Paul Brown, “A Moral Catechism” (1822)

An appendix to Paul Brown’s 1822 work, An Enquiry Concerning the Nature, End and Practicability of a Course of Philosophical Education. It contains a rather fascinating attempt to sketch out a system of virtues, faculties and passions.



Question. What is the chief end of man?

Answer. Happiness.

Q. In what sense is happiness the chief end of man?

A. Happiness is the chief end of man in this sense, that it is the chief end of his pursuit, the prevailing object in which all his wishes terminate, and that to which his desires and aversions have continual reference.

Q. What is happiness?

A Contentment or satisfaction.

Q. What is contentment or satisfaction?

A. The possession of such a state of mind as from a clear view of the realities that environ us, and to which our capacities are competent, precludes the prevalence of desire over serene pleasure.

Q. What does contentment immediately depend upon?

A. Such a contemperament of the motions in the human constitution, as precludes violent desire; insomuch that a greater degree of pleasure than of uneasiness, is in that constitution.

Q. Is happiness capable of being increased?

A. It is capable of being made more permanent and more sublime.

Q. How can it be made more permanent?

A. By rendering more permanent the causes upon which it depends: and this is done chiefly by expunging what is fluctuating, from the usual exciting objects of desire, and reducing them in number.

Q. How can it be made more sublime?

A. By abstracting and subliming the relations of desire, and by relaxing its attachments to sensible objects. The principal secret of procuring the greatest degree of happiness our constitution admits of, consists in reducing the objects that prevail to move desire, to such as are within the controul of our power; so that those objects shall be the pleasure of doing good, the pleasure of knowledge, and the pleasure of exercising the highest faculties.

Q. What proceeding is that by which men bring about these effects?

A. Exercise of the power of voluntary thinking.

Q. Is it this alone that is sufficient to carry man to this consummation?

A. No; but this is the beginning of what is within his power to contribute towards it, and is first necessary. The effect of his actions upon other beings has great influence either to retard or accelerate this accomplishment.

Q. What rule is that by which man is to be guided in the measures of his conduct, in order to attain the greatest degree of happiness he is capable of attaining?

A. The law of the universe.

Q. What is the law of the universe?

A. That law by which all the motions in the universe are directed and have their constant effects.

Q. But what does the law of the universe essentially consist in?

A. It essentially consists in the active and passive powers of all the beings in the great system of substances whereby they are capacitated to act upon each other and be influenced by each other, according to certain measures, and the events which constitute these operations have their continued causality.

Q. What is the enforcement of the law of the universe?

A. A chain of causes and effects that invariably follow one another throughout duration and space. In a general view, “the state of the universe in this present instant, may be considered as the effect of the state of the universe in the preceding instant and the cause of the state of the universe in the next succeeding instant.”

Q. Is not the law of the universe exceedingly implicit?

A. It is so; and in its axioms as much diversified as are the kinds of beings which compose the universe; in which varieties it is the same that some have called the “laws of nature.”

Q. In what manner do the massy parts of visible nature, obey this law?

A. By attraction and gravitation. Herein this immutable law, which the plastic original of all impressed upon each particle or atom of substance, so operates upon the bulky portions of matter as to hold intervolved systems of planets and comets in a steady circuition at proportionable distances about more massy globes, whose attractive influence balances their centrifugal tendency.

Q. Are not those of the same kind of properties that exhibit their effects in the operations of smaller pieces of matter?

A. The very same: thus stones thrown to a certain distance from its surface, directly redound to the earth by virtue of their gravitating tendency. Also flame ascends from the earth’s surface, and likewise smoke till it reaches a region of the atmosphere where air of the same volume is of the same weight with its own. Water is invincibly prone to seek a level, or to be continually gliding, one particle over another, till all become level.

Q. How does the law of the universe affect the different races of percipient beings?

A. In general by uniformly subjecting them all to the consequences that flow from the property of perceptivity.

Q. Are all the races of perceiving beings social, and have fellow feeling for the same species?

A. Most of those we are acquainted with, particularly mankind, are gregarious, and have peculiar feelings among themselves in regard one individual for another.

