Ward's Philosophical Introduction
WARD’S PHILOSOPHICAL INTRODUCTION
Mr.Ward was one of the earliest and most distinguished of the converts to the church from the now almost forgotten Oxford movement, and we agree with our able and learned contemporary, The Dublin Review, that "no work since the appearance of the Tracts for the Times has issued from the English press that can equally claim the attention of Catholics" with his treatise on Nature and Grace, the first volume of which, embracing an elaborate preface and a philosophical introduction, is now published and before us.
The treatise, we are told in the preface, is composed of a part of the course of lectures on dogmatic theology given by the author in St. Edmund's Seminary, and "includes all those revealed truths which relate to each man's moral and spiritual condition; all those which concern his individual relations with God, his true end, whether tending toward that end, or unhappily moving in an opposite direction." It is divided into five books, of unequal length: 1. Philosophical Introduction; 2. Theological Prolegomena; 3. On Man's Moral Action; 4. On Divine Grace; 5. On God's Providence and Predestination. His work, the author tells us, corresponds, in the main, to the Pars Secunda of St. Thomas, borrowing, however, from the Pars Prima, the topics of Providence and Predestination, and from the Pars Tertia, that of Attrition in relation to the justification of adults in the sacraments of baptism and penance.
If we understand the learned and philosophical author, he embraces, under the head of nature and grace, all that part of theology, natural and revealed, which relates to the second cycle, or return of existences or creatures to God as their last end,—that is, all that part of theology which relates to God as the final cause, in distinction from that which relates to God in himself, and as first cause. He contends that this, according to St. Thomas, the second part of theology, may be treated by itself, independently of the first part, or that which treats of the existence, nature, and attributes of God, of the unity and the trinity of God, and of God as creator, or first cause. He says St. Thomas, in the pars secunda of his Summa Theologica, takes a fresh start, and might as well have treated it in the first, as in the second place. "It is impossible to understand the de Deo Trino till we have studied the de Deo Uno y and it is impossible to understand de Gratia, till we have studied de Actibus Tlumanis. But that portion of science on the one hand which contains the de Deo Uno et Trino, and that portion, on the other hand, which contains the de Actions Rumania and the de Gratia—these are mutually independent; it is a matter of indifference which is studied before the other. . . . Upon these two independent portions is founded the doctrine of the Incarnation, and all which follows." But how can we scientifically treat de Actions Humanis independently of the de Deo Creatore ? of man's end before we have treated of his origin? or of de Gratia before de Incarnatione, the origin and end of the "new creation," or life of grace?
Theology, in its broadest sense, embraces both natural theology, or metaphysics, and supernatural theology, that is, all the truths we know by the natural light of reason, and all that we know by divine revelation, or the supernatural light of faith. There is always, then, to be carried along, the double order, and the theologian has to treat the origin and end of man in the natural order and his origin and end in the supernatural order, which, as to the end, in some sort assumes the natural. The origin and end of the natural order depend on God as creator; of the supernatural, which presupposes the natural, on God incarnate. We should say, then, that the order of science, as of being, requires that de Deo Creatore should, as in St. Thomas, precede de Actibus Ilamanis, and de Incarnatione, de Gratia. It is true St. Thomas places de Gratia before de Incarnatione, and de Incarnatione only before de Sacramentis, as if the Incarnation is to be regarded as the effect of the Gratia Dei, and the source, or cause, only of sacramental grace. There may be a question whether in this he follows the true scientific order or not, because there is among theologians a question whether, if man had not sinned, the second person of the ever-adorable Trinity would, or would not have become incarnate. Grace certainly pertains in the supernatural order to the first cause, the first cycle or procession of the supernatural life from God, and if we hold with St. Thomas that if man had not sinned, the Word would not have assumed flesh, we must regard the Incarnation as the effect of the grace of God, and then treat it after treating grace; but if we regard, with the general current of modern theology, the Incarnation not as merely reparatory of the damage done by sin, and taking sin as the occasion of elevating man to a higher and nobler destiny than he would have attained to had he not sinned, but as primarily intended to ennoble man, and to elevate him, as his final beatitude, to union by nature with his Creator, and, therefore, the Word would have been incarnated even if man had not sinned, we should, it seems to us, place de Incarnatione before de Gratia, immediately after de Deo Creatore, as we find it placed by Father Perrone in his Preelections Theological. We incline to the latter view, and, therefore, we should maintain that no treatise on nature and grace can be scientifically constructed independently of de Deo, de Deo Creatore* and de Incarnatione, for we cannot understand how the final cause can be treated independently of the first cause, or the return of existences to God as their last end independently of their procession by way of creation from him as their first beginning.
But, however it may be with regard to the Incarnation, we are certain that there can be no scientific treatment of moral theology, or the speculative part of ethics, natural or supernatural, that excludes all consideration of God as first cause; and nearly all the criticisms we shall have to make on the author's theory of morals, as set forth in the volume already published, grow out of his attempt to find a solid basis of morals without taking into the account the creative act of God, or considering in its proper place and bearing man's relation to God as his first, as well as his final cause. But more of this hereafter.
The volume before us is introductory to the volumes that are to follow, but it is complete in itself, and contains a very full treatise on moral philosophy as distinguished from practical ethics. It is purely philosophical, that is, wholly within the province of natural reason, and treats of an important branch of natural theology. The matter treated is arranged in four chapters: 1. On the Principles of Morality; 2. On Ethical Psychology; 3. On Self Charity; 4. On various Kinds of Certainty and Impossibility. Our remarks in the present article will be confined, for the most part, to the first chapter—On the Principles of Morality. This chapter is subdivided into seven sections: 1. On Intuitions and on the Principle of Certitude; 2. On the Essential Characteristics of Moral Truth; 3. On the Relation between God and Moral Truth; 4. Catholic Authority on Independent Morality—placed at the end of the volume; 5. On the Idea of Moral Worthiness; 6. On the Extent of the Natural Rule; 7. On God's Power of Interference with the Natural Rule. We shall have, at present, little to say, except on the first three sections of the first chapter, which contain the fundamental principles of the whole introduction. The author, we hardly need remark, is a psychologist, and, though professing to recognize objective truth, discusses all questions from the point of view of the subject, or his own ego. He begins by distinguishing between judgments of consciousness and judgments of intuitions. I judge that I am this moment suffering the sensation of cold, hunger, or thirst; this is a judgment of consciousness. I remember that some time ago I suffered that sensation; this is a judgment of intuition, or intuitive judgment. Judgments of consciousness are simply the interior recognition of our own present mental state; intuitive judgments are the direct and immediate perception or apprehension of objective truth or reality, that is, something exterior to and independent of the percipient or intuitive subject. Intuition, then, in the author's sense, is the perception of the Scottish school, and the judgment a posteriori of the Kantian. It is the simple, direct, immediate apprehension of the object by the subject, and is presented as a purely subjective or psychological act.
