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Old-Fashioned Ethics and Common-Sense Metaphysics With Some of Their Applications   By: (1813-1880)

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OLD FASHIONED ETHICS AND COMMON SENSE METAPHYSICS

With Some of Their Applications

by

WILLIAM THOMAS THORNTON

Author of a Treatise 'On Labour'

London Macmillan and Co. 1873

All rights reserved

'I entirely agree with you as to the ill tendency of the affected doubts of some philosophers and the fantastical conceits of others. I am even so far gone of late in this way of thinking, that I have quitted several of the sublime notions I had got in their schools for vulgar opinions. And I give it you on my word, that since this revolt from metaphysical notions to the plain dictates of nature and common sense, I find my understanding strangely enlightened, so that I can now easily comprehend a great many things which before were all mystery and riddle.' BERKELEY'S HYLAS AND PHILONOUS.

PREFACE.

The book was all but finished, and only the Preface remained, over which I was hesitating, apprehensive equally of putting into it too much and too little, when one of the most frequent 'companions of my solitude' came to my aid, shewing me, in fragments, a preface already nearly written, and needing only a little piecing to become forthwith presentable. Here it is.

'In these sick days, in a world such as ours, richer than usual in Truths grown obsolete, what can the fool think but that it is all a Den of Lies wherein whoso will not speak and act Lies must stand idle and despair?' Whereby it happens that for the artist who would fain minister medicinally to the relief of folly, 'the publishing of a Work of Art,' designed, like this, to redeem Truth from premature obsolescence, 'becomes almost a necessity.' For, albeit, 'in the heart of the speaker there ought to be some kind of gospel tidings burning until it be uttered, so that otherwise it were better for him that he altogether held his peace,' still, than to have fire burning within, and not to put it forth, not many worse things are readily imaginable.

'Has the word Duty no meaning? Is what we call Duty no divine messenger and guide, but a false, earthly fantasm, made up of Desire and Fear?' In that' Logic mill of thine' hast thou 'an earthly mechanism for the Godlike itself, and for grinding out Virtue from the husks of Pleasure? I tell thee, Nay! Otherwise, not on Morality, but on Cookery, let us build our stronghold. There, brandishing our frying pan as censer, let us offer up sweet incense to the Devil, and live at ease on the fat things he has provided for his elect,' seeing that 'with stupidity and sound digestion, man may front much.'

Or, 'is there no God? or, at best, an absentee God, sitting idle ever since the first Sabbath, at the outside of His universe, and seeing it go?' Know that for man's well being, whatever else be needed, 'Faith is one thing needful.' Mark, 'how, with it, Martyrs, otherwise weak, can cheerfully endure the shame and the cross; how, without it, worldlings puke up their sick existence, by suicide, in the midst of luxury.' Of how much else, 'for a pure moral nature, is not the loss of Religious Belief the loss?' 'All wounds, the crush of long continued Destitution, the stab of false Friendship and of false Love, all wounds in the so genial heart would have healed again had not the life warmth of Faith been withdrawn.' But this once lost, how recoverable? how, rather, ever acquirable? 'First must the dead Letter of Religion own itself dead, and drop piecemeal into dust, if the living Spirit of Religion, freed from this, its charnel house, is to arise on us, new born of Heaven, and with new healing under its wings.'

Beside these burning words of Mr. Carlyle any additional words of mine would stand only as superfluous foils, and are, therefore, considerately pretermitted.

CADOGAN PLACE: December 1872.

CONTENTS.

CHAPTER PAGE

I. ANTI UTILITARIANISM 1

II. HISTORY'S SCIENTIFIC PRETENSIONS 84

III... Continue reading book >>




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