vrijdag 15 september 2017

Henry Sidgwick (1838 – 1900) groot ethicus die Spinoza links liet liggen

Over Henry Sidgwick had ik al eens een blog op 25-10-2016: Verschil tussen "The Point of View of the Universe" en "Sub Specie AEternitatis." Dat was n.a.v. het verschijnen van Bart Schultz, Henry Sidgwick: Eye of the Universe. An Intellectual Biography. Cambridge University Press, 2004 en ’t review bij de NPDR door Robert Shaver (University of Manitoba). 
Aanleiding voor dit vervolgblog is eveneens een review bij de NDPR nu door David Phillips (University of Houston) van een nieuw boek van Bart Schultz, The Happiness Philosophers: The Lives and Works of the Great Utilitarians. Princeton University Press, 2017, 437pp., books.google. [1x komt Spinoza voor op een pagina – 274 – waar Google ons niet bij laat].
Dat boek gaat over het utilitarisme zoals het was ontwikkeld door de radicale filosofen, critici en sociale hervormers William Godwin (de echtgenoot van Mary Wollstonecraft en vader van Mary Shelley), Jeremy Bentham, John Stuart & Harriet Taylor Mill, en Henry Sidgwick.

Dat maakte dat ik weer eens naar die Sidgwick op zoek ging, daar Schulz veel over hem geschreven heeft. Ook is het Barton Schultz, die het lemma Henry Sidgwick op Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy schreef, dat aldus begint:

Henry Sidgwick was one of the most influential ethical philosophers of the Victorian era, and his work continues to exert a powerful influence on Anglo-American ethical and political theory. His masterpiece, The Methods of Ethics (1907), was first published in 1874 and in many ways marked the culmination of the classical utilitarian tradition—the tradition of Jeremy Bentham and James and John Stuart Mill—with its emphasis on “the greatest happiness of the greatest number” as the fundamental normative demand. Sidgwick's treatment of that position was more comprehensive and scholarly than any previous one, and he set the agenda for most of the twentieth-century debates between utilitarians and their critics. Utilitarians from G. E. Moore and Bertrand Russell to J. J. C. Smart and R. M. Hare down to Derek Parfit and Peter Singer have acknowledged Sidgwick's Methods as a vital source for their arguments. But in addition to authoritatively formulating utilitarianism and inspiring utilitarians, the Methods has also served as a general model for how to do ethical theory, since it provides a series of systematic, historically informed comparisons between utilitarianism and its leading alternatives. Thus, even such influential critics of utilitarianism as William Frankena, Marcus Singer, and John Rawls have looked to Sidgwick's work for guidance. C. D. Broad, a later successor to Sidgwick's Cambridge chair, famously went so far as to say “Sidgwick's Methods of Ethics seems to me to be on the whole the best treatise on moral theory that has ever been written, and to be one of the English philosophical classics” (Broad, 1930: 143). Engaging with Sidgwick's work remains an excellent way to cultivate a serious philosophical interest in ethics, metaethics, and practical ethics, not to mention the history of these subjects. Moreover, he made important contributions to many other fields, including economics, political theory, classics, educational theory, and parapsychology. His significance as an intellectual and cultural figure has yet to be fully appreciated, but recent years have witnessed an impressive expansion of Sidgwick studies, and he has even been featured in a popular novel (Cohen, [What Alice Knew: A Most Curious Tale of Henry James and Jack the Ripper] 2010).

Dit geeft een goede eerste algemene indruk van Sidgwick. Laten we nu eens kijken naar de enige (eigen) passage over Spinoza in zijn werk (voor zover ik via deze website over Sidgwick kon nagaan, waar het meeste van zijn werk gedigitaliseerd staat). Hier een citaat met de tekst over Spinoza uit
Henry Sidgwick, The Methods of Ethics, 1874 London: Macmillan [PDF]
Over Spinoza
“Again in Spinoza s view the principle of rational action is necessarily egoistic, and is (as with Hobbes) the impulse of self preservation. The individual mind, says Spinoza, like everything else, strives so far as it is able to continue in its state of being: indeed this effort is its very essence. It is true that this impulse cannot be distinguished from the desire of pleasure: because pleasure or joy is ‘passion in which the soul passes to higher perfection.’ Still it is not at Pleasure that the impulse primarily aims, but at Perfection or Reality: as we should now say, at Self-development. Of this, according to Spinoza, the highest form consists in a clear comprehension of all things in their necessary order as modifications of the one Divine Being, and that willing aceptance of all which springs from this comprehension, and which Spinoza calls the intellectual love of God. In this state the mind is purely active, without any admixture of passion or passivity: and thus its essential nature is realized or actualized to the greatest possible degree. [p. 73] […] Nay, even the philosopher, if his thought takes a more distinctly ethical turn than Spinoza’s, will include moral action as well as metaphysical contemplation in his conception of self-development; and hold that true self-love prompts us to obey the moral rules laid down by the governing principle within us, as in such obedience we shall be realizing our truest self.” 2  [p. 74
2 Cf. Aristotle, Ethics, Book ix. c. 8.
Hiermee heeft de grote ethicus met dank aan Aristoteles afscheid genomen van Spinoza., hoewel dat laatste precies ook de eigen opvatting van Spinoza is.
Ik schreef hierboven over Sidgwick’s “(eigen) passage over Spinoza in zijn werk” –er zijn ook nog zijn Lectures on the Ethics of T. H. Green, H. Spencer, and J. Martineau [1902, ed. E. E. Constance Jones, London: Macmillan. (books.google, ook op  archive.org). Daarin beschrijft hij hoe Martineau over Spinoza schrijft, maar daardoorheen schijnt iets van Sidgwick’s visie op Spinoza. Ik geef die pagina’s waarin Spinoza voorkomt hier:



