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CHAPTER VIII - 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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A brief review of the human nature, and its powers and dispositions, and their laws.Having thus considered the chief laws and principles, powers and properties in the human nature relative to our bodily or moral frame, to our sensitive part or our connexion with a material world, relative to knowledge, to virtue, to interest, and to society: I think we may conclude, that human nature is well constituted, and makes an excellent species which well deserves its place in the rising scale of life and perfection: a species of being which shews an Author of perfect wisdom and goodness.
Now that all the principal phenomena relating to human nature and mankind, are accountable by reducing them to good principles from which they must result, will appear by casting our eye upon the following Table of effects, for these seem to be the principal phenomena belonging to us as men; and they are all reducible to the laws that have been already found either to be necessary, or fitly chosen and established.
Phenomena belonging to the general law of power.A table of the phenomena, good and bad belonging to human nature, or resulting from its contexture.
Having a sphere of power and activity. Liberty and dominion; and so being capable of praise, virtue and good desert: Having great knowledge and proportioned power in consequence of culture or care to improve ourselves.
Want of power through ignorance and neglect of culture, blindness, impotence, slavery, consciousness of acting ill; remorse, shame, a desart and uncultivated, or a corrupt and diseased mind.<216>
To the laws of knowledge.
Science, prudence, philosophy, arts, good sense, good taste, a refined imagination, an extensive understanding; knowledge of the beauty, order and wisdom of nature, and skill in imitating it by various arts.
Ignorance, error, prejudices, narrow views, dull or slow imagination, corrupt fancy, false taste; caprice and fantastical pursuits.
To the laws of the sensible world and our union with it.
Sensitive pleasures of various sorts; contemplation of nature or natural knowledge, pleasures of imagination, social intercourse about moral ideas, sensitive appetites to be governed.
Sensitive pains, subjection to the laws of matter and motion, false imaginations and pains arising from them. Unruly excessive sensual appetites and passions; uneasy sensations annexed to moral or intellectual desires, as well as to sensitive ones.
To the laws of association of ideas and habits.
Habitual knowledge, memory and acquaintance with nature, perfection in science, in arts, in every faculty, good taste, invention, advancement toward moral perfection, inward liberty, self-command, free agency.
Wrong associations, fantastic imaginations, bad habits, unimproved faculties, inward slavery, indolence and impotence.
To the laws of our moral sense, reason and moral conduct.
Reason, a moral sense, beauty, harmony, and consistency of manners, conscious virtue, or a sense of merit, greatness of mind, fortitude, magnanimity.
Depraved taste, remorse and self-condemnation, irregular self-tormenting, self-disapproving affections, lowness of mind, pusillanimity.<217>
To the laws of interest and happiness, or of private and public good.
Generous affections, well governed private affections, social ones, their pleasant effects and happy con sequences, the pursuit of private and public good, or virtue and interest the same.
Ungenerous, unsocial selfish affections, disorderly desires, and their un-happy effects and influences; private and public ill, or vice and misery the same.
To the laws of society, our social make and our mutual dependence.
Social union, mutual dependencies, derived happiness by communication and participation; confederacy to promote virtue, and the true elegance, grandeur and happiness of society.
Disunion, tumult, disorder, tyrany, rebellion, barbarity, slavery, public lowness and misery.
To the law of religion.
True ideas of God and providence, true religion, its pleasures, resignation to the Deity, imitation of the Deity, consciousness of conformity to him, and of his favour and approbation.
False ideas of God and providence, superstition, idolatry, blind zeal, dread of the Deity, sense of disconformity to him, and fear of his displeasure.
