The moral doctrine of Hobbes, in many ways the most interesting of our major British philosophers, is, I think, commonly seen in a false perspective which has seriously obscured its real affinities. This is, no doubt, largely due to the fact that most modern readers begin and end their study of Hobbes's ethics with the Leviathan , a rhetorical and, in many ways, a popular Streitschrift published in the very culmination of what looked at the time to be a permanent (...) revolution, and do not pay such attention to the more calmly argued statements of the same doctrine contained in the Elements of Law , circulated before the outbreak of the Civil War, or the De Cive. (shrink)
Is it possible to say anything on the well-worn theme of human freedom or unfreedom which has not been ahready better said by someone else before us? It may be doubted; yet it is always worth while to see whether we cannot at least set what is perhaps already familiar to us in a fresh light and so come to a clearer comprehension of our own meaning. This, at any rate, is all that will be attempted in these pages; I (...) have spoken in an earlier essay of the “practical situation” in which we find ourselves whenever we have to make a decision as involving indetermination , and my purpose is simply to make it plainer to myself, and so incidentally perhaps to a reader, what I mean by such an expression. I shall start, then, by adopting what we may perhaps agree to call a phenomenological attitude to the subject; that is, I will try to describe the facts in a way which anyone who recalls occasions when he has been driven to take a decision will recognize as faithful to his experience, without imparting into the description any element of explanatory speculative hypothesis. The description is meant to be one which will be admitted to be true to the “appearances,” independently of any theory about the “freedom of the will”—to describe correctly that which it is the object of all such theories to explain. (shrink)
I must explain at once that these few pages do not attempt or pretend to be anything like a formal review of the recently published posthumous volume of Professor Bowman with the same title. I am precluded from writing such a review partly by the wide range of problems attacked by the author, partly by my own insufficient familiarity with many of the positions of the most recent physical and natural science which are brought under review. I will therefore confine (...) myself, so far as the strict business of the reviewer is concerned, to the single remark that the editor, Professor J. W. Scott, has discharged his difficult task of preparing the book for publication—no easy matter, as will be seen from his Preface—with equal skill and devotion, and has laid himself open to no worse criticism than that there are less than a dozen obvious slight misprints which have escaped detection, but will readily be detected by a careful reader. What I propose to do in the remarks which follow is simply to indicate the very real importance of the book by saying something as to its main purpose and thesis, and the points where I still feel that there is some difficulty or ambiguity about the writer's position which would, no doubt, have been largely cleared up if he had lived to reconstruct the whole six of his Vanuxem Lectures for publication as he has done the first three. (shrink)
In an essay entitled “Freedom and Personality” I have contended that “intelligence is a principle of indetermination within us.” As I find that my argument, though to myself it appears incontrovertible, has not produced conviction in some quarters where I had hoped it might be effective, I can only suppose that, presumably by my own fault, it was not stated as clearly as it should have been. This must be my excuse for returning to the subject; in doing so I (...) shall try to be, to the best of my power, at once brief and lucid. (shrink)
Can there be such a thing as moral science, or a science of morality? And if so, what sense has the word science in such a connection? In the middle of the last century such a question would probably have seemed superfluous. Utilitarians, Comtists, and not a few “evolutionists” would all have claimed to be moralists, with this advantage over the metaphysical or theological moralists of an earlier day that their own moral doctrines were “scientific”.