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- The Nature of Goodness - 1/23 -


THE NATURE OF GOODNESS

BY

GEORGE HERBERT PALMER Alford Professor of Philosophy In Harvard University

[Illustration: Tout bien ou rien]

1903

A. F. P.

BONITATE SINGULARI MULTIS DILECTAE

VENUSTATE LITTERIS CONSILIIS PRAESTANTI

NUPER E DOMO ET GAUDIO MEO EREPTAE

PREFACE

The substance of these chapters was delivered as a course of lectures at Harvard University, Dartmouth and Wellesley Colleges, Western Reserve University, the University of California, and the Twentieth Century Club of Boston. A part of the sixth chapter was used as an address before the Phi Beta Kappa Society of Harvard, and another part before the Philosophical Union of Berkeley, California. Several of these audiences have materially aided my work by their searching criticisms, and all have helped to clear my thought and simplify its expression. Since discussions necessarily so severe have been felt as vital by companies so diverse, I venture to offer them here to a wider audience.

Previously, in "The Field of Ethics," I marked out the place which ethics occupies among the sciences. In this book the first problem of ethics is examined. The two volumes will form, I hope, an easy yet serious introduction to this gravest and most perpetual of studies.

CONTENTS

CHAPTER I

THE DOUBLE ASPECT OF GOODNESS

I. Difficulties of the investigation II. Gains to be expected III. Extrinsic goodness IV. Imperfections of extrinsic goodness V. Intrinsic goodness VI. Relations of the two kinds VII. Diagram

CHAPTER II

MISCONCEPTIONS OF GOODNESS

I. Enlargement of the diagram II. Greater and lesser good III. Higher and lower good IV. Order and wealth V. Satisfaction of desire VI. Adaptation to environment VII. Definitions

CHAPTER III

SELF-CONSCIOUSNESS

I. The four factors of personal goodness II. Unconsciousness III. Reflex action IV. Conscious experience V. Self-consciousness VI. Its degrees VII. Its acquisition VIII. Its instability

CHAPTER IV

SELF-DIRECTION

I. Consciousness a factor II. (A) The intention III. (1) The end, aim, or ideal IV. (2) Desire V. (3) Decision VI. (B) The volition VII. (1) Deliberation VIII. (2) Effort IX. (3) Satisfaction

CHAPTER V

SELF-DEVELOPMENT

I. Reflex influence of self-direction II. Varieties of change III. Accidental change IV. Destructive change V. Transforming change VI. Development VII. Self-development VIII. Method of self-development IX. Test of self-development X. Actual extent of personality XI. Possible extent of personality XII. Practical consequences

CHAPTER VI

SELF-SACRIFICE

I. Difficulties of the conception II. It is impossible III. It is a sign of degradation IV. It is needless V. It is irrational VI. Its frequency VII. Definition VIII. Its rationality IX. Distinguished from culture X. Its self-assertion XI. Its incalculability XII. Its positive character XIII. Conclusion

CHAPTER VII

NATURE AND SPIRIT

I. Summary of the preceding argument II. Spirit superior to nature III. Naturalistic tendency of the fine arts IV. Naturalistic tendency of science and philosophy V. Naturalism in social estimates VI. Self-consciousness burdensome VII. Impossibility of full conscious guidance VIII. Advantages of unconscious action

CHAPTER VIII

THE THREE STAGES OF GOODNESS

I. Advantage of conscious guidance II. Example of piano-playing III. The mechanization of conduct IV. Contrast of the first and third stages V. The cure for self-consciousness VI. The revision of habits VII. The doctrine of praise VIII. The propriety of praise

I

THE DOUBLE ASPECT OF GOODNESS

In undertaking the following discussion I foresee two grave difficulties. My reader may well feel that goodness is already the most familiar of all the thoughts we employ, and yet he may at the same time suspect that there is something about it perplexingly abstruse and remote. Familiar it certainly is. It attends all our wishes, acts, and projects as nothing else does, so that no estimate of its influence can be excessive. When we take a walk, read a book, make a dress, hire a servant, visit a friend, attend a concert, choose a wife, cast a vote, enter into business, we always do it in the hope of attaining something good. The clue of goodness is accordingly a veritable guide of life. On it depend actions far more minute than those just mentioned. We never raise a hand, for example, unless with a view to improve in some respect our condition. Motionless we should remain forever, did we not believe that by placing the hand elsewhere


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