It would seem, from this statement, that the author holds the judgments of memory to be judgments of intuition. There is, undoubtedly, a valid distinction between being conscious and remembering; between suffering the toothache as a present fact, and remembering it as a past fact; but is this memory of the fact properly an intuition? Is it, when not remembered, an objective fact, a fact exterior to one's self? We do not profess to be able to unravel the mystery of memory, but we are disposed to maintain that a judgment is always a judgment of consciousness, though not always a present sensation; for judgment is always an intellectual act. The fact remembered, though past in relation to the senses, or even to reflex consciousness, has always remained present to the soul in what is called direct consciousness,—present by virtue of the presence and light of being, in which the soul lives, moves, and has its being. We do not like to say intuition of memory; we prefer to say perception of memory. But this is a small matter. A graver matter is, that after having defined judgments of intuition to be the direct and immediate perception of objective reality, or judgment that the object really exists, the author provokingly tells us, that of intuitive judgments some are true, and some are false—that is, in intuition we sometimes intue something—to use his term—and sometimes nothing.
"Such, then," he says, "are intuitive judgments in the sense we shall consistently assign to that word. They are judgments, which I do not hold as being inferred in any way from other judgments, but as immediately evident. Yet, on the other hand, they are totally distinct from judgments of consciousness; or, in other words, from the various reflections made by the mind upon its actually present experience. Many of the Judgments we thus form are true; many are false." If this be so, how distinguish which is true, which is false? A—A. Intuition equals intuition, and what have we or can we have more certain than intuition with which to verify intuition? If he concedes it possible that intuition in any case may be false, he yields the whole question between him and the skeptic. He quotes the tests proposed by Father Buffier; but these tests he concedes are not wholly satisfactory, and indeed no tests can be; for no test, either in its origin or in its application, can be more certain or evident than intuition. He himself, whether consciously or not, seeks the test in the sensus communis, or consensus hominum; but is it more certain to me that this or that is supported by the sensus communis or the consensus hominum than is the intuitive judgment itself? He claims to refute the skeptic by virtue of the principle that it is possible for an intuitive judgment to carry with it its own evidence of truth; but if there can be false intuitions,—that is, intuitions in which nothing is intued or apprehended,—he must concede that intuition alone does not, as the skeptic alleges, carry with it its own evidence.
The author seems to us to have in the outset made a fatal concession to the skeptic, and so far from refuting the skeptic, as he honestly believes, he has rendered him on his ground invulnerable. He has done this by distinguishing between the intuition and its evidence, and conceding the evidence to be necessary to sustain the truth of the intuition, or to establish the fact that in intuition something is intued, or that the idea or noema is not a mere illusion; for no evidence distinct from the intuition can be more evident than the intuition itself. We say such or such a proposition is self-evident, that is, it is intuitively evident, or we intuitively grasp or apprehend the objective truth or reality itself. No further evidence is possible or conceivable. But the moment you assert the possibility of false intuitions, then you deny that intuitions carry with them their own evidence, or that the fact of intuition by itself alone is a sufficient affirmation of the objective truth. The author falls into his error by confounding intuition, which is and always must be true, and present the truth a parte rei, with conception, which may indeed be false, as well as obscure, indistinct, and inadequate; for it is an act sometimes of the imaginar tion, sometimes of the reflective reason, and is subject to all the infirmities of the human subject. This part of his work, the author, we trust, will see reason to revise in a second edition.
We cannot stop long to discuss the author's principle of certitude, and his attempted refutation of skepticism. The question of certitude, as he understands it, and as all who follow the psychological instead of the ontological method must understand it, is vital, and on their ground and his own, Balmes is right, when he says in the opening sentence of his great work, "El estudio de la filosofia debe comenzar por el examen de las cuestiones sobre la certeza: antes de levantar el edificio es necessario pensar en el cimiento." Yet either skepticism must be accepted, or the whole question of certitude excluded from philosophy. Either we know or we do not. If we know, the skeptic's question, how we know we know, is absurd; for, to know, equals to know we know; if we do not know, there is an end of the matter, and the skeptic’s question is alike unaskable and unanswerable. If the point to be determined between us and the skeptic be, as Mr. Ward states, "Can reason be legitimately trusted?" we may as well give up the question at once, for we know nothing but reason with which to prove the trustworthiness of reason, and every argument we construct against the skeptic but simply begs the question. We have only one answer to the skeptic, namely, knowing is knowing, and we know that we know by knowing.
The objection does not lie against philosophy, properly so called, nor against our human faculties, but against the peripatetic and psychological methods of philosophizing. Let ns frankly reject the pretence of some that skepticism is a disease of the mind ; for the greatest skeptics in practical life disavow their skepticism, and Hume, while he asserts no man can disprove skepticism, maintains that no man can practically accept it. Every man sees and knows it is false and absurd, which is a sufficient proof that our faculties are not in fault. We can assert its falsehood only by seeing and opposing to it the truth it denies. Then all men see and know objective truth. Where, then, is the difficulty? Why, the difficulty is, that we have adopted theories, according to which it is uncertain whether seeing be seeing, knowing be knowing, and which require us to prove after seeing that we see, that in knowing we know, that in perceiving we perceive, as if perception were not all that is perception of perception, as if knowing does not say just as much as knowing that we know, or seeing as much as seeing that we see. When I know I know that I know, for in the fact of knowing, I possess at once the object as known, and myself as the subject knowing. The doubt is due neither to our faculties nor to things themselves, but to our false systems of philosophy, which make it necessary, after we have intuition, to determine whether the intuition be true or false—that is to say, whether intuition be intuition ; whether the object intued be a reality existing independent of us, or a mere mode, affection, or production, of the intuitive subject I This comes from giving the question of method precedence of the question of principles, and seeking the principle in the subject instead of the object.
Passing over this fatal concession, that intuitions may be false, we must still object to Mr. Ward, that he makes intuition the act of the subject, a simple perception or judgment a posteriorly or empirical intuition, impossible, as Kant has proved, without a synthetic judgment a priori, or ideal intuition. The synthetic judgment a priori, or intuition of the ideal or intelligible, cannot be primarily our mental act or judgment, since without it the mind cannot act at all, or even exist, any more than the will can elect to concur with grace, without the aid of grace. The mind is essentially active, and the soul is essentially a thinking substance. It’s very essence is to think. It, then, cannot be conceived as existing and not thinking. It is not merely a power to think when the occasion arises. It may be in potentia to this or that particular thought, but not in potentia to all thought, for that would deny it all existence in actu, and 6uppose it a mere possible, not an actual soul. But thought is invariably and essentially a synthetic fact, embracing simultaneously and indissolubly three terms, subject, object, and their relation, and that, too, whether regarded psychologically or ontologically. There is no thought without the thinking subject, and none without the intelligible object. There is, again, no thought unless the subject and object are placed in direct relation. The subject prior to thought cannot place itself in relation to the object, for prior to thought it does not exist; since its very existence, if essentially a thinking substance, commences in thought. Then the object must not only exist independently of the subject, but must place itself in relation to the subject, and in so doing create it, and affirm itself to it. The primitive object, since its affirmation creates the subject, must be, and can only be, God himself in his intelligible being and creative act. It is evident then, that the ideal intuition is a priori, and therefore primarily the act of the object, and only secondarily the concurrent act of the subject.
