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the inquisition of final causes, concur in availing themselves of its guidance in their physiological researches. A similar remark will be found to apply to other classes of scientific inquirers. Whatever their speculative opinions may be, the moment their curiosity is fairly engaged in the pursuit of truth, either physical or moral, they involuntarily, and often perhaps unconsciously, submit their understandings to a logic borrowed neither from the schools of Aristotle nor of Bacon. The ethical system (for example) of those ancient philosophers who held that Virtue consists in following Nature, not only involves a recognition of final causes, but represents the study of them, in as far as regards the ends and destination of our own being, as the great business and duty of life.* The system too of those physicians who profess to follow Nature in the treatment of diseases, by watching and aiding her medicative powers, assumes the same doctrine as its fundamental principle. A still more remarkable illustration, however, of the influence which this species of evidence has over the belief, even when we are the least aware of its connection with metaphysical conclusions, occurs in the history of the French Economical System. Of the comprehensive and elevated views which at first suggested it, the title of Physiocratie, by which it was early distinguished, affords a strong presumptive proof; and the same thing is more fully demonstrated, by the frequent recurrence made in it to the physical and moral laws of Nature, as the unerring standard which the legislator should keep in view in all his positive institutions.† I do not speak at present of the justness of these opinions. I wish only to remark, that, in the statement of them given by their original authors, it is taken for granted as a truth self-evident and indisputable, not merely that benevolent design is manifested in all the physical and moral arrangements con

"Discite, O miseri, et causas cognoscite rerum, Quid sumus, et quidnam victuri gigninur "‡ Εγω δε τι βουλομαι' καταμαθειν την φυσιν, και ταυτη έπεσθαι.



+"Ces lois forment ensemble ce qu'on appelle la loi naturelle. Tous les hommes et toutes les puissances humaines doivent être soumis à ces lois souveraines, instituées par l'être supreme: elles sont immutables et irrefragables, et les meilleurs loix possibies; et par conséquent, la base du governement le plus parfait, et la régle fondamentale de toutes les loix positives; car les loix positives ne sont que des loix de manutention relatives à l'ordre naturel evidemment le plus avantageux au genre humain.”||—Quesnag.

[Contemplate well this theatre of Man;
Observe the drama and its moral plan;
Study of things the causes and the ends:
Whence is our being, and to what it tends.]
Persius III. 66.

{ [To study nature, and to follow the path which she points out, is the object I seek.] [These laws form together what we call natural law. All men and all human powers must submit to these sovereign laws, instituted by the supreme being: they are immutable and irrefragable, and the best laws possible, and consequently the basis of the most perfect government, and the fundamental rule of all positive laws for positive laws are only laws of preservation relative to the natural order, which is evidently the most advantageous to the human race.]

nected with this globe, but that the study of these arrangements is indispensably necessary to lay a solid foundation for political sci




The same principles appear to have led Mr. Smith into that train of thinking which gave birth to his inquiries concerning National Wealth. "Man (he observes in one of his oldest manuscripts now extant) is generally considered by statesmen and projectors as the materials of a sort of political mechanics. Projectors dis"turb Nature in the course of her operations in human affairs; and "it requires no more than to let her alone, and give her fair play in "the pursuit of her own designs."—And in another passage: "Little "else is requisite to carry a state to the highest degree of opulence "from the lowest barbarism, but peace, easy taxes, and a tolerable "administration of justice; all the rest being brought about by the "natural course of things. All governments which thwart this na"tural course; which force things into another channel; or which "endeavour to arrest the progress of society at a particular point,


are unnatural, and to support themselves are obliged to be op"pressive and tyrannical."* Various other passages of a similar import might be quoted, both from his Wealth of Nations, and from his Theory of Moral Sentiments.

This doctrine of Smith and Quesnay, which tends to simplify the theory of legislation, by exploding the policy of those complicated checks and restraints which swell the municipal codes of most nations. has now, I believe, become the prevailing creed of thinking men all over Europe; and, as commonly happens to prevailing creeds, has been pushed by many of its partisans far beyond the views and intentions of its original authors. Such too is the effect of fashion, on the one hand, and of obnoxious phrases on the other, that it has found some of its most zealous abettors and propagators among writers who would, without a moment's hesitation, have rejected, as puerile and superstitious, any reference to final causes in a philosophical discussion.


