3. An Attempted Classification of Ends 1)


585. In the Popular Science Monthly for January, 1901, (LVIII et seq.)2) I enumerated a number of ethical classes of motives, meaning by a motive, not a spring of action, but an aim or end appearing ultimate to the agent. Any such classification may be rendered more minute by subdivisions, or broader by aggregations of classes. My endeavor was to make my enumeration about evenly specific throughout. Upon a reexamination of it, it appears to me to be sufficiently complete and systematic to afford a tolerable material to be cut up, worked over, and amplified into a satisfactory classification of ends. It is in the hope that others may be moved to interest themselves in this work and complete it, or help to complete it, that I now give an improved statement of it.

This statement will be facilitated and made clearer by a notation which is designed to show what the essential elements of the different ends appear to me to be.

586. A. A man may act in a quasi-hypnotic response to an instant command. I indicate this by the letter A.

B. A man may act from obedience, although not to a concrete command. I indicate this by B. In this case, he may still act as purely on the impulse of the moment as in case A. Only if he does so, while still acting from pure obedience, not from any impulse of his own, it must be a Mrs. Grundy, a vague personification of the community, which he obeys. I will indicate an end into which such personification enters as an element by a letter z following the capital letter.

Is there any way in which a man can act from pure obedience when there is no concrete command without the element z? Undoubtedly, provided he acts in obedience to a law. I will indicate that an end involves a conscious reference to a law, or general reason, by writing the figure 1 before the capital letter. We find, then, under B,

Bz. Acting under dread of Mrs. Grundy, without generalizing her dictum.

1B. Acting under awe of a law, without criticizing its obligation.

But cannot the elements 1 and z be combined? Cannot a man act under the influence of a vague personification of the community and yet according to a general rule of conduct? Certainly: he so acts when he conforms to custom. Only if it is mere custom and not law, it is not a case of obedience, but of conformity to norm, or exemplar. (I never use the word norm in the sense of a precept, but only in that of a pattern which is copied, this being the original metaphor.) I indicate an end which presents a norm to be conformed to by the capital letter C.

Conformity to a norm may take place by an immediate impulse. It then becomes instinctive imitation. But here the man does not vaguely personify the community, but puts himself in the shoes of another person, as we say. I call this putting of oneself in another's place, retroconsciousness. I indicate that an end essentially involves retroconsciousness by writing the letter y after the capital.

Conformity to a norm may also take place without either the y or the z element. Only in this case the norm must be a definite ideal which is regarded as in itself {kalos k' agathos}. I indicate an end which essentially involves the recognition of a definite ideal as universally and absolutely desirable by putting the figure 2 before the capital. Under C, then, we have the following cases:

Cy. Instinctive imitation.

1Cz. Conformity to custom.

2C. Conformity to the {kalos k' agathos}, unanalyzed.

587. The elements 1 and y can be combined. That is to say, a man may act from putting himself in another's place and according to a general reason furnished by that retroconsciousness. That is, he acts for the sake of that other's welfare. The object need not be a person: an estate or a plant can be treated with the same affection. But this is no longer conformity to a norm; it is devotion to somebody or something.

588. In like manner, the elements 2 and z may be combined. That is to say, a man's ultimate end may lie in a vague personification of the community and at the same time may contemplate a definite general state of things as the summum bonum. That is, his heart may be set upon the welfare and safety of the community. But this again is devotion, not conformity to a norm. An end the adoption of which involves devotion shall be indicated by the capital letter D.

Devotion may operate in a momentary impulse. In that case, the agent does not put himself in the place of the object, — for that, without reflection, results merely 1)

589. 2) All these distinctions would be embraced by some such scheme as the following:

I. The end is to superinduce upon feeling a certain quality, pleasure.

II. The end is to extend the existence of a subject.

1. Of something psychical, as a soul;

2. Of something physical, as a race.

III. The end is to realize a general ideal.

1. To bring about some general state of feeling, such as the greatest pleasure of the greatest number of persons;

2. To impress a definite subject with a definite character.

(a) This character being inward, such as altruistic sentiment;

(b) This character being outward, such as the peace and prosperity of

mankind.

3. To further the realization of an ideal not definable in advance, otherwise than as that which tends to realize itself in the long run, or in some such way.

(a) This ideal being supposed to be of the inward type;

(b) This ideal being supposed to be of the outward type;

(c) This ideal being purely methodical, and thus equally capable of inward and of outward realization.

590. The most serious defect of this classification lies in its subdivision of rationalistic theory into only two main branches splitting upon the insignificant question of whether the end is completely attainable or not. The truth is that there have been three grand classes of rationalistic moralists who have differed from one another upon the much more important question of the mode of being of the end. Namely, there have been those who have made the end purely subjective, a feeling of pleasure; there have been those who have made the end purely objective and material, the multiplication of the race; and finally there have been those who have attributed to the end the same kind of being that a law of nature has, making it lie in the rationalization of the universe.1)


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