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“Dr Liu is to be congratulated for writing an impressive book which addresses original and important questions, regarding the relationships between China and the British idealist philosopher and activist T.H. Green. Dr Liu’s central argument shows a detailed knowledge and understanding of the major contributions to the scholarship on Green’s theory of the will, political thought and practical activities. Dr Liu engages fully with the complete range of Green’s writings, including his political speeches and letters, which many other scholars have wrongly underemphasised. The result is a book that is scholarly, subtle and original.” — Professor Colin Tyler, Director of the Centre for Idealism and the New Liberalism, Hull University, UK
Ethical Politics and Modern Society
Ethical Politics and Modern Society introduces and critically examines British idealist philosopher, Thomas Hill Green, his practical philosophy, and its reception in China between the late nineteenth century and the early twentiveth century. As a response to the modernity issue in Great Britain, Green’s philosophy, in particular his ethical politics, anticipated a practical solution to the individual alienation issue in modern society. Witnessing the resemblance between Green’s ethical politics and classical Chinese ethical and political thought, some Chinese scholars became inclined to take Green’s thought as an intellectual approach to assimilate Western modernity. While Green and the Chinese scholars both intended to articulate an ethical conception of modern politics in response to the issue of modernity, their results were very different. In this book, James Jia-Hau Liu analyses why modern Chinese scholars introduced Green’s philosophy to China and why the studies of Green’s philosophy in China have since faded away. Modern Chinese scholars, such as Gao Yi-Han, Chin YuehLin, Tang Jun-Yi, Chang Fo-Chuan, and Yin Hai-Guang, are explored in greater detail. The contradictory standings towards modernity between Green and Chinese scholars illustrate how to understand the difference forms of modernity that can be embodied therein. Ethical Politics and Modern Society is a valuable resource to scholars of political philosophy, political theory, history of social and political thought, British idealism, and the work of Thomas Hill Green. James Jia-Hau Liu received his degree from Department of Politics and Internal Relations, Cardiff University, UK. He is currently a postdoctoral fellow at Research Center for Humanities and Social Science, Academia Sinica, Taiwan. His research interests include democratic theory, sovereignty, human rights, comparative intellectual history, and British idealism.
Routledge Studies in Social and Political Thought
141 Politics through the Iliad and the Odyssey Hobbes writes Homer Andrea Catanzaro 142 Social Change in a Material World Theodore R. Schatzki 143 Hubris and Progress A Future Born of Presumption Carlo Bordoni 144 Work Marxist and Systems-Theoretical Approaches Stefan Kühl 145 The Social Life of Nothing Silence, Invisibility and Emptiness in Tales of Lost Experience Susie Scott 146 A Politics of Disgust Selfhood, World-Making and Ethics Eleonora Joensuu 147 The Lived Experiences of Muslims in Europe Recognition, Power and Intersubjective Dilemmas Des Delaney 148 Ethical Politics and Modern Society T. H. Green’s Practical Philosophy and Modern China James Jia-Hau Liu
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Ethical Politics and Modern Society T. H. Green’s Practical Philosophy and Modern China James Jia-Hau Liu
First published 2020 by Routledge 52 Vanderbilt Avenue, New York, NY 10017 and by Routledge 2 Park Square, Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon, OX14 4RN Routledge is an imprint of the Taylor & Francis Group, an informa business © 2020 Taylor & Francis The right of James Jia-Hau Liu to be identified as author of this work has been asserted by him in accordance with sections 77 and 78 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reprinted or reproduced or utilised in any form or by any electronic, mechanical, or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publishers. Trademark notice: Product or corporate names may be trademarks or registered trademarks, and are used only for identification and explanation without intent to infringe. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data A catalog record for this title has been requested ISBN: 978-1-138-50536-0 (hbk) ISBN: 978-1-315-14654-6 (ebk) Typeset in Times New Roman by codeMantra
Acknowledgements Introduction The Perplexity of Modernity 2 Green, British Idealism, and Modern Society 8 Ethical Politics and the Modernisation of China 13
1 Individual Emancipation after the Enlightenment Individual Emancipation as a Modern Issue 25 The Reformation and the Enlightenment 25 The Modern Spirit: ‘to be free, to understand, to enjoy’ 28 Two Legacies of David Hume 34 Unity and Plurality 39 The Demise of the Spiritual 39 The Division of Modern Society 42 The Individual Trumps the Community 44 External Laws and Internal Conscience 44 Monism and Pluralism 48
2 The Shadow of Metaphysics Metaphysics, Psychology, and Theory of Knowledge 58 The Structure of Truth and the Eternal Consciousness 63 Interpretations of Green’s Determinism 66 The Transcendental, the Immanent and Human Agency 71
3 Human Perfection and Moral Community The Modes and Transformation of Human Consciousness 81 The Good and the Self 86 Objectivism and Subjectivism in the Moral Sphere 92 Freedom, the Common Good and Social Duty 99
viii Contents 4 Ethical Politics and Sovereign Power Rights, Social Equality, and Mutual Recognition 110 Discipline and Self-government 117 Sovereignty and Might 118 Civic Agency and State Action 121 Modern Politics as an Ethical Praxis 127
5 Green’s Practical Philosophy and Modern China The Reception of Green’s Practical Philosophy in East Asia 134 A Different Issue of Modernity 138 The Development of Greenian Study in Hong Kong and Taiwan 144
Conclusion Practical Philosophy and Ethical Politics 156 The Multiplicity of Modernity 159 The Legacy of Green’s Ethical Liberalism 161
The present book is a revision based on my doctoral thesis. Professor David Boucher and Professor Andrew Vincent helped and guided me to accomplish my thesis when I studied at Cardiff University, UK. I r eally appreciate their advices and suggestions. Roy Tseng, my mentor who inspired me to study Green and political philosophy, has also provided many insightful ideas helping me complete the present project. His warm encouragement also is one of the reasons I can accomplish the work. I am very grateful to him for all the support and guidance. I would also like to give my special thanks to Professor Ying-wen Tsai, Professor Fu-Kien Chang, Professor Peter Nicholson, Professor Avital Simhony, and Professor Colin Tyler. Much of the work on this project would not be done without their advice and help. And, of course, my deepest gratitude goes to my family. Without their support and understanding, I would never be able to complete this project. Most importantly, I must thank my wife, Ting, for her unconditional love and continuous encouragement and my daughters, Beatrice and Sofia, for their company and smiles.
Ethical politics, as a distinctive conception of political life, has a long history in the human world. For example, in the ancient Greece, Aristotle had defined the end of politics as nurturing the noble virtues of citizens for the highest good of humanity; also, in the ancient China, Confucius had regarded the core of political life as Ren (仁), the virtue of following one’s conscience authentically and treating others selflessly, and taken Ren as the fundamental virtuous principle of ruling and governing. These ‘ancient’ views of politics and political life, along with the development of human history, have made pervasive influences on human societies; and, in the modern era, they have become particular ways for people to adapt to massive transformations of social life. The features of modern society, according to Anthony Giddens, include the separation of time and space, the dis-embedding of social mechanisms, and the intrinsic institutional reflexivity (Giddens, 1991: 16–21). By means of the invention of advanced techniques of mapping and timing devices, an abstract but global image of the human world has been constituted and transformed the pre-modern ways of life. Pre-modern societies and cultures used to connect their perceptions of time and space with particular places. A group of persons who lived by rivers made their maps, calendars, and images of the world by reference to dry and flood periods of rivers; a group of persons who lived by mountains made their maps, calendars, and images of the world in accordance with the life cycle of forests and rocks; and people who lived by oceans, deserts, or plain fields also had diverse ways to perceive the world. However, the advancement of mapping and timing methods has designated a universal image of the world and a global order of time and space that are not necessarily connected with any particular place, and therefore empty out of time and space. What follows from this emptying is the dis-embeddedness of social institutions. Since the modern perception of time, space, and the world is not in connection with particular places but based on a global image, the pre-modern social mechanisms have come to be outmoded and replaced by new institutions. Nevertheless, the new institutions as conditions of modern social life are symbolic and abstract, as they are shaped in the process of emptying out of time and space and established
2 Introduction based on different modes of scientific knowledge that have validity from abstract reasoning and laboratory research rather than life experiences and direct perceptions situated in particular contexts. This abstract and dis-embedding feature of modern society, in Giddens’s view, then, indicates the intrinsic institutional reflexivity of modernity (Giddens, 1991: 20–21). Since from the time of the Enlightenment, the invention and the achievement of human knowledge are closely related to the sceptical attitude held by scientists and philosophers. With their doubts on the dogmas of tradition and ancient regime, scientists and philosophers have accelerated the development of human technology and envisaged institutions in the light of new knowledge. However, while the sceptical attitude has been the primary methodological principle for accumulating knowledge, which is the foundation of modern institutions, the distance between ordinary people’s concrete local lives and these abstract and dis-embedding institutions established by the sophisticated professional knowledge creates lots of room for doubt as well. Since people do not always understand the professional knowledge behind modern institutions, they have to trust the knowledge and the institutions founded on it; otherwise, the thoroughgoing scepticism would cause modern society to break down. But the room for doubt is there, so when people reflect on the social and cultural mechanisms of modern life, they can always raise questions to the mechanisms and modern society. What this intrinsic reflexivity of modernity leads to, therefore, is an existential crisis for each individual human being; as people may question all the social and cultural institutions around them and become uncertain about their daily lives, they can be sceptical of the very existential condition of themselves in modern society. Hence, constantly asking questions like ‘who I am’ or ‘what I am’ is typical of the moderns. What Green’s practical philosophy, especially his ethical politics, anticipates is a way of life in response to this issue of modernity, the existential crisis of individuals in modern society. In the following sections of this introduction, I will give a preliminary account of the relationship between Green’s philosophy and the issue of modernity, and how Green’s practical thought has connected to the modernisation of China during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Nonetheless, before going to this prelusive discussion of Green’s practical philosophy, it will be helpful to have a more comprehensive view of the perplexity of modernity alongside Giddens’s sociological analysis.
The Perplexity of Modernity By Giddens’s analysis of the features of modern society, we can learn that there are two dimensions of modernity, one is institutional and instrumental, the other is agential and subjective. The institutional and instrumental dimension of modernity covers extensive innovations of
Introduction 3 mechanic devices and techniques, economic and financial structures, political and juridical systems, and scientific knowledge. The agential and subjective dimension of modernity indicates an image of human being, a person who is capable of self-reflection and has the power to envisage and implement a life plan by reference to the self-reflection. A global view of human life is, then, a creation by the collaboration and interaction of these two dimensions of modernity. However, these features and elements of modernity, to be frankly, are ‘European’. They are what Europeans have achieved under certain historical and geographical circumstances. Hence, it is odd and inappropriate to claim that all the peoples on earth embrace the same global view of human life without indicating the multiple historical and geographical differences between Europeans and non-Europeans. Nonetheless, the achievement of European modernity and its world view have indeed made tremendous impact on the non-Europeans. Innovative technology, capital market, industrialisation, instrumental rationality, the separation of the moral and the political sphere, liberal democracy, the nation-states, secularisation, ethnic and gender equality, and bourgeoisie culture are all parts of the impact that European modernity has incurred worldwide. In order to analyse and apprehend the impact of European modernity that has transformed human societies, including non-Europeans and Europeans, scholars have proposed diverse theses from different disciplines. For instance, apart from Giddens’s analysis, social thinkers, as Charles Taylor (1999) indicates, have developed two general theories of the modern culture. The first theory is cultural-neutral and describes the modern culture as an ideal type of social formation that every society can undergo or adopt. While modernity means a set of social changes, involving the development of rational technology and scientific knowledge, the rise of reason and secularisation, the process of industrialisation, and the division of private and public spheres, all these are considered universalisable. On the other hand, the second theory conceives the modern culture as a specific constellation of values and ideas emerging from the transition of European society. Moving from a religious and organic form of society to a scientific and mechanic one, the rise of the modern culture in Europe, according to this second theory, indicates the process of the ‘enlightened’ ideas and values dissipating the power of traditional beliefs supported by the reign of Christianity; and modernity is thus understood as a set of social transformations within a particular historical and cultural context. Concerning the connection of modernity and historical contexts, researchers have also proposed at least two general views. The first is a doctrine understanding modernity as a process of modernisation. It claims that modernity is a human achievement ensued from a series of institutional and ideological revolutions in Europe, and other nations could share the achievement and its subsequent benefits by adopting the same
4 Introduction revolutionary institutions and ideologies of Europeans’. This doctrine of modernisation was popular and prevalent among scholars during 1950s. However, with the growing interest in globalisation and cultural studies, some researchers, such as Shmuel N. Eisenstadt (2000), have developed a counter-view considering modernity as diverse, multiple, and ambivalent rather than singular-developmental.1 To be specific, this counter-view can be further divided into three different stances. For one thing, modernity signifies a historic situation that different peoples in different regions have undergone and have taken diverse approaches in response to the social changes coming with the situation. That is, modernity does not restrict to a set of universal values and ideas, or a series of institutional changes, which is applicable for Europeans and non-Europeans indifferently, but suggests a specific event in a particular period of human history.2 For another, there is no singular and uniform development of modernity among European nations, either. Gerard Delanty, for instance, argues that there are multiple routes to modernity in Europe by virtue of different civilizational backgrounds behind the six regions of the continent, the North Western, Mediterranean, Central, East Central, South Eastern, and North Eastern parts of Europe (Delanty, 2012). On this point, modernity denotes a certain end or objective that different regions of Europe and places outside Europe have been going after by multiple routes.3 For another, modernity is neither a term describing an event in human history, nor an end encouraging peoples to accomplish, but a conception indicating a radical break between the present and the past, a rupture between values. Here, what the ‘modernity’ means is a significant social and cultural rupture with the past and traditions that can happen in any place on earth and refers to something ‘new’, ‘innovative’, and ‘revolutionary’; that is, modernity, by definition, requires an ‘other’, the stamp of which is ‘old’, ‘obsolete’, and ‘antique’. And, in terms of this conception of modernity, the division between the Classical Greek and Roman age and the Renaissance in European history, or the division between the pre-modern and the modern period in the history of any place is not merely a neutral distinction for chronological usage but involving a sort of value judgement.4 Furthermore, the thinking of ‘modern as something new’ resonates with Charles Pierre Baudelaire’s perception of modernity from an art critic point of view. In ‘The Painter of Modern Life’ Baudelaire remarks that modernity is ephemeral, transient, contingent because the beauty of life is what time ‘imprints on our sensations’ (Baudelaire, 1964: 13–14). What modernity means, for Baudelaire, then, is not about singular development, progress, rational project, or a universal end, but about an innovative spirit expressing through artistic works in catching the transient beauty of life. This aesthetic idea of modernity has become an intellectual origin for criticisms of modern society and bourgeoisie culture.
Introduction 5 After Baudelaire, thinkers such as Georg Simmel, Walter Benjamin, Theodor Adorno had reflected on the characteristics of the modern society and engaged critical studies on the mechanism, rationalism, and progressivism of modern culture. One critical thought on modernity evolving in these studies is that while the machinery of modern society seeks to build a wonderland where humans can enjoy a rich and prolific life under the techno-industrial governance, this ‘bourgeoisie’ vision of the world nonetheless overstates the importance of rational technology and industrialisation and conceals the real condition of modern life. Whereas modernity is ephemeral, transient, and contingent, the formation and operation of human society cannot be built and run in accordance with a universal rational design perfectly; instead, modern society is fragmented as the beauty and meaning of each existence in the society is always at present and momentary and is constantly in pursuit of a new expression of itself. In other words, the techno-industrial utopian is ultimately unattainable, and the only way to manifest the significance of one’s existence is to express oneself creatively and genuinely. Thus, it appears that the implication of modernity is ambivalent. Sometimes, the features of modernity project a developmental, progressive, and optimistic vision of the human world (though there may be multiple routes and varied patterns towards it), but sometimes it rather depicts a momentary, contingent, and fragmented condition of human life.5 What this ambivalence of modernity hereby exposes is an underlying crisis of modern society, which is in connection with the agential and subjective dimension of modernity mentioned earlier, namely the emptiness and segregation of the self-reflective modern subject. As indicated, European modernity connotes an image of human being who is capable of self-reflection and has the power to envisage and implement a life plan by reference to the self-image. However, the source of the contents of one’s self-image and the corresponding life plan has been generally divided into two: by the faculty of human reason or non-reason. Kant, for example, delimits the function of human reason and claims that despite that reason cannot acquire any knowledge of the world of things in themselves, which is beyond the ken of humans, the right usage of the reason can nonetheless help us to accumulate universal knowledge of the laws of nature and morality within the terrain of phenomena, and then help us to envisage and implement a rational life plan for establishing an ideal just society. Here, the contents of one’s self-image and life plan are provided by reason, while feelings, emotions, and desires are non-cognitive and contingent and therefore are not adequate for formulating self-image and life plan. Nevertheless, Hume, on the other hand, asserts that ‘[w]hen I turn my reflexion on myself, I never can perceive this self without some one or more perceptions’, and this is because that self is nothing but a bundle of different perceptions (Hume, 1888: 634; cf. 251–263). That is, for Hume, the contents of self-image are not from
6 Introduction reason but from perceptions, feelings, emotions, and desires, as these ‘non-rational’ elements of human being, though are contingent, provide the necessary materials for the human mind to generate impressions and ideas that are the primary sources of knowledge. Taking Kant’s and Hume’s accounts of the constitution of the self as two typical conceptions of the modern subject, it is obvious that the subject’s self-knowledge is supposed to be corresponding with what human faculties provide to the human mind. However, while the contents of one’s self-image are provided by the faculty of reason or non-reason, the self thus constituted will not be permanent or persistent, since one can reflect his or her self-image critically and formulate a new image of self from time to time. What the ambivalence of modernity shows herein is the gap between a craving for the realisation of a conceptual self and a radical desire of constantly expressing one’s existence in an innovative and unique way, and the modern subject who stands in this gap is void and is always in the course of formulating self-image. That is to say that what is latent in the agential and subjective dimension of modernity is an internal division, according to which the modern subject is an empty existence standing in between an expressive self and an objectified self. This emptiness of the modern subject, in turn, signifies a significant alienation of the individual in the modern era. As indicated, what the abstract and dis-embedding feature of modern society and the intrinsic reflexivity of modernity lead to is the existential crisis of the individual. For the individual no longer has a firm sense of belonging to a particular society under the influence of industrial technique and universal knowledge but acquires the reflective capability to question everything around, or even him or herself. This doubt over everything makes the individual feel alienated from others, from the society and the entire world. In the meantime, the internal division of the modern subject indicates a pathological condition that as the individual stands in between the expressing self at present and the objectified self as an abstraction, the individual’s self-conception is segregating into two parts and this would cause self-identity conflicts and self-doubts. The alienation of the individual in the modern era, therefore, is not merely about the relation between the individual and the society or the world but also about the relation between the individual’s different self-images. As for the solution to the existential crisis of the modern individual, Hegel’s philosophical discourse has been considered as an important proposal, as he is the first philosopher ‘for whom modernity became a problem’ (Habermas, 1987: 43). In Hegel’s view, the principle of modernity is the principle of subjectivity and what this subjectivity denotes is the freedom and the reflection of the individual (Hegel, 1995: 423). Since from the time of Francis Bacon and René Descartes, methodological reflection has been reckoned as significant for humans to acquire a better knowledge of the world, but what the series of works in reflecting on
Introduction 7 scientific method has achieved then is more than better knowledge. For the advancement of human knowledge had opened the minds of those Europeans living in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and helped them emancipate from the theological dogmas of Christianity. What followed from this intellectual emancipation was moral and political liberations; the fights of secular princes and kings against the popes or each other, and the fights of peoples against the kings and the churches. Here, the development of knowledge not only freed the Europeans from the reign of Christianity but also projected a vision of the ideal society where every individual person is morally and politically equal. Considered historically, the Reformation, the Enlightenment and the French Revolution are the three epochal events that symbolise the triumph of modern subjectivity in Europe (Habermas, 1987: 17–19). Nevertheless, when the principle of subjectivity reached its culmination in Europe, the underlying defect of it has also been disclosed, that the individual living in modern society will always have a radical feeling of alienation from the society, from the world, or even from him or herself. The solution to this radical alienation that Hegel’s philosophical thought proposed is to reconcile the individual with the society, the world, and him or herself, apparently. Taking the development of subjectivity as a journey for a rational spirit to discover and to return to itself, Hegel differentiates several stages of the journey in which the feeling of alienation is a symptom indicating an immediate but abstract state of the consciousness of an individual subject, where the objective manifestations of the rational spirit are negated by the naïve subjective manifestations. To be sure, it is the state that the subject who presents itself as an ‘I’ takes the society, the world, and the others as what perceive immediately, and the objectivity of the society, the world, and the others is nullified by this perceiving ‘I’; for the objectivity is assimilated and confined to this subject’s immediate perceptions. However, without recognition of external objects the subject as an ‘I’ is nothing but abstract and partial. In order to overcome this abstractness and partiality, the subject is conversely to surrender itself to the objectivity, which leads to the next stage of the journey of the rational spirit where the original negation of the objectivity is negated. At this moment, the subject is to suspend its reflective capability and obey the norms and laws from without, by which the contents of its self-image are thus determined by some externally imposed term such as a holder of rights, a bearer of obligations, or a subject ruled by a king, a natural law, or the God. As to the following stage of the journey, it is a further negation of this self-surrender to the objectivity. While the individual subject can acquire a certain content of its self by surrendering to the external objectivity, the condition for this, the suspension of the subject’s reflective capability, has restrained subjectivity. Nevertheless, since the subject still has the capability, though it is in suspension, when the unhappy consciousness caused by the external
8 Introduction restraint at certain point arises, it will lead the subject to question the discipline and to seek to renovate its subjectivity. Now, while the subject has been through the restraint and discipline of the objective manifestations of the rational spirit and embraces substantial experiences of its self, the society, and the world, the renovated subjectivity is not to return to its immediate and abstract state but a concrete consciousness of its self and the others. And, by this concrete consciousness, the subject would come to realise that its self, the society, and the world are all manifestations of a rational spirit and they are unified with each other. Then, once this awareness comes to its mind, the individual subject will not feel alienated from the society and the world, while the journey of the rational spirit will reach its completion at this very moment.6 Accordingly, by this brief account of Hegel’s solution to the existential crisis of the modern individual, it is clear that Hegel was not only proposing a solution but also providing a meaning for the individual alienation in the modern era. But, as Habermas indicates, Hegel’s proposal nonetheless presumes the unity of the individual subject with the objective world (Habermas, 1987: 42–43). When the subject and its surrounding world are both taken by Hegel as manifestations of a rational spirit, it appears that the unity of the subject with the world is enclosed a priori. Here, an individual subject’s freedom and self-reflection are to be modes and conditions of understanding of its predetermined place in the world, while the critical emancipatory power of the subjectivity is concealed by the predetermination.7 Nevertheless, in Robert Pippin’s view, what Hegel actually proposed was not a discourse of the enclosed relation of the individual subject with the objective world but an open text depicting the dialectical process of how the subject achieves autonomy, a process that the subject can impose and determine its own contents through the mutual recognition between the subject and its others (Pippin, 1999: 165; cf. 60–77). For Pippin, it is this dialectical thinking, not the a priori presumption, that provides a way out of the individual alienation in the modern era by Hegel. The two approaches of understanding Hegel’s response to the perplexity of modernity, as a controversy among Hegelian studies, are not the issue which would be explored in detail in the present book; however, under the influence of Hegel’s thought, Green’s philosophy, as we will see, implicates a similar dual response to modernity.
Green, British Idealism, and Modern Society During the nineteenth century, with the advancement of knowledge and technology, Great Britain went through a dramatic transformation, moving from a primarily agricultural society to an industrial one. The resultant massive changes within the cultural, economic, and social structures of the country caused many traditional ideas and values to be challenged and even abandoned. The new theories and ideas formulated
Introduction 9 by biologists and geologists, such as Charles Darwin’s The Origin of Species or Sir Charles Lyell’s Geological Evidences of the Antiquity of Man, and the new devices and machines invented by scientists and technicians, like the improved steam engine, the sewing machine or the cotton gin, and the new process of making steel out of iron, had made adverse but pervasive impact on the religious and moral beliefs of British people and their daily lives. For one thing, while those innovative notions and instruments were applied to improve the economic production and the social condition of the country, not everyone on the island had a fair share of the increased wealth; instead, the great amount of the wealth of the nation was in the hands of the privileged few, including the nobles, landlords, squires, and the rising middle class. As for the vulgar, laymen, and common people, working more than ten hours a day for a meagre income was the kind of normal life that they had to accept; otherwise, they could choose to be a rouge, a gangster or a crook, or to starve to death. Charles Dickens had made a portray of this ‘modern’ life of British people at the beginning of his famous novel, A Tale of Two Cities, that: It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way… (Dickens, 1863: 7) It is to say that the modernisation of British society had its bright side and dark side with benign and malign consequences. Meanwhile, the emergence of new theories and ideas has constituted a dissolving power confronted with the stability of the social and political hierarchy of Britain. Taking the theory of evolution as an example, it envisages a rational explanation of how species survive and adapt to the changing environment by natural selection, and discredits the theological doctrine of ‘God creates the world’. Like the heliocentric theory developed and proved in seventeenth century, the theory of evolution has thus challenged the authority of the Christian church and shaken the beliefs of people in the teaching of Christianity. Also, the idea of natural selection has led people to think that it is the fittest and strongest one who will survive in a changing world and that each person has to compete with others and to win for survival. Herbert Spencer, an influential social thinker in nineteenth century, had applied the notion of ‘the survival of the fittest’ to his studies of human society and politics, and in his view, each person should find his or her fittest position in society for securing personal welfare, while it is through personal achievements that society as an organism can maintain its life and pass the trials of the
10 Introduction environment (Spencer, 1877: 465–488, 1884: 60–77). And then, under such sort of influence of the evolution theory, it has been considered that the state and the government should not intervene in spontaneous activities of individual persons, as having a fair share of national wealth is a prize for which each one must fight alone by overwhelming others. On this point, the thought that an individual has to accomplish what he or she desires by competing with others and this is the way for survival and the prosperity of society leads to a paradox, however. On the one hand, since the great amount of the wealth of the nation was in the hands of the privileged few, it was difficult for common people to compete with them from the outset; but, on the other hand, since it is the fittest and strongest one who will survive, one possible way for common people to overwhelm the privileged few was to fight against them together and to overthrow the current social and political hierarchy. Hence, for the nineteenth-c entury British people, there seems to be a choice between an unequal but stable society and a liberating but anarchic revolution. What Green and most British idealists were concerned about was to find and to propose alternatives. Green was a person who had the passion for the common good of society and the compassion for his fellows, no matter which social class they were belonging to. He urged for the enfranchisement for all adults, supported the reform of education system to abolish the distinction of students in accordance with their social backgrounds, demanded regulations for child labour, fair wage, safe working environment, reasonable working hours, and strict liquor licensing, and propagated the importance of establishing labourers’ unions. Green, apparently, was a reformer and a forerunner of social justice, and the way he chose to change the existing social and political system was not revolution, but to seek popular support from his fellows to repeal inadequate regulations and to legislate new laws. As a radical liberal in the nineteenth-century Britain,8 Green had faith in the crowd taking the responsibility of making political judgements and expressing their opinions for public issues by vote or public speech. Here, while most of the people in the country had to spend more than ten hours a day to earn their living and had no chance to attend school education and to learn sufficient knowledge for making judgement, the reason Green believed the people could still have responsible and fair judgements was that there has been a sense of community shared by the people and this sense of community had inured them to care more about public welfare than personal interests. However, while the dissolving power of new theories and ideas was prevalent, the communal bond which people were used to share with each other was about broken, as people came to be more and more egoistic and selfish for surviving in a transformative world. What Green intended to achieve by his philosophical discourse and public speeches accordingly was to restore the communal bond of the people and to secure the foundation of British society.
Introduction 11 The primary thing Green seemed to be determined to do to maintain the sense of community among British people, then, was to disclose the inadequacy and partiality of the new theories and ideas. For instance, he urged that what made the theory of evolution and Spencer’s studies partial, or even false, was the metaphysical assumptions presupposed in them. Between 1877 and 1881, Green had three articles published in Contemporary Review, and in these articles, he made vehement criticisms of Spencer’s and G. H. Lewes’s metaphysics and methodology applied in their studies. For Green, while Spencer’s and Lewes’s research could be considered as an heir of Hume’s empirical philosophy, the most important deficiency of their studies is that they have not made any progress in response to the metaphysical question left by Hume. He said, ‘It had seemed to me, indeed, that a clear exposition, such as I sought to furnish, of the state of the question in metaphysics, as Hume left it, would suffice to show that it has not been met but ignored by his English followers’ (Green, 1885: 373). As to the question in metaphysics Hume left, Green nonetheless gave us a quite broad statement as ‘how is knowledge possible?’ (ibid.: 374). However, if we turn to another article of Green’s, ‘Popular Philosophy in Its Relation to Life’, published in 1868, we can find a more lucid elucidation of the issue that Hume’s empirical philosophy as a branch of the Enlightenment philosophy, in Green’s view, ‘rested on a metaphysical mistake, on an attempt to abstract the individual from his universal essence, i.e. from the relations embodied in habitudes and institutions which make him what he is; and that thus to unclothe man, if it were possible, would be to animalise him’ (Green, 1906: 116–117). Here the question Hume left is identified clearly as a false apprehension of the relationship between the individual and the things related to him or her, that the individual is like an isolated atom independent of anything surrounding. About how this apprehension of the existential condition of the individual is relating to the question ‘how is knowledge possible?’, it will be discussed in the following chapter. Nevertheless, what we should keep in mind from here is that Green’s apprehension of the human condition and its relation to political life is closely related to his criticisms of the metaphysical and methodological assumptions of empirical philosophy. In fact, for most of British idealists, empirical philosophy and its derivative social and moral discourses were one of their main targets of c riticism, and the reason behind this critical attitude is in relation to their reception of German idealism. As indicated, the theory of evolution and its profound influences have been considered by Green as with deficiencies relating to the metaphysical and methodological assumptions of empirical philosophy, and this view of Green’s was shared by most British idealists who thereby intended to establish new metaphysical and methodological approaches that can correct the deficiencies of empirical philosophy. German idealism, then, was one of the most important sources for
12 Introduction inspiration to the British idealists.9 While Hume and most empiricists consider the individual as an isolated atom and believe that there is no such thing as a social whole but only an aggregate of individuals which we name it as ‘society’, Hegel instead claims that the society is an organic unity in which each individual can constitute his or her personality and have life meaning by serving the organic social whole (Hegel, 1991: 290, 304–314). For, in Hegel’s view, as seen before, the individual and the society are both manifestations of a rational spirit, and they are both indispensable for the spirit to achieve its self-completion. The individual and the society are hence interrelated with each other as a unified whole. With impact from Hegel, British idealists also think that the individual and the society are mutually interdependent and are two integral parts of a unified organic whole, as ‘they are complete only in and through each other as playing a constitutive role in the make-up of each other’ (Simhony, 1991a: 522; cf. Quadrio, 2012). And, for the idealists, it is because the empiricists fail to apprehend this mutually constitutive relationship between the individual and the society that they misconceive the nature of theory of knowledge and the existential condition of the individual in the society. Yet, by means of the prevalent influence of the Enlightenment philosophy and the improvement of experimental technology, the atomic view of the individual has been popular both in the fields of metaphysical and epistemological study and social and moral research. As a result, not only was the moral attitude of British people to be individualistic, or even egoistic as mentioned earlier, but also the social and political notions of British governmental system were to be based on self-centredness and self-mastery. As the opening of Samuel Smiles’s Self-Help exemplified: The spirit of self-help is the root of all genuine growth in the individual; and, exhibited in the lives of many, it constitutes the true source of national vigour and strength. Help from without is often enfeebling in its effects, but help from within invariably invigorates. Whatever is done for men or classes, to a certain extent takes away the stimulus and necessity of doing for themselves; and where men are subjected to over-guidance and over-government, the inevitable tendency is to render them comparatively helpless. Even the best institutions can give a man no active aid. Perhaps the utmost they can do is, to leave him free to develop himself and improve his individual condition. But in all times men have been prone to believe that their happiness and well-being were to be secured by means of institutions rather than by their own conduct. (Smiles, 1859: 1; italics in original) Therefore, the moral and political thought founded on the atomic view of the individual tends to support the theory of limited government and
Introduction 13 to advocate the ethical significance of one’s self-independence. However, considering about the social condition of the nineteenth-century Britain, this thought of letting an individual person to improve his or her life condition by his or her own effort alone without assistance from the society or the government is simply to mean that the underprivileged common people will have to accept the unfair terms capitalists or landlords offer whatsoever. Accordingly, in order to propose alternatives for reforming British society, rather to choose between an unequal but stable society and a liberating but anarchic revolution, Green and British idealists had started their works from re-estimating the metaphysical and methodological assumptions of the empirical philosophy of the Enlightenment, particularly the atomic view of the individual; and, what Green proposed and established hereby is a unique view of politics, which we have mentioned at the beginning of this introduction, an ethical conception of political life.
Ethical Politics and the Modernisation of China Among Aristotle’s massive writings, metaphysics, ethics, and politics are three correlative subject matters. Metaphysics indicates the relation of the world and the highest being and the nature of the universe, ethics indicates the telos and the position of human beings in the universe, and politics indicates the means and conditions for the telos of being human to be actualised. In other words, what metaphysics and ethics do is to depict an ideal of human life, and this ideal of life is the end for politics to consider under what form of life and government that could be reached. Here, from Aristotle’s perspective, ethics and politics thus have a double link. On the one hand, they are related as end to means, but, on the other hand, since a form of life and government is indispensable for the telos of human beings to be actualised, politics as a means for ethics is not dispensable as purely secondary; on the contrary, it bears ethical commitments and is an integral part of the ontological condition of human life.10 Similarly, in Green’s practical philosophy the relation of politics and ethics is also ontological as they are both necessary conditions for human beings to have a good life. However, since the social and historical circumstances are profoundly different between the ancient Greece and the nineteenth-century Britain, the reasons for Aristotle and Green to envisage an ethical view of politics are different. In the ordinary city life of ancient Greeks, to participate in public affairs and to make contribution to the city are significant for being a citizen. If one has devoted his life to his city, he would be honoured and memorised as a virtuous man. When Aristotle was born in Stagira, the two most powerful cities among the Greeks, Sparta and Athens, were declining due to the wars between them and the wars between the Persians and the Greeks. What this decline of powers of Sparta and Athens signified was the downturn of the entire
14 Introduction ancient Greek civilisation. Living in this strife age of the Greece, Aristotle nonetheless insisted and believed the importance of noble virtues for citizens to perfect their lives and to actualise the telos of human beings within their glorious cities. Insofar as the end of politics is the highest good, the praxis of virtues for public affairs is the very practical way for human beings to realise the ideal form of life (Aristotle, 1984: 13). As to Green’s case, we have seen that the reason he envisaged an ethical view of politics is that he wanted to propose persuasive discourses to earn the support of his British fellows for social and political reformations. To achieve that, he looked into the current social and political discourses in nineteenth-century Britain and found out that the atomic view of the individual espoused by the Enlightenment philosophy, and empirical philosophy in particular, was a major obstacle for reformation. Thereby, the primary work Green engaged in was to arrest against the atomic view of the individual and the metaphysical and methodological assumptions of empirical philosophy. The strategy he adopted to proceed this work was twofold. On the one side, he made great efforts, as indicated earlier, in finding the wrongness of empirical philosophy. ‘Popular Philosophy in Its Relation to Life’, the three articles published in Contemporary Review, and the two long introductions to Hume’s Treatise of Human Nature are all the works of Green’s that manifest his efforts and visions in criticism of empirical philosophy. On the other side, he devoted to establishing an alternative view of the individual, of which that the individual can enjoy a self-realising life without being isolated and alienated from the world, the society, and all the surrounding others. For, as mentioned, what Green tended to achieve by his writings and speeches was to restore the communal bond of the British people. In Prolegomena to Ethics, he has remarked that one’s individuality and true freedom can only be formulated and achieved in and through a reconciliatory relationship with the world, the society, and the others, and this means that the communal life is not just a means for individuals to accomplish their personal goals or to maximise their self-interests; instead, it is indispensable for the individuals to realise their ideal states of life. Having this sort of socially constitutive view of the individual in mind, Green, like Aristotle, highlighted the ontological relationship of ethical practice and political life and anticipated a solution to the existential crisis of individuals in modern society. As for the details of Green’s arguments and discussions for these findings, I will expound in Chapters 2–4. Here, for the rest part of this introduction, I would like to briefly illustrate the connection between Green’s practical philosophy and the modernisation of China during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. The modernisation of China is a lasting issue for scholars around the world. The earliest studies of China might be from European missionaries in sixteenth-century. However, although some of the missionaries,
Introduction 15 such as Matteo Ricci, Giulio Aleni, and Giuseppe Castiglione, even chose to stay in China until the end of their days, their main interest was preaching. In nineteenth century, the frequency of interaction between the European and the Chinese was increasing as the European merchants had growing interests in trading with China. Nevertheless, the trade with China was not a good business for European countries in terms of national finance. Between 1368 and 1912, China was under the rule of Ming and Qing dynasties. In this period of Chinese history, the trade between China and Europe was prohibited several times by the degrees of Chinese government but it still became tremendously profitable. By exporting tea, silk, porcelain products to the other continents, particularly Europe, China had increased its trade income for years as there was about 100 metric tons of silver per year imported from the world to the country between 1600 and 1800 (Huang, 1974: 266–305; Po, 2018; von Glahn, 1996). This situation was not good for other governments of course. The British, the French, the Spanish, the Portuguese, and the United States all wanted to reduce their trade deficit with China. And opium was the product which the British government took as the means to improve their trade profit with China. Scholars have indicated that the British government made a great fortune by opium trade. Whereas the Chinese government allowed foreign merchants coming to trade in Canton only since 1757, the British East India Company had smuggled chests of opium into China. From 1773 to 1839, the amount of opium imported into China increased dramatically. In 1773 the amount of opium imported to China was about 1,000 chests but in 1838 the amount increased to 40,200 chests (Greenberg, 1951: 104–143, 221; Spence, 1975: 149–151). The amount of silver flowed from China to other countries, then, was great. It has been estimated by scholars that the sum of silver exporting from China was 1,523 metric tons between 1817 and 1839 (von Glahn, 2018: 101). The increase of trade loss forced the Chinese government to place restrictions on the opium trade. The imperial officer Lin Zexu (林則徐) was ordered to manage the issue in 1838. However, when Lin and the Chinese government decided to compel foreign merchants to obey the restrictions, the British parliament, urged and persuaded by William Jardine, voted to send troops to East Asia to defend their national interests in 1840 (Grace, 2014: chap. 10). This military action caused the First Opium War between Qing dynasty and British Empire. The war ended in 1842 and the result was that the Chinese army was defeated by the British with casualties up to 20,000 men and the Chinese government was demanded to open five ports on its East coast to foreigners for trade (Wakeman, 1978: 163–212). After the First Opium War, foreign governments gradually realised that although Qing dynasty had a great amount of land and people, their weapons and war techniques were out-dated. The relationship between foreign governments and Qing dynasty was then changed. The foreign governments, including Britain, France, Russia, Japan, Germany, Italy,
16 Introduction and the United States, turned to take the so-called ‘gunboat diplomacy’ and threatened the Chinese government to accept series of unequal treaties, unequal in the sense that 22 trading sites in China were under the rules of these governments as concessions, tariff arrangements were fixed and then the infant Chinese industries could not be protected by national tariff policies, and nearly 100 trading sites were forced to open. These foreign interventions then caused waves of reformation and modernisation of China while Green’s thought was introduced into China in the process. The first wave mainly focused on industrialisation and military modernisation. After the First Opium War, there were only a few intellectuals and officers realising that the Chinese empire did not have the power to meet the foreign challenge.11 However, when the British army invaded Canton again in 1856 and sailed north to attack Tianjin with the French army and eventually occupied the Qing royal capital, Beijing, the country was finally aware of the urgent threat, and a group of officers then promoted a series of reforms called ‘self-strengthening movement’ (自強運動). During the movement, the officers and intellectuals who believed that the Qing dynasty needs reform for self-strengthening by learning from the West established Zongli Yamen (the first Manchu institution in charge of foreign affair and policy), arsenals and shipyards in Tianjin, Shanghai, Hubei, Nanjing, Fuzhou, and Xi’an, and many other institutions applying with or learning for new technologies and theories, such as Telegraph offices, the modernised army and navy, industrial business and language schools (Kuo and Liu, 1978: 491–542). However, the result of the movement was not successful in its military department. From 1894 Qing dynasty and Japanese Meiji government began a series of military conflict in Korean Peninsula and Yellow Sea, and Meiji government won the war at the end. The newly established Qing army and navy were both defeated by Japanese in 1895. One of the reasons for the failure was the incompleteness of military reform. As Pong points out, most of the officers who participated in the reform movement were educated with traditional Chinese statecraft and this training background invariably limited their conceptions of the new technologies and theories imported from Europe (Pong, 1985: 52–53). Also, although the three chancellors (Prince Gong, Guiliang and Wenxing) who submitted the reform proposal to the Qing emperor were Manchu, many powerful officers who urged for reformation were Han such as Zeng Guofan, Li Hongzhang, Zhang Zhidong, Zuo Zongtang (左宗棠), Shen Baozhen (沈葆楨), and Liu Kunyi (劉坤一). The rise of the Han officers made the Manchu rulers concern and begin to doubt the purpose of the movement, then (cf. Qu, 2016). After the war between China and Japan (also called the First Sino- Japan War), the second wave of the modernisation of China began. At this time the modernisation of China paid attention to the entire structure of
Introduction 17 the empire, including the political. On 22 April 1895, five days after the Chinese government signed the treaty of Shimonoseki with the Japanese and promised to pay 7,500 metric tons of silver in total as a war indemnity and to cede Taiwan and the eastern portion of the bay of Liaodong Peninsula to Japan, Kang Youwei (康有為) and more than a thousand intellectuals signed a petition to the emperor and suggested a comprehensive reform of the country. In 1898, when Prince Gong, who had actually controlled the empire for thirty years, died on 29 May, Xu Zhijing (徐致靖) and Kang petitioned the emperor to start reform. Thereafter, the reform began with the emperor Guangxu’s support. The range of the reform was far-reaching indeed such as establishing national schools, national colleges and bureaus of mine, industry, agriculture, and commerce all over the country, adopting Westernised military training comprehensively, providing incentives for private companies to publish newspapers or establish factories, and so on. Moreover, according to Kang’s proposal, there would be a revolutionary reform of political structure as the existing imperial system was going to be replaced by constitutional monarchy and a constitutional law and a national assembly would be instituted (Chang, 1980: 283–338). Unfortunately, the constitutional law and the national assembly never occurred and the reform only lasted for a hundred days. As the conservatives worried that the reform would damage their interests and threaten the rule of the Manchu, they asked Empress Dowager Cixi to intervene and most of the reformers were then arrested or even executed (Liew, 1985).12 Meanwhile, when the second wave of the modernisation of China was interrupted by the conservatives and the Manchu Royals, xenophobia reached its peak in China (Fenby, 2008: 79–94). In 1900 a nationalist movement organised by groups of Chinese people who believed that their martial arts and religion can let them be unharmed by guns and cannons of the Western powers spread in the north provinces of China. This movement was called ‘the Boxer Rebellion’ as the nationalist groups not only attacked foreigners but also robbed cities and villages in the north provinces and killed Qing officers. Certainly, the offensive behaviours of the boxers would irritate foreign powers. Troops from Britain, France, Germany, Russia, United States, Japan, Italy, and Austria were sent to China in August and they successfully defeated the boxers and the Qing army. The legations then occupied Beijing and invaded into several north provinces of China. In the meantime, Li Hongzhang, Zhang Zhidong, Liu Kunyi, and other Han governors of south provinces of China signed an agreement with foreign governments. They assured the foreign powers that they do not recognise the court’s war declaration as legitimate and will protect those foreigners who live, work, and travel in the south provinces. So, what the Boxer Rebellion brought to the Qing dynasty was a siege of eight foreign powers and a political separation between the north and the south of China. After negotiation, the Chinese government was
18 Introduction demanded to pay an indemnity of 450 million taels (equal to 67.5 million pounds) (Hsu, 1980: 115–130). And the authority and the power of the Qing dynasty were thus damaged by the event tremendously. In order to save the country and maintain the rule of the Qing dynasty, Empress Dowager Cixi directed a series of reforms and resumed the institutional modernisation of China since 1901 while constitutional monarchy came to be the main goal of the Qing imperial court this time. Chancellors and officers were sent abroad to learn how to draft constitutional law and direct the political institution designed by the idea of separation of powers. Besides this, the old civil examination system was abandoned, the number of students sent abroad was increasing, the tax and financial system, the local administrative system, and the national and local education system were all under reform (Fenby, 2008: 95–116; Ichiko, 1980: 375–415; Rozman, 1981: 225–231). Hence, it seemed that the Chinese government was finally determined to engage a far-reaching reformation, but the only problem was that it was too late for Han revolutionists. On 10 October 1911, the revolutionists and few modernised troops rebelled in Wuchang, and soon all the provinces in south and central China joined the rebellion. On 12 February 1912, the emperor Puyi announced the abdication of the Qing throne. Qing dynasty ended, then. And the second wave of modernisation of China was stopped at that moment. At this point we can see that the modernisation of China had been through several stages and involved with many dimensions. As to the third wave of modernisation of China, it gradually emerged and spread after the Republic government was established in 1912. At this stage, the main target of Chinese modernisation turned to the social and cultural tradition as those intellectuals educated abroad with public funding returned and held the view that the traditional Chinese social and cultural institutions have to be abolished in order to build a new society where people can adapt themselves to the modern life. These intellectuals, including Chen Duxiu (陳獨秀), Hu Shih (胡適), Lu Xun (魯迅), Li Dazhao (李大釗), Cai Yuanpei (蔡元培), Qian Xuantong (錢玄同), Gao Yihan (高一涵), and many others, devoted themselves to introduce Western knowledge and the modern ways of life to the people. Among them, Gao was one of the scholars who discussed Green’s thought in his writings. Nonetheless, Gao, as a Marxist, was critical of Green as he believed that Green was a statist just like Hegel. On the other hand, Yang Changji (楊昌濟), the mentor of Mao Zedong (毛澤東), was one of the few Chinese scholars who was influenced by Green’s thought. As we will see in Chapter 5, Yang’s interest in Green was mainly focused on his ethics which had inspired Yang to develop an account of the condition of China in the modern age. Yet, the issue of modernity which China and its periphery have encountered with is different from the one Britain faced with, and this difference is one of the reasons why the study of Green and British idealism in China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong did not last long.