Danger of confounding Final with Physical Causes in the Philosophy of the Human Mind.

HAVING said so much upon the research of Final causes in Physics, properly so called, I shall subjoin a few remarks on its application to the philosophy of the human mind;- -a science in which the just rules of investigation are as yet far from being generally understood. Of this no stronger proof can be produced, than the confusion between final and efficient causes, which perpetually recurs in the writings of our latest and most eminent moralists. The same confusion, as I have already observed; prevailed in the physical reason

* Biographical Memoirs of Smith, Robertson, and Reid, p. 100.


ings of the Aristotelians; but, since the time of Bacon, has been so completely corrected, that, in the wildest theories of modern naturalists, hardly a vestige of it is to be traced.

To the logical errour just mentioned it is owing, that so many false accounts have been given of the principles of human conduct, or of the motives by which men are stimulated to action. When the general laws of our internal frame are attentively examined, they will be found to have for their object the happiness and improvement both of the individual and of society. This is their Final Cause, or the end for which we may presume they were destined by our Maker. But, in such cases, it seldom happens, that, while man is obeying the active impulses of his nature, he has any idea of the ultimate ends which he is promoting; or is able to calculate the remote effects of the movements which he impresses on the little wheels around him. These active impulses, therefore, may, in one sense, be considered as the efficient causes of his conduct; in as much as they are the means employed to determine him to particular pursuits and habits; and as they operate (in the first instance, at least,) without any reflection on his part on the purposes to which they are subservient. Philosophers. however, have in every age been extremely apt to conclude, when they had discovered the salutary tendency of any active principle, that it was from a sense or foreknowledge of this tendency that the principle derived its origin. Hence have arisen the theories which attempt to account for all our actions from self-love; and also those which would esolve the whole of morality, either into political views of general expediency, or into an enlightened regard to our own best interests.

I do not know of any author who has been so completely aware of this common errour as Mr. Smith. In examining the principles connected with our moral constitution, he always treats separately of their final causes, and of the mechanism (as he calls it) by which nature accomplishes the effect; and he has even been at pains to point out to his successors the great importance of attending to the distinction between these two speculations "In every part of the


universe, we observe means adjusted with the nicest artifice to "the ends which they are intended to produce; and in the mecha"nism of a plant or animal body, admire how every thing is con"trived for advancing the two great purposes of nature, the sup


port of the individual, and the propagation of the species. But in "these, and in all such objects, we still distinguish the efficient from "the final cause of their several motions and organizations. The "digestion of the food, the circulation of the blood, and the secre❝tion of the several juices which are drawn from it, are operations "all of them necessary for the great purposes of animal life; yet 66 we never endeavour to account for them from those purposes as "from their efficient cause, nor imagine that the blood circulates,


or the food digests of its own accord, and with a view or intention "to the purposes of circulation or digestion. The wheels of the "watch are all admirably adapted to the end for which it was made,

"the pointing of the hour. All their various motions conspire in "the nicest manner to produce this effect. If they were endowed "with a desire and intention to produce it, they could not do it bet"ter. Yet we never ascribe any such intention or desire to them, "but to the watch-maker, and we know that they are put into mo"tion by a spring, which intends the effect it produces as little as "they do. But though, in accounting for the operations of bodies, "we never fail to distinguish, in this manner, the efficient from the "final cause, in accounting for those of the mind, we are apt to con"found these two different things with one another. When, by na"tural principles, we are led to advance those ends which a refined "and enlightened reason would recommend to us, we are very apt "to impute to that reason, as to their efficient cause, the sentiments "and actions by which we advance those ends, and to imagine that "to be the wisdom of Man, which, in reality, is the wisdom of God. "Upon a superficial view, this cause seems sufficient to produce the "effects which are ascribed to it; and the system of Human Nature "seems to be more simple and agreeable, when all its different ope"rations are, in this manner, deduced from a single principle."*

These remarks apply with peculiar force to a theory of morals which has made much noise in our own times;-a theory which resolves the obligation of all the different virtues into a sense of their utility. At the time when Mr. Smith wrote, it had been recently brought into fashion by the ingenious and refined disquisitions of Mr. Hume; and there can be little doubt, that the foregoing strictures were meant by the author as an indirect refutation of his friend's doctrines.