Q. Does not the law of the universe annex to a certain species of organization peculiar powers, active and passive, and to those powers certain effects, which are inseparable from their operations and relations?

A. It does; and we find that man has some powers and properties which far exceed those of all other races which we are acquainted with, and inconsequence of them is subject to, and capable of, a great number of feelings and actions, which never come within the comprehension of those.

Q. Are not the tendencies of our voluntary action’s imposed by the law of the universe?

A. Certainly they are; and we can no more alter those tendencies than we can alter the motions of the planets, suns, and comets.

Q. But if the very causes of men’s actions, as of all things, are the natural ascendancy of certain properties impressed upon atoms by the originary principle of mobility, what skill can man put into practice to shape his course, what counsel can he take, what has he to do?

A. Man has liberty; therefore man has much to do.

Q. What is liberty?

A. A power to do or forbear to do what one will.

Q. What is will?

A. A movement in the sensorium, contrary to perception.

Q. What is the sensorium, so called by the physiologists?

A. A substance that distinguishes organized locomoving systems from vegetables, and is supposed to be the constituent matter of the brain and nerves; its centre being the central part of the brain.

Q. What is that which immediately causes the motion of the sensorium?

A. A substance supposed to be secreted from the atmosphere, and to be the same as electric fluid.

Q. What are the powers of the sensorium?

A. They are four; the power of irritation, the power of sensation, the power of association, and the power of volition, from which follows voluntary action. The results of these several powers exerted are respectively called modes of the sensorium, or of sensorial operation.

Q. What are these modes?

A. Irritation is a movement in the extreme parts of the sensorium that reside in the secondary organs of motion and sense, in consequence of the appulse of external bodies. Sensation is a movement of the central parts of the sensorium or of the whole of it, beginning in the extreme parts residing in the secondary organs of motion and sense. Association is such a connecting of two or more motions of different fibres as makes them simultaneous, or follow one another in immediate consecution. Volition is a movement of the central parts of the sensorium, or of the whole of it, beginning in the centre, and terminating in some of the extreme parts which reside in the secondary organs of motion and sense. Volition is called the act of the will; it is the beginning of voluntary exertion, and whatsoever action follows it in consecution of dependency, is called voluntary action.

Q. What is that which determines the will?

A. Desire. The greatest uneasiness of desire at the present moment felt, usually determines the will rather than the idea of any future good however clearly discerned, or rationally adjudged to be a greater good than is the gratification of the present desire. But in a prudent man these are collateral; the greatest desire is that of the greatest good.

Q. If then the successive motives that determine the will in the actions that make up our lives, have their place in the concatenation of effects that comes from, original impressions upon substance, and sometimes seeming chance, and if a concourse of extraneous causes may make one desire to prevail rather than another, and it is out of the province of will to determine which Mt any particular time shall be the greatest desire, where is liberty?

A. Liberty comes after the act of the will. Liberty being a power to do, and to forbear to do, what one will, (to forbear being equally in one’s power as to do,) it is evident that it essentially consists in these two things: 1. An indifferency in the operative faculties to action or rest; and 2. A power to suspend the operative faculties from proceeding consecutively to the first volition, into the execution of what the will has therein directed, and, in the interval, to deliberate upon its eligibility. Here then is liberty. Here is the highest degree of freedom we can form any notion of. Man then is a free agent in those cases wherein he has this power to hold his operative faculties in suspense so far as respects a particular act of his will. For when man exercises this power to forbear to do what he has willed, and, suspending the consecution of his action, deliberates and applies his reasoning power to the balancing of the consequences of those respective actions which are equally in his power, he becomes the modifyer of his own motives,— the motives that determine his will. For if the last determination be different from the first volition, it is beyond question that that suspension and deliberation constitute the efficient cause of it. This state of mind and ascendancy of the motive, are brought about by the man’s free exercise of the power to forbear to act. If we extend his freedom a hair’s breadth farther than this, we give man the power of creation: for we cannot conceive man to have any higher power than this, without supposing him to have a power equal to the renovation of the whole system of things. And also this is the highest degree of liberty and all the free agency of which we are competent to an adequate and distinct idea; whether any other degrees of this kind of power are possessed by superior beings or no.
Q. What is morality?
A. Morality is that which is used instead of the word ethics, to denote that science which directs us to the appropriate means and processes to attain the greatest degree of happiness we are capable of; and in order to this end, to improve our active powers to their highest perfection in habit: which, for this purpose, takes into view not only the specific powers and properties of our constitution, and the causality and tendency of our actions, but also several measures and rules to direct our conduct towards the attainment of that end. The main business of its inculcation is to define the particular duties that arise from our several relations to other parts of the universe, especially to individuals of our own race; and to render those duties pleasant