Notes 1 In Modernization: Protest and Change (1966), Eisenstadt was basically standing for the classical singular-developmental view of modernity, but in his essay ‘Multiple Modernities in an Age of Globalization’, Eisenstadt has come to claim that ‘what we witness in the contemporary world is the development – certainly not always peaceful and indeed often confrontational – of multiple modernities. Such a view necessitates a far-reaching appraisal of the classical visions of modernity and modernization’ (1999: 284). And he has then given a more systematic account of this view of multiple modernities in the essay mentioned here, ‘Multiple Modernities’, one year later. 2 Modernity in this sense indicates what Carol Gluck remarks a historical condition which has been ‘produced over three centuries around the globe in processes of change that have not ended yet’ (Gluck, 2011: 676). See also Subrahmanyam (1998: 99–100). 3 In Delanty’s view, modernity and modernisation always involve with certain normative claims, such as making a better world, and it is in this sense that modernity is a cultural reference and an end for societies to develop different routes to approach it (Delanty, 2015: 27–30). For Delanty’s wider discussion on modernity, see Delanty (2000, 2013). 4 For discussion on the complexity of this periodisation issue, see Chakrabarty (2011), Symes (2011). 5 For more details about the ambivalence of modernity, see Bauman (1993). 6 This is a quick sketch of Hegel’s systematic philosophy. The pattern and the stages of the evolution of the rational spirit drawn here are manifest in his Phenomenology of Spirit especially. For consideration of the dialectical structure of Hegel’s philosophical system, see, for example, Findlay (1977: v–xxx), Kainz (1996: chaps. 1–4), Luther (2009: chaps. 3–6), and Taylor (1975). 7 As to a critical consideration of Habermas’s discussion of Hegel, see Dallmayr (1987). 8 Radical liberalism is a variant of liberal political thought during the nineteenth century. Its main urges include universal suffrage, advanced reforms of political system, government intervention, and progressivism. Green’s radical tendency was well-known among his liberal fellows at the time. For further discussion on this radical dimension of Green’s political stance, see Arblaster (1984: 285–288), Leighton (2004: chap. 1), MacCunn (1907: 185–266), Rodman (1964), Tyler (2003a). 9 For discussion on the philosophical connection between British empiricism and British idealism, see Mander (2011: chaps. 2–3); also, for the general reaction of British idealists to the theory of evolution, see Boucher and Vincent (2012: 20–29). 10 Studies on Aristotle’s practical philosophy are abundant. As for the research about his ethics and politics in particular, see, for example, Allan (1970: 123–148), Hughes (2013), Hutchinson (1995), Knight (2007: chap. 1), Ross (1995: 195–279), Shields (2014: 362–440), Taylor (1995). 11 Wei Yuan (魏源) was one of the most famous and important figures among them. In Illustrated Treatise on the Sea Kingdoms (海國圖志), published in 1843, Wei urged that the Chinese have to learn from the advanced technologies in the West in order to resist the invasion of the Western powers (師夷長 技以制夷). Wei’s thought had then made impact on several leaders of the later reformation movement in China such as Zeng Guofan (曾國藩), Li Hongzhang (李鴻章), and Zhang Zhidong (張之洞). 12 The reform, also called Wuxu Reform (戊戌變法), was influenced by the self-strengthening movement to a certain extent. For the language schools established during the self-strengthening movement, such as Tongwen Guan (同文館), translated and published books and texts of Western theories and
20 Introduction technologies that helped many intellectuals and officers who participated Wuxu Reform to draft their reform plans. Nevertheless, the range of the reform was too comprehensive and rush for most of the Manchu officers (Fenby, 2008: 65–78).
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Introduction 21 Grace, R. J. (2014). Opium and Empire: The Lives and Careers of William Jardine and James Matheson. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press. Green, T. H. (1885). Works of Thomas Hill Green, Volume I. R. L. Nettleship (ed.). London: Longmans, Green, and Co. Green, T. H. (1906). Works of Thomas Hill Green, Volume III. R. L. Nettleship (ed.). London: Longmans, Green, and Co. Greenberg, M. (1951). British Trade and the Opening of China 1800–42. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Habermas, J. (1987). The Philosophical Discourse of Modernity. F. Lawrence (trans.). Cambridge: Polity Press. Hegel, G. W. F. (1991). Elements of the Philosophy of Right. A. W. Wood (ed.); H. B. Nisbet (trans.). Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press. Hegel, G. W. F. (1995). Lectures on the History of Philosophy, Volume 3. E.S. Haldane and F. H. Simson (trans.). Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press. Hsu, I. C. Y. (1980). ‘Late Ch’ing foreign relations, 1866–1905’, in D. Twitchett and J. K. Fairbank (eds.), The Cambridge History of China: Volume 11, Late Ch’ing, 1800–1911. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, pp. 70–141. Huang, R. (1974). Taxation and Governmental Finance in Sixteenth-Century Ming China. London and New York: Cambridge University Press. Hughes, G. J. (2013). The Routledge Guidebook to Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics. London and New York: Routledge. Hume, D. (1888). A Treatise of Human Nature. L. A. Selby-Bigge (ed.). Oxford: Clarendon Press. Hutchinson, D. S. (1995). ‘Ethics’, in J. Barnes (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Aristotle. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, pp. 195–232. Ichiko, C. (1980). ‘Political and Institutional Reform, 1901–11’, in D. Twitchett and J. K. Fairbank (eds.), The Cambridge History of China: Volume 11, Late Ch’ing, 1800–1911. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, pp. 375–415. Kainz, H. P. (1996). G. W. F. Hegel: The Philosophical System. New York and London: Twayne Publishers; Prentice Hall International. Knight, K. (2007). Aristotelian Philosophy: Ethics and Politics from Aristotle to MacIntyre. Cambridge and Malden, MA: Polity Press. Kuo, T. Y. and K. C. Liu. (1978). ‘Self-strengthening: The Pursuit of Western Technology’, in D. Twitchett and J. K. Fairbank (eds.), The Cambridge History of China: Volume 10, Late Ch’ing, 1800–1911. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, pp. 491–542. Leighton, D. (2004). The Greenian Moment: T. H. Green, Religion and Political Argument in Victoria Britain. Exeter: Imprint Academic. Liew, K. S. (1985). ‘Some Reflections on Political Change, 1895–1916’, in D. Pong and E. S. K. Fung (eds.), Ideal and Reality: Social and Political Change in Modern China, 1860–1949. Lanham, MD.: University Press of American, pp. 251–285. Luther, T. C. (2009). Hegel’s Critique of Modernity. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books. MacCunn, J. (1907). Six Radical Thinkers: Bentham, J. S. Mill, Cobden, Carlyle, Mazzini, T. H. Green. London: E. Arnold. Mander, W. J. (2011). British Idealism: A History. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press.
22 Introduction Pippin, R. B. (1999). Modernism as a Philosophical Problem. Cambridge, MA: Basil Blackwell. Po, R. C. (2018). Tea, Porcelain, and Silk: Chinese Exports to the West in the Early Modern Period. Oxford: Oxford University Press (submitted). Pong, D. (1985). ‘The Vocabulary of Change: Reformist Ideas of the 1860s and 1870s’, in D. Pong and E. S. K. Fung (eds.), Ideal and Reality: Social and Political Change in Modern China, 1860–1949. Lanham, MD: University Press of America, pp. 25–61. Qu, J. (2016). ‘Self-Strengthening Movement of Late Qing China: An Intermediate Reform Doomed to Failure’, Asian Culture and History 8(2): 148–154. Quadrio, P. A. (2012). ‘Hegel’s Relational Organicism: The Mediation of Individualism and Holism’, A Journal of Philosophy and Social Theory 13(3): 317–336. Rodman, J. (1964). ‘Introduction’, in J. J. Rodman (ed.), Political Theory of T. H. Green: Selected Writings. New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts, pp. 1–40. Ross, W. D. (1995). Aristotle. with a new introduction by J. L. Ackrill. London and New York: Routledge. Rozman, G. (ed.). (1981). The Modernization of China. New York and London: Free Press; Collier Macmillan. Shields, C. (2014). Aristotle. Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon; and New York: Routledge. Simhony, A. (1991a). ‘Idealist Organism: Beyond Holism and Individualism’, History of Political Thought 12(3): 515–535. Smiles, S. (1859). Self-Help; with Illustrations of Character and Conduct. London: John Murray. Spence, J. (1975). ‘Opium Smoking in Ch’ing China’, in F. Wakeman, Jr. and C. Grant (eds.), Conflict and Control in Late Imperial China. Berkeley: University of California Press, pp. 143–173. Spencer, H. (1877). The Principles of Sociology, Volume 1. London: Williams and Norgate. Spencer, H. (1884). The Man versus the State. London: Williams and Norgate. Subrahmanyam, S. (1998). ‘Hearing Voices: Vignettes of Early Modernity in South Asia, 1400–1750’, Daedalus 127(3): 75–104. Symes, C. (2011). ‘When We Talk about Modernity’, The American Historical Review 116(3): 715–726. Taylor, C. (1975). Hegel. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press. Taylor, C. (1999). ‘Two Theories of Modernity’, Public Culture 11(1): 153–174. Taylor, C. C. W. (1995). ‘Politics’, in J. Barnes (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Aristotle. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, pp. 233–258. Tyler, C. (2003a). ‘T.H. Green, Advanced Liberalism and the Reform Question 1865–1876’, History of European Ideas 29(4): 437–458. von Glahn, R. (1996). ‘Myth and Reality of China’s Seventeenth-Century Monetary Crisis’, The Journal of Economic History 56(2): 429–454. von Glahn, R. (2018). ‘Economic Depression and the Silver Question in Nineteenth-Century China’, in M. P. García and L. de Sousa (eds.), Global History and New Polycentric Approaches: Europe, Asia and the Americas in a World Network System. Singapore: Springer Nature, pp. 81–118. Wakeman, F. Jr. (1978). ‘The Canton trade and the Opium War’, in D. Twitchett and J. K. Fairbank (eds.), The Cambridge History of China: Volume 10, Late Ch’ing, 1800–1911. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, pp. 163–212.
1 Individual Emancipation after the Enlightenment
Among the works of man, which human life is rightly employed in perfecting and beautifying, the first in importance surely is man himself. Supposing it were possible to get house built, corn grown, battles fought, causes tried, and even churches erected and prayers said, by machinery – by automatons in human form – it would be a considerable loss to exchange for these automatons even the men and women who at present in habit the more civilised parts of the world, and who assuredly are but starved specimens of what nature can and will produce. (John Stuart Mill, On Liberty). In the preceding chapter, I have given a preliminary account of what the present book is about, namely how Green’s practical philosophy anticipates a way of life in response to the existential crisis of individuals in modern society and how this anticipation is related to the modernisation of China. Starting from this chapter, I will discuss the details of these arguments, and first, the connection between Green’s practical philosophy and the perplexity of modernity should be addressed more and clearer. As indicated earlier, Green was living in a transformative time of the Great Britain. During the nineteenth century, the structure and institutions of British society were being through a great change, from a primarily agricultural life style to an industrial one, and plenty of innovative knowledge and technologies had agitated public beliefs and the daily life of the common people. The impact of the social transformation thus had two dimensions, institutional and ideological. For instance, while the theory of evolution challenged the moral belief of the people, the increasing number of urban factories had changed people’s way of life. New technologies and new machines helped improve the production of the manufacturing industry, although it still required workers to manipulate these devices. What this demand drove to was the increasing number of people in towns and cities. Taking London as an example, its population had grown from around 1 million to 2.4 million people between 1811 and 1851 (Schwarz, 1992: 125–128).1 Many immigrants and out-of-towners came to the city to find a job or a place to live.
24 Individual Emancipation However, the rapidly growing number of population in London had made the city crowded and turbulent. Not mention people had to strive against each other in order to earn a place to live. All these moral and social disturbances made Green wonder, whether the innovative knowledge and technologies had led British people to enjoy a better life or not. On 25 March 1867, Green attended a meeting of the Oxford Reform League at Oxford Town Hall, and he addressed to the audience that, ‘we must make up our minds to the opposition of the capitalists and the educated class’ (Green, 1997: 228). To Green, when the capitalists and the so-called educated class accumulate plenty of wealth for their own, the rest majority of the people in Britain, on the other hand, have no share at all. And what makes the life situation of the common people worse is that the oligarchs of wealth not only control the government and laws but also do their best to keep the mass of the people miserable and ignorant, in order to secure their supremacy in the country. Here, by addressing these issues, Green intended to urge the common people, especially the labour workers, to fight against the rich and the few who were in control of the government and manipulated laws to accumulate their private wealth rather than the wealth of the whole country. And the group of people who were taken by Green as the privileged few were, as indicated, the capitalists and the educated class, namely the persons who own new technologies and machines and the persons who should have wide knowledge of innovative theories. So, if the purpose for humans to invent or discover new technologies and theories in general is to improve human life, what the actual situation has shown to Green in the nineteenth-century Britain was the opposite. The invention of technologies and theories had not helped improve most people’s life but made it more difficult. As to why these innovative technologies and theories and the new institutions established upon them had not made people’s life better, for Green, it involves two factors. First, while the technologies and theories are beneficial to human life, the political structure nonetheless is in favour of the privileged few so the new institutions cannot function well, in the sense that it distributes the social and economic benefits unfairly. And this is why Green would urge people to fight against the privileged few and to support the reformation of the government. Second, while the government is in the hands of the privileged few and this causes the unfair distribution of the benefits brought by the new technologies and theories, the view of the human condition presupposed in these theories and technologies is problematic, for the view prescribes an atomic image of the modern individual and dissociates the individual from its fellows and the surrounding meaningful circumstances, and this leads the society to be full of self-centred persons. More specifically, behind the theories and technologies it is a thought considering the universe as composed of and moved by one fundamental and indivisible unit, and this unit, since fundamental and indivisible,
Individual Emancipation 25 is supposed to be the primary essence of the universe. In the ancient Greece, this essence was called ‘Ether’, and when this concept was introduced by René Descartes into physics in the seventeenth century, a mechanic view of the universe and a dualistic view of the human condition have then been envisaged and proposed. To Descartes, the universe as the world of matter and motion operates in accordance with the nature of the primary essence indeed, but the immaterial nature of the mind and its function on the other hand cannot be dissolved and explained by the law of the nature of the primary essence. For the world of matter and motion is a world of bodies ‘which can be confined in a certain place’ and can be perceived by sight, smell, taste, touch, or hearing, but the mind is a thing ‘which doubts, understands, [conceives], affirms, denies, wills, refuses, which also imagines and feels’ and cannot be perceived through the five senses (Descartes, 1993: 52, 54). In other words, there is a fundamental distinction between the body-matter and the mind.2 Thence, this Descartes’s dualistic view of the human condition has been a challenge for philosophers. While the Cartesian mechanic and atomistic view of the universe has made profound influences on the development of natural science and industrial technology, John Locke, who was taken by Green as the father of the Enlightenment, was one of the philosophers who intended to meet the challenge. However, what Locke and his follower David Hume achieved in Green’s view was not a way out of Descartes’s dualism but a far more radical version of the dualistic view of the human condition. And this radical dualistic view of the human condition, which prioritises the idea of individual emancipation, is considered by Green as one of the causes for the loss of communal spirit and class conflicts in the nineteenth-century British society, withholding the innovative technologies and theories from improving human life.
Individual Emancipation as a Modern Issue The Reformation and the Enlightenment For a long time, the Enlightenment has been considered as a significant historical event leading a series of intellectual and social revolutions to transform the look of Europe. Kant, for instance, once commented that the Enlightenment is ‘man’s emergence from his self-incurred immaturity’, indicating that a European man has come to use his own understanding to know the world without the guidance of another (Kant, 1991: 54). To be specific, what Kant indicated here is that compared with the scholastic philosophers who used their understanding in accordance with the guidance of the Roman Catholic Church, the philosophers of the Enlightenment dared to discover, to criticise, and to be independent as responsible beings, and this makes the Enlightenment ‘a momentous event in the history of the Western mind’ (Gay, 1966: 3–4). At the time figures
26 Individual Emancipation such as Buffon, Voltaire, Diderot, Montesquieu, Rousseau, Helvétius, and Holbach were the major intellectuals who devoted to bring the light of reason into every domain of human activity and to fight against Christian dogma. For the dogma preached by priests had obscured the ken of Europeans and restricted the European minds to the teaching of the Church. What the Enlightenment has helped achieved most significantly, then, was throwing off the yoke of the obscure theology. Nevertheless, the credit of this liberation does not belong to the Enlightenment alone but also goes to the Reformation of the sixteenth century led by protestant priests such as Martin Luther, Ulrich Zwingli, and John Calvin. While the Church had been urging princes, lords, knights, and its followers to join the Crusades, the wars against Muslims and pagans, and to recover the Holy Land from Muslim rule since from the eleventh century, the need for military service and financial support for the Crusades gave rise to the notorious exchange institution in the name of ‘indulgence’. That a man who provides military service or financial aid to the Crusades will receive a temporal remission of his sins. However, in Luther’s view, the existence of this institution demonstrated the corruption of the Church. For indulgence in its original meaning is a way to help human beings to relieve temporal punishment resulting from the effect of sin and to prepare for Purgatory. While a person who believes in God will definitely go to Heaven because of Christ’s work on the cross, he or she will still have to break his or her attachments to sin, the yearnings for the sins committed, so the person will require to stay in Purgatory for purification first as nothing unclean can enter the Heaven. And, in order to spend less time in Purgatory, a person could gain an indulgence under conditions in his or her earthly life such as having the sincere intention of receiving the indulgence, making a sacramental confession, receiving Holy Communion, and praying for the Pope’s intentions.3 Put briefly, indulgence is about the communion between God and a person who seeks to receive a temporal remission of his or her sins through holy rituals, and it should not be a purchase-and-sale relationship between the Church and the recipient. Accusing the Church of abusing the indulgence, Luther then established his own congregation and claimed that each person can communicate with God through his or her prayer without mediator. For, in Luther’s view, simply by reading and listening God’s words everyone can learn to talk with God through his or her inner mind, and the work of congregations is to faithfully preach God’s words rather than to forcefully advocate dogmatic theology (cf. Moorman, 2017: chap. 4). On 31 October 1517, Luther published his famous Ninety-five Theses and began his disputation with the Roman Catholic Church regarding to the meaning of ‘indulgence’. This disputation eventually led to a more radical breach between Luther and the Church. For Luther came to think that human beings cannot be redeemed through the sacraments and rituals of the Church; instead, the only way for human beings to be redeemed
Individual Emancipation 27 by God’s grace is to have faith in Jesus and all that alone is what requires us to be saved. Obviously, this claim of ‘justification by faith’ confronted directly with what the Roman Catholic Church established upon. The sacraments, the rituals, and the hierarchy of the Church have been what make it stand firmly on earth for more than a thousand years. In terms of the Church’s view, Luther’s ‘justification by faith’ would transform the Church and damage its foundation tremendously. With our hindsight, we know that the Church’s worries had come true. Being one of the most important creeds of the Reformation, ‘justification by faith’ was widely shared and espoused by Protestants. They chose to communicate with God through their prayers, studied the Bible devoutly, and believed that it is their faith in Jesus, not the Church’s obscure theology, that will lead them to salvation. When the philosophers of the Enlightenment came to the fore, the reign of the Roman Catholic Church had been facing a serious challenge accordingly. Taking the Reformation as the dawn of individual subjectivity, Green appreciated the significance of the event, but he also criticised it. In his essay ‘On Christian Dogma’, Green said that, [t]he individual, consciously or unconsciously, will formulate the Christian experience, and left to himself, will formulate it inadequately. Released from the dogma of the church, he will make a dogma of his own, which will react upon and limit the experience. His fathers, though themselves ‘ascripti glebae’, have subdued a wide region to his use; but, instead of appropriating it, he laboriously tills a little plat of his own, as much in bondage to the soil as they were. (Green, 1906: 182) This is to say that after the Reformation an individual no longer has to follow the dogma of the Church but his own conscience, though the individual’s conscience may be partial and bring out a subjective dogma. To be sure, what the Reformation brought to Europeans was the liberation of individual conscience indeed, but it was just the dawn of the liberation, not the end. In Green’s view, there were still plenty of obscure theological ideas lurking in the scriptures, and they needed to be clarified by the philosophical reasoning. What the philosophers of the Enlightenment engaged in was then the first attempt to make such clarification. In his 1878 sermon on ‘Faith’ Green addressed on the relationship between faith and reason directly, and the most important part of his argument is that science and religion share the same spiritual root, namely the human self-consciousness, and this self-consciousness manifests the function of human reason as ‘[i]t is only as taken into our self-consciousness, and so presented to us as an object, that anything is known to us’ (Green, 1886a: 82). In Green’s view, when the Roman Catholic Church and Luther talked about the work of Christ’s on the cross,
28 Individual Emancipation they were all taking it as an event once happened in the remote past, but this was the very reason why Christians had been asked to have faith in Christian dogma. For the event is historic and all the Christians, besides the Twelve Apostles and the people who were Jesus’s contemporaries, do not have personal experience of it. In a word, since the event happened in the remote past and most Christians do not have direct experience of it, they therefore can only have faith in it in order to believe it is real. However, for Green, these thoughts of the reality of Christ’s work and its meaning are misleading, as the legacy Christ left for human beings is a moral paradigm that he showed us that each individual human being has the power to abandon a carnal life and to look after a spiritual one, and the essential attribute of this power is our capability of self- consciousness. In Green’s mind, while we human beings are through the capability of self-consciousness to know the world and ourselves, this capability would also keep before us ‘an object which we may seek to become’ (ibid.: 85). As the self-consciousness presents objects to us, it is not only bringing the outer world as sensations or perceptions to us but also projecting an image of ourselves onto our inner minds, and this image of ourselves would lead us to form an ideal self urging us to achieve it. And, since we are capable of self-consciousness and can conceive an ideal self as an end to pursue, this then means that we have the potential power to formulate a different life from a carnal one. Hence, by defining reason as the capability of self-consciousness, Green held that the basis for us to know the world is also the basis for us to become a morally better person; in short, the human capability of self-consciousness is the essential condition for both scientific reason and religious faith to be possible.4 Nevertheless, although reason and faith, science and religion are not contradictory in Green’s view, the Enlightenment philosophy, the first philosophical attempt to clarify obscure theological ideas, rather settled its arguments precisely on the opposition between science and religion, the rational and the spiritual, and this ultimately resulted in a radical dualistic view of the human condition. The Modern Spirit: ‘to be free, to understand, to enjoy’ It has been noted that one of the most significant, but also contingent, achievements of the collaboration of the Reformation and the Enlightenment was the liberation of the individual from obscure theology. Deeming individual conscience as the sole authority of moral maxims the Protestants and the philosophers of the Enlightenment both espoused the freedom of the individual and believed it should be free from any unauthorised interventions, as neither the pope nor a king nor any other man can legitimately impose ‘a single syllable of law upon a Christian man without his consent’ (Luther, 1959: 70). However, even though the Protestants and the Enlightenment philosophers both advocated individual
Individual Emancipation 29 freedom, they nonetheless had different perceptions of how an individual performs his or her freedom. For the Protestants, as mentioned, the faith in Jesus and the Bible is the foundation for we human beings to seek the truth inside our minds, and to read and listen God’s words through our prayers is the righteous way to perform our freedom. But, for the philosophers, the truth is not inside our minds, it is in the world governing by a law of nature and requires us to use our reason to discover it. Interestingly, Descartes, as a catholic, had philosophical mediations akin to the innatism of the Protestants and left a dualistic view of the human condition which Locke intended to tackle with. While Descartes had established his reputation in Europe, Locke came to be well-known in Britain and France during the last decade of the seventeenth century; and, among such many issues of human knowledge, the two philosophers both concerned themselves with the question of the relationship between the body and the mind. Descartes tried to seek the source of the certainty of knowledge and to prove the existence of God on the basis of that seeking, and the two components of the universe, the body and the mind, are his starting-point. At the time it was widely acknowledged that the world of bodies is the origin of our sensations, and our sensations are one of the main sources of knowledge. However, this kind of knowledge based on sensations cannot be absolutely certain, for our sensations may be distorted, partial or defective, and deceive our perceptions of the world, and this means that sensations and the world of bodies cannot be the very root of the undoubted knowledge (Descartes, 1993: 45–50). Then, if the undoubted knowledge of the world is not from sensations and the body, the alternative is ideas, the ones presenting objects of knowledge in the mind. By Descartes’s account there are three kinds of ideas: innate, adventitious, and invented (Descartes, 1993: 61). About adventitious ideas, Descartes defined them as sensory, which means that they are ideas from our sensations of the outer world of bodies. As to invented ideas, they are nothing but inventions of the mind. For instance, a person who never has a taste of coffee may imagine the taste like black tea, but the idea of the taste is simply an invention composed of some ideas that the person has had. For innate ideas, such as mathematical or geometrical maxims, they are in Descartes’s view the ones in our nature, and can be known by us when we use our reason to look into our minds. Among these three kinds of ideas, Descartes believes that innate ideas are the most important ones, for the certainty of knowledge requires an undoubtable premise as the first principle, and the idea of self, which is innate, is what we can be most certain about. To Descartes, no matter what sensation we have from the outer world, sensible things may deceive us, but our thinking cannot, for the thinking is always clear and distinct presenting in our minds.5 Also, although we can doubt everything surrounding us, one thing that we cannot doubt is
30 Individual Emancipation that we are ‘doubting’, which is one of the functions of our minds. Based on these, the existence of our minds as thinking things is what we are most certain, and since this idea of human self is not from sensation of the outer world or invented, it is innate in the mind. Based on that, it can presume that the existence of the thinking self as an innate idea is the undoubted premise for human knowledge to be possible. Nevertheless, what moves our thinking and makes us thinking things? In Descartes’s view, it must be God. For the one who or what moves our thinking and makes us thinking things must have the same attribute with us, which means that the one is also capable of thinking. Moreover, although we can think and have ideas, some ideas like perfection or infinity must be instilled into our minds by a thing which is perfect and infinite; otherwise, said Descartes, there is no possibility for us, the finite and imperfect beings, to have these ideas (Descartes, 1993: 66–72). Accordingly, the one who makes us thinking things and instils ideas of perfection and infinity into our minds can only be God. Thus far, while God is the cause of our beings, the idea of Him is innate in our minds as it is an idea that we would perceive by deduction rather than by sensation or invention. What Descartes’s mediations demonstrate then is how we can reach the first undoubted principle for human knowledge to be possible by deduction. However, although Descartes’s speculation might help us discern the necessary presupposition of human knowledge, he nonetheless failed to explain lucidly how the two distinctive substances, the body and the mind, interact. As the creator of the universe, God is the primary cause of our thinking and the existence of our thinking selves, but Him is also the cause of the existence of the outer world. And this is the only thing that we can be certain of the relationship between the body and the mind by Descartes’s account (cf. Descartes, 1993: 86–100).6 On this point, Locke’s views of human knowledge and the relationship between the body and the mind are different from Descartes’s, then. In 1689 one of Locke’s most famous writings, An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, was published in London, and the first book of the work is designated to refute the doctrine of innate ideas and innate principles. For Locke, ideas and principles are what the mind receives and generalises from the external world and are acquired and learnt rather than innate in the mind. As to Locke’s strategy to refute the doctrine of innate ideas and principles, it is to examine whether people would come to universal agreement on some proved maxims or principles without learning and persuasion. For instance, Locke indicates that a child may know that cat is not the same with dog, and sweetness is not the same with bitterness, but even though the child knows these particular things are different, he or she may not know the maxim ‘That it is impossible for the same thing to be, and not to be’, for the maxim is an abstract proposition that requires a person having the ability of generalising particular things. But, if the maxim as a self-evident principle is innate and
Individual Emancipation 31 imprinted on the mind, the child shall immediately know the maxim at the time when he or she makes use of reason to look into his or her mind. Also, for a child to know how to generalise particular things, he or she must learn the connection of a word with its signification first; before that, words are just empty sounds (Locke, 1975: 48–65). In Locke’s view, it is thus obvious that people do not know and assent to maxims and principles immediately once they make use of reason to look into their minds; instead, to come to universal agreement on maxims or principles requires people to learn and to persuade. And this therefore shows that maxims and principles are not something innate in the human mind, but what we human beings learn and generalise from particular experiences of external things by observation and introspection. However, if ideas, maxims, and principles are what we learn from the outer world, it would mean that the body and the mind are not mutually exclusive. Nevertheless, Locke firmly maintained that the body and the mind are two different substances although they are ‘connected’ by qualities. Defining quality as a power of external things to produce ideas in us, Locke argues, the body and the mind as two mutually exclusive substances are connected, and we can accordingly have ideas of external bodies by observing and experiencing the things that bodies imprint on our minds through qualities (Locke, 1975: 134–143). In short, the origin of ideas is our experiences of the external world. Hence, for Locke, while ideas are the immediate objects of thought that we have in minds, the origin of them is our experiences of external bodies. By virtue of this account of human knowledge, we can see that the relationship between the body and the mind in Locke’s view does not necessarily involve an idea of God. Also, when Locke discussed the issue of the truth and certainty of knowledge, he did not appeal to God but only the human perception of the agreement or disagreement of ideas. To Locke, while the content of ideas is from our experiences of the external world, the general truth of propositions, maxims, principles – in a word, the truth of human knowledge, is from the connection of ideas based on legitimate testimony, namely the concurrent experiences of people (Locke, 1975: 525–530). Indeed, Locke holds that human knowledge is based on our sensations and experiences, but he also knows that our sensations and experiences are fallible. Accordingly, the credibility and truth of a general proposition cannot rely on one person’s single experience or sensation but a sufficient amount of people’s concurrent experiences (ibid.: 660–668). And once a proposition is thus proved to be credible and true, we can then infer other propositions from it that will, in turn, require us to prove them, too. Here, it should be clear that unlike Descartes, Locke did not want to employ an idea of God for completing his accounts of human knowledge and the relationship between the body and the mind; rather, he built his views mainly based on a thesis of human understanding. When he explained how the body and the mind interact, he mentioned
32 Individual Emancipation mediate qualities and their connection with human experiences; when he elucidated how knowledge forms and develops, he illustrated different faculties of the human mind, including sensation, perception, retention, discerning, judgment, and reason; and when he talked about the truth of knowledge, he indicated that it is our experiences of external things that can provide credibility for propositions and demonstrate the truth of knowledge. All these suggest that compared to Descartes, Locke seemed to have more confidence in the capabilities of human beings.7 On this point, the difference between Descartes’s view of certainty and truth and Locke’s has some significant implication. First, although Descartes and Locke both recognise the active role of the mind in the process of knowing, they nonetheless ascribe the foundation for the certainty and truth of knowledge to different sources. For Descartes, since the root of knowledge certainty is innate ideas, the truth and falsity of knowledge are related to how we proceed deductive inference with those innate ideas and make our judgements. For Locke, since the source of human knowledge is not innate in our minds but rather concerning with human perceptions and experiences, the truth and credibility of knowledge are thus related to the concurrent experiences of human beings and the correspondent relationship between human ideas and the world. What this difference between Descartes and Locke implies, then, is a shift of perspectives on the relationship of God, human beings, and the world. To be specific, it is a shift between the view that God’s omnipotence is the prime requisite for human beings to know the world and the view that the capabilities of human beings, as God’s gift, are the very requisite for acquiring the knowledge of the world. While in Descartes’s case the idea of God is integral to his accounts of the relationship between the mind and the body and human knowledge, this is nonetheless not the same with Locke’s case.8 And what we can infer from this shift is that when Europeans were gradually freed from the obscure theology after the sixteenth- century Reformation, their self-knowledge was transforming and there was a new ontological thinking of the human condition arising. In ‘The Force of Circumstances’, Green had briefly illustrated this new thinking of the human condition as that, [o]ur new existence seems then to fit so exactly with existing things that the delights of sense are inseparable from those of the intellect, our whole being is absorbed in external objects, and we have no feeling of the gulf that is fixed between ourselves and that complicated power, the result of human action from the first foundation of the world, which assumes at one time the form of an irresistible compulsion to sin, at another that of the moral law of society. But meanwhile the yoke is forming whose weight we are soon to find so heavy. The senses become more gross as our mental sight becomes more refined, our habits grow in strength and complexity as our perception of the
Individual Emancipation 33 law which ought to regulate them attains greater definiteness, and external suffering gets its first strong hold on us just when we are beginning to discover that this world is not our home. (Green, 1906: 3) For Green, as the new notion of the human condition puts us under the yoke of the outer world, our sensations and intellectual ideas are presumably inseparable and are both considered as dependent on the influences of external things. However, while this thought of human existence deems each individual person as a matter made by the force of circumstances, the feeling of alienation from the world caused by suffering and pains constantly reminds us that there might be some part of us still inexplicable by the force of the outer world. In his 1868 article ‘Popular Philosophy in Its Relation to Life’, Green then indicated the relationship between this modern human condition and the doctrines proposed and developed by the Enlightenment philosophy. He said, [s]o in the modern world, the doctrines of the Aufklärung are not to be supposed dead and done with, because Kant outgrew them nearly a hundred years ago. … In Germany itself the people now venture to assert a philosophy of their own, and it is not the philosophy of German philosophers, but of the school of Locke. The truth is, that the doctrines of the Aufklärung are as much of the essence of the modern world as the principles of the Reformation, or the ideas of 1789. They are as old as the Renaissance, as old as the epoch when the citizens of Christendom, slowly emerging from the painful discipline by which the new civilisation was wrought out of the chaos of the old, first ventured to look with open eyes on their surroundings, and to ask why they should not move freely, and take their pleasure in a world that was very good. (Green, 1906: 94) What Green indicates here are that, first, it has taken hundreds of years for the emergence of the modern world, and the process of the civil evolution is still going on; second, the Enlightenment philosophy as a part of the essence of the modern world is derived from Locke’s doctrine; and third, along with the emergence of the modern world, people have begun to apprehend their circumstances through their own understandings and look for their freedoms and pleasures in the ‘new’ world. And then, based on these thoughts Green argues that the primary claim of the modern spirit is ‘[to] be free, to understand, to enjoy’, which constitutes the fundamental characteristics of the new state of human existence (ibid.: 94–97). However, in Green’s view, when Europeans have been on their ways in pursuit of a liberal, intellectual, and joyful modern life, a predicament
34 Individual Emancipation arises; that although the Europeans want to be liberal, intellectual, and joyful, the division between the mind and the body made by the Enlightenment philosophy has emptied out the concrete meanings of life and freedom and replaced them with egoism. To Green, when Locke and Enlightenment philosophers made a rigid distinction between the body and the mind, they were wrong about the relationship between human feelings and human reason. For they intended to think that the contents of feelings are from the bodies in the outer world and reason is a faculty of the inner mind (Green, 1885: 17–19). Green indicates, [w]hen man has reached the further or philosophic stage of reflection on self, when he begins to ask himself what his own nature is, he observes and classifies them as he might things in the outward world, in fancied separation from the self-conscious activity in virtue of which alone they are there to be observed. They are put on one side as ‘feelings’, thought or reason on the other, and it is asked what is the function of each according to our inward experience. (Green, 1906: 105) But this separation of feelings and reason is false and misleading for feelings and reason are coexistent and simultaneous as two different but correlative activities of human self-consciousness. For Green, ‘the feeling has been that of a subject reflecting on himself, and in no other form can man know it’ (ibid.: 104), and this means that when a person is feeling something, he or she is knowing, or we may say is conscious of this something at the same time. As a result of the false separation of feelings and reason, Green argues, it is a self-centred view of freedom and happiness which has then developed and pushed into extreme by Hume. Two Legacies of David Hume Thus far it should be clear that in terms of Green’s view a modern thinker’s theory of knowledge usually represents his or her conception of the human condition, and it is the reason Green was concerned himself with the theory of knowledge and its development in the modern European history. For Green, along with the development the dualistic view of the human condition maintaining in the Enlightenment philosophy has then been completed in Hume’s hands, and the way he did it was by giving a consistent account of the relationship between feelings and reason, the body and the mind (Green, 1906: 106). As in Hume’s view there is nothing intelligible standing outside of human perceptions, and ‘Reason is, and ought only to be the slave of the passions’ (Hume, 1888: 415). As to the reason Hume made such claim, it is that he was different from Descartes and Locke and held that the body and the mind as substances are simply ideas derived from our reflection upon sensations. To him, the idea that
Individual Emancipation 35 there is something self-existent and independent from human perception and feelings, such as the body or the mind, is imaginative and fictitious, which means that the idea of the body or the mind as a substance is nothing but an invention (ibid.: 15–17). Thence, by arguing that the body as substance is fictitious, what we human beings can be most certain of from Hume’s perspective is our feelings and sensations. He argued, instead of explaining the operations of external objects by its means, we utterly annihilate all these objects, and reduce ourselves to the opinions of the most extravagant scepticism concerning them. If colours, sounds, tastes, and smells be merely perceptions, nothing we can conceive is possest of a real, continu’d, and independent existence… (ibid.: 228) For Hume, while the assumed external objects as substances are fictitious, the real things as the source of human knowledge are our perceptions. However, this certainty and reality of perceptions do not entail the truth of knowledge. In A Treatise of Human Nature and An Enquiry concerning Human understanding, Hume provided a ‘pure’ empiricist account of human knowledge, and he claimed that since the only possible base and objects of knowledge are our perceptions, the sort of knowledge that we can build up by observing these perceptions is probable knowledge.9 Thence, while Locke assumed that there is a self-existent world of bodies as the cause of our perceptions and experiences, and we could acquire the truth based on the correspondent relationship between our ideas and the world, Hume, on the other hand, urged that the bodies as substances are fictitious ideas and the ultimate cause of perceptions is ‘perfectly inexplicable by human reason’ (ibid.: 84), and thus the validity of knowledge in his view is exclusively relied upon our fallible perceptions and experiences and is always imperfect. In a word, although Locke tried to conceal the duality of the body and the mind by assuming that they are connected by some qualities, Hume rather ridiculed the duality by reducing the body and the mind both to ideas, and ultimately sensations. Following that, a full sensational discourse of moral and political issues has emerged from Hume’s doctrine as there is an epistemic gap between the subjective certainty and the objective probability lurking in his sceptical thought, and this discourse in Green’s view sequentially helped to prescribe the modern existence of human beings as atomic individuals. For Hume, the idea of self is ‘that succession of related ideas and impressions of which we have an intimate memory and consciousness’ (Hume, 1888: 277). And what this famous Humean definition of the self implies is that all the origins of a person’s actions are premised upon his or her perceptions, not his or her rational self-knowledge. For the latter is always a representation which the succession of our personal
36 Individual Emancipation perceptions produces. In short, one’s subjective perceptions are not only the real sources of his or her probable knowledge of the world and the self but also the causes of his or her actions. As Green pointed out, to Hume, [reason] merely has to do with the relation of given ‘ideas’ to each other, either in the way of agreement and disagreement or of cause and effect, so in regard to action it merely has to calculate the means to a pleasure that is desired or hoped for, and discover the cause of a pain that is disliked or feared. The mere passion can never be either reasonable or unreasonable, and is always the ultimate cause of the action…The will is merely a passion consciously related to an act. (Green, 1906: 107) While a person has natural desires to eat, to drink, or to procreate, the reflection on these desires will incur passions for the person to act. However, since subjective perceptions are what the person can be most certain of, and reason can only help the person to acquire probable knowledge of the self with no power to constitute a universal and objective purpose for human action, the free performance of one’s act is accordingly subjective by nature. Indeed, Hume himself was aware of this subjective inclination in his arguments, and he argued that there are objective expectations from social customs that would guide people’s actions. As he said, ‘custom not only gives a facility to perform any action, but likewise an inclination and tendency towards it, where it is not entirely disagreeable’, and this socially formed tendency, something people can detect and expect objectively, will give a person a force and bend the person to act (Hume, 1888: 424). According to this account of the function of social custom, it seems that in Hume’s thought the performance of one’s action is not completely subjective and is correlated with some objective expectations. Yet, if we look closer into the account of Hume’s, the reason social custom would have the force to provoke an inclination and tendency of a person to act is still on the basis of the person’s subjective preferences. For instance, to Hume, when we see a person drowning, we may receive an idea of pain by imagining we were drowning like the person or an idea of pleasure by imagining we were rescued, and thus we could have a common view that we should avoid waters and consider rescuing people from drowning as a virtuous act (ibid.: 285–324). Nonetheless, if pleasure and pain are the fundamental motives to determine our actions and common views, the condition of social custom is still subjective. For pleasure and pain are personal and transient so although individuals can share common views of particular events or behaviours based on their feelings, the motivations behind these views are still personal and subjective. As Green argued, when a person sees other people’s situations and has compassion on them as a spectator, the person’s idea of affection related to these situations is in no sense of a
Individual Emancipation 37 copy of the others’; instead, it ‘is of such an impression as experienced by the spectator himself, and determined, as Hume admits, by his consciousness of himself’ (Green, 1885: 343). And since Hume defines the idea of self as a mere succession of related ideas and impressions and these ideas and impressions are all derived from our subjective perceptions, the resultant idea of affection related to other people’s conditions, the pleasure or the pain, would be subjective and personal. In a word, by Hume’s account, probable knowledge and human actions are all dependent on individual persons’ subjective perceptions and preferences; and, what came after this sensational discourse, in Green’s view, was a revolution, a radical alienation of individuals from the obsolete and communal societies of Europe. Thus far we can see that from Green’s perspective while the Enlightenment philosophy has reached its completion by Hume’s discourses, this completion has brought some outcomes that made profound influences on the life of Europeans. Intellectually, the idea of the body and the mind as substances is abandoned and the dualism of the body and the mind seems to be settled, but the division between the empirical and probable knowledge and the rational and certain one remains a duality, which implies that there is a radical separation between subjective perceptions and the objective rationality based on abstract significations and deductive inference. And, what this radical duality (as an outcome to which Locke and Hume both made contributions) led to was the collision between the modern individuals and the ancien régime, morally and politically. For Green, as a person’s subjective perceptions and passions are the foremost principle of action and they are also what the person can be most certain of, all the social customs, moral laws, and political institutions are to be kinds of alien bondage from which the individuals should be released. Seen in this light, when a person’s perceptions of the world and the self change, the customs, laws, and institutions would consequently be overthrown and rebuilt, for which the French Revolution was the exemplar. However, to Green, since the French Revolution ultimately led to an absolutist regime, the Jacobin rule, it seems to be that the philosophy of feeling which had been claimed as the guiding principle for action has become a vindication of absolutism and ‘inadequate to account for law and morality’ (Green, 1906: 116). Clearly, Green’s comments on the Reformation, the Enlightenment, and the French Revolution coincidentally share some insight with Habermas’s view that these three events indicate the triumph of modern subjectivity in Europe (see Introduction). Moreover, concerning the issue about how to respond and resolve the dualism of subjectivity and objectivity and its moral and political impact, Green, like Habermas, considered Hegel’s philosophy as an important guidance. As he said, Art, religion, and political life have outgrown the nominalistic logic and the psychology of individual introspection; yet the only recognised formulae by which the speculative man can account for
38 Individual Emancipation them to himself, are derived from that logic and psychology. Thus the more fully he has appropriated the result of the spiritual activity of his time, the more he is baffled in his theory, and to him this means weakness, and the misery of weakness. … The prevalence of such a state of mind might be expected at least to excite an interest in a philosophy like that of Hegel, of which it was the professed object to find formulae adequate to the action of reason as exhibited in nature and human society, in art and religion. (Green, 1906: 124–125) Hegel’s intention to reconcile the subjectivity and the objectivity hence to Green is a way to give consistent account for the rational connection of the world and the humans, and to restore the role of reason in human activities. But this Hegelian reconciliatory view of the world and the humans, the subjectivity and the objectivity, was a contingent fruit from what Hume sowed. For Hegel’s philosophy was a sort of subsequence of Kant’s work, and Kant’s work, in Green’s view, was inspired by Hume’s scepticism – as mentioned by Kant himself that Hume’s philosophy was the one awoke him from his ‘dogmatic slumber’. About what Kant intended to achieve in his writings, it was to find the legitimate boundary of using human reason, and the boundary he found is the sensible experiences upon which our judgements can be rightfully made, as for Kant there is nothing beyond sensible experiences that can be intelligible for humans. Here, we could see quite clear about Hume’s influence on Kant, that the latter also disposed of the thought considering self-existent bodies per se as the source of human knowledge. Nevertheless, in Kant’s view, although sensations and experiences can provide us abundant raw materials of knowledge, reason is the one which can give human knowledge universality through judgement (Kant, 1998: 127–128). Accordingly, by indicating that judgement can synthesise reason and sensations, Kant disclosed a possible way out of the dualism of subjectivity and objectivity, that which Fichte and Schelling developed and Hegel followed and transformed.10 As Green comments, [i]t was because Kant, reading Hume with the eyes of Leibnitz and Leibnitz with the eyes of Hume, was able to a great extent to rid himself of the presuppositions of both, that he started that new method of philosophy which, as elaborated by Hegel, claims to set man free from the artificial impotence of his own false logic, and this qualify him for a complete interpretation of his own achievement in knowledge and morality. (Green, 1885: 3) One of Hume’s legacies accordingly is about the influence of his scepticism on the development of German philosophy from Kant to Hegel.
Individual Emancipation 39 However, although Hume’s influence on Kant incurred a series of philosophical accounts aiming at the solution for the duality between the mind and the body, another legacy of Hume’s from Green’s perspective rather led to the radicalisation of the duality. By identifying Hume’s legacy from the development of the English philosophy, Green indicated that Hume’s discourses founded on the separation of reason and feelings were ‘virtually the received doctrines of the educated classes in France and England during the last century’,11 and ‘they have become, under the name “Utilitarianism”, the permanent practical theory of men of the world’ (Green, 1906: 111). That is, to Green, following Hume’s account of the relationship between reason and sensation, pleasure and pain, scholars like Jeremy Bentham, James Mill, John Stuart Mill, and Henry Sidgwick, not mentioned Herbert Spencer and George Henry Lewes, were all embracing an empirical and sensational account of the human condition. However, compared to the German recipients of Hume’s legacy, these English successors in Green’s view have failed to address on the metaphysical issues left by Hume, which are about the dualism of subjectivity and objectivity and its related query of the division between the modern individual and its meaningful surroundings.12 Thus, in order to correct the failure, Green believed that to learn Kant’s and Hegel’s philosophies would be helpful. As he concluded in his Introductions to a new edition of Hume’s A Treatise of Human Nature, ‘[o]ur business, however, has not been to moralise, but to show that the philosophy based on the abstraction of feeling, in regard to morals no less than to nature, was with Hume played out, and that the next step forward in speculation could only be an effort to re-think the process of nature and human action from its true beginning in thought’ (Green, 1885: 371). The thoughts of Kant’s and Hegel’s were then the ‘true beginning’ in Green’s view. As to how Green utilised and transformed Kant’s and Hegel’s arguments and applied them in his study of the human condition, it will be discussed in the next chapter. For now, we shall turn to Green’s concern and statements about the institutional dimension of the modernity.
