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Chapter Five: Morality and its Modes

So far we have sought to determine the structure of the personal by reference to the relation of a child to his mother in the process of his development to maturity. One of the main reasons for adopting this procedure is that it greatly simplifies the situation we have to analyse without forcing us too far away from the concreteness of empirical experience. The personal life of the child is very simple in comparison with that of the adult; and this makes it easier to apprehend the universal form which distinguishes the personal from the organic. The particular advantage we gained lay in the uniqueness of the mother-child relation in the early years of life when the mother is the Other than oneself—the undifferentiated world to which we belong. With the discrimination of the Other which begins very early a complexity of personal relations obscures the simplicity of the relation to the Other. Already in the last chapter this identification of the correlate of the ‘I’ with the mother was beginning to wear an air of unreality and even to hamper our exposition of the development of the original form of motivation. For discrimination within the individual is as we have seen necessarily correlated with the discrimination of the Other. We ought therefore at this point to comment summarily upon the form of the relation of the individual person to the discriminated Other.

It might be thought that there is no justification for identifying the original form of the personal relation as we find it in the relation of mother and child with the universal relation of every individual person to the world at all stages of his life. The familiar argument might be brought against us that a genetic account cannot guarantee the validity of its conclusion. But this would be a mistake. The form which we have been defining is the form which distinguishes the personal from the non-personal. Provided we have determined it correctly the stage of personal development which we use for its discovery can make no difference. If this form were to alter in the process of personal development it would not mean that he had become a different kind of person but that he had ceased to be a person and become something else. The question to which we have sought an answer is this: ‘What makes any individual entity a person?’ and such a question must have the same answer at any stage of his existence. We must not forget that our centre of reference is the Self as agent and that time is the form of action. Nothing can exist at an instant least of all a person. To exist is to endure for a time; and the person being an agent generates time as the form of his own existence. To ask the question ‘Am I the same person now that I was as a child?’ is therefore nonsensical. It only seems to have meaning through a confusion of form and content. I am in almost every respect different from what I was as a child but the truth of this remark presupposes that I am the same person as the child that I was. If I were not it would then be untrue to say that I had changed in the process of development. What makes us prone to this kind of nonsense is the traditional view which we have found reason to reject that personality is a distinguishing characteristic which is acquired in the process of development.

The genetic account which we have offered therefore differs in no way from an analytic account of mature experience so far as its formal conclusion is concerned. We have simply looked for the form of the personal in the earliest stage of personal existence because it is then at its simplest and least complicated and therefore most easy to discern and we have followed the earliest stages of its development because it is essentially a form of action and so takes time to exhibit itself. It is no doubt true that a genetic account of the development of a belief provides no proof of its validity; though it is going much too far if we aver that it can throw no light upon the question of its validity. But we have been concerned not with the validity of beliefs or indeed with particular beliefs at all but with the genesis as a necessary consequence of the original form of personal existence of the formal distinction between real and unreal of which the distinction between true and false is one aspect. We have discovered why the form of the personal necessarily makes human existence problematical so that the personal life necessitates the effort to distinguish between the true and the false the good and the bad the real and the unreal; and to act in terms of these distinctions.

To this we may add a more empirical justification. The process of personal development is the formation of habitual modes of behaviour. All habits are learned; and they become habitual by a shift of attention which passes beyond them to the formation of more complex habits which they support and in which they are integrated. The system of personal habit has therefore a hierarchical structure and the more highly developed habits rest upon and presuppose those which were learned earlier. For this reason the original form of personal motivation prescribes the ground pattern of all personal behaviour. Though in principle all habits can be modified the pattern of motivation which underlies the process of habit-formation itself must remain unalterable. From this there follows a corollary of the utmost importance. Since the original form of the personal—as a universal form of motivation—makes personal existence problematic as a life of action in terms of a distinction between reality and unreality it defines the form of the real though not its content. It defines that is to say the implicit objective of all personal action as the achievement and maintenance of a fully positive relation to the Other; in other words of a personal reality in relation through the subordination of the negative to the positive.