The same theory (which is of a very ancient date)† has been since revived by Mr. Godwin, and by the late excellent Dr. Paley. Widely as these two writers differ in the source whence they derive their rule of conduct, and the sanctions by which they enforce its observance, they are perfectly agreed about its paramount authority over every other principle of action. "Whatever is expedient (says "Dr. Paley) is right. It is the utility of any moral rule alone which "constitutes the obligation of it.. .. But then, it must be ex"pedient on the whole, at the long run, in all its effects collateral "and remote, as well as those which are immediate and direct; as "it is obvious, that, in computing consequences, it makes no diffe"rence in what way, or at what distance they ensue."§-Mr. God

Theory of Moral Sentiments, Vol. I. p. 216, et seq. 6th edit.

"Ipsa utilitas, justi prope mater et aequi." Horat. Sat. Lib. I. 3.

Principles of Moral and Political Philosophy, Vol. I. p. 70. (5th edit.) [Paley's Works, vol. iii. p. 70. Boston edit.]

Ibid. p. 78. (Boston edit. p. 75)

In another part of his work, Dr. Paley explicitly asserts, that every moral rule is liable

[Sense, custom, social good, from whence arise
All forms of right and wrong.]

win has no where expressed himself, on this fundamental question of practical ethics, in terms more decided and unqualified.

The observations quoted from Mr. Smith on the proneness of the mind, in moral speculations, to confound together efficient and final causes, furnish a key to the chief difficulty, by which the patrons of this specious but very dangerous system have been misled.

Among the qualities connected with the different virtues, there is none more striking than their beneficial influence on social happiness; and accordingly, moralists of all descriptions, when employed in enforcing particular duties, such as justice, veracity, temperance, and the various charities of private life, never fail to enlarge on the numerous blessings which follow in their train. The same observation may be applied to self-interest; in as much, as the most effectual way of promoting it is universally acknowledged to be by a strict and habitual regard to the obligations of morality.In consequence of this unity of design, which is not less conspicuous in the moral than in the natural world, it is easy for a philosopher to give a plausible explanation of all our duties from one principle; because the general tendency of all of them is to determine us to the same course of life. It does not, however, follow from this, that it is from such a comprehensive survey of the consequences of human conduct, that our ideas of right and wrong are derived; or that we are entitled, in particular cases, to form rules of action to ourselves, drawn from speculative conclusions concerning the final causes of our moral constitution. If it be true (as some theologians have presumed to assert) that benevolence is the sole principle of action in the Deity, we must suppose that the duties of veracity and justice were enjoined by Him, not on account of their intrinsic rectitude, but of their utility: but still, with respect to man, these are sacred and indispensable laws-laws which he never transgresses, without incurring the penalties of self-condemnation and remorse : And indeed if, without the guidance of any internal monitor, he were left to infer the duties incumbent on him from a calculation and comparison of remote effects, we may venture to affirm, that there would not be enough of virtue left in the world to hold society together.

To those who have been accustomed to reflect on the general analogy of the human constitution, and on the admirable adaptation of its various parts to that scene in which we are destined to act, this last consideration will, independently of any examination of the fact, suggest a very strong presumption a priori against the doc

to be superseded in particular cases on the ground of expediency. "Moral philosophy cannot pronounce that any rule of morality is so rigid as to bend to no exceptions; nor, on the other hand, ean she comprise these exceptions within any previous description. She confesses, that the obligation of every law depends upon its ultimate utility; that this utility, having a finite and determinate value, situations may be feigned, and consequently may possibly arise, in which the general tendency is outwei hed by the enormity of the particular mischief; and of course, where ultimate utility renders it as much an act of duty to break the rule, as it is on other occasions to observe it." Vol. ii. p. 411. (Vol. iii. p. 509. Boston edit.)

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