Q. Does not morality draw all its dogmas from the law of the universe?

A. It does. The law of the universe contains the principles of all the maxims of ethics.

Q. What particular part of the law of the universe is that upon which is grounded the reason of our sense of obligation towards other living creatures?
A. Sympathy.

Q. What is sympathy?

A. A species of imitation.

Q. What is imitation?

A. Acting over, or copying, such movement as is acted, or conceived to be acted, by another subject.

Q. How many sorts of imitation are there?

A. Three sorts; physical, sensitive, and voluntary.

Q. What physical imitation?

A. Physical imitation is that which takes place among the parts of an organized animated system, indepenently of a perception of the movement that is imitated; as the fibres of the face imitate the stomach in a vivid action when the latter is excited by a copious meal. The salivary glands are imitated by the pancreas in the degree and manner of their action. This sort also is called sympathy by the physicians, and is called reverse sympathy when one part imitates or follows another in its change of motion or course, yet acts contrarily in the degree of the movement to which it changes: as the nerves of the head, on the quiescence or decreased motion of the stomach, increase in action; and vice versa.

Q. What is sensitive imitation?

A. It is the imitating or acting over, by our nerves of sense (or sensitive fibres) the motions of correspondent parts of other individual systems, in consequence of the conception or idea of their existence in those foreign subjects. Thus on seeing the arm of an individual bruised or violently torn, we feel pain in a correspondent part of ourselves, by reason of the nervous fibres of our own arm approximating an imitation of those of the wounded limb, in their movement. Seeing one we judge to be cheerful or serenely delighted, we feel serene pleasure obsequiously to the irritation of the significant concomitant. And thus also the appearance of a depressed countenance makes us sad.

Q. What is voluntary imitation?

A. That which is free, and follows volition: as monkeys imitating the actions of men; one man imitating the manners or pursuits of another, — as aping one’s style, gait, dress, &c.

Q. What is that species of imitation which is called sympathy, as in the concerns of morality it relates to our accountability as social beings?

A. Sensitive imitation. Sensitive imitation is that sort which in this view takes the name of sympathy: in which we consider ourselves put in the places of others in regard of those particular feelings, the ideas of which produce such movement. This is refined and extended as the operations of intellect are improved, and may be called reflective sympathy i when we sympathize with the reflections and enter into the views of others. When this concerns those things that stand immediately connected with voluntary exertion, it is sometimes called moral sympathy.

Q. What is the distinction of sympathy when applied in the concerns of morality?

A. Sympathy, as applied in the concerns of morality, is distinguished into direct and indirect. Direct sympathy is assimilation of our thoughts and feelings, or emotions, to those of another. Indirect sympathy is the like conformity of our thoughts and feelings, or emotions, to those of a third party, in the consequence to thoughts, feelings, and emotions, in another party, and which, in relation to the latter, may be either congenial or repugnant,— as gratitude for good received, and resentment for evil; when we are said to sympathize with the approbation or with the disapprobation of others. Thus indirect sympathy has a double reference; direct sympathy, only a single and immediate reference.

Q. Does our voluntary power extend to our thoughts?

A. We have the power to direct and determine the trains of our thought: and what follows this direction, is called voluntary thinking. It is also called reflection; it being a diverse operation upon those ideas we get by way of our senses; the possibilities of the varieties of which operation are called faculties.

