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Chapter V. The Natural History Of Morals
186. The moral sentiment in Europe at present is perhaps as subtle, belated, diverse,
sensitive, and refined, as the "Science of Morals" belonging thereto is recent, initial,
awkward, and coarse-fingered:--an interesting contrast, which sometimes becomes
incarnate and obvious in the very person of a moralist. Indeed, the expression, "Science
of Morals" is, in respect to what is designated thereby, far too presumptuous and counter
to GOOD taste,--which is always a foretaste of more modest expressions. One ought to
avow with the utmost fairness WHAT is still necessary here for a long time, WHAT is
alone proper for the present: namely, the collection of material, the comprehensive survey
and classification of an immense domain of delicate sentiments of worth, and distinctions
of worth, which live, grow, propagate, and perish--and perhaps attempts to give a clear
idea of the recurring and more common forms of these living crystallizations--as
preparation for a THEORY OF TYPES of morality. To be sure, people have not hitherto
been so modest. All the philosophers, with a pedantic and ridiculous seriousness,
demanded of themselves something very much higher, more pretentious, and
ceremonious, when they concerned themselves with morality as a science: they wanted to
GIVE A BASIC to morality-- and every philosopher hitherto has believed that he has
given it a basis; morality itself, however, has been regarded as something "given." How
far from their awkward pride was the seemingly insignificant problem--left in dust and
decay--of a description of forms of morality, notwithstanding that the finest hands and
senses could hardly be fine enough for it! It was precisely owing to moral philosophers'
knowing the moral facts imperfectly, in an arbitrary epitome, or an accidental
abridgement--perhaps as the morality of their environment, their position, their church,
their Zeitgeist, their climate and zone--it was precisely because they were badly
instructed with regard to nations, eras, and past ages, and were by no means eager to
know about these matters, that they did not even come in sight of the real problems of
morals--problems which only disclose themselves by a comparison of MANY kinds of
morality. In every "Science of Morals" hitherto, strange as it may sound, the problem of
morality itself has been OMITTED: there has been no suspicion that there was anything
problematic there! That which philosophers called "giving a basis to morality," and
endeavoured to realize, has, when seen in a right light, proved merely a learned form of
good FAITH in prevailing morality, a new means of its EXPRESSION, consequently just
a matter-of-fact within the sphere of a definite morality, yea, in its ultimate motive, a sort
of denial that it is LAWFUL for this morality to be called in question--and in any case the
reverse of the testing, analyzing, doubting, and vivisecting of this very faith. Hear, for
instance, with what innocence--almost worthy of honour--Schopenhauer represents his
own task, and draw your conclusions concerning the scientificness of a "Science" whose
latest master still talks in the strain of children and old wives: "The principle," he says
(page 136 of the Grundprobleme der Ethik), [Footnote: Pages 54-55 of Schopenhauer's
Basis of Morality, translated by Arthur B. Bullock, M.A. (1903).] "the axiom about the
purport of which all moralists are PRACTICALLY agreed: neminem laede, immo omnes
quantum potes juva--is REALLY the proposition which all moral teachers strive to
establish, . . . the REAL basis of ethics which has been sought, like the philosopher's
stone, for centuries."--The difficulty of establishing the proposition referred to may