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The philosophy of idée-forces propounded by Fouillée assumes, in its ethical aspect, a role of reconciliation (which is characteristic, as we have noted, of his whole method and his entire philosophy) by attempting a synthesis of individualism and humanitarianism. It is therefore another kind of personnalisme, differing in type from that of Renouvier. Fouillée's full statement of his ethical doctrines was not written until the year 1907,* but long before the conclusion of the nineteenth century he had already indicated the essential points of his ethics. The conclusion of his thesis La Liberté et le Déterminisme (1872) is very largely filled with his ethical views and with his optimism. Four years later appeared his study L'Idée moderne du Droit en Allemagne, en Angleterre et en France, which was followed in 1880 by La Science sociale contemporaine, where the relation of the study of ethics to that of sociology was discussed. A volume containing much acute criticism of current ethical theories was his Critique des Systèmes de Morale contemporains (1883), which gave him a further opportunity of offering by way of contrast his application of the doctrine of idées-forces to the solution of moral problems. To this he added in the following year a study upon La Propriété sociale et la Démocratie, where he discussed the ethical value and significance of various political and socialist doctrines. Ethical questions raised by the problems of education he discussed in his L'Enseignement au Point de Vue national (1891). At the close of the century he issued his book on morality in his own country, La France au Point de Vue morale (1900).*
[Footnote * : His Morale des Idées-forces was then published.]
[Footnote * : It is interesting to note the wealth of Fouillée's almost annual output on ethics alone in his later years. We may cite, in the twentieth century: La Réforme de l'Enseignement par la Philosophie, 1901; La Conception morale et critique de l'Enseignement; Nietzsche et l'Immoralisme, 1904; Le Moralisme de Kant et l'Amoralisme contemporaine, 1905; Les Eléments sociologiques de la Morale, 1905; La Morale des Idées-forces, 1907; Le Socialisme, 1910; La Démocratie politique et sociale en France, 1910; and the posthumous volume, Humanitaires et Libertaires au Point de Vue sociologique et morale, 1914.]
Fouillée endeavours to unite the purely ideal aspect of ethics—that is to say, its notion of what ought to be, with the more positive view of ethics as dealing with what now is. His ethic is, therefore, an attempt to relate more intimately the twin spheres of Renouvier, l'état de guerre with l'état de paix, for it is concerned not only with what is, but with that which tends to be and which can be by the simple fact that it is thought. As, however, what can be is a matter of intense interest to us, we are inevitably led from this to consider what ought to be—that is to say, what is better, or of more worth or value. The ethical application of the philosophy of idées-forces is at once theoretical and practical, that philosophy being concerned both with ideas and values.
As in his treatment of freedom we found Fouillée beginning with the idea of freedom, so here in a parallel manner he lays down the idea of an end of action as an incontestable fact of experience, although the existence of such an end is contested and is a separate question. This idea operates in consciousness as a power of will (volonté de conscience). Intelligence, power, love and happiness-in short, the highest conscious life—are involved in it, not only for us, but for all. Thus it comes about that the conscious subject, just because he finds himself confronted by nature and by over-individual ends, proposes to himself an ideal, and imposes at the same time upon himself the obligation to act in conformity with this full consciousness which is in all, as in him, and thus he allows universal consciousness to operate in his own individual life. Here we have conscience, the idea of duty or obligation, accounted for, and the principle of autonomy of the moral person laid down. The ethical life is shown as the conscious will in action, finding within itself its own end and rule of action, finding also the conscious wills of others like itself. Morality is the indefinite extension of the conscious will which brings about the condition that others tend to become "me." Through the increasing power of intellectual disinterestedness and social sympathy, the old formula "cogito, conscius sum" gives place to that of "conscii sumus," and this is no mere intellectual speculation, but a concrete principle of action and feeling which is itself akin to the highest and best in all religions.
One of the features of this ethic is its insistence upon the primacy of self-consciousness. Indeed, it has its central point in the doctrine of self-consciousness, which, according to Fouillée, implies the consciousness of others and of the whole unity of mankind. Emphasising his gospel of idées-forces, he outlines a morality in which the ideal shall attract men persuasively, and not dominate them in what he regards as the arbitrary and rather despotic manner of Kant.