The Other in personal maturity is a discriminated Other. Very early in personal experience the relation of the child to the mother becomes his relation to the family and its possessions. This is not a replacement of the mother by the family but a discrimination of the Other. The mother remains the personal unity of the family in which other persons and things are distinguished by their relation to her. The child is related to brothers and sisters through his mother and equally to his father through his mother. Later this unity of the family takes its place as one element in a more fully discriminated Other—the unity of the society to which the family belongs and to which the family is related through the father. This ambiguity of the relation of father and mother is important for the psychologist and the sociologist but need not occupy our attention here. We may notice in passing however that when the world—that is to say the discriminated Other as a unity—is conceived personally the conception is most naturally and most effectively expressed in terms borrowed from the family unity. The family indeed is the natural model for any more inclusive group of persons conceived as a personal whole.

With the discrimination of the Other a way of release lies open from that dualism of motives which arises through the failure to overcome the negative phase in the process of growing up. The tension between affection and hostility may find release by distribution. The positive motive may find expression in relation to one member of the group and the negative in relation to another. In the family for example the hostility of the child to the mother may be diverted against the father. Or two brothers may unite in hostility to another. Again the whole family may be united by projecting their mutual hostility against an outsider; or the unity of a nation may be intensified by combination against an ‘enemy’ nation. The principle is too well known to require further illustration. But it is important to recognize its source and its universality. Because of the correlation of Self and Other and the reference to the Other which is the original characteristic of personal motivation a contradiction in oneself must imply a contradiction in the Other. The contradiction of motives in myself must divide the person's world into friends and enemies. So long as there is an unsubordinated residue of negative disposition in any person he needs something in the Other against which it may operate. Yet since the unresolved hostility is an element of unreality in himself it introduces an illusory element into his friendships and his enmities alike. For a common hostility makes the bond of friendship appear to be closer than it is; and the enmity is not aroused by its object but projected upon it and has its origin elsewhere.

We have distinguished then three types of disposition which arise through the interplay of positive and negative phases in the process of personal development and which tend through habitual repetition to become characteristic of the individual. One of these is positive; the other two are negative and as ambivalent are dialectically opposite. Our present purpose is to consider their bearing upon the morality of action and the modes of morality to which they give rise. From this point of view we shall refer to these three basic dispositions of the agent as ‘categories of apperception’. The reasons for selecting this language require to be stated and the consideration of these reasons will carry our investigation a stage farther.

Until now we have kept our attention fixed upon the motives of action to the exclusion of its intentions. This limitation must now be abandoned since in the absence of intention morality cannot arise and indeed there can be no action but only activity. Consequently though every action must have a motive it is not determined by its motive. It is determined as this specific action by the operation of intention. Now intention is the positive or practical aspect of attention;1 and attention determines our knowledge of the situation in which we are acting and which we are altering or determining farther by our action. We are speaking here of that primary knowledge which is to be recognized as a dimension of action; and of the situation as we apprehend it at the point of action which is the present. This apprehension may contain an element of error. We may misapprehend the situation. But we need not consider this now. What is important for us is that it is always a limited apprehension even if it is correct within its limits. For attention is selective; and the selection is relative to an interest in the agent. In any situation we notice what interests us and attend to it; for only this is relevant to our intentions. The rest of what it there presented for our perception is overlooked. It is irrelevant to our interests. It is this process—for the most part automatic and unconscious—which is described by the term ‘apperception’. Our established or habitual interests function as dispositions to select from what is presented to us at any moment and to organize it in consciousness in terms of its relevance to our intention.

Most of our settled interests are empirical. By this is meant that they are established by particular experience and vary from one person to another. The bird-watcher on a country walk notices the birds and attends to their activities. His companion the botanist notices unusual plants which his friend overlooks. But there are certain interests which are universal and necessary because they belong to the structure of personal experience. Indeed there must be such original interests if the process of apperception is to arise at all. For all perception involves apperception since it involves selection and interpretation. Now action is primary and since to act is to choose2 there must be presupposed in the agent as the basis of action as such a system of motives whose differentiations refer to the Other and so provide the possibility for a differential apperception of the same Other and so for a choice between contrasted intentions. Now as the bare form of choice this can only be represented by the distinction between a positive and a negative apperception of the Other. The agent must act with the Other since there can be no action in the void. But the Other is at once a resistance and a support to the agent; and therefore can be apperceived either positively as a support or negatively as a resistance and the agent can accordingly act either for or against the Other. His relation to the Other demands action; but leaves him the choice between a positive and a negative response to the demand.

