A Brief Textbook of Moral Philosophy
Authored by Rev Charles Coppens SJ
6″ x 9″ (15.24 x 22.86 cm)
Black & White on Cream paper
Free USPS Media Rate S&H to USA
THIS “Brief Text-Book of Moral Philosophy” is a companion volume to the author’s “Brief Text-Book of Logic and Mental Philosophy,” lately published and already extensively used in Academies and other educational institutions. The author’s aim is to present to students and readers — to such, especially, as are unfamiliar with the Latin language — a brief yet clear outline of the system of Ethics taught in Catholic Colleges, Seminaries and Universities. This system is based on the philosophy of Aristotle.
Questions of Ethics, which in former times were left to the close scientific treatment of specialists, are at the present day freely discussed among all classes of society — in newspapers and popular magazines, in the workshop and in the parlor.
Extravagant notions of individual and social rights are circulated, while the rash speculations of so-called scientists are sapping in many minds the very foundations of morality. Never before has there been a more urgent call on the part of the people for the lucid exposition and the correct application of sound moral principles.
In this sad confusion of thought, no small utility will be found in a clear, simple, systematic explanation of the ethical doctrines taught by the greatest minds of the past ages, and lately most highly recommended by our Supreme Pontiff, the illustrious Leo. XIII. Such an exposition the author has endeavored to present in this little volume.
CREIGHTON UNIVERSITY, OMAHA, NEB.
March 12, 1895
1. Moral Philosophy is the science of the moral order, or of the right and wrong of human acts. It is called Ethics from the Greek word êthê which, like the Latin word mores, signifies morals. Since its object is not merely speculative knowledge, but the true direction of human acts, Ethics is also styled Practical Philosophy.
2. Ethics, we say, directs human acts. However, not all the acts of a man are called human acts, but only such as are under the control of his free will. Whatever he does necessarily — i. e., whatever he cannot help doing — results from the physical laws of nature, and, as such, is willed and directed by the Author of nature. For instance, a man may fall like a stone, or grow like a plant, or perceive a sound like a brute animal, without any power on his part to prevent himself from falling or growing or hearing, if the required conditions are present. These are acts of the man, but they are not acts of what is distinctively human — namely, his intellect and his will. The term human act is restricted in philosophy to those acts which a man does knowingly and willingly — which he has the power either to do or not to do.
3. To be qualified for the direction of human acts, Philosophy must derive its conclusions by reasoning from first principles; it must take into account the nature of man, and The natures of all the causes that influence human action. Much of this we have considered in Metaphysics, or Mental Philosophy. Ethics is thus founded on Metaphysics: Moral Philosophy assumes as its principles the conclusions established in Mental Philosophy.