All these phenomena are reducible to the excellent general laws already considered, which fit and qualify man for a noble end or happiness.This is a short view of the principal appearances in the human system. Now all the appearances reducible to those laws must be good, the laws being good. And that they are such is evident; for if the preceeding account of our frame, and the laws relative to it be true, it plainly and necessarily follows, 1. “That, in consequence of them, we are made for a very considerable degree of happiness and perfection of the moral sort chiefly.” And, 2. “That there is no<218> affection, disposition, power or faculty in our nature which merely produces evil; or which, on the contrary, does not produce very many great goods and no evils, but what are the effects of such a general prevalence of these laws, as makes our constitution a good whole, or adapted to a noble end.”Therefore there are no evils absolutely considered arising from our frame. But if these conclusions be true, then are no effects in the human system evils absolutely considered; that is, with respect to the whole frame and constitution of human nature. In order to have a just notion of the government of the world, and of its Author, we need only ask ourselves, towards which kind of phenomena, the good or the opposite bad ones, the natural tendency of our powers and dispositions is; whether it is for the sake of the bad ones, which arises from their misuse or misguidance, that we are endowed with these powers and dispositions which constitute our frame; or for the sake of the good ones towards which these powers and dispositions naturally operate?If we judge in this case, as we do in other like ones, we must conclude that all our powers are given us for a very useful and noble end. Let us judge here as we do in analogous cases with regard to moral agents. Is one thought to have bestowed money, power, or any gift upon one which may be employed to good purposes, that they may be misapplied and abused to bad ones unless we are previously certain of the malignity and wicked disposition and intention of the giver: but ought we not to form like judgments in like cases? But which is more, if we reflect that together with all our powers and dispositions, the Author of nature hath given us a moral sense, to what other purpose can we suppose our powers to be given in this manner, or so conjoined, but for the best use or the best end; since our moral reason and sense cannot be implanted in us for any other purpose, but to point and prompt us to the best use of all our powers, appetites and affections?Our moral sense cannot possibly be given us for any other reason but to guide us to the right use of all our powers. For this moral sense is as naturally fitted for directing us right, and for no other end, as a helm is to guide and steer a ship.<219>
How do we judge of any machine natural or artificial? Do we not say, it is fitted for that end to which it is properest to serve; or that to be applied to its most useful purpose, is its perfect and most natural state? Thus we judge of plants, trees, ships, watches, and all sorts of structures, animate or inanimate. Why then should we pronounce or judgea other-wise concerning man and the human system? or can we do so without departing from all the received rules of judging of any thing; all the rules of judging either used in philosophy or common life?Our whole frame is good. For all effects reducible to the law of knowledge, Ought we not therefore to reason in this manner with regard to every law of our nature? as for instance, with regard to the law of knowledge; that must be owned to be a good law which is necessary to our being capable of science, prudence, philosophy, arts natural and moral, power, virtue and merit; tho’ in consequence of the same power we cannot but be capable of contracting prejudices, forming narrow views, and making false judgments; or tho’ in consequence of the very laws and establishments that render knowledge progressive and dependent on ourselves, and by which we have a certain sphere of activity, power and dominion, errors, prejudices, wrong associations, false judgments, and therefore bad choice, and unreasonable pursuits cannot be otherwise avoidable by us, than by the right exercise of our understanding and reason to which we are prompted and directed in the only way we can be so consistently with our own exercising and employing them; that is, by our delight in order, general laws, and the contemplation of public good. Or to give another instance, 2. With regard to the law of society.and all effects reducible to the law of society; or to any other of the laws of our nature above mentioned, That must be a good law with regard to the human system, which binds and unites us together, by making our greatest happiness depend upon our uniting<220> together in a proper manner to promote that end; tho’ in consequence of that very law our greatest happiness cannot otherwise be acquired or attained than by right confederacy and union; and therefore many miseries must arise from disunion, and from uniting in an unfit or improper manner,—and so on.—For, in like manner, must we reason with respect to all the other laws of our nature that have been mentioned, and their phenomena or effects, which it is needless again to repeat.must be sufficiently accounted for, if explication of phenomena hath any meaning at all. Now if this way of reasoning be good, then is nature sufficiently vindicated by the account that hath been given of the laws of our nature; for if it be good, then every effect concerning which we can reason in the manner as above, is sufficiently explained and accounted formorally as well as physically; since it is thus reduced to an establishment or general law and principle in nature, necessary to many excellent purposes, for which were not our nature fitted, it would not be so perfect as it is.
For all the preceeding reasonings about the fitness of laws go on in the same way that is admitted to be good in every other case.But that the reasoning is good, is evident, 1. Since it is that very way of reasoning we admit in every other case to be good, and without admitting which natural philosophy cannot advance one step: for what does, or can natural philosophy do, but reduce natural appearances to general laws, and shew the goodness of these laws. 2. But which is more, it must be true, in general, that no whole can be a good whole in any other sense but this, that its parts, and all the references of its parts, with all the laws according to which these operate or are operated upon, are adjusted to a very good end: Such a whole is a good whole in any proper or conceiveable sense of a good whole. And therefore our structure is such.
