COMPARATIVE ETHICS. The comparative study of ethics is concerned with the rules, principles and ideals guiding or inspiring human behaviour, technical rules for sufficiently obvi ous reasons excluded. Its field is thus nearly coincident with that of philosophical ethics. But while philosophy is at bottom inter ested in the ultimate validity of moral conceptions, comparative ethics is primarily concerned with the fact that, valid or invalid, they exist, that they play their part in the life of the individual and society and have their affiliations with other factors in human development. It is as much interested in their differences as in their points of agreement, in the conceptions which the student may think absurd or outrageous as in those which he approves as sound, in the customs of the simplest peoples as in those of the most advanced civilizations. Whether the question of validity can in the end be excluded from this study has been a matter of controversy. Some would think that in the last resort it is required as the underlying standard of comparison. Others main tain that there is no such standard and that comparative ethics can very well get on without it. Some seem even to imagine that comparison itself gives the standard, since it shows what ideas prevail and success is the only measure of worth. But such optimism cannot be maintained. The lower ideal may make the stronger appeal to prevailing sentiments, and if prevalence is itself the test we get varying standards with varying times. If it is contended that what prevails anywhere must be best for that time and place, this is contrary to fact, since it is often clear enough to the observer or historian that accepted standards work injuriously, even ruinously. More careful writers agree that comparative treatment does not of itself yield a standard of rationality, but are not agreed on the question whether such a standard is (a) attainable, (b) required for the purposes of com parative ethics. On the first question it is assumed in this article that such a standard is attainable, and is implied when we use terms like "higher" or "lower" "progress" or "deterioration" in morals. But in strictness its elucidation is the problem of philo sophic ethics and will not be attempted here. Nevertheless com parative study both points the way to the philosopher and, in exhibiting the operation of moral ideas in social life, provides a broad basis of experience as the test of his theory.
In any case we should not exaggerate differences. Those who affirm and those who deny a "truth" in the ethical order may follow the same path for a long distance, if not to the end. The same data are before both parties, the same record of customs, laws, religious requirements and moral codes, and they may be compared as historical facts without deciding on their relative values. We may work out a series of historic changes or com pare the variations of moral outlook characteristic of one culture with those of another. We may enquire into the causes of such variation and investigate the influence of economic and other factors, all without resort to a philosophical valuation. We may even (and this is important) select any given order of moral ideas as a standard of reference and show the deviations of other accepted orders therefrom without assuming its superior validity. A very simple code is of value for such a purpose, because it enables us to mark the kind of deviations which arise with the greater complexity of life. The code of our own day is also useful (so long as we do not covertly and uncritically assume that it is the highest), because, good or bad, it is the product of the civiliza tion which is latest in point of time and beyond question the most developed in certain forms of human achievement. Com bining the two points of reference we can enquire how far ethical codes are correlated with the advance of general culture, a ques tion which, wherever philosophic truth lies, is of great intrinsic importance. This does not affect the right of those who hold to some system as the ideal and the truth to make it the basis of another series of comparisons, and how far the two schemes of comparison would coincide or diverge is a question which for them is of high interest.
The Special Problems of Comparative Ethics.—Thus, whatever our attitude to the final problems of philosophic ethics, we seem to have something to learn from the comparative method. Let us try to state our objective in general terms. We are con fronted with divergencies relatively slight as between individuals of the same society, but often very material when we compare one society with another, one class with another, one epoch or one culture with another. Comparative ethics may be said to have taken its rise from the recognition of these differences, and to consist essentially in the endeavour to interpret them. The first question which it raises may be put in this way: (I) Is there behind the specific differences some generic principle common to human societies; (2) if so, are we to think of the differences simply as phases in the development of the common principle or are they due in whole or in part to other factors in social life, economic for example, or religious or intellectual? Some of these appear from the outset to be much more closely bound up with the ethical than others, and it is (3) for comparative investiga tion to examine the different modes and degrees of correlation and so determine the place of the ethical factor in the cultural history of mankind. In so doing it will have (4) to consider whether a real ethical development is discoverable, and if so how it is related to other developments in society. To the question how far this last point necessitates a philosophic analysis we will not add anything to what has been said above. It is on any view clear that comparative investigation is essential to any theory of development.
Moral Elements Common to All Known S6cieties.—(I ) On the first question comparative investigation has reached some definite results. It shows that as far' as our records go the ac ceptance of some code of conduct is co-extensive with humanity. It has often been questioned whether every society has its re ligion, but if a very wide induction has any validity it is certain that every society has its code. If exceptions are to be found at all they are not in what appear as the most "primitive" so cieties but in cases of decadence, where the long-established code of one culture is broken and not replaced by the irruption of another. Everywhere in stable society there is a code which bids men do this and not do that. The codes differ a good deal and the reasons rendered for them are sometimes obscure or to modern minds absurd. Among the simplest peoples the moral and the customary, the legal, the magical, the religious, are barely, if at all, distinguished, but there are customs or laws, oral or written, prescribing or forbidding definite classes of action, up held by the impartial onlooker and the general judgment of so ciety, which visits a breach with reprobation if not with specific penalty. These are the essential elements of a working moral code and have to be recognized as such, even if some parts of the code are condemned as defective or, as judged by some other standards, immoral., This is not all. If we run the gamut of culture from the highest to the lowest, we shall find that the codes cover the principal relations of social life. They deal with person and property and specifically with sex, imposing restraints on behaviour which from our point of view may be just or unjust, but which are certainly working rules. These rules rest on, and in turn support, a cer tain community of life, extending beyond the simple family of parents and young children, where natural feeling might be a sufficient guide. It is true that the moral purview is often seri ously limited and that behind it and sometimes even within it economic or political forces or perversities of religious or magical ideas may work havoc with human relations, but such failings do not prevent the code from being effective in its own way and on its own conditions. In particular, it is highly effective among the simplest peoples that we know. We do not within the field of comparative ethics find a people without a working code, and if we are dealing with an evolution, it is within this field not an evolution of morals out of something else but an evolution within morals of clearer, more comprehensive or more powerful prin ciples, which are better fitted to cope with the problems multiplied and intensified by the complex and many-sided developments of human activity.