Mr. Ward does not seem to be aware of the necessity to the scientific treatment of his subject of the recognition of this primitive intuition, whence is derived the ideal and apodictic element of thought. He maintains, very properly and very justly, that what philosophers, whether in the moral order or the purely intellectual, call necessary truth, is God; but he does not provide in his system for the possession of necessary truth by the human mind, since the mind must possess it before empirical intuitions or judgments a posteriori are possible. His doctrine seems to us to require the soul to think or perceive before it exists. To suppose the soul exists, and exists with all its faculties prior to the fact of intuition, would be to suppose it an independent existence and self-sufficing, which would be to suppose it being, not mere existence, and therefore God, —the Fichtean error. No creature or created existence has, or can have its being in itself; for all being properly so called is real, necessary, and eternal. We have our being, and live, and move, not in ourselves, but in God; as the apostle says, in accordance with the highest philosophy, " In him we live, and move, and have our being." This must be as true of us in the sense we are thinking or intelligent creatures or existences, as in any other sense, if any other sense be conceivable. Then, since the object is as essential to thought as the subject, the soul cannot be conceived as having an independent power of thought, or as capable of initiating an intellectual act by itself alone, or otherwise than as created by the object and in concurrence with it,—a doctrine taught by all our theologians, in what they call the divine concurrence. If this be true, the soul cannot come into possession of necessary truth, or the ideal, the intelligible—which Mr. Ward agrees with us is identical with God, although we know it not by direct and immediate intuition—by any act or judgment primarily its own ; and to suppose we obtain it by empirical intuition or judgment a posteriori is simply, if we did but know it, a denial of the soul as creature, and the assertion, that it has its being not in God, but in itself, and therefore is itself God.
The author in words concedes synthetic judgments a priori, but, he will permit us to say in words only. He says in a note that he accepts Kant's position, "that the mind forms various a priori synthetic judgments; which, by the way, is not Kant's position, but rather its contradictory, for a great part of Kant's labor was devoted to proving that the mind does not, and cannot form synthetic judgments a priori; and yet without them no judgment a posteriori is possible. His doctrine is that the synthetic judgments a priori are iunate, or inherent forms of the understanding, which the understanding supplies in the empirical fact, or judgment a posteriori. Besides, a judgment formed by the human mind is not a priori / and as the author holds, and on his system must hold, that all judgments are formed by the activity of the mind itself, it 1s clear that he does not and cannot concede any synthetic judgments really a priori* All synthetic judgments formed by the mind are necessarily a posteriori—or, as we say, empirical judgments, or facts of experience. The author adopts, as does Father Buffier, as does the Scottish school, the psychological method; and no man who adopts that method and strictly follows it, can do otherwise than make all begin and end in and with the soul. It is impossible for the psychologist to escape from subjectivism, and pure subjectivism is the assertion that I am myself my own object, therefore that I suffice for myself; and therefore, again, that I am independent being, or God.
The only way to avoid this conclusion is to abandon the psychological method for the ontological. No doubt the point of departure for philosophy is thought; but it is necessary to observe that thought is never a purely subjective fact, is never the sole product of the activity of the subject. In every thought there is object as well as subject, and it is the object that affirms the subject, not the subject that affirms the object. The psychologist assumes that it is the subject that at once affirms the object and itself. It affirms itself, and then affirms what it sees that is not itself. But only Being can affirm itself; only God can say, in and of himself, I AM. The ontologist starts from thought, indeed, but from thought in the sense that it is objective as well as subjective, in which it reveals and affirms the subject to itself. We do not see or perceive, or, as Mr. Ward would say, intue ourselves in ourselves, for we are not intelligible in ourselves. Not intelligible in ourselves, St. Thomas maintains, because we are not pure intelligences in ourselves. If we could see ourselves in ourselves we should be intelligible in ourselves, and if intelligible in ourselves, we should be in ourselves both subject and object, therefore God; for only God has, or can have, his own object in himself. We see, know, or recognize ourselves only in the object, which, therefore, must affirm, intuitively, both itself and us or the subject. In this way we easily escape all the difficulties, both of the skeptic and of the subjectivist. On the psychological method it is impossible to find any passage from the subjective to the objective, for if the mind can exist and act with no object but itself, how can you prove that anything but itself exists? How prove that there is anything exterior to me, or that what I take to be an objective world is not merely myself projected? But by the ontological method, which starts from the ideal, the objective intuition, we find that it is only by the object that the subject exists and comes to a knowledge even of itself. The skeptic’s problem cannot come up, for it is only by virtue of the presence and activity of the object, existing a parte rei, that there are, or can be, what Mr. Ward calls judgments of consciousness. "Without the presence and activity of the ideal, the source of our internal light, there can be no consciousness, for the precise definition of consciousness is, the recognition of the soul as subject in the intuition of the object. Hence we maintain that the true scientific philosopher never has occasion to discuss the principle of certitude; the principle asserts itself.
The mistake of most philosophers in modern times is in placing the question of method before that of principles, as if principles were found or obtained, instead of being given. The principles determine the method, not the method the principles; and when once we understand principles are objective, we understand that our method must be objective, instead of subjective. The object determines the form of the thought, and all our faculties are distinguished, and named, as every theologian is aware, from their respective objects. Everybody knows that first principles are and must be a priori, for the mind can neither exist nor act without them. They must, then, be given, and the first act in intuition must be on the part of the ideal, or intelligible object. We cannot, then, say with Mr. Ward, that we intue, see, or perceive the ideal, or necessary truth, but that it intuitively, directly, immediately affirms itself, and in affirming itself it creates the mind, and is its immediate object and light. Reflection, which must be distinguished from intuition, or this primitive a priori or ideal affirmation, or divine judgment, discovers, as we never cease to repeat, that, like every affirmation or judgment, it is a synthesis of three terms, subject, predicate, and copula, expressed in the ideal formula, Being create* existences. We do not, of course, assert that we know by direct and immediate intuition that this formula expresses the primitive judgment, or judgment a priori, any more than that we know intuitively that necessary truth or the being affirmed, is identically the eternal and self-existing God. The identification, or the drawing out of the formula, is the work of reflection, operating on the original affirmation. This is the great work of philosophy, a long, laborious, and difficult work, and one which few of our race ever successfully accomplish. The intuitive judgment contains the three terms in their real relation, but we do not know intuitively that it contains them, and few persons ever reflect that the necessary truth we all assert in every judgment we form, is God himself intuitively present in reason. The demonstration of this identity is what is called the demonstration of the existence of God.
The good point in Mr. Ward's treatise is his assertion of the identity of necessary truth with God, although his psychological method does not enable him to prove it. The error of most of our philosophers is in attempting to distinguish between the necessary and God, and this error is in no one more striking than in Rosmini, whose system has at least one able advocate in England, the young professor who writes for the Rambler under the signature of M. All use the conception of the necessary as the basis of their demonstration that God is; but there are few who do not proceed on the assumption that it implies God, rather than that it is God, and thus fall into the fallacy of maintaining that more may be contained in the conclusion than in the premises, or that reflection can attain to a truth not given in intuition. There is affirmed to us in intuition that which is God, but that it is God we know only as demonstrated by reflection. The demonstration, however, is a simple identification, but an identification which the mass of mankind are practically incapable of making; and hence the mass of mankind, though asserting in every judgment they express that God is, would have no formal belief in God, if it were not for the supernatural or social instruction they receive,—the truth on which traditionalism builds, but which, unhappily, it exaggerates and abuses. Perhaps the remarks we have just made on this point will relieve those of our friends who cannot see their way clear to accept the ideal formula, because they suppose its defenders maintain that it is not only given intuitively in its several terms, but is given, as distinctly and formally stated, by and for the reflective reason; which is a great mistake, for, if it were so, we should never meet either skepticism or subjectivism, atheism or pantheism.
