Book III: The Moral Ideal and Moral Progress.

Chapter II: Characteristics of the Moral Ideal.

§ 180.

Let us pause here to take stock of the conclusions so far arrived at. It will be convenient to state them in dogmatic form, begging the reader to understand that this form is adopted to save time, and does not betoken undue assurance on the part of hte writer. Through certain media, and under certain consequent limitations, but with the constant characteristic of self-consciousness and self-objectification, the one divine mind gradually reproduces itself in the human soul. In virtue of this principle in him man has definite capabilities, the realisation of which, since in it alone he can satisfy himself, forms his true good. They are not realised, however, in any life that can be observed, in any life that has been, or (as it would seem) that can be lived by man as we know him; and for this reason we cannot say with any adequacy what the capabilities are. Yet, because the essence of man's spiritual endowment is the consciousness of having it, the idea of his having such capabilities, and of a possible better state of himself consisting in their further realisation, is a moving influence in him. It has been the parent of the institutions and usages, of the social judgments and aspirations, through which human life has been so far bettered; through which man has so far realised his capabilities and marked out the path that he must follow in their further realisation. As his true good is or would be their complete realisation, so his goodness is proportionate to his habitual responsiveness to the idea of their being such a true good, in the various forms of recognised duty and beneficient work in which that idea has so far taken shape among men. In other words, it consists in the direction of the will to objects determined for it by this idea, as operative in the person willing; which direction of the will we may, upon the ground stated, fitly call its determination by reason. (§ 180 ¶ 1)

§ 180, n. 1: We say that his true good is this complete realisation when we think of the realisation as already attained in the eternal mind. We say that it would be such realisation when we think of the realisation as for ever problematic to man in the state of which we have experience.