MARTINEAU’S arrangement and treatment of his subject has certain peculiarities, which I must briefly explain before I enter upon a discussion of his views. He includes in his two volumes a critical account of the doctrines of certain other writers on Ethics, along with an exposition and defence of his own. The plan is peculiar, but there is something ot h said for it, as a method of enabling the reader to form a clear and precise view of ethical truth as Martineau sees it; since one understands more thoroughly what a man thinks and why he thinks it, when one understands clearly why he rejects the various opposed views which other minds have found acceptable. In fact, my present course of Lectures is framed on substantially the same principle: it appeared to me that having expounded my own system in my book, what I could further do in the way of making it clear would be best done in the form of criticism on the views of others.
It might, however, have been expected that, if this plan were adopted, Martineau’s own system would have been given either at the beginning—so that the [316] reader, before proceeding ot he critical exposition of any other doctrines, might have clearly before his mind the point of view from which the criticisms were made; or at the end—so that the reader might be led through various forms of error ot he truth. For error in philosophy, or at least error that is or has been widely accepted, is never error pure and simple, but contains an element of the truth exaggerated and distorted by neglect of other elements ; so that an examination of these one-sided and partial views is a fitting preparation ot he completer and more balanced view which sums up the elements of truth contained in errors that are or have been current. But Martineau has adopted a different course from either: he has placed in the first volume a critical exposition of certain leading thinkers—chiefly Plato, Spinoza, and Comte—which belong to European but not to English thought. Then the first half of his second volume is occupied with his own system; and lastly there follows a discussion of the leading English modes of ethical thought, under three heads :—Hedonist Ethics, Dianoetic Ethics, and Esthetic Ethics.
The explanation is that Martineau regards ethics as properly psychological, based on the study of the moral consciousness, as each individual finds it by introspection. Now among erroneous methods or systems of ethics some, in his view, are erroneous because they are unpsychological ‘ — i.e. because instead of beginning with the study of the human mind or soul, as known ot he thinker introspectively, they [317] begin with the study of Nature and God, and then carry the conceptions they derive from these into the study of the human mind—‘ explain the human mind by their analogy and expect in it a mere extension of their being.’ One chief objection ot he latter procedure is that it leads to a denial or imperfect recognition of freedom and of moral responsibility. Others again are erroneous because they are, in his phrase, ‘heteropsychological,’ instead of ‘idiopsychological’ —i.e. instead of accepting ‘the story’ that the moral consciousness ‘tells of itself,’ they try to evolve the moral from the unmoral phenomena of our nature,’ and explain away ‘moral differences’ into ‘sensational,’ intellectual,’ or ‘aesthetic differences.’ And he considers that while the unpsychological ‘ systems are most properly treated before his own, the ‘heteropsychological’ are most properly treated after. The reasons for either order I will try briefly to make clear.
First, I should explain that among these unpsychological methods of ethics some are ‘metaphysical,’ others ‘physical.’ The metaphysical attempt to penetrate ot he eternal ground and essence of the Universe, and then descending into the human world, treat human virtue as having a community of essence with this eternal reality, a ‘blossoming in the consciousness of man of the real root of the eternal universe.’ Such metaphysical methods exclude — no less than the physical—any proper notion of responsibility: moral evil becomes merely natural evil, in the form of ugliness and unreason. [318] And ot he ethical notion of freedom is substituted the notion of spontaneity—the spontaneous energy of eternal thought manifesting itself in connexion with the human organism. Such metaphysical methods may be further divided into those that regard the eternal ground of the Universe as Transcendent of the world of experience, and those that regard it as Immanent in that world. Of the former, the Transcendental, Martineau selects Plato as the best developed example; of the latter, the Immanental, he takes Spinoza as the type.
To both of these metaphysical doctrines of ethics ‘stands opposed (still within the unpsychological circle) the physical; which descends into human life from the phenomenal instead of the real side of the world’; and ‘resolving everything’ knowable ‘ into phenomena, … recognises in man’ nothing but a product of this phenomenal world, absolutely subject to its laws throughout his being; and refers his seeming activity back into prior conditions not inherent. Of this manner of thought Martineau takes Comte as a type. You will see from this selection that so-called un-psychological theories are not things of the past : in fact both the metaphysical and physical are power-fully represented at the present time ; since the meta-physical, Martineau says, survives in the school of Hegel. At the same time Martineau regards the development of psychological ethics as ‘altogether peculiar to Christendom’ ; and probably this view of the earlier stages of development as essentially unpsychological has led ot he treat them first in his [319] book. I think myself that it is misleading to call the Ethics of Plato ‘unpsychological,’ since—among other things—his doctrine of the virtues is based on psychological analysis, though I should agree that the prominence of the notion of the Ego and the question of Free Will is characteristic of modern thought. Comte may be fairly called ‘unpsychological’ among modern writers, since he discards the introspective method. But it is ot h observed that the general description which Martineau gives of that division of his unpsychological group which he calls ‘physical,’ does not necessarily exclude the fullest application of the introspective method and of empirical psychology. This general description is that it examines the phenomena of the human mind as a part of the whole aggregate of natural phenomena, and no less subject to unvarying laws than any other part. But this view is quite compatible with the full accept-ance of the introspective method—as in the case of Spencer.
This Martineau sees in the Introduction ot he second volume,[i] though he does not recognise it in the Introduction to his first volume, and it is an awkward fact for his classification. Even if we exclude such ‘ dualistic’ methods as that of Spencer, I think it [320] an exaggeration to put forward Spinoza and Comte as good types of the metaphysical and physical methods in current philosophy, as Martineau does. If, he says, the Ego is determined into existence from God, ‘we take the pantheistic track, never far from Spinoza; if from Nature, we take the pamphysical, within sight of Comte’ (Types of Ethical Theory, 2nd edition, vol. Ii. P. 3). It is a long way from Spinoza to Hegel, and a long way from Comte to current Materialism. The truth is that Martineau makes his distinction turn too much on Free WilL Still I agree that the clear recognition of Introspective Psychology as a distinct study, and the attempt to base ethics on it as so recognised, does belong to modem thought, and so far may justify his order, as regards the priority of the Unpsychological systems.