By advocating the primacy of self-consciousness Fouillée claims to establish an ethic which towers above those founded upon pleasure, happiness and feeling. The morality of the idées-forces is not purely sentimental, not purely intellectual, not purely voluntarist; it claims to rest on the totality of the functions of consciousness, as revealed in the feelings, in intellect and will, acting in solidarity and in harmony.
He endeavours to unite the positive and evolutionary views of morality to those associated with theological or metaphysical doctrines, concerning the deity or the morally perfect absolute. He claims, against the theologians and on behalf of the positivists, that ethics can be an independent study, that it is not necessarily bound up with theological dogmas. There is no need to found the notion of duty upon that of the existence of God. Our own existence is sufficient; the voice of conscience is within our human nature. He objects, as did Nietzsche, to the formality and rigour of Kant's "categorical imperative." His method is free from the legalism of Kant, and in him and Guyau is seen an attempt to relate morality itself to life, expanding and showing itself creative of ideals and tending to their fulfilment.
From the primacy of self-consciousness which can be expressed in the notion, Je pense, donc j'ai une valeur morale, a transition is made to a conception of values. Je pense, donc j'evalue des objets. The essential element in the psychology of the idees-forces then comes into play by tending to the realisation of the ideals conceived and based on the valuation previously made. Finally, Fouillée claims that on this ethical operation of the idées-forces can be founded the notion of a universal society of consciences. This notion itself is a force operating to create that society. The ideal is itself persuasive, and Fouillee's inherent optimism, which we have observed in his doctrine of progress, colours also his ethical theory. He has faith in men's capacity to be attracted by the ideals of love and brotherhood, and insists that in the extension of these lies the supreme duty, and the ideal, like the notion of duty itself, is a creation of our own thought. The realisation of the universality, altruism, love and brotherhood of which he speaks, depends upon our action, our power to foster ideas, to create ideals, particularly in the minds of the young, and to strive ever for their realisation. This is the great need of our time, Fouillée rightly urges.* Such a morality contains in a more concentrated form, he thinks, the best that has been said and thought in the world-religions; it achieves also that union of the scientific spirit with the aspirations of man, which Fouillée regards as so desirable, and he claims for it a philosophical value by its success in uniting the subjective and personal factors of consciousness with those which are objective and universal.
[Footnote * : The work of Benjamin Kidd should be compared in this connection, particularly his Social Evolution, 1894; Principles of Western Civilisation, 1902; and The Science of Power, 1918 (chap, v., "The Emotion of the Ideal").]
Similar in several respects to the ethical doctrines of Fouillée are those of his step-son. Guyau insists more profoundly, however, upon the "free" conception of morality, as spontaneous and living, thus marking a further reaction from Kant's doctrine. Both Fouillée and Guyau interacted upon one another in their mental relationship, and both of them (particularly Guyau) have affinities with Nietzsche, who knew their work. While the three thinkers are in revolt against the Kantian conception of ethics, the two Frenchmen use their conceptions to develop an ethic altruistic in character, far removed from the egoism which characterises the German.*
[Footnote * : We find the optimism and humanitarian idealism of the Frenchmen surprising. May not this be piecisely because the world has followed the gospel of Nietzsche? We may dislike him, but he is a greater painter of the real state of world-morality than are the two Frenchmen. They, with their watchword of fraternité, are proclaiming a more excellent way they are standing for an ethical ideal of the highest type.]
Guyau, after showing in his critique of English Ethics (La Morale anglaise contemporaine, 1879) the inadequacies of a purely utilitarian doctrine of morality, endeavoured to set forth in a more constructive manner the principles of a scientific morality in his Esquisse d'une Morale sans Obligation ni Sanction.
He takes as his starting-point the position where John Stuart Mill fell foul of the word "desirable." What, asks Guyau, is the supreme desire of every living creature? The answer to this question is "Life." What we all of us desire most and constantly is Life, the most intensive and extensive in all its relationships, physical and spiritual. In the principle of Life we find cause and end—a unity which is a synthesis of all desires and all desirables. Moreover, the concept or the principle of Life embraces all functions of our nature—those within consciousness and those which are subconscious or unconscious. It thus relates intimately purely instinctive action and reflective acts, both of which are manifestations of Life and can enrich and increase its power.