Leaving what the author says of intuitions, we proceed now to the second section of his first chapter, which is "On the Essential Characteristics of Moral Truth." Here we find, or seem to find, the author very confused and obscure. We very naturally expect him to give us clear, distinct, and categorical statements of what, in his view, are the essential characteristics of moral truth. We expect him to define it per genus et differentiam, so that we may recognize what it is in itself, and distinguish it from everything else. But he hardly meets our expectations. He does not deal in definitions, nor in direct categorical statements; he prefers to leave us to collect his meaning from instances and illustrations, in which he is not always felicitous. All we can gather is, that moral truth is a simple intuitive judgment; a synthetic, not an analytic judgment; an intuition, not an inference; a necessary, not a contingent intuition. Its characteristics are simplicity and necessity, given us in direct, immediate intuition. But may not the same be said of all truth in the ideal order, indeed of the simply good itself? What special meaning, then, does he attach to the epithet, moral? What, in treating of moral truth, does he say that he would not say were he treating of truth, goodness, or fairness, each regarded as absolute? What, then, is the characteristic of moral truth, or by what does he distinguish it from other truth?
Moral truth, he says, is a simple, not a complex idea; synthetic, not analytic; given intuitively, not discursively obtained. As an instance of what he means, he says: "A friend of mine, who has loaded me with benefits, entrusts to my keeping a jewel of great value, for the sake of the safe custody, while he goes to seek his fortune in other lauds. He returns in a state of great distress, and reclaims his jewel. I recognize immediately, and without the faintest shadow of doubt, that I ought to restore it: or, in other words, that I am under the moral obligation of restoring it." "Who has loaded me with benefits," and "in a state of great distress," may be dismissed as having nothing to do with the obligation of restoration. I should be equally bound in justice to restore the jewel on its reclamation by the depositor, if neither circumstance existed. This obligation is, we take it, what he means by distinctively moral truth, and this, he says, is "a simple necessary intuem" or idea, or immediate intuitive judgment; but, to our understanding, it is clearly an illative judgment, or logical conclusion. I am bound to render unto everyone, especially when he reclaims it, his own, or what is his. The jewel deposited with me for safe keeping is my friend's; it is his property, therefore I am bound to restore it on his reclaiming it. The moral judgment, I am under moral obligation to restore my friend's deposit, is but a particular application of a prior moral judgment, namely, “render unto every man his own." Suum cuiaue.
According to the author, to say I am under the moral obligation to restore the jewel is the same as to say it would be morally evil not to do it. Undoubtedly. But that is only a play on words. The term moral includes, in this case, all that we express by the term obligation, or the term ought, and the two propositions are, therefore, equivalent. But this is not the point. Does the epithet moral, applied to good or to evil, add anything to simply good or simply evil? Is the judgment morally good, the same as the judgment good; or the judgment morally evil, the same as the judgment evil? If so, what is the difference between virtue and good, vice and evil; between the judgment virtuous man, and the judgment a good dog; between the judgment a vicious action, and the judgment a deformed leg or a clubbed foot? If not so, then the epithet moral must express something not expressed by the simple term good, or the simple term evil. What is this something? Be it what it may, it must be the characteristic of moral truth; and without telling us what it is, it is clear that the author does not and cannot tell us " what are the essential characteristics of moral truth."
We have a very profound respect for the author, but he must permit us to doubt if, in the present matter, he really understands himself. He maintains that moral truth is a simple necessary idea—intuem, as he says. The judgment is simple, like sweet or bitter, and morally good can be defined only as the opposite of morally evil, and morally evil can be defined only as the opposite of morally good. It is not only a simple idea, but a necessary idea. In his third section, On the Relation of God to Moral Truth, he maintains very properly, as we hold, that all necessary ideas, or what some philosophers call necessary truths, are God. But that I ought to restore my friend's jewel, is a simple necessary truth, or idea; therefore, that I ought to restore it, is God! The obligation to restore it is not an obligation imposed upon me by God as my sovereign, but is identically God himself! It is clear, then, that by morally good, the author understands simply good, which, in the absolute sense or the good in itself, is undoubtedly God, the source and measure of every particular or participated good. The author, it seems to us, confounds moral obligation with the good in itself, which, we hardly need say, is to confound it with the end we are obliged to seek; a mistake of the same nature with that of confounding the effect with the cause,— the error of pantheism.
The author, no doubt, aims to prove that moral good and moral evil, virtue and vice, are not mere arbitrary distinctions, dependent on any will whatever, but are founded in the intrinsic nature of things. But between this and the assertion that moral obligation is God, or that " moral obligation by no means need imply the existence of any other person (is moral obligation a person ?) who imposes it," there is, to our understanding, some difference. Ethics is a mixed science. It lias an ideal, necessary, apodictic element, which is God, necessary, immutable, eternal as the divine essence itself; but it has also a contingent element, connected with the ideal only by the creative act, and as contingent, related to the nature and acts of the creature. Things are, no doubt, intrinsically good or evil, and that is a reason why they should be commanded or prohibited; but it is not the reason why they are or are not obligatory on my will. The author seems to hold, and it appears to us the great point with him, that the simple intellectual apprehension or intuition of the intrinsic good itself imposes the moral obligation, or rather is itself that moral obligation. This we cannot accept; for it would imply not that our reason or intellectual faculty perceives or takes cognizance of the law, or is the medium of its promulgation, but is itself the law imposing the obligation, which is not true, and which, if we understand him, is precisely what Suarez opposes in the doctrine, as he represents it, of Vasqnez. In the first place, intellectual apprehension is not and cannot be law. I may and must intellectually apprehend the law, but my apprehension of it is not the law, for, as Suarez says, even as cited by the author, "there can be no law properly so called without the will of someone giving command. Lex enim propria et praeceptiva non est, sine voluntate alicujus prcBcipientis* Besides, a law imposed and promulgated by our intellect, would be only a human law, and no divine law at all, and would imply that the legislator, the law, and the subject on which it is to operate, are all identically one and the same. In this case the moral maxim would be that of the transcendentalists, "obey thyself," which is only another way of saying, "thou art free from all law, therefore live as thou listest." Where there is no law, there is no obligation. It is the law that binds, and a law that does not bind is simply no law at all. To say a thing is obligatory is only saying, in other words, "it is the law, or “the law enjoins it." The law imposes the obligation. But if there can be no law without a law-giver, without some will, or, as Snarez maintains, the will of someone commanding, how can the author assert that, " moral obligation by no means need imply the existence of any other person (law-giver ?) who imposes it?" There can be no obligation without law, and no law without a will, and we will add, without the will of the superior commanding.
The author's theory of morals, therefore, strikes us as unsound. It is founded on two assumptions, which we regard as unwarranted; the first, that the simple intellectual apprehension of good and evil is the apprehension of the morally good and the morally evil; and the second, that this apprehension imposes the obligation to do the one and to avoid the other. The first assumption identifies moral obligation with God, which is objective pantheism; the second, identities it with our own intellect, which is subjective pantheism, or Fichteism. That there is an intrinsic difference between good and evil, we, of course, concede; and that in this difference is founded, not the law, but the reason of the law or the moral obligation, we maintain as earnestly as anyone can do. This intrinsic nature of things not Omnipotence itself can alter. It is not the law, indeed, but the measure of the divine action as well as of the human. But what is meant by this intrinsic and immutable nature of things? Is this intrinsic nature of things, which not even Omnipotence can alter, and in which is to be sought the reason of the divine commands and prohibitions, a mere abstraction, therefore nothing; or is it a reality—that is to say, being, since all reality is in being? If being, is it created or uncreated? That it is created, or creature, is not admissible. If it is uncreated being, then it is identically the supreme being we own and worship as God, or there are two self-existent, eternal, and independent beings. This last, of course, cannot be said. What, then, is this intrinsic nature of things?
