I call moral ability of the human spirit to distinguish between good and evil, or, in other words, virtue and vice, and make a choice between them. This is an innate principle, and although it can be improved through experience and reflection, it does not follow from this or from another.
Metaphysics have long argued among themselves about where the conscience is – in the will or in the mind. This dispute can be distinguished only by acknowledging that will is the seat of moral ability, and reason is the seat of conscience. The mysterious nature of the unity of both these moral principles with will and reason is already a topic that is not relevant to the subject of this study.
Since I believe that virtue and vice are actions, not reasonings, and since the source of these actions is not conscience, but will, I will limit my research mainly to the influence of physical causes on the moral ability of the mind, connected with will, although, as I I will prove it below, many of these reasons also act on the conscience. The state of moral ability is manifested in actions that affect the welfare of society. The state of conscience is imperceptible and therefore is outside our study. In order to illustrate with clear examples the influence of physical causes on moral ability, it is necessary first of all to show their effect on memory, on imagination and on the ability of judgment.
At the same time, it is necessary to point out the analogy between their effect on mental abilities and moral ability.
1. We notice the link between mental ability and the degree of brain density and firmness in infancy and childhood. The same connection was established between strength and the development of moral ability in children.
2. We notice the connection between brain size and certain facial features.
3. We notice in some families the hereditary nature of the mental abilities of a certain power.
4. We observe cases of complete lack of memory, imagination, and judgment ability, either due to congenital defect in the medulla, or under the influence of physical causes.
Conscience, like the wise and faithful legislative council, exercises control over moral ability and thus prevents the fatal consequences of immoral acts.
I foresee an objection to the doctrine of the influence of physical causes on moral ability, since they believe that it supports the view that the soul is material. However, I do not see why this doctrine should induce us to resolve the issue of the nature of the soul to a greater extent than the facts that prove the influence of physical causes on memory, imagination or judgment. At the same time, I would like to note in this connection that all the authors, who recognized the immortality of the soul, caused great harm to this truth, by all means linking it with immateriality.
The immortality of the soul depends on the will of God, and not on the alleged properties of the spirit. Matter, by its very nature, is as immortal as spirit. With the help of heat and mixtures, it can be given various forms; however, to destroy it requires the same hand of the Almighty, which created it. I do not know any other arguments proving the immortality of the soul, except those drawn from Christian revelation.
To claim that the soul is immortal because of its unlimited capacity for knowledge and happiness, or its fear of destruction, it would be no more reasonable than to claim that the ocean is immortal because of its unlimited ability to contain any mass of water or that we must live forever in this world because we are afraid of death. It is irrelevant how exactly the physical causes listed below affect moral ability — through the senses, passions, memory, or imagination. Their influence is equally undeniable, whether they act as distant causes, or as predispositions or as random causes.
1. First of all, attention should be paid to the influence of climate on moral ability. Re, only among individuals, but also among whole nations, moral qualities, as well as intellectual ones, largely depend on the intensity of the sun rays falling on their territory. Hot temper, frivolity, timidity and laziness, combined with occasional gusts of benevolence, are the moral qualities of people living in countries with warm climates, while egoism, combined with sincerity and honesty, constitute the moral quality of the population in countries with a cold climate. Weather conditions and seasons also have a clear effect on moral sense.
2. The effect of nutrition on moral ability is more indisputable, although less studied, than the effects of climate. However, not only the quantity but also the quality of the food has an effect on morality; thus, we find that the moral diseases mentioned above most often result from the consumption of animal products.
3. Re is less noticeable effect of certain beverages on moral ability than on mental abilities. Good quality intoxicating drinks, if you drink them in moderation, favor such virtues as sincerity, benevolence and generosity. However, their excessive amount or poor quality even with their moderate consumption almost always lead to the fact that every hidden spark of defect flares up.
4. Strong hunger has the most harmful effect on moral sense. It is irrelevant whether it has a softening effect on solids or oxidizing on liquid substances or on both.
