Samuel macauley jackson, D. D., LL. D




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MORALITY, MORAL LAW.

The Kantian Basis (§ 1). His Results (§ 2). Schleiermacher's Basis (§ 3). Relation of Morality to Moral Law (§ 4). Conclusion (§ 5).

To establish a clear distinction between these terms and their relation to one another, it is best to start with the treatment of the subject by Kant and Schleiermacher. According to

x. The Kant's system of critical rationalism,

Kantian
to found morals on true principles Basis. morality must be derived from the general conception of a reasonable being. It must then be developed as a pure philoso­phy or metaphysics to be applied to man. Previ­ous attempts to establish the principles of moral­ity failed either because they were purely empirical or, when rational, lacked the critical element. Kant's Grundlegung zur Metaplaysik der Sitten (Riga, 1785) and Kritik der praktisehen Vernunft (1788) contain his contribution to the subject. Naturally there were systems of moral law before Kant's time and moral legislators of all kinds, but the content of moral prescriptions had been de­rived from nature, custom, or arbitrary will. Man had indeed established himself as deciding moral questions on the basis of the individual conscience, but Kant in his critical analysis of the power of reason first recognized the secret of morality. The essence of moral legislation which he discovered was legislation by self. An act is moral which the will imposes upon itself in the consciousness that the maxim which it is following in any particular case can be erected into a universal law. Such acts are recognized as duty and done as duty. Man in giving moral commands to himself plays the role of both ruler and subject. The law once accepted must be followed even against man's will, neither threats nor flattery can be brought into relation with it. That will is good which fulfils duty on ac­count of duty's sake, recognizing it as a principle of application. Universal and necessary elements condition morality, so the moral law is like the law of nature, but it expresses a necessity without force. It is an imperative act of will, not hypo­thetical but categorical, valid under all conditions. But, applicable only, to a reasonable being, it is not possible without freedom. This character of free­dom established a place for morality in a world dif­VIII. 1

ferent from that occupied by the phenomenal world

with its subjection of things to causal relations.

As autonomous morality is a fact, so freedom is a

fact. Man has an empirical character as a natural

being subject to the causal system of nature, but

he is also an intelligent being belonging to a moral

supersensible world that proves its existence in no

way more clearly than by the fact of man's freedom.

But this reality can not be established by psy­

chological analysis or historical investigation. The

moral law and all that it involves must be deter­

mined by the method of tranacen­

z. His dental criticism. The world of phe­

Results. nomena must be critically penetrated

until the a priori element of reason is

sought and found; this is the element that makes

the objects of the phenomenal world moral. But

the principle of morality is a formal one as it ap­

pears in the categorical imperative. It must be

applied to persons, wills, and aims, and takes the

practical form of acts done in such a way that the

individual uses humanity in his own person, as in

the person of every other individual, always as an

end, never simply as a means. As to the relation

established by Kant between morality and religion,

he rejects all eudemonistic elements, such as those

which regard happiness as a motive for action.

But a moral final end must be accepted, so the

postulates of the practical reason for the existence

of God and the immortality of the soul are intro­

duced. By immortality and God, he establishes

an effect adequate to the general exercise of the

moral law. It becomes a necessity of reason to as­

sume a power, the supreme cause of nature and

the moral creator of the world. In this way man's

duties are recognized as divine commands. With­

out God as the moral creator and law giver, knowl­

edge and action, even that willed freely by man,

remains aimless and incomplete. This was Kant's

reply to the riddle man autonomous in the midst

of the world with the duty of making out of it his

moral world. The recognition of the categorical

imperative, or moral law, makes man a moral

being. The accommodation of his character to

the law is virtue. Evil is the constant tendency

to transgress the law, but there is hope for an un­

ending progress. Kant considered that his system

was essentially Christian, since the precepts of the

Gospel recognize a perfection not to be reached by


any creature, yet offering a model to which man





Morality

Moran THE NEW SCHAFF HERZOG

could approximate. Even the most difficult parts of his teaching, that dealing with the intelligible world, intelligible character, and freedom have a remarkable relationship to the morality of the Gospels. His system approached also German popular morality through its rational character, its dualistic basis, and its attention to practical problems.

