Chapter 1.
Introduction 1)


573. Normative Science2) forms the mid-portion of coenoscopy and its most characteristic part. . . . Logic, regarded from one instructive, though partial and narrow, point of view, is the theory of deliberate thinking. To say that any thinking is deliberate is to imply that it is controlled with a view to making it conform to a purpose or ideal. Thinking is universally acknowledged to be an active operation. Consequently, the control of thinking with a view to its conformity to a standard or ideal is a special case of the control of action to make it conform to a standard; and the theory of the former must be a special determination of the theory of the latter. Now special theories should always be made to rest upon the general theories of which they are amplifications. The present writer takes the theory of the control of conduct, and of action in general, so as to conform to an ideal, as being the midnormative science; that is, as the second of the trio, and as that one of the three sciences in which the distinctive characters of normative science are most strongly marked. He will not undertake to pronounce any other distribution of the matter of normative science to be wrong; but, according to the dissection of that matter which seems to him to separate studies as they must be separated in research, such will be the mid-normative science. Since the normative sciences are usually held to be three, Logic, Ethics, and [Esthetics], and since he, too, makes them three, he would term the mid-normative science ethics if this did not seem to be forbidden by the received acception of that term. He accordingly proposes to name the mid-normative science, as such (whatever its content may be) antethics, that is, that which is put in place of ethics, the usual second member of the trio. It is the writer's opinion that this antethics should be the theory of the conformity of action to an ideal. Its name, as such, will naturally be practics. Ethics is not practics; first, because ethics involves more than the theory of such conformity; namely, it involves the theory of the ideal itself, the nature of the summum bonum; and secondly, because, in so far as ethics studies the conformity of conduct to an ideal, it is limited to a particular ideal, which, whatever the professions of moralists may be, is in fact nothing but a sort of composite photograph of the conscience of the members of the community. In short, it is nothing but a traditional standard, accepted, very wisely, without radical criticism, but with a silly pretence of critical examination. The science of morality, virtuous conduct, right-living, can hardly claim a place among the heuretic sciences.

574. It has been a great, but frequent, error of writers on ethics to confound an ideal of conduct with a motive to action. The truth is that these two objects belong to different categories. Every action has a motive; but an ideal only belongs to a line [of] conduct which is deliberate. To say that conduct is deliberate implies that each action, or each important action, is reviewed by the actor and that his judgment is passed upon it, as to whether he wishes his future conduct to be like that or not. His ideal is the kind of conduct which attracts him upon review. His self-criticism, followed by a more or less conscious resolution that in its turn excites a determination of his habit, will, with the aid of the sequelæ, modify a future action; but it will not generally be a moving cause to action. It is an almost purely passive liking for a way of doing whatever he may be moved to do. Although it affects his own conduct, and nobody else's, yet the quality of feeling (for it is merely a quality of feeling) is just the same, whether his own conduct or that of another person, real or imaginary, is the object of the feeling; or whether it be connected with the thought of any action or not. If conduct is to be thoroughly deliberate, the ideal must be a habit of feeling which has grown up under the influence of a course of self-criticisms and of hetero-criticisms; and the theory of the deliberate formation of such habits of feeling is what ought to be meant by esthetics.1) It is true that the Germans, who invented the word, and have done the most toward developing the science, limit it to taste, that is, to the action of the Spieltrieb from which deep and earnest emotion would seem to be excluded. But in the writer's opinion the theory is the same, whether it be a question of forming a taste in bonnets or of a preference between electrocution and decapitation, or between supporting one's family by agriculture or by highway robbery. The difference of earnestness is of vast practical moment; but it has nothing to do with heuretic science.

According to this view, esthetics, practics, and logic form one distinctly marked whole, one separate department of heuretic science; and the question where precisely the lines of separation between them are to be drawn is quite secondary. It is clear, however, that esthetics relates to feeling, practics to action, logic to thought.



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