Q. How many sorts of voluntary thinking are there?

A. Discerning, comparing, compounding, attention, contemplation, study, abstracting, recollection, and reasoning which is compounded of several of the others. These are called the modes of voluntary thinking. There is also resverie which is merely an intent continued course of voluntary thinking, comprising any or all of the foregoing modes directed to some determinate theme, wherein the energy of the voluntary exertion excludes all other sensorial operations in eve? ry instance that does not conspicuously coincide with the train that immediately occupies the mind. Memory and imagination are not voluntary; but may be called modes of sensitive thinking, although ideas that have been voluntary ate sometimes resuscitated, in their trains.

Q. By what distinctions do you define these several modes?

A. Discerning is perceiving the relation and mutual habitude of two ideas, in their difference or likeness, — as their proportion, &c. Comparing is taking a view of two ideas or objects, one in reference to another, in order to determine their relative aspects. Compounding is considering two or more of those appearances successively in addition one to another. Attention is a more than ordinary alert observation of any perception or succession of thoughts; or otherwise a circumspect voluntary notice of the train of our perceptions and reflections. Contemplation is the retaining of one idea or train of ideas under a single view of the understanding for a considerable time together. Study is a deliberate curious examining of an idea or number of ideas on all sides and in all habitudes in which they may be considered. This is made up of attention, comparing, and discerning. Abstracting is the forming of general ideas that represent whole classes and races of beings; which is done by separating any particular idea or select contexture of ideas from those circumstances of connection which determine it to a subject of particular existence, and considering it as representative of a large number of individual beings which correspond in that particular. Recollection is the voluntary seeking to revive ideas formerly impressed; and voluntary excitation of all possible accompaniments that lead to such revival. Reasoning is the process for discerning the agreement or disagreement of two ideas remote from each other whose aspects do not at once appear, by the agreement or disagreement of two or more other ideas immediately compared together; thus deducing and deriving propositions at present unknown, from other propositions previously known and established; and consists of four parts, or stages. 1. Finding out intermediate ideas for the purpose,— these intermediate ideas are called proofs; 2. Laying them together in just order: 3. Perceiving their agreement or disagreement; 4. Drawing the conclusion; which is determining the agreement or disagreement of the two extreme ideas thereby. Therefore this is made up of attention, comparing, compounding, and discerning. Besides these, there is a state of mind called resverie, which is a train of voluntary thinking that surmounts the irritation of external objects of sense, so far as they counterview a certain point which for the time beng concentrates the whole energy of contemplation. This excludes the intervention of all other notices that do not fall within an experienced connection with, or resolve themselves into, the immediate object of this voluntary energy. Remembrance is a revival of any of those appearances, images, ideas of sensation or reflection, that have before existed in the mind. This is done without the aid of volition and is incompatible with it? therefore this is not voluntary thinking. So neither is imagination, which is a succession of ideas which do not immediately arise by way of volition, sensation, or irritation, but rather by association, whereby different ones are made to appear than those which have been formerly perceived, by the various coalescing of such particulars as have been before experienced by any or all the ways of thinking.

Q. What is conscience?

A. That sense whereby we distinguish right and wrong in our voluntary actions, and whereby delight is accompanied with the idea of right, and pain or uneasiness with that of wrong; which is no other than the faculty of discerning applied to the relation of our free actions to a rule. It is also called the moral sense, and the moral faculty.

Q. What is conscience derived from?

A. Sympathy.

Q. What is right and wrong?

A. The direct and confessed tendency of an action to produce happiness in any of our fellow creatures, or to produce pain; or else, in its ultimate efficiency, of one action to produce more happiness than pain, and of another to produce more pain than happiness.

Q. What then is the rule to which our actions are referred as to a standard?

A. The law of the universe. So, as one has more extended knowledge and adequate conceptions of this part of the law of the universe which relates to the actions of men, the greater is his power of conscience, that is, the keener his sensibility of right and wrong.

Q. How does the law of the universe determine the right and wrong of actions?

A. By fixing and bounding their tendency; directing it to the ultimate production of pleasure or pain in others; and making some actions to be the causes of happiness and others to be the causes of misery; whence it is said to command some actions to be done in order to avoid the misery to which they regularly tend. And the relation of those actions which, conformably to this placit of the law of the universe tend to produce happiness, is called right, or moral good; and the actions themselves virtuous actions; and the relation of those actions to the same principle of the law of the universe, which by being contrary to this command tend to produce pain or misery, is called wrong, or moral evil; and the actions themselves vicious actions.