Now these universal and necessary forms of apperception bear the same relation to the empirical forms as do the categories in the Kantian theory to empirical concepts. The categories are presuppositions of the possibility of all cognition; they are universal and necessary (or in Kantian terminology ‘a priori’) concepts which determine the general form of all our experience. In reflective or theoretical activity they determine the form of the questions we ask and to that extent the form of the answers we find: yet they do not determine the answers. Similarly our three universal and necessary dispositions are presuppositions of the possibility of action as such; and as ‘a priori’ motives determine the way in which we apperceive the Other in action and to that extent determine the ‘form’ of our action as our practical response to the situation as we apprehend it. For this reason we may call this original system of apperception ‘categorical’ and its three determinations ‘categories’ of apperception.

The three categories of apperception give rise to three ‘ways of life’ each of which has its own moral structure and reflectively its own conception of morality. There are therefore three distinguishable modes of morality each rooted in one of these three categories. It is convenient to assign descriptive titles to the three categories in terms of the way of life to which they give rise. The positive apperception may be called ‘communal’ the two negative types ‘contemplative’ and ‘pragmatic’ respectively. The contemplative apperception is the submissive form the pragmatic the aggressive form of negative apperception. These terms will be justified in the sequel; but first we must consider morality in general irrespective of its modal differentiations.

Since action is choice the distinction between ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ is inherent in the nature of action.3 This is a particular case of the problematic of personal experience and since action is primary the fundamental case at least from the standpoint of the individual agent acting. To act is to be active in terms of a distinction between right and wrong and what is done is done rightly or wrongly. This statement however is still abstract because it treats the agent as an isolated individual. But the individual is constituted by his relation to the Other; and we must give concreteness to our account by recognizing this fact. To act is to realize intention but it is also to enter into relation with the Other. We must therefore say that to act is to realize intention with the help of the Other. This does not apply merely to the personal Other. I open a packing-case with the help of a screwdriver as well as lift it with the help of another man. In other words to realize my intentions I must make use of the Other.

Action then involves a relation to the Other. This relation however is a practical relation. It is not matter of fact but matter of intention. At any moment I stand in specifiable relations to everything in the world. This is matter of fact. But when I act I enter into relation with something other than myself in virtue of my intention. This is true even of reflective activities. It makes the difference for instance between seeing and looking. To look at something is to see it with the intention of knowing it and this transforms the seeing from matter of fact to matter of intention. Such an intentional relating of oneself to the Other depends upon knowledge of the Other; and the rightness or wrongness of the action since it must be through the instrumentality of the Other or ‘with the help of the Other’ depends in part upon the lightness or wrongness of one's apprehension of the Other. I say ‘in part’ because it depends also upon acquired skill in using the Other for my purpose. To act rightly I must know so far as is relevant to my intention both what the properties or characters of the Other are and also how to use the Other as a means to my end.

In consequence of this there are two ways in which an action can be wrongly performed either through a misapprehension of the Other—by misunderstanding the situation for instance—or through lack of skill in operation. Either of these may result in failure to realize the intention of the agent; but they need not do so; though if the purpose is achieved it will be as we say ‘by accident’. In particular I may achieve my purpose clumsily with unnecessary effort or in an inappropriate fashion and all these are modalities of ‘acting wrongly’. Acting rightly therefore we may say is either a matter of efficiency or a matter of style; and we may note that both criteria can be used in the valuation of any action and that which of the two standards is the subordinate one will depend on whether the end or the means is subordinate in the intentionality of the action. For there are actions which are performed ‘for their own sake’ as we say. They necessarily have a goal—an end which is aimed at—but the end is incidental in intention and the action is done as an exhibition of skill.

Now neither of these two modes of rightness is moral. The rightness which is a matter of efficiency is a technological rightness. Stylistic rightness on the other hand is aesthetic. It is manifested in the freedom ease and grace with which the action is performed. Moreover it is judged from the standpoint of the spectator; since the agent must concentrate his attention on the end and the style of his activity resting upon skill already acquired is a matter of habit. The agent's judgment is in terms of success or failure so long as he is in action. The aesthetic judgment of rightness expresses therefore a contemplative attitude; the judgment which is concerned merely to assess efficiency is technological and manifests a pragmatic frame of mind. We should commonly call it ‘practical’ but this is apt to be misleading since it suggests that it is the full and appropriate judgment of action. It is practical only in contrast to the judgment of style and through its exclusion. It seems better therefore to call it pragmatic and to mean by this that its standard is exclusively the success or failure of the agent to achieve his object by whatever means he adopts.