The Moral as an Aspect of the Rational Development.— This generalization must not be taken for more than it is worth. It does not apply beyond the field of our observation. We know nothing of the social organization or ethics of really primitive men, a fortiori nothing of the intermediate forms of life which must have intervened, if we accept the evolution hypothesis, be tween man and beast. We confine ourselves rigidly to the state ment that comparative ethics knows of no pre-moral stage. But if we go beyond comparative ethics to the behaviour of the higher animals and combine the study of institutions with that of psychology we shall discover a perfectly feasible line of advance. On the one hand the simplest societies that we know consist of small groups of families related by the combined links of descent and intermarriage. On the other hand the higher animals give evidence of strong parental attachment and in many cases of herd sympathies as well. Fundamentally their instincts are as much race-preservative as self-preservative in function. If man evolved from an animal, the central psychological change which came about was that, as cause and effect of language and social inter course, he acquired the rational power of relating the instincts and emotions of the moment to general and permanent needs, could see the past and future in the present, and so transmute the impulses of sex and parenthood into a permanent family tie and the pack instincts into a code of mutual loyalty and co-operation.
Morality is essentially the rationalization' of primary impulse f eelings, and we find the codes of the simplest peoples to be just such as would be achieved by the rationalization of simple im pulse-feelings by a simple intelligence. We do not witness the birth, still less the prenatal history of morals, but what we find is what we should expect as the product of the known causes in operation.' In becoming rational, man became moral.
Intimate Relation of Moral and Religious Development. —(2) and (3) So far the generic principle. What of the varia tions? The social code, always embodying a certain morality, is deeply influenced by religious, economic, political and even environmental factors. As to religion, the attitude that men as sume to the agencies controlling human life, its relation to morals, is so close as at times to approach identity. The divine is at cer tain phases almost an incarnation of the moral law. In other phases the relation is not so close. In some of the lower cultures the spirits recognized are non-moral. In higher phases again morality is of ten critical of religion, and claims for itself the ultimate sovereignty in the world of conduct. All through there is a possible ground of difference in that morality is essentially concerned with the ordering of human life, religion with the ordering of the universe in which human life is included, and though in the remoteness of final truth the part must harmonize with the whole, in the partial truth that men attain this harmony is yet imperfectly understood and historically the two orders have certainly not always been in sympathy. Men's notions of religion, as above defined, depend not on their moral standing alone but on any or all of their intellectual attainments. For beliefs about the governance of the world seriously affect the view of what is necessary to personal and social well-being, and therewith the moral order. Intellectual advance makes in the end for truth, but may import fresh errors on its way. A tribal god, for ex ample, represents a certain advance in definiteness of conception and even a moral advance in the direction of social unity, yet he may be a Moloch. Human sacrifice is not found in the simplest societies, but rests on conceptions representing a certain advance. It must be subjoined that a scientific conception of the universe may become, as in our own time, a basis of resistance to the de veloped social conscience, and serve as a justification for un restricted selfishness. In sum, neither religion nor philosophy is identical with morals and may be in conflict with them.
Influence of Economic and Political Developments.— The political and economic situations of a people again are in timately related to its social code. We may believe that there is a moral principle in the individual, but we cannot fail to realize that the applications of a principle, the working shape that it assumes, are taken by the average man from the society in which he finds himself, and taken without criticism. He distinguishes right and wrong, but what is right he learns, as he grows up, from his teachers and companions. The right for him is what he comes to expect and what he knows will be expected of him. That means that it will be defined by the relations of men in the so ciety to which he belongs and these relations are determined by a complex of political and, more pervasively, of economic rela tions, and in both of these the physical environment, taken in conjunction with the available skill in dealing with it, is a seri ous factor. These influences condition the relations of men, shape and reshape them, and the customary system of any period, though it may resist changes, is in the main overborne by the constant pressure of needs. The actual institutions of a society are the results of an adjustment of human relations to the needs of life, and a solution, good or bad, of the problem of living word is used in its legitimate sense, in which it means the explicit, consistent, generalized expression of an antecedent impulse, not in the spurious sense now popular in which it means the sophistical justification of an impulse by something plausible but extraneous.
rise of fundamentally new impulse-feelings is not excluded at any stage, but we should not postulate them so long as we can explain the phenomena by combinations or modifications of elements already known. If any quite new instinct or quasi-instinct arose in the early evolution of man, it was probably of the nature of some restraint on the sex impulse and especially connected with aversion to intercourse between the nearest kin. The controversies that arise on this point cannot be entered into here.
together under given conditions. In higher stages of culture men begin to pose this problem consciously and seek to remedy faults in the existing scheme of solution, or to resist changes making for its deterioration. But in the main social change proceeds on its unreflective course, and in so doing governs rather than obeys the moral conscience. In fact, both political and economic de velopments involve differentiations and divisions, often gravely affecting the code of moral obligations.