Ik verbaas me er weer – net als toen ik het vorige blog schreef - zeer over dat er zo weinig, zeg maar niets, over een vergelijking tussen Henry Sidgwick en Spinoza is geschreven. Ook niet door degenen die Spinoza een utilitaristische ethiek toeschrijven (meest bedoeld: verwijten). De Duitse Spinoza-bibliografie geeft niets van dien aard.

Ik vermeld tot slot nog deze werken van en over Henry Sidgwick – ik zou willen dat er daartussen een was over Henry Sidgwick vergeleken met Spinoza: - misschien iets voor een promotieonderzoek:
• Henry Sidgwick, Essays on Ethics and Method. Edited and introduced by Marcus G. Singer. Oxford University Press, 2000 - 346 pagina's –books.google
• Henry Sidgwick, Lectures on the Ethics of T. H. Green, Mr Herbert Spencer, and J. Martineau. Edited and introduced by E. E. Constance Jones. Cambridge University Press, first edition 1902, [reprint] 2012 [2011] - 424 pagina’s books.googlearchive.org
• Placido Bucolo,  Roger Crisp & Bart Schultz (eds.), Henry Sidgwick. Ethics, psychics, politics. [Proceedings of the Second World Congress on Henry Sidgwick]. Catania: University of Catania, 2011

• Bart Schultz, “Henry Sidgwick and the Irrationality of the Universe.” In: W. J. Mander (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of British Philosophy in the Nineteenth Century. OUP Oxford, 2014 - 650 pagina's, P. 461 – 482 – books.google . In dat hoofdstuk overigens weer geen enkele verwijzing naar Spinoza.
• Bart Schultz, “A More Reasonable Ghost: Further Reflections on Henry Sidgwick and the Irrationality of the Universe.” Een tekst te lezen of downloaden bij roundedglobe.com.
Absttract: Henry Sidgwick (1838-1900) has often been cast as the most philosophically astute of the classical utilitarians, an epistemological foundationalist, and a defender of a non-metaphysical form of cognitive intuitionism. Such perspectives, increasingly prominent since the revival of interest in Sidgwick in the 1970s, do capture important elements of his philosophy. But they do not fully capture Sidgwick’s reflexive, agnostic notion of reasonableness, the concerns he shared with his Idealist opponents, and his larger existential anxieties about the irrationality of the cosmos and the meaning of modernity.
This essay further develops claims first made by Schultz in his keynote address delivered to the conference on 'Transcendence, Idealism, and Modernity' held at New College, Oxford in 2011. It sets out, in light of those themes, a number of difficulties for the standard interpretations of and philosophical engagements with the philosophy of Sidgwick.

Foto’s van utilitarianphilosophy met onderschriften van henrysidgswick.com

[i] "As the process which they [Darwin and Spencer] describe is, in their view, only the latest section of a development that indefinitely preceded all conscious life, their theory would seem to fall, no less than Comte's, under the category of Physical Systems, and so to demand our next attention. But it differs from the unpsychological schemes in this: that, though it links the moral phenomena to the physical in one unbroken chain of causality, it allows that we have internal cognisance of the one, and external of the other; so that, while Nature is monistic, our knowledge of it is dualistic (Types of Ethical Theory, 2nd edition, vol. H. p. 3). [320]

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