We may notice here the much discussed question of the relation of the ‘right’ and the ‘good’ in reference to actions. When we judge an action pragmatically we tend to use the terms ‘right’ and ‘wrong’; when we judge it contemplatively we tend to call it ‘good’ or ‘bad’. If in order to achieve precision we propose to make this the standard usage we are apt to do so in terms of the pragmatic distinction between means and end and to conclude that the right is the means to the good. But this is incorrect since what we are judging is an action; and the end considered without reference to the means taken to achieve it is not an action at all but a state of affairs. If we wish to prescribe a standard usage for these terms it would be more correct to say that we should call an action ‘right’ when we are thinking of it from the pragmatic point of view as a means adopted to realize a particular end; while the term ‘good’ should more properly be applied to the action contemplated as a whole. Since action is purposive this whole must be an organic whole; that is to say its wholeness depends upon the functional interrelation of the elementary activities which constitute it upon the balanced and harmonious combination of its parts. This correlation of the contemplative attitude with an organic or functional representation of the unity of its object is characteristic. Similarly characteristic of the pragmatic attitude is a mechanical or ‘causal’ conception of its object as a whole.

But this prescription for the precise differentiation of the usage of ‘right’ and ‘good’ though conceptually defensible is all but impossible to maintain in practice. For in general the more skilfully an action is performed the more likely it is to achieve the end proposed. The two modes of rightness are not really separable and any action provides grounds for both types of judgment. The distinction is grounded in the attitude of mind from which we judge; and whichever attitude we adopt we cannot exclude we can only subordinate the other. A style which necessarily hindered the success of the action could not be judged good even from a purely aesthetic point of view.

In this analysis of the rightness of action we have been discussing action from the standpoint of an isolated agent. This is clear from the fact that we have taken the intention of the agent for granted and raised no question of its rightness. For the same reason the rightness of which we have been speaking in both its modes is not moral. The most obviously immoral action can be efficiently and skilfully performed. This recalls the conclusion in an earlier lecture that whatever a solitary agent did would be right because he did it.4 And this led to a further conclusion—that the condition of the possibility of action is that there should be a relation of agents in one field of action; for without this there would be no reason for choosing one possible action in preference to another. An action is defined by its intention and its absolute rightness must lie therefore in the rightness of its intention. But if the intention can itself be either right or wrong the ground for this cannot he in the agent whose intention it is but in the Other. Further it cannot he in the Other as the means used by the agent to accomplish his intention but only in the Other as itself intentional and therefore in the personal Other. The moral rightness of an action therefore has its ground in the relation of persons. The moral problematic of all action—the possibility that any action may be morally right or wrong—arises from the conflict of wills and morality in any mode is the effort to resolve this conflict.

The moral rightness of an action it might be widely agreed rises from the fact that the actions of one person affect either by way of help or hindrance the actions of others. In virtue of this relation the intention of an action and not merely certain aspects of the action may be right or wrong. This is sometimes expressed by saying that morality is essentially social. This we may agree is true but it misses an essential element in the truth by considering the agents as isolated individuals and the relations of their individual actions as accidental or extrinsic. We have seen that the individuality of agents in relation is merely the negative aspect of an intrinsic relatedness. The ‘I’ and the ‘You’ are both constituted by the personal relation.5 The intention of one particular agent is therefore inherently related to the intention of the Other and not merely accidentally. Consequently the morality of an action is inherent in action itself and does not supervene in cases where a particular action has consequences which impinge in a critical fashion on the lives of other people. Let us try to express this issue as formally as possible.

In an earlier lecture when we were considering action from the standpoint of the isolated agent we found that action is the determination of the future.6 We must now consider how this affects the agent when he is one of a group of agents related in the same field of action.

We must here bear in mind some of the major implications of the point of view which we have adopted. The theoretical standpoint with its dualism of Subject and Object compels us to think the world an Object and the identity of the Self as a unity of consciousness or thought. When we then seek to give some account of action we credit the Self with some curious power to effect changes in the world by acts of will. The effect of this is that we think of our experience as a continuity of awareness which constitutes the continuing identity of the Self in time. Occasionally this continuum of consciousness somehow gives rise to acts which have causal effects in the external world if a conscious decision to do so has been reached. These acts are then thought as atomic connected with one another only through the fact that they are all separate acts of one and the same Subject. But when we exchange this point of view for that of the Agent-Self postulating the primacy of the practical and so escaping from dualism the position is different. The world is now thought as a unity of action and the self-identity of the agent is a continuity of action. What happens occasionally is that the intentionality of our action may be reflected back upon itself and so produce a reflective activity while the practical activity continues automatically as a result of established habits.

