Analysis and formation of the
sentiment. Its education and improvement.
Before proceeding to our third question, namely, how the moral sentiment, which is the source of the moral sanction, has been formed, and how it may be further educated and improved, it is desirable to discriminate carefully between the intellectual and the emotional elements in an act of approbation or disapprobation. We sometimes speak of moral judgment, sometimes of moral feeling. These expressions ought not to be regarded as the symbols of rival theories on the nature of the act of moral approbation, as has sometimes been the case, but as designating distinct parts of the process, or, to put the same statement rather differently, separate elements in the analysis. Hume, whose treatment of this subject is peculiarly lucid, as compared with that of most writers on ethics, after reviewing the reasons assigned by those authors respectively who resolve the act of approbation into an act of judgment or an act of feeling, adds: ’These arguments on each side (and many more might be produced) are so plausible, that I am apt to suspect they may, the one as well as the other, be solid and satisfactory, and that reason and sentiment concur in almost all moral determinations and conclusions. The final sentence; it is probable, which pronounces characters and actions amiable or odious, praiseworthy or blameable; that which stamps on them the mark of honour or infamy, approbation or censure; that which renders morality an active principle, and constitutes virtue our happiness and vice our misery: it is probable, I say, that this final sentence depends on some internal sense or feeling, which nature has made universal in the whole species. For what else can have an influence of this nature? But, in order to pave the way for such a sentiment and give a proper discernment of its object, it is often necessary, we find, that much reasoning should precede, that nice distinctions be made, just conclusions drawn, distant comparisons formed, complicated relations examined, and general facts fixed and ascertained. Some species of beauty, especially the natural kinds,