". . . little shall I grace my cause

In speaking for myself. Yet, by your gracious patience,

I will a round unvarnish'd tale deliver . . ."

(William Shakespeare's Othello, I.iii.88-90)

Thursday, September 22, 2016


From "Justice," The Cardinal Virtues by William DeWitt Hyde, 1903

The essence of injustice consists in treating people, not as persons, having interests and ends of their own, but as mere tools or machines, to do the things we want to have done. The penalty of injustice is a hardening of heart and shrivelling of soul; so that if a person were to treat everybody in that way, he would come to dwell in a world of things, and, before he knew it, degenerate into a mere thing himself. Lord Rosebery points out that this habit of treating men as mere means to his own ends was what made Napoleon's mind lose its sanity of judgment, and made hia heart the friendless, cheerless desolation that it was in his last days. We have all seen persons in whom this hardening, shrivelling, drying-up process had reached almost the vanishing point. The employer toward his " hands"; the officer toward his troops; the teacher, even, toward his scholars; the housekeeper toward her servants; all of us toward the people who cook our food, and make our beds, and sell our meat, and raise our vegetables, are in imminent dan- ger of slipping down on to this immoral level of treating them as mere machines. Royce, in his Religious Aspect of Philosophy, has set this forth most forcibly, among English writer ; though it lies at the heart of all the German formulas, like Kant's "Treat humanity, whether in thyself or in others, always as an end, never as a means," and Hegel's "Be a person, and respect the personality of others." Royce says: " Let one look over the range of his bare acquaintanceship; let him leave out his friends, and the people in whom he takes a special personal interest; let him regard the rest of his world of fellow men, — his butcher, his grocer, the policeman that patrols his street, the newsboy, the servant in his kitchen, his business rivals. Are they not one and all to him ways of behavior toward himself or other people, outwardly effective beings, rather than realized masses of genuine inner sentiment, of love, or of felt desire? Does he not naturally think of each of them rather as a way of outward action than as a way of inner volition? His butcher, his newsboy, his servant, — are they not for him industrious or lazy, honest or deceitful, polite or uncivil, useful or useless people, rather than self-conscious people? Is any one of these alive for him in the full sense, — sentient, emotional, and otherwise like himself, as perhaps his own son, or his own mother or wife, seems to him to be? Is it not rather their being for him, not for themselves, that he considers in all his ordinary life? Not their inner volitional nature is realized, but their manner of outward activity. Such is the nature and ground of the illusion of selfishness."

This passage from Royce lays bare the source of the greater part of the social immorality in the world, and accounts for nine-tenths of all the world's trouble. . . .

. . . The most fundamental question a man can ask about our character is whether and to what extent we habitually treat persons as persons, and not as things.

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