Chapter I: The Subject-Matter of Ethics.

§ 23.

In this chapter I have endeavoured to enforce the following conclusions. (1) The peculiarity of Ethics is not that it investigates assertions about human conduct, but that it investigates assertions about the property of things which is denoted by the term good, and the converse property denoted by the term bad. It must, in order to establish its conclusions, investigate the truth of all such assertions, except those which assert the relation of this property only to a single existent (1—4). (2) This property, by reference to which the subject-matter of Ethics must be defined, is itself simple and indefinable (5—14). And (3) all assertions about its relation to other things are of two, and only two, kinds: they either assert in what degree things themselves possess this property, or else they assert causal relations between other things and those which possess it (15—17). Finally, (4) in considering the different degrees in which things themselves possess this property, we have to take account of the fact that a whole may possess it in a degree different from that which is obtained by summing the degrees in which its parts possess it (18—22). (§ 23 ¶ 1)