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A Review of the Systems of Ethics Founded on the T

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A REVIEW OF THE SYSTEMS OF ETHICS FOUNDED ON THE THEORY OF EVOLUTION

BY

C. M. WILLIAMS

New York MACMILLAN & CO. AND LONDON 1893

_All rights reserved_

COPYRIGHT, 1892, BY MACMILLAN & CO.

TYPOGRAPHY BY J. S. CUSHING & CO., BOSTON, U.S.A.

PRESSWORK BY BERWICK & SMITH, BOSTON, U.S.A.

* * * * *

TO MY FIRST TEACHER OF MORALS

MY MOTHER

THIS BOOK IS GRATEFULLY AND AFFECTIONATELY DEDICATED

PREFACE

Of the Ethics founded on the theory of Evolution, I have considered only the independent theories which have been elaborated to systems. I have omitted consideration of many works which bear on Evolutional Ethics as practical or exhortative treatises, or compilations of facts, but which involve no distinctly worked-out theory of morals. On the other hand, I have ventured to include Professor von Gizycki's "Moralphilosophie" among the theoretical systems founded upon the theory of Evolution, since, although the popular form of the work renders the prominence of the latter theory impracticable, the warp of Evolution is clearly perceptible throughout it. In analyzing Hoeffding's work, I have made use not of the Danish but the German edition of his "Ethics," which was translated with his cooeperation.

It is generally customary for an author to acknowledge, in the preface of his book, his especial indebtedness to those who have most influenced the growth of his thought in the line of research treated in the book. But I find this duty a difficult one to perform. Many of the authors whose work has aided me are cited in the text. But it is impossible, with regard to many points, to say to whom one is indebted, or most indebted, since much that one reads is so assimilated into one's organized thought, and changed in the process of assimilation, that its source and original form are no longer remembered. Besides this, much is always owed to personal influence and argument, and also to indefinite and minute forces whose workings it is impossible to trace. The growth of thought is, like any other growth, by imperceptible degrees and infinitesimal increments, and we breathe in ideas from our mental atmosphere as we breathe in perfumes or infections from our physical atmosphere. It is, of course, unnecessary to mention Mr. Spencer's name in this connection, since it goes without saying, that every one who writes on Ethics in their relation to the Theory of Evolution must owe much to him, even where he differs from him. But there is perhaps one name which it is fitting that I should mention here, since the influence of its bearer on my work, although one for which I have reason to feel peculiarly indebted, is not of a nature to determine its mention in connection with any particular theory. I refer to my first teacher of Philosophy, Professor M. Stuart Phelps, now deceased, whose life and labor all those who had the privilege of sharing his instruction and benefiting by his kindness must ever hold in grateful remembrance.


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