The purely hedonistic views of the Utilitarians he considers untrue. Doubtless, he admits, there is a degree of truth in the doctrine that consciousness tends to pursue the line of greatest pleasure or least resistance, but then we must remember how slight a part this consciousness actually plays. Instincts and an intensive subconscious "will-to-live" are constantly operating. A purely scientific ethic, if it is to present a complete scheme, must allow for this by admitting that the purely hedonistic search after pleasure is not in itself a cause of action, but is an effect of a more fundamental or dominating factor. This factor is precisely the effort of Life to maintain itself, to intensify itself and expand. The chief motive power lies in the "intensity of Life." "The end which actually determines all conscious action is also the cause which produces every unconscious action; it is Life itself, Life at once the most intense and the most varied in its forms. From the first thrill of the embryo in its mother's womb to the last convulsion of the old man, every movement of the being has had as cause Life in its evolution; this universal cause of actions is, from another point of view, its constant effect and end."*
[Footnote * : Esquisse d'une Morale, p. 87.]
A true ethic proceeding upon the recognition of these principles is scientific, and constitutes a science having as its object all the means by which Life, material and spiritual, may be conserved and expanded. Rising in the evolutionary development we find the variety and scope of action increased. The highest beings find rest not in sleep merely, but in variety and change of action. The moral ideal lies in activity, in all the variety of its manifestations. For Guyau, as for Bergson, the worst vice is idleness, inertia, lack of élan vital, decay of personal initiative, and a consequent degeneration to merely automatic existence.
Hedonism is quite untenable as a principle; pleasure is merely a consequence, and its being set in the van of ethics is due to a false psychology and false science. Granting that pleasure attends the satisfaction of a desire, pain its repression, recognising that a feeling of pleasure accompanies many actions which expand life, we must live, as Guyau reminds us, before we enjoy. The activity of life surges within us, and we do not act with a view to pleasure or with pleasure as a motive, but life, just because it is life, seeks to expand. Man in acting has created his pleasures and his organs. The pleasure and the organ alike proceed from function—that is, life itself. The pleasure of an action and even the consciousness of it are attributes, not ends. The action arises naturally from the inherent intensity of life.
The hedonists, too, says Guyau, have been negligent of the widest pleasures, and have frequently confined their attention to those of eating and drinking and sexual intercourse, purely sensitive, and have neglected those of living, willing and thinking, which are more fundamental as being identical with the consciousness of life. But Guyau asserts that, as the greatest intensity of life involves necessarily its widest expansion, we must give special attention to thought and will and feeling, which bring us into touch universally with our fellows and promote the widest life. This expansiveness of life has great ethical importance. With the change in the nature of reproduction, involving the sexual union of two beings, "a new moral phase began in the world." It involved an expansion not merely physical, but mental—a union, however crude, of soul.
It is in the extension of this feature of human life that Guyau sees the ethical ideal. The most perfect organism is the most sociable, for the ideal of the individual life is the common or social life. Morality is for him almost synonymous with sociability, disinterestedness, love and brotherhood, and in it we find, he says, "the flower of human life."
All our action should be referred to this moral ideal of sociability. Guyau sees in the phrase "social service" a conception which should not be confined to those who are endeavouring in some religious or philanthropic manner to alleviate the suffering caused by evil in human society, but a conception to which the acts, all acts, of all members of society should be related. Like Renouvier, he gives to work an important ethical value. "To work is to produce—that is, to be useful to oneself and to others." In work he sees the economic and moral reconciliation of egoism and altruism. It is a good and it is praiseworthy. Those who neglect and despise it are parasites, and their existence in society is a negation of the moral ideal of sociability and social service. In so far as the work of certain persons leads to the accumulation of excessive capital in individual hands, it is likely to annul itself sooner or later in luxury and idleness. Such an immoral state of affairs, it is the concern of society, by its laws of inheritance and possession, to prevent.
Having made clear his principle of morality, Guyau then has to face the question of its relation to the notion of duty or obligation. Duty in itself is an idea which he rejects as vague, and he disapproves of the external and artificial element present in the Kantian "rigorism." For Guyau the very power of action contained in life itself creates an impersonal duty. While Emerson could write:
"Duty says, 'I must,'
The youth replies, 'I can,'"
the view of Guyau is directly the converse; for him "I can" gives the "I must"; it is the power which precedes and creates the obligation. Life cannot maintain itself unless it grows and expands. The soul that liveth to itself, that liveth solely by habit and automatism, is already dead. Morality is the unity of the personality expanding by action and by sympathy. It is at this point that Guyau's thought approaches closely to the philosophie des idées-forces of his step-father, by his doctrine of thought and action.