We answer this question as we have answered it in these pages more than once: that it is the essence or intrinsic nature of God himself, and is immutable and eternal, because he himself, in his very nature, is immutable and eternal. He cannot alter it, because he cannot alter himself, or make himself other than he is. He cannot contradict or annihilate himself, but is obliged by the perfection or plenitude of his being; to act always consistently with himself, or with his own intrinsic nature. The intrinsic goodness of the acts of creatures is in their conformity, their intrinsic evil is in their non-conformity to his intrinsic being. All that is necessary, all that is necessity is in him, is his being, as is asserted in the assertion that he is necessary being. In some sense he is himself necessitated. He is necessarily what he is. He is free in his creation and providence, but in case he creates and governs, he must create and govern according to his own essence or eternal and immutable ideas. He cannot make what is intrinsically good evil, nor what is intrinsically evil good; command his creatures to do evil, or forbid them to do good, for that would be to contradict himself, to change or annihilate his own necessary, eternal, and immutable being. When, then, we speak of the intrinsic nature of things, we mean, if we understand ourselves, the intrinsic nature of God, that is, God himself.
The author cites and approves our doctrine, as set forth in the "Conversations of Our Club,"* that good and God are identical, and therefore that to ask, if God be good, is absurd; but objects that it is not absurd to ask, if our creator be good or benevolent, for it is imaginable, he says, that an evil and malignant being has created us. Perhaps so, perhaps not so, as we shall soon proceed to inquire. Suffice it now to say, that he concedes that good and God are identical. Then the good in itself, and being in itself are the same. Yet we fear lie is not quite prepared to admit this conclusion. He does not seem to us to have any very lively sense of the unity, and simplicity of God, or that God is, as the schoolmen say, ens Simplicissimum, most simple being, and therefore that his attributes are not distinguishable in se from his essence, or even from one another. The schoolmen all tell us that the distinction between the divine essentia and the divine esse, or between the divine being and the divine attributes, and between one attribute and another, is simply a distinctio rationis ratiocinatoe—a distinction which exists not in God himself, but simply in our manner of conceiving him, or which we are forced to make in consequence of the feebleness and inadequateness of our faculties, which are incapable of apprehending his being at one view, in its simplicity and infinite fullness, and therefore compelling us to consider it under distinct and successive aspects. The distinction, owing to our limited powers, is valid quoad nos, but riot quoad Deum, for essentia, esse, and attributum, are one and the same in the simplicity of his being. The divine bonum and the divine ens must, then, be the same. If the summum bonum he not identically summum ens, it must be some quality added to it, and substantially or entitatively distinguishable from it, which would not only deny the divine simplicity, but imply a summum bonum, distinguishable from the divine being, by participation of which God is good; which is absurd, since God is necessary being, and therefore is necessarily what and all he is.
We do not say that the divine being necessarily includes every perfection, and since good is a perfection, therefore must include good; because the term perfection is not strictly applicable to God himself, or to the intuition of God, and is applicable only to our conception of God, which is always inadequate and in need of completion by other conceptions. Perfection is a making perfect, a completing or finishing, and is inapplicable to God, who is necessarily being in its plenitude, to which nothing can be added, in which there is no imperfection, no want, no void, and therefore nothing to be perfected, completed, or filled up, finished. Also, we refuse to say it, because the intuition of God is logically prior to the notion of perfection or imperfection; and it is only by reference to him as measure or standard that we can say of any particular thing it is perfect or imperfect, complete or incomplete. The intuition of the divine being is the intuition of the divine pleroma or fullness, and without that intuition all our conceptions of particular existences, substances, or qualities, would be meaningless, or simply impossible. We do not, therefore, agree with those who suppose our notion of God is made up of particular notions, or notions of distinct excellencies discoverable in creatures, carried up to infinity, and added together as a sum total. God is not composed or made up of separate or distinct excellencies or perfections, but is originally, in the very unity and simplicity of being, infinite fullness, and it is only in the intuition of his being as infinitely full, and of creatures related to him and distinguishable from him, that the notion of imperfection, want, or incompleteness is possible. St. Anselm, indeed, attempts, in his Monologium, to rise by induction from the several finite excellencies discoverable in creatures to the conception of God or most perfect being. Most philosophers, not of the first class, attempt to do the same; but in this way, we attain only to abstract being, and the God we assert is only an abstraction, a generalization, a creature of our own minds. St. Anselm himself appears to have been dissatisfied with his Monologium, in which he followed the ordinary method of the schools in his time, as well as ours, for he afterward wrote his Proslogium., in which he adopts quite another method, and proceeds in his demonstration of the existence and attributes of God ontologically, from the intuition, or, as he says, idea of the most perfect being, which he finds already in his mind, and without which we should and could have no mental standard, measure, or criterion of perfection or imperfection, of good or evil.
No doubt our conception of God includes eminently all our conceptions of particular or finite perfections, but we do not say God includes all perfections, that summum ens is necessarily summum, perfectum, and therefore, as good is a perfection, God is good; we say, he is good because he is being, necessarily good because he is necessary being. Good and being are ontologically identical, and no distinction between them is possible or conceivable. All being is good, and all good is being; all creatures are good, participate of good in precisely the respect in which they participate of being. Good and being are identical in re, and are distinguishable only in relation to our faculties. Being, considered in relation to the intellect, is called the True, Verum y in relation to the will or the appetitive faculty, is called the Good, Bonum; in relation to the imagination, is called the Fair, Pulchrum; hence God is the True, the Good, and the Fair. But truth, goodness, beauty, or fairness, are not distinct qualities added to being, but are, ontologically considered, being itself in its unity, simplicity, and fullness. He who says being, says all he says who says truth, goodness, fairness, as we are taught, in fact, by God himself, who reveals his name to Moses, as I AM THAT AM, SUM QUI SUM. Either the good in itself is being, therefore God, or it is nothing. Good, if good there be, is not a quality or attribute of being, but is being itself; and creatures are good, because through the creative act they participate in being. Hence, God saw the things he had made, and behold they were good, very good.
The author, we have said, holds, as well as we, that to ask, if God be good, is absurd; but to ask, if our Creator be good, is not absurd, for it is imaginable, though false, that an evil and malignant being might have created us. Imaginable, perhaps—but supposable, no; because it implies a contradiction in terms. Only being can create, for only being can act from its own energy alone, and all being is by the fact that it is being, good. To create, is to produce from nothing by the sole power or energy of the creator. Then, no creature can create, because no creature can act without the concurrent action of being on which it is dependent. All that is and is not creature is being. To suppose, then, that our creator might have been evil and malignant is a contradiction, for it were to suppose being to be both being and not-being. Our author by not discriminating between good and moral good, or good and virtue, fails to perceive that good is in being, and evil in the privation of being; that good is positive; that evil, like falsehood, is negative; and seems to imagine that there is a positive principle of evil, as well as a positive principle of good, which is Manicheism, or oriental dualism. But there cannot be two eternal beings, one good and one evil; for, as good and being are identical, the idea of evil is repugnant to the idea of being, precisely as it is repugnant to the idea of good.