Unity and Plurality The Demise of the Spiritual When the emancipation of individual subjects has become one of the chief characteristics of European modernity, the spiritual life of Europeans was withering from Green’s perspective, along with the efforts made by the Enlightenment philosophers such as Locke and Hume. To be accurate, the term ‘spiritual’ in Green’s usage has two connotations. One is about the spirit of an age or of any particular popular thought. As quoted earlier, Green considered the logical and epistemological studies of the Enlightenment philosophy as a popular ‘spiritual activity’ for speculative
40 Individual Emancipation people. And this sort of spirit of an age is influential as ‘[t]he wants of the age… set the minds of thinking men in motion’ (Green, 1906: 10). As to the other sense of ‘spiritual’ employed in Green’s works, it is about an ideal of human nature, the moral and spiritual elevation of human life for which each individual should strive. What has been withering significantly in the modern age in Green’s view is this latter, spiritual life of human beings. While the sensational and empirical account of the human condition has come to be overwhelming, people’s approach to understand the world was also changing, from a metaphysical and spiritual one to an empirical and factual. In his prize essay ‘An Estimate of the Value and Influence of Works of Fiction in Modern Times’, Green sighed for the decline of poetry and the rise of novel. To him, poetry is a narrative that can penetrate the facts and phenomena of the world and help people purify their passions and feelings ‘by extricating them from their earthly immersion’ (Green, 1906: 25). However, with the prevalence of the Enlightenment philosophy, the meaningful spiritual function of words and letters has given place to the accuracy of facts which might be caught and portrayed by novelists. For Green, modern philosophers have ‘congratulated themselves on their new enlightenment; but it was an enlightenment which gave them insight into things as they are, not as they are to be’ (ibid.: 27). And this focus on empirical facts has brought some consequences for better or worse. On the one hand, when people pay more attention to facts, to the actual scenarios of their daily lives, they then cannot pretend to be ignorant of the miserable life of the lower class and have to deal with the uncomfortable representations. On the other hand, the facts are just the representations of people’s real lives and cannot provide any spiritual insight as an idea driving people to act or to reform the social condition. Indeed, in terms of the development of nineteenth-century British literature, novels were getting popular (David, 2001; Henneman, 1904). But Green’s point here was not to criticise novels as a kind of literature itself but to indicate the change of people’s reading habits and the social implications behind it. For Green, writers such as Daniel Defoe, Henry Fielding, Charles Dickens, William Thackeray, and Walter Scott were all portraying and representing the real life of people in their works. And, as indicated, although they can only represent the facts, their honest and truthful writings have helped people to recognise the need for social reformation. As Green remarks, novels ‘cannot give a new birth to the spirit, or initiate the effort to transcend the separation of place and circumstance’, but they can remove ‘the barriers of ignorance and antipathy which would otherwise render the effort unavailing’ (Green, 1906: 44). By reading novels, people can see the different living conditions between the higher and lower classes, and this will leave the possibilities for people to urge changes for a better society. Nevertheless, since novels can only represent facts and cannot demonstrate the value of spiritual life, it would
Individual Emancipation 41 be hard for people to have a rightful mutual understanding of the end for change. As to what can assist people in finding the direction at the time, Green believes, it would be the moral teaching of Christian doctrines but in its philosophically disenchanted form. To Green, while the popular thinking and the social environment were changing, the substratum of British people’s daily lives at the time was still full of Christian beliefs such as the teaching of philanthropy, the habit of prayer, the disputes between denominations, and the emphasis on the moral value of individual conscience (Leighton, 2004: 192–273). However, although Green held that to rearticulate the teaching of Christian doctrines is significant for restoring the spiritual meaning of human life, Green’s critics have suggested instead that his project was unsuccessful and misleading. For instance, Henry Sidgwick, as one of Green’s life-long friends, once criticised that Green’s philosophy, especially his moral philosophy, was full of confusions of theological and philosophical ideas, for ‘we ought not to use these theological notions, while yet unpurged of such palpable inconsistencies, as the basis of a philosophy of practice’ (Sidgwick, 1884: 179). Also, in the essay entitled ‘Green’s Metaphysics of Knowledge’ A. J. Balfour commented on Green’s philosophy in a similar vein, that Green’s conceptions ‘in their form appear rather to resemble theological mysteries than philosophical conclusions’ (Balfour, 1884: 85–86). However, as indicated earlier Green was aware of the difference between theology and philosophy, though he did intend to save some moral ideas of theology with the help of philosophy to restore the communal moral spirit of British people. In his letter to Henry Scott Holland in 1869, Green mentioned the idea of having ‘broken with dogmatic Christianity’ and remarked that we may think that a rationally reflective morality is not religious, but this is not so, for ‘its religion is for the time dumb; and this dumbness mainly results from the action of philosophy upon the dogma of the revelation of God in Christ’ (Green, 1997: 426). That is to say, Green held that the dogmatic cloth of Christian doctrines is the thing that we should get rid of definitely, but there remain some moral and spiritual notions preached by churches valuable. And the Christ’s moral paradigm which we have briefly illustrated is one of the most important Christian teachings that are still relevant to the individuals’ modern lives from Green’s perspective. For what Christ has shown to us is that the human capability of self-consciousness is the key for each individual person to strive for a better spiritual life. Nonetheless, this capability of self-consciousness cannot be realised adequately if an individual person is isolated and alone, as the ‘modern’ condition of the individual depicted by the Enlightenment philosophy. Learning from the Christian teachings, Green maintained that one’s conception of a better life cannot be egoist or simply subjective but a socially practical ideal engaged in a community. For a moral person, like St. Paul, who ‘[i]n his own body bore about the dying of the Lord Jesus,
42 Individual Emancipation that the life also of Jesus might be manifest therein’, has to put his or her ideals into practice in the body of Christian fellowship, ‘where he found such reality of demonstration as mere introspection could not give’ (Green, 1886a: 15–16). The realisation of one’s ideal life thus correlates with social conditions, and this signifies that although an individual has the capability of transforming and actualising his or her self-image, he or she has to learn to actualise his or her ideals by living with others. In a word, while it was claimed that it is in the Christian society a new life to be really lived, the modern individual who seeks for a better, worth-living life can only strive for it within a community (ibid.: 16). Nevertheless, the claim that one’s ideal life has to be realised within a community may have multiple indications. For one, it may indicate that each person should try to fulfil his or her ideals by preying on others’ resources and overwhelming others; for another, it may indicate that each person should try to fulfil ideals by competing with others fairly with basic legal protection.13 As for Green, it indicates that each person should try to fulfil ideal lives with basic respect to others and mutual helps. Based on that, what Green concerned himself with the institutional dimension of European modernity mostly was the divisions in the modern society, which in his view has been eroding people’s social connections and mutual respect, and eventually endangered their communal spirit. The Division of Modern Society To be clear, although the term ‘spiritual’ in Green’s usage has two different meanings, these two meanings occasionally overlap. For instance, when Green talked about the communal moral spirit of British people, he was not only referring it to the morally spiritual life of each individual person but also implying that these individual persons have shared some moral ideas. However, this communality was losing in the modern society under the influence of social division in his view. To Green, the division of labour as a social managerial strategy, which has been widely applied to human activities for effectively increasing production, may accelerate the development of human knowledge and the society indeed, but it also creates professional limitations, and one direct impact of this is people’s less concern with the common principle of the humanity. Meanwhile the advance of civilisation evolves with the division of labour, the separation of professions, thoughts, and social productions rather makes people to be ignorant of and forget their common principle. In terms of Green’s view, all the human activities such as art, religion, morality, philosophy, science, and politics are premised on the same principle of humanity and the objects of these activities are not ‘in isolation dead and spiritless’; that is to say, there is a common spiritual principle of the humanity on which all the branches of human activities are premised (Green, 1906: 12; cf. 90).14 The division of labour, which stresses on the separation and
Individual Emancipation 43 distinction of people, was therefore in Green’s view a social force that has undermined people’s belief and awareness of the significance of the common principle among them. Along with the facts-emphasising tendency, the thinking of division and separation has led people incline to take the objects of knowledge and action as separate and determinate facts and ignore the spiritual meanings that those facts might bear, on the one hand; and, on the other hand, it has also urged people to focus on their own professions as there is no necessity for them to touch upon other human spheres beyond their specialities and social classes. As a result, social unity or spiritual wholeness is not a thing that remains important for the modern individuals. Hence, the social division has been one of the main roots for the social and political conflict in nineteenth-century Britain. While the division of labour causes the separation and specialisation of human activities, the separation and specialisation, in turn, divide people in accordance with their occupations and social statuses. The people who have been educated and possess wider knowledge and wealth are ascribed to the upper or middle class, and the people who have no opportunity for education and need to work hard for survival are taken as the lower class. To be sure, this distinction per se is not that significant for there are always people classified as the upper or the lower in different periods or at different places in the human history. However, the hierarchical structure of modern society has stood in tension with the modern emancipation movement, the social and political demand by the impact of the Enlightenment philosophy, and the French Revolution. For although the old manorial system has been criticised and even abandoned and people are freed from the rule of landlords, priests, and nobles, the new hierarchy based on the division of labour creates a new yoke. As Green points out, ideally ‘[i]f the ideal of true freedom is the maximum of power for all members of human society alike to make the best of themselves, we are right in refusing to ascribe the glory of freedom to a state in which the apparent elevation of the few is founded on the degradation of the many’ (Green, 1906: 372). But in reality, political power was still controlled by a few people whom Green called the privileged classes as indicated earlier. During the nineteenth century the legislative work of the British Isles was in the hands of a few people who have considered themselves as entitled to proceed the work. As Green remarked that at the time ‘four-fifths of the members of the lower House are either great landowners or belong to the families of great landowners’ (Green, 1997: 227). The social and political constitution of the state and the Parliament accordingly did not represent the whole people and the actions and decisions made by the Parliament would hardly be legitimate in terms of the modern spirit. For the people who cannot have a say in public affairs do not enjoy political freedom and would not be truly free. In Green’s view, when modern society has become more and more complicated, a person who live in
44 Individual Emancipation the society is expecting ‘a fair chance of making the best and most of himself’ (ibid.: 385). Thence, the reason Green urged social and political reforms is that the modern institutions are not liberal and fair enough. Since the legislative power is controlled by the few privileged, the social and class division in modern society has become an obstacle to the fulfilment of the modern spirit, that each individual person can enjoy a free life equally and fairly.15 To overcome the obstacle and change the oligarchic society, a fullscale revolution like the French one might be a solution. However, as indicated earlier, Green thinks that the intellectual premise of the French Revolution is an atomic image of the individual portrayed by the Enlightenment philosophy, and all the social norms and political bindings that have not been accepted by individuals in accordance with their personal subjective preferences are the possible targets to be overthrown. What this full-scale revolution creates would then be a total anarchy, morally and politically. For all the existing norms and bindings are doubtful and abandonable. Further, from the historical point of view, the new regime built after the French Revolution was not liberal and just at all; instead, under the reign of the Revolutionists, the French regime was to be the sort of oligarchy composed of capitalists and professionals, whom would be classified as the middle class in a modern society.16 It is thus ironic that while the modern spirit of the Europe is ‘to be free, to understand and to enjoy’, the institutional side of the modernity implicates inequality and unfreedom. Looking at the history of the nineteenth-c entury Britain, what accompanied with the unequal and illiberal situation after the modernisation was the engraved gulf between social classes, and this ultimately caused to violent conflict such as the Peterloo Massacre, the Swing riots, the Merthyr Rising, and the Newport Rising. In a word, the intellectual and ideological dimension of European modernity seems to contradict its institutional side. Worrying about the consequences of modernity, Green thus urged the necessity of social and political reformation and the way he pushed it was not by advocating radical revolution but by providing a different understanding of the individual freedom in contrast with the atomic one given by the Enlightenment philosophy.
The Individual Trumps the Community External Laws and Internal Conscience So far, we have seen Green’s criticisms and comments on the development of the Enlightenment philosophy and its influences, and the divisions of the subjective and the objective, the factual and the spiritual, the human activities, the social ranks of people, and the individual and the community are all what Green was concerned himself mostly in the
Individual Emancipation 45 modern age. Meanwhile, although the ideological and the institutional dimensions of European modernity seem to be contradictory with each other, their effects in the nineteenth-century Britain were intertwined by the general moral attitude of the time, the significance of the moral worth of one’s ‘character’, and this intensified the issues that worried Green. The doctrine of character was influential in nineteenth-century Britain. Besides Samuel Smiles who we have mentioned earlier, Spencer, Mill, John Bright, Leslie Stephen, Sidgwick, and many other Victorian intellectuals all espoused the value of character. For these Victorians, as Denys Leighton notes, ‘to be a person of character was to be self- motivated, and to be sensitive to social mores but also willing to go against the grain’ (Leighton, 2004: 292). However, since the tenet of the doctrine is that human life is as ‘a perpetual struggle in which one’s ability to resist temptation and overcome obstacles needed to be subject to constant scrutiny’ (Collini, 1985: 38), it was in fact a medium linking the atomic image of the individual portrayed by the Enlightenment philosophy with the unequal social and political division of the society. For, on the one side, it holds that each individual person has to rely on his or her own judgement and capabilities, and on the other side, it contends that to overcome all the difficulties in life by the exertion of a person’s own will, without interference or assistance from others, is a duty and only the person who fulfils this duty would be qualified as a responsible citizen. That is to say, a person who is in plight has to get rid of it by his or her own effort alone and should not expect the government or other people to help; and, for the intellectuals who espouse the value of character, it is when the person thus proves himself and builds character that the right to vote would be open to him. So, since the doctrine of character embraces a self-centred idea of the individual and is considered as the ground to justify limitations on citizenship, it is a link between the atomic view of the modern individual and the oligarchic social and political system. Like his contemporaries, Green also valued the idea of cultivating one’s character, although he conceived its substance differently. For Green, character is a sort of habit of will a person develops and establishes from daily life, and it is ‘formed through a man’s conscious presentation to himself of objects as his good, as that in which his satisfaction is to be found’ (Green, 1883: 111). However, the formation process in Green’s view is not relied on a person’s subjective cognition and intention only. Rather, a person’s character is an outcome of how he or she reacts upon and responds to a certain circumstance which would then be changed according to the reaction and subsequently requires the person to make further action. That is to say, character and circumstance are mutually constitutive, and this means that the subjective side of one’s action is inseparable from its objective side. Nevertheless, when a person’s character has thus been formulated, it does not incur positive moral value immediately and plainly. As Green argued, ‘[c]oncentration of will does not
46 Individual Emancipation necessarily mean goodness, but it is a necessary condition of goodness’ (ibid.: 109). For a person who habitually wills at certain objects as his or her goods will formulate his or her character (or we may say personality) indeed, but this character as the person’s self-image does not bear moral value intrinsically; instead, its moral value must correlate with a moral criterion of good and bad. In a word, Green’s idea of character is different from the general one prevalent in nineteenth-century Britain in the sense that, for him, character means one’s personality formulated and developed through life activities under circumstances and it does not implicate moral attributes such as self-mastery, self-discipline, self- cultivation, and self-reliance once established. That is to say, Green’s view of character is more like what Colin Tyler remarks expounding the basis of human agency rather than arguing a substantial moral doctrine (Tyler, 2010: 120–121). As to the importance of this Green’s alternative view of character, it is related to his concern with the consequences of modernity we have depicted. As indicated, according to the general doctrine of character in nineteenth-century Britain, each individual person has to fight for living on his or her own effort without the government’s or other people’s help. Moreover, since a person has to prove him or herself by establishing the character of independence in order to acquire the right to participate in politics and public affairs, the vast majority of people who work hard but cannot enjoy a decent and independent life and need the assistance from the society are not considered to be competent citizens. As William Gladstone believed, to be capable of bearing responsibility is the primary quality for being a good citizen, those people who are poor and have no political experience are therefore less qualified to vote, to make decision on public affairs (Tyler, 2006: 65). For their poorness means weakness that they may be influenced and manipulated by money, power, or other unlawful benefits. Here the social disadvantage caused by the unequal and illiberal institutions is paradoxically to be an excuse for the privileged few to prevent the lower class from having political freedom. Indeed, considering about Gladstone’s attitude towards the 1867 Parliamentary reform, he was one of the members of parliament who supported enlarging the franchise. However, it was because the demand from the people came to be tense that he had no choice to accept the inevitability. For the radical liberals who urged for universal suffrage, Gladstone’s attitude was still too moderate as he maintained the minimum property qualification for the franchise (Hoppen, 1998: 246–253). On the other hand, Green was one of the radicals and the reason he espoused universal suffrage is as indicated earlier that ‘the ideal of true freedom is the maximum of power for all members of human society alike to make the best of themselves’, and in order to help all the social members make the best of themselves the government and the society shall intervene and alter the unequal and improper institutions while the best way to ensure that is to let the whole
Individual Emancipation 47 people participate in the political and public affairs. In a word, Green supported universal suffrage because he believed this is the rightful way to help people realise their ideal freedoms. Based on these, Green’s view of character thus implies two important points of argument to refute those disgraceful institutions and the moral attitude behind them. First, since intellectuals and politicians may impede the franchise reform by appealing to the general doctrine of character, an alternative discourse could then provide a different point of view that helps to neutralise or even to dismiss the credibility of the general one. Second, since an individual’s action and character are correlative with the circumstances he or she encounters with, the realisation of the individual’s freedom is thus premised on some social conditions which for Green are what the government and the society should help to establish, provide, and maintain. Nonetheless, if government should build proper circumstances and conditions for individuals to pursuit their ideals, this then means that government must have the legitimacy to intervene into the autonomous mechanism of the society and individual activities. However, since this thought of government’s duty is ostensibly against the highly valued thought of individual freedom prevailing in the British society, the legitimacy of government intervention has to be well claimed and proved. As mentioned, individual conscience and personal consent have been considered as the fundamental requirement for external restraint to be legitimately binding. If a government wants to intervene into individual activities through legal power, the justification for this must be individuals’ agreements in accordance with their consciences. That is to say, based on the distinction between external regulation and internal conscience, government intervention would not be legitimate unless the individuals agree and accept the rationality of it (cf. Mill, 1989: 5–18). For some commentators Green’s thought thus maintains the division of internal conscience and external regulation, for he has to maintain it in order to meet the requirement for justifying government intervention. For instance, Colin Tyler takes the division as a ‘liberal’ token and claims that for Green the government and the state ‘can address external impediments to individual self-realisation then, such as arise out of abusive terms and conditions at work, while leaving individuals to act on their own internal conscientious assessments of their best interests as being with higher capacities’ (Tyler, 2010: 5). Accordingly, in Tyler’s view, although Green emphasises the importance of government intervention, he still espouses individual freedom and also considers individual judgement as the very source of legitimacy for government intervention. Similar to Tyler, Melvin Richter in The Politics of Conscience: T. H. Green and His Age also holds that Green did not support parental government for state action cannot arbitrarily intrude into the social and individual spontaneous activities (Richter, 1964: 337–342). For Richter, although one’s faith in nineteenth-century Britain has faced serious challenge by
48 Individual Emancipation new theories and technologies, state action was still being taken as an outward complement to the social charity out of individual conscience. Nonetheless, notwithstanding that individual conscience is important and it should not be interrupted by external laws and state action, the relation between the conscience and laws is not exclusive; instead, there is an internal connection between them. To Green, if people can have a proper means to supervise the law-making process, for example by extending suffrage and wide participation in public affairs, and laws are therefore made in accordance with the wills of individuals, there will be no substantial division between individual freedom and external laws, for the laws thus formulated are following individuals’ judgements. However, although extending suffrage and wide participation in public affairs may help to justify government intervention, proceeding in accordance with positive laws, if there is no communal social spirit shared by these individuals, the laws and public decisions that represent individuals’ judgements and wills would simply reflect each individual’s subjective preferences and enhance the image of the modern individual as self- centred and isolated and deepen the alienation of individuals from each other and the society. Monism and Pluralism At this point, it should be clear that the reason Green stresses on the role of the communal spirit in society is twofold. First, while the idea of the atomic individual has become popular and blended with the Victorian doctrine of character, the natural and social circumstances are still significant and meaningful as an integral part of the image of the modern individual subject. That is to say, individuals in fact have not dissociated from each other, or the society, and the world because of the rise of the modern spirit; rather, by Green’s account, that internal connection with circumstances would always lead individuals to form a communal spirit binding them with each other. Seen in this light, the so-called modern spirit ‘to be free, to understand, to enjoy’ is nothing but a sort of communal spirit shared by people who live in the modern age. Second, since modern individuals are not exclusive from each other and the rest of the world, the distress of the common people has entailed a moral burden, a social duty that demands all the members of the community to act in order to relieve the distress. And among all the members and the institutions established, government is the one that bears most responsibility to provide such assistance. For the rationale of government’s existence is to ‘maintain conditions of life in which morality shall be possible’ (Green, 1886b: 346). Here what this morality means is the core of Green’s practical philosophy. Founded on his view that individual character and circumstances are mutually constitutive, morality to Green is not simply about self-help,
Individual Emancipation 49 self-improvement, or self-cultivation; rather, it is a process of one’s self- realisation in the community. In Green’s view, individual emancipation is indeed the epic event in the modern age, but emancipation is not equal to dissociation. While the individual is free from the yoke of the churches, the manorial system, and the old regime, the relationships between individuals are nonetheless significant although it should move from an unbalanced and unequal hierarchy to a more equal, liberal, and progressive state. As indicated, Green learnt from the teachings of Christ and one of the most important things he learnt is that humans, as the beings capable of self-consciousness, can pursue a morally worth-living life and achieve the ideal of self-realisation as if the pursuit of self-realisation is engaging in a community, in social relationships. Put briefly, for Green, individual emancipation indicates the freedom of individuals from unequal and stationary social hierarchy but not from social relationships per se, and what morality means is to realise one’s life meaning in the community. To be sure, to reflect, understand, and act upon the surrounding ideas and circumstances are the symbol of individual freedom; nevertheless, to proceed this work and to preform one’s freedom require some social conditions to be met first and it is where the issue of government intervention was brought in by Green as indicated earlier. To Green, the primary function of government is to establish, provide, and maintain necessary conditions for individuals to perform their freedoms, and in order to make sure that government has fulfilled its function without unlawful transgression, universal suffrage and people’s wide participation in public affairs have been taken by him as fundamental. However, if people misconceive their self-image and think that they are separate self-centred individuals who have no necessary connection with each other and the world and can simply pursue what they want according to their subjective preferences, the result of their active participation in public affairs would be the crude outcome of the crash of their subjective wills. In other words, the result of people’s participation in public affairs may not represent equality and fairness; instead, it could be in favour of the interests of the group of people who have more resources and powers to enforce their wills. Accordingly, universal suffrage and wide participation in public affairs are fundamental for checking state action, but they are not sufficient. After all, in terms of Green’s view, restoring the communal spirit lost in the modern society is the key to check state action and to build a liberal and just society as mentioned. And this communal spirit which needs to be restored is not just about some formal communal sharing by people living in the modern age, but also of some substantive moral and spiritual norms. However, even though the communal spirit shared by members of a community may be as significant as Green argues for building a liberal and just society, how to identify its substantive and determinate contents that can actually help individual members to check the legitimacy of state
50 Individual Emancipation action is one of the most significant issues that Green has to elucidate in order to make his argument convincing. For substantive communal norms would mean collective constraint and suppression of individual freedom. In fact, this tension between communal norms and individual freedom was one of the main targets for which many twentieth-century liberal scholars criticise Green. H. D. Lewis, for example, in his essay ‘Individualism and Collectivism: A Study of T. H. Green’ claims that although Green addressed on the importance of individual freedom, the conclusion of his analysis of the nature of rights is paradoxically collectivist, for the government as the rights protector is assumed to have the legitimacy to intervene individual activities under the guidance of the common good (Lewis, 1952: 55–61). Indeed, Green defines right as ‘a power claimed and recognised as contributory to a common good’, and this indicates that ‘[i]t is on the relation to a society, to other men recognising a common good, that the individual’s rights depend’ (Green, 1886b: 416). Here it seems that Green has given a more determinate indication of the communal spirit in society, as he confines the justification of right on the recognised common good. And the common goods recognised by the members of a community are accordingly the effective guidance for government intervention. However, although a recognised common good is more determinate than a formal idea of the communal spirit, this determination of the communality between individual members also marks a more definite collective constraint setting external boundary of individual activities. For if claiming rights as a way for the state to protect individual freedom can only be justified by ‘recognised as contributory to a common good’, individual freedom has then appeared to be subordinate to the common good. And since Green’s account of rights implies a possibility for collective constraint over individual freedom, besides Lewis, scholars such as W. D. Ross, John Plamenatz, H. A. Prichard, Crane Brinton are all being critical of Green’s thought (Brinton, 1949: 212; Plamenatz, 1968: chap. 3; Prichard, 1968: 74–80; Ross, 2002: 50–52). Also, regarding Green’s idea of the true freedom that indicates each individual person realises the best of his or her self in a community, Isaiah Berlin claims that this idea of freedom may unfortunately help to justify oppression and coercion since a tyranny could argue that there are only a few chosen people having the ability of identifying and knowing how to realise one’s best self and achieve the true freedom so they are thus qualified as the only rightful leader to force other people to be free (Berlin, 2002: 180, n. 1; cf. Simhony, 1991b: 305). In terms of Berlin’s view, there is no ‘one and only’ idea of freedom that means ‘true’ for every individual person; instead, since in the modern age each individual can have his or her own judgement about what is freedom and what is the ideal life, the conception of the so-called ‘true’ freedom will be diverse and plural. To this question brought up by Berlin, several Greenian scholars have tried to answer. Some of them like Avital Simhony or Maria Dimova-Cookson
Individual Emancipation 51 make response by differentiating the different meanings of freedom in Green’s usage, and they believe that the primary meaning of freedom to Green indicates the realisation of human capacities and what the true freedom signifies is the full realisation of one’s capacities as a human being (Dimova-Cookson, 2012: 146–151; Simhony, 1993). Based on this, since individuals may choose different ways to fulfil their capabilities, like some people may want to be artists, some to be scholars, and others may want to be bloggers, Green’s idea of the true freedom is thus not monistic but pluralistic. Other scholars like Colin Tyler however argue that the true freedom indicates the ideal of human beings which demands each individual to strive for its completion and harmony (Tyler, 2010: 145–147). To Tyler, individual persons may have diverse conceptions of the human ideal and conceive diverse ways to achieve the ideal, but it is because human beings are imperfect that they cannot harmonise these diverse and plural conceptions and ways for self-realisation (cf. Tyler, 2012: 38–40). Nevertheless, since human beings are imperfect, there is no one who can proclaim that he or she is the only person knowing how to realise the true freedom. To be sure, these interpretations for defending Green’s liberal standing (liberal in the sense that he does not appeal to a holistic and monistic worldview to oppress or restrict individual freedom) are successful to the extent that they have identified the pluralistic dimension of Green’s idea of the true freedom. But concerning the account of how the compelling force of the government (which is directed by the communal spirit in society) would not be an external obstacle for individuals to pursuit after the realisation of their true freedoms, there remain some puzzles. For instance, Simhony once claimed, a difficulty concerns ‘Green’s apparent uncritical acceptance of the belief that self-government means good government’ as that ‘[t]he result is a complete elimination from his thought of any concern for checking state power which was a central theme of classical liberalism’ (Simhony, 1991b: 320). That is to say, Green’s advocacy for the universal suffrage and one’s longing for self-realisation in the community has sometimes been considered as the only statement that he conceives to balance the sovereign power. As our discussion progresses, however, we will see that the idea of self-government in Green’s view has much more profound meanings than just indicating the general election or one’s longing for personal self-realisation, according to which Green’s account of rights and common goods and his emphasis on the communal spirit in society are both reconcilable with individual freedom. Thus far, I have elucidated Green’s views and comments on European modernity and its consequences, among which we can find that Green’s accounts of modernity have strong connection with his practical philosophy. As individual emancipation is one of the most significant achievements of the European modernity, the atomic idea of the individual as one of its ideological products has widely spread and been influential
52 Individual Emancipation in Europe and eventually the entire human world, along with the imperial and colonial activities of Europeans across the earth. However, the atomic idea of the individual to Green is false for the constitution of one’s individual personality cannot separate from his or her living circumstances and all the other individual persons who live in the same community. And since the malign consequences of modernity in nineteenth-c entury British society such as social inequality, class differentiation, and political oppression are related to the blend of this atomic idea of the individual and the Victorian moral doctrine of character, what Green determined to accomplish first in order to amend these consequences is an alternative account of the human condition. Hence, in the following chapters I will elucidate Green’s human ontology and i ndicate how his ontological arguments prescribe an ethical commitment that anticipates a way of life in response to the existential crisis of individuals in modern society.
Notes 1 Between 1811 and 1851, the total population of the Great Britain had increased from about 9.5 million to 16.8 million. However, the distribution of the population changed significantly under the influences of the Industrial Revolution and the profound transformations of the social structure, that the population in cities was rapidly increasing while in rural regions it was declining. For the related discussions and illustrations of the population history in Britain, see Woods (1995), Wrigley and Schofield (1981: chap. 6). 2 For more discussions about the dualism of Descartes’s thought, see Alanen (2003), Baker and Morris (1996), Hill (2012), Marion (2018), and Rozemond (1998). 3 About the meaning of ‘indulgence’ see Catechism of the Catholic Church (1994: n. 1471–1479). 4 As for the details of Green’s elucidation of the role of the self-consciousness in human activities, see chaps. 2–3. 5 To Descartes, this does not mean that our knowledge of the universe is infallible, but merely means that what we have in our minds when we are thinking are all actual and clear. In his view, it is at the time when we are making judgement that the ideas presenting in our minds pertain to truth and falsity (see Descartes, 1993: 72–80). 6 This issue Descartes left is one of the main subjects that the Cartesian Occasionalists, such as Géraud de Cordemoy, Arnold Geulincx, and Nicolas Malebranche intended to tackle with (see Nadler, 2010). 7 This does not mean that Locke ignored the issue of the existence of God (see Locke, 1975: 619–630). 8 While the different views of the human condition implied in Descartes’s and Locke’s thought are significant, another well-known issue between Descartes and Locke is about the research methods they adopted, that is the reasoning methods of deduction and induction. For related discussions about this methodological issue between Descartes and Locke, see Owen (2002: chaps. 2–3). 9 For, in Hume’s view, there are only three kinds of rational knowledge that can be certain rather than probable, that is geometry, algebra, and arithmetic (Hume, 1888: 69–73).
Individual Emancipation 53 10 This development of German philosophy in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, from Kant to Fichte and from Schelling to Hegel, is what Beiser refers as ‘the struggle against subjectivism’ (Beiser, 2002). For all the four philosophers noted that individual emancipation in the modern age is an urgent issue that has to be addressed. For an alternative interpretation of this development of Germany philosophy see Henrich (2003). 11 Indicating the eighteenth century. 12 Although it has been considered commonly that Green is a critic of Hume’s philosophy, Dimova-Cookson argues that there is at least one similarity between them that their philosophies are both transcendental. For Dimova- Cookson, transcendental philosophy is a study addressing on the conditions of human experience, and following Husserl and David Carr, she thinks that Hume’s analysis of human nature is precisely a study of that kind (Dimova- Cookson, 2001: 26–27, 32–40). Dimova-Cookson’s claim has indeed indicated an alternative view about the connection of Hume and Green. Nonetheless, the differences between what Hume and Green have argued, respectively, are still substantive, among which their conceptions of the individual person are significant. 13 One of the examples of the former view is Herbert Spencer’s ‘Social Darwinism’ discourses that we have mentioned in the Introduction, and for the latter view, a typical example should be Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill’s Utilitarianism which we will consider in Chapters 3 and 4. 14 In fact, the thought that there is a common spiritual principle behind all the human activities is the very outset of Green’s practical philosophy. See discussions in Chapter 2. 15 For thinkers, like Adam Smith or John Stuart Mill, who consider the division of labour important and consider it as a strategy to increase production effectively, the division does have some positive standing. And they basically believe that when each individual person learns to fulfil his or her duty and social character, ‘the evolution of human sentiments would ultimately overcome’ all the obstacles that hinder fair distribution of social benefits (Bellamy, 1992: 4). Nonetheless, the actual social conditions were unfortunately not as optimistic as these thinkers expected, and it seemed that in order to check the social inequality and unfairness, state intervention was necessary. 16 Capitalists and the educated class were two chief social groups that advocated the revolution in France. And after ‘the people’ seized the political power and the National Constituent Assembly was established, members of the two groups organized several parties and factions such as National Party, the Feuillants, the Girondins, the Montagnards, and Jacobins. However, the new government held by these parties and factions was not democratic or stable. On the contrary, these social and political elites occupied the power and attacked their political rivals by slander or assassination. For discussion on the political situation after the Revolution, see Tackett (2006: chaps. 5–7).
References Alanen, L. (2003). Descartes’s Concept of Mind. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Baker, G. and K. J. Morris. (1996). Descartes’ Dualism. London and New York: Routledge. Balfour, A. J. (1884). ‘Green’s Metaphysics of Knowledge’, Mind 9(33): 73–92. Beiser, F. C. (2002). German Idealism: The Struggle against Subjectivism, 1781–1801. Cambridge, MA and London: Harvard University Press.
54 Individual Emancipation Bellamy, R. (1992). Liberalism and Modern Society: An Historical Argument. Oxford: Polity Press. Berlin, I. (2002). ‘Two Concepts of Liberty’, in H. Hardy (ed.), Liberty. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, pp. 166–217. Brinton, C. (1949). English Political Thought in the Nineteenth Century. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Catechism of the Catholic Church. (1994). Catechism of the Catholic Church (2nd ed.). Washington, DC: Double Day. Collini, S. (1985). ‘The Idea of “Character” in Victorian Political Thought’, Transactions of the Royal Historical Society: 5th Series 35: 29–50. David, D. (2001). ‘Introduction’, in D. David (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to the Victorian Novel. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, pp. 1–16. Descartes, R. (1993). Meditations on First Philosophy in Focus. S. Tweyman (ed.). London and New York: Routledge. Dimova-Cookson, M. (2001). T. H. Green’s Moral and Political Philosophy: A Phenomenological Perspective. Houndmills: Palgrave. Dimova-Cookson, M. (2012). ‘Liberty as Welfare: The Basecamp Counterpart of Positive Freedom’, Collingwood and British Idealism Studies 18(2): 133–165. Gay, P. (1966). The Enlightenment: An Interpretation, the Rise of Modern Paganism. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. Green, T. H. (1883). Prolegomena to Ethics. A. C. Bradley (ed.). Oxford: Clarendon. Green, T. H. (1885). Works of Thomas Hill Green, Volume I. R. L. Nettleship (ed.). London: Longmans, Green, and Co. Green, T. H. (1886a). The Witness of God and Faith: Two Lay Sermons. A. Toynbee (ed.). London: Longmans, Green, and Co. Green, T. H. (1886b). Works of Thomas Hill Green, Volume II. R. L. Nettleship (ed.). London: Longmans, Green, and Co. Green, T. H. (1906). Works of Thomas Hill Green, Volume III. R. L. Nettleship (ed.). London: Longmans, Green, and Co. Green, T. H. (1997). Collected Works of Thomas Hill Green, Volume V: Additional Writings. P. Nicholson (ed.). Bristol: Thoemmes Press. Henneman, J. S. (1904). ‘The British Novel in the Nineteenth Century’, The Sewanee Review 12(2): 167–173. Henrich, D. (2003). Between Kant and Hegel: Lectures on German Idealism. D. S. Pacini (ed.). Cambridge, MA and London: Harvard University Press. Hill, J. (2012). Descartes and the Doubting Mind. London: Bloomsbury Academic. Hoppen, K. T. (1998). The Mid-Victorian Generation, 1846–1886. Oxford and New York: Clarendon Press; Oxford University Press. Hume, D. (1888). A Treatise of Human Nature. L. A. Selby-Bigge (ed.). Oxford: Clarendon Press. Kant, I. (1991). Kant: Political Writings. H. Reiss (ed.); H. B. Nisbet (trans.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Kant, I. (1998). Critique of Pure Reason. P. Guyer and A. W. Wood (eds., trans.). Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press. Leighton, D. (2004). The Greenian Moment: T. H. Green, Religion and Political Argument in Victoria Britain. Exeter: Imprint Academic. Lewis, H. D. (1952). ‘Individualism and Collectivism: A Study of T. H. Green’, Ethics 63(1): 44–63.
Individual Emancipation 55 Locke, J. (1975). An Essay Concerning Human Understanding. P. H. Nidditch (ed.). Oxford and New York: Clarendon Press; Oxford University Press. Luther, M. (1959). Luther’s Works, Volume 36: Word and Sacrament II. Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Fortress Publishers. Marion, J.-C. (2018). On Descartes’ Passive Thought: The Myth of Cartesian D ualism. C. M. Gschwandtner (trans.). Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press. Mill, J. S. (1989). On Liberty and Other Writings. S. Collini (ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Moorman, M. C. (2017). Indulgences: Luther, Catholicism, and the Imputation of Merit. Steubenville, OH: Emmaus Academic. Nadler, S. (2010). Occasionalism: Causation among the Cartesians. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Owen, D. (2002). Hume’s Reason. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Plamenatz, J. (1968). Consent, Freedom and Political Obligation. London and New York: Oxford University Press. Prichard, H. A. (1968). Moral Obligation, and Duty and Interest: Essays and Lectures. London and New York: Oxford University Press. Richter, M. (1964). The Politics of Conscience: T. H. Green and His Age. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson. Ross, W. D. (2002). The Right and the Good. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press. Rozemond, M. (1998). Descartes’s Dualism. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Schwarz, L. D. (1992). London in the Age of Industrialisation: Entrepreneurs, Labour Force and Living Conditions, 1700–1850. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press. Sidgwick, H. (1884). ‘Green’s Ethics’, Mind 9(34): 169–187. Simhony, A. (1991b). ‘On Forcing Individuals to be Free: T. H. Green’s Liberal Theory of Positive Freedom’, Political Studies 39(2): 303–320. Simhony, A. (1993). ‘Beyond Negative and Positive Freedom: T. H. Green’s View of Freedom’, Political Theory 21(1): 28–54. ational Tackett, T. (2006). Becoming a Revolutionary: The Deputies of the French N Assembly and the Emergence of a Revolutionary Culture (1789–1790). University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University Press. Tyler, C. (2006). Idealist Political Philosophy: Pluralism and Conflict in the Absolute Idealist Tradition. London and New York: Continuum International. Tyler, C. (2010). The Metaphysics of Self-Realisation and Freedom: Part 1 of the Liberal Socialism of Thomas Hill Green. Exeter: Imprint Academic. Tyler, C. (2012). Civil Society, Capitalism and the State: Part 2 of the Liberal Socialism of Thomas Hill Green. Exeter: Imprint Academic. Woods, R. (1995). The Population History of Britain in the Nineteenth Century. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press. Wrigley, E. A. and R. S. Schofield, (1981). The Population History of England, 1541–1871: A Reconstruction. London: Edward Arnold.
2 The Shadow of Metaphysics
A further word on the subject of issuing instructions on how the world ought to be: philosophy, at any rate, always comes too late to perform this function. As the thought of the world, it appears only at a time when actuality has gone through its formative process and attained its completed state. This lesson of the concept is necessarily also apparent from history, namely that it is only when actuality has reached maturity that the ideal appears opposite the real and reconstructs this real world, which it has grasped in its substance, in the shape of an intellectual realm. (G. W. F. Hegel, Philosophy of Right). In the previous chapter, I have discussed Green’s comments and views on the European modernity and the modern issues that concerned him. For Green, individual emancipation is undoubtedly one of the most significant events in the modern history, but the self-image of the modern individual as an isolated atom accompanying with it has become the source of malign consequences of the modernity. Influenced by the contingent blending of the atomic idea of the individual and the Victorian doctrine of the character, the nineteenth-century British society was prevailing of a self-centred view of freedom and happiness, and this social and moral atmosphere ironically maintained, or created, an unequal and illiberal social and political system which is opposed to the modern spirit, ‘to be free, to understand, to enjoy’. Certainly, one can argue that individual emancipation does not necessarily entail equality or ensure freedom for each individual person in society. For instance, for thinkers such as Karl Marx, equality and freedom are what people need to fight for rather than simply receive without paying any effort. Nonetheless, when the Enlightenment philosophers were striving and arguing for individual emancipation, they did believe and employ some ideas encouraging the thought that each individual person is free and equal by nature. Natural rights theory is an example, and Locke, who is considered by Green as the father of the Enlightenment, was a famous advocate for the theory. In Two Treatises of Government, Locke claims that each human person as a creature created by God is
The Shadow of Metaphysics 57 bearing the duty for self-preservation, and because each person has the duty from God, he or she has natural rights and freedoms to acquire resources to discharge the duty in accordance with the laws of nature, the laws made by God to govern the operation of the universe (Locke, 1988: 269–274, 285–302). Based on this thought of the individual’s natural status, rights, liberty, and equality are what each individual person possesses qua human being. And it was not just Locke who helped to shape the image that each individual person is free and equal by nature.1 For the philosophers who also fought for individual emancipation and their successors, the thought that individuals are by nature free and equal was a radical and strong stand for them to criticise the despotic reign of churches and princes. Besides Locke, Hume, Montesquieu, Diderot, Rousseau, and Voltaire all supported an enlightened form of political regime, under which people can enjoy their equal freedoms. Compared to these philosophers, Green did not presume that individuals are ‘by nature’ free and equal; instead, he built a different theory to argue the equality and freedom of individuals in society. Based on his observation and analysis of the development of human social life, Green claims that society is established by people who recognise each other as equal. For him, ‘[s]ociety is founded on such mutual interest, in the sense that unless it were operative, however incapable of expressing itself in abstract formulae, there would be nothing to lead to that treatment by one human being of another as an end, not merely a means, on which society even in its narrowest and most primitive forms must rest’ (Green, 1883: 200). Then, since society can be only established by people who are interested in each other and recognise each other as the end in itself, the equality of people is virtually determined by their mutual interest and recognition. Also, as we will see later, this mutual interest and recognition is what people’s freedoms hinge on from Green’s perspective. Based on these, one can say that the theory Green provided to account for the equality and freedom of individuals in society ostensibly is descriptive and explanatory and does not prescribe moral maxim asking people to act on. Nonetheless, this does not mean that Green’s theory is irrelevant of normativity. First and foremost, in terms of Green’s view, the account of the equality and freedom of individuals in society he provided is absolutely about the ethical life of humans, but this account as a philosophical discourse does not necessarily entail a substantive injunctive argument. For him, the task of philosophy is ‘to disentangle the operative ideas from their necessarily imperfect expression, and to explain that the validity of the ideas themselves’, not to assert determinate moral claims (Green, 1883: 348). So the theory and account of individual equality and freedom he built are not a practical guidance that should be used to oppose despotism directly, but an analysis that can help people to understand the ideas embodied in social institutions better. For Green, ‘man, above all the modern man, must theorise his practice, and the failure adequately
58 The Shadow of Metaphysics to do so, must cripple the practice itself’ (Green, 1906: 124). Although the function of philosophical inquiry is to clarify and examine the validity of ideas embodied in society, the inquiry nonetheless can help people to see contradictions between ideas and the imperfectness of institutions expressing them, and these intellectual achievements, in turn, would assist people in making rightful practical judgement. Hence, as a philosopher, Green himself had taken the job to disentangle the operative ideas in nineteenth-century British society, and as we have seen in earlier chapters, what he found were a false conception of the human condition, misguided social mores, and contradictions between the European modern spirit and the existing social and political institutions. In order to counteract these effects of modernisation, Green has established his own systematic practical philosophy, and at the bottom of it, it is his human ontology.
Metaphysics, Psychology, and Theory of Knowledge As pointed out, the task of philosophy in Green’s view is to understand and reflect on ideas embodied in social institutions in order to have better knowledge for practical action. However, philosophy is a unique domain of human activity in the sense that it not only helps us to know the social conditions of our daily lives but also assists us to ascertain conditions of knowledge per se. As Green indicates, the first question of philosophy, which is proposed by Socrates, is ‘what is the nature of the object of knowledge?’ (Green, 1906: 47). The object of knowledge which is a necessary condition for knowledge to be possible is accordingly one of the main issues that philosophy devotes to study and ascertain. Nonetheless, although the nature of the object of knowledge is a fundamental philosophical question, modern philosophers inclined not to answer the question directly as the ancients did by classifying the potential options for the object of knowledge; rather, they responded to the question in an indirect way by considering the nature of human understanding first. As we have seen in the previous chapter, when Descartes, Locke, and Hume tried to figure out a theory of knowledge, basically they all started it by reflecting on the modes of human understanding such as sensation, perception, imagination, reason, or judgement. And, if we take this approach, to ascertain the conditions of knowledge by first considering the nature of human understanding, as a token of modern philosophy, it is not just Descartes, Locke, and Hume who were probing into the issue; Kant and Hegel were also investigating it. For Green, then, while Locke and Hume are used to be considered as empiricists and Leibnitz, Kant, and Hegel as rationalists, these thinkers nonetheless shared the same modern spirit with each other, ‘the spirit which, however baffled and forced into inconsistent admissions, is still governed by the faith that all things may ultimately be understood’ (Green, 1885: 5). Partaking of the
The Shadow of Metaphysics 59 spirit, Green also devoted himself to construct a theory of knowledge, which reflects his idea of the human condition, by adopting and improving Kant’s critical philosophy. As mentioned, the reason Green intended to adopt Kant’s and Hegel’s philosophical arguments is for correcting the metaphysical mistake made by Locke and Hume and their successors, that they abstract the individual ‘from the relations embodied in habitudes and institutions which make him what he is’ (Green, 1906: 116–117). In Prolegomena to Ethics, Green made clearer statements about the reason and the method he adopted. To him, when Hume enclosed the gap between the body and the mind, he not only brought out an atomic idea of the individual on the basis of his sensational and empirical account of the human condition but also gave a possibility of eliminating ethics. For, if sensations, pleasures, and pains are the root of human knowledge and action and social customs are based on these feelings and preferences, what moral sentiment indicates would be nothing but ‘susceptibilities of pleasure and pain, of desire and aversion, of hope and fear’ and can be reduced to the animal affections of human nature (Green, 1883: 6–7). Also, since the individual is composed of these affections and preferences and is a succession of ideas and impressions of which we constantly perceive and have an intimate memory, one could then excuse his or her deeds by claiming that he or she was just following the external forces and laws that determined his or her own nature and existence. That is to say, not only are moral maxims and ethical ideas reduced to subjective susceptibilities and short of objective binding but also moral accountability is dismissed. Thus, Green remarked that, [t]he elimination of ethics, then, as a system of precepts, involves no intrinsic difficulties other than those involved in the admission of a natural science that can account for the moralisation of man. … It logically carries with it the conclusion, however the conclusion may be disguised, that, in inciting ourselves or others to do anything because it ought to be done, we are at best making use of a serviceable illusion. And when this consequence is found to follow logically from the conception of man as in his moral attributes a subject of natural science, it may lead to a reconsideration of a doctrine which would otherwise have been taken for granted as the most important outcome of modern enlightenment. … We have to return once more to that analysis of the conditions of knowledge, which forms the basis of all Critical Philosophy whether called by the name of Kant or no, and to ask whether the experience of connected matter of fact, which in its methodical expression we call science, does not presuppose a principle which is not itself any one or number of such matters of fact, or their result. (ibid.: 10–11)
60 The Shadow of Metaphysics In brief, worrying about one of malign effects of the Enlightenment philosophy that may cause to the elimination of ethics and moral nihilism, Green resumed the work of critically analysing the conditions of knowledge and intended to reach the a priori principle rendering both knowledge and morality possible. As to the general structure of Green’s analysis, it involves with three logical factors of knowledge: the object of knowledge, the subject of knowledge, and the relation between them. The object of knowledge covers everything that we human beings intend to understand such as the natural world, corporeal bodies, or human minds. The subject of knowledge, on the other hand, is exclusively referring to us, the humans, or more specifically, our capability to understand, to know. As to the relation between the object and the subject, there seems to be an agreement among modern philosophers from Green’s perspective. As he indicates, there ‘are certain accepted doctrines of modern philosophy – e.g., that knowledge is only of phenomena, not of anything unrelated to consciousness, and that object and subject are correlative’ (Green, 1883: 14). To Green, when Locke, Hume, and Kant, not mention Hegel, discussed about the nature of human understanding or the conditions of knowledge, they all utilised a notion of consciousness to proceed their works. For example, in An Essay Concerning Human Understanding Locke claimed that ‘consciousness is the perception of what passes in a man’s mind’ (Locke, 1975: 59); and when Hume described the idea of self as something succession of ideas and impressions we intimate with, he used the term ‘consciousness’ to indicate how we come to have the idea.2 Therefore, it means that modern philosophers generally agree that consciousness is the key for the correlation between the object and the subject of knowledge. Yet, there are different perspectives as to how consciousness makes the object and the subject of knowledge related with each other. For the empiricists, the role of consciousness might be taken as a medium virtually existing between the object and the subject, but for Green, the concept of consciousness is primarily a presupposition of knowledge rendering the relation between the object and the subject intelligible and the empirical perspective is basically fallacious (Ferreira, 2003: 48–49). In terms of Green’s view, the empirical account of the role of consciousness in the relation of the object and the subject indicates that consciousness is something connecting the object and the subject while the object and the subject by themselves are mutually independent. To be sure, as we have seen Locke’s account of the relation between the body and the mind, to assume something as the medium connecting the object of knowledge and the subject is a basic strategy of empirical philosophy to solve the dualism between the two mutually independent substances. And though Hume has provided a radical solution for the dualism, which can replace this medium thesis of consciousness, the contemporary British empiricist
The Shadow of Metaphysics 61 philosophers of Green’s seemed to omit Hume’s solution and maintained the dualistic view of the object and the subject. In ‘Mr. Spencer on the Relation of Subject and Object’, Green claimed that the empiricist philosophers seem to be ignorant of the metaphysical problem in their theory of knowledge and simply consider their task as figuring out how psychological cognition functions. However, the omission and the thought of their task show that these empiricist philosophers not only had no sufficient reflection on their research premises but also confused two different questions of knowledge with each other; namely that the metaphysical question, ‘what is the simplest element of knowledge’, and the physiological as well as psychological one, ‘what is the condition in human organism as a vehicle of knowledge’ (Green, 1885: 19, 374–377). To put it in another way, for Green, the metaphysical question of knowledge is as mentioned earlier about the logical condition of knowledge, but the psychological and physiological question of knowledge is about the empirical condition of knowledge, the virtual means for humans to acquire the contents of knowledge. And, since the empiricist philosophers had confused the two essentially different questions of knowledge, Green contests that the empirical perspective on the role of consciousness as ‘an inquiry into the subjective process through which the individual comes by his knowledge can have only an illusive result, for it will be assuming an answer to a question of which the bearings have not been considered, and will therefore be at the mercy of crude metaphor and analogy in it assumption’ (ibid.: 377). At this point, the root of the false idea of the atomic individual is disclosed by Green. Put briefly, it is because the empiricist philosophers confuse the metaphysical and logical question of knowledge with the empirical one that they falsely believe that experience per se can be the source and the testimony of the truth of propositions and knowledge at the same time. In Green’s view, there are conditions for experiences to be intelligible, but they are not some previous experiences, memories, or psychological occurrence; rather, they are logical presuppositions for human knowledge to be possible, and the concept of consciousness is primary among them. To Green, when we encounter with something but not yet have consciousness of the encounter, the experiences as objects of knowledge we may have from the encounter are unknown to us. It is when we are conscious of sensations and feelings that we have from the encounter and constitute relations between these sensations and feelings by comparing them that we are knowing and presenting something as objects. As Green says, ‘[t]he most primitive germ from which knowledge can be developed is already a perception of fact, which implies the action upon successive sensations of a consciousness which holds them in relation’ (Green, 1883: 75). Consciousness is therefore the one that constitutes and presents the object of knowledge to us and makes knowledge possible.