Immorality is really unsociability, and Guyau thinks this a better key-note than to regard it as disobedience. If it is so to be spoken of, it is disobedience to the social elements in one's own self—a mischievous duplication of personality, egoistic in character and profoundly antisocial. The sociological elements which characterise all Guyau's work are here very marked. In the notion of sociability we find an equivalent of the older and more artificial conception of Duty—a conception which lacks concreteness and offers in itself so little guidance because it is abstract and empty. The criterion of sociability, Guyau claims, is much more concrete and useful. He asks us to observe its spirituality, for the more gross and materialistic pleasures fall short of the criterion by the very fact that they cannot be shared. Guyau's thought is here at its best. The higher pleasures, which are not those of bodily enjoyment and satisfaction, but those of the spirit, which thinks, feels, wills and loves, are precisely those which come nearest to fulfilling the ideal of sociability, for they tend less to divide men than to unite them and to urge them to a closer co-operation for their spiritual advancement. Guyau writes here with sarcasm regarding the lonely imbecile in the carriage drawn by four horses. For his own part it is enough to have—
". . . a Loaf of Bread beneath the Bough,
A Flask of Wine, a Book of Verse—and Thou
Beside me singing in the Wilderness—
And Wilderness is Paradise enow."
He knows who really has chosen the better part. One cannot rejoice much and rejoice alone. Companionship and love are supremely valuable "goods," and the pleasure of others he recognises as a very real part of his own. The egoist's pleasure is, on the other hand, very largely an illusion. He loses, says Guyau, far more by his isolated enjoyment than he would gain by sharing.
Life itself is the greatest of all goods, as it is the condition of all others, but life's value fades if we are not loved. It is love, comradeship and the fellowship of kindred souls which give to the humblest life a significance and a feeling of value. This, Guyau points out with some tenderness, is the tragedy of suicides. These occurrences are a social no less than an individual tragedy. The tragic element lies in the fact that they were persons who were unable to give their devotion to some object, and the loss of personalities in this way is a real loss to society, but it is mainly society itself which is to blame for them.
We need not fear, says Guyau, that such a gospel will promote unduly the operation of mere animality or instinctive action, for in the growth of the scientific spirit he sees the development of the great enemy of all instinct. It is the dissolving force par excellence, the revolutionary spirit which incessantly wages warfare within society against authority, and in the individual it operates through reason against the instinctive impulses. Every instinct tends to lapse in so far as it is reflected upon by consciousness.
The old notion of duty or obligation must, in Guyau's opinion, be abandoned. The sole commandment which a scientific and positive ethic, such as he endeavours to indicate, can recognise, is expressible only in the words, "Develop your life in all directions, be an individual as rich as possible in energy, intensive and extensive"—in other words, "Be the most social and sociable being you can." It is this which replaces the "categorical imperative."
He aptly points out the failure of modern society to offer scope for devotion, which is really a superabundance of life, and its proneness to crush out opportunities which offer a challenge to the human spirit. There is a claim of life itself to adventure; there is a pleasure in risk and in conflict; and this pleasure in risk and adventure has been largely overlooked in its relation to the moral life. Such risk and adventure are not merely a pure negation of self or of personal life, but rather, he considers, that life raised to its highest power, reaching the sublime. By virtue of such devotion our lives are enriched. He draws a touching picture of the sacrifice upon which our modern social life and civilisation are based, and draws an analogy between the blood of dead horses used by the ploughman in fertilising his field, and the blood of the martyrs of humanity, qui ont fécondé l'avenir. Often they may have been mistaken; later generations may wonder if their cause was worth fighting for; yet, although nothing truly is sadder than to die in vain, that devotion was valuable in and for itself.
With the demand of life for risk in action is bound up the impetus to undertake risk in thought. From this springs the moral need for faith, for belief and acceptance of some hypotheses. The very divergence or diversity of the world-religions is not discouraging but rather the reverse. It is a sign of healthy moral life. Uniformity would be highly detrimental; it would cease to express life, for with conformity of belief would come spiritual decline and stagnation. Guyau anticipates here his doctrine of a religion of free thought, a "non-religion" of the future, which we shall discuss in our next chapter, when we examine his book on that subject. In the diversity of religious views Guyau sees a moral good, for these religions are themselves an expression of life in its richness, and the conservation and expansion of this rich variety of life are precisely the moral ideal itself.
