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Compassion is the Basis of All Morality

To have the exercise of justice suspended in certain circumstances, and to have its essence totally destroyed, are widely different. It is admitted above, that universal moderation and equity would render courts of law very little useful; and I also admit, that perfect rapaciousness and malice would make men ungovernable. But does it follow from either of these admissions, that man is destitute of a moral sense? Benevolence is admitted by our author to be inherent in the nature of man. A state may be supposed so flourishing as to afford no objects for compassion, a branch of benevolence: its exercise would be suspended; but would its essence be totally destroyed? Let proper objects appear, and it will not lie dormant. Why not the same in justice? I add in general, that more solid evidence is necessary than bare suppositions to prove or disprove controverted facts.

But almost always it can be justified as a moral principle on the basis of compassion.

Since one of the issues at the heart of the controversy was that of moral agency, it should be noted that Kames also revised another essay that took up this theme. For the third edition, he not only expanded the essay on personal identity but also moved it to Part I, because of “its intimate connection with the moral system.” Kames was now concerned to argue—against Hume’s notion of a fluid and potentially discontinuous sense of self—that moral agency requires a sense of continuous selfhood: “The knowledge I have of my personal identity is what constitutes me a moral agent, accountable to God and to man for every action of my life. Were I kept ignorant of my personal identity, it would not be in my power to connect any of my past actions with myself. . . . It would answer no good purpose, to reward me for a benevolent act, or to punish me for a crime” (p. 128). Again, the underlying concern is to establish the prerequisites for justice and natural law.

Is compassion the basis of all morality

Jun 18, 2014 · ”Compassion is the basis of morality”-Schopenhauer,essay by ..

The Essays is commonly considered Kames’s most important philosophical work. In the first part, he sets forth the principles and foundations of morality and justice, attacking Hume’s moral skepticism and addressing the controversial issue of the freedom of human will. In the second part, Kames focuses on questions of metaphysics and epistemology to offer a natural theology in which the authority of the external senses is an important basis for belief in the Deity.

Natural law theory has been taken up and modified more recently bythree philosophers who write in a style closer to the analytictradition, John Finnis, Alastair MacIntyre and Jean Porter. Finnisholds that our knowledge of the fundamental moral truths isself-evident, and so is not deduced from human nature. His NaturalLaw and Natural Rights (1980) was a landmark in integrating themodern vocabulary and grammar of rights into the tradition of NaturalLaw. MacIntyre, who has been on a long journey back from Marxism toThomism, holds that we can know what kind of life we ought to live onthe basis of knowing our natural end, which he now identifies intheological terms. In After Virtue (1981) he is stillinfluenced by a Hegelian historicism, and holds that the only way tosettle rival knowledge claims is to see how successfully each canaccount for the shape taken by its rivals. A different account ofnatural law is found in Porter, who in Nature as Reason(2005) retains the view that our final motivation is our own happinessand perfection, but rejects the view that we can deduce absoluteaction-guiding moral principles from human nature. Anothercontemporary school is virtue ethics, for example Philippa Foot inNatural Goodness (2001) and Rosalind Hursthouse in OnVirtue Ethics (1999). They are not Roman Catholic but they arestrongly influenced by Aristotle and Aquinas. They emphasize thenotion of virtue which belongs to human nature just as bees havestings. Hursthouse ends her book by saying that we have to hold ontothe hope that we can live together, not at each other'sexpense, a hope which she says used to be called belief in (God's)Providence (On Virtue Ethics, 265). One final contribution tobe mentioned here is Linda Zagzebski's Divine MotivationTheory (2004) which proposes, as an alternative to divine commandtheory, that we can understand all moral normatively in terms of thenotion of a good emotion, and that God's emotions are the bestexemplar. We will return to the rebirth of divine command theory atthe end of this entry.

Essays on Compassion Is The Basis Of All Morality

Free Essays on Compassion Is The Basis Of All Morality. Get help with your writing. 1 through 30

A full account of our principles of action would be an endless theme. But as it is proposed to confine the present short essay to the laws which govern social life, we shall have no occasion to inquire into any principles of action, but what are directed to others; dropping those which have self alone for their object. And in this inquiry, we set out with the following question, In what sense are we to hold a principle of universal benevolence, as belonging to human nature? This question is of importance in the science of morals: for, as observed above, universal benevolence cannot be a duty, if we be not antecedently promp[t]ed to it by a natural principle. When we consider a single man, abstracted from all circumstances and all connections, we are not conscious of any benevolence to him; we feel nothing within us that prompts us to advance his happiness. If one be agreeable at first sight and attract any degree of affection, it is owing to looks, manners, or behaviour. And for evidence of this we are as apt to be disgusted at first sight, as to be pleased. Man is by nature a shy and timorous animal. Every new object gives an impression of fear, till upon better acquaintance it is discovered to be harmless. Thus an infant clings to its nurse, upon the sight of a new face; and this natural dread is not removed but by experience. If every human creature did produce affection in every other at first sight, children, by natural instinct, would be fond of strangers. But no such instinct discovers itself. The fondness of a child is confined to the nurse, the parents, and those who are most about it; till by degrees it opens to a sense of other connections. This argument may be illustrated by a low, but apt instance. Dogs have by nature an affection for the human species; and puppies run to the first man they see, show marks of fondness, and play about his feet. There is no such general fondness of man to man by nature. Certain circumstances are always required to produce and call it forth. Distress indeed never fails to beget sympathy. The misery of the most unknown gives us pain, and we are prompted by nature to afford relief. But when there is nothing to call forth our sympathy; where there are no peculiar circumstances to interest us or beget a connection, we rest in a state of indifference, and are not conscious of wishing either good or ill to the person. Those moralists therefore who require us to lay aside all partial affection and to act upon a principle of equal benevolence to all men, require us to act upon a principle, which has no place in our nature.