62 The Shadow of Metaphysics Moreover, in terms of Green’s view, it is also when consciousness presents objects to us that we come to be the subjects of knowledge as Kant’s critical philosophy anticipates. For Kant, the intelligible objects of knowledge are phenomena, the ones that our minds constitute and present to us for understanding, and the contents of these objects are nonetheless from the things-in-themselves which our minds cannot reach and therefore are unknowable for us. Here, Kant was influenced by Hume and cautious of the rightful boundary of human reason to know. As the intelligible and knowable objects are products of our minds, we human beings cannot be certain of the source of the contents of these objects for our minds and bodies are finite. To Green, Kant’s claim that the objects of knowledge are constituted and presented to us by our minds provides a significant insight for later philosophers, as the relation between the object and the subject of knowledge may not be antithetical and exclusive. In his review of John Watson’s Kant and his English Critics Green remarked that ‘from holding that perception gives us a knowledge of real events, which are afterwards connected by the understanding, Kant argues that we should never have any knowledge of events as real at all unless the understanding had been at work – although in the first instance only blindly or unreflectively – in constituting the connection of events’ (Green, 1906: 158) (italics in original). That is to say, for Green, Kant’s philosophy has indicated the constructive function of human mind, although Kant was not entirely rid of the obsolescent dualistic view of the body and mind. By his account of human consciousness, Green claims that Kant’s critical philosophy still maintained a dualistic view of the object and the subject of knowledge. Rather, in Green’s view, ‘the constitution of a relation between feelings’ and ‘the conception of a relation between them’ are not ‘two different synthetic functions of the “formal unity of consciousness”’ (Green, 1886b: 25). And this means that the constituents of objects of knowledge are not from something unknowable for us, but from our minds, from what consciousness constitutes and presents to us. Nevertheless, since Kant made weight on the constructive function of human mind and proposed a positive account of human subjectivity, Green appreciated Kant’s work and intended to improve it by arguing that it is through consciousness, the intelligent agency ‘that the sensation of the present moment takes a character from comparison with the sensation of a moment ago, and that the occurrence, consisting in the transition from one to the other, is presented to us’ (Green, 1883: 31–32). For Green, it is when our consciousness maintains, presents, compares, and combines sensations that we can have intelligible objects for knowledge. And since the object of knowledge is constituted and presented by our consciousness, we human beings are in fact the ‘free cause’ of our understanding of the universe, the active knowing agents with liberty of building our world views. And, as we reflect on this fact, we would be aware that we have the capabilities to construct the universe which we live in and are not mere passive recipients of knowledge and products from the
The Shadow of Metaphysics 63 force of circumstances as the empirical philosophy implies (ibid.: 78–89). In a word, when consciousness presents objects to us and we are aware of it, then we can come to know that we are the subjects, the active agents of knowledge and life, and realise our subjectivity. However, if all knowledge and views are constructed by us, the finite subjects of knowledge, how could we find out which content of knowledge constructed by us is true or false? Moreover, when Green remarked on another occasion that the object of knowledge ‘will not be the same for every percipient’ (ibid.: 64), he seemed to be saying that there is no objective and true knowledge for everyone. So, if Green’s account of knowledge and the human condition were not leading us to relativism and nihilism, there must be some objective criterion in them that can help us to discern the truth and the falsity, or the difference between subjectivity and objectivity.
The Structure of Truth and the Eternal Consciousness We have seen that Green has a different account of the relation between the object and the subject of knowledge from what the empiricist philosophers have. While Green takes consciousness as the primary condition of knowledge indicating that we have the capability of knowing by differentiating, identifying, and connecting sensations, the empiricist philosophers conceive consciousness as a virtual medium between the outer world and our physiological and psychological system. As to the reason the empiricist philosophers would have such notion of consciousness and assert an atomic idea of the individual, it seems to be related to their inclination of taking the reality of the natural world as truism. In response to Green’s criticism of the empirical theory of knowledge, Richard Hodgson argues that the reality of the natural world apart from human consciousness is a truism ‘which every step in Science takes for granted, and which no metaphysician ever for a moment succeeded in expelling from consciousness’ (Hodgson, 2004: 117). To Hodgson, to presuppose the existence of a real world outside human mind is a common sense, though it is refused by idealists. However, what Hodgson claimed as truism in Green’s view is just begging question without providing convincing reason to explain why the world existing outside human mind is real. For Green, an empiricist philosopher like Hodgson generally ascribes to the object of knowledge, the natural world, ‘an independent reality, and then supposes it gradually to produce certain qualities in the subject, of which the existence is in truth necessary to the possibility of those qualities in the object which are supposed to produce them’ (Green, 1885: 388). But why the world we perceive is real is the question the empiricist philosophers begging. In short, when Hodgson acknowledged that the existence of a real world outside human mind is a truism, he merely confirmed Green’s criticism that empiricists fail to understand that the existence of an external world as an intelligible object is a presupposition made by us, the subjects of knowledge.
64 The Shadow of Metaphysics However, we should be aware that Green had not denied the existence of a real world outside human mind, notwithstanding his criticism of the empirical theory of knowledge. As he said, ‘[i]t certainly does not depend on ourselves – on any power which we can suppose it rests with our will to exert or withhold – whether sensations shall occur to us in this or that order of succession, with this or that degree of intensity’ (Green, 1883: 48). Green acknowledged that there might be a self-existent world as the cause of our sensations, although, in terms of the theory of knowledge, he thought that the self-existent world is not the starting point for human knowledge to proceed with. To be clear, the idealist philosophy Green advocated and developed does not deny the existence of the natural world but intends to point out that in virtue of a theory of knowledge, the natural world as object of knowledge can only be intelligible when it is constituted and presented by human mind. For Green, the true idealism trusts ‘not to a guess about what is beyond experience, but to analysis of what is within it’ (Green, 1885: 449). And to make such claim about the world independent from and beyond human experience is nothing but a guess.3 Nonetheless, if the distinction between the object and the subject of knowledge is by our consciousness, and we should not testify our knowledge and propositions simply by appealing to the perceptions we have from the supposed self-existent natural world, how to assure the objectivity of knowledge and not lapse into epistemic nihilism is crucial for the validity of Green’s statement. Clearly, the truth and objectivity of knowledge in Green’s view would not be dependent upon whether its contents correspond with our sensations of the external world or not. For the external world as an intelligible object to us is from our consciousness and it would be tautological if we assert that the criterion of truth is our sensations of the external world. For Green, objectivity is related to our consciousness as a mode of understanding as it is ‘through it that there is for us an objective world; through it that we conceive an order of nature, with the unity of which we must reconcile our interpretations of phenomena, if they are to be other than “subjective” illusions’ (Green, 1883: 17–18). It then seems to be that the difference between objective truth and subjective illusion nonetheless relied on our intellectual consciousness. But how could it be possible? As Green indicated that the distinction between subjective illusion and objective truth lies in how to ‘reconcile’ our different and diverse interpretations of phenomena, our experiences of the world, the truth or the falsity of knowledge thus relied on whether these diverse experiences and ideas constitute a coherent system or not. To Green, single feeling or sensation cannot be intelligible as the perception we have at first is always an indeterminate matter and only as ‘something’ for us. But when we reflect on our perceptions and analogise, compare and connect them with each other through our consciousness, we can then gradually build a system of relations among different ideas and experiences (Green, 1906: 52–53,
The Shadow of Metaphysics 65 74–75, 1886b: 195–206, 233–237). For example, we can name a thing we perceive as ‘apple’, but the thing is still unintelligible for us until we relate and compare the perception with other things and establish a system of knowledge of the thing constituted by different attributes such as ‘round’, ‘red’, ‘plant’, or ‘food’. In a word, the thing ‘apple’ as an object of knowledge is dependent on the relations we made by comparing and differentiating its features with other things. Following that, the criterion of truth in Green’s view is related to an idea of a single and unalterable system of relations. As he holds, [t]he terms “real” and “objective”, then, have no meaning except for a consciousness which presents its experiences to itself as determined by relations, and at the same time conceives a single and unalterable order of relations determining them, with which its temporary presentation, as each experience occurs, of the relations determining it may be contrasted. (Green, 1883: 17) For Green, there is an idea of a single and unalterable order of relations as the regulative principle immanent in all our inquiry of the universe, which demands us to reconcile sensations, feelings, and ideas we have into a coherent system. And, when a related system of perceptions and ideas is more complete than others, in the sense that its colligation explains more phenomena and contains more contents as a coherent whole, this system would be truer than the others (Green, 1886b: 295). That is to say, the criterion of truth for knowledge in Green’s view is not our sensations of the natural world, but the coherence of the objects of knowledge we study at. Accordingly, while Green hailed the constructive ability of the human mind and claimed that the object of knowledge such as the natural world or sensations was constituted by human consciousness, he did not suggest that knowledge is purely subjective or relative and make his theory of knowledge epistemically nihilistic, for he did provide a coherence theory of truth that can help us to discern the truth and falsity of knowledge.4 Nonetheless, although Green proposes an idea of the human condition indicating that humans are not definitely determined and regulated by natural circumstances but capable of transforming circumstances through our understanding as we are our own ‘free causes’ based on his account of the relation between the object and the subject, the world and us the human beings, his idea of the eternal consciousness seems to conceal our free agency once again. As Green asserted, ‘[i]f there is such a thing as a connected experience of related objects, there must be operative in consciousness a unifying principle, which not only presents related object to itself, but at once renders them objects and unites them in relation to each other by this act of presentation’ (Green, 1883: 34–35). So, it
66 The Shadow of Metaphysics seems that there is an intelligent consciousness implied in the existence of the world enabling us ‘to have knowledge of a world or an intelligent experience’ (ibid.: 54). Furthermore, by Green’s account, this intelligent consciousness is different from our finite individual consciousness, for it is a consciousness ‘for which the relations of fact, that form the object of our gradually attained knowledge, already and eternally exist’, and our actions and activity of knowledge are only explicable by the action of this ‘eternal consciousness which uses them as its organs and reproduces itself through them’ (ibid.: 75, 86). Accordingly, when Green employed the idea of ‘eternal consciousness’ in his analysis of the conditions of human knowledge and human action, it seems that the eternal consciousness is something behind the universe directing humanity to the realisation of its end. However, if that is the case, Green’s account of the human condition is to be a sort of determinist argument rather than a defence for human agency.
Interpretations of Green’s Determinism As indicated earlier, the reason Green intended to construct a theory of knowledge is that he believes the atomic idea of the individual developed by the Enlightenment philosophy is misleading and the impact of this idea and its related thinking would cause to the elimination of ethics and moral nihilism, as the binding of all the norms and regulations has to be accepted and agreed by each atomic individual and in conformity with the individual’s subjective preferences and perceptions. And, since the Enlightenment philosophers such as Locke and Hume have developed their views on the human condition by virtue of their accounts for human knowledge, to resume the issue of ‘how is knowledge possible’ is significant for us to reconsider the human condition for Green. Nonetheless, although Green made weight on our constructive ability as we are the subjects of knowledge and claimed that we are our own ‘free causes’, not some succession of ideas and impressions made by circumstances, his idea of the eternal consciousness seems to indicate a deterministic view of human life, about which various commentators have criticised and discussed. In regard to Green’s determinism, commentators have elaborated at least three kinds of it: a rational a priori determinism, a theological determinism, and a spiritual determinism. I will elucidate these interpretations briefly in sequence. The first kind of deterministic reading of Green’s thought is not closely related to his idea of the eternal consciousness but is related rather to his transcendental inclination. Ben Wempe, in T. H. Green’s Theory of Positive Freedom, argues that when Green contends that there is a ‘single’ and ‘unalterable’ system of relations by reference to which we can differentiate the truth and falsity of human knowledge, his theory of knowledge seems to imply ‘an
The Shadow of Metaphysics 67 essentially closed and therefore a priori conception of human knowledge’ (Wempe, 2004: 105). For it seems that human knowledge is predetermined a priori by something eternally existing and unalterable. For Wempe, if that is the case, Green’s account of human knowledge would be a kind of a priori determinism discourse arguing that all our knowledge of the universe is predetermined. On the other hand, following her criticism of Kant’s critical philosophy of reason, Dimova-Cookson also claims that Green has made a rational a priori argument in his theory of knowledge that the existence of reality is constituted and predetermined by a doctrine of ‘pure thought’ (Dimova-Cookson, 2001: 31–32). That is to say, in Dimova-Cookson’s view, both Green and Kant argue that there is a sharp distinction between feelings and thought, indicating that we cannot have any knowledge independent of rational categories that have prescribed our perceptions and conceptions of the reality and then also our behaviours (ibid.: 27–53). Based on these, Dimova-Cookson seems to have a similar interpretation of Green with Wempe, and they both consider that Green’s theory of knowledge implies a rational a priori determinism, suggesting that human knowledge and practice are predetermined or prescribed by something rational and transcendental. As to the theological deterministic reading, its typical interpretation is from Henry Sidgwick. As indicated in the previous chapter that Sidgwick was critical of Green’s project of philosophising theological notions and the idea of the eternal consciousness was one of the main targets Sidgwick criticised. For Sidgwick, when Green made the claim that the eternal consciousness is the underlying principle directing human thought and action towards the end it wills, he has made human agency subordinate to the will of some invisible higher existence (Sidgwick, 1884: 170–179). Moreover, Sidgwick believes, this idea of the eternal consciousness in Green’s usage is actually referring to God as an intellectual by-product of Green’s work in philosophising theology. As Green remarked, we must find some other term than nature to represent the system of phenomena as such, or as considered without inclusion of the spiritual principle which it implies, and some other term than ‘natural’ to represent that which this system contains. We are pretty sure, however, to fail in this, and ‘nature’ in consequence becomes a term that is played fast and loose with in philosophical writing. It is spoken of as an independent agent; a certain completeness and self- containedness are ascribed to it; and to this there is no objection so long as we understand it to include the spiritual principle, neither in time nor in space, immaterial and immovable, eternally one with itself, which is necessary to the possibility of a world of phenomena. … In that case, to ascribe independence or self-containedness to it – if
68 The Shadow of Metaphysics for a moment the use of theological language may be allowed which it is generally desirable to avoid – is to deify nature while we cancel its title to deification. It is to speak of nature without God in a manner only appropriate to nature as it is in God. (Green, 1883: 57; italics added) The eternal consciousness as the underlying principle rendering human knowledge possible is thus akin to the God behind the natural world and it is ‘neither in time nor in space, immaterial and immovable, eternally one with itself’. Hence, from Sidgwick’s perspective, it is because Green philosophised theological notions unsuccessfully that he still needed to employ the god-like eternal consciousness to account for human knowledge and thus unfortunately annulled human agency once again (Sidgwick, 1902: 8).5 As distinct from the rational a priori and the theological readings of Green, Colin Tyler provides a spiritual deterministic reading of Green’s metaphysical discourse. For Tyler, when Green employed the idea of the eternal consciousness to account for human knowledge and human action, he was simply to signify that the individual is driven by some inner spiritual force to undertake cognitive activities. In Tyler’s view, God in Green’s discourse ‘exists only as the individual’s power of constructing and knowing a unified system of categories and an intelligible world of phenomena’; therefore, ‘[t]o deny the self-conscious individuality of persons would itself be a denial of a necessary presupposition of one’s proof of the logical necessity of the existence of the eternal consciousness itself’ (Tyler, 2010: 74). That is to say, since the eternal consciousness can only disclose itself by means of human activities, there is no need for us to consider the eternal consciousness as something ‘higher existence’; rather, it is just something lurking in our consciousness and action that enables and drives us to seek coherence. For epistemic coherence is the ideal state of mind inviting us to harmonise our experiences and ideas, and Green’s idea of the eternal consciousness is referring to this ideal mentality (ibid.: 81–82). In other words, for Tyler, the idea of the eternal consciousness is not about some self-existent and mystical being beyond human experiences but represents a spiritual ideal driving by which we human beings incline to search for coherence in our universe and can therefore progress (ibid.: 126–131). Nevertheless, although Tyler’s interpretation is illuminating, his spiritual deterministic reading seems to confuse the metaphysical question of human knowledge with the empirical one. In particular, when Tyler introduces the idea of ‘unconscious’ into his account of the eternal consciousness, his spiritual deterministic interpretation seems to be a discourse about the mechanism of human psychology. For Tyler, the idea of ‘unconscious’ is a significant but missing part in comprehending Green’s thought, as the idea can help us to realise the significance
The Shadow of Metaphysics 69 of the eternal consciousness in Green’s argument. According to Tyler, the unconscious is a pre-conscious inchoate mentality under which an individual person is acting on his or her instincts while it is also the realm where humans begin to struggle for coherent mentality (Tyler, 2010: 103–106). As we humans as part of animal have instinctive desires demanding us to strive for life by any means, our consciousness can lead us to reflect on and rearticulate ideas of these desires in search of their harmony. In other words, through the process of self-u nderstanding and self-articulation, an individual can elevate his or her mentality from the unconscious into consciousness and move closer to the ideal coherent mental state and have a life intellectually. In terms of Tyler’s view, then, when we thus understand Green’s views about consciousness and the progress of human mentality by resuming the role of the idea of unconscious in his thought, we would realise that Green was making account for the individual’s spiritual development, which begins from the interaction between the unconscious and consciousness towards the ideal state of human mind as manifested by the idea of the eternal consciousness. Based on these, however, it appears that Tyler’s interpretation focuses on the subjective side of knowledge in Green’s discourse, the mentality of human beings. To be sure, Tyler has not omitted Green’s discussion about the object of knowledge as he states that Green’s initial question of knowledge is about ‘what it is that individual human beings actually can possess knowledge of’ (Tyler, 2010: 55). But, Tyler’s account of Green’s theory of knowledge nonetheless makes weight on its subjective side and he seems to take consciousness as some kind of mental phenomenon. Yet, in Green’s view, we should not confine our notion of consciousness to the phenomenal as consciousness can be understood from two perspectives, metaphysical and psychological. For Green, [w]e have not two minds, but one mind; but we can know that one mind in its reality only by taking account, on the one hand, of the process in time by which effects of sentient experience are accumulated in the organism, yielding new modes of reaction upon stimulus and fresh associations of feeling with feeling; on the other, of the system of thought and knowledge which realises or reproduces itself in the individual through that process, a system into the inner constitution of which no relations of time enter. (Green, 1883: 74) Tyler’s account of consciousness apparently can be ascribed to the first notion of mind as it is ‘of the process in time by which effects of sentient experience are accumulated in the organism’. But if that is so, the other aspect of Green’s discussion of human consciousness has been omitted by Tyler. For the idea of mind in Green’s view also signifies the
70 The Shadow of Metaphysics underlying condition for human knowledge to be possible, and the eternal consciousness is the one employed by Green to capsule his analysis of the condition. As he remarked, [i]t is a common-place indeed to assert that the order of the universe remains the same, however our impressions may change in regard to it; but as the common-place is apt to be understood, the universe is conceived in abstraction from consciousness, while consciousness is identified simply with the changing impressions, of which the unchanging order is independent. But the unchanging order is an order of relations; and even if relations of any kind could be independent of consciousness, certainly those that form the content of knowledge are not so. As known they exist only for consciousness; and, if in themselves they were external to it, we shall try in vain to conceive any process by which they could find their way from without to within it. They are relations of facts, which require a consciousness alike to present them as facts and to unite them in relation. We must hold then that there is a consciousness for which the relations of fact, that form the object of our gradually attained knowledge, already and eternally exist; and that the growing knowledge of the individual is a progress towards this consciousness. (Green, 1883: 74–75) Accordingly, since relations between objects of knowledge are made by consciousness when it compares, differentiates, identifies, and combines sensations and ideas and presents them to us, and since the idea of a single and unalterable system of relations is the regulative condition for human knowledge to progress, we can then infer that there must be an already and eternally existing consciousness underlying the single and unalterable system of relations as a logical condition for human knowledge to be possible. In a word, the implications of the term ‘consciousness’ in Green’s usage is twofold. And although these two implications are not mutually exclusive, confusing them will nonetheless influence the validity of our interpretations of Green. In Tyler’s case, the reason he builds a de-mystified and de-anthropomorphised interpretation of Green’s idea of eternal consciousness is for defending Green, as the idea is considered as a weakness of Green’s argument (Tyler, 2010: 81; cf. Tyler, 2003: 133–137). However, if that is the case, to claim that our thought and action are determined by the human spirit that regulates the interaction between the unconscious and the consciousness mentality of us towards coherence seems to be redundant. For although Green made an analogy between God and the eternal consciousness, the reason he did that was stated clearly as it was for indicating the different meanings of the term ‘natural’ between his usage and the empiricist and naturalistic one. For Green, the idea of the
The Shadow of Metaphysics 71 eternal consciousness is the spiritual principle for human knowledge to be possible so it is also the logical condition rendering natural sciences and empirical studies possible. Nonetheless, as quoted earlier, some may thus call the principle ‘natural’ while Green thinks that to call the principle ‘natural’ would be misleading for people may conceive it as something persisting in the natural world independently without noticing that it is a presupposition made by us, the subjects of knowledge. Put briefly, since Green has not confused the eternal consciousness with God and has also made a clear statement of the twofold conception of the mind, the idea of the eternal consciousness in his usage is actually determined as a logical condition and not implicating deterministic argument.6
The Transcendental, the Immanent and Human Agency Thus far, I have elucidated three kinds of deterministic reading of Green’s thought, and throughout these interpretations and criticisms of Green, the commentators’ primary concern is human agency. For instance, when Sidgwick contests Green’s idea of the eternal consciousness and takes it as requiring humans to realise the end to which a higher being is directing them, his contention is made on the ground that the accountability is the core of morality, the imputability that each individual person is responsible for his or her behaviours (Sidgwick, 1902: 15–22, 62–63). In Sidgwick’s view, if our thought and action are predetermined by a higher being, this imputability will be dismissed and there is no ground to demand individual persons to be responsible for their behaviours. Also, when Wempe and Dimova-Cookson criticise the rational a priori determinism in Green’s theory of knowledge, their intention is rather for drawing people’s attention to the importance of Green’s theory of moral action. As Wempe puts, ‘the point of a number of arguments in Green’s pure metaphysics only emerges when they are considered in the light of the analogous argument which he seeks to defend in his metaphysics of morals’ (Wempe, 2004: 85). The significance of Green’s account of the human condition accordingly is more evident by his analysis of moral action from Wempe’s perspective. In the similar vein, Dimova-Cookson also argues that Green’s metaphysical analysis of knowledge is redundant for what is significant is his account for human practice, his metaphysical analysis of moral action. Criticising Green’s sharp distinction between feelings and ‘pure’ thought, Dimova-Cookson claims that Green had gone astray when he held that there is a spiritual principle as the transcendental condition for human knowledge and action to be possible, for it seems that Green was contending that all our feelings, sensations, desires are generated and motivated by some a priori rational concepts and are not from our perceptions and experiences of the circumstances (Dimova-Cookson, 2001: 40–51). In Dimova-Cookson’s view, human understanding is a kind of human practice so it is misleading if we make
72 The Shadow of Metaphysics a sharp distinction between understanding and desire, knowledge and practice as Green did. Nonetheless, Dimova-Cookson believes that Green’s metaphysical argument still has its value, for Green’s analysis of human practice, the interaction between desire, intellect, and will, is lucid and enlightening.7 On the other hand, it appears that Tyler maintains the value of Green’s metaphysics of knowledge while he underscores the notion that the idea of the eternal consciousness does not refer to God or something self-existent transcendentally but indicates the innate spiritual telos driving humans to act in search of the coherence of life. Surely, if Green’s theory of knowledge and his idea of the eternal consciousness had those features which some commentators consider as defects, the necessity of his analysis of human understanding for his account of the human condition would be in doubt. However, as stated earlier, the grounds on which those commentators criticise Green may not be as solid as they thought. To be sure, when Green made analogy between God and the eternal consciousness, the analogy could be confusing. In particular, he had once claimed that ‘Christian dogma, then, must be retained in its completeness, but it must be transformed into a philosophy’ (Green, 1906: 182). Accordingly, though Green has made a clear statement that he is aware of the danger to introduce the idea of God into his discussion of the idea of the eternal consciousness, his intellectual inclination nonetheless makes people tend to wonder whether or not he actually takes the two ideas as equal. In addition, as William Mander notes, the terms Green applied to depict the function of the eternal consciousness are sometimes confusing and make readers think that the eternal consciousness is a sort of self-existent being directing human action (Mander, 2006: 204–205). As quoted earlier, Green has remarked that the eternal consciousness takes human activities as ‘its organs and reproduces itself through them’. So it seems that the eternal consciousness has its own agency different from the one of humans. Nevertheless, as indicated, when we are analysing Green’s idea of the mind, we have to be cautious that the idea in his usage has two implications. While the term ‘consciousness’ for Green entails the cognitive acts of comparison, differentiation, identification, and combination of sensations and feelings, it also carries an important function in Green’s argument, that it is the unifying principle rendering human knowledge possible. Based on this distinction, we should then bear in mind that ‘[w] hat Green is offering us is an analysis of the concept of “reality” and, whatever may be said about our knowledge of reality, our conception of reality is not one of something fenced in by our current awareness of it’ (Mander, 2011: 102) (italics in original). That is to say, the work Green engages in is the analysis of the conceptual conditions of human knowledge and all what he proclaims by some innovative terms are just confined and contributed to this analytical work. In short, although Green’s accounts of human knowledge unavoidably involve some epistemological
The Shadow of Metaphysics 73 elements, his analysis is nonetheless oriented at its conceptual conditions such as the object of knowledge, the subject of knowledge, and the relation between the object and the subject. Adding to this point, it might be helpful for us to have a better understanding of what the conceptual condition means for Green by taking a look at his discussion of the term ‘a priori’. While the rational deterministic reading contends that Green’s metaphysics of knowledge implicates an a priori concept by which human knowledge and human practice are predetermined, Green’s thought nonetheless should not be viewed as deterministic in this context. In the first place, the term ‘a priori’ has two meanings for Green, but neither of them is inherently deterministic. First, the term ‘a priori’ in Green’s view has a meaning indicating that there are conditions as the logical presuppositions for human experiences to be intelligible and conceivable. For instance, he mentioned, when we study mathematics, there are some a priori principles immanent in the objects we look at such as the famous parallel postulate proposed by Euclid: ‘two straight lines can’t enclose space’ (Green, 2005: 59–60). For Green, we may not discern and note these principles if we have not had any questions of things surrounding us such as what attribute the straight line has. Nevertheless, if the principles were not there, we would not tell the differences between things and all the things would merge into each other as a chaotic whole. Second, the term ‘a priori’ to Green also has the other meaning indicating that there are given dispositions enabling human action. As all the acts ‘involved in maintenance of institutions and habits, so far found necessary to organization of society, are thus “a-priori necessary”’ (ibid.: 60). For instance, people who live in different places generally have different languages, different cultures and social norms, and the formation and development of their thoughts, actions, and world views relied on these cultural and social conditions. Accordingly, the term ‘a priori’ in Green’s view may signify the necessary conditions for the conceivable or the enabling dispositions for social practice, but in either sense ‘a priori’ does not imply a deterministic argument. Based on this, it is fair to say that when Green was engaging in the work of giving account for the conditions of human knowledge, he did not intend to suggest a sort of rational a priori deterministic argument. Moreover, in virtue of Green’s contra-intellectualism position, it seems odd to claim that he was a rational determinist. In ‘The Philosophy of Aristotle’ Green argues that Aristotle, who has been considered as the most practical of philosophers, was actually advocating a contemplative and self-contained life rather than a practical life, for he exalted a doctrine of ‘pure thought’, which is fixed, final, and eternal, when illustrating the necessity of life in his work. For Green, when Aristotle tries to ascertain the necessary conditions of the happiest life, he takes the monad, the simplest and supposed self-contained element, as the first premise of his study and ‘endeavours, indeed, sometimes to find an adequate object
74 The Shadow of Metaphysics in the exact science’ (Green, 1906: 89). However, as indicated earlier that the primary mistake Green thinks the empiricist philosophers have made is to propose and maintain an atomic idea of the individual which is deprived of its universal essence, its relations with other things. So, in terms of Green’s view, to assert that the ‘pure’, self-contained monad is the fundamental object of our study of human life is making the same mistake. What makes this worse, to Green, is that Aristotle seems to believe that to contemplate and appropriate the ‘pure’ thought constituted by the monads is more significant than to practise moral ideas and social norms, for the former can lead us to achieve and enjoy a self-contained happy life (ibid.: 89–90).8 So, as the Greeks maintained that ‘if a person knows what is right, he cannot do what is wrong’, to acquire and contemplate the knowledge of the monads, the ‘pure’ thought, is to be prior to practise moral ideas and social norms (Green, 1997: 120–121). Nevertheless, this intellectualistic tenet of the Greeks is somehow misleading from Green’s perspective as having knowledge of life is different from practising the knowledge in life. For Green, no matter how perfect we think the knowledge of life we have is, it can only be proved by action not contemplation as the truth of practical idea can only be evident in its realisation (Green, 1886a: 16; cf. Green, 1883: 202–209). Hence, it appears that the claim that Green espouses a doctrine of ‘pure thought’ and takes knowledge as prior to practice would not stand so long as we have consideration of his criticism of moral intellectualism. Besides, it is simply contradictory to what Green himself remarks in Prolegomena to Ethics when commentators argue that Green follows Kant to make a sharp distinction between feelings and thought and regards ‘pure’ thought as the rational categories prescribing our knowledge and action. For Green, [i]t is not that we would claim any larger function for thought than Kant claims for understanding as separate from feeling, supposing that separation to be once admitted. It is the separation itself that is in question. … We admit that mere thought can no more produce the facts of feeling, than mere feeling can generate thought. But we deny that there is really such a thing as ‘mere feeling’ or ‘mere thought’. We hold that these phrases represent abstractions to which no reality corresponds, either in the facts of the world or in the consciousness to which those facts are relative. We can attach no meaning to ‘reality’, as applied to the world of phenomena, but that of existence under definite and unalterable relations; and we find that it is only for a thinking consciousness that such relations can subsist. (Green, 1883: 53) Put briefly, being aware of Kant’s false separation of feeling and thought, Green does not intend to build a doctrine of ‘pure’ thought and to predetermine knowledge and practice a priori. On the contrary, he stresses
The Shadow of Metaphysics 75 the mutual independence of feelings and thought, experiences and ideas, and establishes an account of the human condition in which the relation between the object and the subject, the world and human beings, is interdependent. Also, if it is acknowledged that the idea of a single and unalterable order of relations is the regulative principle guiding the progress of knowledge and rendering knowledge possible, it then seems to be a bit weak to argue, as Wempe did, that the idea indicates an a priori and enclosed conception of human knowledge simply because Green ascribes those features as ‘single’ and ‘unalterable’ to the order of relations. Rather, for Green, since ‘[t]here may always remain unascertained conditions which may render the relation between an appearance and such conditions of it as we know, liable to change’ (ibid.: 29), our knowledge is always open and incomplete and waiting us to make further development. In sum, while Green contested the empirical account of knowledge and the human condition and built a different one, his arguments incur criticisms when he utilised the ideas of the eternal consciousness and the single and unalterable order of relations to elucidate the logical conditions of human understanding. For some commentators, the eternal consciousness is equal to God and implies a danger to conceal human agency; for others, claiming a single and unalterable order of relations existing a priori as the regulative principle for knowledge to progress is not far from contending that the contents of knowledge are predetermined and we humans are simply making efforts to discover them. About these interpretations and their sequent criticisms of Green, I have indicated that they are contestable and would be untenable if we have more comprehensive reading of Green’s writings. Nonetheless, the reading of Green I am in line with might be considered as a sympathetic one, for he did use some metaphors to describe the role of the eternal consciousness in human activities. Moreover, since the difference and the interdependence between the object and the subject are disclosed by consciousness, what the eternal consciousness signifies could be understood as Wempe’s claims as the rational spirit manifesting itself in and through the dialectical movement between its objective and subjective forms as Hegel depicts. For Wempe, while Green’s idea of the single and unalterable order of relations implies an essentially closed conception of knowledge, his idea of the eternal consciousness, on the other hand, indicates a doctrine of the self-assertion of reason. For, if we take Green’s idea of the eternal consciousness as the duplicate of Hegel’s idea of the rational spirit, his account of the relation between the eternal consciousness and human action is in the similar way as Hegel proceeding from ‘the view that reason manifested itself in the world and that our experience and the events of the world were to be understood in the light of this process’ (Wempe, 2004: 93). Having this thought in his mind, however, Wempe has not criticised the doctrine of the self-assertion of reason as he did to Green’s rational determinism lurking in the idea of the single and unalterable order of relations. Instead,
76 The Shadow of Metaphysics Wempe holds that the doctrine of the self-assertion of reason can help us understand Green’s metaphysical argument better because it indicates the underlying conditions for human agency to be possible (ibid.: 117–118, 149–150). Put briefly, in terms of Wempe’s view, Green’s metaphysics of knowledge unfortunately provides a deterministic account, by reference to which human agency is concealed, but Green’s metaphysics of action nonetheless indicates the rational assumption which need to be made for us to understand the events in the social and natural worlds. Here, Wempe’s second interpretation of Green is obviously similar with the one I have elucidated earlier, that Green was engaging in the work of analysing the logical presuppositions of human knowledge and action. However, as indicated earlier the Hegelian account of how the rational spirit manifests itself is contestable, although it presents a possible way to reconcile the alienation of the individual with his or her circumstances, the others, the society, and the world. On the one hand, if we take Hegel’s account of how the rational spirit manifests itself in the dialectical movement between its objective and subjective sides as predetermined and enclosed, what we human beings can do under this scenario is to discover the predetermined relations and patterns. But, on the other hand, if we take Hegel’s account as heuristic and explanatory, our free agency qua human beings is accordingly premised upon some conditions for enabling. In short, if we concur with Wempe’s second interpretation, we will need to account for why Green’s metaphysical argument does not involve with a similar controversy, and that leads us to Green’s consideration of moral actions and the ethical commitment from his view of the human condition.
Notes 1 A curious thing that may catch readers’ attention would be that different from his discussion of human understanding, Locke employed a notion of God to develop his theory of government. Nonetheless, as I indicate in the previous chapter, Locke did not ignore the importance of God to human beings and believed that human capabilities are from God’s work. Moreover, in his view, the end of understanding and knowledge is for humans to reach the laws of nature which God creates to guide the operation of the universe. That is to say, although the constitution of knowledge is about human capabilities, the source of laws, regulations, and norms are from God’s work, the supreme lawmaker. For discussions about Locke’s view of the laws of nature and human knowledge see Lamprecht (1918: 49–74), McGovern (1958), Oakley (1966). 2 See my discussion in Chapter 1. As to Kant’s and Hegel’s discussions of consciousness, see Henrich (2003). 3 Here, Green’s thought is not just akin to Kant’s but also similar to Hume’s. For Green like Hume holds that the idea of a self-existent world beyond the ken of humans is a self-contradictory and illegitimate question of human knowledge. Nonetheless, their different notions of human experience and theories of knowledge make them have divergent views of the human condition. For further discussion about the relation between Green and Hume, see Brink (2003: 9–20), Tyler (2010: 55–60).
The Shadow of Metaphysics 77 4 A classical elucidation of the coherence theory of truth is H. H. Joachim’s The Nature of Truth: An essay (1906). That truth is considered as an organic unity or a significant whole ‘such that all its constituent elements reciprocally involve one another, or reciprocally determine one another’s being as contributory features in a single concrete meaning’ (Joachim, 1906: 66). Nonetheless, Bertrand Russell is against Joachim’s account for the truth. See Russell (1906). 5 To be sure, not only do Green’s critics take the idea of the eternal consciousness as equal to God, the commentators who concentrate and contend theological implications of Green’s moral philosophy also connect the idea with God. For these commentators, the eternal consciousness is related to Green’s doctrine of the Christed self as mentioned in the first chapter that takes Christ as an ideal of our moral self to signify our potentiality for being morally good (see Leighton, 2004: 172; Reardon, 1986: 41–42; Richter, 1964: 108–110; Vincent and Plant, 1984: 13–15). Adding to this point, Green’s idea of the eternal consciousness has been argued by A. M. Quinton as influenced by the pantheistic tendency of Hegel when Green contended that ‘there is one spiritual and self-conscious being of which all that is real is the activity and expression; that we are all related to this spiritual being, not merely as parts of the world which is its expression, but as partakers in some inchoate measure of the self-consciousness through which it at once constitutes itself and distinguishes itself from the world; that this participation is the source of morality and religion; this we take to be the vital truth which Hegel had to teach’ (Green, 1906: 146; Quinton, 1986: 130). 6 In Andrew Seth’s 1883 article ‘Philosophy as Criticism of Categories’, which was written in memory of Green who passed away in 1882, he traced the root of the twofold conception of the mind back to Kant. For Seth, when we conceive Kant’s critical philosophy of reason as a sort of rational psychology, Kant’s critical study of categories and concepts is easily to be confused with a criticism of faculties, and then the meaning of the ‘consciousness’ will become ambiguous for the state of consciousness can be considered as either a psychological occurrence or a logical condition (Seth, 1883: 15–16). About this issue of the two conceptions of consciousness, the psychological and phenomenal and the logical and transcendental, see also Ameriks (1992: 259), Hatfield (1992), Jones (2004), Schurman (1898: 135–136). 7 I will discuss Green’s analysis of moral action in the next chapter. 8 As Aristotle claims, ‘[s]ince happiness is an activity according to virtue, it is reasonable that it should be an activity according to the highest virtue; and this would be an activity of the best part of man. So whether this be intellect or something else which is thought to rule and guide us by its nature and to have comprehension of noble and divine objects, being itself divine or else the most divine part in us, its activity according to its proper virtue would be perfect happiness. That this activity is contemplative has already been mentioned…’ (Aristotle, 1984: 193). Nevertheless, Aristotle is not like Green implies a philosopher advocating intellectualism thoroughly, for he is clearly aware of the imperfect nature of human beings (see Aristotle, 1984: 194–198).
References Ameriks, K. (1992). ‘The Critique of Metaphysics: Kant and Traditional Ontology’, in P. Guyer (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Kant. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 249–279.
78 The Shadow of Metaphysics Aristotle. (1984). Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics. H. G. Apostle (trans.). Grinnell, IA: Peripatetic Press. Brink, D. O. (2003). Perfectionism and the Common Good: Themes in the Philosophy of T. H. Green. Oxford: Clarendon. Dimova-Cookson, M. (2001). T. H. Green’s Moral and Political Philosophy: A Phenomenological Perspective. Houndmills: Palgrave. Ferreira, P. (2003). ‘Green’s Attack on Formal Logic’, Bradley Studies 9(1): 40–51. Green, T. H. (1883). Prolegomena to Ethics. A. C. Bradley (ed.). Oxford: Clarendon. Green, T. H. (1885). Works of Thomas Hill Green, Volume I. R. L. Nettleship (ed.). London: Longmans, Green, and Co. Green, T. H. (1886a). The Witness of God and Faith: Two Lay Sermons. A. Toynbee (ed.). London: Longmans, Green, and Co. Green, T. H. (1886b). Works of Thomas Hill Green, Volume II. R. L. Nettleship (ed.). London: Longmans, Green, and Co. Green, T. H. (1906). Works of Thomas Hill Green, Volume III. R. L. Nettleship (ed.). London: Longmans, Green, and Co. Green, T. H. (1997). Collected Works of Thomas Hill Green, Volume V: Additional Writings. P. Nicholson (ed.). Bristol: Thoemmes Press. Green, T. H. (2005). ‘Metaphysics of Ethics, Moral Psychology, Sociology or Science of Sittlichkeit’, in C. Tyler (ed.), Unpublished Manuscripts in British Idealism: Political Philosophy, Theology and Social Thought, Volume 1. London and New York: Thoemmes Continuum, pp. 14–71. Hatfield, G. (1992). ‘Empirical, Rational, and Transcendental Psychology: Psychology as Science and as Philosophy’, in P. Guyer (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Kant. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 200–227. Henrich, D. (2003). Between Kant and Hegel: Lectures on German Idealism. David S. Pacini (ed.). Cambridge, MA and London: Harvard University Press. Hodgson, R. (2004). ‘Professor Green as A Critic’, in C. Tyler (ed.), Early Responses to British Idealism: Responses to B. Jowett, T. H. Green, E. Caird and W. Wallace. Bristol: Thoemmes Continuum, pp. 113–132. Joachim, H. H. (1906), The Nature of Truth: An Essay. Oxford: Clarendon Press. Jones, H. (2004). ‘Idealism and Epistemology’, in D. Boucher (ed.), The Scottish Idealists: Selected Philosophical Writings. Exeter: Imprint Academic, pp. 106–140. Lamprecht, S. P. (1918). The Moral and Political Philosophy of John Locke. New York: Columbia University Press. Leighton, D. (2004). The Greenian Moment: T. H. Green, Religion and Political Argument in Victoria Britain. Exeter: Imprint Academic. Locke, J. (1975). An Essay Concerning Human Understanding. P. H. Nidditch (ed.). Oxford, New York: Clarendon Press; Oxford University Press. Locke, J. (1988). Two Treatises of Government. P. Laslett (ed.). Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press. Mander, W. J. (2006). ‘In Defence of the Eternal Consciousness’, in M. Dimova- Cookson and W. J. Mander (eds.), T. H. Green: Ethics, Metaphysics and Political Philosophy. Oxford: Clarendon, pp. 187–206. Mander, W. J. (2011). British Idealism: A History. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press. McGovern, A. F. (1958). John Locke on Knowledge of the Natural Law. Master’s Theses. Chicago, IL: Loyola University Chicago.
The Shadow of Metaphysics 79 Oakley, F. (1966). ‘Locke, Natural Law, and God; Note’, Natural Law Forum 119: 92–109. Quinton, A. M. (1986). ‘Absolute Idealism’, reprinted in A. Kenny (ed.), Rationalism, Empiricism, Idealism. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 124–150. Reardon, B. M. G. (1986). ‘T. H. Green as a Theologian’, in A. Vincent (ed.), The Philosophy of T. H. Green. Aldershot: Gower, pp. 36–47. Richter, M. (1964). The Politics of Conscience: T. H. Green and His Age. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson. Russell, B. (1906). ‘On the Nature of Truth’, Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 7: 28–49. Schurman, J. G. (1898). ‘The Genesis of the Critical Philosophy’, The Philosophical Review 7(2): 135–161. Seth, A. (1883). ‘Philosophy as Criticism of Categories’, in A. Seth and R. B. Haldane (eds.), Essays in Philosophical Criticism. London: Longmans, Green, pp. 8–40. Sidgwick, H. (1884). ‘Green’s Ethics’, Mind 9(34): 169–187. Sidgwick, H. (1902). Lectures on the Ethics of T. H. Green, Mr. Herbert Spencer, and J. Martineau. London: Macmillan. Tyler, C. (2003). ‘The Much-Maligned and Misunderstood Eternal Consciousness’, Bradley Studies 9(2): 126–138. Tyler, C. (2010). The Metaphysics of Self-Realisation and Freedom: Part 1 of the Liberal Socialism of Thomas Hill Green. Exeter: Imprint Academic. Vincent, A. and R. Plant (1984). Philosophy, Politics and Citizenship: The Life and Thought of the British Idealists. Oxford: Basil Blackwell. Wempe, B. (2004). T. H. Green’s Theory of Positive Freedom: From Metaphysics to Political Theory. Exeter: Imprint Academic.
3 Human Perfection and Moral Community
Hence disregarding all the scientific books that only teach us to see men as they have made themselves, and mediating on the first and simplest operations of the human Soul, I believe I perceive in it two principles prior to reason, of which one interests us intensely in our well-being and our self-preservation, and the other inspires in us a natural repugnance to seeing any sentient Being, and especially any being like ourselves, perish or suffer. (Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Discourse on the Origin and Foundations of Inequality Among Men). It has been indicated that Green was opposed to the empirical view of the human condition, the atomic idea of the individual, for he believed that the view is one of the main sources for the malign consequences of modernity. He has then proposed an alternative account according to which the individual and its circumstances – the others, the society, and the universe – are interdependent and inseparable as they are correlative with each other in consciousness. In terms of Green’s view, it is when consciousness leads us to reflect on ourselves and our surrounding circumstances that we come to be aware of the distinction between them, the subjects, and the objects; before that, they simply are undifferentiated and unintelligible. Yet, what the issue remains here is that although the subjects and the objects, the individuals and their circumstances, are correlative in consciousness, they have still been differentiated and separated by consciousness when it leads us to reflect on them. At the moment, when we first discern the difference between the subjects and the objects, we may easily suppose that they are mutually exclusive and hypostatise them. As Green points out, ‘the privilege of self-consciousness brings with it the privilege of self-deception’ (Green, 1906: 105). The atomic idea of the modern individual, the sharp distinctions between passions and reason, feelings and thought that had been made by Hume and Kant are all the works of our self-consciousness’s self-deception. Nevertheless, Green holds that this separation between the subject and the object, the alienation of the modern individual with its circumstances, is an inward drive demanding our self-consciousness to move forward, to achieve reconciliation of them, for we always want
Human Perfection and Moral Community 81 to feel ‘at home’ when living in the world; and this demand for reconciliation is the ethical commitment for us qua human beings. As to how the reconciliation is possible and practicable, Green has discussed it in his metaphysics of moral action and that is also where we can see the difference between Green and Hegel.
