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This book treats of three phases in the evolution of morality: objective morality, the morality of the inner life, and a synthesis of these two ideals.
The first stage is the ethics of "status," of race, of blood, of solidarity. The will is organized by custom and tradition about objective social interests, the family, property and the state. The material for this stage is taken largely from Homer and the Old Testament.
Between the first and second stages there is a movement of transition. It is to be seen in Jeremiah and in Socrates. This is a movement of criticism and of moral detachment from the older objective interests of family and nationality. This development culminated in the death of Socrates and the crucifixion of Jesus.
The second stage is the outgrowth of the conflict between the newer conscience and the older objective régime. It results in a new empire of the inner life. Detached, through conflict, from objective organized interests, the will and the conscience build a kingdom within. This stage is seen in Epictetus and St. Francis. But the thousand years' reign of this ideal is more theoretical than real. This inner ideal compromises in Mediævalism and in Protestantism and it completely breaks down in the Renaissance and in modern science. The inner ideal must be regarded not as an absolute reality but as a rehearsal for a richer objective life, in the family, in one's vocation, in the state.
Thus we are led to a synthesis of the inner ideal and objective, scientific morality. Conduct is determined primarily not
by an inner ideal but by the traditions of the society in which the individual is born and educated. Through the evolution of knowledge conduct later becomes intelligent and voluntary. From this point of view modern morality may come to be a deepening and enriching of the objective patterns of conduct, the family, property, vocation, the state. This implies a new definition of the individual. Such a synthesis would make possible a kingdom on the earth for the inner world of the heart.
J. D. S.