Зображення сторінки
PDF
ePub

supported by what we know of the origin of States. Theoretically it is true that the consent of the people should be made the foundation of government ; but, if we had as a matter of history to choose a period of time when the people's consent was least regarded in public transactions, it would be precisely on the

establishment of a new government,” when military force or political craft usually decides the controversy."

The use of Nature and Natural, as if these words contained in themselves an unanswerable argument, was sure to receive no mercy from Hume. If, he says, “nature is opposed to miraculous, it is too wide a word to be useful; if it is opposed to rare and unusual, it may always be doubted what these are ; if it is opposed to artifice, then we must ask whether human artifice is not itself natural ; finally, if it is opposed to civil or moral, then such a virtue as justice is unnatural, for there is no justice without moral and civil relations, and no love of mankind in the abstract, without relation to particular persons.

. The passions of men incline them (especially in the distribution of external goods) to give preference to themselves, their families, and their friends, and the passions are therefore by no means the origin of justice. The origin is in this sense moral and not natural. Justice and the civic relations are, however, "natural" in the sense that they are inseparable from human nature.3 Human nature must necessarily come to them. In this sense Society and the State are both natural.

The distinction of Society from the State in historical growth, and also contemporaneously, within any given community is practically admitted by Hume, To say nothing of religious and moral institutions, manners and customs in regard to everyday life, dress and behaviour, we must note (he says) the tacit conventions by which men have agreed to employ gold and silver as money, and certain sounds and signs as a language. These are of Society, not of the State. Bentham would have called these "sponte acta.Hume describes these things. as not traceable to the State, but nevertheless done by a number of men together and losing advantage unless. done together. The whole system, by which trades are separated while their produce is exchanged and used by mutual consent, is of this nature. There is no contract or promise, but “a common sense of interest." 2 This spontaneous union is not only distinct from any political arrangement, but it may be, and often is, distinct from any clear consciousness of union at all ; it is the sense of an objective common interest and purpose, to be served by common action ; but the solidarity is not always clearly understood, still less does it always imply a bond of conscious sympathy. Hume does not enter into this matter ; but he dwells on the relation of Justice to other virtues, pointing out that there is not always the same vivid Sympathy present in Justice as in the rest. The other virtues, including the “natural abilities” (or intellectual virtues) of Prudence, Good Sense, etc.,' are in ultimate logic regarded as virtues. from their utility, but they do not at first show themselves. in a deliberate or conscious regard for utility. They are rather revealed by a “natural sense or feeling," a kind of sympathy which implies that “men consider the sentiment of others in their judgment of themselves.” But, in the case of justice, public utility is consciously and deliberately intended, and regard for it is the sole foundation of merit." 5 Placed as we are between two extremes, universal abundance and universal scarcity (either of which would be fatal to justice), and related as we are to other beings recognised by us as equally human, we find justice necessary to the regulation of these relations. Without equality, in the sense of recognition of our common humanity, there is no justice. We may be kind or merciful to the lower animals, but cannot strictly speaking be just or unjust to them. On the other hand, neither an equal distribution of property, nor an assignment of the lion's share of property to the greatest virtue is demanded by justice. Not the first, because men are unequal in skill and industry. Not the second, because men are fallible in their judgment of merit in each other. “ It must indeed be confessed that Nature is so liberal to mankind that, were all her presents equally divided among the species and improved by art and industry, every individual would enjoy all the necessaries and even most of the comforts of life, nor would ever be liable to any ills but such as might accidentally arise from the sickly frame and constitution of his body. It must also be confessed that, wherever we depart from this equality we rob the poor of more satisfaction than we add to the rich, and that the slight gratification of a frivolous vanity in'one individual frequently costs more than bread to many families and even provinces. Moreover, the Spartan government and the Roman agrarian legislation gave an impression that such an equal division might be practicable. This is a strong statement of the case, and there are other passages that show it to reveal more of Hume's own feeling than is usually noticed. For example, he says in the Essay on the Original Contract,' that in our modern society the artisan or peasant is not free in the sense of being able to leave his country if he is ill off in it; his poverty ties him to his country, as effectually as the passenger is tied to his ship in mid-ocean. But Hume, whether from the influence of Hutcheson or from his own love to pose as a sceptic, is careful to show that equality of possessions is im

1 Essays, I. 520 (Оf the Original Contract).

2 Hum. Nat., III. II. II. 61. Hume wrote to Hutcheson, Sept., 1739: "Your definition of naturai depends on your solving the question, What is the end of man?” (a question Hume gives up). “I have never called justice unnatural, but only artificial." Life by Burton, I. 113

3 Ibid., III. 1. 11. seq. ; III. 32–49.

1 Essays, II. 390 (Further Considerations with regard to Justice). 2 Cf. Hum. Nat., III., pt. II., sect. II., P. 59.

3 Hum. Nat., III., pt. 111., sect. iv., pp. 256 seq. See below [ch. viii., Ad. Sm.]. For criticism of the classification of Virtues, see Bentham's Deontology, vol. i. ch. xviii.