We must endeavour to realise how rich and varied the nature of human life really is. Revolutionaries, Guyau points out, are always making the mistake of regarding life and truth as too simple. Life and truth are so complex that evolution is the key-note to what is desirable in the individual intellect and in society, not a revolution which must inevitably express the extreme of one side or the other. The search for truth is slow and needs faith and patience, but the careful seekers of it are making the future of mankind. But truth will be discovered only in relation to action and life and in proportion to the labour put into its realisation. The search for truth must never be divorced from the active life, Guyau insists, and, indeed, he approaches the view that the action will produce the knowledge, "He that doeth the will shall know of the doctrine." Moreover he rightly sees in action the wholesome cure for pessimism and that cynicism which all too frequently arises from an equal appreciation of opposing views. "Even in doubt," he exclaims, "we can love; even in the intellectual night, which prevents our seeing any ultimate goal, we can stretch out a hand to him who weeps at our feet."* In other words, we must do the duty that lies nearest, in the hope and faith that by that action itself light will come.
[Footnote * : Esquisse d'une Morale sans Obligation ni Sanction, p. 178.]
In the last part of his treatise Guyau deals with the difficult problem of "sanction," so ultimately connected with ethics, and, it must be added, with religion. The Providence who rewards and punishes us, according to the orthodox religious creed of Christendom, is merely a personified "sanction" or distributive justice, operating in a terrestrial and celestial court of assize. Guyau condemns this as an utterly immoral conception. Religious sanctions, as he has not much difficulty in showing, are more cruel than those which a man could imagine himself inflicting upon his mortal enemy. The "Heavenly Father" ought at least to be as good as earthly ones, who do not cruelly punish their children. Guyau touches upon an important point here, which will be further emphasised—namely, the necessity for making our idea of God, if we have one at all, harmonious with our own ethical conceptions. The old ideas of the divinity are profoundly immoral and are based on physical force. This is natural because those views which have survived in modern times are those of primitive and savage people to whom the most holy was the most powerful and physically majestic. But, says Guyau, now that we see that "all physical force represents moral weakness," the idea of God the All-terrible, with his hell-fire ready for the sinful soul, must be condemned as immoral blasphemy itself. "God," he remarks, "in damning any soul might be said to damn himself."
Virtue is really its own reward. No one should be or do good in order to gain an entry into paradise or to escape the torments of hell. That is to build morality on an immoral principle and on a belief, not in goodness as valuable in and for itself, but on a basis of material self-interest alone, "the best policy." It is true, Guyau admits, that virtue involves happiness, but it is not in this sense. A conflict between "pleasure" and virtue is usually one of higher versus lower ideals. Virtue is not a precedent to sense-happiness, and in this sense is not at all equivalent or bound up with happiness, but, as the facts of life reveal, very often opposed to it.
Guyau opposes the ordinary view of punishment in society and shows that it is both immoral and socially harmful in its application. It adds evil to evil, and legal murder is really more absurd than the illegal murder. Punishment, capital or other, is no "compensation" exacted for the crime committed, and it never can be such. Attempts to treat and cure the guilty one would, Guyau suggests, be far more rational, humane and really beneficial to society itself, which at present creates by its punishments, especially those inflicted for first offences, a "criminal class." One should convert the criminal before punishing him, and then, Guvau asks, if he is converted, why punish him?
The appeal to justice denoted in the words "To everyone according to his works" is frequently heard in the defence of punishment. This is an excellent maxim in Guyau's opinion, but he is careful to point out that it is purely one of social economics. It is a plea for a just distribution of the products of labour, but does not apply at all to the problem of punishment. In a manner which recalls the remarks of Renan, Guyau sees in evil-doing a lack of culture, or rather of that sociability, which comes of social culture, from consciousness of a membership of society and a solidarity with one's fellows. In vice and in virtue alike the human will appears aspiring to better things according to its lights. As virtue is its own reward, so is evil; and the moralist must say to the wicked: "Verily they have their reward" (Comme si ce n'était pas assez pour eux d'être méchants).
