. De legibus, lib. 1. But see what he says of our personal differences. De officiis, lib. 1. n. 30. Intelligendum est etiam, duabus quasi nos a natura indutos esse personis, quarum una est communis—altera autem quae proprie singulis est tributa. Ut enim in corporibus magnae dissimilitudines—sic in ani mis existunt etiam majores varietates. He gives instances, and then (which no other moralist hath done) he explains the decorum belonging to every particular character. Admodum autem tenenda sunt sua cuique, non vitiosa sed propria quo facilius decorum illud quod quaerimus retineatur, sic enim faciendum, ut contra universam naturam non contendamus: ea tamen conservata, propriam naturam sequamur, &c. This lays a foundation for great variety of beauty in human life. Hence in poetry what is called decorum, as Cicero observes in the same place, or truth and consistency of characters, which makes so essential a part of poetical imitation. Let us imagine human society divested of this variety, and by consequence of the different duties and decorums arising from it, and we reduce society to a very uniform lifeless state.—See Homer’s Odyssey, B. 8. line 185. Pope’s Translation.
How fade and insipid would human life be without that pleasant beautiful variety of colours, which different characters arising from various causes cast upon it. [Ad justitiam nati translates as “born for justice.” Cicero, De legibus, I.x.28–29: “This fact will immediately be plain if you once get a clear conception of man’s fellowship and union with his fellow-men. For no single thing is so like another, so exactly its counterpart, as all of us are to one another, etc.” Cicero, De re publica, De legibus, trans. Clinton Walker Keyes, Loeb Classical Library (London: Heinemann; New York: Putnam, 1928). De officiis: “We must realise also that we are invested by nature with two characters, as it were: one of these is universal. . . . The other character is the one that is assigned to individuals in particular. In the matter of physical endowment there are great differences. . . . Diversities of character are greater still.” (I.xxx.107). “Everybody, however, must resolutely hold fast to his own peculiar gifts, in so far as they are peculiar only and not vicious, in order that propriety, which is the object of our inquiry, may the more easily be secured. For we must so act as not to oppose the universal laws of human nature, but, while safeguarding those, to follow the bent of our own particular nature, etc.” (I.xxx.110).
[a. ]In the second and third chapters.
[70. ]Horace, Odes, IV.i.30: “trustful hope of love returned.” Horace, Odes and Epodes, trans. C. E. Bennett, Loeb Classical Library (Cambridge and London: Harvard University Press, 1968).
[71. ]Pope, Essay on Man, IV.49–60.
[72. ]Pope, Essay on Man, II.249–56.
[a. ]See an excellent paper in the Guardian to this purpose. [The Guardian, started by Sir Richard Steele, ran from March to October 1713. Addison, Berkeley, Pope, and Gay were among the contributors. The reference is to no. 126. See The Guardian, ed. John Calhoun Stephens (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1982).]
[73. ]Pope, Essay on Man, IV.361–72.
[a. ]See Cicero’s offices, Book 1. No. 16. &c. Sed cum omnia ratione animoque lustraris, omnium societatum nulla est gravior, nulla carior, quam ea, quae cum repub. est unicuique nostrum: cari sunt parentes, cariliberi, propinqui, familiares: sedomnes omnium caritates patria una complexa est. [Cicero, De officiis, I.xvii.57: “But when with a rational spirit you have surveyed the whole field, there is no social relation among them all more close, none more dear than that which links each one of us with our country. Parents are dear; dear are children, relatives, friends; but our native land embraces all our loves.”]
[a. ]See how charmingly Cicero argues this point, de legibus, Lib. I. No. 15, &c. Atqui, si natura confirmatura jus non erit, virtutes omnes tollantur. Ubi enim liberalitas, ubi patriae caritas, ubi pietas, ubi aut bene merendi de altero, aut referendae gratiae voluntas poterit existere? Nam haec nascantur ex eo, quod naturâ propensi sumus ad diligendos homines, quod fundamentum juris est.—Atqui nos legem bonam a mala, nulla alia nisi naturae norma dividere possumus. Nec solum jus & injuria a natura dijudicatur, sed omnino omnia honesta, ac turpia. Nam & communis intelligentia nobis notas res efficit, easque in animis nostris inchoavit, ut honesta in virtute ponantur, in vitiis turpia. Haec autem in opinione existimare, non in natura posita, dementis est. Nam nec arboris, nec equi virtus, quae dicitur (in quo abutimur homine) in opinione sita est, sed in natura. Quod si ita est; honesta quoque, & turpia, naturâ, dijudicanda sunt, &c. [Cicero, De legibus: “And if nature is not to be considered the foundation of justice, that will mean the destruction of the virtues on which human society depends. For where then will there be a place for generosity, or love of country, or loyalty, or the inclination to be of service to others or to show gratitude for favours received? For these virtues originate in our natural inclination to love our fellow-men, and this is the foundation of justice” (I.xv.43). “But in fact we can perceive the difference between good laws and bad by referring them to no other standard than nature; indeed, it is not merely justice and injustice which are distinguished by nature, but also and without exception things which are honourable and dishonourable. For since an intelligence common to us all makes things known to us and formulates them in our minds, honourable actions are ascribed by us to virtue, and dishonourable actions to vice; and only a madman would conclude that these judgments are matters of opinion, and not fixed by nature. For even what we, by a misuse of the term, call the virtue of a tree or of a horse, is not a matter of opinion, but is based on nature. And if that is true, honourable and dishonourable actions must also be distinguished by nature, etc.” (I.xvi.44–45).]
[74. ]Pope, Essay on Man, III.109–46.
[a. ]Liberty, by Mr. Thomson. [James Thomson (1700–1748), Liberty, a Poem (1735–36). The quote is a compilation from lines 376–87 of part 5.]
[75. ]Shaftesbury, “Soliloquy” II.ii, in Characteristics, ed. Klein, 107.
[a. ]Hence it is that the political science is able to amount to what Cor. Nepos says in his Life of Atticus, concerning Cicero’s Letters to him.—Quae qui legat non multum desideret historiam contextam, illorum temporum. Sic enim omnia de studiis principum, vitiis ducum, mutationibus reipub. perscripta sunt, ut nihil in iis non appareat: & facile existimari possit, prudentiam quodammodo esse Divinationem. Non enim Cicero ea solum quae vivo se acciderunt futura praedixit: sed etiam que nunc usu veniunt, cecinit vates. To be satisfied of the truth of this remark, one needs only look into the sixth book of Polybius, and observe from what principles he reasons. And if we consult our own Harrington, we shall see from his reasonings in one single instance, viz. about property, how necessarily the happiness of mankind depends upon a good constitution, sagely and honestly administred. [Cornelius Nepos, Liber de Latinis historicis XXV, Atticus XV.16: “One who reads these does not feel great need of a connected history of those times; for such complete details are given of the rivalry of the chief men, the faults of the leaders, the changes of government, that there is nothing that they do not make clear, and it may readily appear that Cicero’s foresight was almost divination. For he not only predicted the events that actually happened during his lifetime, but, like a seer, foretold those which are now being experienced.” Cornelius Nepos, trans. John C. Rolfe (Cambridge: Harvard University Press; London: Heinemann, 1984). Polybius (ca. 203-ca. 120 bc) was a Greek historian whose History of Rome covers the period from the first Punic War to the destruction of Corinth; this is a major theme of James Harrington’s The Commonwealth of Oceana, in The Political Works of James Harrington, ed. and intr. J. G. A. Pocock (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1977).]