Published online by Cambridge University Press: 09 July 2009
(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’”