The Modes and Transformation of Human Consciousness To begin with, we need to elucidate Green’s account of the modes and transformation of human consciousness shown in his metaphysics of moral action, for it is in his account of these that he discloses to us the ethical commitment of being human, the eternal task of striving for reconciliation and self-perfection. Compared with his metaphysics of knowledge, Green’s metaphysics of moral action has received recognition from scholars. As pointed out in the previous chapter, Wempe and Divoma-Cookson have, respectively, underscored the value of Green’s metaphysics of moral action. In addition, Geoffrey Thomas also comments that Green’s moral psychology contains more valuable insights than his metaphysics of knowledge (Thomas, 1987: 1–5, 123). For Thomas, Green’s metaphysics of moral action is a multi-perspectival account of human agency and a response to Hume’s view that ‘reason is the slave of passion’, as Green indicates that reason and desire are mutual involved and cannot be isolated from each other. In Thomas’s view, this complex account of the relationship between reason and desire can provide us a more comprehensive view of human agency for it shows that a rational life plan can also move people to act and to desire its fulfilment (ibid.: 365–366). Nevertheless, if we have the idea that Green was building an account of the human condition by analysing the presuppositions of human knowledge and action, we will realise that his metaphysics of knowledge and metaphysics of moral action are complementary. For Green depicts a way of life in his metaphysics of moral action for individuals to overcome their alienated situations in modern society, the ontological issue revealed in his metaphysics of knowledge. That is to say, the full picture of Green’s human ontology is composed of his metaphysical arguments of knowledge and moral action. Then, what exactly Green’s metaphysical argument of moral action is that we can say it fulfils his human ontology and signifies the ethical commitment for us as human beings? According to Green, a self-conscious human agent has four distinctive capabilities: desire, intellect, will, and practical reason; and among them, desire and intellect are primary from the analytical point of view for the analysis of the two can assist us to grip the function of will and practical reason well. For Green, desire is a mode of consciousness when we have reflection on our impulse, the animal instinct driving us to fight for survival. To be clear, impulse as the animal and instinctive part of us is a mere want, a craving without aiming at any determinate object for satisfaction; but,
82 Human Perfection and Moral Community desire is rather a self-conscious want, an effort for realisation of the idea of a wanted object (Green, 1883: 90–97). So, in terms of Green’s view, under the mode of desiring a person is aware of the distinction between him or herself and the wanted object for satisfaction. However, since the desiring person possesses an ‘idea’ of wanted object the realisation of which is for his or her satisfaction, there must involve with some sort of intelligence. As Green argues, ‘[n]o desire which forms part of our moral experience would be what it is, if it were not the desire of a subject which also understands: no act of our intelligence would be what it is, if it were not the act of a subject which also desires’ (ibid.: 135). Thus, the mode of desiring and the mode of understanding are always coordinating with each other. For instance, when we feel hunger, the feeling itself is a mere want; but once we notice the feeling, we will look for some object to mitigate the hunger. And during the process of looking our intelligence will involve in, as we need to discern and speculate which object can help mitigate our hunger. Put briefly, to Green, when we are desiring something, our intellect must be also at work for us to have some idea of it; and when we are understanding something, our desire must be also at work for us to want for the knowledge of it; as ‘every desire which is within the experience of a moral agent, involves a mode of consciousness the same as that which is involved in acts of understanding; every act of understanding a mode of self-consciousness the same as that which is involved in desire’ (ibid.). Accordingly, if we consider desire and intellect as two fundamentally heterogeneous and incompatible human agencies, what we are doing is simply abstracting and hypostatising them. Nonetheless, although desire and intellect are always coordinating with each other, this does not mean that we would confuse and cannot tell the difference between them as two modes of consciousness plainly. By Green’s account, intellect as a mode of consciousness is ‘the effort of such consciousness to take the world into itself’ while desire is the effort of the consciousness ‘to carry itself out into the world’ (Green, 1883: 142). Under the mode of understanding, we intend to have more comprehensive knowledge of the world, of the universe we live in, so it is as a process of taking things from the world into our mind, our cognitive mental system, and trying to bring them into relation to each other. On the other hand, desire as a mode of consciousness is the one under which we want to fulfil some ideas from our mind into the real world. As we feel hunger and want to acquire something to mitigate the feeling, we are eager to carry out the idea of some particular object which we believe can satisfy our appetites in the reality. In other words, while consciousness leads us to see the difference between ourselves, the subjects, and surrounding others, the persons, the society and the world, the objects, and feel out of place in the world, desire and intellect manifest an immanent drive moving us to pursuit reconciliation with these surrounding objects. In brief, to Green, consciousness makes us dissociate and separate from our circumstances, but its two modes, desire and intellect, nonetheless represent the
Human Perfection and Moral Community 83 potentiality for us to reach a coherent and harmonious life. And, in terms of this view, the functions of the rest two modes of consciousness, will and practical reason, are also related to the innate drive for reconciliation. Thus far we see that the root of the individual alienation in modern society in Green’s view, the separation of the individual from its surrounding circumstances, as the issue revealed in his metaphysics of knowledge comes to be an innate drive of human beings, demanding us to seek reconciliation with circumstances, the persons we encounter, the society and the world we live in, in his metaphysics of moral action. Nonetheless, this ontological commitment of us is not just an eternal task but also an ethical work. To explain this, it requires us to have some knowledge of Green’s account of will and practical reason first. With respect to will, for Green, it is a mode of consciousness under which we identify ourselves with a desired object (Green, 1883: 144). In Green’s view, when we are in the mode of desiring or understanding, we are aware of the distinction between ourselves and the objects presenting in our minds, the things we ‘want’ to eat or ‘intend’ to understand; and this distinction between ourselves and objects remains. However, when we are in the mode of willing, the distinction is negated as we come to identify ourselves with a desired object. To be clear, when we are desiring, we may conceive different objects for satisfying our appetites; when we are understanding, we may intend to have knowledge of some objects we encounter with; but neither of the mode makes us actually overcome the separation between ourselves and the objects, for we have not put the idea of the wanted object into practice. Therefore, what makes the mode of willing such different from the mode of desiring or understanding is that when we will, we determine to realise a desired object and take action upon this. To Green, [t]here are impulses constantly at work in a man – the result of his organisation, of habits (his own or his ancestors’), of external excitement, &c. – of which he is more or less aware according to the degree to which their antagonism to each other calls attention to them, but which yet do not amount to principles of imputable action, or to desires of which it is sought to realise the objects, because the self- seeking, self-determining person has not identified himself with any of them. It is such impulses alone that are properly said to compete for mastery in a man before his determination to act, and that may survive alone with an enacted desire that represents none of them. … It is a new principle that supervenes upon them [impulses] through the self-conscious subject’s identification of itself with one of them, just as a perception is not a sensation or congeries of sensations, but supervenes upon certain sensations through a man’s attending to them, i.e. through his taking them into self-consciousness and determining them, as in it, by relation to others of its contents. (ibid.: 150–151; italics added)
84 Human Perfection and Moral Community The significant difference between will and desire or intellect accordingly is self-identification. When willing, an individual identifies a certain desired object with his or her own self as ‘it is only the feeling, thought and desire represented by the act of will, that the man recognises as for the time himself’ (ibid.: 159). In short, by Green’s account, a will represents what a person is now and here. And since will indicates self-identification, the identification between the subject and the object, it is the mode under which we human beings can at a moment find the peace of our minds, for the gap between the subject and the object is temporarily filled and reconciled. In terms of Green’s view, the reconciliation between the subject and the object can be achieved in our minds or realised in between us and the outward circumstances virtually. The will as a mode of human consciousness is the former state of mind, the reconciliation achieved inside us. However, the peace and reconciliation would be temporary because the desired object which an individual person identifies him or her own self with at a moment may not satisfy his or her initial impulse after all, and the person will need to look for another object for satisfaction once again. Or, more commonly, even though the desired object is satisfying, there will be more impulses coming and demanding the person to look for more objects for satisfaction, as the animal and instinctive part of the person as a human being is always there. Put it in another way, since we constantly need foods, drinks, shelters or books, knowledge, and many other things to satisfy our wants, the differentiation and separation between ourselves and the circumstances will constantly present. In terms of Green’s view, then, the former situation that a person finds his or her desired object is not satisfying will trigger the mode of practical reason while the latter situation that a person will persistently search for objects for satisfaction signifies the eternal condition of us as human beings. Regarding practical reason, Green indicates that it has a similar feature with intellect, the theoretical reason, that when we are under the mode of practical reason, we also constitute and conceive ideas of objects that are supposed to satisfy our impulses. And since we are constituting and conceiving ideas of objects, we are actually building a sort of knowledge that can help us find satisfaction in practice, for we have to compare, differentiate, and connect things and relate them to each other coherently so that we can constitute and conceive ideas of objects. Accordingly, although Green criticised Aristotle for the latter’s moral intellectualism, he has not denied that to have knowledge of the good is wrong. Rather, it is because Aristotle misconceived the relationship between moral knowledge and moral action and prioritised knowledge over action that Green launched his attack. For Green, action comes before knowledge temporally and it is when we reflect on our actions that we can build knowledge of the good. As a matter of fact, a desired and willed object we conceive as good and satisfying in the end may not really satisfy us, and therefore we continue to
Human Perfection and Moral Community 85 strive for other objects. To Green, that ‘practical struggle after the Better, of which the idea of there being a Best has been the spring, has taken such effect in the world of man’s affairs as makes the way by which the Best is to be more nearly approached plain enough to him that will see’ (Green, 1883: 180). And, through our constant efforts towards achieving a better state of ourselves, we can acquire a plain conviction that being the best is the ‘ultimate moral good to guide our conduct’ and there are such things as the true self and the true good that are the best for us (ibid.: 180). The capability of a self-conscious human agent, which makes constant efforts seek the ‘better way of life’ continuously, is the core of practical reason, then. ‘By will is understood, as has been explained, an effort (or capacity for such effort) on the part of a self-conscious subject to satisfy itself: by reason, in the practical sense, the capacity on the part of such a subject to conceive a better state of itself as an end to be attained by action’ (ibid.: 184). In short, while the will represents the self and determines a desired object as the objective for action, the practical reason, which is triggered by the self’s practical struggle for something better, leads the self to conceive an ideal state of itself. So that is the four modes of human consciousness that Green accounted for in his metaphysics of moral action and the reason he made this account after his metaphysics of knowledge is as indicated that he intended to provide a way for individuals to deal with their alienated situations in modern society. According to his view, will actualises a temporary reconciliation as the individual sets up his or her mind to a certain object and takes the object as identical with him or herself. Nevertheless, the object will not always satisfy the individual’s impulse nor satisfy the individual’s impulses once for all. Therefore, practical reason will begin to function and presents a new and supposed better object for the individual to pursue its realisation. And, if the will and the practical reason reconcile conclusively, meaning that the ideal object presented by the practical reason is determined by the will as the one which an individual identifies him or herself with and acts upon, the individual will thus realise his or her ideal in reality and achieve the ultimate reconciliation with circumstances and feel at home in the modern world. In other words, to achieve the reconciliation of will and practical reason, the perfection of an individual person’s moral capabilities, is the ultimate good for us qua human beings, for we will not only have our inner peace but also actualise the ideal object in the reality at that moment (Green, 1883: 414–416). However, as our impulses will not cease and constantly demand us to satisfy them, the ultimate good in Green’s view will not be actualised essentially. As he said that regarding the good generically as that which satisfies desire, but considering the objects we desire to be by no means necessarily pleasures, we shall naturally distinguish the moral good as that which
86 Human Perfection and Moral Community satisfies the desire of a moral agent, or that in which a moral agent can find the satisfaction of himself which he necessarily seeks. The true good we shall understand in the same way. It is an end in which the effort of a moral agent can really find rest. (ibid.: 179; italics added) That is to say, since impulses are always there, desire, intellect, will, and practical reason as modes of human consciousness will persistently function in order to satisfy them, the animal and instinctive part of us; and, if the ultimate good means that impulses are satisfied once for all and there is no more separation between ourselves and desired objects, this will also mean that these modes of human consciousness, the moral capabilities of human beings, are at rest. Put briefly, each individual human being will not achieve its perfection so long as its moral agency still functions. Adding to this point, the distinctive feature for us to be human in Green’s view is that we possess ‘consciousness’. While we are part of animal and have instinctive impulses demanding us to find mitigation, we possess the free agency, the ‘distinctively human consciousness’ that can lead us to make reflection on the impulses. As Green indicated, [i]f there are reasons for holding that man, in respect of his animal nature, is descended from ‘mere’ animals – animals in whom the functions of life and sense were not organic to the eternal or distinctively human consciousness, – this does not affect our conclusion in regard to the consciousness of which, as he now is, man is the subject; a conclusion founded on analysis of what he now is and does. (Green, 1883: 87; italics added) So, if the distinctive feature for us to be human, not mere animal, is consciousness and the actualisation of our ideals represents the rest of the consciousness, it seems that at the moment when we achieve the ultimate reconciliation, we will cease to be human. Hence, the reason I say Green’s account indicates the eternal condition of us qua human beings is that for us to being human, we have to constantly and continuously pursue the realisation of our better states of life while the ultimate ideal will never be actualised and achieved. Nevertheless, if this is the human condition from Green’s perspective, a follow-up question might be that ‘why on earth should we take that account of human consciousness and self-perfection as the condition for us qua human beings?’
The Good and the Self As mentioned, Green intends to build up an alternative account of the human condition to contest the empirical one according to which
Human Perfection and Moral Community 87 human persons have been deemed as separate individual atoms. But, if that is so, what function of the claim that humans have to constantly and continuously pursue the unachievable reconciliation can have for Green to fulfil that purpose? The answer to this question is twofold. First, although the ultimate reconciliation is essentially unachievable, there is the other way for us the human beings to look after self- perfection in Green’s view, that is, to devote ourselves to the well-being of our community. For Green, [i]n the mind at least of those persons over whom the idea has any controlling power, its filling is supplied by ideal objects to which they are seeking to give reality, and of which the realisation forms their prevailing interest. Such an ideal object, for example, is the welfare of a family. … As a man reflects – perhaps quite inarticulately – on the transitoriness of the pleasure by imagination of which his desires are from hour to hour excited; as he asks (practically, if without formal expression) what can satisfy the self which abides throughout and survives those desires; the thought of the well-being of a family, with which he identifies himself and of which the continuity is as his own, possesses his mind. (Green, 1883: 245) As for the reason an individual would hold that the welfare of a community is the ideal object for his or her self-perfection, it is that the individual will be immortal and find his or her belonging in the community by dedicating him or herself to its welfare. Doubtless in looking forward to a well-being of his family, he thinks of himself as conscious of it and sharing in it, even though he may expect to be ‘laid in the grave’ before his idea of the family well-being is realised. Every one thus immortalises himself, who looks forward to the realisation of ideal objects, with which on the one hand he identifies himself, and which on the other hand he cannot think of as bounded by his earthly life, – objects in which he thinks of himself as still living when dead. (ibid.: 245–246) Hence, from Green’s perspective we human beings may not be able to achieve the ultimate reconciliation alone but we can somehow achieve the other form of reconciliation by actualising shared ideal objects, the well-beings of ours. Based on these, then, the idea of the ultimate reconciliation as the ultimate good for human beings in Green’s account has an important role for him to complete his argument, that it is the formal definition of the good and the practical guidance for us to testify and evaluate each particular
88 Human Perfection and Moral Community and concrete idea of the good that we conceive as the ideal and act upon it in a community. As he remarked, [t]he working theory of the end, which we derive from the doctrine that the ultimate good for man must be some full development of the human spirit in character and conduct, may be represented by some such question as the following: Does this or that law or usage, this or that course of action – directly or indirectly, positively or as a preventive of the opposite – contribute to the better-being of society, as measured by the more general establishment of conditions favourable to the attainment of the recognised excellences and virtues, by the more general attainment of those excellences in some degree, or by their attainment on the part of some persons in higher degree without detraction from the opportunities of others? In order to put this question we must, no doubt, have a definite notion of the direction in which the ‘Summum Bonum’ is to be sought, but not of what its full attainment would actually be; and this, it will be found, is all that we need or can obtain for our guidance in estimating the value of laws and institutions, actions and usages, by their effects. (Green, 1883: 395) In brief, it is because Green wanted to show that his account of the human condition is not simply an ontological depiction but also a practical moral calling that he holds such idea of self-perfection in his argument. Nonetheless, the other reason Green has such idea in his argument is in regard to his criticism of the hedonistic and utilitarian philosophy. In Chapter 1, we have seen that Green was critical of the subjective inclination in Hume’s sensational and hedonistic account of morality. According to Hume, pleasure and pain are the primary factors for our behaviours. For instance, if a person always has a bad feeling after drinking alcohol, supposedly the person will incline not to have alcohol; also, if a person always feels pleasant after eating some chicken, supposedly the person will incline to have chicken dishes when dining at a restaurant. On the other hand, if a person always feels pleasant after having alcohol and feels pain after having some chicken, the person supposedly will incline to have alcohol but not chicken dishes. That is to say, our feelings of pleasure and pain will lead us to have certain behaviours while those feelings are fundamentally subjective and relative. For Hume, the principle of action as seeking pleasure and avoiding pain is an empirical conclusion which we can reach after careful observations and credible and verifiable causal inferences. However, by criticising the empirical account of the human condition, Green rather believes that pleasure and pain cannot be the actual criterion for us to decide how to act. For the modes of human consciousness will always function and provide some ‘rational’ objectives asking us to realise and achieve. To be sure, the hedonistic and utilitarian
Human Perfection and Moral Community 89 philosophy in Green’s view has a practical function in that it ‘furnishes a test by which the competing claims of the different laws, or those of law on one side and individual conviction on the other, may be put on the test’ (Green, 1883: 362). And it has done a great work ‘in rationalising the order of social and political life’ and propagating the idea of the equal status of each person, from which there are some social reforms proceeding (ibid.: 366). But, regarding individual morality, the philosophy ‘is likely to be abused in order to justify selfish conduct’ (Wempe, 2004: 165). For Green, pleasure is a transient feeling, an emotional appendage coming along with the realisation of a desired and willed object by an individual’s action, and utility (which is an important idea for Bentham and Mill, the successors of Hume’s philosophy from Green’s perspective) is a manipulative notion indicating something which can bring us pleasure would be considered as serviceable and good. And since pleasure is a subjective and relative feeling, the notion of utility and the idea of the good would be taken as excuses for an individual making decisions in favour of his or her private interests. As Green said, ‘[t]he ill-repute which attaches to considerations of expediency, so far as it is well founded, is chiefly due to the fact that, when the question of conduct at issue is one which the person debating it has a private interest in deciding one way or the other – when he himself will gain pleasure or avoid pain by either decision – the admission of expediency as the ground of decision is apt to give him an excuse for deciding in his own favour’ (Green, 1883: 362). The hedonistic and utilitarian philosophy accordingly may encourage people to strive for their private interests and foster social reforms, but ‘it may itself induce practical evils, from which deliverance must be sought in a truer analysis of the ultimate good for man’ (ibid.: 366). Apparently, the conclusion that Green has after his analysis of the ultimate good is as indicated that to achieve the reconciliation of the will and the practical reason in the reality and the reconciliation of the world and ourselves is the ideal, the best state of human beings. So, in terms of the view that Green was trying to proceed a ‘truer’ analysis of the ultimate good for human beings against the hedonistic and utilitarian philosophy, the idea of self-perfection and the ultimate reconciliation is the one that he proposed to replace the principle of seeking pleasure and avoiding pain and to redefine what is good for us. Nonetheless, Green was challenged by Sidgwick. Green and Sidgwick were both educated at Rugby. After they graduated from the school, they continued to correspond with each other from time to time; they also visited Germany together with other friends in 1862 and 1863, and appeared to have been close friends. However, after Green’s introductions for T. H. Grose’s edition of Hume’s A Treatise of Human Nature published, Sidgwick wrote three critical reviews of Green’s comments on empiricism and hedonistic utilitarian philosophy between 1874 and 1875, in which he implied that Green’s comments were
90 Human Perfection and Moral Community confusing rather than illuminating.1 Although Green noted Sidgwick’s disagreement and expressed his sorrow for failing to convince Sidgwick in 1874,2 the dispute between them continued to cause tension in 1877. In the article ‘Hedonism and Ultimate Good’ Sidgwick contests that though pleasure as a feeling is transient, as an idea, it is the good that each individual seeks. For him, there are conditions under which pleasure is conceivable as an idea, and ‘we can perfectly well compare a pleasure felt under any given conditions with any other, however otherwise conditioned, and pronounce it equal or unequal’ (Sidgwick, 1877: 36). Sidgwick thus contends that the utilitarian principle (the greatest amount of pleasure for the greatest number of people) is intelligible and conceivable as a criterion for people to make expedient decisions, and the hedonistic and utilitarian philosophy will not, as Green claims, cause practical evil in the sense that it can easily justify selfish conduct; rather, the philosophy can provide tenable justifications for individuals to take action to protect the interests of the majority by weighing gains and losses of enjoyments. In other words, in terms of Sidgwick’s view, the hedonistic and utilitarian philosophy has provided a practical and justifiable principle for each individual to make rightful decisions and to choose prudently. As indicated, Green does not disagree with such point of view that the hedonistic and utilitarian philosophy may have some practical importance, but he nonetheless argues that there are problems implicit in such philosophy. In the first place, besides the subjective tendency, the hedonistic and utilitarian philosophy embodies certain inconsistencies in Green’s view. For Green, if pleasure as a mere feeling can stimulate a person to act without being represented in the person’s mind as an idea, the person’s action will be merely following his or her animal instinct, no matter whether there is an idea of good as pleasure or utility represented and considered or not. Also, in his reply to Sidgwick’s article, Green indicates that if pleasure is a mere feeling, it cannot be a moral criterion for people ‘to decide’ how to act, for pleasure as feeling is transient and cannot be represented in people’s minds as a substantive idea for them to weigh gains and losses. A ‘chief good’ has no meaning unless it professes to be something of which some being can be conceived in possession, and by approximation to which the state of a moral agent may be estimated. But a chief good, that consists in being pleased as often as possible, is one of which no one can be conceived in possession and to which as a state of consciousness no one is nearer at one time than at another. (Green, 1877: 267–268). And even though one may contend that a person can possess pleasure by being pleased a certain number of times and accumulating a certain
Human Perfection and Moral Community 91 amount of enjoyments, Green holds that this account still does not support the claim that the hedonistic and utilitarian principle can help people to decide how to act rightfully. For what we can accumulate on this point is the count, not the enjoyment, as the pleasant enjoyment is always transient and momentary. Thus to the person who says that the greatest sum of pleasures is the chief good we may offer two alternatives. Either the subject of his proposition is (as a German might say) an Unding [absurdity] or the predicate is inappropriate. If by the ‘sum of pleasures’ he means an accumulation of pleasures for consciousness, the absurdity lies in the subject of the proposition. Though, if there could be such a thing, there might be sense in calling it the chief good, there can be no such thing. If, on the other hand, by the ‘greatest sum of pleasures’ he means the being pleased as often as possible without implication of any coexistence of pleasures, he is giving sense to the subject of his proposition at the expense of what he predicates of it. There is no ground for distinction between the sum of pleasures, thus understood, as the chief good and any particular pleasure as good. The moral criterion has disappeared. (ibid.: 269; italic in original). In short, it might be right as Sidgwick said that pleasure is conceivable, but it is still untenable to claim that the greatest amount of pleasure for the greatest number of people is the ultimate good and that can help people to decide how to act rightfully. Moreover, since pleasure is always coming along with the realisation of a certain desired object, the actual objective asking us to take action for will not be pleasure per se. Like the person who prefers to have chicken, the pleasant feeling is always coming along with ‘having chicken’. The desired object which actually leads the person to mitigate his or her impulse is accordingly the idea of ‘having chicken’, not pleasure. Indeed, one may say that pleasure indicates a motive not an objective so we can still argue that it is the pleasant feeling moving us to decide the objective as having chicken. However, if we thus accept the idea that ‘once we achieve the objective, then we can be pleased’, the presupposition of this idea will nonetheless be inconsistent with the principle of seeking pleasure and avoiding pain. While the validity of the principle is supposedly based on careful observations and credible and verifiable causal inferences and is an empirical law of human behaviour, people who follow the principle to act are considered as determined by a law of human nature rather than their own rational wills. But if we conceive an idea of pleasure as the ultimate good and take action in accordance with it, we are actually following an idea which is constituted by our intellect and practical reason, not the natural inclination automatically. That is to say, if pleasure is not
92 Human Perfection and Moral Community a mere transient feeling but rather an intelligible idea, it will be an object that our self-consciousness conceives and reflects and is accordingly a product of human free agency. In sum, in terms of Green’s view, the reasons he builds up an account of the human condition and argues that the idea of self-perfection and the ultimate reconciliation is the ultimate good for human beings are, first, to prove his theory is practicable and, second, to replace the hedonistic utilitarian principle of action. Nonetheless, although Green thinks that his account of the human condition and the ultimate good of human beings is tenable and can thus replace, or at least stand up against, the hedonistic and utilitarian philosophy, there are some contestable issues lurking in his account. For example, if a desired and willed object is conceived and determined by a person, will that be another form of subjectivism in regard to moral issues? Indeed, the idea of self-perfection and the ultimate reconciliation may indicate a universal ideal for each individual to pursue after, but since the idea is the formal definition of the good, the substantial issues like by which action or behaviour an individual can achieve the ideal, or by realising which object that an individual can reconcile will with practical reason, are still indeterminate. And this means that each individual person may have different or conflicting ideas about how to achieve their ultimate good. Moreover, Green once said, ‘under any conditions possible, so far as can be seen, for human society, one man who was the best that his position allowed, would be very different from another who was the best that his position allowed’ (Green, 1883: 201–202) (italic in original). The one that is the best for a person accordingly may not be the same for the other persons. So, based on these, there seems to be some sort of moral subjectivism or relativism implicit in Green’s account, and if that were the case, Green’s intention to build a different view of the human condition to counteract the empirical and hedonistic philosophy would fail, then.
Objectivism and Subjectivism in the Moral Sphere Generally speaking, there are at least two types of subjectivism and objectivism, respectively. For the first type of subjectivism, it is cognitive and epistemic as that each individual person is from his or her own subjective position ‘to understand’ the world and the surrounding others and the understanding of circumstances will be finite. For the second type of subjectivism, it is evaluative and judgemental as that each individual person is from his or her subjective position ‘to judge the values’ of the surrounding things. On the other hand, for the first type of objectivism, it is about something universal and independent of any subjective perception or judgement, and for the second type of objectivism, it is, however, about something existing on the basis of inter-subjective agreement and mutual judgement and is accordingly composed of subjective positions
Human Perfection and Moral Community 93 and views. Based on these rough definitions of different types of subjectivism and objectivism, we can see that the standards for making such differentiations are, first, whether a person makes value judgement when facing the world and the surrounding others or not, and second, whether a thing is independent from subjective perceptions or judgements or not. And for us to discuss and clarify some issues of Green’s account of the human condition and the ultimate good, these standards and differentiations are helpful. By and large, there are about three issues involving in Green’s account that have been contested and discussed by commentators: the issue about moral subjectivism and objectivism, the formality and emptiness of the ideal of human perfection, and the relationship between pleasure and virtue in the moral sphere.3 Regarding the first issue, although Green’s account seems to imply a sort of moral subjectivism, Isaiah Berlin, one of the most well-known liberals in the twentieth century, warned that Green’s account may help to justify political oppression. In his famous lecture ‘Two Concepts of Liberty’ (1958), Berlin asserts that Green’s liberal ideal indicates a philosophy of objective reason which espouses the holistic and monistic view of the world and has an intellectual affinity with totalitarianism. For Berlin, the philosophy of objective reason generally maintains the Platonic ideal that, first, ‘all genuine questions must have one true answer and one only, all the rest being necessarily errors’; second, ‘there must be a dependable path towards the discovery of these truths’; and third, ‘the true answers, when found, must necessarily be compatible with one another and form a single whole, for one truth cannot be incompatible with another’ (Berlin, 2013: 6). Philosophers who have faith in that ideal will then believe that there is a universal truth of the world that human reason can acquire, and by reaching that universal and rational knowledge, we can then achieve happiness by following its instructions (Berlin, 2002: 178–200). Berlin himself was against this philosophy of objective reason as he held that there is no one and only answer that can explain all the questions in the world; rather, there are plural and multiple approaches to justify incompatible answers validly. In a word, Berlin was critical of the sort of moral universalism claiming that there is the true and universal answer or principle that can give instructions for human beings to achieve the ideal happiness. Thus, from Berlin’s perspective, Green not only shares the holistic and monistic philosophical ideal but also has the same faith as that he believed there is the true self as the universal ideal for each human person to pursue. As indicated in Chapter 1 that Green once remarked that ‘the ideal of true freedom is the maximum of power for all members of human society alike to make the best of themselves’ (Green, 1906: 372). And when he claimed that a person will possess an idea of his or her true self along with the function of rational will and strive to realise the idea as the ultimate good in his account of the human condition, Berlin’s criticism seems to have some
94 Human Perfection and Moral Community solid evidences. That Green’s idea of the true self ‘entails that if a man chose some immediate pleasure – which… would not enable him to make the best of himself… – what he was exercising was not “true” freedom: and if deprived of it, he would not lose anything that mattered’ (Berlin, 2002: 180, n. 1). So it can easily be the excuse by which a tyrant might justify his or her oppression and coercion in the name of ‘the universal rational truth’. By using coercive power to constrain knowledge and define the idea of the true self exclusively, there is no more liberty to pursue different ways of life. In terms of the consistency of Berlin’s criticism, it is convincing to a certain degree. However, to say that Green’s idea of the true self can be used for justifying political oppression is still going too far. In particular, Green has stated clearly that the idea of the true self can help to justify our refusal ‘to ascribe the glory of freedom to a state in which the apparent elevation of the few is founded on the degradation of the many’ (Green, 1906: 372).4 For Green, since everyone has the capabilities to conceive his or her own ideas of the true self and the true good and strives to realise them, it will be unfair if only a few people can have rights and be protected by laws when trying to realise their true selves. That is to say, Green’s idea of the true self entails a logic of equality and is against unequal political oppression. Also, as indicated that Green’s account of the human condition has a sort of subjectivism rather than objectivism, so it is possible for one to have a totally different interpretation of Green’s argument from Berlin’s. Indeed, there are interpretations that seem to be able to balance Berlin’s criticism of Green. To defend Green’s liberal position, Colin Tyler has made some important points. First, as we mentioned in Chapter 1, Tyler insists that Green’s thought maintains the distinction of internal conscience and external regulation and takes the individual’s approval as the source of the legitimacy of every regulation. For Tyler, Green’s thought suggests that ‘each individual has to judge for herself whether any particular socially-validated meaning, value, practice or institution truly is “objectively” authoritative’ (Tyler, 2012: 38). Accordingly, since the legitimacy of regulations is dependent on one’s approval and judgement ultimately, it seems that regulations as some sorts of objective laws are on the basis of the subjective rational wills. That is to say, while each individual may have his or her own ideas of the true self and the true good, there is no one who can impose some sort of the one and only idea upon others by laws or regulations without these other persons’ approvals. So, in Tyler’s view, Green’s thought would not be the kind of philosophy of objective reason which worries Berlin. Adding to this point, Tyler argues that though Green indicates that individuals can only realise their own ideals in a community with contributions to the community’s common well-beings, he is not suggesting a collectivist argument according to which the community can compel the individuals to do anything against their wills. For Tyler, when we
Human Perfection and Moral Community 95 read Green’s discussion on this point, we should regard the idea of the common well-being or the common good ‘as a heuristic fiction used by the critical citizen, an ideal projected in the hope of helping to create a better society and a better character for the individual’ (ibid.: 71). In other words, in terms of Tyler’s view, the individual depicted by Green ‘is truly free only to the extent that she wills subjectively a definite end which is valuable objectively, and pursues that end in practice because she believes it to be objectively valuable’ (ibid.: 79–80). So, these points of view made by Tyler are part of argument he develops to respond to the sort of criticism launched by Berlin, and he takes the interpretation provided as ‘Green’s perspectivalism’ (Tyler, 2012: 14–20, 38–40). Based on these, it appears that Tyler’s argument and interpretation are a kind of combination of the second types of subjectivism and objectivism. However, if we look closer, we will see that since Tyler holds that any objective regulation can only be legitimate to constrain an individual by the individual’s approval and judgement, the ultimate root for a regulation’s legitimacy is subjective, not inter-subjective. For a regulation once has its legitimacy based on the inter-subjective agreement of individuals, the regulation comes to be ‘objective’; but if one’s subjective rational will is primary than the inter-subjective agreement, the situation in which one overthrows his or her previous judgement and retreats his or her approval will happen. To be sure, Tyler’s argument to some extent can avoid such subjective token. As pointed out in the previous chapter, Tyler argues that Green’s metaphysical argument entails a discourse of spiritual determinism according to which humans are striving for a ‘coherent’ life. To Tyler, then, this coherence of life is not only an epistemic criterion to testify the truth and falsity of knowledge but also an evaluative criterion to assess the good and bad of moral ideas or social norms. As he said, ‘[f]or Green, the fully self-realised agent would recognise herself as desiring a collection of objects which are interrelated in such a way that she conceives each particular desire to be part of a totally coherent system of desires and motives which express her highest human capacities’ (ibid.: 118). Thus, according to Tyler’s interpretation, coherence in Green’s mind is the guiding criterion for both knowledge and morality; and since coherence is a universal guiding criterion for individuals to judge what is good and what is bad, it seems to be an ‘objective’ standard independent of subjective rational wills (the first type of objectivism). In other words, by considering about his spiritual deterministic reading of Green’s metaphysics, Tyler’s argument in response to Berlin’s criticism seems to be justified without lapsing into extreme subjectivism or objectivism. Indeed, Tyler’s argument is well-organised overall but it is not fully successful as a response to Berlin’s criticism after all. First and foremost, the view that coherence is the guiding criterion for individuals to judge good and bad and individuals will give their consents to a regulation on
96 Human Perfection and Moral Community the basis of those judgements actually cannot avoid Berlin’s criticism but rather enhances it. For coherence is nonetheless an a priori rational presupposition for human cognitive activity to be possible from Green’s perspective. As discussed in the previous chapter, the idea of coherence is a criterion for human beings to discern the truth and falsity of knowledge; to be specific, it entails an idea of a single and unalterable order of things by reference to which we should find the reasonable and logical relations between all the intelligible objects. Of course, in Green’s view, to possess an idea of the ultimate good involves with the function of practical reason and practical reason has similar feature with theoretical reason, but this does not mean that we can also regard coherence as the guiding criterion for individuals to judge what is good or bad; rather, considering about the function of will, the identification of one’s self with a particular desired object, the distinction between good and bad in Green’s mind is not relied upon coherence. As we have seen that by Green’s account the true good for human beings is the reconciliation of will and practical reason, so coherence will not be the only criterion for humans to judge good from bad; the act of self-identification will also be part of that judgement. As Green argues, ‘that in every moral action, good or bad, each capacity is exerted as much as the other; and that every step forward in the self- realisation of the divine principle in man involves a determination of will no less than of reason, not merely a conception of a possible good for man, but the adoption by some man or men of that good as his or theirs’ (Green, 1883: 188). Accordingly, the reasons I say Tyler’s argument is not fully successful can be summarised as follows: first, if coherence primarily is an a priori rational presupposition for human cognitive activity to be possible in terms of Green’s view, to claim that coherence is the guiding criterion for both knowledge and morality may enhance the impression that Green was advocating the Platonic ideal, according to which all the ideas and values can be compatibly explained and organised under the one and only system of truth ultimately; second, considering about Green’s own account of the true good, coherence and self-identification are both involved in the process for one to make value judgement. However, if from Green’s perspective coherence and self-identification are both involved in the process of value judgement, it is still a puzzle whether his account can avoid the label of subjectivism or not. For coherence might be a universal and objective criterion but self-identification is undoubtedly a subjective activity. Then, if a value judgement is categorically depended on an individual’s own rational will, it will be subjective and egoist. And, as Dimova-Cookson argues, one’s idea of his true good is impossible to be the same with the true good for others. The unique position of the self in Green’s philosophy then seems to limit one’s capability of conceiving the true good on behalf of other people, too (Dimova-Cookson, 2001: 92–97; cf. Skorupski, 2006).
Human Perfection and Moral Community 97 On this occasion where an individual can only judge and decide what is good and what is bad all by his or her own rational will, Green’s idea of self-perfection and the ultimate reconciliation seems to be too abstract for individuals to distinguish which value judgement is granted to be better. To be sure, the subjective issue is problematic only if it happens among a group of individuals who have different ideas and values. If there is only one person, although he or she may have different ideas and values from time to time, the person will nonetheless set his or her mind to pursue realisation of one particular desired object by the operation of will; but if there are two or more people, they may have two or more different ideals for self-perfection at the same time, and these differences between them will thus become a problem when they have to decide by which priorities of values they can distribute shared resources fairly. In other words, it is because we need a normative standard to judge which value among values is better and compel us to obey the result of the judgement for distributing resources that the subjective issue will be problematic. And Green’s view that the ultimate good is one’s self-perfection and the ultimate reconciliation of him or herself with the world appears to be too formal and abstract on this point and is unable to help people to prioritise values and goods. Thence, Sidgwick’s comment on Green’s moral ideal seems to be correct. In Sidgwick’s view, after Green refuted the thought considering pleasure and utility as the standards for people to make value judgement, he did not successfully provide an alternative standard to replace pleasure and utility. For individuals can nonetheless have completely different notions about their true selves and true goods and take different or even conflicting approaches to realise them under the guidance of the idea of self-p erfection and the ultimate reconciliation. Accordingly, Sidgwick asserts that Green’s moral ideal ‘fails altogether to give any particular guidance’ (Sidgwick, 1902: 76). Moreover, Sidgwick contests Green’s claim that individuals can achieve their true goods by contributing to the well-being of a community. He said, [i]t is more important to point out that it is not clear how, either by sympathy or by a self-distinguishing consciousness, my own good is identified with that of others. It is difficult to see why the operation of self-distinguishing consciousness is to obliterate the difference – so far as natural desire goes – between Own good and Others’ good. It would rather seem to emphasise and intensify it, since a self-distinguishing consciousness must distinguish itself from other selves. (ibid.: 78) That is to say, since Green argues that a person is aware of his or her free agency when consciousness leads him or her to distinguish him or herself
98 Human Perfection and Moral Community as the subject from other objects, there then needs to be other faculty or reason to explain why the person would come to care about the others rather than him or herself alone. To be sure, the reason Sidgwick demands has already been indicated in our earlier discussions, that according to Green, the modes of human consciousness direct at an ideal state of the subject, in which the subject can feel at home by reconciling with all the surrounding others. So, in terms of this view, the reason individuals would come to care about others is that it is simply human nature. As Green argues, [h]owever dependent therefore the social interest, as we know it, may be upon feelings of animal origin, such as sexual feelings, or feelings of want in the offspring which only the parent can supply, it is not a product of those feelings, not evolved from them. In order to issue in it they must have taken a new character, as feelings of one who can and does present himself a good of himself as an end in distinction from any particular pleasure, and a like good of another or others as included in that end. To ignore the distinctive character which our sympathies thus derive, and must have derived in any being to whom we can reasonably affiliate ourselves, from the action of a self-objectifying consciousness, is as misleading an abstraction from the reality of human nature as it would be, on the other hand, to separate that consciousness from those sympathies and interests, without which the formal idea in a man of a possible better state of himself would have no actual filling. (Green, 1883: 211–212; italics added) To care about others is accordingly derived from a natural affection of human beings, although it still needs consciousness to reflect on the natural affection and transform it into a desire which will coordinate with intellect and move people to conceive an idea of good common for all. Also, according to the quote, Green is well aware of the formal and abstract feature of the moral ideal he proposed, and the way he avoids the situation that the ideal is too formal to provide any practical guidance is to indicate the intellectual connection between the ideal and the substantial social interests and moral ideas embodied in a community. As indicated earlier the idea of self-perfection and the ultimate reconciliation in Green’s view is the formal definition of the good and the practical guidance for us to testify and evaluate particular ideas of the good that we conceive as the ideals and act upon them in a community. So, precisely speaking, the practical role of Green’s moral ideal is to help us to reflect whether the current moral ideas and social interests can constantly lead us to achieve our perfect ideals or not. In brief, Green was intending not to give any substantive definition of the moral ideal for he held, as we talked about in the previous chapter, that the role of moral philosopher
Human Perfection and Moral Community 99 is ‘to disentangle the operative ideas from their necessarily imperfect expression, and to explain that the validity of the ideas themselves’. Thus, Green’s account of the moral ideal may be formal and abstract, but it is made as that on purpose in order not to narrow our moral horizon. Nevertheless, this does not mean that Green had completely rejected the role of pleasure in moral issues; rather, he duly acknowledged the moral function of pleasure as a means for individuals to recognise the significance of a moral community for them to realise themselves.
Freedom, the Common Good and Social Duty Speaking of Green’s view on pleasure, Dimova-Cookson is quite critical. For her, since Green was against the notion deeming pleasure as the primary good for individuals and concerned with the subjective and egoist inclination of that notion, he seemed to go too far to take the idea of social well-being as the only possible source for individuals to judge good from bad and ignored the importance of the ordinary goods such as having shelter, eating food, or having clean water. In a word, in Dimova- Cookson’s view, Green is eager to deny the importance of pleasure in moral issues so that he ‘effectively disqualifies the ordinary good from being good at all’ (Dimova-Cookson, 2001: 97). In addition, Dimova- Cookson argues that one’s idea of the common good can only be subjective and personal for people always perceive and conceive things from their own subjective positions (the first type of subjectivism). Accordingly, she claims that an individual’s idea of the common good in reality is always subjective and personal and cannot be the true good equally for all the other individuals. To be clear, if an individual can only perceive and conceive things from his or her own point of view, the individual may have sympathy with others indeed but his or her idea of the common good will nonetheless be constituted and proposed from his or her subjective view. Therefore, for Dimova-Cookson, while Green refuted the hedonistic and utilitarian principle of moral action, he had not successfully provided an alternative practical guidance. However, although Green was critical of the hedonistic and utilitarian philosophy, he has not completely refuted the role of pleasure in moral issues and also has not considered the common good as primary for individuals to realise their ideals in a community simply in the way as Dimova-Cookson portrayed. First, it is undoubted that Green was against the thought of considering pleasure and utility as the ultimate good; however, it will be wrong to think that he totally ignored the role of pleasure in moral issues. For instance, in ‘Lectures on the Principles of Political Obligations’ Green said that ‘a man’s desire for pleasure to himself and aversion from pain to himself … may constitute a capacity for rights’, for ‘the fear of punishment may be needed to neutralise anti-social impulses under circumstances of special temptation’ and the
100 Human Perfection and Moral Community regulation of egoistic hopes and fears may bring out ‘an understanding that there is such a thing as a common good’ (Green, 1886b: 514). Also, Green has underscored the meaning of pleasure in moral issues as it is when individuals give up the idea of thinking the pleasant enjoyment as the only objective of life that they can come to pursue some higher spiritual worth of living. For Green, moral philosophers may give no place to the virtue in which devotion to some form of true good leads to a renunciation of pleasures, yet ‘it is just such pleasures as these of which the renunciation is involved in that self-denial which in our impartial and unsophisticated judgement we most admire – that which in our consciences we set before ourselves as the highest ideal’ (Green, 1883: 290). Accordingly, the role of pleasure in moral issues from Green’s perspective is at least two: first, to deprive of pleasure and inflict pain can help individuals to constrain their subjective and egoist disposition, and this will also give individuals possibilities to learn the common goods and rights maintained by punishment; second, since individuals can realise their ideals of self-perfection in a community by devoting themselves to the well-being of the community and this devotion requires them to sacrifice some of their personal pleasures, the sacrifice of personal pleasures is a proof that individuals have made up their minds to pursue the virtuous life and their self-perfection, then. Based on these, it appears that Green has not rejected the role of pleasure in moral issues completely. Nonetheless, Green notes that ‘[t]he conviction of a community of good for all men can never be really harmonised with our notions of what is good, so long as anything else than self-devotion to an ideal of mutual service is the end by reference to which those notions are formed’ (Green, 1883: 262). It then seems that in Green’s view it is only when individuals can devote themselves to a community completely that they share the social well-beings perfectly and impartially. If that is so, Green has underestimated the meaning of personal good just as Dimova-Cookson claimed, and there seems to be no personal room for individuals to do what they like freely except devotion to the community and the common goods.5 Nevertheless, as we mentioned earlier, Green has not ignored an individual’s needs for shelter, food, or clean water and the reason he underscored the meaning of the common good for the individual is that he believes that the ultimate worth of the individual’s existence can only be found in a communal life. As he indicated that ‘[o]ur ultimate standard of worth is an ideal of personal worth’ (ibid.: 193) (italic in original), the common good as a good for each individual person is actually a personal good, too. To be clear, the distinction between a common good and a personal good is not exclusive, but is rather about two different attributes of a good. For instance, if a person is alone, to have food may be just a personal good, but if the person is with his or her family, friends, and colleagues, to have food may be a common good for them all. Hence, to exclusively separate
Human Perfection and Moral Community 101 Green’s idea of the common good from a personal ordinary good is bold, and it might go ‘against Green himself by introducing a duality to his view of the individual which he denies’ (Simhony, 2005: 135). And then, since a common good is also a personal good from each individual’s point of view, it will not limit individual freedoms by virtue of simply being common for all. Yet, for Green, individual freedom is premised on a communal life. As he said, [w]e shall probably all agree that freedom, rightly understood, is the greatest of blessings; that its attainment is the true end of all our effort as citizens. Wo do not mean merely freedom from restraint or compulsion. We do not mean merely freedom to do as we like irrespectively of what it is that we like. We do not mean a freedom that can be enjoyed by one man or one set of men at the cost of a loss of freedom to others. When we speak of freedom as something to be so highly prized, we mean a positive power or capacity of doing or enjoying something worth doing or enjoying, and that, too, something that we do or enjoy in common with others. We mean by it a power which each man exercises through the help or security given him by his fellow-men, and which he in turn helps to secure for them. (Green, 1906: 370–371) So individual freedom is, on the one side, a power for a person to achieve something and, on the other side, a state of a person which is protected and secured by a community.6 In either way, individual freedom can only be an issue which requires to be valued in a communal life, just as the subjective and egoist issue is problematic among a group of individuals. When we live alone without any interaction with other people, the only limitation of our actions is the finiteness of our bodies and minds; however, when we live with other people, the hindrances of our actions will not only be our finite human nature but also include mutual interference of each other whether intentionally or not. Therefore, it is because we live in a community and will have issues with each other that we have to consider and claim the value of individual freedom. Furthermore, there are other reasons why we cannot isolate the individual from his or her community from Green’s perspective. First, as indicated, Green thinks that an individual person can only practically achieve his or her perfection in a community. While the ultimate good for each human being is to reconcile with the world and to achieve the reconciliation of the will and the practical reason, this ideal is rather unachievable in the sense that once we achieve it our capabilities will be at rest and what make us distinctively as humans will be gone, which means that we will cease to be human by then. To devote one’s self to a community and achieve the reconciliation of the will and the practical reason
102 Human Perfection and Moral Community along with the devotion is thus to be the practical way for an individual human being to achieve self-perfection in reality. Second, in terms of the constitution of an individual self, it also involves with a communal life in Green’s view. The difficulty of saying what this all-uniting, self-seeking, self- realising subject is – the ‘mystery’ that belongs to it – arises from its being the only thing, or a form of the only thing, that is real (so to speak) in its own right; the only thing of which the reality is not relative and derived. For this reason it can neither be defined by contract with any co-ordinate reality, as the several forms of inner experience which it determines may be defined by contrast with each other; nor as a modification or determination of anything else. We can only know it by a reflection on it which is its own action; by analysis of the expression it has given to itself in language, literature, and the institutions of human life; and by consideration of what that must be which has thus expressed itself. (Green, 1883: 104) Accordingly, since an individual can only have the conception of self by reflection on the expression he or she made through language, literature, and other social and cultural institutions and these means of expression are basically social and cultural products of a group of people, the constitution and the conception of the individual self must be in and through a communal life. In addition, although we may conceive Green’s idea of internal conscience as an individual’s faculty by which the individual can make value judgement like Tyler does, Green nonetheless states clearly that conscience is what we learn from the social and cultural institutions of a community unwittingly. The several dicta of conscience have had their history. Passing beyond the stage of mere conformity to custom, of mere obedience to persons and powers that be – a conformity and obedience which themselves arise out of an operative, though inarticulate, idea of common good – men have formed more or less general notions of the customs and powers, as entitled to their conformity and obedience. Certain formulae, expressing the nature of the authorities to which obedience is due, and their most familiar requirements, have become part of ‘the a priori furniture’ of men’s minds, in the sense that they are accepted as valid independently of those lessons of experience which men are conscious of acquiring for themselves. Such are what are commonly called the ‘dicta of conscience’. (Green, 1883: 352–353)
Human Perfection and Moral Community 103 This is to say that not only is the constitution of an individual self in a communal life, the internal conscience, the primary source for an individual to make value judgement, is also formed in a communal life. Hence, based on these points, it appears that for Green individual freedom is premised on a communal life indeed, but even so, the individual has not been constrained by the community and its common values in his view. As we pointed out in Chapter 2, Green holds that there are some given dispositions enabling one’s action and these dispositions represented in social and cultural institutions (like language or social norm) are a priori necessary for organisation of society. A communal life is accordingly the necessary condition for an individual to act, to express, and realise him or herself. Also, while an individual allegedly can only achieve his or her ideal by devoting to the common good, the common good is not something self-extent and independent of the individual; rather, by Green’s account, an idea of the common good has to be recognised by all individual members of the community so that it can truly be the objective to which they should devote themselves. As he said, [i]t has become a common-place among us that the moral susceptibilities which we find in ourselves, would not exist but for the action of law and authoritative custom on many generations of our ancestors. The common-place is doubtless perfectly true. It is only misleading when we overlook the rational capacities implied in the origin and maintenance of such law and custom. The most elementary moralisation of the individual must always have arisen from his finding himself in the presence of a requirement, enforced against his inclinations to pleasure, but in an interest which he can recognise as being his own, no less than the interest of those by whom the requirement is enforced. The recognition of such an interest by the individual is an outcome of the same reason as that which has led to the maintenance of the requirement by the society he belongs to. All further development of morality – all articulation of duties, all education of conscience in response to them – presupposes this primary recognition. (Green, 1883: 217) The goods which have been maintained and promoted in social institutions and norms are thus needed to be recognised by individuals through their rational capabilities as common for all. It is when a common good has been reflected and recognised by individuals that it can rightfully be the objective demanding the devotion of the individuals. In other words, while the idea of the common good and a communal life are at core of Green’s account of the individual self and individual freedom, the account is not an advocacy for collectivism essentially.
