Book III: The Moral Ideal and Moral Progress.

Chapter I: Good and Moral Good.


But here again it may be urged that we are going too fast, that we are making huge assumptions. We seem to be taking for granted that there is some best state of being for man—best in the sense that in it lies the full realisation of his capabilities, and that in it therefore alone he can satisfy himself, though as a matter of fact in his efforts after self-satisfaction he constantly acts in a manner inconsistent with attaining it. We seem to be taking for granted, further, that this best state of man is already present to some divine consciousness, so that it may properly be said to be the vocation of man to attain it; that some unfulfilled and unrealised, but still operative, idea of there being such a state has been the essential influence in the process by which man has so far bettered himself; and that a continued operation of the same idea in us, with that growing definiteness which is gathered from reflection on the actions and institutions in which it has so far manifested itself, is the condition of character and conduct being morally good in the proper sense of the words. How are such assumptions to be justified? (§173 ¶1)