5. Above, explaining the analogy between the effect of diseases on intelligence and moral ability, I pointed out that the latter was often violated by fever and insanity. To this statement, I want to add here that not only insanity, but also hysteria and hypochondria, as well as idiopathic or symptomatic states of the body, accompanied by extreme irritability, sensitivity, torpor, deafening, or excitability of the nervous system, predispose physical and spiritual evils.
6. Laziness – the source of all vices. It is mentioned in the Old Testament as one of the reasons that predisposed the inhabitants of flatlands to vices. Any work contributes to the manifestation of virtue. Rural life proceeds happily mainly because hard work is conducive to virtue and not conducive to vices. I was told that planters in the southern states were sending the hard work of domestic slaves spoiled by laziness into the field for the purpose of correcting them. Correctional and working houses in all civilized countries show that labor is not only very harsh, but also the most good of all penalties, since it is one of the most effective means of correction.
7. The effect of excessive sleep is closely related to the effect of laziness on moral ability; we see therefore that a moderate and even limited duration of sleep in all countries of the world is favorable not only for the state of health and longevity, but in many cases for morality. The experience of monks who often sleep on the floor and usually get a little light for the sake of killing carnal desires in themselves, no doubt, is based on wisdom and often leads to very beneficial moral consequences.
8. The effect of physical pain on morale is no less remarkable than its effect on intellectual forces. Death pangs are often accompanied by ideas and arguments about very ordinary objects, indicating an unusual rise of intellectual forces. The same stimulating and directing effect physical pain has on moral ability.
9. Much can be said in favor of purity as a physical means of promoting virtue.
10. I hope I’m sorry for putting loneliness to physical reasons that affect my moral ability, if I add that I will only speak about its effect on people who cannot be corrected by spiritual or moral means.
11. It should be mentioned here and the silence associated with loneliness, as a mechanical means of promoting virtue. To curb in some way the active mind of children, to accustom them to divert their attention from external objects and to focus on abstract things – all of this is of great importance and brings them significant benefits. Although it cannot be assumed that young and active minds will always remain silent when necessary, yet to accustom them to such concentration is important for acquiring a constant habit of patience and restraint, which rarely leave those who are truly prepared to enter the school of wisdom on the rest of your days.
12. In all countries, the influence of music on moral ability is well known and noted. According to the melodies that are common in this or that nation, one can judge his virtues and vices with the same certainty, as well as by his laws. The impact of music on passion, being purely mechanical, is strong and deep. Yet it is necessary to determine the degree of moral ecstasy caused by the simultaneous impact on the ear, on the mind and on the moral principle of the combined forces of music and eloquence.
13. The preacher’s eloquence is close to music in its influence on moral ability. Of course, there are no lasting changes in the character and moral behavior of a person, the source of which would not be his mind and will. However, it must be borne in mind that both these spiritual forces are most vulnerable when they are attacked by passions; the passions, excited by eloquence, have, as we know, a mechanical influence on all the powers of the soul. That is why at all times and in all countries where Christianity spread, the most excellent orators used to be the reformers of humanity who achieved the greatest success. There is no eloquence among the preacher, who, taking advantage of the supply of vitality contained in the Old and New Testaments, does not arouse the love of virtue among his hearers, even for a while. I admit that the preacher’s eloquence alone cannot turn people into Christians, but it certainly can turn cattle into people. If it were possible to correctly direct the eloquence of the theatrical stages, it is impossible even to imagine the extent of the mechanical impact on morality. Take the moral themes of Shakespeare, how can you resist the influence of all the beauty and dramatic power of their language and images on passions and feelings and describe this impact?