104 Human Perfection and Moral Community In sum, Green’s metaphysics of moral action may represent a sort of subjective feature, but this does not mean that his account of the self and the good is a moral subjectivism. Also, although the moral ideal Green argued, the idea of self-perfection and the ultimate reconciliation, is formal and abstract and cannot provide substantial injunctions for us to follow and he instead suggested the idea of the common good as the practical guidance for people’s actions and judgements, this does not mean that his account of the relationship between the individual self and the community is a vindication of collective oppression or totalitarianism as Berlin said. Rather, these subjective, collective, and totalitarian interpretations are all in opposition to Green’s basic point of view on the relationship between the individual and the community; namely that the individual and the community are mutually dependent. In terms of Green’s view, first, the subject and the object, the individual and its circumstances, are interdependent and correlative in consciousness; second, the individual self is constituted in a communal life; third, as the earlier quote shows, the maintenance of a community will require its members to recognise and then to devote themselves to the common goods represented in its laws, customs, and institutions. So, accordingly, it should be clear that it is against Green’s thought if we separate the individual and the community exclusively and deem them as mutually independent. As to the difference between Green’s account of the human condition and Hegel’s, it can be summarised by following points, thus. First of all, as we indicated earlier that though several commentators propose deterministic readings of Green’s thought, such as Wempe contesting that Green’s ideas of the eternal consciousness and the single and unalterable order of things indicate an enclosed theory of knowledge and what we can know are predestined and all we should do is to discover that predetermined order of things, we can still find evidence in Green’s writings that his account of the human condition rather suggests a free, open, and progressive view on knowledge and human action. Second, as the idea of the eternal consciousness in Green’s mind signifies the a priori principle rendering human knowledge and human action possible, he is thus unlike Hegel suggesting that the subject and the object are just different phases of an immanent rational spirit. To be sure, the eternal consciousness as the logical presupposition of knowledge and action is the ground for us to differentiate the subject and the object by Green’s account but he has not prescribed the subject and the object as two phases of the eternal consciousness; rather, the distinction between the subject and the object is virtual while the subject can constantly change its relation to the object by its own rational wills. Following that, third, although Green indicates that the subject and the object can reconcile with each other when the distinctive human consciousness finds rest, this ultimate reconciliation nonetheless means that we will not be humans anymore as the distinctive feature for us qua human beings is no longer there. In a word, to Green,
Human Perfection and Moral Community 105 the task of us qua human beings, the pursuit of the ultimate reconciliation, the search for the moment at which we can finally feel at home in the world, is never-ending. Thus far, it should be clear that Green did provide an ontological and ethical account of the human condition in his metaphysics, but his account is heuristic meaning that he has not made any substantive directive of what we should do and what we will do. So, based on these, the distinct feature of Green’s account of the human condition from Hegel’s, despite there are indeed plenty of interpretations of their thoughts, is that the former is less exclusive than the latter. And then, as we will see in the next chapter, Green has further developed a thesis of ethical politics on the basis of his account of the human condition in response to the European modernity.
Notes 1 In his 1874 review, Sidgwick remarked that ‘Mr. Green states very clearly at the outset his reasons for adopting this treatment of the subject. The point of view from which he writes is that of Kant’s “new method of philosophy as elaborated by Hegel,” which, as he afterwards says, reduces “psychology to metaphysics.” He is, therefore, altogether hostile, not only Hume, but to the manner of philosophising generally prevalent in England; which, (with whatever differences in specific doctrines), has always shown the contrary tendency to reduce metaphysics to psychology’ (Sidgwick, 1874: 2–3). However, in Sidgwick’s view, Green’s points of view are not well-made in his introductions, for ‘he is so much more anxious to exhibit the conclusions at which they ought logically to have arrived, that these latter are likely to get confused in the reader’s mind with the real tenets of the philosophers’ (ibid.: 3). In his another two reviews of Green’s introductions published in 1875, Sidgwick continued to criticise Green’s objective, philosophical method, and arguments. In fact, Sidgwick seemed to take Green’s thought so serious that he not only wrote another review in 1877 to criticise Green but also kept writing and lecturing materials on Green’s arguments until his death in 1900, some of which were collected in his two posthumous books –Lectures on the Ethics of T. H. Green, Mr. Herbert Spencer, and J. Martineau (1902) and Lectures on the Philosophy of Kant and Other Philosophical Lectures and Essays (1905). Also, Sidgwick’s last philosophical lecture delivered on 21 May 1900 was entitled as ‘the philosophy of T. H. Green’. 2 Before Sidgwick’s first review of Green’s introductions published on 30 May 1874, Green had noted about Sidgwick’s disproval and criticism. In his letter to Sidgwick dated on 27 May, Green said that ‘I am sorry not to have convinced you about Locke, for if I don’t convince you, I shall convince few worth convincing…’ (Green, 1997: 458). 3 To some extent, these issues of Green’s arguments correspond to four difficulties he identified in Kant’s moral philosophy (Green, 1886b: 154–155). In my point of view, these issues may be persistent among modern moral philosophy as long as we demand individual freedom and independent moral authority at the same time. Nonetheless, as we shall see, Green’s thought may still depict a way for us to relieve the tension between individual freedom and moral authority in his discourse of the common good. 4 The full text is in Green’s 1881 lecture on ‘Liberal Legislation and Freedom of Contract’ as follows: ‘But we rightly refuse to recognise the highest
106 Human Perfection and Moral Community development on the part of an exceptional individual or exceptional class, as an advance towards the true freedom of man, if it is founded on a refusal of the same opportunity to other men. The powers of the human mind have probably never attained such force and keenness, the proof of what society can do for the individual has never been so strikingly exhibited, as among the small groups of men who possessed civil privileges in the small republics of antiquity. The whole framework of our political ideas, to say nothing of our philosophy, is derived from them. But in them this extraordinary efflorescence of the privileged class was accompanied by the slavery of the multitude. That slavery was the condition on which it depended, and for that reason it was doomed to decay. There is no clearer ordinance of the course of man’s affairs, than that no body of men should in the long run be able to strengthen itself at the cost of others’ weakness. The civilisation and freedom of the ancient world were short-lived because they were partial and exceptional. If the ideal of true freedom is the maximum of power for all members of human society alike to make the best of themselves, we are right in refusing to ascribe the glory of freedom to a state in which the apparent elevation of the few is founded on the degradation of the many, and in ranking modern society, founded as it is on free industry, with all its confusion and ignorant licence and waste of effort, above the most splendid of ancient republics’ (Green, 1906: 371–372). 5 As mentioned in Chapter 1, Green’s idea of the common good has incurred criticisms from several liberal scholars. Nevertheless, the common good in Green’s view is an idea conceived by individuals jointly, and for the idea of the common good to be a moral norm demanding individuals to follow and obey, the idea has to be recognized by all the individuals as virtually common for them all first. So, by virtue of this condition, Green’s idea of the common good is not as critics think, that it is a collective norm independent of individuals and their wills. For more details about Green’s view of the common good and individual freedom, see my following discussion in this chapter. As to the relationship between rights and the common good in Green’s thought, I will discuss in the next chapter. 6 Apparently, the distinction here involves different understandings of freedom. For the idea that freedom is about a power for a person to achieve something, this is more like a positive conception of freedom; and for the idea that freedom is a state of a person which is protected and secured by a community, this is more like a negative conception of freedom. Regarding this issue, Dimova-Cookson has made an insightful analysis of the different meanings of freedom in Green’s writings (see Dimova-Cookson, 2012).
References Berlin, I. (2002). ‘Two Concepts of Liberty’, in H. Hardy (ed.), Liberty. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, pp. 166–217. Berlin, I. (2013). The Crooked Timber of Humanity. H. Hardy (ed.). Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Dimova-Cookson, M. (2001). T. H. Green’s Moral and Political Philosophy: A Phenomenological Perspective. Houndmills: Palgrave. Dimova-Cookson, M. (2012). ‘Liberty as Welfare: The Basecamp Counterpart of Positive Freedom’, Collingwood and British Idealism Studies 18(2): 133–165. Green, T. H. (1877). ‘Hedonism and Ultimate Good’, Mind 2(6): 266–269. Green, T. H. (1883). Prolegomena to Ethics. A. C. Bradley (ed.). Oxford: Clarendon.
Human Perfection and Moral Community 107 Green, T. H. (1886b). Works of Thomas Hill Green, Volume II. R. L. Nettleship (ed.). London: Longmans, Green, and Co. Green, T. H. (1906). Works of Thomas Hill Green, Volume III. R. L. Nettleship (ed.). London: Longmans, Green, and Co. Green, T. H. (1997). Collected Works of Thomas Hill Green, Volume V: Additional Writings. P. Nicholson (ed.). Bristol: Thoemmes Press. Sidgwick, H. (1874), ‘Review of Green and Grose’s edition of Hume’s Treatise’, Academy, 30 May. Sidgwick, H. (1877). ‘Hedonism and Ultimate Good’, Mind 2(5): 27–38. Sidgwick, H. (1902). Lectures on the Ethics of T. H. Green, Mr. Herbert Spencer, and J. Martineau. London: Macmillan. Simhony, A. (2005). ‘A Liberalism of the Common Good: Some Recent Studies of T. H. Green’s Moral and Political Theory’, The British Journal of Politics & International Relations 7(1): 126–144. Skorupski, J. (2006), ‘Green and the Idealist Conception of a Person’s Good’, in M. Dimova-Cookson and W. J. Mander (eds.), T. H. Green: Ethics, Metaphysics and Political Philosophy. Oxford: Clarendon, pp. 47–75. Thomas, G. (1987). The Moral Philosophy of T. H. Green. Oxford: Clarendon. Tyler, C. (2012). Civil Society, Capitalism and the State: Part 2 of the Liberal Socialism of Thomas Hill Green. Exeter: Imprint Academic. Wempe, B. (2004). T. H. Green’s Theory of Positive Freedom: From Metaphysics to Political Theory. Exeter: Imprint Academic.
4 Ethical Politics and Sovereign Power
It is obvious from this that the principle of happiness (which is not in fact a definite principle at all) has ill effects in political right just as in morality, however good the intentions of those who teach it. The sovereign wants to make the people happy as he thinks best, and thus becomes a despot, while the people are unwilling to give up their universal human desire to seek happiness in their own way, and thus become rebels. (Immanuel Kant, On the Common Saying: ‘This May be True in Theory, but it does not Apply in Practice’). The preceding two chapters have discussed two parts of Green’s systematic practical philosophy, and they are logically correlative with each other. In Chapter 2, we see that Green elaborated a metaphysics of knowledge and built up the first pillar of his practical philosophy; in Chapter 3, we see that Green developed a metaphysics of moral action based on his metaphysical arguments of knowledge and consciousness, and that constitutes the second pillar of his practical philosophy. Founded on these, Green thus established an alternative view of the human condition against the view portrayed by the Enlightenment philosophy that each individual person as an atom is independent from all the other surrounding things and people. To Green, an individual person can only constitute his or her self-image and actualise it in and through a communal life by learning ordinary social norms, shared languages, the habitual interactions between people, and so on. So, in terms of this view of the existential state of an individual person, one’s living condition is related to others’ and the moral implication of this will be that each individual person should not only focus on his or her own benefits but needs to think of the others when pursuing self-perfection. Accordingly, the malign consequences of modernity happened in nineteenth-century Britain should then be changed in Green’s view by people’s mutual helps and cares. However, the mutual aids and the practice of philanthropy will not be effective enough to remedy the modern malignancy. For although there are multiple reasons for Green to argue theoretically that an individual
Ethical Politics and Sovereign Power 109 person should think of others and devote him or herself to the welfare of a community, in practice people can still choose not to care. Green was not that naïve to ignore this common reality; rather, he claims that: the most refined impulses may be selfishly indulged; i.e. their gratification may be made an object in place of that object which consists in the realisation of the idea of perfection. But unless a discipline and refinement of the natural impulses, through the operation of social institutions and arts, went on pari passu with the expression of the idea of perfection in such institutions and arts, the direction of the impulses of the individual by this idea, when in some form or other it has been consciously awakened in him, would be practically impossible. (Green, 1886b: 329–330) As indicated earlier that for Green when a person is punished for being too self-interested to damage public goods, the person will encounter with the idea of the common good and the meaning of the communal life by the punishment. Then, social and cultural institutions and the state’s power to punish are indispensable if we want to remedy the malign influences of modernity in the society. In other words, not only should the public be concerned themselves with the peril of the working classes in nineteenth-century British society, the government also had to intervene the unequal living circumstances between the common people and the few privileged. However, if to care about others and public goods is a choice on the basis of one’s moral agency, as a manifestation of one’s rational will, it appears that whether a person will devote him or herself to the welfare of community or not is an issue of liberty, and it seems that the government or the society does not have legitimacy to force individual persons to care. Indeed, as Mill argues, the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not a sufficient warrant. He cannot rightfully be compelled to do or forbear because it will be better for him to do so, because it will make him happier, because, in the opinion of others, to do so would be wise, or even right. (Mill, 1989: 13). The legitimate reason for government intervention accordingly is to protect people from harm, and there is no legitimacy of intervention if this is claimed by government for doing something good for individuals. By and large, Mill’s account for the legitimacy of government intervention was appealing in nineteenth-century British society as it was
110 Ethical Politics and Sovereign Power compatible with the general doctrine of ‘character’. However, although Mill argued that government’s legitimate intervention is confined to preventing harm, he did not say that government cannot help to improve the living conditions of working classes and the common people. He believed that in certain circumstances government intervention is necessary to secure the conditions of individual independence. It is, however, necessary to add, that the intervention of government cannot always practically stop short at the limit which defines the cases intrinsically suitable for it. In the particular circumstances of a given age or nation, there is scarcely anything really important to the general interest, which it may not be desirable, or even necessary, that the government should take upon itself, not because private individuals cannot effectually perform it, but because they will not. At some times and places there will be no roads, docks, harbours, canals, works of irrigation, hospitals, schools, colleges, printing-presses, unless the government establishes them; the public being either too poor to command the necessary resources, or too little advanced in intelligence to appreciate the ends, or not sufficiently practised in joint action to be capable of the means. (Mill, 1909: 978) That is to say, while preventing harm is the legitimate reason for government to constrain individual freedom, the sort of action taken by government, such as building hospitals, schools, or colleges, is also crucial for securing the conditions of individual freedom in Mill’s view. Notably, Green shared this thought of government’s function with Mill.1 As pointed out in Chapter 1 that for Green the existence of government is to maintain ‘conditions of life in which morality shall be possible’. To secure the conditions in which an individual person can perform and realise his or her capabilities and freedoms is the duty of government, thus. However, even though government intervention may have a positive function in securing the conditions of individual freedom, the tension lurking in between government’s coercive power and individual’s free actions is still there, and this is the issue for which Green established his account in his discussions of the nature of rights.
Rights, Social Equality, and Mutual Recognition At the beginning of ‘Lectures on the Principles of Political Obligation’, Green made a clear statement of his purpose for the talks, that he wanted to ‘consider the moral function or object served by law, or by the system of rights and obligations which the state enforces, and in so doing to discover the true ground of justification for obedience to law’ (Green, 1886b: 335). Accordingly, it is obvious that for Green government intervention
Ethical Politics and Sovereign Power 111 or state power may have some ‘moral’ function and this is related to the reason an individual obeys laws and the government. And, in Green’s study, rights are crucial on this point, for rights are defined as the conditions for individuals to realise their moral agency. The capacity, then, on the part of the individual of conceiving a good as the same for himself and others, and of being determined to action by that conception, is the foundation of rights; and rights are the condition of that capacity being realised. No right is justifiable or should be a right except on the ground that directly or indirectly it severs this purpose. Conversely every power should be a right, i.e. society should secure to the individual every power, that is necessary for realising this capacity. (ibid.: 353). So, for Green, rights are the conditions for individuals to act upon their rational wills, the conditions for individuals to realise their moral agency, and the moral function of government and laws is thus to ensure that each individual person can have fair circumstances to act upon his or her rational wills freely and to achieve their self-perfections in the society. In terms of this view on rights, it appears that Green is not so different from Mill. Moreover, Green also indicates that government and laws should not do something good for individuals directly as they cannot enforce individuals to have any particular rational will and to act upon it from without (Green, 1886b: 343–345). As a matter of fact, this thought that government and laws cannot intervene into one’s mind is a general faith shared by most liberals.2 Hence, despite that Green has different views of individual freedom and moral principle, he nonetheless shares some basic liberal tenets with Mill. To be sure, Green was an active liberal. In order to put his moral and political ideas into practice, Green not only joined several social and political movements, such as the temperance movement, education, factory, and parliament reforms, but also participated in party politics and political campaigns.3 Yet, the reason he held the liberal tenets and actively participated in social and political activities is different from most liberals. As mentioned, Green has a different view of ‘character’ and underscores the internal connection between the individual and the society. So, most of the time, Green stood with liberals indeed, but he had an alternative way to justify his liberal faith.4 And, speaking of the differences between Green and most nineteenth-century liberals, their different ways to justify rights are significant. Regarding the meaning of rights and its correlation with the duty of government, Green’s thought is discussed not so different from Mill’s or other liberals’. However, as to the reason an individual person is entitled to rights, Green has a divergent explanation. First and foremost,
112 Ethical Politics and Sovereign Power Green did not justify individual rights based on a natural rights theory. As one of the main tenets shared by most liberals, each individual person is considered as having rights by nature, by just being a person as such. Generally speaking, the natural rights theories have made profound impact on the development of Western modern political theory and practice. For instance, Hobbes utilised the conception of natural rights to expound a theory of state sovereign, according to which state’s sovereign power is instituted by the mutual agreement between individual persons as they all agree to transfer their natural rights, such as the right to live or the right to punish, to the state (Hobbes, 1996: 120–121). Nonetheless, it was Locke’s elaboration of natural rights that has made the theory to be a classic embraced by most liberals. As mentioned in Chapter 2 that, for Locke, individual person is entitled to rights because he or she is made by God and has the duty to preserve him or herself, that is, individual rights are derivatives from one’s duty of self-preservation imposed by God. And since an individual person is entitled to rights by God, the person will constitute political society and government with other people jointly in order to establish a supreme and collective power to secure their rights, then. According to Locke, when living in the state of nature where no government or political society exists, individual persons have had their natural rights indeed, but they may transgress each other’s rights because of misunderstanding. So, to constitute political society and government will be significant for the individuals to use their rights and preserve their lives more safely and freely (Locke, 1988: 323–353). And then, for the liberals who consider Locke’s view on natural rights as classical, they basically share some notions of individual rights with each other. For them, first, since natural rights are from some higher power and the government is established for individuals to secure their natural rights, the normative value of one’s natural rights is therefore prior to the value of the government and its regulations; second, since natural rights exist before the establishment of political society and belong to people ‘individually’, there is no social norm that can legitimately impair or intervene these rights without individual persons’ consents; and third, since individuals’ natural rights have higher value than government’s regulations and cannot be transgressed by any social norm without consent, government intervention is generally considered as unnecessary except for protecting individual rights from harms (see Arneson, 2015: 213–215; Kurun, 2016: 129–183; Zuchert, 2002: 311–330). Unlike most liberals, Green was critical of these notions of individual rights. First of all, Green argues that the so-called ‘the state of nature’ is just a negative term. For him, when Hobbes, Locke, and many other natural rights theorists utilised the term ‘the state of nature’, they were defining it as a state without regulations and political superiors, that is, the state of nature is an opposite state of political society ‘in
Ethical Politics and Sovereign Power 113 which there was no civil government; i.e. no supreme power, exercised by a single person or plurality of persons, which could compel obedience on the part of all members of a society and was recognised as entitled to do so by them all, or by all a sufficient number of them to secure general obedience’ (Green, 1886b: 375). However, in Green’s view, this idea of ‘the state of nature’ is problematic. For if political society and government are established upon a mutual agreement between individual persons who used to live in a state of nature where there is no regulation or constraining power, people may easily overthrow the agreement when circumstances change and they change their minds. So Green claims that, [w]hen the writers in question5 spoke of a law of nature, to which men in the state of nature were subject, they did not make it clear to themselves that this law, as understood by them, could not exist at all without there being some recognition or consciousness of it on the part of those subject to it. The designation of it as ‘law of nature’ or ‘law of God’ helped to disguise the fact that there was no imponent of it, in the sense in which a law is imposed on individuals by a political superior. In the absence of such an imponent, unless it is either a uniformity in the relations of natural events or an irresistible force – and it is not represented in either of these ways in juristic writings – it can only mean a recognition of obligation arising in the consciousness of the individuals from his relations to society. (ibid.: 377) Put briefly, for Green, in order to keep the agreement made by individual persons effective, there must be some sort of norm existing and recognised by these persons in the state of nature. Following that, then, to assume that individuals have natural rights before the establishment of political society and government is also problematic. As mentioned, for Green, rights are the conditions for individuals to act upon their rational wills, the conditions for individuals to realise their moral agency and achieve self-perfections, and the society and the government should help to secure rights for the individuals. According to the natural rights theorists, however, individuals have possessed rights before the establishment of political society and government, so this indicates that there is nothing which can help individuals to secure their rights in the state of nature. To be sure, this situation in the state of nature is exactly the reason individual persons want to establish political society and government. But if that is so, to argue that individuals have rights before political society and government exist seems to be pointless from Green’s perspective. Taking Hobbes’s view as an example, in his usage rights are more like natural forces which each individual person can use to preserve life freely, as the
114 Ethical Politics and Sovereign Power individual person who lives in the state of nature can choose to use his or her forces to cooperate with others, or to oppress, rob, or kill others for survival (Hobbes, 1996: 91). However, if rights are just natural forces and there is nothing that can assure that people cannot choose to transgress each other’s rights freely, it will be pointless to call the forces that each individual person has for self-preservation in the state of nature as rights. On the other hand, rights in Locke’s usage do have a normative meaning as rights are what God grants individual persons for fulfilling their self-preservation duties. Nevertheless, the notions of God and His powers and laws are precisely part of the social norms that have been shared by many Europeans for centuries. Accordingly, if we claim that God is the one who can secure individual rights in the state of nature, we are simply making a self-contradictory claim. Moreover, even though we ignored the contradiction and accepted the claim that God is the one who grants individuals rights in the state of nature, He had not helped to secure individual rights according to Locke; otherwise, the individual persons who lived in the state of nature would not need to constitute political society and government. Hence, in terms of Green’s view, to say that what individual persons have from God in the state of nature are rights is pointless, too. In opposition to the natural rights theories, Green developed his own account for the justification of individual rights as that ‘a right is a power claimed and recognised as contributory to a common good’ (Green, 1886b: 416). As pointed out in the previous chapter, it is when an individual person lives in a community with other people that individual freedoms will become an issue, and when the freedoms are protected by a society, they have thus become rights. Nonetheless, not every kind of freedom can be protected by society. For Green, only the kind of free power that can contribute to a common good shared by all the social members will be recognised as a right. As he said, ‘[n]o one therefore can have a right except (1) as a member of a society, and (2) of a society in which some common good is recognised by the members of the society as their own ideal good, as that which should be for each of them’ (ibid.: 350). While the natural rights theorists believe that before the existence of political society there is something higher like the law of nature or God granting individual persons natural rights, Green rather held that ‘[t]here can be no right without a consciousness of common interest on the part of members of a society. Without this there might be certain powers on the part of individuals, but no recognition of these powers by others as powers of which they allow the exercise, nor any claim to such recognition, and without this recognition or claim to recognition there can be no right’ (ibid.: 354). In brief, by Green’s account, in order to justify a right there are three conditions that need to be met: first, the content of a right should be some sort of power which each individual social member has or can have; second, the power can make contribution to a common good
Ethical Politics and Sovereign Power 115 and this is claimed by some of the social members and further recognised by all the members; and third, there is a common good recognised and shared by all social members. Thus far, it appears that the justification of rights in Green’s view is a work which can only be done in a community. And Green further remarks that, rights do not belong to individuals as they might be in a state of nature, or as they might be if each acted irrespectively of others. They belong to them as members of a society in which each recognises the other as an originator of action in the same sense in which he is conscious of being so himself (as an ‘ego’ – as himself the object which determines the action), and thus regards the free exercise of his own powers as dependent upon his allowing an equally free exercise of his powers to every other member of the society. (Green, 1886b: 449) That is to say, the justification of rights is not simply a work which can only be done among a group of people who share certain powers and common goods but also a work which has to be done among a group of people who mutually recognise each other as a free and equal moral agent. As mentioned in Chapter 2, Green holds that the foundation of society is people’s mutual interest and recognition, and without that ‘the spiritual division must make its outward sign’ (Green, 1883: 303). So, for a society to be constituted, the people who want to participate in the constitution must have recognised each other as having equal value as a person. However, by this account of rights, it seems that if there are people who have not been recognised by other social members as equal will have no right. In fact, compared with the native ‘responsible’ male citizens, slaves, workers, women, outsiders, and immigrants were deemed as unqualified to have equal rights in nineteenth-century Britain. In this regard, Green’s account of rights seems merely to reaffirm social inequality. Sir David Ross thus criticised that ‘it is plainly wrong to describe either legal or moral rights as depending for their existence on their recognition’ (Ross, 2002: 50–51). For Ross, if a person can only be entitled to rights, no matter these are moral or legal rights, by social recognition, it will mean that those people who have not received due recognition, such as slaves, workers, or women, will not have their equal rights until one day the majority of social members change their minds. So, as Andrew Vincent indicates, that the ‘[l]ack of recognition is the root to all injustice, inequality, unfreedom, and oppression’ (Vincent, 2010: 182). Since not every individual person will be recognised and entitled to rights, inequality will persist in the society, then. Surely, Green’s ‘rights recognition thesis’ has its limitation as that for the people who are not recognised as entitled to rights, their living
116 Ethical Politics and Sovereign Power conditions will be thus beyond the protection from society and government. Yet, Green once said that, [i]n analysing the nature of any right, we may conveniently look at it on two sides, and consider it as on the one hand a claim of the individual, arising out of his rational nature, to the free exercise of some faculty; on the other, as a concession of that claim by society, a power given to the individual of putting the claim in force by society. But we must be on our guard against supposing that these distinguishable sides have any really separate existence. It is only a man’s consciousness of having an object in common with other, a well-being which is consciously his in being theirs and theirs in being his – only the fact that they are recognised by him and he by them as having this object – that gives him the claim described. … But a claim founded on such a common consciousness is already a claim conceded; already a claim to which reality is given by social recognition, and thus implicitly a right. (Green, 1886b: 450) This paragraph is important as Green shows us that a right-claim recognised by social members may be an implicit right and not yet become an explicit one. Here, the distinction between the implicit and the explicit right is from whether a right-claim is authorised as a ‘legal’ right. As David Boucher remarks, ‘[r]ights are immanent in social practices and their formal articulation, or formal recognition, in the sense of knowing them or making them explicit, may take place long after they have become established rights’ (Boucher, 2011: 758). So, a consciousness of right in Green’s account may have persisted in the society for a long time but it may not have been formally authorised and legalised.6 Thus, based on this distinction between implicit right and explicit right, Green shows us that slaves or any other people who have not been legally recognised as entitled to rights can nonetheless make their rightclaims. As he argues, [t]he law cannot prevent him [the slave] from acting and being treated, within certain limits, as a member of a society of persons freely seeking a common good. And as that capability of living in a certain limited community with a certain limited number of human beings, which the slave cannot be prevented from exhibiting, is in principle a capability of living in a community with any other human beings, supposing the necessary training to be allowed; and as every such capability constitutes a right, we are entitled to say that the slave has a right to citizenship. (Green, 1886b: 451) Therefore, slaves or those people who have not been legally recognised as entitled to rights can make their right-claims insofar as they demonstrate
Ethical Politics and Sovereign Power 117 that they also have the capability to exercise rights within a communal life. Put it in another way, although some people living in the society may not be recognised by other social members as entitled to rights and the laws do not provide any protection for them, they still can claim their rights and ask the government to legalise them based on their social activities. And one of the significant implications of this Green’s view on rights is that equality and mutual recognition are things that require people to fight for and to disclose their values in practice. It is obvious indeed that the notion expressed by the ‘suum cuique,’ even when it carries with it the admission that every man, as such, has a ‘suum,’ is a most insufficient guide to conduct till we can answer the question what the ‘suum’ in each case is, and that no such answer is deducible from the mere principle that everyone has a ‘suum.’ In fact, of course, this principle is never wrought into law or general sentiment without very precise, though perhaps insufficient and ultimately untenable, determinations of what is due from one to another in the ordinary intercourse of those habitually associated. (Green, 1883: 223) For Green, the constitution of society is on the basis of people’s mutual recognition as they recognise each other as free and equal moral agents. However, to reach that stage, it requires constant intercourse between people until one day they make such mutual recognition. And then, to the people who have not been recognised by other social members, they will need to earn that recognition through ordinary intercourse with other members, too. In short, equality and mutual recognition may indeed be something with moral values, but from Green’s perspective their values cannot be demonstrated simply by theoretical argument; instead, the values of equality and mutual recognition have to be shown by people’s ordinary social activities. And, regarding the issue of the tension lurking in between government intervention and individual freedom, these notions of rights recognition, implicit right, and social practice are rather significant in Green’s thought.
Discipline and Self-government In Chapter 1, I have mentioned that Green is considered by some scholars not cautious of the danger of state power. As Avital Simhony points out, Green seems to be too confident in self-government to leave state power unchecked. Indeed, when Green urged the significance of universal suffrage, he seemed to believe that state power will be thus legitimised by the people and will not be in conflict with public interests. For example,
118 Ethical Politics and Sovereign Power when Green talked about the drinking issue in nineteenth-century Britain, he once said something as follows: The danger of legislation, either in the interest of a privileged class or for the promotion of particular religious opinions, we may fairly assume to be over. The popular jealousy of law, once justifiable enough, is therefore out of date. The citizens of England now make its law. We ask them by law to put a restraint on themselves in the matter of strong drink. We ask them further to limit, or even altogether to give up, the not very precious liberty of buying and selling alcohol, in order that they may become more free to exercise the faculties and improve the talents which God has given them. (Green, 1906: 386) So, it seems that Green only considered the legislative action leading by the particular interests or values of particular groups as a danger and had not taken the possibility of government coercion in the name of ‘people’. Nonetheless, if we probe into Green’s account of state power, we will find that for Green state power is an institution for individual persons to discipline themselves and to learn to devote themselves to the welfare of the society, and he did thus indicate a way to supervise state power as it will be checked by individual persons’ active participation in public affairs from local to nationwide. Sovereignty and Might First of all, it is important to distinguish two different meanings of the term ‘power’ in Green’s usage. The first meaning of the term ‘power’ is used to indicate ‘the capability on the part of an individual for making a common good his own’ (Green, 1886b: 351). As indicated that for Green the content of a right is a sort of power shared by all social members, the first sense of ‘power’ in Green’s usage is to signify a moral capability, then. However, when Green talked about ‘power’, he sometimes employed the term in a different sense. As he said, ‘[t]he essence of right lies in its being not simply a power producing sensible effects, but a power relative to an insensible function and belonging to individuals only in so far as each recognises that function in himself and others’ (ibid.: 362). The other meaning of the term ‘power’ in Green’s usage is about something that can produce sensible effects in reality, accordingly. However, although Green used the term ‘power’ in two different meanings, they were both important in his account of sovereignty. First, when Green discussed about Spinoza’s and Hobbes’s conception of state sovereignty, he specified one of the features of sovereignty as the physical capacity to act or to affect others. That is, sovereignty is a combination of the physical powers of all the individual persons who
Ethical Politics and Sovereign Power 119 participate in the constitution of a state, as ‘[i]t is simply the naturalis potentia of a certain number of men combined; “of a people which is guided as if by one mind”’ (Green, 1886b: 356). However, if sovereignty is simply a combination of physical powers, it is nothing but a might, not a right of the state. For Green, a right exists on the basis of a power claimed and recognised as contributory to a common good by persons who live in the same society. And the power so claimed and recognised is not a mere physical capacity, but is rather a moral capability. So, by this definition, the mere physical capacity cannot be the state’s right. Nevertheless, if the content of a right is reliant upon a moral capability belonging to each individual person, a crucial question will arise on this point as that ‘does the state constitute a person who has a sort of moral capability to be claimed and recognised as a right?’ About this question, a person or a group of persons may be considered as the representative of the sovereignty so the sovereignty as the right of the state can be thus authorised based on the moral capability which the person or the group of persons have. A king, a prince, a committee, a parliament, or the majority of people can all constitute the sovereignty and be its representative, accordingly. However, these offices in a political society are not the state per se from Green’s perspective. For Green, a state ‘is a body of persons, recognised by each other as having rights, and possessing certain institutions for the maintenance of those rights’; it is the society of societies constituted by individual persons and multiple communities and institutions (Green, 1886b: 443, 452). So, unless the number of the persons who hold the office is equal to the total amount of the people constitutive of the state, they cannot represent the state sovereignty rightfully without doubt. But, on the other hand, considering the scope and the complexity of the organisation of the modern state, it is impossible for all the people in a country to represent the sovereignty and to exercise the right of the state collectively and unanimously (ibid.: 392–393). In other words, the moral capability of a person or a group of persons who are considered as the representative of the sovereignty is not the root of the sovereignty. However, although a determinate person cannot be the source of the state’s moral capability, we may conceive a legal personality as an analogy to a determinate person who has the agency. As Green indicates, we may conceive the state as something which ‘has a conscience’ or conceive the relation between the state and the individual ‘as mother is to child so is mother country to colony’ (Green, 1997: 44). And then, by making such analogy, the state may seem to have a sort of virtual personality similar to an individual person. Yet, Green argues that this analogical argument implicates a sort of rhetorical fallacy, ‘of which the plausibility is derived from the metaphorical character of language’ (ibid.: 44). Green then warns us that when using such analogy, we may easily confuse the real meanings of different ideas. Moreover, Green also claims that an idea of a legal personality is ‘derived from the possession of right, not
120 Ethical Politics and Sovereign Power vice versa’ (Green, 1886b: 352). So, it is when the right of the state has been recognised and instituted that a legal personality can be conceived. In a word, a legal personality cannot constitute a moral agency before we recognise the right of the state. It seems to be, then, that the sovereignty is not a right at all, for there is no moral agency belonging to the state that can be claimed and recognised as contributory to a common good. The sovereignty is but a mere power ‘to protect those rights from invasion, either from without, from foreign nations, or from within, from members of the society who cease to behave as such’ (Green, 1886b: 443). However, there is still another possibility. From Green’s perspective, when individual persons recognise each other as equal moral agents and establish a communal life on the basis of their shared common goods, the institution thus constituted in the community is endowed with an agency which is acting for the common goods. As discussed in the previous chapter that for Green the individual can only learn how to express and realise his or her self in a community. But to constitute such a community, individual persons must have some shared ideas of common goods. As ‘[s]ome sort of community, founded on such unity of self-consciousness, on such capacity for a common idea of permanent good, must be presupposed in any groupings of men from which the society that we know can have been developed’ (Green, 1883: 212). In a word, for Green, if individual persons want to build a society or a community, there must be some ideas of common goods shared among them. And thus, a social institution so constituted is endowed with an agency acting for people to secure and promote their common goods. This sort of agency embodied in social institutions is the root of state sovereignty, then. As Green states, when the power by which rights are guaranteed is sovereign (as it is desirable that it should be) in the special sense of being maintained by a person or persons, wielding coercive force not liable to control by any other human force, it is not this coercive force that is the important thing about it, or that determines the habitual obedience essential to the real maintenance of rights. That which determines this habitual obedience is a power residing in the common will and reason of men, i.e. in the will and reason of men as determined by social relations, as interested in each other as acting together for common ends. It is a power which this ‘universal’ rational will exercises over the inclinations of the individual, and which only needs exceptionally to be backed by coercive force. (Green, 1886b: 409) So, the right of the state as such is not referring to the coercive force but to an agency upholding individuals as a whole and acting for their common goods.
Ethical Politics and Sovereign Power 121 Nevertheless, the coercive force accompanying the sovereignty still implicates the potentiality of oppression. In particular, by the definition that the sovereignty is acting for the common goods shared by individuals, the right of the state may be a source of constraint and oppression in the place where individuals do not share common values. As H. A. Prichard criticises, when Green accounted for the nature of political obligation, his view implied an authoritarian notion of the state in taking an idea of the common good as the true ground for individuals to obey, and each individual person might be forced to identify and observe a single conception of the good as their shared interest, then (Prichard, 1968: 74–80). Accordingly, two questions may arise with respect to the tension between government coercive power and individual free action, first, ‘can a state unite individuals as a whole and maintain a system of rights without using coercion?’ and second, ‘is there any measurement in the state that can prevent state power from misuse?’ Civic Agency and State Action First, regarding the question that whether the state can unite individuals together as a whole without using coercion or not, Green’s view on the constitution of a state is important. As indicated earlier, for Green, to constitute a state requires a group of persons who recognise each other as free and equal, some common goods shard by the persons, and an institution recognised by them as contributory to their common goods. Nonetheless, since there are plenty of persons and they may establish multiple groups and have diverse values, an institution that cannot reconcile these pluralities will not become a state. As Green argues, ‘[i]n order to make a state there must have been families of which the members recognised rights in each other…; there must further have been intercourse between families, or between tribes that have grown out of families, of which each in the same sense recognised rights in the other’ (Green, 1886b: 445). But these families, tribes, or individuals may have diverse conceptions of a right, so they need a general law to define the right and to reconcile those diverse conceptions of it. And once such a general law has been arrived at and it is ‘voluntarily recognised by a community of families or tribes, and maintained by a power strong enough at once to enforce it within the community and to defend the integrity of the community against attacks from without, then the elementary state has been formed’ (ibid.). That is to say, the state’s capability to hold individuals and multiple groups as a whole is not something built after the state is formed; rather, it is when an institution has shown the capability that it can be recognised as a state. For an idea of the state is ‘which has been operative in the minds of the members of the societies which have undergone the changed described [from having diverse conceptions of rights to having a general law], an
122 Ethical Politics and Sovereign Power idea only gradually taking shape as the change proceeded, and according to the more explicit and distinct idea of it which we form in reflecting on the process’ (ibid.: 444). However, although an institution has to show its reconciliation capability before it comes to be recognised as a state, different conceptions of rights and goods may still gradually emerge after the institution received its due recognition. When the previous generations, the people who share conceptions of rights and goods perish, the new generations may not maintain the same conceptions of rights and goods, then. So, the state will have to reconcile the conflict between the old and the new ideas and values. From the government’s point of view, using coercive force to compel people to obey is always an option. But the sovereignty, the right of the state, is founded on people’s mutual recognition of its power to contribute common goods. When people’s ideas and values conflict with each other and their conceptions of goods are divergent, the sovereignty is losing its foundation. In other words, the government may not have the legitimacy to use coercive force in terms of the dissents’ view. Therefore, when there are conflicting ideas of goods and rights, the better way for the government to settle the issues down will be helping people to build consensus once again. For Green, since an individual can only constitute an idea of the self within a communal life, he or she will be asked to think and act in the way that can fit social expectations. Yet, ‘unless the individual conceives them as relative to an absolute end common to him with all men’, these social expectations are just external regulations that may become antagonistic to the individual’s ideal self (Green, 1886b: 331). Hence, if an individual recognises that the goods behind social expectations are something common to all the social members, including the individual itself, and conceives it as his or her duty to meet these expectations, the individual will thus achieve a harmonious and liberal state of life as social expectations are not simply something external anymore. As Green argues, it is ‘only through a recognition by certain men of a common interest, and through the expression of that recognition in certain regulations of their dealings with each other’ that morality can originate or the terms such as ‘ought’ and ‘right’ can be meaningful (ibid.: 430). When there are conflicting ideas and values in the state and people take sides in the conflict, it will be better to wait for the people to figure out what the common goods are behind these ideas and values and reach an agreement by themselves. For the individuals can come to realise their duties and know how to devote themselves to the community through this process and the foundation of the sovereignty will be solid again. Nevertheless, under certain conditions, the government can still use its coercive force to compel people to obey. To be sure, although people may have different ideas of goods and rights, their differences would not always endanger the entire system of laws. For example, the right of property basically helps individuals to secure their possessions, but the right
Ethical Politics and Sovereign Power 123 per se does not prescribe which is the rightful way for the individuals to possess things. This means that each individual may have his or her unique way to have possessions insofar as the way does not transgress other people’s right of property. However, if one day an individual believes he or she has enough power to defend his or her possessions alone and transgresses other people’s right of property, the government will then ‘legitimately’ use its coercive force to compel. As a matter of fact, people may change their minds sometimes and do not consider a good as common for all as they used to. But if their changed minds lead to some action violating other people’s rights, these people can be disciplined by the state power, accordingly. Here, as we pointed out at the beginning of this chapter, the discipline from social institutions is a means to let individuals acknowledge their common goods and the meaning of the communal life maintained by the state to them. So, if people go into astray and violate other people’s rights, the government can force them to obey. For Green, [m]orality, in the first instance, is the observance of such regulations, and though a higher morality – the morality of the character governed by ‘disinterested motives’, i.e. by interest in some form of human perfection – comes to differentiate itself from this primitive morality consisting in the observance of rules established for a common good, yet this outward morality is the presupposition of the ‘higher’ morality. Morality and political subjection thus have a common source – ‘political subjection’ being distinguished from that of a slave, as a subjection which secures rights to the subject. That common source is the rational recognition by certain human beings – it may be merely by children of the same parent – of a common well-being which is their well-being, and which they conceive as their well-being whether at any moment any one of them is inclined to it or no, and the embodiment of that recognition in rules by which the inclinations of the individuals are restrained, and a corresponding freedom of action for the attainment of well-being on the whole is secured. (Green, 1886b: 431; italic in original) In the political society, the state, individuals can enjoy their freedoms and rights by recognising those common goods they shared. But if some of them change their conceptions of goods and even violate other people’s freedoms and rights because of the change, they will be punished by the state power. And the punishment is not based on the idea of justice as ‘an eye for an eye’; rather, it is for helping those people punished to prepare themselves for higher morality. Thus far, my response to the question that ‘from Green’s perspective can the state unite individuals together as a whole without using coercion or not’ is as follows. Put briefly, the capability of a state to unite
124 Ethical Politics and Sovereign Power individuals together is primarily dependent on individuals themselves as the foundation of state sovereignty is individuals’ mutual recognition of the state’s power to contribute their common goods. So, if people have mutual understandings and shared common values, the government’s regulations that are designated by reference to those understandings and values will be legitimate and should motivate people to follow easily. Nonetheless, if people do not have mutual understandings and shared values, or some people just change their minds arbitrarily and violate other people’s rights, the government can still use force to compel and hold people together under the rule of the law system. Surely, if we stand firmly with the value of individual freedom, we may thus follow Prichard and consider Green’s account as supporting government oppression, for using force to compel individuals to devote to common goods by the government is acceptable by Green’s account. But, we should not forget that individual freedom in Green’s view is premised on the communal life; without community, individuals will not have any idea of self and self-perfection. Besides, since those common goods which the government maintains are shared and recognised by all the social members, if an individual person by chance follows his or her natural inclination and rejects to accept them, the government’s coercion and punishment will be a way to remind the person to take up his or her practical will. In others words, under such circumstances, the government’s coercive force is used to help people against their arbitrary inclination and retake their moral agency. Moreover, as those common goods which the government maintains are shared and recognised by all the social members, if these members think that some laws or regulations restrain individual freedom, or some common goods are not necessary anymore, they can together repeal the laws and regulations by redefining their common goods, thus. Based on these, government intervention will not be coercion or oppression to individuals. Nevertheless, what we just said are in theory, or we may say that the government ‘would’ not transgress individual freedoms according to Green’s account. In order to ensure that government intervention will not violate individual freedom, we still need some practical measurement that can help us constrain state power. One of the measurements in Green’s mind is to design the government by reference to the idea of separation of powers. It has been indicated that the sovereignty is primarily an agency of the state uniting individuals as a whole, and that agency is constituted by individuals’ recognition of the state’s power as contributory to their common goods. Nonetheless, once the sovereign power has been recognised and instituted, how to avoid the misuse of it is a significant issue for many modern scholars and thinkers. Locke, Hume, Bentham, Mill were all concerned themselves with this issue. Green is not an exception. It is known that a modern representative government in general has two departments: the administration and the legislature. The representatives who are elected
Ethical Politics and Sovereign Power 125 by people to institute laws and to supervise the administration on the basis of public interests compose the legislature. An executive institution to enforce laws and to make policies in order to protect and provide liberal and equal social conditions for each social member is the administration. However, by virtue of his critical attitude towards the atomic view of the individual proposed by the Enlightenment philosophy, Green holds that if we think that the representative government is simply a public instrument serving for the diverse interests of individuals who live as atoms, we are mistaken. For him, the view founding on atomistic individualism indicates that ‘[a]t the bottom of representation is simply the idea of preventing any one material interest being swamped by another. Thus the executive is simply police. The function of government is purely negative prevention of unfair measures’, and ‘[t]here is no reason why this government should be obeyed, except that my wish is the wish of one, its order is the wish of the majority’ (Green, 1997: 155). With the idea that each individual person is an atom and the state should prevent each person from harm, the function of the government is merely preventive and of policing. Against this atomistic view of representative government, Green says that ‘[i]t is so far as a government represents to them a common good that the subjects are conscious that they ought to obey it, i.e. that obedience to it is a means to an end desirable in itself or absolutely’ (Green, 1886b: 415). Based on this view of the representative government, Green further accounted for the roles of the administration and the legislature. As he notes, ‘[t]he prime business of the political society, once formed, is to establish the legislative power’ (Green, 1886b: 380). The legislature as the representation of the people is accordingly more significant than the administration. It is the one which represents the people and should defend public interests by legislation as this is a way to delimit the boundary for the administration to use coercive force when implementing policies and regulations. Then, it appears that the separation of the legislative and administrative powers is a solution to avoid the abuse of power in Green’s view. Yet, the difficulty in a modern state is how that representation can be legitimate without people’s direct participation in the making of political decisions. For Green, [w]hether the legislative and administrative agencies of society can be kept in the main free from bias by private interests and true to the idea of common good without popular control – whether again, if they can, that ‘civil sense’, that appreciation of common good, on the part of the subjects, which is as necessary to free or political society as the direction of law to the maintenance of common good, can be kept alive without active participation of the people in legislative functions, is a question of circumstances which perhaps does not admit of unqualified answer. (ibid.: 432)
126 Ethical Politics and Sovereign Power That is to say, although the separation of powers is a way to prevent state power from misuse, this may not be the most effective way. Moreover, Green reminds us that the result of the representative election will distinguish people into the majority and the minority, but the will of the majority, which is usually considered as the one the legislature should value most, may not represent the common goods shared and recognised by all the people. Rather, the distinction between the majority and the minority may create a situation ‘prepared for the sophistries of modern political management for manipulating electoral bodies, for influencing elected bodies, and procuring plebiscites’ (ibid.: 389). As to Green’s view of the more effective way to prevent the abuse of power than the separation of powers, it is citizens’ active participation in public affairs. Indeed, considering about the scope and the complexity of the organisation of the modern state, it is difficult to let all the people participate directly in making political decisions. Nonetheless, to maintain the social spirit under the influence of which people are concerned themselves with public interests and common goods is still crucial for Green. As he said, [t]he size of modern states renders necessary the substitution of a representative government for one in which the citizens shared directly in legislation, and this so far tends to weaken the active interest of the citizens in the commonwealth, though the evil may partly be countered by giving increased importance to municipal or communal administration. (Green, 1886b: 432) So to speak, to Green, participating in ruling and governing activities directly may be something remote for most citizens, and the ideas of common goods immanent in the entire state may appear obscure for them; but, even so, to care and involve in public affairs of local communities is still the way for citizens to have ‘a clear understanding of certain interests and rights common to himself with his neighbours’ and have ‘the needful elementary conception of a common good maintained by law’ (ibid.: 435). Hence, it is as Simhony points out that ‘the activity of Green’s citizen is not as strictly political as that; rather, it embraces activities of “mutual helpfulness” in the “maintenance and furtherance of a free society”, which may be described as “obligation of support”’ (Simhony, 2001: 87). That is to say, although most individual citizens cannot have the opportunity to make political decisions and policies directly, their participation in public affairs will nonetheless help to maintain the social spirit uniting them as a whole. Of course, comparing with the separation of powers, this way of preventing the abuse of state power is more indirect, but this is rather a more profound solution as it can make sure that all the people living in the country are sharing common ideas of the goods
Ethical Politics and Sovereign Power 127 and they recognise this as the legitimate reason for the government to use coercive power if necessary. And, in terms of Green’s view of the human condition, citizen participation also has an important function for individuals to realise their true selves.