In natural philosophy in particular.This account therefore of nature is strictly philosophical, or philosophy and the explication of nature hath no meaning. We must admit it, or by parity of reason be obliged to give up with natural philosophy, and say it does not sufficiently explain or<221> account for appearances by reducing them to good general laws;The preceeding account of human nature is therefore strictly philosophical. but that something else must be done. Now what that something more means no philosopher has yet declared.
The case with regard to our constitution is briefly this. ’Tis impossible to make beings capable of attaining to any qualifications or improvements, and of being happy by so doing,A recapitulation of it to prove this. otherwise than by providing them with the powers, faculties, affections, materials, and occasions of attaining to them. And therefore, this being done, a being is duly fitted, qualified or furnished for a certain degree of perfection, and is in its kind of a perfect make, well deserving its place in nature, which, without such a kind, could not be full, coherent and rise in due degree. To demand more to moral perfection than the necessary provision and furniture for such perfection, is to demand in order to sufficient provision and furniture, some thing more than sufficient provision and furniture. It is to demand that moral attainments may be attainments without being attained, acquisitions without being acquired.a Wherefore our frame and make is sufficiently vindicated, when it appears that we are, as has been shewn, excellently provided by nature for very great acquisitions in knowledge, power, virtue and merit, and by that means in happiness and perfection; if we set ourselves to make a right use of our natural abilities, as<222> we are directed and excited to do by our natural instincts, affections or determinations. Natural endowments, properly speaking, are not virtues or moral perfections; they are but the foundation, the capacity of and furniture for moral improvements, acquisitions and virtues; the pre-requisites to moral perfection and happiness. But who dares say to himself, that he has it not in his power to attain to a very high degree of perfection? What man may attain to, we know from many examples in history and in present times; and who can look upon such characters, and not feel that man may arrive at a truly noble degree of dignity and worth? They cast us at a distance indeed, and upbraid us; but why? but because we feel that it is in our power, if we would but earnestly set about it, or if we are not sadly wanting to ourselves, even to do more than they?
That must be the natural end of a being,a to the pursuit of which his powers are fitted, and<223> the pursuit of which is his soundest, his pleasantest state.Conclusion concerning our nature. N.B. See in the notes a true picture of our nature, dignity, happiness, and end, drawn by Cicero, and inferred from the same principles we have laid down in this essay. It remains therefore to be enquired how long man is likely to exist; or whether he is not designed for immortality. But so are we made with regard to moral perfection; the pursuit of it therefore is our natural, our healthful, our sound or happy, as well as perfect state. So that if the preceeding account of man be true, we may justly conclude, “That tho’ the Author of nature, who hath filled his creation with all possible degrees of beauty, perfection and happiness, hath made a species of beings lower than angels; yet man, who is this species, is crowned by him with glory and honour, and invested with a very large and noble sphere of power and dominion.”80 If the preceeding account of man be true, we are made for progress in virtue. And as any machine must be made for what it is made, tho’ it cannot last forever, or whether it last but one day or a thousand years; so man must be made for what he is made, whether he is to last but threescore years, or forever. But having now found for what end man is made while he exists, let us enquire what reason can determine<224> with any probability concerning his duration; or whether there is not good ground to believe that he is made immortal, and consequently for eternal progress, in proportion to his care to improve his moral faculties. Which is the point proposed to be proved by this enquiry.
But before we proceed, it is proper to oppose to the preceeding account of man, such a state of mankind as it is reasonable to suppose must have been the product of a malignant Creator, who had no sense of, nor regard for virtue, or the good and perfection of moral beings.But before we proceed to that, in order, by a kind of contrast, to give further light to the preceeding reasonings concerning man, let us endeavour to imagine to ourselves an idea of what the workmanship of a malicious creator must have been; in consequence of his malign disposition; for certainly we shall find that human nature must have been the very reverse of what it now is, had it been formed by a malicious Creator, or with vicious and ungenerous intention. “Would we allow room, (says an excellent author) to our invention to conceive what sort of mechanism, what constitution of senses or affections a malicious, powerful being must have formed, we should soon see how few evidences there are for any such apprehensions of the Author of this world. Our mechanism, as far as ever we have yet discovered,<225> is wholly contrived for good, no cruel device, no art or contrivance to produce evil, no such mark or scope seems even to be aimed at: But how easy had it been to have even contrived some necessary engines of misery without any advantage, some member of no use, but to be matter of torment: Senses incapable of bearing surrounding objects without pain, eyes pierced with the light, a pallat offended with the fruits of the earth; a skin as tender as the coats of the eye, and yet some more furious pain forcing us to bear these torments: Human society might have been made as the company of enemies, and yet a perpetual more violent fear might have forced us to bear it. Malice, rancour, distrust might have been our natural temper: our honour and self-approbation might have depended upon injuries, and the torments of others have been made our delight, which yet we could not have enjoyed through perpetual fear. Many such contrivances we may easily conceive, whereby an evil mind could have gratified his malice by our misery; but how unlike are they all to the structure and design of the mechanism of this world, to the mechanism and structure of our minds in particular?”a
If we pursue this thought a little further, we shall immediately perceive, that a malignant Author would have made our frame and constitution quite the reverse of what it is. All our senses would have been made so many avenues to pain alone, and inevitably such. Every increase of our understanding would have been tormentful: and we would have been made dependent one upon another, not for our good, but merely for our suffering and torture. Every pain would have been much keener and intenser, and the effects of laws which would have produced very little if any good. Laws would not have been made general for the greater good, but in order to bring about greater misery in the<226> sum of things, and no pleasure would have been intended but for a decoyer and seducer into pain.