If the distinguished author had really understood and accepted our doctrine in the passage he cites from the Conversations of Our Club, of the identity of good and God, as he professes to do, he would have spared us his elaborate and ingenious criticism. In those conversations we are discussing the grounds of our obligation to obey God. Our obligation to obey God, or our duty to obey him, is simply the correlative to his right to command us. Whence, then, his right to command us? This right is in his sovereignty. His sovereignty is in his dominion; his dominion is in his right of property in us; and his right of property is founded on his creative act, on the fact that he has created us, on the principle that the thing made belongs to the maker; for it is the maker mediante his own act. God's right to command us, then, rests in the last analysis, on his creative act, and we are bound to obey him because he is our creator, and therefore our proprietor. "Then," says one of the interlocutors, "if the devil were our creator, we should be bound to obey him." The author agrees with us, if, per impossibile, God were not our creator, he would not have the right to command us, but denies if, per impossibile, the devil were our creator, we should he bound to obey the devil; for it is not in the fact that "God is holy; but in his being our holy creator, that his full claims to our allegiance are founded." We can assure him that we are as far as he from maintaining the proposition that if the devil, per impossibile, were our creator, we should be bound to obey his commands. And we had supposed that no reader could imagine for a moment that the proposition was introduced for any purpose but to show that it could not be entertained, because it implies a contradiction in terms. To suppose the devil to create, is to suppose the devil to be real and necessary being, therefore God, and no devil at all. The proposition, then, is absurd, and therefore an impossible proposition. The other proposition is supposable; because God is a free creator, and the creative act is not necessary to his being; and to suppose him not to be creator, does in no sense suppose Trim not to be, or not to be what and all he is, even being creator. The supposition that he is not our creator is impossible to be made by us, for he only can be our creator; and if he did not create us, we should not exist, and therefore could make no supposition; but, in regard to God himself, the supposition is possible, and involves no contradiction in terms.
We maintain, simply, that God's right to command, or his sovereignty, rests on his creative act, from which it no doubt follows that our creator, whoever he might be, would have the sovereign right to command us. Any being we can suppose as our creator, we may suppose to have the right of sovereignty over us; but we cannot suppose the devil our creator, because the terms, devil and creator, mutually exclude each other. The author concedes that only our creator can have the right to command us, but maintains that even our creator has that right only by virtue of his sanctity; and therefore unless our creator proves himself holy creator we are not bound to obey him; He does not seem to sec that, as Father John explains to him, the term holy is included in the term creator, precisely as is the term being. He labors to prove, as the basis of moral obligation, that God is holy. But what does he understand by proving that God is holy? That holiness or sanctity is distinguishable from real and necessary being, or that it is included in it? He must understand the latter, or that real and necessary being is necessarily sanctity. The judgment, God is holy, is analytic, not synthetic, for the predicate is contained in, not added to the subject, and is therefore included in the term creator. To say God is our holy creator, is to say in reality no more than to say God is our creator. The author is misled by his psychology, and does not see that the distinction he makes between the essence of God and his attributes is only a distinction ex parte subjecti, to which there is no corresponding distinction ex parte objecti; or, in other words, that God is ens simplicissirnum. The judgment, God is creator, or God is sovereign, is synthetic, for the predicate is something joined to, not contained in the subject; but God is being, is self-existent, is necessary, is eternal, is immutable, is intelligent, is wise, is powerful, is good, or is holy, is an analytic judgment, for the predicate explains the subject, but adds nothing to it. Who says ens, or being, says all of God considered in himself that can be said. SUM QUI SUM is all that God can say of his own nature to us through natural reason; and all we say of him, however we multiply our words or vary our forms of expression, is simply QUI EST. Adjectives and qualifying terms add nothing to simple ens, or being, and are necessary only because our faculties cannot take in at one view all of being that is intelligible to us, or because it is necessary to guard against the false meanings an erroneous philosophy has attached to the word.
The author maintains, as a vital point, that moral truth, by which he means the morally good or the morally obligatory, is a simple synthetic judgment. As to its simplicity, we say nothing, for we are not quite clear as to what the author means by a simple judgment, or in what sense he holds a synthetic judgment is or can be simple. But that the moral judgment is a synthetic judgment, or a judgment in which the predicate is joined to the subject, not contained in it, we hold to be unquestionable. But if this be so, how can the author hold that it is simple necessary truth, identically God himself? Where, in such case, is the synthesis? Every judgment, the logicians tell us, has three terms: subject, predicate, and copula. When the predicate is identical with the subject, or is contained in the subject, the judgment is analytic ; when the three terms are distinct, and no one of them can be identified with another, or both of the others, the judgment is a synthetic judgment. The author says moral truth is a synthetic judgment. Then he must find in it a real synthesis of three distinct terms not resolvable one into another. Then how can he identify it with the single term, as he does when he identities it with God? Does he not see that when he does so, he contradicts himself, and makes the judgment analytic, not synthetic?
The author has misunderstood us, and those who agree with us, in supposing that we identify moral truth with God. We identify all necessary truth, therefore the good in itself, and therefore the ideal or apodictic term of the moral judgment with God. But we hold that the judgment itself is synthetic, and, like all synthetic judgments, affirms a real synthesis of the subject and predicate, or of the necessary and contingent, or being and existences. The three terms of the judgment cannot be found in ens, or God as being. They can be found only in three terms of the real synthesis of things, ens creat existentias. The moral judgment demands as its condition the ideal formula, or the real synthetic judgment a priori, without which, as Kant demonstrates, no synthetic judgments a posteriori are possible. The principle of the moral judgment is in the three terms united of this formula, not in any one of them taken singly. Being alone cannot give us the conception of sovereignty, of law, or obligation, without which there can be no moral judgment; existence alone, or creation alone, cannot furnish the principle, for neither is apprehensible or conceivable without ens, the first term of the formula. There can be no moral obligation, unless there are creatures; there can be no creatures without the creative act; and no creative act without ens necessarium et reale, or real and necessary being. The author, however strenuously he insists on the intrinsic nature of good and evil, does not attempt to deduce analytically the conception of moral obligation from the conception of the being or the attributes of God. "It is not," he says, "on his being holy, but on his being our holy creator, that his full claims on our allegiance are founded." God is not, we repeat, a necessary creator, and the creative act is not included in the conception of the being, or the attributes of God. Therefore the author must modify his assertion, and instead of saying moral truth is God, he must say it is God mediante actu suo creativo, and agree with us, that the principle of moral obligation is in the divine creative act.
