Chapter IV: Metaphysical Ethics.

§ 79.

First of all, it may be meant that, just as, by reflection on our perceptual and sensory experience, we become aware of the distinction between truth and falsehood, so it is by reflection on our experiences of feeling and willing that we become more aware of ethical distinctions. We should not know what was meant by thinking one thing better than another unless the attitude of our will or feeling towards one thing was different from its attitude towards another. All this may be admitted. But so far we have only the psychological fact that it is only because we will or feel things in a certain way, that we ever come to think them good; just as it is only because we have certain perceptual experiences, that we ever come to think things true. Here, then, is a special connection between willing and goodness; but it is only a causal connection—that willing is a necessary condition for the cognition of goodness. (§ 79 ¶ 1)

But it may be said further that willing and feeling are not only the origin of cognitions of goodness; but that to will a thing, or to have a certain feeling towards a thing, is the same thing as to think it good. And it may be admitted that even this is generally true in a sense. It does seem to be true that we hardly ever think a thing good, and never very decidedly, without at the same time having a special attitude of feeling or will towards it; though it is certainly not the case that this is true universally. And the converse may possibly be true universally: it may be the case that a perception of goodness is included in the complex facts which we mean by willing by having certain kinds of feeling. Let us admit then, that to think a thing good and to will it are the same thing in this sense, that, wherever the latter occurs, the former also occurs as part of it; and even that they are generally the same thing in the converse sense, that when the former occurs it is generally part of the latter. (§ 79 ¶ 2)