If now we replace the abstract conception of the Agent by the group or society of agents this society must be conceived as a differentiation of the Agent and not as a set of individual objects. They have their being as agents in the continuum of action which is the World. If the whole society of agents is contrasted with the world as their ‘Other’ this does not deny that the society is part of the world: and if an individual agent contrasts himself with the society as his Other even asserts his total opposition to the society he does not assert that he is not a member of this society.

Now if the world is a continuum of action and there are in it a number of agents; and if action is the determination of the future the condition for action is a unity of intentions and the actions of the different agents must be unified in one action. For the future of the World cannot be determined in incompatible ways. If it could be the world would become as it were a plurality of incompatible worlds. Whatever actions are done in the world it must remain one world. If then two agents or two groups of agents have incompatible intentions both intentions cannot be realized. In this situation either one agent must yield to the other of his own free will or they must seek to prevent one another from acting. In the first case one of the agents loses his freedom and cannot realize his nature as an agent; in the second both lose their freedom until one has mastered the other and forced him to abandon his intention. For in a struggle of wills action is negative as we have seen. The intention of each party is dictated by the other and neither determines the common future. The struggle of course may have quite catastrophic effects upon the situation but the consequences are not intended by the agents in the struggle. We should notice that this will be the result whether the agents whose intentions are incompatible are in direct or indirect relation with one another. The success of an operator on the New York Stock Exchange may ruin a number of people in Germany or China.

This interrelation of agents which makes the freedom of all members of a society depend upon the intentions of each is the ground of morality. It provides a reference beyond themselves for all possible intentions in virtue of which they can be either right or wrong and this rightness or wrongness is neither technical nor aesthetic but moral. Its corollary is that the freedom of any agent—that is to say his capacity to realize his own being as an agent—is conditioned inherently by the action of all other agents. My freedom depends upon how you behave. This provides an absolute though only an indeterminate or formal criterion of morality.

If we call the harmonious interrelation of agents their ‘community’ we may say that a morally right action is an action which intends community. Kant has already formulated this in one of the moral modes by saying ‘Act always as a legislating member of a kingdom of ends.’ Any act of any agent is an expression of his own freedom. But if the world is one action any particular action determines the future within its own limits for all agents. Every individual agent is therefore responsible to all other agents for his actions. Freedom and responsibility are then aspects of one fact. The intention of any agent is however relative to his knowledge of the Other. His responsibility cannot extend beyond his knowledge. Consequently whatever he does is morally right if the particular intention of his action is controlled by a general intention to maintain the community of agents and wrong if it is not so controlled.

Such a general intention is a unifying intention. Not only is it the intention which maintains the personal unity of any group of agents; but it also unifies the actions of an individual agent in a single life. For it is the intention which remains the same for all his actions and to which they all have reference. It is a universal and necessary intention for all agents since the relation of persons is constitutive for their existence as persons. They can only be themselves and realize their freedom as agents through their relation to one another. The interrelation of agents is a necessary matter of fact. But it is also a necessary matter of intention. For it is not enough to constitute the agent a person that he should in fact be a member of a group of persons. He must know that he is a member of the group and that in all his actions he is entering into intentional relation directly or indirectly with the others. This universal and necessary intention which is the same for all agents because it springs purely from their nature as agents provides therefore a norm for the lightness or wrongness of all actions whatever. It is this that enables us to define morality by reference to maintaining community in action.

It is to be noted that the moral rightness or wrongness of an action resides in its intention. This has two important consequences. The first is that it is independent of success or failure. The man who attempts to kill his neighbour and fails is morally guilty of murder though not legally. The second is the one which concerns us more immediately. The negative aspect of intention is attention. This is simply a specification of the general principle that knowledge is the negative aspect or ‘dimension’ of action. In a particular action the effective knowledge in it is selected by attention just as the direction of the acting is selected by intention. Now any general type of selection in attention which is characteristic of a particular agent will constitute his normal mode of apperception; and in his personal relation with other agents it will be his normal mode of moral apperception and will decide how he envisages the community of agents of which he is a member. It is to this knowledge that the rightness or wrongness of his intention in action is relative and his moral responsibility is limited by it. Even if his conception of morality is an inadequate one his intentions in particular are morally right if they exemplify it and morally wrong if they negate it. An agent's morality must be relative to his own conscience.