Take the instance once more of the jewel. I am bound to restore my friend's deposit, and am morally wrong if I do not. But this particular judgment depends on the more general judgment, I am bound to render unto everyone his own, or his due. This is the principle of justice. Not to render unto everyone his own or his due is to be unjust, to violate the demands of justice. The moral judgment in the instance selected is not that the jewel deposited with me by my friend for safe keeping is still his, but that being his, I ought in justice to restore it on his reclaiming it. The essential and distinctive moral judgment is expressed by this word ought, which is the same as the word owe, and in all languages the judgment is expressed by an equivalent word. In all languages we know anything of, moral obligation is expressed as debt, something owed, and to be paid. I owe to justice the restoration of my friend's jewel, or its restoration is a debt due to justice. Justice, strictly taken, however, expresses the moral relation between God and his creatures, or the claims of God as creator on them, rather than God, or the supreme being himself; though taken absolutely, and as the just in itself, it is and must be God, identical with his infinite and eternal being. The real moral judgment, then, is, I owe to God the restoration of my friend's deposit, or the restoration of my friend's deposit is a debt due to God. Grant now the owner of the debt is God, the debt itself cannot be God, for it is alike distinguished from him and from me. Whence comes this debt? How comes it that I owe it to the supreme being? I owe and can owe it to him only for the reason that he is my owner. If I owned myself, and my actions, I could not owe him the restoration, for being my own owner, neither he nor anyone else could place me under moral obligation, or call me to an account for my acts, or any use I see proper to make of myself. The moral judgment, then, implies God as my owner, or the judgment, I owe myself, and therefore my acts to God. God owns me and my acts, and I owe all I am, all I have, all I can do to him. Whence this divine ownership, the principle of all moral obligation? It certainly is not identifiable with the divine being, or in other words, the divine ownership in which is founded all moral obligation, is not inherent in or identical with the divine nature or essence, and therefore the distinctively moral truth is not and cannot be identically God himself.
This divine ownership can be founded only in the creative act of God, by which he, by his sole energy, creates me from nothing. As the author himself concedes, when he says of God, “It is not on his being holy, but on his being our holy creator, that his full claims on our allegiance are founded." He owns us because he has made us, for the thing made belongs to the maker. The distinctively moral judgment, then, is not, in all its terms, a necessary judgment, or necessary truth, as the author asserts, for the obligation depends immediately on the copula, or creative act of God. The ideal or necessary term of the judgment is God, as it is in every judgment, but the predicate and copula are distinguishable from him as the act and its product, are distinguishable from the actor; are, as in the divine judgment or primitive intuition itself, contingent, since, as we constantly repeat, creation ex parte Dei is a free and not a necessary act. The principle that the thing made is the maker's is a necessary and eternal truth, but that anything is made, or that the occasion is created for the application of the principle, is a contingent fact, dependent on the will of God to create or not to create. Hence the eternal law, of which all just laws are transcripts, is eternal only ex parte Dei, not in its subjects, save in the sense that God's free purpose and decree to create them is eternal, or, as is more commonly said, from eternity. We cannot, then, accept, without important qualifications, the author's assertion that the moral judgment is simple and necessary, that is, simple necessary truth. Simple necessary truth is God, we grant; but the moral judgment is not the judgment God is, but the judgment God is our owner, or we owe to God our existence, and therefore our actions. We owe and can owe ourselves and actions to him, only because he is our maker. The owing depends on creation, and connects us morally, as the creative act connects us physically, with God.
The author seems at one time to be an exclusive psychologist, and at another an exclusive ontologist, and we find him nowhere recollecting that the primitive judgment is the synthesis of the primum ontologicum and the primum psychologioum. In declaring the moral judgment necessary, or, as he understands it, necessary truth, therefore God, he makes the judgment analytic, not synthetic, and therefore exclusively ontological. He confounds good with moral good, or the good in itself with the moral obligation of creatures to seek good as their final cause; as he confounds the good as final cause, or beatitude, with the good as first cause. The good in both cases is ontologically the same, indeed, but not the same in respect of moral truth. Moral science, or the science of ethics, is founded on the two-fold relation of creatures to God; their relation to him as first cause, and their relation to him as final cause. Creatures have a double movement, that of procession by his creative act from God as first cause, and their return to him, without absorption in him, as their final cause, their last end, or beatitude. God is the terminus a quo and the terminus nil quem of all existences. Creation,—since it is the free act of God, the free act of reason, intelligence, wisdom, love, as well as power,—must be an act propter finem, for some end and for some good end, and therefore for an end inseparable from being. But as God only is being, and is all being, or being in its plenitude, QUI EST, the end for which he creates must be himself. As he is the end for which he creates and creatures exist,—"all things are by him and for him,"—he is our end, and our good is in our return to him as our final cause. Our good, or the good for which creatures exist, is in his being or eternal essence. But our moral good is not in simply returning or attaining to him as our last end, but in doing so voluntarily, by our own free act; for we are created with free will. Our obligation to return to God is imposed by the creative act, which, as a free act, is the act of the divine will. The obligation is, then, imposed by the will of God, and consequently has the essential characteristic of law; since, as Suarez tells us, there is no law without some will commanding. It connects us in the moral, as the creative act connects us in the physical order with God, and is the copula between being and existences, the subject and predicate of the ideal judgment; only in the moral order the subject and predicate change sides, and existences attain to being as the product of their free activity.
It is not difficult, now, to clear up the mystery and solve the problems which come up as to the principles of morality,— the first part of natural moral theology, or speculative ethics. Are we asked what is good? We answer, God. Are we asked what is our good? We answer again, God. Are we asked why is he our good? We answer, because he is the good in itself. Why is he the good in itself? Because he is being, being in itself, and all good is in being, or rather is being. If you ask us what is moral good? we answer, in voluntarily returning to God, without absorption in him, as our final cause or last end. If you ask why we are morally obliged to return to God as our last end, or, in other words, to seek our own good, we answer, because it is the will of God, as he himself declares in the very act of creating us for that end. If it is asked, why are we bound to obey the will of God? we answer, because he has made us, and we are his; he is our owner, and the owner may do what he pleases with his own. We may go behind the will of God to find the reason of the law, for the reason of the law is in his own eternal reason; but we cannot go behind the will itself to find the reason of our obedience. God wills, is always the sufficient reason of man's obedience, because his will is the will of man's sovereign. To this last answer only does our author try to frame an objection, but he does not succeed. If God were not holy, he reasons, even though our creator, we should not be bound to obey him; and yet he does not found the obligation to obedience on the divine sanctity, for he says expressly, "It is not on his being holy, but on his being our holy creator, that his full claims on our allegiance are founded." What he means is, that the obligation is imposed neither by the sanctity alone, nor by the creative act alone, but by both conjointly; so that if we could conceive an unholy creator, we should not be bound to obey him. We are bound to do the will of him whose we are, and we are his who creates us, for we are the creator mediante the creative act, which act is his. If we could suppose the devil to be our creator, and devil still, we should be bound to do the devil's bidding—no question of that. But, as we have sufficiently shown, we cannot suppose the devil to be our creator, because only being can create, and no evil or malignant being is supposable, conceivable, or imaginable, since the idea of being and the idea of good are identical; or all being, by the fact that it is being, is good. The difficulty of the author grows out of the fact that he confounds ens with existens, and as existences or creatures are evil or malignant in a greater or less degree, it implies, in his mind, no contradiction in terms to suppose or imagine an evil and malignant being, therefore an evil or malignant creator. In loose popular language we may and do call existences or creatures, beings; but philosophers should use language more strictly, and with more exactness and precision. The distinction between being and existence or creature, em and existens, is important and valid, and would save us much needless perplexity and much unmeaning speculation, if observed. The practice of the schools, of using the term ens indiscriminately for being and existence, real being and possible being, necessary being and contingent being,—as if the contingent and the necessary, the possible and the real, the creature and creator, could be put in the same category,—is as unphilosophical as anything well can be, and seldom fails to have a most injurious effect on our speculations. To suppose the devil creator, is to suppose the devil being, therefore good and holy, as we have said, and no devil at all. Has the author ever undertaken the refutation of Manicheism? If he has, will he tell us what, in his view, is the principle of that refutation? If he supposes it possible that there should be an evil and malignant being, how can he demonstrate the falsity, or logically refute the doctrine of two original and eternal principles—the one good, and the other evil?