Guyau comments upon the gradual modifications of punishment from a social point of view. There was the day when the chastisement was infinitely worse than the crime itself. Then came the morality of reciprocity, "an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth," an ethic which represented a high ideal for primitive man to reach, and one to which, Guyau thinks, we have yet to reach to-day in some spheres of life. Yet a further moral development will show how foolish, in a civilised society, are wrath and hatred of the criminal and the cry for vengeance. Society must aim at ensuring protection for itself with the minimum of individual suffering. Punishment must be regarded as an example for the future rather than as revenge or compensation. In the individual himself Guyau observes how powerful can be the inner sanction of remorse, the suffering caused by the unrealised ideal. This is perhaps the only real moral punishment, and it is one which society cannot itself directly enforce. Only by increasing "sociability" and social sensitiveness can this sanction be indirectly developed.
Herein lies the highest ethical ideal, far more concrete and living, in Guyau's opinion, than the rigorism of a Kant or the "scholastic"* temper of a Renouvier. Charity or love for all men, whatever their value morally, intellectually or physically, must, he claims, "be the final end pursued even by public opinion."In co-operation and sociability, he finds the vital moral ideal; in love and brotherhood, he finds the real sanction which should operate."Love supposes mutuality of love," he says; and there is one idea superior to that of justice, that is the idea of brotherhood, and he remarks with a humane tenderness "the guilty have probably more need for love than anyone else." "I have," he cries, "two hands— the one for gripping the hand of those with whom I march along in life, the other to lift up the fallen. Indeed, to these I should be able to stretch out both hands together."*
[Footnote *: This is Guyau's word to describe Renouvier, whom he regards as far too much under the influence of Kant.]
[Footnote * : Esquisse d'une Morale sans Obligation ni Sanction, p. 223.]
While Fouillée and, more especially, Guyau were thus outlining an ethic marked by a strong humanitarianism, a more definitely religious ethic was being proclaimed by that current of philosophy of belief and of action which has profoundly associated itself in its later developments with "Modernism" in the Roman Church. The tendency to stress action and the practical reason is noticeable in the work of Brochard, Ollé-Laprune and Blondel, also in Rauh. They agree with Renouvier in advocating the primacy of the practical reason, but their own reasons for this are different from his, or at least in them the reasons are more clearly enunciated. Plainly these reasons lie in the difficulties of intellectualism and the quest of truth. They propose the quest of the good in the hope of finding in that sphere some objectivity, some absolute, in fact, which they cannot find out by intellectual searching. They correspond in a somewhat parallel fashion to the philosophy of intuition with its rejection of intellectualism as offering a final solution. These thinkers desire by action, by doing the will, to attain to a knowledge of the doctrine. The first word in their gospel is—
"Im Anfang war die That."
It is for them the beginning and the end. Their certainty is an act of belief, which grows out of action and life. It is a curious mixture of insistence upon life and action, such as we find in Guyau and in Bergson, coupled with a religious Platonism. Brochard's work is of this type. He wrote as early as 1874 on La Responsabilité morale, and in 1876 on L'Universalité des Notions morales. Three years later appeared his work L'Erreur. Ollé-Laprune and Blondel, who best represent this tendency, do not like Guyau's ethics, which lacks the religious idealism which they consider should be bound up with morality. This was the thesis developed in the volume La Certitude morale, written by Ollé-Laprune in 1881. "By what right," says Ollé-Laprune in his subsequent book Le Prix de la Vie (1895), "can Guyau speak of a high exalted life, of a moral ideal? It is impossible to speak so when you have only a purely naturalistic ethic; for merely to name these things is an implication that there is not only intensity in life, but also quality. You suppress duty because you can see in it only a falsely mystical view of life and of nature. What you fail to realise is that between duty and life there is a profound agreement. You reduce duty to life, and in life itself you consider only its quantity and intensity, and regard as illusion everything that is of a different order from the natural physical order in which you imprison yourself."*
[Footnote * : Le Prix de la Vie, p. 139.]
Such a criticism is not altogether fair to Guyau who, as we noted, proclaimed the superiority of the higher qualities of spiritual life. It does, however, attack his abandonment of the idea of Duty; and we must now turn to examine a thinker, who, by his contribution to ethics, endeavoured to satisfy the claims of life and of duty.