In fine, let us run over in our minds all the laws of our frame which have been mentioned, and we shall plainly see that had we been contrived by a malicious Author for evil, not one of them would have taken place, but on the contrary their opposites: knowledge would have been equally necessary and painful; equally difficult and tormenting, and yet indispensably necessary; we would not have been allured to it by the pleasure of truth, nor fitted for it by a sense of order and a complacency in analogies and general laws. And it would have been impossible for us ever to have attained to facility, readiness and perfection in arts, sciences, or practices by frequent acts; but repeated exercises would have been lost labour, and our toil would always have been to begin again. Instead of a moral sense, we would have had an immoral one; or we would have approved good affections, and yet have suffered by them, and not virtue but vice would have been private interest, that so men might not be otherwise the same kind, than as they were impelled and fitted by their passions and powers more particularly to work one another’s misery. No form of society would have tended to produce perfection and happiness; or no other combinations and confederacies would have been possible, but those that result in disorder, ruin and misery. All nature would have filled us with horror and dread; we would not only have hated one another, but have hated ourselves and our being; and yet we should not have been able to put an end to it.
Our frame and constitution is therefore an infringible argument of the wisdom, benevolence, and excellent moral disposition of the Author of our nature, and of the generous administration that prevails over all his works. We are indeed the image of an all perfect Creator; since tho’ there be no reason to think that we hold the highest rank in the<227> scale of created intelligence, yet we are endowed with very noble powers, and are placed in an excellent situation for their improvement to a very high pitch of perfection and happiness. And thus, “are crowned with glory and honour, tho’ we be lower than the angels.”
[a. ]This is the ancient way of reasoning about man analogous to our way of reasoning about all other constitutions natural or artificial. Instances of it have been already quoted from Cicero and others; and another shall be added immediately.
[a. ]Animi autem, & ejus animi partis, quae princeps est, quaeque mens nominatur, plures sunt virtutes, sed duo prima genera. Unum earum, quae ingenerantur suapte natura, appellanturque non voluntariae: alterum earum, quae in voluntate: positae, magis proprio nomine appellari solent: quarum est excellens in animorum laude praestantia prioris generis est docilitas memoria: quae ferè omnia appellantur uno ingenii nomine: easque virtutes qui habent, ingeniosi vocantur. Alterum autem genus est magnarum, verarumque virtutum: quas appellamus voluntarias, ut prudentiam, temperantiam, fortitudinem, justitiam, & reliquas ejusdem generis. Cicero de finibus, Lib. 5. No. 13. [Cicero, De finibus, V.xiii.36: “The mind, on the other hand, and that dominant part of the mind which is called the intellect, possess many excellences or virtues, but these are of two main classes; one class consists of those excellences which are implanted by their own nature, and which are called non-volitional; and the other of those which, depending on our volition, are usually styled ‘virtues’ in the more special sense; and the latter are the pre-eminent glory and distinction of the mind. To the former class belong receptiveness and memory; and practically all the excellences of this class are included under one name of ‘talent,’ and their possessors are spoken of as ‘talented.’ The other class consists of the lofty virtues properly so called, which we speak of as dependent on volition, for instance, prudence, temperance, courage, justice, and the others of the same kind.”]