General Character of Ethical Development.—(4) In the end, however, the moral principle reasserts itself by an enlarge ment of the common good and a fuller insistence on primary rights and duties. Superficially the order which emerges out of a conflict may resemble that which has never been assailed, but in spirit it is quite otherwise. The conflict here in question is not one in which we expect to find a decisive victory for good and all, for the development of human life on all sides goes forward, and every fresh step brings new occasions of discord. To balance such opposites, to select the good in each, to purge the contra dictions, refine the crudities and mould the divergencies into a wider harmony, is the standing problem of social ethics, and its solution, with the clarification of moral ideas, the widening of sympathies and the fuller appreciation of human purpose which it involves, is what is meant by ethical development.
Ethics of the Simplest Cultural Stages Known.—Any at tempt to sketch this development, even in the roughest outline, encounters great difficulties. The available material, though voluminous, is patchy. Of the civilized peoples we have partial (on the side which interests us, very partial) histories, and their beginnings are lost in antiquity. For the lower cultural stages the only evidence of any great value is derived from the study of contemporary or quite recent peoples. Here materials for his tory run very short and end in abysses of conjecture. Essentially we are not tracing continuous development, but comparing cul tures, reached often on divergent lines, subjected to ubiquitous cross-currents of culture-contact, whereby the products of higher and lower stages come to jostle one another in the same people. Even the most untouched primitives have their long history behind them, a history which has brought some of them to the pinnacle of their own special arts and has given ample time for the adjustment of their institutions to their mode of life. Diffi culties and complications of this kind must be borne in mind when we start, as, after all, we must, with peoples as we find them in their various cultures as they stand. We begin then with the lowest grades known, where food is gained from day to day by gathering vegetable products and hunting, or, more rarely, fishing, a state in which we find a large number of peoples now slowly or swiftly passing to extinction under the influence of civilization. There is the great group of Australian aboriginals, and there is a number of scattered peoples in the Malay Penin sula and Archipelago with a few representatives among the most primitive of the Indian hill tribes, in the Andaman and Philip pine Islands, in the Central African Forest (Pygmies), in the Kalahari desert (remnants of the Bushmen) and in South Amer ica (Botocudos and Fuegians). If we omit the Australian abo riginals, the remainder, in spite of their very wide diffusion, present such remarkable similarities that they have been thought to be the scattered remnants of a race once spread over the whole world. But the suggestion cannot be sustained. If there were an original unity the world over it was a unity not of race— unless in a sense too vague to be of any value—but of culture. Our concern, however, is with their actual culture which presents variations indeed, but variations within a striking identity. They live in little groups of anything from a couple of dozen to five or six score of men, women and children (larger numbers prob ably represent in the main temporary combinations), generally with a leading man whose powers are what he makes of them, and they hunt and gather in a territory of known boundaries, which is either peculiar to each little group or perhaps common to a number of friendly groups. Unauthorized trespass on this terri tory is resented, often to the death, and that is the cause of feud with the white man who was unable to grasp that the land was group property. The family is by preponderant practice but rarely by rigid rule monogamous, and the wife has a position which varies but is often one approaching equality and in general better than that which obtains among the cultivating or pastoral peoples. Marriage is stable after the birth of children and some times it would seem virtually indissoluble (Vedda, perhaps Anda manese), but conjugar fidelity is not always rated high (Ituri Pygmies). Parental and filial love are strongly marked and the old and weak are cared for unless in times of distress (Bushmen). By practice if not by rule the little groups freely intermarry and courtship is free, subject to varying degrees of parental influ ence. There is private property in such things as weapons, tools and the hut, and the wife has her own. There is even a queer form of private ownership of trees, wild honey and the like which turns up in oddly coincident forms in very remote regions. Whether this points to identity of origin is doubtful, but an odd thing about it is that it amounts to very little, for not only is the land common to the group, but its produce, the food, is al most always shared and no member of the group who is present goes without.
Peace and Order.—With regard to peace and order we must discriminate. The Semang are peaceable, and in one of their tribes, the Djahai, both murder and theft are said to be un known. The Punans of Borneo are said not to fight one another unless egged on by stronger tribes. The wild Kubu have never known war. On the other hand, feuds between groups were com mon among the Andamanese, and blood revenge is said by a good authority to be the basis of the Bushman's code. The Central African Pygmies are renowned fighters under negro leaders, but among those untouched by outer influences feuds between groups seem to be unknown, and the occasions for private vengeance very rare. Some Fuegians fought over trespass, and so, may be, did the extinct Tasmanians. The Philippine Negritos, now very peaceable, seem from the Spanish records not only to have fought doughtily against the encroaching Indians and Spaniards, but also on occasion among one another. The Kubus and Punans, innocent of organized war, know private revenge. In general while crime is rare there is no means of redress outside the group except vengeance, and even within the group the evidences of impartial criminal authority are, for the "wild" tribes, very slight. Adultery and trespass were the two main causes of quarrel. To round off the picture we must point out that the little groups were innocent of slavery, cannibalism (one exception), human sacrifice, prostitution, polyandry (with rare exceptions), large scale polygamy, infanticide (with a few exceptions, e.g., the Bush men and perhaps the Fuegians) and degradation of women—in fact of the vices which we have been taught to associate with sav agery and which are in fact realized among peoples of more ad vanced material culture. The picture is one of human society with the barest minimum of organization, accumulation and differentiation, and if it only presented the rudiments of cleanli ness as well as godliness it would be far from unpleasing.