Further if a particular mode of apperception is generally characteristic for any community of persons it will determine the moral outlook which is normal in that community and consequently its moral orthodoxy. For any member of the community this will define what is expected of him as a moral agent by the community. It will generally though not necessarily define what it is right for him to do. Not necessarily because his own moral apperception—that is his conscience—may not be identical with the normal one; but generally otherwise the moral orthodoxy in question would not be normal. Even where the conscience of the individual is unorthodox however it must be related to the orthodox code. For morality refers to the structure of personal relations which unites the members in a community of agents and personal relations are necessarily reciprocal. What is expected of me by the Other must always play an important part though not always a decisive part in determining the morality of my actions.

The question of morality is even more complex than is already apparent. For we must distinguish the moral orthodoxy of any community from its traditional moral code. The code of morality which is traditionally proposed in any community may differ widely from the system of norms which in practice guides the behaviour of the majority of its members when they are acting conscientiously and which determines what is expected of any member as a responsible moral agent. The morality traditionally professed may be ideal and theoretical; while the normal orthodox morality is practical and effective.

This brings us to our main point. If there are three categories of apperception there must be three typical modes of morality which correspond to them. For a category of apperception will determine the form in which the community of agents is conceived. It will determine the form of the demand upon me to which my moral action is the response. In calling these modes of morality typical what is meant is that they are formal possibilities; what is not meant is that one or other of them must completely characterize any individual or any community. In actual life all three may be found operative either in the individual or in the orthodoxy of a group. What we can say is that one of the three will tend to be dominant in any particular individual agent and in any group of agents at any time. The moral orthodoxy of a group as a whole will tend to be in one or other of the three modes. The reason for this tendency is that if they are mixed they will give rise to moral conflict which can only be avoided if one of them is taken as normal for the others. There is a natural pressure towards system in practice as well as in theory and the avoidance of conflict in personal relations is one of the functions of any moral orthodoxy. But we have to remember that a larger community may contain smaller communities within it and the code of morality which is normal for the small community may be in a different mode from that which is normal for the larger. In other words a man's apperception of his relations to the other members of his family may differ modally from his apperception of his relations as a citizen to other members of his State.

There are then three typical modes of morality one based upon a positive apperception and two upon negative apperceptions which are opposite and ambivalent. It will be convenient to use the same terms to designate these modes as we assigned to the categories which gave rise to them. We shall therefore refer to the positive mode as ‘communal’ and the negative modes as ‘contemplative’ and ‘pragmatic’ respectively. We shall have more to say in the next lecture about their differences and their relation to one another. But before I break off I should like to identify them without discussing the reasons for this identification in the moral tradition of Europe.

The communal mode resting as it does on a positive motivation is characteristically heterocentric. By this is meant that the centre of reference for the agent when he seeks to act rightly is always the personal Other. To act rightly is then to act for the sake of the Other and not of oneself. The Other in this mode always remains fully personal; consequently its objective must be the maintaining of positive personal relations between all agents as the bond of community. It is characteristic for this mode then that in the face of the moral problem which is the problem of hostility resting upon fear it demands the transformation of motives by the overcoming of fear. ‘Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself’ is then a normal expression of communal morality. Equally characteristic in relation to negative motivation in the Other is the formulation ‘Love your enemies’. We identify this mode of morality in the European tradition with the moral disposition which has its origin in Hebrew culture and which entered Europe through the spread of Christianity from Palestine. We should perhaps avoid calling it Christian morality though this would be strictly correct because what is usually identified as ‘Christian’ morality is misconceived in one of the negative modes.