14. It is known that various kinds of smells have a tangible impact on moral ability. In the words of a famous Italian philosopher, Brighton informs us that the particular viciousness of people living near Etna and Vesuvius is mainly due to sulfur smells, as well as hot evaporation, continuously rising from these volcanoes. Pleasant smells almost always cause a sense of serenity and often soothe irritable people. This explains the pleasure and benefits of flower beds. Tobacco smoke also calms and contributes not only to the emergence of the so-called chain of sensations, but also to calm down and pacify the passions that arouse. That is why often in a society a pipe or a cigar is combined with a bottle.
15. Suffice it to mention the light and darkness, to imagine their influence on the moral sense. How often the tearful complaints of patients at night give way to other feelings with the very first rays of the morning sun. Othello is not able to kill Desdemona by candlelight, and who among us did not feel the influence of bright fire on noble passions?
16. It is regrettable that, through empirical means, the influence exerted on the moral ability of various gases recently discovered by chemistry has not yet been established. On the basis of the experiments conducted, I can only say that the deflogisticated air drawn into the lungs causes a joyful, elevated and serene state.
17. What can we say about the effect of drugs on moral ability? Doctors are well aware that many drugs act on intelligence. Why then can drugs not act in the same way on moral ability? Is there no antidote in the ground or on the surface of the earth? But I do not want to confuse facts with assumptions. Fog and gloom still envelop this section of my research.
Thus, I have listed the main reasons that have a mechanical effect on morality. If as a result of the combined action of opposing physical forces, moral ability becomes stable or if virtue or vice caused by these forces create a neutral quality composed of both, I hope that this will not question the truth of our common assumptions. I just mentioned the actions of simple physical reasons.
To expand our ideas in this area, we could consider the influence exerted on moral ability by different stages of society, agriculture and commerce, soil and geography, varying degrees of taste development, various spiritual abilities, various forms of government and, finally, various professions and occupations of people. However, since they all have only an indirect effect, and since there are mixed causes here that are not related to the subject under discussion, I regard them as not relevant to the topic of this study. If they in some way change the effect of simple physical reasons, then they, I hope, will cast doubt on the truth of our general assumptions no more than the joint action of the physical forces opposing each other. There are still a few reasons that are complex, but they are so closely related to purely mechanical reasons that I don’t want to abuse your attention anymore by including them in my reasoning.
Since sensitivity is the path to moral ability, everything that helps to reduce this sensitivity is detrimental to morality. The spoils of the Romans mores are largely due to the spectacles of gladiatorial fights and the execution of criminals who were given to wild beasts to be torn apart.
That is why the penalty should never be public. I believe that all kinds of public punishments only harden the hearts of the audience and thereby weaken the natural aversion that initially causes any crime in the human soul.
After this retreat, I again appeal to you, dear sages and fellow citizens of the republic of scholars. As you know, the influence of philosophy was felt earlier. In order to increase and complement this influence, there is nothing more necessary than to add the science of morality to the experiments and research that many learned societies in Europe and America are engaged in. The divine projects of King of France Henry IV and the glorious Queen of England Elizabeth to establish permanent peace in Europe can be implemented without any legal system by a confederation of learned men and scientific societies. Multiplying the objects of the human mind, they are able to subjugate all the monarchs and rulers in the world and because of this, remove war, slavery and the death penalty from the list of human disasters. However, one should not think that, in making a similar statement, I detract from the dignity of the Christian religion. It is true that Christianity spread without the aid of human knowledge; however, it was one of the miracles necessary for its establishment, which, if repeated, would cease to be a miracle. In a false light, the Christian religion is presented by those who consider it a purely internal revelation and addressed only to the moral abilities of the spirit. The truths of Christianity give the greatest space to the human mind, and they will become clear to us only when the genius of man reaches its greatest prosperity thanks to philosophy. Some mistakes can be contrasted to others, however, truths in all areas support each other. The fact that some aspects of Christian revelation are still shrouded in darkness is explained, perhaps, by our imperfect knowledge of the laws of nature. The truths of philosophy and Christianity are equally in the divine spirit, and reason and religion are equally the consequences of divine goodness. Therefore, they must exist and disappear simultaneously. By reason in this case, I mean the ability to judge the truth, as well as the ability to comprehend it. A happy era will come when the theologian and philosopher will embrace each other and combine their efforts for the transformation and happiness of humanity!