Thus it is clear, that the sense of property owes not its existence to society. But in a matter of so great importance in the science of morals, I cannot rest satisfied with a successful defence. I aim at a complete victory, by insisting on a proposition directly opposite to that of my antagonist, namely, That society owes its existence to the sense of property; or at least, that without this sense no society ever could have been formed. In the proof of this proposition, we have already made a considerable progress, by evincing that man by his nature is a hoarding animal and loves to store for his own use. In order to the conclusion, we have but one farther step to make; which is, to consider what originally would have been the state of man, supposing him destitute of the sense of property. The answer is extremely obvious, That it would have been a state of universal war—of men preying upon each other—of robbing and pilfering the necessaries of life where ever found, without regard to industry, or the connection that is formed betwixt an individual and the fruits of his own labour. Courage and bodily strength would have stood in place of right, and nothing left for the weak, but to hide themselves and their goods. And to do Hobbes justice, who, as well as our author, denies the sense of property to be natural, he fairly owns this reasoning to be just, and boldly asserts that the state of nature is a state of war, all against all. In a word, destitute of the sense of property, men would naturally be enemies to each other, no less than they are to wolves and foxes at present. Now, if this must have been the original condition of man, let our author say, by what over-ruling power, by what miracle, individuals so disposed ever came to unite in society. We may pronounce with great assurance, that so signal a revolution in the state of man could never have been compassed by natural means. Nothing can be more evident than that relying upon the sense of property and of justice, a few individuals ventured at first to unite for mutual defence and mutual support; and finding the manifold comforts of such a state, that they afterward gradually united into larger and larger societies.

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Arthur Schopenhauer — ‘Compassion is the basis of all morality’

We are now prepared to carry on the speculation suggested in the beginning of this chapter. In ranking the moral virtues according to their dignity and merit, one would readily imagine, that the primary virtues should be intitled to the highest class, as being more essential to society than the secondary. But, upon examination, we find that this is not the order of nature. The first rank in point of dignity is assigned to the secondary virtues, which are not the first in point of utility. Generosity, in the sense of mankind, hath more merit than justice; and other secondary virtues, undaunted courage, magnanimity, heroism, rise still higher in our esteem. Is not nature whimsical and irregular, in ranking after this manner the moral virtues? One at first view would think so. But, like other difficulties that meet us in contemplating the works of nature, this arises from partial and obscure views. When the whole is surveyed as well as its several parts, we discover, that nature has here taken her measures with peculiar foresight and wisdom. Let us only recollect what is inculcated in the foregoing part of this essay, that justice is enforced by natural sanctions of the most effectual kind, by which it becomes a law in the strictest sense, a law that never can be transgressed with impunity. To extend this law to generosity and the other secondary virtues, and to make these our duty, would produce an in consistency in human nature. It would make universal benevolence a strict duty, to which the limited capacity and more limited abilities of man, bear no proportion. Generosity, therefore, heroism, and all the extraordinary exertions of virtue, must be left to our own choice, without annexing any punishment to the forbearance. Day-light now begins to break in upon us. If the secondary virtues must not be enforced by punishment, it becomes necessary that they be encouraged by reward; for without such encouragement, examples would be rare of sacrificing one’s own interest to that of others. And after considering the matter with the utmost attention, I cannot imagine any reward more proper than that actually bestowed, which is to place these virtues in the highest rank, to give them a superior dignity, and to make them productive of grand and lofty emotions. To place the primary virtues in the highest rank, would no doubt be a strong support to them. But as this could not be done without displacing the secondary virtues, detruding them into a lower rank, and consequently depriving them of their reward, the alteration would be ruinous to society. It would indeed more effectually prevent injustice and wrong; but would it not as effectually prevent the exercise of benevolence, and of numberless reciprocal benefits in a social state? If it would put an end to our fears, so it would to our hopes. And, to say all in one word, we would, in the midst of society, become solitary beings; worse if possible than being solitary in a desart. Justice at the same time is not left altogether destitute of reward. Though it reaches not the splendor of the more exalted virtues, it gains at least our esteem and approbation; and, which is still of greater importance, it never fails to advance the happiness of those who obey its dictates, by the mental satisfaction it bestows.

Compassion is the basis of morality essay

These considerations give the author of this essay a just concern to proceed with the utmost circumspection in his inquiries, and to try his conclusions by their true touchstone, that of facts and experiments. Had this method been strictly followed, the world would not have been perplexed with that variety of inconsistent systems, which unhappily have rendered morality a difficult and intricate science. An attempt to restore it to its original simplicity and authority, must be approved, however short one falls in the execution. Writers differ about the origin of the laws of nature, and they differ about the laws themselves. As the author is not fond of controversy, he will attempt a plan of the laws of nature, drawn from their proper source, laying aside what has been written on this subject.

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