[a. ]Est enim actio quaedam corporis, quae motus, & status naturae congruentes tenet: in quibus si peccetur distortione, & depravatione quadam—contra naturam sunt.—Itaque è contrario moderati, aequabilesque habitus, affectiones, ususque corporis, apti esse ad naturam videntur. Jam vero animus non esse solum, sed etiam cujusdam modi debet esse, ut & omneis parteis habeat incolumeis, & de virtutibus nulla desit. Atqui in sensibus est sua cujusque virtus, ut ne quid impediat, quominus suo sensus quisque munere fungatur in iis rebus, celeriter, expediteque percipiendis quae subjectae sunt sensibus. Animi autem &c. Cicero, Lib. 5. No. 12. Now it is in this ancient, and only true way of arguing we have proceeded, and therefore we may conclude with him, That man is truly such as he paints him out to be. De legibus, Lib. 2. at the end. Nam qui se ipse norit, primum aliquid sentiet se habere divinum, ingeniumque in se suum, sicut simulacrum aliquod, dedicatum putabit; tantoque munere deorum semper dignum aliquid & faciet, & sentiet: &, cum se ipse perspexerit: totumque tentarit; intelliget, quemadmodum a natura subornatus in vitam venerit, quantaque instrumenta habeat ad obtinendam, adipiscendamque sapientiam: quoniam principio rerum omnium quasi adumbratas intelligentias animo, ac mente conceperit: quibus illustratis, sapientia duce, bonum virum, & ob eam ipsam causam cernat se beatum fore. Nam eum animus, cognitis, perceptisque virtutibus, a corporis obsequio, indulgentiaque discesserit, voluptatemque, sicut labem aliquam decoris oppresserit, omnemque mortis, dolorisque timorem effugerit, societatemque caritatis coierit cum suis omneisque natura conjunctos, suos duxerit, cultumque deorum, & puram religionem susceperit, & exacuerit illam, ut oculorum, sic ingenii aciem, ad bona diligenda, & rejicienda contraria: quae virtus ex providendo est appellata prudentia: quid eo dici, aut excogitari poterit beatius? Idemque cum coelum, terras, maria, rerumque omnium naturam perspexerit, eaque unde generata, quo recurrant, quando quo modo obitura, quid in iis mortale, & caducum, quid divinum, aeternumque sit, viderit ipsumque ea moderantem, & regentem paene prehenderit, seseque non omnis circumdatum moenibus, popularem alicujus definiti loci, sed civem totius mundi, quasi unius urbis, agnoverit: in hac ille magnificentia rerum, atque in hoc conspectu, & cognitione naturae, dii immortales, quam ipse se noscet! Atque haec omnia, quasi saepimento aliquo, vallabit disserendi ratione, veri & falsi judicio, scientia, & arte quadam intelligendi, quid quamque rem sequatur, & quid sit cuique contrarium. Cumque se ad civilem societatem natum senserit, non solum illa subtili disputatione sibi utendum putabit, sed etiam fusa latius perpetuaoratione, qua regat populos, qua stabiliat leges, qua castiget improbos, qua tueatur bonos, qua laudet claros viros: qua praecepta salutis, & laudes apte ad persuadendum edat suis civibus: qua hortari ad decus, revocare a flagitio, consolari possit afflictos: fataque, & consulta fortium, & sapientium, cum improborum ignominia, sempiternis monumentis prodire. Quae cum tot res, tantaeque sint; quae inesse in homine perspiciantur ab iis, qui se ipsi velint nosse, earum parens est, educatrixque sapientia. This is a true picture of human nature, and of our duties. And truly had we not been made by an infinitely wise and good being, man must have been quite the reverse; such ananimal, as Ulysses’s men were metamorphosed into by Circes in Homer, the sum of which fiction amounts briefly to this in Horace’s words.
[Cicero, De finibus, V.xii.35-xiii.36: “Again, there is also a certain form of bodily activity which keeps the motions and postures in harmony with nature; and any error in these, due to distortion or deformity . . . is contrary to nature. . . . And so, on the contrary, a controlled and well-regulated bearing, condition and movement of the body has the appearance of being in harmony with nature. Turning now to the mind, this must not only exist, but also be of a certain character; it must have all its parts intact and lack none of the virtues. The senses also possess their several virtues or excellences, consisting in the unimpeded performance of their several functions of swiftly and readily perceiving sensible objects. The mind, on the other hand, etc.”
[80. ]Paraphrase of Psalms 8.5.
[a. ]See Mr. Hutcheson on the passions, whose words these are. [Hutcheson, Passions, I.vi.3.]