Lectures on animal life.
When we consider the human body, we are primarily struck by his life in it. Of course, it should be the first subject of our research. This is the most important topic, because the goal of all the efforts of a doctor is to save life; this cannot be achieved unless we know what life is.
Animal life in the human body includes movement, sensation and thinking. The combination of them forms a complete life. It can exist without thought or without sensations; however, neither thought nor sensation can exist without movement. An inferior degree of life can probably exist even without movement, which I will discuss later. I prefer the expression “movement” to such a thing as “vibration” or “vibration”, used by Dr. Gartley in explaining to them the laws of animal matter, because I consider this expression to be simpler and more accessible.
I will begin by setting out three general points.
- Every part of the human body (with the exception of nails and hair) is endowed with sensitivity or excitability, or both. By sensitivity, we mean the ability to experience a sensation produced by impressions. Excitability means the property of the human body, through which motion is excited under the influence of impressions.
- The human body as a whole is so created and [parts of it] are so interconnected that if it is in a healthy state, then the impact on one part of it excites movement or sensation or both in all its parts. From this point of view, the human body is represented as a single whole, or a simple and indivisible quality, or substance. His ability to receive movement and sensations is modified in various ways by what is called feelings. This is an external and internal ability. The effects on the human body will be listed in order.
- Life is the result of certain stimuli that affect sensitivity and excitability.
Love for fame acts in different ways, but its incentive is most noticeable and durable in the lives of the military. In many cases, it stops the weakening feeling of hunger, cold and hard work. Sometimes it works to such an extent that it eliminates the weaknesses associated with many diseases. There were cases when she helped to endure the camp life, cured from consumption.
Love for the motherland is deeply rooted in the human principle. This incentive is sometimes so strong that at first it makes sick people who have moved to foreign countries. Love for the motherland manifests itself in various forms, but finds its most frequent expression in caring, diligence, devotion, and hatred of the spirit of separation (party spirit). All this is a powerful incentive that supports animal life. I believe that all classes of the people are interested in newspapers because they reflect (contain) the degree of happiness or misfortune of our country. These media, the spokesmen of public pleasure or suffering, are often awaited with the same impatience as food, and they often produce the same stimulating effect on the body.
Various religions of the world have a significant impact on human life by the activity that they excite in the soul. Atheism is the worst sedative for reason and passion. He distracts the thought from the most sublime, from love, from the most perfect of all possible objects. Man is by nature the same religious as the public and domestic animals. To deprive him of faith in God means to commit the same kind of violence against his spiritual abilities as we commit, dooming him to existence in a solitary prison cell, deprived of all the objects and pleasures of social and family life. The necessary and unchanging connection between the structure of the human mind and the worship of any object was recently proved by the atheists of Europe who, rejecting the true god, introduced worship of nature, destiny and human reason, and in some cases this worship is accompanied by very expensive and lush ceremonies. Religions favor animal life to the extent that they elevate the mind and affect feelings of hope and love. You will easily agree that Christianity, when one believes in it and obeys its covenants, is more capable of evoking these feelings, according to its original agreement with itself and divine attributes, than any other religion of the world. – The effect of the teachings and commandments of Christianity on the health and life of [man] is so beneficial that if the divine authority of Christianity rested only on this, then this alone would be enough to offer it for our faith. It is difficult to say how long humanity will prefer inferior aspirations and pleasures to the inspiring stimulus of Christianity; but we are convinced that the time will come when the mind will rise, turning away from its present low objects, and the passions that have come out of obedience will again be returned to their original state. – I believe that such a change in the minds of people will be achieved only thanks to the influence of the Christian religion, after all the efforts of the human mind to make such a change with the help of civilization, philosophy, freedom and management do not lead to the goal.