At the lowest it is quite clear that the moral order at this stage is free from the grave defects which soon become appar ent as we follow the political and economic advance. To what is this due? Recent missionary investigators lay great stress on the religious factor wherein they find the elements of ethical monotheism, or something nearly amounting thereto. To ex amine this opinion would be to embark on endless controversy. All that can be said here is that the best evidence is derived from the Semang. Here, and perhaps among the Fuegians and African Pygmies, we find the fear of a power associated with thunder who kills people. Generally he kills for certain offences, mostly of a morally indifferent sort, but including, among some Semang tribes, adultery (and seemingly practices which might give rise to incest), and in one case murder. If this is a beginning of ethical monotheism it is certainly rudimentary enough, but if it should turn out to be in fact a part of the original Semang tra dition we must admit a root of ethical monotheism not previously ascertained.
) The union of peoples with divergent customs required a codification of law, which is now no longer the spontaneous product, universally accepted, of a homogeneous group, but relies on kingly powers for enforcement. The earliest code that has come down to us is that of Hammurabi, dating from about the close of the third millennium before Christ. Ethically it contains much that is barbaric in the way of retaliation and vicarious punishment, but it contemplates organized courts of justice with rules of procedure and provision for documentary evidence. It protects the debt-slave and limits his servitude to three years, regulates divorce and recognizes a concubine by the side of the fully legitimate wife (more than one such wife being admissible, it would seem, only in some exceptional circumstances). Unfor tunately we have no such code of Egyptian law, and we have no evidence of self-help or retaliation as recognized customs, but find organized justice in being in the earliest dynasties. The po sition of women is known to have been good in many ways, both in Egypt and Babylonia (in the former country in particular it surprised the Greek travellers), but it would seem that the Egyp tian bride had to protect herself against the introduction of other wives by a clause in the marriage contract, and the contracts we have are of a late period. Slavery existed both in Egypt and in Babylonia, but it would seem that the majority of the cultivators were personally free, though subject to arbitrary treatment by king, feudal noble and tax-gatherer. Slaves were obtained in large numbers for great works by successful wars or simple slave raids. Prisoners were also sacrificed in Egypt, though neither under the Pharaohs nor under any of the rulers of Sumer and Akkad do we meet with the exaggerations of wholesale barbarity which were the boast of the Assyrian kings.
Early Ethical Documents.—(2) Ethically interesting docu ments come down to us from both Egypt and Babylonia—from the latter a series of incantation tablets, giving long lists of sins which might involve men in the meshes of demons or witches. The "sins" are partly ceremonial but many belong to the class of offences condemned by commonplace morals, the most interesting ethical feature being that their consequences could be avoided by such magical means as burning them away. With these tab lets we may compare the two famous "negative confessions" in the Book of the Dead, a list which again is commonplace when not utterly obscure, the interest lying once more in the fact that a formal repudiation, an address to the god specially cognizant of each sin, and a claim of power based on knowledge of the right names of the deities concerned, are the requisites of safety in the trial to which the deceased is subjected. It is here, how ever, that, primitive as the procedure of the court may be, we have far the earliest systematic exposition of a trial of the dead, and as to the substance of the proper life, it is worth noting that the repudiations end with a claim of merit. "I have given bread to the hungry, and water to the thirsty, and apparel to the naked, and a boat to the shipwrecked mariner." With this assertion of beneficence we must compare the repeated boasts of feeding the hungry, considerate treatment of widows and so forth, on tombs of the Old and Middle Kingdoms.
(3) We have also from Egypt the first moral treatises, such as the precepts of Ptah-Hotep dating from the Middle Kingdom. Their mild platitudes recommend a certain moderation in life, submission to authority and restraint in dealing with inferiors, but on the whole constitute an extremely dull prologue to the later wisdom literature of the Hebrews. There is, however, a real fire in "The Peasant's Complaint" (also Middle Kingdom) which is a sustained invective against the law's delays and the magistrate's neglect.
(4) In the cult of Osiris and the judgment of the dead, Egyp tian religion seems to be feeling its way to some relation to ethics. During the znd millennium B.C. its own structure began to be criticised. The multiplication of gods had gone too far and the well known attempt at solar monolatry by Akhenaton represented one form of reaction. It does not however appear that the new monolatry had any special interest in ethics and the attempt to establish it was defeated once and for all. The other line of criticism was more subtle and successful, consist ing in a mystical identification of the many gods as names, forms or manifestations of one and the same spiritual principle. This tendency is frequently present in religious writings of the new kingdom and may be taken as the best expression of religious thought in Egypt. Whether it was the starting point of the ethico-religious development in Asia from the Jordan to the Hoangho from about the 8th or 9th century onwards there is no evidence to decide.
Ethico-religious Thought in India.—In any case it would appear probable that there were connecting links between move ments which took their rise during this period in India, China, Iran and Palestine and finally in Ionia. It is true that they are spread over some centuries, but 200 or 30o years are but a small fraction of the long history of civilization. It is equally true that there is little surface resemblance between the mysticism of the Upanishads, the hard outlines of Zoroastrian dualism, the prac ticality of Confucius, the ethical monotheism of the prophets and the philosophy of the Greeks. But there is a deeper and far more impressive identity in the stir of thought, and thought about ul timate questions and their bearing on the life of man, which is apparent in them all. Things were said and written in this period which are still of interest ; questions were raised which are still unanswered ; foundations were laid on which we are still building. It is the real birth-time of thought and it cannot be by mere coincidence that the germination took place at no distant periods in very distant places. Possibly the real beginnings were in India, but in the obscurity of all questions of date it is im possible to speak with certainty. Recent criticism refuses any very high antiquity to the "Vedic Age" and seems to bring the compilation of the Upanishads to within zoo years of the birth of Buddha. Some beginnings of speculation are, however, to be found in the Vedas themselves and are the more striking because they express for the first recorded time man's sense of utter helplessness in the presence of the problem of origins. "Death was not there, nor immortality; there was no distinction of day and night. That One breathed, calmly, self-supported, there was nothing different from or above it . . . from what this creation arose and whether anyone made it or not—he who in the highest heaven is its ruler, he verily knows, or even he does not know." Contrasting such language with that of an ordinary Vedic hymn to Indra we feel that we have passed into a different world—a world in which men are beginning to think and experience for the first time what it is to seek a solution and find none.
