Page images
PDF
EPUB

punishment, and the dread of divine vengeance, united in various proportions, form a body of feeling which checks the primitive tendency to pursue the objects of desire without regard to the interests of fellow-men. Containing none of the altruistic sentiment of justice, properly so called, this pro-altruistic sentiment of justice serves temporarily to cause respect for one another's claims, and so to make social co-operation possible.

§ 20. Creatures which become gregarious tend to become sympathetic in degrees proportionate to their intelligences. Not, indeed, that the resulting sympathetic tendency is exclusively, or even mainly, of that kind which the words ordinarily imply; for in some there is little beyond sympathy in fear, and in others little beyond sympathy in ferocity. All that is meant is that in gregarious creatures a feeling displayed by one is apt to arouse kindred feelings in others, and is apt to do this in proportion as others are intelligent enough to appreciate the signs of the feeling. In two chapters of the Principles of Psychology—“Sociality and Sympathy” and “Altruistic Sentiments ”_I have endeavoured to show how sympathy in general arises, and how there is eventually produced altruistic sympathy.

The implication is, then, that the associated state having been maintained among men by the aid of the pro-altruistic sentiment of justice, there have been maintained the conditions under which the altruistic sentiment of justice itself can develop. In a permanent group there occur, generation after generation, incidents simultaneously drawing from its members manifestations of like emotions -rejoicings over victories and escapes, over prey jointly captured, over supplies of wild food discovered; as well as laments over defeats, scarcities, inclemencies, &c. And to these greater pleasures and pains felt in common by all, and so expressing themselves that each sees in others the signs of feelings like those which he has and is displaying, must be

added the smaller pleasures and pains daily resulting from meals taken together, amusements, games, and from the not infrequent adverse occurrences which affect several persons at once.

Thus there is fostered that sympathy which makes the altruistic sentiment of justice possible.

But the altruistic sentiment of justice is slow in assuming a high form, partly because its primary component does not become highly developed until a late phase of progress, partly because it is relatively complex, and partly because it implies a stretch of imagination not possible for low intelligences. Let us glance at each of these reasons.

Every altruistic feeling presupposes experience of the corresponding egoistic feeling. As, until pain has been felt there cannot be sympathy with pain, and as one who has no ear for music cannot enter into the pleasure which music gives to others; so, the altruistic sentiment of justice can arise only after the egoistic sentiment of justice has arisen. Hence where this has not been developed in any considerable degree, or has been repressed by a social life of an adverse kind, the altruistic sentiment of justice remains rudimentary.

The complexity of the sentiment becomes manifest on observing that it is not concerned only with concrete pleasures and pains, but is concerned mainly with certain of the circumstances under which these are obtainable or preventible. As the egoistic sentiment of justice is gratified by maintenance of those conditions which render achievement of satisfactions unimpeded, and is irritated by the breaking of those conditions, it results that the altruistic sentiment of justice requires for its excitement not only the ideas of such satisfactions but also the ideas of those conditions which are in the one case maintained and in the other case broken.

Evidently, therefore, to be capable of this sentiment in a developed form, the faculty of mental representation must be relatively great. Where the feelings with which there is to be sympathy are simple pleasures and pains, the higher gregarious animals occasionally display it: pity and generosity are from time to time felt by them as well as by human beings. But to conceive simultaneously not only the feelings produced in another, but the plexus of acts and relations involved in the production of such feelings, presupposes the putting together in thought of more elements than an inferior creature can grasp at the same time. And. when we come to those most abstract forms of the sentiment of justice which are concerned with public arrangements, we see that only the higher varieties of men are capable of so conceiving the ways in which good or bad institutions and laws will eventually affect their spheres of action, as to be prompted to support or oppose them; and that only among these, therefore, is there excited, under such conditions, that sympathetic sentiment of justice which makes them defend the political interests of fellow-citizens.

There is, of course, a close connexion between the sentiment of justice and the social type. Predominant militancy, by the coercive form of organization it implies, alike in the fighting body and in the society which supports it, affords no scope for the egoistic sentiment of justice, but, contrariwise, perpetually tramples on it; and, at the same time, the sympathies which originate the altruistic sentiment of justice are perpetually seared by militant activities. On the other hand, in proportion as the régime of status is replaced by the régime of contract, or, in other words, as fast as voluntary co-operation which characterizes the industrial type of society, becomes more general than compulsory co-operation which characterizes the militant type of society, individual activities become less restrained, and the sentiment which rejoices in the scope for them is encouraged; while, simultaneously, the occasions for repressing the sympathies become less frequent. Hence, during warlike phases of social life the sentiment of justice retrogrades, while it advances during peaceful phases,

and can reach its full development only in a permanently peaceful state.*

* Permanent peace does in a few places exist, and where it exists the sentiment of justice is exceptionally strong and sensitive. I am glad to have again the occasion for pointing out that among men called uncivilized, there are some, distinguished by the entire absence of warlike activities, who in their characters put to shame the peoples called civilized. In Political Institutions, $$ 437 and 574, I have given eight examples of this connexion of facts, taken from races of different types.

CHAPTER V.

THE IDEA OF JUSTICE.

§ 21. While describing the sentiment of justice the way has been prepared for describing the idea of justice. Though the two are intimately connected they may be clearly distinguished.

One who has dropped his pocket-book and, turning round, finds that another who has picked it up will not surrender it, is indignant. If the goods sent home by a shopkeeper are not those he purchased, he protests against the fraud. Should his seat at a theatre be usurped during a momentary absence, he feels himself ill-used. Morning noises from a neighbour's poultry he complains of as grievances. And, meanwhile, he sympathizes with the anger of a friend who has been led by false statements to join a disastrous enterprise, or whose action at law has been rendered futile by a flaw in the procedure. But though, in these cases, his sense of justice is offended, he may fail to distinguish the essential trait which in each

causes the offence. He may have the sentiment of justice in full measure while his idea of justice remains vague. This relation between sentiment and idea is a matter of

The ways in which men trespass on one another become more numerous in their kinds, and more involved,

case

course.

« PreviousContinue »