Q. What is passion when applied to morality?

A. Passion is an emotion originating either in irritation, perception, or memory, which partakes of more than one of the operations of the sensorium; in which either sensation or volition predominates, and is therefore either sensitive or voluntary. There are numerous and various passions. Those passions in which voluntary motion predominates, may be denominated voluntary passions; and those in which sensation of pleasure or pain predominates, may be denominated sensitive passions.

Q. How can this definition be true?

A. In every passion is voluntary thought and sensitive thought; one or the other of which predominating, must properly fix the distinctive character of the passion, and denominate it either voluntary or sensitive. Irritation has no share in a passion, actually; and association has less to do than the other two modes. There is unquestionably attention, for without attending to the objects that cause emotion, no emotion could be developed. Attention is a voluntary act; therefore passion participates, in some degree, of voluntary exertion. Surprize, and all its degrees, are affections of the mind, which are indifferent to the accompaniment of either pleasure or pain, and therefore surprize is not specifically a passion. It moreover may accompany a passion: it frequently accompanies fear. Surprize is an incident of our ideas as they flow or arise in succession; and passion is an incident of our sensorial motions.

Q. How are the passions distributed?

A. The passions are either primary or compounded.

Q. What are the primary passions?

A. The primary passions are those which are original, and have their distinctive characters without any mixture with other particular passions. They are desire, love, anger, joy, hope, fear, sorrow, hatred, pity, despair, grief, envy, shame.

Q. What is desire?

A. Desire is uneasiness felt in the want of pleasurable sensation, and incitement of volition towards the procurement of that which is the cause of such pleasure. This is the approach towards volition; the first struggle of the voluntary power with sensation, towards any object. This might therefore be called a voluntary passion: but it being uneasiness, partakes of sensation, and is painful; which also being its beginning, and first excitement, it is probably with more propriety termed a sensitive passion.

Q. What is love?

A. Love is the emotion that accompanies the thought of an object the possession of which is apt to delight. Love is mostly a gentle sensation, originating from an idea of memory, or imagination, or irritation.

Q. What is anger?

A. Anger is a thought of an injury received, voluntarily kept in view, with strong impulsions of the voluntary energy towards the purpose of revenge, i. e. towards a determination on the return of injury for it. This is obviously a voluntary passion; yet it is seen also to participate of sensation, in that it is a painful and uneasy emotion. Anger, in its intensity, suppresses sympathy.

Q. What is joy?

A. Joy is distinguished by the assurance of some present possession or event which is capable of causing delight. Joy is principally a pleasing sensation, rising from a sensitive idea, either in memory, imagination, or perception.

Q. What is hope?

A. Hope is that emotion which attends the thought of the probable possession of some future good. This is a pleasing sensation, and differs from joy in these two respects, it has not so perfect assurance with it, wherefore the sensation is less intense; and always has reference to something future, as its object.

Q. What is fear?

A. Fear is what attends a thought of some evil that is likely to befall, or of the approach of some object that has power to produce pain in us. Fear is a painful sensation. It has several degrees and modifications, which are called awe, panic, terror, horror, cowardice, pusillanimity, laziness.

Q. What is sorrow?

A. Sorrow is a painful emotion attending the thought of some good which is lost or prevented, and gives place to uneasiness. The lowest degree of it is regret, which implies a thought of some action which it was once in our power to do, the opportunity whereof we no longer have, the benefit of which we now want.

Q. What is hatred?

A. Hatred is an emotion that prompts us to fly from its objects, and is the thought of an object which is apt to produce fear, disgust, or pain, of which object we generally have at the same time, a strong desire to be rid of the perception. This though partaking much of sensation, is rather a voluntary passion.

Q. What is pity?

A. Pity is a sympathizing with a being that is in distress or trouble; and is a disagreeable sensation arising either out of perception or memory or imagination; also voluntary movement prompting to reflect on that distress.

Q. What is despair?

A. Despair is that state of mind which with a thought of some distant good, unites that of its unattainableness.

Q. What is grief? A Grief is what arises from the thought of some present evil, or from the assurance of something befalling us or having befallen us that causes present trouble. Grief therefore is the antipode of joy.