This was Rauh, whose Essai sur le Fondement métaphysique de la Morale appeared in 1890. It had been preceded by a study of the psychology of the feelings, and was later followed by L'Expérience morale (1903). In seeking a metaphysical foundation for morality, Rauh recalls Kant's Metaphysic of Morals. He, indeed, agrees with Kant in the view that the essence of morality lies in the sentiment of obligation. Belief or faith in an ideal, by which it behoves us to act, imposes itself, says Rauh, upon the mind of man as essential. It is as positive a fact as the laws of the natural sciences. Man not only states facts and formulates general laws in a scientific manner, he also conceives and believes in ideals, which become bound up in his mind with the sentiment of obligation—that is, the general feeling of duty. But beyond a general agreement upon this point, Rauh does not follow Kant. He tends to look upon the ethical problem in the spirit which Guyau, Bergson and Blondel show in their general philosophic outlook. In life, action and immediacy alone can we find a solution. Nothing practical can be deduced from the abstract principle of obligation or duty in general. The moral consciousness of man is, in Rauh's opinion, akin to the intuitional perceptions of Bergson's philosophy. Morality, moreover, is creating itself perpetually by the reflection of sensitive minds on action and on life itself. "Morality, or rather moral action, is not merely the crown of metaphysical speculation, but itself the true metaphysic, which is learnt only in living, as it is naught but life itself."* In concluding his thesis, Rauh reminds us that "the essential and most certain factor in the midst of the uncertainties of life and of duty lies in the constant consciousness of the moral ideal." In it he sees a spiritual reality which, if we keep it ever before us, may inspire the most insignificant of our actions and render them into a harmony, a living harmony of character.
[Footnote * : Essai sur le Fondement métaphysique de la Morale, p. 255.]
Rauh's doctrines, we claim, have affinities to the doctrines of action and intuition. That does not imply, however, that the intelligence is to be minimised—far from this; but the intelligence triumphs here in realising that it is not all-sufficing or supreme. "The heart hath reasons which the reason cannot know." While Fouillée had remarked that morality is metaphysics in action, Rauh points out that "metaphysics in action" is the foundation of our knowledge. We must, he insists, seek for certitude in an immediate and active adaptation to reality instead of deducing a rule or rules of action from abstract systems.
He separates himself from the sociologists* by pointing out that, however largely social environment may determine our moral ideals and rules of conduct, nevertheless the ethical decision is fundamentally an absolutely personal affair. The human conscience, in so far as active, must never passively accept the existing social morality. It finds itself sometimes in agreement, sometimes obliged to give a newer interpretation to old conventions, and at times is obliged to revolt against them. In no case can the idea of duty be equated simply and calmly with acquiescence in the collective general will. It must demand from social morality its credentials and hold itself free to criticise the current ethic of the community. More often than not society acts, Rauh thinks, as a break rather than a stimulus; and social interest is not a measure of the moral ideal, but rather a limitation of it.
[Footnote * : The relation of ethics and sociology is well discussed, not only by Durkheim (who, in his Division du Travail social, speaks of the development of democracy and increasing respect for human personality), but also by Lévy-Bruhl, who followed his thesis on L'Idée de Responsabilité, 1883, by the volume, La Morale el la Science des Moeurs.]
Although the moral ideal is one which must be personally worked out, it is not a merely individualistic affair. Rauh does not abandon the guidance of reason, but he objects equally to the following of instinct or a transcendent teaching divorced from the reality of life. Our guide must be reflection upon instinct, and this is only possible by action and experience, the unique experience of living itself. Reason itself is experience; and it is our duty to face problems personally and sincerely, in a manner which the rational element in us renders "impersonal, universal and disinterested."
Any code of morality which is not directly in contact with life is worthless, and all ethical ideas which are not those of our time are of little value. Only he is truly a man who lives the life of his time. The truly moral man is he who is alive to this spirit and who does not unreflectingly deduce his rules of conduct from ancient books or teachers of a past age. The art of living is the supreme art, and it is this which the great moralists have endeavoured to show humanity. Neither Socrates nor Jesus wrote down their ethical ideas: they lived them.