The two negative modes are on the contrary both egocentric. This egocentricity creates a dualism as we have seen. For the relation to the Other constitutes both oneself and the other; the intention to maintain in general the relations that unite the members in a community is a necessary intention. But the habitual motivation negates this. So for the negative modes of apperception the world divides into two worlds; an actual world which does not answer to our demands and refuses to satisfy us and another world an ideal world which we can imagine which does. Whether this gives rise to a contemplative or to a pragmatic mode of morality depends upon which of the two worlds is thought as the real world which that is to say is taken as being for the sake of the other. Similarly the self becomes two selves for each of which one of these two worlds is ‘the Other’. There is a spiritual self with a spiritual life and a material self with a bodily life. The positive apperception through its heterocentricity escapes this dualism.

For the contemplative mode the real world is the spiritual world and the real life is the spiritual life. Just as the child can take refuge from the apparent hostility of the mother by withdrawing into a life of phantasy so the adult can solve the problem of living in a world which appears dangerous by withdrawing into reflection and adopting the attitude of a spectator. He cannot of course escape from the necessity of practical activity and the necessity of the relation of agents which this entails. His dependence upon the Other is matter of fact. But he can cease consciously to intend the practical life. He can seek to realize himself in the private isolated world of his own thoughts and feelings and imaginings. To do this he must conform in practice and make the practical life a means to the inner life of the mind. This is possible provided that and so far as the practical life can be made automatic a matter of routine and habit which supports as a whole a deliberate and intentional life of reflection contemplation and ideal construction. He will engage in deliberate practical activity only because he must and only so far as he must.

If this category of apperception is normal for any human society the necessary harmony of the relations of its members in the practical life must then be made automatic. This is possible if there is established a common form which is unchanging within which the activity of each member is adjusted to that of the others automatically. The form will be of an organic type a system of social habit in which the activity of each member is functionally related to the activity of the others so that the practical life of the society is a balanced and harmonious unity a system of social habit. To maintain this each member must have his function in the common life; he must be trained from childhood to recognize the social pattern and his own function in it and to develop the system of habits which makes conformity to it a second nature.

The contemplative mode of morality is then a morality of good form. Wrong action is bad form; doing something that is not ‘seemly’ not ‘fitting’. Its standard is in the broad sense an aesthetic standard. It is not the sort of standard that can easily be formulated in general precepts. It has to be felt. It is a kind of beauty or grace in social relations a matter of style of balance of tact and poise. It displays a knowledge of how to behave which rests on insight or intuition and cannot be reduced to general rules. It depends upon a vision of the good which is the same for all who are united in personal activity by means of it. We should be inclined to regard it as concerned rather with manners than with morals but that is because our normal mode of apperception relegates it to a subordinate role in the realization of a harmony of action in society. For it presupposes that the real life is not the life of action but of reflection. The classical exposition of this mode of morality is Plato's Republic and it is the normal mode of morality for the Classical Greek moralists.

The other negative mode which we have called ‘pragmatic’ is the antithesis and the complement of this. If the material life—the life of action—is taken as real then the life of the spirit is subordinate and becomes a means to practice. In that case the conflict of wills is met by aggression by the effort to overpower the resistance of other agents and compel them to submit. If I apperceive life in this way my goal must be the appropriation of power; and the relation of agents becomes a competition for power. The problematic of action becomes the effort to achieve my own purpose in the face of resistance from the other. But because of the interdependence of agents this must be limited by the necessity to maintain the unity of society that is the systematic co-operation of agents. A mode of morality is required which fits this apperception.

Now from this point of view all problems of action become technological. For the ends of action are taken for granted. Each individual has his own intention which he is determined to realize. His problem concerns the means to realize it in the face of resistance; it is efficiency in action that determines right and wrong. Now the technique for maintaining a harmony of cooperation in a society is law conceived as a means for keeping the peace. The pragmatic mode of morality will then be conceived as obedience to law—to a moral law which the individual imposes upon himself and through which he secures the universal intention to maintain the community of action. It will be a morality of self-control of power over the self limiting its own freedom for the sake of maintaining the community. It will be expressed in terms of will obligation and duty as a set of rules or principles which are the same for all and which limit for each the use of his own power to do what he pleases. This mode of morality is too familiar to us to need further identification. It has its origins so far as Western Europe is concerned in the Stoic philosophy and Roman law; and its most brilliant exponent in the modern world has been Immanuel Kant.

  • 1. The Self as Agent, p. 171.
  • 2. The Self as Agent, p. 139.
  • 3. The Self as Agent, p. 140.
  • 4. The Self as Agent, p. 143.
  • 5. Supra, Chap. IV, p. 91.
  • 6. The Self as Agent, p. 134.
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