Q. What is envy?

A. Envy is an uneasy feeling on the thought of some good possessed by another, which we wish to possess, and are thereby excluded from; — when another is thought to excel unduly in that whereon we could not but value ourselves.

Q. What is shame?

A. Shame is that disagreeable agitation of mind which conies from a thought of some action or some circumstance of ourselves, which is apt to cause offence to others, and make us objects of unsocial emotions in them.

Q. What are the compounded passions?

A. They are combinations and associations of the primary passions. They are pride, ambition, avarice, jealousy, compunction, and admiration.

Q. What is pride?

A. Pride is composed of love and joy and the lowest degree of hatred; the two first being directed to one’s self as their moving object, and the latter to others. It also has with it a desire of rule and domination. The intensity of this passion suppresses sympathy.

Q. What is ambition?

A. Ambition is compounded of desire and hope. This is a voluntary passion.

Q What is avarice?

A. Avarice is a compound of desire and fear: desire of getting gain or money, and fear of losing it.

Q. What is jealousy?

A. Jealousy consists, of a mixture of love, hatred, anger, shame, envy, and fear.

Q. What is compunction?

A. Compunction is a sort of sorrow and grief which have for their moving object the loss of innocence, and are excited by the remembrance of actions done by ourselves, which are wrong, and of which we disapprove, because they produce or have produced pain in others: it has also a mixture of desire to make atonement for them. This is an effluence of sympathy.

Q. What is admiration? A. Admiration is compounded of a mixture of love, fear, and joy, to which is joined some degree of that which is called surprize, which is the effect of an instantaneous severing of the train of our ideas by an abrupt and unexpected irritation,. as by the supervention of a new or strange object.

Q. What is obligation?

A. A necessity and fitness of the performance of an, action, resulting from a dependency on other beings’ feelings on our determinations, and of our own upon theirs, founded in the nature of things.

Q. What is obligation deduced from and supported by?

A. Sympathy. Were no society, no obligation could be: if but an individual of a kind exist, no such thing as obligation to others can exist, because no sympathy. And if numbers exist, if no sympathy, then no sense of obligation, because no apprehension of others’ feelings.

Q. What is meant by being under obligation?

A. Being in a relation or condition that makes any particular action necessary, fit and proper, in reference to our greatest good.

Q. Can a man be under an obligation to himself?

A. Strictly not; unless he divide himself into agent and object and personify the reciprocal relations of his parts. Hence it is only figuratively that a man is said to owe an obligation to himself, when is a necessity and a fitness in certain actions in his power, to promote his own private interest exclusive of all consideration of that of others

Q. What are the limits of obligation?

A. Those of power and knowledge. Obligation tan extend no farther than power and knowledge. That no obligation can be where is no possibility to perform an action, is obvious; for there can be no fitness in what is not possible. Knowledge of any kind of action, and of the necessity of it for our enjoyment as rational creatures, may be reckoned essential to the power. Without a knowledge of the tendency of an action, obligation cannot exist For obligation being the consequence of a dependency of our feelings on the impression made upon others by an action of our power, as well as that of others’ feelings on that action, cannot be where we can realize no such dependancy; which is the case when we cannot apprehend the tendency of an action. For an obligation means an urgency, from a rational fitness, that a man should go about the performance of a certain action, or a certain sort of action. Now this supposes the man to be rational, and to have knowledge of the object and habitude of the action; and the delirious, the insane, the lunatic, are not said to be under any obligation.

Q. What examples of obligation can be produced? A. In regard to promises, in the first place we have obligation to deliberate upon the effect of a promise, and our ability to perform it. Secondly, when we have once made a promise to any of our fellow creatures, we are under obligation to perform it, so far as we are able. We are under a general obligation to speak truth; and also to do to others what is reasonable they should do to us in the like cases.