Rauh thus reminds us partly of Guyau in his insistence upon life. He regards the ethical life at its highest, as one sans obligation ni sanction. Rather than the Kantian obligation of duty, of constraint, he favours in his second book, L'Expérience morale, a state of spontaneity, of passion and exaltation of the personal conscience which faces the issue in a disinterested manner. The man who is morally honest himself selects his values, his ideals, his ends, by the light which reason gives him. Ethics becomes thus an independent science, a science of "ends," which Reason, as reflected in the personal conscience, acclaims a science of the ideal ordering of life.
Such was Rauh's conception of rational moral experience, one which he endeavoured to apply in his lectures to the two problems which he considered to be supreme in his time, that of patriotism and of social justice.
These problems were further touched upon in 1896, when Léon Bourgeois (since noted for his advocacy of the "League of Nations") published his little work Solidarité, which was also a further contribution to an independent, positive and lay morality. In the conception of the solidarity of humanity throughout the ages, Bourgeois accepted the teaching of the sociologists, and urges that herein can be found an obligation, for the present generation must repay their debt to their ancestors and be worthy of the social heritage which has made them what they are. Somewhat similar sentiments had Been expressed by Marion in his Solidarité morale (1880). Ethical questions were kept in the forefront by the society known as L'Union pour l'Action morale, founded by Desjardins and supported by Lagneau (1851- 1894). After the excitement of the Dreyfus case (1894- 1899) this society took the name L'Union pour la Verité. In 1902 Lapie made an eloquent plea for a rational morality in his Logique de la Volonté, and in the following year Séailles published his Affirmations de la Conscience moderne. The little Précis of André Lalande, written in the form of a catechism, was a further contribution to the establishment of a rational and independent lay morality, which the teaching of ethics as a subject in the lycées and lay schools rendered in some degree necessary.* This little work appeared in 1907, the same year in which Paul Bureau wrote his book La Crise morale des Temps nouveaux. Then Parodi (who in 1919 produced a fine study of French thought since 1890†) followed up the discussion of ethical problems by his work Le Problème morale et la Pensée contemporaine (1909), and in 1912 Wilbois published his contribution entitled Devoir et Durée: Essai de Morale sociale.
[Footnote * : The teaching of a lay morality is a vital and practical problem which the Government of the Republic is obliged to face. The urgent need for such lay teaching will be more clearly demonstrated or evident when our next chapter, dealing with the religious problem, has been read.]
[Footnote † : La Philosophie contemporaine en France.]
Thus concludes a period in which the discussion, although not marked by a definite turning round of positions as was manifested in our discussions of science, freedom and progress, bears signs of a general development. This development is shown by the greater insistence upon the social aspects of ethics and by a turning away from the formalism of Kant to a more concrete conception of duty, or an ethic in which the notion of duty itself has disappeared. This is the general tendency from Renan with his insistence upon the aesthetic element, Renouvier with his claim for justice in terms of personality, to Fouillée, Guyau, Ollé-Laprune and Rauh with their insistence upon action, upon love and life.
Yet, although the departure from an intense individualism in ethics is desirable, we must beware of the danger which threatens from the other extreme. We cannot close this chapter without insisting upon this point. Good must be personally realised in the inner life of individuals, even if they form a community. The collective life is indeed necessary, but it is not collectively that the good is experienced. It is personal. In the neglect of this important aspect lies the error of much Communistic philosophy and of that social science which looks on society as purely an organism. This analogy is false, for however largely a community exhibits a general likeness to an organism, it is a superficial resemblance. There is not a centre of consciousness, but a multitude of such centres each living an inner life of personal experience which is peculiarly its own; and these personalities, we must remember, are not simply a homogeneous mass of social matter, they are capable of realising the good each in his or her own manner. This is the only realisation of the good.
In this chapter we have traced the attempt to reconcile science et conscience, after the way had been opened up by the maintenance of freedom. It was recognised that reason is not entirely pure speculation: it is also practical. Human nature seeks for goodness as well as for truth. It is noticeable that while the insistence upon the primacy of the practical reason developed, on the one hand, into a philosophy of action (anti-intellectual action in its extreme development as shown in Syndicalism), the same tendency, operating in a different manner and upon different data, essayed to find in action, and in the belief which arises from action, that Absolute or Ideal to which the pure reason feels it cannot alone attain—namely, the realisation of God. To this problem of religion we devote our next chapter.
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