The hymn quoted is no unfitting prelude to the constructive efforts put together in the Upanishads where the central concep tion is that the Reality at the base of all experience is spiritual— smaller than the kernel of a canary seed, but greater than the earth and the sky, greater than all these worlds. This spirit is "the self within my heart," who, though myself, is yet so hard for me to find that I must go through austerities, make sacrifices and, above all, study the law and the truth in order to arrive at that inner knowledge. Ethically the important feature is the conception of life upon two planes, the lower one of the workaday world and the higher reserved for the ascetic and recluse and revealing his union with the .spiritual principle of all reality. The system is (in its most orthodox expression) metaphysically monistic and ethically dualistic, and the conflict or adjustment of these di vergencies may be said to have dominated all later Indian thought and to have deeply influenced the thought of the West. One line of development may be briefly indicated as of ethical impor tance. The monistic principle pressed far enough reduced the whole world of ordinary life to an illusion and along with it all plurality, including the distinction of self and self. In reaction from this the Sankhya system, without leaving its anchorage in Vedic orthodoxy, asserted the reality and the permanence, i.e., the immortality, of the personal self. This doctrine could take concrete shape by allying itself with aboriginal non-Vedic notions of transmigration. The self lived before this birth and would live after death in one or other of the transitory forms which did not affect its eternal being. Nevertheless the manner of its life in each incarnation left its effect, the Karma, which determined the subsequent incarnations in such sort that ultimately, though it would seem with no regularity of succession, one paid for one's sins by a lower and was paid for one's virtues by a higher in carnation. This doctrine could be used to justify the slowly germinating distinctions of caste which arose from the union of a multiplicity of tribes, many of low culture, under the con quering Aryan and became by degrees the dominating fact in the Hindu social system. Practically and legally the caste system maintained and fostered divisions and distinctions incompatible with moral unity, but in theory it gave concrete expression to the original principle that life in the highest and lowest is fundamen tally one. He who is now a Brahman and godlike, if not actually a god, may have been and may yet be again a pariah, and for that matter an insect. When this conception is pressed as in Jainism all life becomes sacred. The doctrine of Ahimsa, or harmlessness to all that lives, takes the centre of the ethical stage and in milder forms is to influence all subsequent ethics in India. Buddhism.—But metaphysical discussion rotating endlessly round the same insoluble questions is sure to germinate not only new dogmas but simple scepticism as to ultimate truth. Men who are not content with negative results then fall back on the ex perience of life and its actualities of happiness and misery. This was the track leading to the Buddhistic system in which in its original form the permanence or substantiality of things was de clared to be beyond the reach of our knowledge. All that we know is transitory. Not even our self or our soul is substantial. But life is suffering, and we can in our experience trace the root of suffering, which is desire. Moreover we can extirpate desire not by the violent reaction to extreme austerity but just by abandon ing every selfish impulse, which we can learn to do by cultivating restraint of conduct and the higher thought which expresses itself in love and compassion for all that lives. What then of future existence and the doctrine of transmigration? This was too deeply ingrained to be set aside, but an accommodation was reached by regarding Karma not as itself a quasi-substance ingrained upon a substantial soul, but as a mode of causality whereby the doings of one life are carried over into another. The manner of this transference was left wholly unexplained, but one thing was insisted on, that the working of Karma was maintained entirely by desire. Cut this root and the Karma would die. Its Nirvana or total extinction was open to anyone who would tread the noble eightfold path of the Buddha to the end, which would involve cutting himself off from household cares and living not with austerities but with restraint, as a mendicant monk.
Religion in this form is little more or less than ethics. It propounds a life to be led and a salvation to be won therein. This life is that of a higher plane, only attainable by resolutely abandoning the ordinary level of human interests, and it offers no reward except the surcease of unrestful passions and accom panying remorse. It is not obedience to religion, it is religion it self ; not a consequence of dogma, but an interpretation of experi ence ; very negative in regard to practical aims, it yet has its positive side in the universalism which would recognize no real distinction of Brahman and non-Brahman, and which fitted it for its place as the oldest of the world religions. But the delicate poise between practicality and mysticism could not be maintained. Buddhism had its day when Magadha united the bulk of the peninsula in one empire and King Asoka set up the pillars intended to educate his people in the mild rules of his faith ; but stronger and ruder forces broke upon it, driving it from the land of its birth, and from within transforming it into a theistic system with the founder as a god and reincarnation restored as the centre of belief. In this evolution we cannot attempt to follow it here.