Q. Are there not certain cases wherein we have obligation to deceive others?

A. To preserve life in others or ourselves we have sometimes obligation to deceive a delirious or an insane person; as when we take weapons from a maniac and conceal them; or persuade a man in a raging fever that we give him water, when we give him some potion that is necessary to save his life. Also to prevent another from committing murder, and preserve our own life to be useful to others, it is sometimes necessary to deceive that class of the insane who being in power ask the question what is our secret belief concerning things that are doubtful, while they stand ready to take away life if we do not profess a proposed creed. It is necessary and fit to deceive these on such occasions. In many instances the reverse is calamitous to the feelings of rational and considerate persons with whom we stand connected. In a few such extreme cases it is right to speak contrary to what we think?

Q. What is duty?

A. Any action that we are under obligation to do, and any just action that is necessary to enable us fully to perform such as we are under obligation to do. Thus if it be ray duty to fulfil my promises, to requite my benefactors, to pay my debts, it is also my duty to preserve my life, and to protect and defend what belongs to me, that I may have the opportunity and means wherewith to do those things.

Q. What is habit?

A. Facility in, and disposition to the performance of any sort of action, whether intellectual or corporeal, arising from custom or practice, which is the continued repetition of an action.

Q. What is art?

A. A habit in the mind prescribing a systematic arrangement of causes for the production of certain effects, and a consequent power of producing those effects readily.

Q. What is the summary of the true process to attain our greatest degree of happiness?

A. Habitual exercise of our highest faculties, and practice of virtue.

Q. What are our highest faculties?

A. Our intellectual faculties, or powers of reflection.

Q. What are the highest employments of our highest faculties?

A. Study, reasoning, abstraction, contemplation of abstract ideas, projects of philanthropy, and cultivation of sympathy.

Q. What is cultivation of sympathy?

A. The considering of others’ feelings in comparison with our own, and governing ourselves by this consideration in those actions in our power whereby those feelings are probably affected. In this way we are said to ‘put ourselves in the places of others,’ — or ‘make their cases our own.’

Q. In what manner does the exercise of our highest faculties contribute to the production of our great’ est degree of enjoyment?

A. By centering our satisfaction in those circumstances of which the modification immediately depends upon our own Will, or at least is within its influence, and which are removed from the contingences of external fortune.

Q. What is virtue?

A. Any sort of voluntary action, whether intellectual or corporeal, that intentionally goes to promote the good of others, directly or indirectly.

Q. How many sorts of virtue are there?

A. Two; called private virtue and social virtue.

Q. What is the distinction?

A. The distinction is, that although all virtue has a view to the good of others, there being even in thrift, neatness, and industry, a continual reference to the feelings of other beings, yet, whereas social virtue has the good of others for its primary end, private virtue has for its primary end the good of one’s self, his family, or kindred.

Q. Is there no other distinction of virtue?

A. Yes. Virtue is distinguished also into speculative and active. The former reaches no farther than the operations of our minds; as contemplation, good wishes, good purposes, &c. The latter proceeds to corporeal action that carries those purposes into execution.

Q. What are the social virtues? A The social virtues are philanthropy, hospitality, justice, gratitude, patriotism, charity, and meekness.

Q. What is philanthropy?

A. Philanthropy consists in those motions of love and good will directed to all beings of the human species, which have for their object their preservation, well-being, and true happiness. In its practical part it is called beneficence.

Q. What is hospitality?

A. Hospitality is philanthropy directed to strangers; as protecting them and providing for their exigences.

Q. What is justice?

A. Justice is rendering to every being; its due. Justice is either universal or commutative. Universal justice is doing to every volitive being what we would have that being do to us, and in this sense it comprehends all the social virtues Commutative justice is doing or forbearing those actions which we feel ourselves under special obligation by the law of the universe, to do or forbear to do to other beings, in consideration of something actually done or to be done by them to us; which is doing what we perceive ought to be done to us in the like cases, in reference to the good of the universe.

Q. What is gratitude?

A. Gratitude is a complacency and sympathetic regard exercised towards those who have done us good offices or been the intentional causes of any good to us, and a promptness in remunerating them therefor. In other words, gratitude is, speculatively, a strong sense of obligation prompting us to perform certain actions by way of repayment for benefits received from others: actively, it is the performing of those actions according to our ability.

