The older ethics, namely Kant's, required of the individual such a course of conduct as he wishes all men to follow. This evinces much simplicity—as if any individual could determine off hand what course of conduct would conduce to the welfare of humanity, and what course of conduct is preëminently desirable! This is a theory like that of freedom of competition, which takes it for granted that the general harmony [of things] must prevail of itself in accordance with some inherent law of betterment or amelioration. It may be that a later contemplation of the needs of mankind will reveal that it is by no means desirable that all men should regulate their conduct according to the same principle; it may be best, from the standpoint of certain ends yet to be attained, that men, during long periods should regulate their conduct with reference to special, and even, in certain circumstances, evil, objects. At any rate, if mankind is not to be led astray by such a universal rule of conduct, it behooves it to attain a knowledge of the condition of culture that will serve as a scientific standard of comparison in connection with cosmical ends. Herein is comprised the tremendous mission of the great spirits of the next century.

« Against Kantian's universal rule of conduct »

A quote saved on April 5, 2015.


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