Taoism.—A more prosaic but more practical ethics had its origin in China almost contemporaneously with the teaching of Buddha. Confucius defined his position in the first place in oppo sition to animistic conceptions and secondarily in opposition to the mysticism of the Tao. Taoism had its roots rather in magic than religion and has tended always to return to the pit from which it was digged. Its traditional founder, Laotse, formerly described as an older contemporary of Confucius and criticized by name in the Confucian records, is now thought of as half legendary and of quite uncertain date. We cannot therefore speak with any certainty of the affiliations between the remarkable Quietism de veloped in the Taoist schools and the doctrines of universalism, restraint of self and harmlessness that we have seen in India. "The sage governs by ridding the heart of its desires" is the very essence of Buddhism. "The soft and the weak overcome the hard and the strong" goes a little farther. On the other hand the parallel is close between "I would return good for good. I would also return good for evil," which we read in The Simple Way, and "Let a man overcome anger by kindness, evil by good," which is a verse from a Buddhist Sutta. It is a pity that such phrases should have degenerated into platitudes, for as a fact they express an exceedingly subtle law of moral causation which needs the cool scientific explanation and definition which it has never re ceived. At best in quite modern times the underlying truth has been approached from different sides in the appreciation of the value of error to truth, of the stability of unions founded on freedom, and of the backstroke of success in war upon the victor.
The Chinese Classics.—Laotse, however, pushed his ideas to an extreme from which the practical sense of Confucius revolted. A Conservative Radical, he stood for the integral Chinese social tradition, in particular for the solidarity of the Patriarchal family, without the supernatural support of the spirit world. The social order was good in itself and the moral life which served it honestly was good in itself and needed no reward. Moral innovations are not sought, so what Confucius has to tell us sounds a little too obvious, but the Golden Rule was no platitude when he first enunciated it, and his later disciples, particularly Mencius, had a good deal of serious criticism to make on the working of political institutions and did much to develop the national dislike of militarism. In any case the auton omy of ethics, its emancipation from theology and from political authority, the conception of a good social order as an end in itself and of its service as inherently the best life for the indi vidual, are as much Chinese as Greek in their origin, and have had a wider and more continuous influence in China than in the West.
Ethical Teaching of the Prophets.—When we turn from the Far East to the Western World we find it true, when all indirect and secondary influences have been allowed for, that the main sources of European ethics and religion are Hebrew or Greek. During the period that we have been considering, the Hebrew prophets set up a national deity for exclusive worship in oppo sition to the native polytheism. With this monolatry they came to associate something more important, a humane social code for all Hebrews which they actually succeeded in incarnating in a new code of law, and they finally extended the authority of their God, now conceived as a spiritual being to be worshipped in spirit and truth, from the land of Palestine to the surface of the earth and from the surface of the earth to Heaven and Sheol. We have vague outlines of a supreme god among the simpler peoples. We have seen such a god punishing certain acts, in cluding some in which morality is concerned. We have had no such clear-cut personality controlling a systematized moral law, nor do we find anything approaching it in the cult of Atum, while the Indian philosophy sought spiritual unity in an immanent principle rather than a transcendent personality. In the light of these comparisons the work of the prophets, which is too well known to need detailed illustration, stands out as one of the original contributions of the world and the religious source alike of Christianity and Mohammedanism.
The Development of Ethics in Greece.—On the ethical side however this influence is fairly matched by that of the Greek thinkers who first turned the light of systematic analysis on the passions of men and the rules that bind them. The far-reaching scepticism of knowledge, religion, morals and law which developed in the 5th century was met by a great effort of reconstruction in which a thoroughgoing attempt was made to place the obligations of man as a thinking and social being on the basis of a reasoned system of values. The attempt might suggest too intellectual a view of morals, but especially in the hands of Aristotle other elements in the formation of character obtain full recognition, and the function of reason is seen to lie not in the dictatorial imposition of abstract principles but in the harmonization of the fundamental needs of personal and social life. Man must be in harmony with himself, and the inner harmony, as Plato was the first to show, would express itself in the social harmony of which it might be regarded as both cause and effect. Without a well ordered state man could not obtain the education or the environ ment in which he could make the most of himself, and without the co-operation of the best men the state could not be well ordered. On the lower levels of human nature there are conflicts of interest between society and the individual, but there is a deep er and more real self whose interests include those of society. Thus the rationality of the moral life lies in its necessity to the harmonious fulfilment of human nature in personal and social relations. Here lies the true rationality of Ethics. Yet there runs throughout this school the sense of a final discrepancy at the highest stage of development. For the ideal of the thinker is to think, and thought is above and in many directions removed from practice. The Guardian having attained philosophy only returns to the care of human affairs from a sense of burdensome obliga tions. The Aristotelian sage will as far as possible put off his mortality, and the ultimate value to him of practical wisdom and statesmanship is that it sets the speculative reason free. The social life with its duties after all appears rather as a means to ends above society, than as itself the fullest expression of the rational good—and there is a premonition here of the withdrawal of the Stoic from a social order which is no longer free to the inner shell of his own virtue, or even of the saint from a corrupted world to the cell in which he can meditate on heavenly things. But the earlier thinkers, including Aristotle, rested their work on the tradition of free city states in which the good citizen was one who could both rule and be ruled with a view to life at its best. Plato, the revolutionary aristocrat, saw clearly enough that the social harmony which he desired was fatally split by internal divisions. The state of actuality was not one state but two, fatally divided by what we now call class conflict, what was for the Greek the ever threatening shadow of faction which at any time might overwhelm patriotism and open the gates to the enemy. Plato's ideal solution was to sweep away private property and the family life, at least for the ruling class, as the foci of ob struction to the perfect unity in which he saw salvation. As a practical reformer he set out more moderate proposals, but his method was still essentially Utopian, starting with the supposition of a new city to be erected and a free hand for the philosophic statesman in the framing of its institutions. Aristotle, the Con servative moderate, is opposed to the destruction of institutions of long standing which seem to meet deep-seated human needs and fears the excess of unity as a distortion of the real meaning of happiness. He is the founder of comparative politics, but for a moral rationalist he is too ready to find specious reasons for the established fact—slavery for instance—instead of resolutely sub mitting the traditions of society to the test of reason; and he could so far ignore the changes that were going on before his eyes as to treat the decaying city state as the last word of political development.