Q. What is patriotism?

A. Patriotism is the principle of philanthropy directed to that community or body of men which wf. have chosen for our country on account of their adopted government being adapted to promote the true weal of the species at large; and the practice of certain actions for the effectuating of purposes calculated to support it, which we from the same principle wish all ranks of mankind to acquiesce in and subserve.

Q. What is charity?

A. Charity is relieving the distressed and destitute, by supplying them with the necessaries and comforts of life; and also exercising candor and sympathy in our thoughts and discourse of those who appear in a bad light.

Q. What is meekness?

A. Meekness is forbearance of revenge, forgiveness of injuries, and also clemency in inflicting condign pain.

Q. What are the private virtues?

A. The private virtues are temperance, continence, cleanliness, industry, frugality, fortitude, and patience.

Q. What is temperance?

A. Temperance is habitually circumscribing those gratifications of the natural appetites, hunger and thirst, necessary to sustain our being, to such a compass as consists with the due temperament and healthy action of all parts of the animal frame.

Q. What is continence?

A. An abstaining from all irregular and immoderate indulgences of venereal pleasures which are destructive of health and peace; and is by another word called chastity.

Q. What is cleanliness?

A. The preserving of one’s person, clothes, furniture, and dwelling, clear from all unnecessary foulness, dirt, and filth, which gradually tend to engender disease. This is necessary for health. Show is sometimes mistaken for this; — as wearing a fine neat coat that is tainted with contagious effluvia rather than a ragged one; and scouring of floors at the approach of holidays.

Q. What is industry?

A. Industry is a cheerful, assiduous, and active attendance upon the performance of our duties or whatever is appropriate to execute our purposes.

Q. What is frugality?

A. Frugality is a habitual saving from waste whatever things, coming within our controul, are capable of a valuable appropriation in reasonable purposes; and is opposed to prodigality.

Q. What is fortitude?

A. Fortitude is a persevering in any actions for a desired end, in defiance of the danger of any pain or inconvenience that lie in the way to it.

Q. What is patience?

A. Patience is an unruffled continuance, by a judicious and conscientious perpension, in any course or condition in spite of present pain, privation, or difficulty, that discommodes it.

Q. In what way does the practice of virtue contribute to increase our happiness?

A. By making us the exciting objects of complacency and benevolence in others: whereby, by recommending ourselves to mutual approbation, we remove all suspicion and apprehensions of moral evil.

Q. What are reward and punishment?

A. The consequences of actions, as they affect the agents. As pain that follows bad or vicious actions; and pleasure that follows good or virtuous actions. Rewards and punishments are of two kinds: necessary and instituted. Of the first kind are those consequences our actions inevitably draw upon us from the natural constitution and course of things according to the universal law, — such as remorse, dread, suspicion, resentment of others, &c. that follow as the necessary effects of injuring and wronging our fellow creatures; and self-approbation, complacency, and tranquillity, that follow the exercises of justice, hospitality, charity, and meekness. Instituted rewards and punishments are such as men have contrived to follow certain actions as the arbitrary consequents of them, which are brought about by the direction of voluntary power and choice in individuals who have superior influence and efficiency; — as the cutting off of a man’s ears for stealing a sheep; or giving a man a piece of silver for killing a crow.

Q. Who were the greatest preachers of ethics that have appeared in the world, that are recorded in the history extant?

A. Confucius, Epictetus, Socrates, Seneca, and Jesus Christ.

Q. In what chiefly consists the excellence of Jesus Christ’s preaching?

A. In its universality, and its levelling all manner of monopoly and pride.

Q. What particular discourse of Jesus Christ’s contains the most of his moral maxims plainly expressed?

A. His sermon on the mount.

Q. What is the most sublime and benignant precept that he delivered? That which is called the golden rule: “Whatsoever ye would that men should do unto you, do ye even so to them.”

Q. What was the cause of his speaking cabalistically?

A. The opposition of the Jewish government to his design; the barbarity and jealousy of the leaders in it

Q. Why do men, since his time, labor to obscure the tenor of his doctrine, and make it supernatural instead of making it plain?

A. For the same reason that the Jews sought to kill him.

About Shawn P. Wilbur 2703 Articles
Independent scholar, translator and archivist.