4 Essays, II. 214, 236, etc. cf. Hum. Nat., III. 11I. VI. 276: Hasbach (Unters. über Ad. Sm., p. 94) considers that Hume gives to Sympathy in the Essays an altruistic character which it does not possess in the Human Nature.

5 Essays, II. 259.

1 Essays, II. 268 (Of Justice). He adds that women have been wrongly treated as lower animals, and so have Indians by American colonists.

2 Ibid., II. 271. Montesquieu (Esprit des Lois, VII., ch. i., beginning, cf. ch. vi.) had similarly asserted that one man's luxuries meant another man's labour.

3 Essays, I. 522.
4 Hutcheson, Beauty and Virtue, p. 286 (4th ed.).

[ocr errors]

practicable, or at least it is destructive to society. The motives to industry would be gone and the resources of society would immediately decline.

“Instead of preventing want and beggary in a few, you render it unavoidable in the whole community.” Politically, too, it means either tyranny or anarchy.

If then we are not to attempt to introduce equality, what rules for the regulation of external goods are we to adopt in order to secure justice? The answer seems to be that each nation discovers them for itself in accordance with its peculiar character and situation. Hume, himself a historian, agrees with Montesquieu (Spirit of the Laws, bk. XIV.) that the laws of a nation are relative to its particular kind of government, manners, religion, climate, and other idiosyncrasies, though he elaborately refutes that author's exaggerated estimate of the influence of climate on national character. There is therefore (to Hume) no such thing as an abstract justice, discoverable everywhere and valid everywhere, whether in regard to property or any other relation of life, But neither is justice purely local and particular in the sense that every separate nation has a separate notion of justice, and that' laws grow up as irrationally as superstitions. The human nature common to all nations reveals itself in common ways; or else there could be no science of politics or of human nature at all. The marriage union of men takes different forms, whereas the union of the sexes in animals takes in the same species the same form ; so there are many types of human houses, but only one type of robins' nests. But the variation is not inconsistent with uniformity. We can trace, for example, certain rules of marriage that can be pronounced good, not only for one special case, but in a broad sense.

In the same way the benefits of the institution of property are not peculiar to one place and nation. Its justification is very different from its history, It did not begin from the idea of rulers

5

1 Essays, II. 272 (Of Justice).

2 Ibid. 3 Ibid., II., 274. L'Esprit des Lois, which had appeared in 1748, is expressly cited in this passage.

4 Essays, I. 226 seq. (Of National Characters). 5 Ibid., II. 281.

that it was wise to encourage industry by allowing their subjects to acquire property ; such an idea could only occur among a people already civilized. Historically,

, even as government was often founded by violence, so property was often founded by mere “occupation,” and not by industry ; the sympathy of men for actual possessors and regard for the common interest, supposed to be secured by stability of property, have led to prescription, accession, and the other usual titles to property. In this way the

great end was gained of giving to external goods the same security that nature has given to the goods of the mind. Hume feels the force of Locke's view, that property arises “where we join our labour to anything." He is careful, as usual, to note the objections; but he seems not unfavourable to it when taken as prophecy instead of history. It is possible that he regarded any departure from the rule that property should go with labour as one of those cases where (he says) “a single act of justice is frequently contrary to public interest. When a miser or a seditious bigot has a large fortune restored to him, the act is just, though the public suffer." But the public gains by the invariability and inviolability of justice over the whole field ; and it is to the broad general effect that we must look.

We see that in essence Hume's view is not much more than an expansion of Plato's hint in the first book of the Republic. Even a band of robbers could not hold together without justice, still less can a political society. But we fail to get any positive conceptions, such as are presented in the later books of the Republic. Hume, while maintaining that a general doctrine is possible, is careful to avoid even the appearance of construction, and his empirical generalizations are few and vague, We get no dogmatic philosophy of society; and our author's ideal State can only be inferred from casual expressions." In politics too, he says, prophecy is as rash as it is in medicine. Yet he gives a forecast of political develop

1 Essays, II. 393 n.; Hum. Nat., III. 11. III. 85 seq. 2 Hum. Nat., III. II. II. 58. 3 Ibid., III. II. III. 85 n. 4 Ibid., III. 11. 11. 71; cf. Essays, I. 298, etc. • See above, p. 116. Essays, I. 43 (The British Government).

6

« НазадПродовжити »