Modern Politics as an Ethical Praxis According to the earlier discussion, we can see that the reason Green advocated the universal suffrage is that people’s mutual recognition of their common goods is significant for justifying government intervention. As the sovereignty is dependent on whether state power is recognised by the people as contributory to their common goods or not, the best way to ensure the legitimacy of government intervention is then to let people explicitly state out their shared values. Indeed, this is what the idea of self-government means generally, that people can assure that their representatives and the government are both ruling the state in accordance with their wills by vote. Under this idea of self-government, people’s participation in public affairs can be understood as a way for them to protect their civil freedoms and rights from harm. Nonetheless, from Green’s perspective, to participate in public affairs is not just about protecting rights but also about realising one’s true self. As indicated earlier that an individual person cannot achieve the ultimate perfection of life as this means that the person will not be human anymore. However, there is another way for the individual person to actualise self-perfection that the person can devote him or herself to the welfare of the community where he or she lives in. Nonetheless, since the person may be influenced by subjective inclinations and cannot recognise what the welfare of the community is, the discipline from social institutions and the sovereignty is then a means for the person to have that social awareness. That is to say, the sovereign power is indispensable for individual persons to learn how to devote themselves to the community. Furthermore, since the foundation of the sovereignty is people’s mutual recognition of their common goods and they can change their conceptions of the goods through social practice, the discipline of social institutions and the sovereignty is in fact a form of people’s autonomy. We have seen that for Green moral subjection and political subjection have a common source, that both forms of subjection are derived from people’s recognition to their common goods. People can formulate some moral and political regulations and ask each other to obey by reference to their shared common goods. So, when people participate in public affairs actively and then constantly check their shared ideas of common goods, they are actually practicing self-government both in the moral and the political sense.7 Hence, from Green’s perspective, if people actively participate in public affairs, the tension lurking in between government intervention and individual freedom will be vanished, for individual freedom can thus be protected and
128 Ethical Politics and Sovereign Power ensured by government intervention and government intervention is to be a form of individual autonomy and a means for individuals to achieve self-perfection. At this point, we thus come to the final stage of our exposition of Green’s practical philosophy as an anticipation in response to individual alienation in the modern society. As we discussed in Chapter 1 that for Green modernity has brought out some malign results and he intended to mitigate them. Then, in order to accomplish this self-assigned task, Green identified the root of these malign consequences as the atomic view of the individual proposed by the Enlightenment philosophy. According to Green, the Enlightenment philosophy has propagandised a view taking individual persons as separate independent atoms, and this view has not only helped to enhance individuals’ selfishness and coldness when facing other people’s suffering but also caused to issues such as the demise of the social spirit, the rigid division of social groups, and the social and political inequalities between the common people and the privileged and educated few. The primary approach which Green chose to mitigate the malign consequences of the modernity is thus to establish an alternative account of the human condition and to build a coherent view of the relationships of individual freedom and common goods, rights and sovereignty, and morality and politics, based on the account. To be specific, by indicating that the subject and the object are mutually constitutive, Green shows us that an individual person can only have the idea of self and achieve self-perfection in a communal life. And this, in turn, gives us an important insight of the role of sovereign power in the journey of one’s pursuit of self-perfection. The sovereign power is both an indispensable means for individuals to achieve their perfections in a community and a manifestation of their autonomy. Hence, in terms of Green’s practical philosophy, individual alienation is a condition of human life, under which we may feel isolated, independent, or homeless and intend to achieve something that can let us feel at home. And politics is an integral part of this struggle. Based on these, I venture to say that Green’s view on politics is not just instrumental as some scholars seem to believe. Geoffrey Thomas, for instance, once asserted that ‘in his philosophical work Green had slight sense of the autonomy of politics. The role of politics is instrumental’ (Thomas, 1987: 23). For Thomas, Green seems to take the function of government intervention simply as to ‘maintain conditions of life in which morality shall be possible’ and hold that this is the only value that politics can have for human beings. Colin Tyler, in a way, shares this instrumental view of Green’s concept of politics. For Tyler, Green’s idea of the state is ‘simply society’s political instrument’ for enabling individuals to pursue and contribute to their perfections (Tyler, 2012: 175). The state or the political society, accordingly, serves for some other ends of human life and thus has an instrumental value. Nonetheless,
Ethical Politics and Sovereign Power 129 by virtue of what we have discussed, politics or the state is indeed having some instrumental value to individuals for Green, but this is just one dimension of the state and political activity. Considering about the foundation of sovereign power and the constitution of the state, political activity rather has a more profound meaning to individuals that it would be a form of individual autonomy if individuals actively participate in public affairs. Green’s view of politics is therefore not merely instrumental but also ethical.8 In conclusion, Green’s practical philosophy covers many issues and dimensions of human life such as the human condition, the idea of human life, and the meanings of morality and politics to humans. And although Green’s thought was developed from nineteenth-century British society and had its particular concerns to be met, his accounts are still insightful. For they propose a way to reconsider the European modernity and its consequences. At the time when Chinese scholars had their cultural shock by encountering with the modern ideas, institutions, and technology of the Europe in nineteenth-century, they were asking questions to them such as ‘what is the relationship between the state and the individual?’, ‘what is the connection of morality and politics in the modern society?’, or ‘what is modernisation?’. And in the process of finding answers to their questions, Green’s thought was for a while considered by some Chinese scholars as something which they can learn from.
Notes 1 While Mill and Green have different views of human nature and moral principle, their considerations of government’s function are similar. For they both hold the view that government intervention is legitimate under certain circumstances. About similarities and differences between Mill’s and Green’s view on government, see Bellamy (2000: 22–46); Nicholson (1990: 132–197). 2 See Arblaster (1984: 55–75). 3 Green was an active citizen. He was interested in education reform since 1860s, and was then involved in the temperance movement for some personal and public reasons. According to Nettleship, Green was trying to help his brother to abstain from alcohol, but he failed. Then, in 1872, Green came to engage in the temperance movement actively because he thought that excessive drinking has done a lot of harm to British people and caused plenty of social problems. Besides these, Green also ran for local election and sat in the Oxford City Council for the Liberal Party in 1876. For further discussions of Green’s public activities, see de Sanctis (2005: 89–92), Nicholson (1997: xv–xxxi), Richter (1964: chap. 11). 4 For example, as Nettleship said that most of the time John Bright and Richard Cobden, two famous nineteenth-century liberals, would endorse Green’s opinions on public issues, ‘but neither Bright nor Cobden could understand the process by which Green’s opinions are obtained, nor the arguments by which they are defended’ (Nettleship, 1906: xx). What underlies Green’s
130 Ethical Politics and Sovereign Power views on social and political issues is an idealist philosophical world view and this has made Green different from other nineteenth-c entury British liberals. 5 Including Richard Hooker, Hugo Grotius, Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau. 6 Scholars have proposed many interpretations of Green’s rights recognition thesis. Besides Ross and Boucher, Ann Cacoullos, Gerald Gaus, Rex Martin, and Darin Nesbiit also have their views on it. And one of the most important issues for these scholars to debate is precisely whether Green’s right recognition thesis can justify the rights that have not been generally accepted by the majority or not. See Boucher (2011: 755–759), Cacoullos (1974), Gaus (2006), Martin (2011), Nesbitt (2001). 7 Years later, Bernard Bosanquet, one of Green’s pupils, made a clear distinction of the ethical and political conceptions of self-government. According to Bosanquet, ethical self-government means that a self exercises authority over itself, and political self-government means that what is accepted as authority can be applicable at once to the agent and the patient, generally exercised by some persons over others. However, although Bosanquet made such a distinction of the idea of self-government, he also stated that they ‘cannot be ultimately separated’ (Bosanquet, 2001: 86). For more details, see Bosanquet (2001: chaps. 3–6). 8 To be sure, scholars have noted the significance of the idea of ethical citizen in Green’s thought. Yet, the relationship of the idea with Green’s account of sovereignty has not been addressed. About different accounts of Green’s idea of ethical citizen, see Boucher and Vincent (2000: 47–50), Vincent (2001: 208–216), Hann (2014), Martin (2014), Simhony (2014a: 442, 452–455; 2014b).
References Arblaster, A. (1984). The Rise and Decline of Western Liberalism. Oxford: Basil Blackwell. Arneson, R. (2015). ‘Liberalism and Equality’, in S. Wall (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Liberalism. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, pp. 212–236. Bellamy, R. (2000). Rethinking Liberalism. London and New York: Continuum International. Bosanquet, B. (2001). The Philosophical Theory of the State and Related Essays. G. F. Gaus and W. Sweet (eds.). South Bend, IN: St. Augustine’s Press. Boucher, D. (2011). ‘The Recognition Theory of Rights, Customary International Law and Human Right’, Political Studies 59(3): 753–771. Boucher, D. and A. Vincent (2000). British Idealism and Political Theory. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. Cacoullos, A. (1974). Thomas Hill Green: Philosopher of Rights. New York: Twayne. de Sanctis, A. (2005), The ‘Puritan’ Democracy of Thomas Hill Green. Exeter: Imprint Academic. Gaus, G. (2006). ‘The Rights Recognition Thesis: Defending and Extending Green’, in M. Dimova-Cookson and W. J. Mander (eds.), T. H. Green: Ethics, Metaphysics and Political Philosophy. Oxford: Clarendon, pp. 209–235. Green, T. H. (1883). Prolegomena to Ethics. A. C. Bradley (ed.). Oxford: Clarendon.
Ethical Politics and Sovereign Power 131 Green, T. H. (1886b). Works of Thomas Hill Green, Volume II. R. L. Nettleship (ed.). London: Longmans, Green, and Co. Green, T. H. (1906). Works of Thomas Hill Green, Volume III. R. L. Nettleship (ed.). London: Longmans, Green, and Co. Green, T. H. (1997). Collected Works of Thomas Hill Green, Volume V: Additional Writings. P. Nicholson (ed.). Bristol: Thoemmes Press. Hann, M. (2014). ‘“Who Is My Neighbour?” T. H. Green and the Possibility of Cosmopolitan Ethical Citizenship’, in T. Brooks (ed.), Ethical Citizenship: British Idealism and the Politics of Recognition. England: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 177–199. Hobbes, T. (1996). Leviathan. R. Tuck (ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Kurun, İ. (2016). The Theological Origins of Liberalism. Lanham: Lexington Books. Locke, J. (1988). Two Treatises of Government. P. Laslett (eds.). Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press. Martin, R. (2011). ‘Natural Rights: Human Rights and the Role of Social Recognition’, Collingwood and British Idealism Studies 17(1): 91–115. Martin, R. (2014). ‘The Metaphysics and Ethics of T. H. Green’s Idea of Persons and Citizens’, in T. Brooks (ed.), Ethical Citizenship: British Idealism and the Politics of Recognition. England: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 13–34. Mill, J. S. (1909). Principles of Political Economy; with Some of Their Applications to Social Philosophy. London and New York: Longmans, Green, and Co. Mill, J. S. (1989). On Liberty and Other Writings. S. Collini (ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Nesbitt, D. R. (2001), ‘Recognizing Rights: Social Recognition in T. H. Green’s System of Rights’, Polity 33(3): 423–437. Nettleship, R. L. (1906). ‘Memoir’, in R. L. Nettleship (ed.), Works of Thomas Hill Green, Volume III. London: Longmans, Green, pp. xi–clxi. Nicholson, P. (1990). The Political Philosophy of the British Idealists: Selected Studies. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Nicholson, P. (1997). ‘Introduction’, in P. Nicholson (ed.), Collected Works of Thomas Hill Green, Volume V: Additional Writings. Bristol: Thoemmes Press, pp. xv–xxxi. Prichard, H. A. (1968). Moral Obligation, and Duty and Interest: Essays and Lectures. London and New York: Oxford University Press. Richter, M. (1964). The Politics of Conscience: T. H. Green and His Age. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson. Ross, W. D. (2002). The Right and the Good. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press. Simhony, A. (2001). ‘T. H. Green’s Complex Common Good’, in A. Simhony and D. Weinstein (eds.), The New Liberalism: Reconciling Liberty and Community. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 69–91. Simhony, A. (2014a). ‘The Political Thought of the British Idealists’, in W. J. Mander (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of British Philosophy in the Nineteenth Century. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 440–460. Simhony, A. (2014b). ‘Beyond Dualistic Constructions of Citizenship: T. H. Green’s Idea of Ethical Citizenship as Mutual Membership’, in T. Brooks (ed.), Ethical Citizenship: British Idealism and the Politics of Recognition. England: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 35–56.
132 Ethical Politics and Sovereign Power Thomas, G. (1987). The Moral Philosophy of T. H. Green. Oxford: Clarendon. Tyler, C. (2012). Civil Society, Capitalism and the State: Part 2 of the Liberal Socialism of Thomas Hill Green. Exeter: Imprint Academic. Vincent, A. (2001). ‘The New Liberalism and Citizenship’, in A. Simhony and D. Weinstein (eds.), The New Liberalism: Reconciling Liberty and Community. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 205–227. Vincent, A. (2010). The Politics of Human Rights. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press. Zuchert, M. P. (2002). Launching Liberalism: On Lockean Political Philosophy. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas.
5 Green’s Practical Philosophy and Modern China
So far, we have seen that Green’s practical philosophy is built upon an ontological view of human beings, according to which the individual and the community are mutually constitutive, and rights, sovereign power, and politics are integral parts of the realisation of the individual’s self-perfection in the community. Green’s philosophy thus anticipates a way of life in response to the existential crisis of the individual in modern society, that is, in order to recover the meaning of one’s existence in the modern world, he or she has to learn how to participate in public affairs actively and to regain the connection with others. However, when the Chinese intellectuals read Green, they have different issues and problems requiring to answer, and this difference between them and Green demonstrates the complexity of modernity. As mentioned earlier, China had been through several stages of modernisation since nineteenth century. The first stage was between 1861 and 1895, after the Second Opium War, and its main focus was industrialisation and military modernisation. The second stage was between 1898 and 1911 while its focus of modernisation extended to cover political structure and the central and local administration systems. As to the third stage, it gradually emerged since 1912 and reached its peak in 1918, demanding the abolition of traditional social and cultural values and institutions. By and large, the process of modernisation of China can be considered as responses to challenges. As Arnold J. Toynbee’s concept of ‘challenge and response’ indicates that a civilisation will face with exogenous or/and endogenous challenges at a certain point in its life, the encounter between China and the West in nineteenth century has brought grave challenges to the Chinese (cf. Toynbee, 1979: 271–338). For the Chinese intellectuals who lived at the time, the challenges were so serious that they believed how to respond to the challenges was a matter of the survival of the whole nation. So, along with the development of Chinese modernisation, the intellectuals had proposed different ways to respond to the challenges, and some of them eventually held the view that the best way to respond is the general reception and assimilation of Western thought. During the nineteenth century, the Chinese had contacted with foreign thought and theories via the writings of missionaries and travellers and
134 Green’s Practical Philosophy the translations provided by foreign publishers and Qing institutions.1 However, when Yan Fu (嚴復) published his translation of Thomas Henry Huxley’s Evolution and Ethics in 1898, it stimulated the country’s intellectuals to learn Western thought and theories much more eagerly. As the theory of evolution expounded by Huxley indicates that it is the one who can adapt to natural and social changes successfully that will survive in the world, it echoed the deep worry of Chinese intellectuals. For they felt that the Chinese may lose the survival competition with foreign countries who have developed and acquired more advanced technologies (cf. Furth, 1983: 322–405; Schwartz, 1964: 98–112). The thirst for Western knowledge then brought out a growth in translation. Besides Yan Fu, there were many others who had engaged in the work of translation such as Lin Shu (林紓), Wang Shouchang (王壽昌), Ma Junwu (馬君武), and Zhou Zuoren (周作人). Then, at the time when the Chinese had more and more opportunities to contact and learn Western thought and theories, Green’s thought was also introduced by scholars’ commentaries and interpretations into China such as Yang Changji’s lectures and translations.
The Reception of Green’s Practical Philosophy in East Asia Yang was born in Changsha in 1871 and was educated in Yuelu Academy (嶽麓書院) with Confucianism in 1898. Later, between 1903 and 1913 Yang went to Japan and Britain for studying philosophy and ethics. When Yang received his degree from the University of Aberdeen and returned to China in 1913, he taught moral philosophy at the Hunan Teachers College and then the Peking University. Among the early twentieth-century scholars, Yang was one of a few having research interest in Green’s ethical thought. In ‘Exposition and Critique of Various Schools of Ethics’ (各種西洋倫理主義之略述及概述), Yang described Green’s ethical thought as a doctrine of self-realisation. As he said that ‘Green reconciled the good parts of different idealist ethical theses and built a doctrine of self- realisation’ (Yang, 1983: 269).2 Green’s ethical thought was accordingly considered by Yang as a great achievement of European idealism. However, Yang’s conception of Green was influenced by Japanese scholars. Green’s ethical thought was popular in Japan since nineteenth century. Similar to China, Japan’s encounter with the United States in 1853 caused to a series of modernisation reforms of the country. After Tokugawa Ieyasu (德川家康) received the title Seii Taishogun (征夷大將軍) from the emperor of Japan in 1603, Japan was actually ruled by Tokugawa Bakufu for more than two hundred years, not the emperor. However, when the United States sent troops to Japan and demanded Japanese government to open its ports for trade, the authority of Tokugawa Bakufu was damaged. And then, after a series of military conflict between the advocates and the opponents of the Bakufu, Tokugawa Yoshinobu (德川慶喜), the
Green’s Practical Philosophy 135 fifteenth Seii Taishogun of Tokugawa Bakufu, decided to return the ruling power to the emperor in 1867. After reclaiming his ruling power, the emperor of Japan intended to replace the old political structure with constitutional monarchy. Nonetheless, the emperor’s officers, like the officers of Qing dynasty, did not know how to draft constitutional law or direct a government organised by the principle of separation of powers. In order to build and ensure the constitutional monarchy system would function well, Japanese government had sent students and study groups to the United States and Europe since 1871. And when these officers and students returned from abroad, they introduced Western theories and technologies into the country, then. Among these people who studied abroad, Nakajima Rikizo (中島力造) was allegedly the first scholar who introduced Green’s thought into Japan. Nakajima finished his study at Yale University in 1889 and returned to teach ethics and philosophy at Tokyo Imperial University in 1890. Hereafter, Nakajima published few articles elaborating the philosophy of Green and British idealism on Journal of Philosophy (哲學雜誌) between 1892 and 1893. Years later, in 1909, Nakajima also published a book systematically discussing Green’s practical philosophy, including his metaphysical, ethical, and political theories. Meanwhile, there were other intellectuals writing and studying Green’s ethics. For instance, under Nakajima’s supervision, Nishida Kitaro’s (西田幾多郎’s) graduate essay was entitled as ‘A summary of Green’s ethics’ (グリーン氏倫理 学の大意), finished in 1894; and, in 1902, the first Japanese translation of Green’s Prolegomena to Ethics was published and translated by Nishi Shin’ichiro (西晉一郎). Besides Nishida and Nishi, scholars such as Onishi Hajime (大西祝), Inoue Tetsujiro (井上哲次郎), Takayama Chogyu (高山樗牛), Tsunashima Ryosen (綱島梁川), and Fukasaku Yasubumi (深作安文) also had articles on Green’s ethical thought (cf. Sweet, 2012: 86–88). In short, it appears that Green’s ethics was quite popular in Japan. As to the reason why Green was popular in Japan during the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century, Atsuko Hirai has given us some insights. According to Hirai, the reason that Green was widely discussed by Japanese scholars at that time is twofold (Hirai, 1976). On the one side, Green’s ethical thought indicates a possible way to reconcile the individual and the community. In terms of the traditional Japanese view of the relationship between the individual and the community, the individual is not only inseparable from family but also required to devote itself to the welfare of the country; moreover, if a person cannot contribute to the community, he or she will be considered as a shame of family. Then, since Green also emphasised on that an individual person can only realise his or her ideal self within a community and by contributing to the welfare of the community, his thought was considered as compatible with the traditional Japanese view of the individual’s value and life in the community. For the scholars who lived in this transformative age, the compatibility
136 Green’s Practical Philosophy was crucial as it gave them confidence that their way of life can still have a place in the modern society (Fukasaku, 1916: 80–117, 395–453). Yet, on the other side, Green’s ethical thought also helped the Japanese scholars to develop a doctrine of national morality, indicating that Japanese citizens has the moral duty to contribute and obey the country for they can only fulfil their moral worth by devoting themselves to the state (Hirai, 1979). As discussed earlier, Green argues that an individual’s self-realisation can only be achieved in a community by the individual’s devotion to the welfare of the community. Scholars such as Inoue Tetsujiro, Takayama, Tsunashima, and Fukasaku thus held the view that to fulfil one’s duty to the state is the best way for Japanese citizens to realise their personal worth and their moral ideals. As Inoue Enryo (井上円了) once said that ‘self-realisation is what all the individual, the family, the citizen, the member of the society and the country, and humans have to fulfil together’,3 each Japanese citizen thus has the duty to devote him or herself to the country (Sasaki, 2008: 269). So far, the Japanese interpretation of Green was not far away from Green’s own account of the relationship between individual morality and political obligation. Nonetheless, other scholars like Fukasaku however utilised Green’s view to justify statist thought. For Fukasaku, an individual’s idea of the self and its pursuit for the actualisation of the idea are both manifestations of the individual’s subjectivity indeed, but the state, as a work of individuals, has its own spirit and will and can thus influence individuals’ self-conceptions (Fukasaku, 1931: 252–261). That is to say, in Fukasaku’s account, the state has an independent personality. And since the state has its own will and capability to influence individual citizens, the citizens have to obey the will of the state, then – as they can only realise their worth and ideals by devoting themselves to the state. Green’s doctrine of self-realisation and ethical thought had thus become an important source for Japanese statist discourse (cf. Sasaki, 2008: 265–280). In brief, Green’s popularity in Japan was built on two things: first, his view of the relationship between the individual and the community was compatible with the traditional Japanese view on the matter, and second, his ethical thought has helped the Japanese scholars to develop a doctrine of national morality, according to which the value of the individual can only be demonstrated by fulfilling its duty to the state. When Yang introduced Green’s ethical thought into China, his concern was akin to the Japanese, then. First of all, Yang was translating Japanese texts on ethics. He translated Yoshida Seichi’s (吉田靜致’s) Western History of Ethics (西洋倫理 学史) and Abe Jiro’s (阿倍次郎) Japanese translation of Theodor Lipps’ The Fundamental Issues in Ethics (倫理学の根本問題) and published them respectively in 1918 and 1919. Also, the article mentioned earlier, ‘Exposition and Critique of Various Schools of Ethics’, supposedly was a translation made by Yang from Fukasaku’s writing (see Hirai,
Green’s Practical Philosophy 137 1976: 145–146). Hence, it seems reasonable to assume that the Japanese scholars’ research interest and concern may have some impact on Yang’s conception of ethics. Adding to this point, Yang was the kind of person who intended to save the country since his youth. In 1898, when Wuxu Reform began, Yang took part in it and published an article expressing his thought on the importance of political economy reform to China; in 1903, before going to Japan for study, Yang wrote in his diary talking his view of the approach China should take in order to strengthen its power (Yang, 1983: 16–20, 21–28). And, in 1913, Yang’s thought on the reform plan was mature. He said, China had been through dramatic transformation recently. However, since the reforms began, people have suffered more than benefited. For the reforms are inferior politically and have not transformed the spirit of the nation. Reforming political institutions is to change from the above; reforming educatory institutions is to change from the bottom. The change from the above can be fast but instable; the change from the bottom can be slow but enduring. To build high must have solid ground from the bottom, so I prefer to begin the reform from education.4 (ibid.: 44) Accordingly, what made Yang concerned most was the crisis of the nation and he believed the best way to respond to the crisis is educatory reform, as the reform can help change the spirit of the nation. And, in Yang’s view, the reason that to transform the spirit of the nation is crucial is that it is only when citizens are educated and have proper knowledge of democratic politics and civil morality that the Chinese can have a healthy and good life (ibid.: 46, 100–135). Put briefly, as Yang wanted to help reform China and make the country strong again, he had shared a similar thought with the Japanese scholars that national morality is the primary work for the country’s reform. While Yang considered the reform of citizenry education and national morality as the primary work that needs to be done for the modern China, he took Green’s ethical theory as a proper means for the C hinese to proceed such self-transformation. For Yang, like the Japanese scholars, believed that Green’s thought is compatible with the traditional Confucian morality. In ‘An Anthology of Matters of The Analects’ (論語類鈔), Yang compared Green’s idealist ethics with Mencius and the Neo-Confucianism of the Sung-Ming Period. There are three doctrines of modern ethics. The first is naturalism… the second is absolutism… the third is humanism…. The third doctrine is the new development of contemporary European
138 Green’s Practical Philosophy and American ethics. Naturalism is also called materialism, absolutism is also called absolute idealism, and humanism is also called personal idealism. As Confucius remarks that no sooner do I desire benevolence than it is here, this thought is also personal idealism to which Mencius, Lu Jiu-yuan and Wang Yang-ming all belong.5 (Yang, 1983: 82) Here, what the ethical thought of personal idealism indicates is Green’s ethics in Yang’s mind. To be sure, most Greenian scholars today may not consider Green’s thought as ‘personal idealism’; rather, they incline to deem Green’s thought as ‘absolute idealism’. As we discussed in Chapter 2, Green utilised the idea of the eternal consciousness in his argument and the eternal consciousness as something self-existent and distinct from human consciousness is taken as equal to the God or the absolute by scholars (Boucher, 1997: ix–xiv; Mander, 2011: 88–104). Nonetheless, Yang considered Green’s thought as ‘personal idealism’.6 According to Yang, personal idealism as an ethical doctrine underscores that all human actions have ends and these ends are determined by one’s own free will (Yang, 1983: 82). And, by Yang’s account, Green’s ethics has this feature as that for Green ‘moral cause cannot be from something outside an agent but rather from its inner demand. Our end is not transient pleasures but the realisation of our ideal selves, and this is what we should consider as the true ethical doctrine’ (ibid.: 271).7 Put briefly, Yang had interest in Green’s ethical thought because he considered it as an approach through which the traditional Confucian teaching can be transformed by a Western doctrine, and this transformation of the tradition as a reconciliation of the Eastern and the Western moral thinking would help the Chinese to adapt themselves to the modern life on the basis of Westernisation and industrialisation. So, it appears that the reception of Green’s thought in East Asia has its contingent circumstances such as scholars’ personal intentions and research interests, the national conditions under the transformative age, and the theories and thought that scholars considered as crucial to respond to the crisis of the countries. And, regarding the development of the study of Green in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan, these circumstances are significant as well, for they can help us to understand why the Greenian study has come to be less and less popular in these areas.
A Different Issue of Modernity Based on the earlier discussion, we can see that behind Yang and Japanese scholars’ research interest in Green’s ethical thought is the national crisis they concerned themselves with. By introducing and elaborating Green’s ethical theory, they thought that their traditional moral and social ideas can be properly transformed and they can then construct a
Green’s Practical Philosophy 139 new national morality as the foundation for their countries to survive in the modern world. However, as we have discussed earlier, Green’s practical philosophy is what he developed and proposed to respond to the issue of modernity the Great Britain faced with indeed, but the issue Green wanted to respond to and tackle with was not the same with those Yang and Japanese scholars intended to respond to. In terms of Green’s view, the issue of modernity he intended to respond to covers the loss of the communal spirit, the inequality between the privileged class and the common people, the division of human activities, and the individual alienation in the modern society. And, among all these things, individual alienation was the one which Green considered as the most crucial, and he took the atomistic view of the individual proposed and developed by the Enlightenment philosophy as the root of all the disturbing problems. Nonetheless, in terms of Yang’s or the Japanese scholars’ view, the issue of modernity they intended to tackle with is about how to reconcile their traditional ways of life with the Westernised and industrialised modern life and how to educate their people to prepare themselves for the modern condition and devote themselves to help their countries survive. Clearly, for Yang and the Japanese scholars, Green’s reconciliatory view of the individual and the community, citizens and the state, is appealing. However, since Green’s intention was not to respond to the existential crisis of a nation and cultural encounters, Yang’s and the Japanese scholars’ interpretations of Green’s thought were actually out of context. To be clear, at the time when Yang introduced Green’s thought into China, individual alienation had not been a problem to the country yet; rather, family ties and the patriarchal social structure were still influential in people’s life and thinking. As Yang said in 1914 that ‘[t]here is no church in our country but people still unite with each other; this is because we have patriarchy. Recently, some have claimed that the patriarchy should be abolished, but I fear that this would only make people frivolous and cannot bring any good for the society; hence, we should be careful with the claim’ (Yang, 1981: 26).8 Also, when Japanese scholars employed and borrowed Green’s ethical ideas to construct a discourse of national morality and propaganda statist thought, their intentions were not to respond to the issue of individual alienation in the Japanese society, either. Surely, as mentioned earlier, Green’s view on the relationship between individual freedom and common goods, the individual and the community, has been considered by scholars such as Sir W. D. Ross, John Plamenatz, and H. A. Prichard as a doctrine supporting collectivism, and Isaiah Berlin even claimed that Green’s thought might be used to justify totalitarianism. It appears that Green’s practical philosophy may easily be connected with statism or nationalism indeed. Yet, in the context of East Asia, Yang’s and the Japanese scholars’ cultural appropriation to a great extent had determined the fate of Greenian study there, for they were the first group of scholars who settled the agenda in the beginning.
140 Green’s Practical Philosophy Regarding the issue of whether Green’s practical philosophy supports collectivism and totalitarianism or not, I have explained that the answer is negative. Nonetheless, those impressions of Green were common in East Asia during the early twentieth century. For instance, Gao Yihan once commented that ‘after the eighteenth-century, the new statism has arisen; thinkers such as Fichte, Hegel, Mazzini, Carlyle, Ruskin and Green all underscore the function of the state and argue that all the obstacles placed in front of human beings can be overcome by the state and all the wealth in the world can be accumulated by the state’ (Gao, 1918: 1–2).9 In Gao’s view, then, Green’s thought is apparently a statist doctrine and has intellectual connection with Hegel’s idea of the state. In Japan, Kawai Eijiro suggested a similar view. For Kawai, as Green argues that the state is the society of societies and rights are derived from the state and cannot be used to oppose it, the individuals who live in the kind of the state Green depicted are actually living in ‘a police state’ with constraint. Kawai thought that the reason why Green would hold the view that the function of the state is confined to police is that he was following the traditional British view taking the state as nothing but a nightwatcher and an administrative agency (Kawai, 1938: 777–778). Kawai’s interpretation of Green’s idea of the state is odd as Green opposed to the view considering the state as a mere night-watcher. In addition, as we have discussed in Chapter 4, Green’s idea of the state is founded on his view of the human condition and his ethical theory and thus has a profound moral significance for individuals as the state power is an important means for individual citizens to discipline themselves jointly and to achieve their political and moral autonomy. Nevertheless, Kawai’s view was like Gao’s indicating the early twentieth-century East Asia scholars’ general thought of Green. Accordingly, we can see that besides Yang and those Japanese scholars who intended to borrow Green’s ideas to transform their society, other scholars such as Gao or Kawai were also considering Green’s thought as a doctrine akin to statism. Then, when Gao and other Chinese scholars such as Chen Duxiu, Hu Shih, and Lu Xun were promoting the social and cultural reformation of China, called the New Cultural movement (新文化運動), they had thus been critical of or alienated from Green’s thought. On 12 December 1915, Yuan Shikai (袁世凱), the Provisional President of the Republic of China, declared that the constitution of the state will be changed from the current republic into the constitutional monarchy in 1916. For Yuan, the political change after 1911 revolution was dramatic but it seemed to be a bit too rush to implement democratic r epublic institutions before the people have been well educated. Therefore, Yuan and the members of national assembly at the time all thought that to resume the reform of constitutional monarchy started from the late Qing dynasty would be better for the country. However, the decision provoked rebellions countrywide. Local governments of Yunnan, Guizhou, Guangxi,
Green’s Practical Philosophy 141 Guangdong, Hunan, Zhejiang, and many other provinces in south and central China sequentially proclaimed against Yuan. On 6 June 1916, Yuan died suddenly due to illness and the constitutional monarchy was then abolished once again (Young, 1983). However, during the time when Yuan was holding the presidency office, some officers and intellectuals had begun a movement called ‘worshipping Confucianism and returning to the past’ (尊孔復古) as they believed this is the way to revive the country’s spirit and power. Moreover, after Yuan died, the successor of his presidency, Li Yuanhong (黎元洪) cooperated with Kang Youwei proclaiming that Confucianism is the state religion of China and the Confucian spirit should be written in the constitutional law. Yet, this ‘worshipping Confucianism and returning to the past’ movement stimulated a group of young scholars to come forward and criticise the Confucian tradition vehemently, and they organised a different movement called the ‘New Cultural movement’ in order to counter against the revival of Confucianism and the old political regime (cf. Hodous, 1918). The New Cultural movement is a symbolic event of the third wave Chinese modernisation. For the movement wanted to review and reconstruct the social and cultural values and institutions in China comprehensively in order to build a new society better for the people to adapt to the modern life. In the preface to the initial issue of its leading journal New Youth (新青年), the leading figure of the movement, Chen Duxiu said that, ‘human body will be health by following the rule of metabolism, whereas the congestion of the old and obsolete cells in the body will cause to its death; also, the society will be prosperous by following the rule of metabolism, whereas the congestion of the old and obsolete persons in the society will cause to its death, too’ (Chen, 1915: 1).10 For Chen, Confucianism was the old and obsolete ‘cells’ in China and the people who intended to revive it were also being old and obsolete. Nonetheless, what the term ‘old’ means here is not about a person’s age but about a person’s state of mind. If a person can keep his or her mind young and always wants to learn new things and pursues after new ideas, the person will not be ‘old’ for Chen. As to the reason why Chen strongly opposed to Confucianism, it is that he considered the patriarchal society and the traditional values which Confucianism underscored as obstacles to the establishment of the modern society in China. As he said, [t]he modern life is built upon economy, and individualism is the fundamental principle of economic production while its influence spreads over ethical studies. As the result, the independence of individual personality in ethics and the independence of individual property in economics are mutually justified, and the doctrine of individualism has thus been assured. Its achievement was then the improvement of social habit and the flourishing of material life. However, Chinese Confucians rather established their discipline based on
142 Green’s Practical Philosophy the moral codes of the society. People as the sons or the wives cannot have independent personalities or properties. Fathers and elder brothers have to raise their sons and younger brothers… sons and younger brothers have to take care of their fathers and elder brothers… so the independence of individual personality is incomplete while the independence of individual property is not even relevant.11 (Chen, 1916: 3) Accordingly, from Chen’s perspective, Confucianism was the one which kept China from its transformation towards the modern society built upon individualism, and Chen had thus devoted himself to fight against the old regime and Confucianism. Taking the Confucian tradition as old and obsolete and individualism as new and modern, Chen and his fellows developed a different view on the relationship between the individual and the state, compared with Yang Changji. For instance, Li Dazhao argued that ‘the old morality of patriarchy and statism cannot exist in the age of world economy anymore as they are things only existing for the economy of household and nationalism…The morality we need today is the one not divine, religious, classical, or of classes, privates, occupations, but of humanity, beauty and practical, universal, cooperative, creative’ (Li, 1999: 403).12 In addition, Hu shih also urged that ‘now some people may tell you that “sacrifice your freedom for the freedom of the state!” But I would tell you that “to fight for your individual freedom is to fight for the freedom of the state, to fight for your personality is to fight for the personality of the state! For a liberal and just state is not built by a crowd of slaves”’ (Hu, 1930: 10).13 Apparently, for Li and Hu, the survival of the state is important indeed but this does not mean that individuals can only make contribution to it by devoting themselves to the state; rather, the praxis of individual freedom and the flourishing of individual life are taken by them as the better way for individuals to contribute to their country and human beings. So, for those scholars and intellectuals who participated in the New Cultural movement, the value of the individual is prior to the state, then. As Chen said clearly that ‘[w]hat is the state?… Honestly, I think the state is a kind of idol. A state is nothing but a collection of a people or peoples who occupy a land with an artificial name; however, if we move the people and only leave the land, the state will be gone, and we will have no idea what the state is about’ (Chen, 1918: 9–10).14 Hence, along with the emergence of the ‘New Cultural movement’, the kind of statist thought which was taken as advocated by Green and his introducers in East Asia was thus gradually to be not an interesting topic for the new generation scholars in China, not to mention the idea of connecting Green’s ethical thought with Confucianism. Given that Chinese scholars were getting less and less interest in Green’s thought after the New Cultural movement, the change of Chin
Green’s Practical Philosophy 143 Yuelin’s (金岳霖’s) research interests might be another example of this. Chin was born in Changsha in 1895, the year Qing dynasty lost the war against Japan; later, between 1914 and 1920, he studied politics in the United States and received his doctoral degree from the Columbia University. In 1925, Chin returned to China and began to teach logics at the Tsinghua University. Yet, although Chin taught logics when he returned from abroad, at the Columbia University his doctoral thesis was about Green’s moral and political thought. According to Chin’s memoirs, it was because he attended William Archibald Dunning’s course of the history of political theories that he encountered with Green’s thought. However, although Chin’s thesis focused on Green’s political theory, and especially his account for the function of the state, what made Chin feel most appealing was the abstract thinking and inference process which he engaged in when reading Green. As he said, ‘with the experience I had between 1918 and 1920, I have never left abstract thinking after then’ (Chin, 2011: 22).15 This intellectual pleasure eventually became the reason Chin chose to study analytical philosophy as his life career. In addition, similar to Gao YinHan and Kawai Eijiro, Chin was critical of Green’s idea of the state. For Chin, it is fair enough to say that the function of the state is to ensure conditions that can help individual citizens to achieve their ideals; however, the way the state can employ to fulfil such function is always relied upon its compelling power. In other words, Chin thinks, by virtue of Green’s account the state can legitimately, or at least justifiably, use its power to force individuals to obey as ‘the end justifies the means’ (Chin, 1920: 159–160). Apparently, Chin’s interpretation of Green is akin to Berlin’s and they both think that Green’s thought would be easily used to justify a sort of form of autocracy. At the time when he was in London and Europe between 1921 and 1925, Chin had then turned away from Green and begun to study Hume and Bertrand Russell. Before the establishment of the Communist China in 1949, Chin had published three books on ontology, epistemology, and formal logic, respectively, and was the first scholar who had established a systematic philosophy in modern China. However, after the People’s Republic of China was built, Chin had abandoned his achievement and confessed that those ‘idealist’ studies are parts of the bourgeoisie culture. Since 1951, Chin wrote several essays to criticise his published books and the logic he adopted to make such self-criticism was Marxism-Leninism and class conflict (see Chin, 2013: 621–769). Whether such dramatic change of Chin was under political pressure or not is an issue beyond our concern here. Yet, Chin had remarked in his doctoral thesis that ‘[l]ogic sometimes drives man mad, but in logic there is beauty. Idealistic as well as materialistic philosophy has its intellectual charms. It has been said of Karl Marx that the Marxian system is a credit to human ingenuity; hence rather than to demolish it piecemeal, it is better to permit its structure to retain its sublimity and brilliance’ (Chin, 1920: 164). Therefore, it is hard
144 Green’s Practical Philosophy to tell that Chin’s change after 1950 was or was not sincere. Nonetheless, this change of Chin can help us know that after the Communist China was built, there were no room for Greenian study in mainland China.
The Development of Greenian Study in Hong Kong and Taiwan At this point, it should be clear that the rise and fall of Greenian study in China were closely related to the change of the ways of responding to the issue of modernity conceived and proposed by Chinese scholars. For the scholars like Yang Changji, finding a way to reconcile Chinese traditional values and Western thought was significant; but, for the scholars like Gao Yihan or Chen Duxiu, overthrowing the old and obsolete tradition and adopting individualism comprehensively were the best way to respond to the modernity, instead. However, since individualism was not a problem but a way of life for the early twentieth-c entury Chinese society to pursue after, the attempt to appropriate Green’s thought and adopt it in China was misleading, as the fundamental question Green’s thought designed to answer was individual alienation in the modern society. Nonetheless, although generally Green’s thought was not considered as an interesting topic among Chinese scholars after the New Cultural movement and the establishment of the Communist China, there were a few scholars still working on Green’s thought; among them, Tang Junyi (唐君毅), Chang Fo-chuan (張佛泉), and Yin Haiguang (殷海光) are the three most important figures. Tang Junyi was born in Sichuan in 1909 and was educated at the Peking University for two years since 1925. In 1927, Tang went to the Nanjing Central University for studying philosophy and stayed there as lecturer in philosophy since 1933. When the Chinese Nationalist Party (Kuomintang) lost the war against the Communists in 1949, Tang moved to Hong Kong and founded New Asia College (新亞書院) with Qian Mu (錢穆) and Chang Chi-yun (張其昀) there. According to Tang, when he studied at the Peking University and the Nanjing Central University, he opposed to idealism, for he thought that everything must be real and self-existent so that we can investigate and discuss the relations between them. Yet, Tang recalled that after he graduated from the Nanjing Central University and began to read writings of Kant, Hegel, and Fichte, he changed his mind and eventually took the philosophy of idealism as an important intellectual resource for him to rearticulate the traditional Confucian teachings (Tang, 1988b: 370–391). As he said, ‘Confucians used to talk about Ren and the affective communion between the self and the others, claiming that Ren and affective communion can help people to see the mind of Heaven; and western idealists used to talk about the metaphysical unity by which we can perceive the divine mind. These are the tenets of Chinese and western thoughts respectively which are
Green’s Practical Philosophy 145 also what I have advocated and believed and would like to introduce and develop’ (Tang, 1978: 4).16 In a word, Tang was similar to Yang Changji as he also wanted to reconcile Confucianism with Western thought and took idealism as a means to proceed such reconciliation. Speaking of the reason why Tang would have interest in Green’s philosophy, there seems to be three. First, Tang thinks that Green’s idea of the eternal consciousness is well argued with solid empirical analysis and is thus better than Hegel’s mysterious idea of the absolute, which is presumably without empirical foundation. As Tang said, [a]mong the creative philosophers of Anglo-American New Hegelianism, Green was the first we should mention. What Green opposed to Hegel mostly was Hegel’s underestimation of the importance of the analysis of the objective world.… Green’s argument of the existence of divine consciousness is completely based on empirical probability as well as the probability of moral phenomena step by step. So his idea of divine consciousness is much closer to our world than Hegel’s.17 (Tang, 1991a: 144; cf. Tang, 1991b: 422–423). Surely, as discussed in Chapter 2, Green did introduce the idea of the eternal consciousness after he analysed the structure of the objective world and the relationship between the world and human perception in Prolegomena to Ethics. It is thus fair to say that Green’s idea of the eternal consciousness has its empirical foundation. And by taking this analysis of Green’s as a theoretical advantage and development, we may agree with Tang that Green’s thought was an interesting topic which should be discussed and introduced to the Chinese. Adding to this point, Tang also thinks that the thought of Green and British idealism indicates the new development in British philosophy which can help us to see the defects of former theories such as the deficiency of the thought of John Stuart Mill, Herbert Spencer, or Huxley. As mentioned earlier since the late nineteenth century, there have been translations made by intellectuals such as Yan Fu, Lin Shu, or Zhou Zuoren introducing Western thought into China. Among the works translated, the writings of Huxley, Darwin, Mill, and Spencer were quite popular. However, having popularity is not equal to having perfect argument. As Tang pointed out, ‘Spencer, Huxley, Darwin, Mill were nothing but a branch of nineteenth-century British utilitarianism (utilitarianism in the broad sense). However, this branch was not the main stream of the contemporary western thought. During the late nineteenth-century, they had been replaced with the German thought introduced by Carlyle and Green in Britain’ (Tang, 1988c: 5–6).18 To keep updating the new development of Western thought is accordingly another reason for Tang to introduce Green.
