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3 - Unity

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  09 July 2009

Bart Schultz
Affiliation:
University of Chicago
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Summary

(1) We may be over-conscientious about using words which do not to us convey what we believe: we must remember that our ideas are more or less incommunicable to uneducated minds and that what we have out-grown is actually not only ‘best for them’ but perhaps brings them as near as they can be brought to the truth. (2) We may often clothe new ideas in old words: the uneducated will not feel the inconsistency, and will imbibe the new teaching unconsciously: Mr Maurice is an excellent pattern in this species of useful ingenuity, though he carries it I think too far. (3) We must sometimes sacrifice our individuality to a system: if the teaching we are forced to give is better than what would otherwise be given, we must be satisfied with having chosen the lesser evil.

I must say a word as to my phrase ‘Regulative Beliefs’. I did not mean by this moral rules only but such parts of our creed as we believe to influence conduct: if we are only sceptical as to any of these beliefs, we should still, I think, teach them, if teaching be our duty: if we have rejected any of such beliefs, generally held, we should not, except in a very urgent case – alluded to in (3) – As to speculative beliefs the Athanasian creed offers an excellent example of what I would avoid teaching. If I had to teach a moral duty such as obedience I think I should teach the broad rule at one time, and the limitations at another, as a suitable opportunity arose for introducing them. They would be more likely, I imagine, thus to combine in due proportions in the rustic brain.

Henry Sidgwick, “Instructions for the ‘Initial Society’”
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Chapter
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Henry Sidgwick - Eye of the Universe
An Intellectual Biography
, pp. 61 - 136
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2004

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  • Unity
  • Bart Schultz, University of Chicago
  • Book: Henry Sidgwick - Eye of the Universe
  • Online publication: 09 July 2009
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511498336.003
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  • Unity
  • Bart Schultz, University of Chicago
  • Book: Henry Sidgwick - Eye of the Universe
  • Online publication: 09 July 2009
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511498336.003
Available formats
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Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • Unity
  • Bart Schultz, University of Chicago
  • Book: Henry Sidgwick - Eye of the Universe
  • Online publication: 09 July 2009
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511498336.003
Available formats
×