The Stoics.—The need for a broader basis was in fact most clearly conceived by some of those writers contemptuously dis missed as "incomplete Socratics." The cosmopolitanism of the Cynics bore fruit in the generation which followed the establish ment and witnessed the wars of the military monarchies, in the Stoic school, whose teaching has had a wider influence on law and government than that of the much greater philosophers who preceded them. For Stoicism the true community was neither the city state nor any actual political organization to which a man is subject, but nothing short of the entire cosmic system ordered by the universal reason, as his own life is or should be ordered by his private reason, whereby he shares in the universal. How, if all things are so governed, evil and error arise is no easier for the Stoic to explain than for others who place perfect wisdom and goodness in the seat of final authority. But however explained it was the fact, and man has to steer a course disturbed by his own passions in a world often awry from the same cause. He has however two fixed points to guide him. The first and foremost is that he must keep himself erect. This he can do by following the inner light of his own rationality and as long as he does so it is fundamentally well with him, though he perish on the rack. But this implies consistent disregard of outward circumstances, and among outward circumstances he must include other persons —even his father, wife or child. To say that neither their mis fortunes nor their death nor their disgrace can affect the inner citadel of his being so long as he has done his best for them would be to reduce the Stoic Wise Man to a cold-hearted prig, but logical consequences often produce caricatures, and the sensible Stoic would confine himself to maintaining that what ever you have to bear you save yourself from the worst by bear ing it well—non quid feras interest, sed quemadmodum feras. But how does this heightened claim of personality square with social obligations? This brings us to the second point, the law of nature, proceeding from the cosmic reason which the private reason will recognize. This law is above positive law, which may depart from it. Thus by the law of nature all men are equal, while the laws of the State may countenance slavery. The duty of the Stoic as lawyer or ruler is to bring the law of the State into harmony with the law of nature, and the influence of the Stoic jurisprudence on the imperial legislation in this regard bore fruit not unworthy of Stoic pretensions. We saw the first-fruits of ethical religion in Deuteronomy. Here we find those of an ethical theory which has become a religion, but was soon to be over shadowed by a religion of a different order.
Ethics in the Mediaeval Church.—Much of Greek philos ophy, ethical as well as metaphysical, was embodied in the fabric of Christian doctrine, but the core is, as in Buddhism, a life rather than a theory of the universe. This life resembles that of original Buddhism in its selfless unworldliness, but adds to it a fuller sense of personality and a more optimistic outlook. Its ideal is not confined to the extinction of selfishness, but includes the unimpeded fellowship with God and man for which the way is thus prepared. It is not a code, still less a theology. One would have said that it must be killed by organization but for the historic fact that it has endured to re-inspire successive impulses of revival. However, Christianity like Buddhism was from the first propagandist and like all successful propaganda bad to make its terms with the world, becoming thereby an elaborate theology and a widespread organization, which soon lost its democratic elements and became a vast hierarchy. Finally converting the State it had to find means of reconciling its ethics with law, government and social lif e--an adjustment more easily made plausible in form than genuine in spirit. However, there came into being a system undertaking the supreme direction of life on all sides, personal and political, educational and moral, economic, literary, artistic and even sportive, seeking moreover by arduous missionary effort to extend its sway over all mankind. The sys tem was essentially authoritarian; in fact it conceived human nature as steeped in original sin, from which it was to be redeemed only by the blood of Christ acting through the sacraments of the Church. The moral law is not educed from so corrupt a nature by the analysis of its true needs and the rational investigation of the means to their fullest and most harmonious expression. It is imposed on our reluctant being as the divine command in terpreted by the divinely appointed authority. Whatever place charity may hold in theory it is faith, unquestioning acceptance and implicit obedience, which will in the fabric of such an ethics constitute the keystone, and, if all men are the sons of God, and brothers accordingly, the line between those within and without the fold will be as deeply marked as in any primitive moral order. To the outsider the supreme duty is to convert him, and to this end strong measures will be justified. Still stronger ones will be in order to save the backslider or punish the perverter of the faithful. Among the faithful it is the sins of the flesh that are the most feared, for their attack is subtle and dangerous even to the godly. The flesh wars against the spirit and its gratification is only saved from polluting us by the Sacrament of Marriage, available only in strict indissoluble monogamy and only so for laymen. The experience of the joys of marriage and parenthood is incompatible with spiritual functions. The degree in which the control of sex takes the centre of the moral stage is in fact a distinguishing mark of the theological as compared with other systems, and seems at bottom to be a part of that repression of the natural man which is the essence of a supernatural law. It is for the same reason that pride is the chief of the deadly sins and that the moral appeal is not to a proper self-respect but to a humble and contrite heart. Indeed, contrition borders upon a virtue. This rigid code none can keep at every point, but for the gravest lapse there is room for repentance in penance done with sincerity of contrition. Such forgiveness meets a genuine human need, but its systematic organization not only brings relief to the stricken heart after the event but can hardly avoid suggesting to the tempted man that if he yields he will be at worst incurring a debt which he can pay off. In fine, the functions of the confessor seem to take upon themselves what is elsewhere left to the stirrings of the individual conscience, and the regularization of confession allows no moral privacy. Finally, worldly well-being for the community as for the individual falls into a very secondary place. It is not necessary to salvation that man should conquer nature or control the conditions of racial development. Neither can any of the truths of science matter greatly, since the one essential truth is known. To expound and defend it is the one great in tellectual duty and to have the intelligence necessary to follow the exposition is the measure of the education required for the layman. For the rest it may be better that he should abstain from things which except in the hands of the appointed experts may be dangerous to the faith.