Indeed, the author seems to us to go further in the Manichean direction than he suspects. He makes evil a positive quality of actions. This he expressly maintains. Then it must be a positive quality of actors. Then it must have a positive original principle opposed to the principle of good, for good cannot create evil. Then he must suppose two eternal principles; therefore two eternal self-existent beings, two (rods, the one good, the other evil. He teaches us that morally good and morally evil are both positive. But St. Thomas holds, and so do most theologians, that good alone is the object of the will; consequently, that malice or evil will is privative, not positive, which must be the fact if, as we maintain, good and being are identical. But the author, though he asserts the identity of God and good, does not recognize the identity of good and being, for he conceives, and even speaks of an evil and malignant being, as implying no contradiction in terms. The good, in his conception, is not being, but a quality, attribute, or accident of being. Accidentally, or as a fact, being is good, but not necessarily good in that it is being. That good, however, is an accident of being, in the scholastic sense, he cannot hold, for he holds that the good is a necessary truth. He can, then, hold it as an attribute of being only in the sense that the scholastics distinguish attributes from accidents,— that is, as an essential and necessary attribute, indistinguishable from the essence of the subject, attribute only in our mode of conceiving, but in reality no attribute at all, but the subject itself. Substance stands under and supports accidents, but does not stand under and support essential attributes, for they are the substance itself The author labors at great length and with much earnestness to show that good is identical neither with the free command nor with the necessary command of God, that is, with the act of God; then, in identifying God and good as he does, he must identify good with the eternal being of God, and holds, if he understands himself, that the good and real and necessary being are identical, and that evil being is as much a contradiction in terms as an evil good, or a good evil. If so, he must concede that evil is not positive, but negative,— not being, but privation of being: consequently, that we cannot will evil, because evil being nothing in itself, to will evil would be to will nothing, and to will nothing is simply not to will.
Assuming, now, good and being to be identical, and our good to be from and in being, we can understand why the love of God imposes on us the obligation of returning to him as our final cause. The law, though imposed by the will of God, is yet not an arbitrary law, for it is the expression of his eternal reason, or his intrinsic wisdom, goodness, love. He enjoins us to return to him, because it is only in him that there is or can be any good or beatitude for us. Our good, as the good itself, is in being, and there is and can be no being but God; for he only can say SUM QUI SUM. As without him as first cause we could not exist, so without him as final cause we can have no beatitude, cannot exist as blest; without him as first cause we should be nothing in the order of physical existence, so without him as final cause we should be nothing in the moral order or order of beatitude. All movement toward God as our last end is a movement toward being, in which alone is beatitude; all movement in the moral direction from God is a movement away from being toward no-being, therefore toward evil. Even the omnipotence of God cannot make it otherwise, because he cannot provide for beatitude without being, or create existences that shall have being in themselves, or not have their being in him, in his own necessary, eternal, and immutable being. Hence his law, imposing upon us the duty of returning to him as our end, imposes upon us no obligation but that of seeking our real beatitude where, and only where, it can be found. Hence the law of God is good, and philosophy itself requires us to say with the 'Psalmist, "The law of the Lord is perfect, converting souls; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to hearts; the commandment of the Lord is lightsome, giving light to the eyes." God is the fullness of beatitude, because the fullness of being, and it is impossible for him to command us in his law what is not for our good, because it is impossible for him to command what is repugnant to his own nature and essence. His law, then, is the expression toward us of his love, not his wrath, and is our friend, not our enemy. Therefore the good love the law and joy to do the will of God. In keeping his commandments there is joy, and in doing his will there is peace.
We may now understand the question of evil. Evil is no positive being or existence; it is simply privative. There is, then, and can be no physical evil, for all positive physical existence is good, inasmuch as it participates through the creative act in being. The only sort of evil that can be conceived is moral evil, and that is not a positive object or quality of the will, any more than falsehood is a positive object or quality of the understanding. It has pleased God to create men free moral agents, or with free will, which enables them to act not merely ad finem, but ateo propter finem. Free will implies freedom of election, or power of choice. Now, being created thus free, we may choose or will to act for God, that is, to return to him as our chosen final cause, and if so, we move morally toward good, and there is and can be no evil for us. Nothing can harm us, or do us the least conceivable injury; pain, suffering, trials, afflictions, temptations, however grievous while they last, are no evils, and are simply effective means to help us on in our march toward our final beatitude. We may, also, choose not to act for God as our final cause, to disregard his law, and to turn, as it were, our backs upon him, and depart from him. We then depart from being, and turn our faces and march toward no-being, toward—nothing. The evil is not, then, in something positively inflicted on us, but in the rejection of the positive, and seeking our good where it is not, and in what is not. We, then, under the moral point of view, precipitate ourselves into the abyss of infinite want, where there is no bread for our hunger, no water for our thirst. The soul participating as creature in being, and as creature having its being not in itself, has necessarily wants and desires, all good, since they spring from being, which only being can fill up or satisfy. Consequently, when it takes its portion of goods, turns its back on God, and departs for a far country, it leaves behind all that could satisfy its inherent desires, its internal wants, while its wants and desires remain in full force. The soul then suffers the rage, the torture, the agony of wants unfilled, desires unsatisfied. What it suffers is not something positive, but the want or privation of something positive. As heaven or beatitude is in the satisfaction or replenishment of the soul with being, so hell, its opposite, the culmination of evil, the torments of the damned, we may suppose to consist not in something positive inflicted, but in the absence of this replenishment with the consciousness of having forfeited it,—in the everlasting unappeasement of our inherent desires, in the everlasting torture of wants unfilled.
As evil is privative, it is never anything positively willed, and we never do and never can will evil simply for the sake of evil. All sin implies malice, but malice, evil will, as we say, does not imply the willing of evil for the sake of evil. All evil is in carentia of some sort. When the soul turns away from God as its final cause, it does not mean to reject good, but means to find it in creatures, or in itself, ignorant, or not reflecting, that it cannot find it there. In not willing God as our good, we still will to fill up our wants, to appease our desires, therefore will beatitude. But elsewhere than in God our beatitude is not, for besides him there are only his creatures, and they have being only in him, none in themselves. The evil is not in our being created with wants and desires that only being can satisfy, for these spring from the high destiny of our nature, but in not seeking their satisfaction, where, and where only it can be found. But even this is not the result of pure malice, but of the ignorance which mistakes the creature for the creator, or the weakness that shrinks from the effort necessary to forego a present, temporary, and relative good, for the real and eternal good.
Other questions, and important questions, too, there are, in the first part of morals, but, as we are not writing a treatise of moral philosophy, we are not required here to solve them. If we mistake not, they are all solvable by the aid of the principles and method we have briefly and feebly defended in modification of the principles and doctrines set forth by our author. At any rate, it is time to bring our review of the first chapter of his Philosophical Introduction to a close. We may, perhaps, return to his volume hereafter, and offer some further remarks, for we consider his publication, however much we may differ from him, an event in our English-speaking world. It can hardly fail to provoke thought, and compel our frivolous public to betake themselves to graver studies, and profounder investigations. No man, probably, will be found, to whom his work will trove less satisfactory than to ourselves; yet we can assure him that we have not only a high esteem for him personally, but for his work, which, under many points of view, we regard as a great work, marked at times by profound, frequently by ingenious, and always by independent and manly thought.