Sunday, September 9, 2007

Sunday night catechism - Darwin on the evolution of morality

Charles Darwin, October 1838:
Two classes of moralists: one says our rule of life is what will produce the greatest happiness. --- The other says we have a moral sense. --- But my view unites both & shows them to be almost identical. What has produced the greatest good or rather what was necessary for good at all is the instinctive moral senses: (& this alone explains why our moral sense points to revenge). In judging of the rule of happiness we must look far forward & to the general action --- certainly because it is the result of what has generally been best for our good far back. --- (much further than we can look forward: hence our rule may sometimes be hard to tell). Society could not go on except for the moral sense, any more than a hive of Bees without their instincts. (Old & Useless Notes 30, Barrett et al., 1987, 609.) [via]

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