Schleiermacher moves in a thoroughly different world. He deals with moral being, moral impulse, moral feeling, moral activity, and, above all, moral process. Nature becomes reason and reason, nature. The highest good is the unity of reason and nature,

so there exists no specific difference 3. Schleier  between natural law and moral law. macher's Over against natural law stands not

Basis. the moral law but the law of reason,

but a distinction is not made between

what happens and what ought to happen. The

moral law is the law given by reason itself, respect

for the law determines it to be the law. This in­


ternal recognition is of more importance than the

external act; it is the real element of moral being,

in which the phenomenal act may share more or

less completely. The moral law is a law then that

determines being, not simple obligation; morality is

the being or becoming demanded by this law. The

first stage has been entered upon, but the transforma­


tion of reason into nature is not yet completed. The

question arises whether the subject of this being or

becoming is man alone. Schleiermacher is not an

individualist. The morality of the individual man is

only a part of the morality of the collective per­


son, the family, the State, the Church. It is wrong,

he says, to make the individual the subject and the

substratum of moral life. Man's acts can not be

isolated; individuals are to be regarded as organs

and symbols of reason which really deal with the

whole of nature. It is not easy to see why God,

who is the cause of the opposition between reason

and nature, is not himself the subject of the moral

process. It will be seen that Schleiermacher's dis­


cussion of morality takes up exactly that sphere

and occupies those interests which were entirely

neglected by Kant. The field of history is made

the field of ethical investigation. Schleiermacher's

ethics, therefore, must be regarded as being a re­


ligious philosophy, a discussion of civilization, a

view of the world and its progress, as much as a

system of morality. He treats the subject as an

organic whole. Moral predicates are associated

with the phenomenal world, with its things and its

processes. Anything which can serve its special end

can be called good, can have a value. This exten­


sion of the application of the term morality to

finite being under the power of reason leads really

to Hegel's position by which all being is found to

ire reasonable, in whose system ethics l.as properly

no place. The highest good is, according to Schleier­


macher, the unity of the being of reason in nature.

It comes into consciousness only through the mu­


tual relations of all examples of good. He shows

remarkable power in bringing together for this pur­


pose the whole of life in its various concrete forms.

Elementary moral conceptions are prior to the

conception of morality. The activity of the form 

ative functions, as in friendship, hospitality, com­munity of class interest, produces an identity of type seen in all. He gave a wider significance to Christian ethics than was accorded to it in philo­sophic systems. For him it meant the orderly ar­rangement of rules by which the member of the Christian Church directs his life. Without experi­ence no moral rule is possible. In regard to relig­ion, he insisted on the full independence of religion from morality. As distinguished from Kant, his view of the ethical element in facts had a broader horizon, but the obligatory element in morality seems to be dissolved in the study of its static relations.

It is plain, therefore, that Kant supplies a more important and purer type of ethical knowledge. Kant is normative where Schleiermacher is de­scriptive. Apart from Kant's formulation of the

categorical imperative, ethical inter­. Relation est finds itself without a guiding prin 

of Morality ciple in the wide survey of moral

to Moral values, powers, and aims. The con 

Law. ception of duty is all important, and

without moral autonomy duty is im­


possible. Moreover, the character of duty can not

be decided by investigating its origin, its necessary

character is not related with its historical mani­


festations. History has established the right of this

autonomous treatment, but it does not explain the

secret. After all biological, psychological, and so­


ciological methods of investigation have been drawn

upon, that very factor without which the whole

moral world can not be grasped at all is still left

in obscurity. The problem of freedom can not be

solved in this way, for in the sphere of natural law

there is no freedom. Nobody has brought out this

contrast better than Kant, who insisted upon the

natural capacity of the human will to lay down

moral laws for itself. On the basis of these laws

freely given there arises a realm of good persons,

voluntarily true to duty, setting no other law for

themselves than what can be a maxim for their

neighbors also. Kant's moral man is not the indi­


vidual man, but the universal man. This capacity

of laying down the moral law in universal terms

can not be drawn out by some mysterious power

from within; it depends on education, on instruc­


tion of every kind. Philosophy and history must

contribute their share, especially history. But a

clear idea of what morality is must exist before the

matter supplied by history can be justly discrim­


inated. Is there not in this a danger of simple rela­


tivism? Is not to comprehend everything to par­


don everything? So one sees in monism how the

distinction between good and evil is faint or passes

away altogether. The only solution is in practise.

The constant exercise of the feeling of duty with

its practical discrimination leads to virtue. Chris­


tian morality is, in the first place, autonomous, de­


pendent on nothing outside of it. The morality of

Jesus and of Paul is concerned with the inner man,

is deep, pure, and true. Its expression is conditioned

by the prevalent ideas of the time as is seen in the

eschatological expectations of the early Christians.

The characteristics of Roman Catholic morality are

its dependence on authority and its casuistic develolr





S

ment. It is obvious that in the absence of inde­pendence man ceases to be a moral being. So the surrender of one's moral freedom from pious motives is evil. The same criticism must be based on the absolute dependence of Protestants on the actual letter of the Bible. In the scientific sense this is im­moral, it violates the freedom of the Christian man.

