Dr. Thilly, Professor of Philosophy in the University of Missouri, has made distinctive additions to English philosophical reading by his translations of Weber's excellent History of Philosophy and of Paulsen's System of Ethics, and he now appears before the public as an independent author of an Introduction to Ethics, a work which upon the face ...
Dr. Thilly, Professor of Philosophy in the University of Missouri, has made distinctive additions to English philosophical reading by his translations of Weber's excellent History of Philosophy and of Paulsen's System of Ethics, and he now appears before the public as an independent author of an Introduction to Ethics, a work which upon the face of it makes no higher pretension than that of being a text-book, but as such is simple and clear, accurate in its analyses of past and current systems, and showing much common sense in its modes of exposition. In his first chapter, Professor Thilly treats of the nature and methods of ethics. He discusses here, first, the function of science, -in a manner which in our opinion does not altogether do justice to the subject, even within the limited space devoted to it. He then considers in a general way the data of the various sciences, afterwards taking up the data of the science of ethics in particular, and defining ethics roughly as "the science of right and wrong, the science of duty, the science of moral principles, the science of moral judgment and conduct. It analyses, classifies, describes, and explains moral phenomena, on their subjective as well as on their objective side. It tells us what these phenomena are, separates them into their constituent elements, and refers them to their antecedents or conditions; it discovers the principles upon which they are based, the laws which govern them; it explains their origin and traces their development. In short, it reflects upon them, thinks them over, attempts to answer all possible questions which may be asked with reference to them. It does with its facts what every science does with its subject-matter: it strives to know everything that can be known about them, to correlate them, to unify them, to insert them into a system." After this preliminary statement as to subject-matter and method, Dr. Thilly notes the interrelation of all sciences, and especially that of ethics and psychology. He remarks, for example, '' that in so far as ethics deals with moral states of consciousness, it is simply a special branch of psychology." And he continues: "But our science does not only look at the subjective side of conduct, it investigates the objective side also, and the relation which this bears to the subjective. What, it asks, is the nature of the acts which are judged moral; do they possess some mark or characteristic that makes them moral or leads men to call them so? Why do men judge as they do; what is the ground of moral distinctions? Why is wrong wrong, and right right? Explain the virtues and duties, e. g., benevolence, charity, justice, veracity, etc., and their opposites. Is there a standard or criterion or ideal by which conduct is judged, and what is it? Can we justify this standard or ideal, or is it something that cannot or need not be justified? Given a certain ideal or standard, what conduct is moral, what immoral? Does humanity remain true to the ideal? What is the highest good for man, the end of life? Can we specify it scientifically, or is it impossible to do so? -"The Monist," Vol. 11
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