146 Green’s Practical Philosophy Moreover, as Tang had strong interest in the issue of the value of human life, he noted that Green’s theory of self-realisation suggests an account of the value of the individual which may be helpful for him to apprehend the issue. For Tang, ‘the central question of all the philosophies is the question of life values. All those speculations and controversies about metaphysics and epistemology are built for defending their conceptions of values, and therefore are secondary’ (Tang, 1986: 419).19 And Green’s account that an individual person can only realise its ideal self in a communal life is inspiring to Tang in this regard. In Tang’s view, an individual person, by Green’s account, would encounter with internal conflict when its moral consciousness is in opposition to natural impulses. But the way for the person to overcome this internal conflict is not simply by the oppression of moral consciousness over natural impulses; rather, it is when the moral consciousness brings out a kind of desire urging the person to respond to the moral consciousness that the natural impulses would be negated and the person would thus achieve the ultimate reconciliation (Tang, 1991b: 423–424). Apparently, Tang’s recapitulation of Green is quite accurate as we have indicated in Chapter 3 that Green’s idea of the individual’s self-realisation involves two dimensions, internal and external, and the internal part is exactly about the unity of desire and reason rather than the suppression of desire and impulse by reason, while the external part is related to the issue of whether a person shares common goods with others and has the intention to make contribution to those goods. In brief, as Tang intended to use the idealist philosophy as a means to rearticulate Confucianism and thus had interest in Green’s theory of self-realisation, his study of Green seems to be resuming the work which Yang Changji had begun. As indicated, Yang was thinking that Green’s ethical thought is compatible with the traditional Confucianism and trying to employ Green’s thought as a means to educate Chinese people for helping them to adapt to the modern life. Based on this, Tang’s work was seemingly trying to continue what Yang started. Nonetheless, there are differences between Tang and Yang. In the article ‘the Development of the Spirit of Chinese Young People in Sixty Years’ (六十年來中國青年精 神之發展), Tang said that, when those young people who once participated in the May Fourth movement became old and middle-aged, they could not but became extreme individualists. And for this sort of extreme individualists, no matter how I try, I cannot see any part of them deserve people’s respect. If a person only cares about his individual freedom, it is fine for him to move to Britain or the United States and settle in there. At present, if we want to advocate for individual freedom in China, it cannot be only for myself alone but rather for all the individuals in China. First of all, we should have compassion for our parents,
Green’s Practical Philosophy 147 brothers, relatives, friends and all the fellows who stay in mainland China and have no individual freedom at all. Bearing that compassion in our minds, we need to establish a social and political institution which can protect individual freedom and human rights for each of us.20 (Tang, 1973: 124–125) Apparently, while Tang’s intention behind his study of Green may be akin to Yang’s, it was nonetheless just one dimension of his concern about the issue of modernity in China. As a person who had experienced the New Cultural movement, individualism had come to be a query for Tang whereas it was not Yang’s primary concern. Also, like Green, Tang noticed about the danger of division of labour to a society, too. In order to help people to have the notion of objective values, we must make people know the intrinsic values of their works and be able to appreciate their work values mutually. The specialisation of people’s works will make them unable to appreciate those values. And this is the intractable part of the social, cultural and political problems that the Modern West, in particular the United States, faced with.21 (Tang, 1988a: 115). Accordingly, although Tang’s intention to study Green and his research topic of Green are both similar to Yang’s, the situations and questions Tang encountered with were not the same with Yang. And, since individualism and social division have been recognised as parts of the issue of modernity, Tang’s introduction and discussion of Green’s thought seem to be justified. Similar to Tang, Chang Fo-chuan was also aware of the individualism issue in the modern age. Chang was born in Beijing in 1908 and went to study politics at the John Hopkins University in 1932 supervised by Arthur O. Lovejoy. In 1934, Chang returned to China, but he left again and moved to Taiwan when the Communists won the war against the Chinese Nationalist Party in 1949. Few years later, Chang wrote in the preface of his book Freedom and Human Rights (自由與人權), in which he employed Green’s thought to build his own argument, that the political disturbance in mainland China was an important reason for him to write the book. In terms of Chang’s view, the Chinese Communists and its political ideology, the collectivist thought of Marxism-Leninism, have created a totalitarian regime in mainland China and endangered individual freedom and human rights. So, in order to demonstrate to the people why freedom and human rights are so important for us and how they are related to democratic institutions, Chang therefore wrote the book (Chang, 1993a: 9). Nonetheless, Chang reminded us that not only can a totalitarian regime be built on a collectivist thought but also can be built on extreme
148 Green’s Practical Philosophy individualism. Learning from Bernard Bosanquet, Chang comments that extreme individualists, such as Hobbes, Bentham, and John S. Mill, generally believe that individual freedom and government regulation are mutually exclusive; however, this thinking will paradoxically lead them to support a collectivist view of government (Chang, 1993b: 43–45). According to Bosanquet, if individual freedom means no constraint from without and only the individual itself can decide the boundary of its action, there will be no government and social life unless they are built on the individual’s consent. Yet, extreme individualists generally also think that the individual is a self-interested person. So the government thus built would be built in accordance with the collective interests of individuals, and this means that those individuals who do not share the same interests would face with threats from that government’s collective power (Bosanquet, 2001: 90–103). To Chang, the fault that extreme individualists make here is to conceive the nature of government regulation as punishment only so that they wrongly believe that individual freedom and government regulation are incompatible (Chang, 1993b: 51–52). And then, in order to demonstrate the compatibility of individual freedom and government regulation, Chang employed Green’s views into his argument. First, Chang followed Green and argued that government intervention is about regulations of people’s external actions indeed, but its function is not confined to punishment as it can help to remove obstacles to people’s freedoms and to ‘maintain conditions of life in which morality shall be possible’ (Chang, 1993b: 172–176, 179–180). In other words, government regulation does have positive functions in enabling individual freedom and is not always in opposition to freedom. Meanwhile, like Green, Chang also asserted that the consciousness of right is derived from the self-conscious rational subjects who recognise each other as equal human beings and live in the same society. And the idea of right so formulated and claimed should be on the list of basic rights for all the individual subjects living in the same society and be the object which the government should protect (ibid.: 126–136). That is to say, while the government has some positive functions, it cannot expand its power unlimitedly, for each regulation which the government implements has to meet the conditions made in accordance with the list of people’s basic rights formulated by the people themselves. Based on these, Chang developed an account for the thought that individual freedom and government regulation are compatible by adopting Green’s thought. Yet, Chang was not simply utilising Green’s views to build his own argument. As Chang acknowledged Green’s claim that rights are formulated and claimed by a group of people who recognise each other as equal, Chang was clearly aware of the difficulty for the Chinese to adopt that institution of human rights originated from Europe; nonetheless, he still believed it is possible for the Chinese to build such an institution if they have sufficient knowledge of human rights and freedom. For him,
Green’s Practical Philosophy 149 ‘a nation would never need to repeat the entire life experience of another nation, and they would never need to appropriate institutions. Yet, a nation may often need to learn from another nation’s life style. And this is feasible. Any doctrine or way of life has its historical origin. But when the development of it comes to a certain stage, the universal elements in it will manifest. So the nations cannot re-enact the history but they can learn the universal elements from each other’ (Chang, 1993b: 269).22 In brief, in Chang’s view, although there are cultural differences between the Chinese and the Europeans, the Chinese can still build a liberal democratic country one day as long as they apprehended the meanings and values of individual freedom, human rights, democracy, and the modern state. As to Yin Haiguang, his interest in Green seemed to be similar to Chang and mainly focused on the intellectual connection between Green and liberal thought. Yin was born in Huanggang in 1919 and was supervised by Chin Yuelin when he began his study of philosophy at National Southwestern Associated University since 1938. Under Chin’s influence, Yin’s expertise was mainly in logic, analytical philosophy, and the philosophy of science, but he was also an active liberal. In 1950, after he moved to Taiwan to escape from the Communist authority, Yin published an essay ‘The Implications of Liberalism’ (自由主義底蘊涵) and made a comment on Green in it. For Yin, there are four implications of liberalism: political, economic, intellectual, and ethical; and among them, ethical liberalism is for him the most important one. According to Yin, political liberalism indicates that citizens have the right to participate in political affairs and the right to choose their ruler by vote while the government has to follow the principle of the rule of law to govern. And the living example of political liberalism is democratic politics. Economic liberalism, however, indicates that the government should not intervene into economic activities and its functions are simply to punish crimes and to protect private property. As to intellectual liberalism, Yin took it as the freedom of thought from the religious obscurantism. In Yin’s view, it was after the Reformation that the Europeans had gradually freed themselves from the intellectual persecution of the Church and of the Princes later (Yin, 2011: 694–698). As to ethical liberalism, Yin argued that it is the most important implication of liberalism. For Yin, ethical liberalism indicates the ethical reasons that support the credibility of liberalism. And, according to Yin, there are two kinds of ethical theory supporting liberalism at the time. The first is utilitarianism. Claiming that all norms and laws have to be designated in accordance with the principle of ‘the greatest amount of happiness for the greater number’, utilitarianism in Yin’s view can help people to supervise the ruling power and provide reasons for the society to improve itself (Yin, 2011: 698–699, 702–703, 1153–1155). The majority of people may gather together and decide plans of the society fitting with
150 Green’s Practical Philosophy their interests and then execute them. The second is Green’s thought. Arguing that the ultimate end of the individual person is to realise its ideal self and the function of the government is to ensure conditions for the individual to achieve that goal, Green’s thought in Yin’s view suggests an important notion that ‘while individuals acquire rights from the society and the society imposes its power over individuals, they all manifest a simple fact that those rights and powers are what necessary for making a person to be a moral being’ (ibid.: 699).23 Based on this, Yin argued that Green had reversed our conception of the government, from a necessary evil to ‘a necessary condition of good’ and thus provided a more solid ground to support liberalism than utilitarianism (ibid.: 699–700). Here, it appears that Yin’s conception of Green was akin to Chang’s as they both noted the importance of Green’s positive account for the function of the government and its connection with his theory of rights. Considering that Chin Yuelin was Yin’s supervisor, it might not be a surprise that Yin would have such knowledge of Green. Also, in ‘political organisation and individual freedom’ (政治組織與個人自由), published in 1954, Yin made a clear statement that he had followed Chang to define individual freedoms as basic human rights (Yin, 2011: 818). As Chang had learnt much from Green to develop his own account for the ideas of freedom and human rights, Yin’s appropriation was closely in connection with Green’s thought, too. To be sure, Yin was a well-known liberal who had made inspiring interpretations of Hayek.24 Nonetheless, his interest in Green or other liberal topics related to Green seemed to continue for several years since 1930s. In sum, we can see that as scholars and intellectuals in mainland China gradually lost their interest in Green after the New Cultural movement and the establishment of the People’s Republic of China, those who moved to Hong Kong and Taiwan after 1949 had continued doing research about Green. Unfortunately, after Tang, Chang, and Yin passed away, there seemed to be no scholar having strong research interest in Green anymore.25 Nevertheless, through this survey of the development of Greenian study in China and its periphery, we can find that Green’s practical philosophy has some features rendering its migration in East Asia desirable. First, the relationship between the individual and the community is not mutually exclusive by Green’s account. While individualism is considered as a symbolic feature of the modernity, the scholars and intellectuals who are interested in Green’s thought in East Asia all found that Green’s reconciliatory account of the relationship between the individual and the community is inspiring and can be employed to respond to their current problems such as the tension between the old patriarchal social life and the new urban individual life. Second, the thought that the individual can only realise its ideal by devoting to the community is what the Asian scholars thought they need at that time. As the Chinese or the Japanese were eager to learn Western knowledge, they also sought
Green’s Practical Philosophy 151 for alternative discourses to encourage people’s support for the government. Like Takayama Rinjiro, Tsunashima Ryosen, and Fukasaku Yasubumi, Yang Changji and Tang Junyi also had that similar kind of idea when they introduced Green’s thought into China. And, third, when the scholars and intellectuals introduced and employed Green’s thought into their contexts, they were not trying to overthrow or transform their traditional values and ideas completely, and this implies that there were some elements in Green’s thought which they thought were compatible with their traditions. Last but not least, as the Chinese and the Japanese scholars and intellectuals accumulated their knowledge of Western history, thoughts, and cultures, their conceptions and interpretations of Green had also diversified. While the nineteenth-century scholars and intellectuals underscored the value of Green’s theory of self-realisation, the new generation scholars noted the significance of his metaphysical theory and rights theory and his re-articulation of liberalism. Then, as this development of Greenian study in East Asia is closely related to how the scholars and intellectuals conceived and responded to the issue of modernity they encountered with, the ways these scholars and intellectuals perceived and understood Green were thus premised on the stimulation of modernity as a challenge to them. Adding to this point, conversely, we can also identify how the Chinese and Japanese scholars perceived the challenges brought out by the modernity to them through studying at the change of their interpretations of Green and the intentions behind these interpretations. In other words, our survey of the development of Greenian study in East Asia can provide some insight into the complexity of modernity for us.
Notes 1 Such as the London Missionary Society Press, the American Presbyterian Mission Press, Tongwen Guan, Shanghai Guangfangyan Guan (上海廣方言館), and the Commercial Press. 2 Original text: ‘至格林乃巧融合古今有數之惟心論的倫理學說之長處，大成自我 現實主義’. 3 Original text: ‘自我実現は、個人として、家族として、国民として、社会国体の一員 として、人類として、悉く完全ならざるべからず’. 4 Original text: ‘中國近年可謂大變矣，然其變方始，吾民尚未得變之利，而往往 得變之害。蓋所變者政法之粗迹，所未變者民族之精神。從政治上求變，變之自 上者也；從教育上求變，變之自下者也。變之自上者效速而易遷；變之自下者效遲 而可久。高以下為基，吾寧自教育始矣’. 5 Original text: ‘近世倫理學說中有三種主義。其一為自然主義…其二曰絕對主 義…其三曰人本主義…。第三說則為今日歐美倫理學說上新傾向也。自然主義又 謂之惟物論，絕對主義又謂之絕對惟心論，人本主義又謂之人格惟心論。夫子言 欲仁仁至，蓋實為人格惟心論，孟子、陸、王均此派也’. 6 This thought of Yang’s on Green might be influenced by Japanese scholars as well. For those Japanese scholars who had interest in Green, Green’s idea of personality was fascinating. When Nakajima Rikizo, Nishida Kitaro, and many others studied Green’s thought, the idea of personality was one of their
152 Green’s Practical Philosophy foci and this research interest also had its influence on Abe Jiro, Nitobe Inazo (新渡戸稲造), and Kawai Eijiro (河合栄治郎). Yet, whereas these Japanese scholars had strong interest in Green’s idea of personality, they also noted that Green’s idea of the eternal consciousness causes some tension in his argument (see, for example, Nakajima, 1909: 337–382; Kawai, 1938: 770–775). As to the relationship between Green’s thought and Japanese personalism studies, see Sako (1995) and Yukiyasu (2007). 7 Original text: ‘道德之原因不存在于行為者以外，而出於其內界之要求。吾人究 竟之目的不在于一時之快樂，而在于理想的自我之實現，吾人欲以是為道德之真 說明’. 8 Original text: ‘吾國無教會而民不散，實賴有家族主義以維持之。近人有提倡破 壞家族主義之說者，竊恐徒長淺薄之風，而社會終不蒙其福利，不可不加深察 也’. Nonetheless, while Yang was cautious of the urge for abolishing patriarchy in China, he was also aware of the defects of the patriarchy (see Yang, 1981: 68–69). 9 Original text: ‘乃至十八世纪以後，新國家主義日益發明，如費舒特（Fichte）、海 格爾（Hegel）、瑪志尼（Mazzini）、加奈爾（Carlyle）、駱司硜（Ruskin）、格林 （Green）諸氏均闡發國家之功能，以为人類一切障礙，惟賴國家之力可以剷除； 一切利益，惟賴國家之力可以發達’. 10 Original text: ‘人身遵新陳代謝之道則健康，陳腐朽敗之細胞充塞人身則人身 死；社會遵新陳代謝之道則隆盛，陳腐朽敗之分子充塞社會則社會亡’. 11 Original text: ‘現代生活，以經濟為之命脈，而個人獨立主義，乃為經濟學生產 之大則，其影響遂及於倫理學。故現代倫理學上之個人人格獨立，與經濟學上之 個人財產獨立，互相証明，其說遂至不可搖動﹔而社會風紀，物質文明，因此大 進。中土儒者，以綱常立教。為人子為人妻者，既失個人獨立之人格，復無個人獨 立之財產。父兄畜其子弟，子弟養其父兄。…人格之個人獨立既不完全，財產之個 人獨立更不相涉’. 12 Original text: ‘從前的家族主義、國家主義的道德，因為他是家族經濟，國家經濟 時代發生的東西，斷不能存在於世界經濟時代的…我們今日所需要的道德，不是 神的道德、宗教的道德、古典的道德、階級的道德、私營的道德、占據的道德；乃 是人的道德、美化的道德、實用的道德、大同的道德、互助的道德、創造的道德’. 「犧牲你們個人的自由，去求國家的自由！」 13 Original text: ‘現在有人對你們說： 我對你們說： 「爭你們個人的自由，便是為國家爭自由！爭你們自己的人格，便是 為國家爭人格！自由平等的國家不是一群奴才建造得起來的！」’. 14 Original text: ‘國家是個什麼？…我老實說一句，國家也是一種偶像。一個國家， 乃是一種或數種人民集合起來，占據一塊土地，假定的名稱，若除去人民，單剩 一塊土地，便不見國家在哪裡，便不知國家是什麼’. 15 Original text: ‘在1918到1920年這一段時間之後，我就沒有離開過抽象思想’. 16 Original text: ‘自昔儒者言仁，言人我心之感通，由此仁與感通以見天心；西方理 想主義者，言人心之形而上的統一，由此已見上帝之心。此乃中西思想之究竟義， 吾所夙信受奉持，並樂為之引申發揮者’. 17 Original text: ‘在英美新黑格爾學派中有創造的哲學家，我們第一當數格林。格 林最反對黑格爾的就是說黑格爾不重客觀世界的分析的…格林論Divine Consciousness的存在，步步全是自經驗上之可能，道德現象之可能上看。他所謂的 Divine Consciousness顯然比黑格爾絕對更切近我們的世界’. 18 Original text: ‘斯賓塞、赫胥黎、達爾文、穆勒不過是十九世紀英國功利主義（廣 義的功利主義）思想之一派。此派思想來自即非西洋思想之主流。在英國十九世 紀後半即以卡萊爾、格林等之介紹德國思想而逐漸失其勢力’. 19 Original text: ‘吾今以為一切哲學之中心問題，乃生命價值觀念問題。一切形上 學知識論之玄思玄辯，皆為護持其價值觀念而立，乃屬第二義’. 20 Original text: ‘五四時代的青年成為中年老年後，恒不免墮落為道地的個人主義 者。而這種道地的個人主義者，無論如何，我看不出什麼值得尊敬的地方。一個 人如真只求他個人的自由，則儘可以到英美去住家，這就夠了。我們現在要在中 國提倡個人自由，決不能是只為我這個人，而當是為中國一切人的個人。在此我
Green’s Practical Philosophy 153
們首先應當對於在大陸的我們之父母、兄弟、親戚、朋友，及一切同胞之失去一 切個人自由，先有一難過不忍的惻隱之心。本此心去求建立一社會政治制度，以 保障中國一切人之個人自由或人權’. Original text: ‘欲使人真有客觀的價值意識，則必須使人與人能直接的相互欣賞 工作之本身價值。以人與人之工作之日趨特殊化，卻又使人必然日益不能互相欣 賞其工作之本身之價值。此中即有現代西方，尤其是美國之社會文化政治問題’. Original text: ‘一民族從未嘗需要重複另一民族的整個生活，他們更未嘗需要「 移植」「制度」。一民族卻常要學習另一民族的某一種生活方法。這是可以作到 的。任何學說或生活方法都有其歷史的起源。但當它發展到某一階段時，便常顯 出它的普遍因素來。那歷史的經過是無法重演的，而那普遍的因素卻是可供共同 學習的’. Original text: ‘個人從社會而獲得某些權利，社會對於個人施行某些權力，同樣 都是依據一個事實之上，即是，這些權力乃使人成為一道德的存在之所必須’. The interesting thing here is that Hayek himself advocated a kind of the limited government and minimal government intervention but Green basically advocated the growth of government intervention. As an expert of Hayek’s thought, Yin’s interest in Green is itself an interesting research topic. Recently, Roy Tseng has published articles on Green (see Tseng, 2015, 2016). On the other hand, Yukiyasu Shigeru (行安茂) and other Japanese scholars founded the Japanese Association of English Idealism (日本イギリス理想主義学 会) in 2003 and its members are active in Japan and other places in the world.
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The aim of this book is to illustrate the significance of Green’s practical philosophy in regard to the issue of modernity. In order to achieve that aim, the book has first established an account of Green’s practical philosophy and explored its potentiality of crossing cultures afterwards. By identifying the issue of modernity as the central question which Green’s philosophical thought aimed to respond to, we can see that Green’s thought is composed of three parts: a human ontology, a self-realisation ethical theory, and a political theory of active citizens. Green’s practical suggestion to the modernity issue, the existential crisis of the individual in the modern society, is premised on that systematic thinking, then.
Practical Philosophy and Ethical Politics In Chapter 1, I have indicated the wide range of the modernity issue Green intended to respond. As the development of modernity has brought new technologies, new theories, and new values to British society, the economic, political, and moral structures of the society however unequally distributed the benign consequences of modernity (such as the increasing national wealth, the healthy and advanced rights protection, and so on) and privileged a few educated and noble classes. As the result, the gap between the privileged classes and the common people was deepening, the legitimacy of the ruling class’s governance was diminishing, and the Great Britain was on the brink of revolution. Noticing these disturbances in the nineteenth-century Britain, Green believed that the root of them is the atomic view of the individual and a series of social ideas and transformations based on it. While the universe is considered as a space-time continuum composed of a massive number of atoms, the artificial world is also taken as a place composed of a certain number of atomic individuals in terms of such an atomic view. Yet, this individuation of the British society caused the loss of the communal spirit, the division of classes, the prevalence of egoist psyche, and the corruption of social morality. Thence, in Chapters 2–4, I have demonstrated how Green established his practical philosophy step by step and ultimately developed
Conclusion 157 an alternative conception of ethical politics in order to respond to those issues. In Chapter 2, we see that Green’s first step to build his philosophical system is to reconsider the metaphysical presumption made by the Enlightenment philosophy. Whereas the Enlightenment philosophy assumes that there is an objective world existing independent of human beings and all what we human beings can know and have known are derived from our perceptions of the world, Green nonetheless indicates that if there is a self-existent world independent of us but having some kind of external relationship with us – through the physiological perception and nerve conduction of ours, our knowledge of the world outside our minds cannot be derived from the world per se; rather, it can only be built on the perceptions we constitute in our minds. For Green, our awareness of a world existing outside from us is an idea which we have acquired through self-reflection, a reflection we would have by distinguishing a known object from a knowing subject inside our minds. Based on this, Green argues that as we humans have the capability of self-distinguishing and self-determining and are not simply products of an objective world, we actually have a sort of internal connection with the world and all the other existences. However, since Green holds the view that the known object is made by our self-reflection and its content is from our perceptions, the objectivity of knowledge by this account seems to be missing. The idea of the eternal consciousness is what Green proposed to tackle that question in his argument. Nonetheless, whereas the idea of the eternal consciousness signifies an ideal system of knowledge in which every fact and idea is placed in its correct position related to others, the terms Green employed to expound this idea are somehow confusing. As he remarks that human consciousness is a reproduction of the eternal consciousness, or the idea of God could be a metaphor of the idea of the eternal consciousness, the notion Green proposed to tackle that objectivity issue in his thought however makes his argument having a sort of religious or transcendental feature. Yet, as I have explained, the idea of the eternal consciousness in Green’s thought may have few implications but none of them is religious or transcendental. It is not an idea suggested by Green to replace the idea of God but an idea indicating the condition for human knowledge and human action to be possible. Furthermore, I have laid out the significance of the idea of the eternal consciousness in Green’s argument in Chapter 3. As the distinction of the subject and the object is made by our self-reflection, the capability of self-distinguishing and self-determining demonstrated through this reflection is in Green’s thought the outset of modes of human consciousness. Nonetheless, the ultimate end for these modes, such as desire, intellect, will, and practical reason, is the reconciliation of the subject and the object and to let us feel at home once again. Taking this end as the telos of human life, what implication the idea of the eternal consciousness reveals
158 Conclusion to us is that the telos is unachievable. That is, as the modes of human consciousness are what defines us as humans, the ultimate reconciliation of the subject with the object however means that the rest of these modes and those defining us as humans are gone. In other words, the moment at which we achieve the telos of human life is also the moment at which we negate what makes us human. Given that the telos of human life is unachievable without negating fundamental human features, Green proposes an alternative for us to make our lives meaningful: to make contribution to the community we live in as the necessary condition for us to realise our goals. Nevertheless, when a person lives with others, there will always be conflict. So, in order to make sure that each person can have fair and free circumstances to pursue after his or her ideal and make contribution to the community at the same time, a system of rights is built. Indicating that shared ideas of common goods are the necessary condition for establishing a community, Green argues that these ideas of common goods will also be the condition for the system of rights. A right is a power recognised and claimed as contributory to a common good by a group of individuals who recognise each other as equal. So, if there is no common good shared by individuals, the ground of a communal life will not exist and the system of rights will not exist, either. For Green, to claim that there are natural rights belonging to individuals before the society is built is misleading, as rights are what individuals need for protecting their freedoms in a social life; if there is no other person, there will be no need to worry whether my freedoms would be transgressed or intervened by others or not. Nonetheless, since rights are premised on common goods, sovereignty as the right of the state is also premised on them while the ideas of these common goods are what individuals define and recognise jointly. To put it in another way, since individuals can only realise their life meanings in a community and a communal life can only be built on ideas of common goods shared by them, the first thing they should accomplish for their self-realisations will be to conceive and define their conceptions of common goods and to seek mutual recognition of them. And, since the right of the state is premised on the common goods proposed and recognised by individuals, once the individuals redefine common goods and recognised them jointly, the boundary of sovereignty will thus be re-delimited. Also, in Green’s account, sovereignty is a means for individuals to discipline themselves and to help them to understand the significance of the communal life and to decide whether they would like to devote themselves to the welfare of the community willingly. So, in terms of Green’s view, the discipline of state power in a democratic state is also a way for individual citizens to motivate themselves towards an ideal moral life. Accordingly, as Green believed that the atomic view of the individual is the root of the problems happening in nineteenth-century British
Conclusion 159 society, the practical solution to the individual alienation in the modern society he anticipated is to participate in public affairs actively and to direct the use of state power in the way we propose and concur. The idea of self-government in Green’s account is therefore not only about democratic politics but also about the ethical practice of self-realisation. In sum, Green’s practical philosophy overall has the following three characteristics: first, it is a philosophical system covering issues from three domains: ontological research, ethical theory, and political study; second, human consciousness and human action are correlative as consciousness causes to separation and alienation and action leads to unification and reconciliation; third, the individual and the community are mutually constitutive while the constitutive process is constantly evolving.
The Multiplicity of Modernity In Chapter 5, then, we have seen that the last feature of Green’s practical philosophy had become an interesting research topic for scholars and intellectuals who lived in the late nineteenth-century and early twentieth- century East Asia. And, through our survey of the development of Greenian study in East Asia, we have some findings as below. First, the rise of individualism in the history of Europe or China both signifies a rupture between the tradition and the present. Whereas the Europeans shared the faith in Catholic doctrines, the emergence of individualism signified the radical change of the Europeans’ world view. From the relationship between God and humans to the components of the divine cosmos, individualism overtly transformed these old European views of the human condition. Also, when the Chinese encountered with their modernity issue, which has been complicated by the impact of the European powers and their cultures, the rise of individualist thought marked an ongoing transformation of the Chinese society, as people have begun to urge for replacing the traditional ways of life for the Western modern life. After the ‘New Cultural movement’, the rupture between the past and the present reached its another peak during the Cultural Revolution led by the Chinese Communist Party in 1960s. Nevertheless, as nationalism constantly is the best political ideology for the Chinese government to employ to maintain their reign, individualism has never been prevalent in China for decades (Yan, 2009; Zang and Ong, 2008). That is to say, if we consider individualism as an important feature of modernity, the ongoing process of individuation in China may indicate two things: either the modernisation of China is not complete yet, or there may be no feasible and clear standard of individualisation by which we can say that the modernisation of Chinese society is complete. Second, the reconciliation of the individual and the community may indicate another higher level of modernisation. Surely, individualism has
160 Conclusion been acknowledged as an important feature of modernity; however, what this individualism means is controversial. For instance, Hui Shih said in ‘Immortality’ (不朽) that, I, as a small self, is not existing independently, but having multiple relationships with innumerable small selves, having interactive relationships with the entire society and the entire world, and having causal relationships with the social world’s past and future.… All the selves in the past, all the selves at present, and all the selves in the future are connected with each other generations by generations, drops by drops, and transmitted linearly and continuously as a stream runs into a river – and this is the big self. The small self is mortal, the big self is immortal; the small self will die, the big self will never die; the small self may die but all its deeds, merits and faults, words and behaviours, no matter they are big or small, right or wrong, good or bad, will remain in the big self.1 (Hu, 1974: 698–699) Accordingly, although Hu, like Chen Duxiu, advocated individualism during the New Cultural movement, his conception of the individual self was not atomic. Moreover, Hu’s thought of the relationship between the immortality and the existence of the individual in the community is actually akin to Green’s thought, as for Green the individual can make his or her spirit immortal by dedicating itself to the community. So, while individualism has been considered widely as an important feature of modernity, its implications may be diverse. And, since individual alienation in the modern society is one of the primary issues of modernity, the reconciliatory view of the relationship between the individual and the community may provide some insights to respond to the existential crisis of the individual in the modern age. Third, while the tensions between the past and the present, the traditional and the new ways of life, and the individual and the community are basic characteristics of a society which has been through the process of modernisation, the way we conceive them as modern phenomena is nonetheless a dualistic thinking. We mark some events, endogenous or exogenous, in a society as its symbolic rupture and use them to divide the history of the society into periods of old and new or pre-modern and modern. This periodisation may be convenient for doing research, but the dualistic thinking running behind it confines our perspectives of the events and the history of the society. Also, the phenomenon of modernisation is always far-reaching and comprehensive, as it covers basically all the dimensions of human life, including politics, economics, morality, social life, religion, science, technology, mapping skill, calendar system, philosophy, the relations between humans and the mother nature, and so on. For research purpose, we may classify and divide the series of
Conclusion 161 responses to the issue of modernity made by a country and its people into stages or periods. However, the impact of modernity in reality cannot be divided but is always mutually connected. So, it seems to be better to conceive the issue of modernity as a lot of questions proposed to a country and to see how the people in the country perceive them and what they chose to respond. To put it in another way, there is no such a thing that we can call ‘modernity’ having its clear and distinctive features as its ‘essence’. When we look into a particular event happened in a particular place at a particular time with a particular person or groups of persons for studying ‘modernity’, it will be misleading if we interpret these particularities simply by reference to a set of defining features of modernity, for we may easily omit things seemingly irrelevant of those abstract features. As for Green the true knowledge should have the capability to explain all the connections and relationships between things. If we cannot figure out all the things represented by those particularities, what we have will be a defective story or account of the issue.
The Legacy of Green’s Ethical Liberalism So, as the present book starts a study of Green’s practical philosophy from a set of questions he intended to tackle with and the modern issue he took as the root of those questions, it has illustrated and explained Green’s responses and solutions to them. Throughout his metaphysical treatment, theory of knowledge, and ethical and political theories, we can see that Green had learnt much from Kant and Hegel to make out his prescription. Nonetheless, his view of the human condition is not as optimistic as Kant or Hegel, and he also learnt from Aristotle and St. Paul to establish his view on the relationship of the individual and the community. Most importantly, his account of the ethical and political meanings of the idea of self-government provides insights into the modern life. As the scope and the scale of a modern state are not possible for all the citizens in it to participate in public affairs jointly, and the class hierarchy of the economic production and reproduction system prevents most of the common people from having a fair and just opportunity to participate in public affairs, what the spirit of liberal democracy remains nowadays seems to be periodic elections and votes. Unfortunately, elections and votes are manipulable just as Green had seen more than a hundred years ago. The way to change this reality, from Green’s perspective, will be do participating into public affairs. For Green, each individual person as a citizen of the state can always express his or her thought on common goods and the system of rights and then build connections with neighbours and local fellows. Undoubtedly, the scope and the scale of the country have set obstacles to the communications between remote people and communities, but the new technologies we have, such as the Internet, can help us to overcome this, for better or worse. So, while we
162 Conclusion ‘moderns’ may be disturbed by our alienated psych and paradoxically refuse to be connected with others by our own actions, our active participation in public affairs would still be the potential best way for us to realise the meaning and the worth of our existences. The significant implication here is that the so-called individual emancipation does not signify the absolute separation between the individual and the community, the self and the others; rather, individual emancipation implies that the relation between the individual and the community, the self and the others, is not fixed but elastic so we can shape the communal life, the world and ourselves through our actions. As an example, Green’s practical philosophy may have some profound impact on the East Asian scholars and have helped them formulate their conceptions of the modernity and a different conception of ethical politics from their traditional one. In short, we saw that Green’s practical philosophy has the potential capability of crossing cultures, and there have been scholars and intellectuals around the world introducing and interpreting him. Green’s legacy for us accordingly will not merely be some nineteenth-century Victorian teachings with minor significance for some small group of people; rather, it has spread through cultural encounters and remained in different societies as kinds of social texts lurking there and waiting for re-articulating its practical insights into the modern conditions of the societies.
Note 1 Original text: ‘我這個「小我」不是獨立存在的，是和無量數小我有直接或間接 的交互關係的；是和社會的全體和世界的全體都有互為影響的關係的；是和社 會世界的過去和未來都有因果關係的。 ... 這種種過去的「小我」，和種種現在的 「小我」，和種種將來無窮的「小我」，一代傳一代，一點加一滴：一線相傳，連 綿不斷：一水奔流，洒滔不絕：—─這便是一個「大我」。 「小我」是會消滅的， 「 大我」是永遠不滅的。 「小我」是有死的， 「大我」是永遠不死，永遠不朽的。 「小 我」雖然會死，但是每一個「小我」的一切作為，一切功德罪惡，一切語言行事， 無論大小，無論是非，無論善惡，一一都永遠留存在那個「大我」之中’.
References Hu, S. (1974). ‘Immortality’ [不朽], in Selected Works of Hu Shih, Collection 1, Volume 4 [胡適文存第一集卷四]. Taipei: The Far East Book Co., Ltd, pp. 693–702. Yan, Y. X. (2009). The Individualization of Chinese Society. Oxford and New York: Berg. Zang, L. and A. Ong. (2008). Privatizing China: Socialism from Afar. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.
Note: Page numbers followed by “n” refer to notes. Abe Jiro 136, 152n6 absolute idealism 138 Adorno, T. 5 adventitious ideas 29 agential dimension of modernity 3, 6 Alanen, L. 52n2 Aleni, G. 15 Allan, D. J. 19n10 Ameriks, K. 77n6 ‘Anthology of Matters of The Analects, An’ (Yang) 137–8 Arblaster, A. 19n8, 129n2 Aristotle 1, 13, 14, 19n10, 73, 74, 77n8, 161 ‘A summary of Green’s ethics’ (Nishida) 135 atomic individual 61; atomic view of the individual 12–14, 125, 128, 156, 158 Aufklärung 33 Bacon, F. 6 Baker, G. 52n2 Balfour, A. J. 41 Baudelaire, C. P. 4 Bauman, Z. 19n5 Beiser, F. C. 53n10 Bellamy, R. 129n1 Benjamin, W. 5 Bentham, J. 124, 148 Berlin, I. 50, 93–6, 104, 139, 143 body–mind relationship 34–5, 60 Bosanquet, B. 130n7, 148 Boucher, D. 19n9, 116, 130n6, 130n8 Boxer Rebellion 17 Bright, J. 45 Brink, D. O. 76n3 Brinton, C. 50
British East India Company 15 British idealism 8–13, 135 British utilitarianism 145 Cacoullos, A. 130n6 Cai Yuanpei 18 Calvin, J. 26 Carr, D. 53n12 Castiglione, G. 15 certainty of knowledge 31, 32 Chakrabarty, D. 19n4 ‘challenge and response’ 133 Chang Chi-yun 144 Chang Fo-chuan 144, 147–9 character 45–7, 52, 110 Chen Duxiu 18, 140, 141, 144, 160 China: ethical politics and modernisation of 13–18; modern China, Green’s practical philosophy and 133–53 Chinese Communist Party 159 Chinese Nationalist Party (Kuomintang) 144, 147 Chin Yuelin 142–4, 149, 150 Christianity 7, 9 civic agency 121–7 Cixi, Dowager 17, 18 class differentiation 52 collective oppression 104 collectivism 139 common good 99–105, 106n5, 121, 139 communal spirit 50 Confucianism 141–2, 146 Confucius 1 consciousness 60; eternal consciousness, structure of truth and 63–6; human consciousness, modes and transformation of 81–6;
164 Index relation with subject and object of knowledge 60–2; self-consciousness 27, 28, 34, 49, 52n4, 80 Contemporary Review 11, 14 Cordemoy, G. de 52n6 Dallmayr, F. 19n7 Darwin, C. 9, 145 Defoe, D. 40 Delanty, G. 4, 19n3 Descartes, R. 6, 25, 29–32, 34, 52n2, 52n5, 52n6, 52n8, 58 desire, as mode of consciousness 81–2 ‘Development of the Spirit of Chinese Young People in Sixty Years’ (Tang) 146–7 Dickens, C. 9, 40 Dimova-Cookson, M. 50, 53n12, 67, 71–2, 81, 99, 100, 106n6 discipline 117–27 division of labour 42–3, 47 Dunning, W. A. 143 Eisenstadt, S. N. 4, 19n1 Enquiry concerning Human understanding, An (Hume) 35 epistemic coherence 68 equality 56, 57 Essay Concerning Human Understanding, An (Locke) 30–1, 60 ‘Estimate of the Value and Influence of Works of Fiction in Modern Times, An’ (Green) 40 eternal consciousness 66–72, 77n5, 138, 145, 157–8; structure of truth and 63–6 ethical liberalism 149, 161–2 ethical politics 1, 156–9; of China 13–18; and sovereign power 108–30 ethical self-government 130n7 European modernity 3, 5, 39, 51, 56 Evolution and Ethics (Huxley) 134 ‘Exposition and Critique of Various Schools of Ethics’ 134 expressive self 6 external laws 44–8 faith–reason relationship 27–8 feelings–reason relationship 34 feelings–thought distinction 75–6 Fielding, H. 40 Findlay, J. N. 19n6 First Opium War 15, 16, 133 First Sino-Japan War 16
‘Force of Circumstances, The’ (Green) 32–3 freedom 56, 57, 99–105, 106n6; individual 44, 47–51, 101, 103, 105n3, 106n5, 110, 111, 114, 117, 124, 127, 128, 139, 142, 146–50 Freedom and Human Rights (Chang) 147 French Revolution 37, 43 Fukasaku Yasubumi 135, 136, 151 Fundamental Issues in Ethics, The (Lipps) 136 Gao Yihan 18, 140, 143, 144 Gaus, G. 130n6 Geological Evidences of the Antiquity of Man (Lyell) 9 German idealism 11–12 Germany 15 Geulincx, A. 52n6 Giddens, A. 1–3 Gladstone, W. 46 Gluck, C. 19n2 Gong, Prince 17 good 86–92; common 99–105, 106n5, 121, 139 Great Britain 15, 52n1, 139, 156 ‘Green’s Metaphysics of Knowledge’ (Balfour) 41 Green’s practical philosophy 133–53, 156–9; in East Asia, reception of 134–8; modernity issue 138–44 Green, T. H. 2, 8–14, 16, 18, 19n8, 23–5, 32–41; on demise of spiritual 39–42; determinism, interpretations of 66–71; on development of human social life 57; on division of modernity 42–4; ethical liberalism, legacy of 161–2; on external laws and internal conscience 44–8; on human condition 6, 11, 24, 25, 28, 29, 32–3, 34, 39, 40, 52n8, 58, 59, 63, 65, 71, 72, 75, 76, 76n3, 80, 81, 86, 88, 92–4, 104, 105, 108, 127–9, 140, 158, 161; on metaphysics of knowledge 56–77; on metaphysics of moral action 80–106; perspectivalism 95; on relation between object and subject of knowledge 63; rights recognition thesis 115–16; view of European modernity 3, 5, 39, 51, 56 Grose, T. H. 89 gunboat diplomacy 16
Index 165 Habermas, J. 8, 19n7, 37 Hann, M. 130n8 Hatfield, G. 77n6 Hegel, G. W. F. 6–8, 12, 18, 19n6, 37, 38, 56, 58, 59, 104, 145 Henrich, D. 53n10, 76n2 Hill, J. 52n2 Hirai, A. 135 Hobbes, T. 112, 113–14, 118, 148 Hodgson, R. 63 Holland, H. S. 41 Hong Kong: development of Greenian study in 144–51 Hughes, G. J. 19n10 Hui Shih 160 human agency 71–6, 81 human condition 6, 11, 24, 25, 28, 29, 32–3, 34, 39, 40, 52n8, 58, 59, 63, 65, 71, 72, 75, 76, 76n3, 80, 81, 86, 88, 92–4, 104, 105, 108, 127–9, 140, 158, 161 human consciousness: desire 81–2; intellect 82–3; modes and transformation of 81–6; practical reason 84–6; will 83–4 human knowledge 30–2, 38 human ontology 81 human perfection and moral community 80–106; freedom, common good and social duty 99–105; good and the self 86–92; human consciousness, modes and transformation of 81–6; objectivism and subjectivism in moral sphere 92–9 human reason 38 human social life, development of 57 Hume, D. 5–6, 11, 12, 14, 25, 52n9, 58, 62, 76n1, 80, 124, 143; legacies of 34–9; sensational and hedonistic account of morality 88 Hu Shih 18, 140, 142, 160 Hutchinson, D. S. 19n10 Huxley, T. H. 134, 145 ideas: adventitious 29; innate 29, 30; invented 29 Ieyasu, Tokugawa 134 immanent agency 71–6 ‘Implications of Liberalism, The’ (Yin) 149 individual alienation 8, 83, 128, 139, 144, 159–60; alienation, 6–8, 33, 37, 48, 76, 80
individual emancipation, after the Enlightenment 23–55; community: external laws and internal conscience 44–8; monism and pluralism 48–52; as modern issue: legacies of Hume 34–9; modern spirit 28–34; Reformation and Enlightenment 25–8; unity and plurality: demise of spiritual 39–42; division of modern society 42–4 individual freedom 44, 47–51, 101, 103, 105n3, 106n5, 110, 111, 114, 117, 124, 127, 128, 139, 142, 146–50 individualism 159–60 ‘Individualism and Collectivism: A Study of T. H. Green’ (Lewis) 50 individual rights 112–13 individual self 102–4, 160 innate ideas 29, 30 innate principles 30 Inoue Enryo 136 Inoue Tetsujiro 135, 136 institutional dimension of modernity 2–3 instrumental dimension of modernity 2–3 intellect, as mode of consciousness 82–3 internal conscience 44–8, 102 invented ideas 29 Japanese Association of English Idealism 153n25 Joachim, H. H. 77n4 Jones, H. 77n6 Journal of Philosophy 135 justification by faith 27 Kainz, H. P. 19n6 Kang Youwei 17 Kant and his English Critics (Watson) 62 Kant, I. 5, 6, 25, 33, 38, 39, 53n10, 58, 59, 76n1, 80, 105n1, 105n3; critical philosophy of reason 62, 67, 77n6; on feelings–thought distinction 75–6; on subject and object of knowledge 62 Kawai Eijiro 140, 143, 152n6 Knight, K. 19n10 Lamprecht, S. P. 76n1 ‘Lectures on the Principles of Political Obligations’ (Green) 99–100
166 Index Leighton, D. 19n8, 45 Lewes, G. H. 11, 39 Lewis, H. D. 50 ‘Liberal Legislation and Freedom of Contract’ (Green) 105–6n4 Li Dazhao 18, 142 Li Hongzhang 16, 17, 19n11 Lin Shu 134, 145 Lin Zexu 15 Lipps, Theodor 136 Liu Kunyi 16, 17 Li Yuanhong 141 Locke, J. 25, 29–35, 39, 52n8, 56–60, 66, 76n1, 112, 114, 124 Lovejoy, A. O. 147 Luther, M. 26–7 Luther, T. C. 19n6 Lu Xun 18, 140 Lyell, Sir C. 9 MacCunn, J. 19n8 McGovern, A. F. 76n1 Ma Junwu 134 Malebranche, N. 52n6 Manchu Royals 17 Mander, W. J. 19n9, 72 Mao Zedong 18 Marion, J.-C. 52n2 Martin, R. 130n6, 130n8 Marxism-Leninism 143, 147 Marx, K. 56, 143 metaphysics 13; Green’s determinism, interpretations of 66–71; human agency 71–6; immanent agency 71–6; of knowledge 56–77, 81, 83, 85, 108; of moral action 80–106, 108; psychology and theory of knowledge 58–63; structure of truth and eternal consciousness 63–6; transcendental condition for human knowledge and action 71–6 Mill, James 39 Mill, John Stuart 39, 45, 53n15, 109–11, 124, 129n1, 145, 148 modernity/modernisation: of China 13–18; multiple 19n1; multiplicity of 159–61; perplexity of 2–8 modern politics, as ethical praxis 127–9 modern society 8–13; division of 42–4 monism 48–52 moral community, human perfection and 80–106; good and the self 86–92; human consciousness, modes and transformation of 81–6;
objectivism and subjectivism in moral sphere 92–9 Morris, K. J. 52n2 ‘Mr. Spencer on the Relation of Subject and Object’ (Green) 61 mutual recognition 110–17 Nakajima Rikizo 135, 151n6 National Constituent Assembly 53n16 nationalism 139 natural selection 9 Nature of Truth: An essay, The (Joachim) 77 Nettleship, R. L. 129n3, 129n4 New Asia College 144 New Cultural movement 140–4, 147, 150, 159, 160; May Fourth movement, 146 New Youth (journal) 141 Nicholson, P. 129n1, 129n3 Nishida Kitaro 135, 151n6 Nitobe Inazo 152n6 Oakley, F. 76n1 objectified self 6 objectivism 37–8; in moral sphere 92–9 object of knowledge 60–3 ‘On Christian Dogma’ (Green) 27 Onishi Hajime 135 Origin of Species, The (Darwin) 9 Owen, D. 52n8 ‘Painter of Modern Life, The’ (Baudelaire) 4 personal idealism 138 ‘Philosophy of Aristotle, The’ (Green) 73–4 Pippin, R. B. 8 Plamenatz, J. 50, 139 pleasure 88–91; and pain, relationship between 36–7, 88; role in moral issues 99, 100; and virtue, relationship between 92–3 pluralism 48–52 plurality 39–44 political oppression 52, 94 political self-government 130n7 Politics of Conscience: T. H. Green and His Age, The (Richter) 47–8 Pong, D. 16 ‘Popular Philosophy in Its Relation to Life’ (Green) 11, 14, 33 power 118
Index 167 practical reason, as mode of consciousness 84–6 Prichard, H. A. 50, 121, 124, 139 Prolegomena to Ethics (Green) 59, 74, 135, 145 psychology 58–63 pure thought 67, 74 Qian Mu 144 Qian Xuantong 18 Quinton, A. M. 77n5 radical liberalism 19n8 rational a priori determinism 66–8, 71 reason: and desire, relationship between 81 Reformation, and Enlightenment 25–8 Ren 1, 144 Ricci, M. 15 Richter, M. 47–8, 129n3 rights 110–17; definition of 50, 158; of property 122–3 Rodman, J. 19n8 Roman Catholic Church 27 Ross, Sir W. D. 19n10, 50, 115, 139 Rozemond, M. 52n2 Russell, B. 77n4, 143 Russia 15 St. Paul 41–2, 161 Sako, J. 152n6 Sanctis, A. de 129n3 Schofield, R. S. 52n1 Schurman, J. G. 77n6 Scott, W. 40 Second Opium War 133 Seii Taishogun 134–5 self 35–6, 37, 86–92; individual 102–4, 160 self-articulation 69 self-consciousness 27, 28, 34, 49, 52n4, 80 self-denial 100 self-government 117–27; ethical 130n7; political 130n7 Self-Help (Smiles) 12 self-identification 84 self-knowledge 6, 32 self-perfection 92, 97, 98, 100, 102, 124, 127 self-realisation 47, 49, 51, 134, 136 ‘self-strengthening movement’ 16 self-understanding 69 Seth, A. 77n6
Shen Baozhen 16 Shields, C. 19n10 Sidgwick, H. 39, 41, 45, 67, 68, 71, 89–90, 97, 98, 105n1, 105n2 Simhony, A. 50, 51, 117, 126, 130n8 Simmel, G. 5 Smiles, S. 12, 45 Smith, A. 53n15 social custom 36, 37, 59 social duty 99–105 social equality 110–17 social inequality 52 sovereign power, ethical politics and 108–30; discipline and selfgovernment 117–27; modern politics, as ethical praxis 127–9; rights, social equality, and mutual recognition 110–17 Spencer, H. 9–10, 11, 39, 45, 53n13, 145 spiritual, demise of 39–42 spiritual determinism 66, 95 state action 121–7 state sovereignty 118–21 statism 139, 140 Stephen, L. 45 subjective dimension of modernity 3, 6 subjectivism 36–8; in moral sphere 92–9 subject of knowledge 60–3 Subrahmanyam, S. 19n2 Symes, C. 19n4 Tackett, T. 53n16 Taiwan: development of Greenian study in 144–51 Takayama Chogyu 135, 136 Takayama Rinjiro 151 Tale of Two Cities, A (Dickens) 9 Tang Junyi 144–7, 151 Taylor, C. 3, 19n6, 19n10 Thackeray, W. 40 theological determinism 66 theory of evolution 9, 11, 23 theory of knowledge 34, 58–64, 66, 67, 71 theory of self-realisation 146 T. H. Green’s Theory of Positive Freedom (Wempe) 66–7 Thomas, G. 81, 128 Tokugawa Bakufu 134 Tongwen Guan 19n12 totalitarianism 104, 139 transcendental condition for human knowledge and action 71–6
168 Index Treatise of Human Nature (Hume) 13, 35, 39, 89 Treaty of Shimonoseki 17 true freedom 50, 51 truth and eternal consciousness, structure of 63–6 truth of knowledge 31, 32 Tseng, Roy 153n25 Tsunashima Ryosen 135, 136, 151 ‘Two Concepts of Liberty’ (Berlin) 93 Two Treatise of Government (Locke) 56–7 Tyler, C. 19n8, 46, 47, 51, 68–70, 72, 76n3, 94–6, 102, 128 ultimate reconciliation 92, 97, 98, 104, 105 unity 39–44 universal suffrage 46–7, 51 utilitarianism 39, 149–50 value judgement 96, 97 Vincent, A. 19n9, 115, 130n8 Wang Shouchang 134 Watson, J. 62
Wei Yuan 19n11 Wempe, B. 66–7, 71, 75–6, 81, 104 Western History of Ethics (Yoshida) 136 will, as mode of consciousness 83–4 Woods, R. 52n1 Wrigley, E. A. 52n1 Wuxu Reform 19–20n12, 137 xenophobia 17 Xu Zhijing 17 Yan Fu 134, 145 Yang Changji 18, 134, 136–42, 145, 151 Yin Haiguang 144, 149–50 Yoshida Seichi 136 Yoshinobu, Tokugawa 134–5 Yuan Shikai 140 Yukiyasu Shigeru 152n7, 153n25 Zeng Guofan 16, 19n11 Zhang Zhidong 16, 17, 19n11 Zhou Zuoren 134, 145 Zongli Yamen 16 Zuo Zongtang 16 Zwingli, U. 26