The English word morality is connected with the Latin mos, " custom." The German Sitte contains the same idea, since it means " man 

g. Con  ner of life," " usage " in a general ex­

clusion. ternal sense, or refers to an internal

characteristic. Thus it appears that

in wide circles the customary is regarded as the

good and the proper, morality therefore meaning

what is accepted through the force of custom,

hardly to be differentiated from habit. Naturally

these traditional customs can be good or bad, but

in their origin they are natural; without the force

of custom social institutions, such as the family

and the State, are incomprehensible. In these

forms, of course, morality is at work, but custom

does not make morality. Through processes of

change the old and the new custom contend for the

mastery. Forms of morality or immorality come

into question in these processes only from the fact

that the persons who take part in them are by na­

ture moral beings. It is through morality that the

individual man emancipates himself from custom,

establishes his freedom, and creates a place where

he can legislate by himself for himself so far as his

conduct is concerned. In the ethics of the New

Testament the word " old " is almost always used

interchangeably with bad and new is equivalent to

good; in dogma, with its acknowledgment of orig­

inal sin, bad is anterior to good. Both Jesus and

Paul, in their contests with old traditions and old

customs, were contending for the sphere of free­

dom. Yet a revolutionary attitude against custom

such as is found in Rousseau and in the whole ro­

mantic school up to Nietzsche has no absolute

moral worth in itself. The question is complicated,

old customs give way, but custom itself does not

disappear, novel teachings and novel practises be­

come themselves customs, as is seen in the case of

the Social Democratic party in Germany with its

claim not only to erect a political program but to

control the details of the life of its individual mem­

bers. Advocates of the new may, besides, easily

confuse ethical with esthetic interests. It must be

remembered, too, that traditions which at one

time possess a moral value may lose that character

if they are not sincerely appropriated by those who

maintain them. Custom is not the source of mo­

rality, but it is the ground on which morality can

work. The Church above all is an institution which

creates custom; but in its reformed Evangelical

type it is bound to adhere to its original claim and

purpose of giving the freest play in custom to mo­

rality. In popular usage, the word morality has

come to have a restricted sense. Associations for

improving morality have brought up practical prob­

lems and numerous proposals for solving them.

There is only one morality, the self legislation of a

personality under the control of the categorical

imperative. Practical questions, no matter how

RELIGIOUS ENCYCLOPEDIA Xor=ty

novel they may be, can be answered only under the

influence of the old ethics. For each person moral

freedom is decisive; and similarly for the entire

social whole and its conduct as a whole, which is

nothing but the working together of moral in­

dividual decisions. See ETHICS; and MORALISTS,

BRITISH. (MARTIN RADE.)

BIBLIOGRAPHY: The principal works of Schleiermacher bearing upon the subjeetare: GrundlinieneinerKrUikderbisherigen Sittanlehre, Berlin, 1803; Entwurf tines Systems der Sit­tendehre,
ed. A. Schweizer, Gotha, 1835; Grundrise der philosophiechen Ethik, ed. D. A. Twesten, Berlin, 1841; Philosophische Sittenlehre ed. J. H. von Kirehmann, ib. 1870; Chriatliche Sittenlehre, ed. L. Jonas, Gotha, 1891. Discussions of the ethics of Kant and Schleiermacher are named under the articles on these philosophers. A con­siderable list of works germane to the subject will be found under ETHIcs. Consult further: R. Rothe, The­olopische Ethik, 4 vols., Wittenberg, 1868 71; G. Rilme­lin, Ueber den Begrdf tines sozialen Gesetzes, Freibv_ g. 1875; idem, Ueber daa Wesen der Gewohnheit, ib., 1881; L. Wiese Ueber den aittlichen Wert gegebener Formen, Berlin, 1878; T. Hoppe, Christliche Sitte, Hanover, 1883; D. Frisk, Ueber doe Wesen der Sitte, Heilbronn, 1884; R. von Meting, Der Zweck im Recht, 2 vols., Leipsie, 1898; C. Stange, Einleitung der Ethik, 2 vols., Leipsic, 1900 01; M. W entscher, Ethik, 2 vols., Leipsic, 1902 05; B. Bauch, Luther and Kant, Berlin, 1904; H. Cohen, Ethik des reinen Willem, Berlin, 1904; W. Heremann, Ethik, Tiibingen, 1904; W. Koppelman, Kritik des sittlichen Bewusatwins, Berlin, 1904; F. Troeltsch, Politische Ethik and Chriatentum, Gottingen, 1904.

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