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Philosophy
(Part 5)




Politics, Sociology, Philosophy of History

In Aristotle we can observe how ethics is being differentiated form politics, but this differentiation doe not, and ought not to, amount to a complete separation. The difficulty, already hinted at, which individualistic systems of ethics experience in connection particular duties with the abstract principle of duty is a proof of the failure of their method. For the content of morality we are necessarily referred, in great part, to the experience crystallized in laws and institutions and to the unwritten law of custom, honour, and good breeding, which has become organic in the society of which we are members. The development of society is therefore brought within the scope of philosophy. So far as this development is traced in a purely historical spirit, it will be simply a sequence of efficient causes, in which, starting with a.b.c. we eventually arrive at A B C. But, if this sequence is to be philosophized, it must be shown that we have no means of knowing what a b c is expect in its relation to A B C, its resultant. We interpret the process, therefore, as the realization of an immanent end. The state, as the organism in whose play morality is realized, becomes an interest of reason; and the different forms of state-organization are judged according to the degree in which they realize the reconciliation of individual freedom and the play of cultured interests with stable objectivity of law and an abiding consciousness of the greater whole in which we move. So far as an the course of universal history can be truly represented as an approximation to this reconciliation by a widening and deepening of both the elements, we may claim to process a philosophy of history. (A. SE.)






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The above article was written by: Andrew Seth (Andrew Seth Pringle Pattison), M.A., LL.D.; Professor of Logic and Metaphysics in the University of Edinburgh from 1891; Professor of Logic, Rhetoric and Metaphysics at St Andrews, 1887; author of The Development from Kant to Hegel, and other works on philosophy.



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