But there was more to come. The literalness of Biblicai in terpretation led to more than one revival of the Christian life. The doctrine of non-resistance revived in more than one quarter and found persistent and influential expression in Quakerism, which gave the lead to modern ethics in opposition to war, slavery, a barbarously cruel penal system and the irrational subjugation of women. The wider appeal of Methodism and Evangelicalism not only reformed planners but, cultivating the arts of the plat form and the press, made an appeal to elementary Christianity the touchstone of political issues and for the first time established an organized body of moral conviction as a driving force in public affairs on a great scale. The moral influence of Christianity was probably never so great as in the i9th century, which was the time of the most serious intellectual attack on its foundations.
As a fact the application of rational methods to ethics—that is to say the use of critical analysis in the ascertainment of data, defined principles in their elucidation, and the check of experience upon the results—has gone on from the first great days of science. Of its history we can here mention only certain central concep tions which are closely related to ethical development in general. Its beginning may be regarded as a development of the idea of the law of nature which came down from the Stoics and had been preserved in the foundations of the Canon Law. What ground could be found for morals in the nature of man and society? Hobbes thought that men were by nature enemies and that society was an artifice of restraint which they imposed on themselves through mutual fear. Locke, with more reason and with some knowledge of the life of American Indians without organized government, found a social principle in man and a sense of obli gation which would bind where no constraint of law existed. The 18th century could find natural rights which organized society might enforce but did not create, and Adam Smith could argue that the system of natural liberty would give us an economy that was more often hampered than improved by collective regulation. That personality has rights which written law does not create and may violate has become an integral part of modern ethics, but the antithesis of nature and society was not a happy basis for their affirmation. Rights are social obligations viewed from one end as duties are social obligations viewed from the other end, and though they are valid whether required by law or not they cannot be laid down as so many independent absolute truths, but must be taken in relation to one another and to the social well being to which they contribute. The true right is in fact a con dition of social well-being, and it is because this is the fact, whether we know it or not, that it has a validity which is inde pendent of enactment or opinion. On the other hand, as a con dition of the very complex whole which makes up the common weal, its definition is a much more arduous matter than appeared when we approached it light-heartedly in isolation, and indeed though we may be confident in the direction we are taking we are still seeking and probably shall long seek better and more inclusive definitions of liberty and equality. These drawbacks in the theory of natural rights were clearly seen by Bentham and were among the causes urging him to put forward his conception of the great est happiness of the greatest number as the ethical and political end. This standard had in his opinion the great advantage of being determinable by experience. We can find out what makes people happy or miserable, and our morals, laws, institutions and executive government should be shaped thereby. Ethically his doctrine performed the service of convincing people first that there is in morals and law an end to be attained, which is what makes them worth having; secondly that this end is concerned with human happiness and misery—the happiness or misery of every single person affected being brought into the account ; thirdly, that we may be mistaken as to the things that make for happiness and must submit our judgment in this as in other mat ters to the test of experience. For these reasons the Benthamite dictum formed a useful theoretic basis for the democratic changes of the Reform period. Its weakness was that in taking happiness as the sum of pleasures minus pains it deserted the real fact, which is, that it lies in qualitative conditions of personal and social life which can be but very imperfectly rendered in any numerical terms. Even the practical difficulties in working democracy come back to the inadequacy of numerical majorities to measure the effective will in a community.
In spite of all differences of method and outlook there was a great deal in common between the rationalistic movement in ' ethics and the applied ethics of the religious movements de scribed above. In fact some of the most severe critics of the speculative basis of Christianity were concerned to uphold the moral validity of the Christian ethics. On both sides the sim plest and most universal sentiments and obligations of humanity were put in the place of authority, and a similar humanitarianism was reflected in the dominant literary influences of the 19th century.
Materialistic Cross-currents.—On the other hand there have been cross-currents of no small importance. Historical material ism, which has gained a wide hold in Europe, treats the entire ethico-religious history of man as a secondary result of the economic life of society. The theory of natural selection has been held to justify might as against right, whether as between individuals or nations. A strongly developed strain in the semi philosophical literature of the last generation from Nietzsche to many contemporary writers makes the self the centre of some thing approaching worship and is highly disparaging of anything like altruism. The World War and the subsequent political and industrial upheavals have weakened confidence in the social order and relaxed the inhibitions on violent self-assertion. So while much has been done in practical legislation to give effect to the ideals ref erred to above, the moral basis of these ideals seems to have lost some of its hold upon men. On the other hand the ma terialist assumptions that lie behind the reaction are themselves shaken, and scepticism has been turned on scientific as well as theological dogma. The way is opened to wider applications of scientific method and a more liberal interpretation of scientific principles, from which humanistic and in particular ethical studies have all to gain. (L. T. Ho.) BIBLIOGRAPHY.-E. Westermarck, Origin and Development of the Bibliography.-E. Westermarck, Origin and Development of the Moral Ideas (1916) ; Carveth Read, Natural and Social Morals; A. Sutherland, Origin and Growth of the Moral Sentiment; L. T. Hob house, Morals in Evolution (4th ed. 1923) . Numerous citations of authorities on special peoples and on distinct branches of the subject will be found in these works. For the simpler peoples, R. H. Lowie, Primitive Society (192I) should be consulted. The first series of Sacred Books of the East—translations, ed. by F. Max Muller—con tains rich material for the Oriental civilizations, mainly religious but with much ethical matter. For European civilization ancient and modern see the special bibliographies for each period, or religious body or school of thought.