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Letter 7048

Darwin, W. E. to Darwin, C. R.

[Apr 1871?]

Summary

J. S. Mill’s account of the moral sense in Utilitarianism [1863] appears muddled. [See Descent 1: 71 n.]

Transcription

Bassett.

Saturday

My dear Father,

Mill says about 13 way thro’ the last chapter of Utilitarianismthat the feeling of justice grows out of the impulse of self defense,and the feeling of sympathy. He says it is not necessary to discuss theorigin of the feeling of sympathy, “but that whether it be an instinct orthe result of intelligence that it is Common to all animal nature”.and this becomes social sympathy in man;f2 but from that passage &from the rest of the passage from which you quote “that the socialfeelings are a powerful natural sentiment &c” it seems to me thathe considers the social feeling in man the result of association anddepending upon intellect to a great extent.f3 It is very extraordinarythat he should recognize the social instincts to be natural to Animals,which he can hardly put down to intellect, and should consider themalmost entirely the result of intellect & association in man. Whetherhe would allow anything innate in the social feelings or not thepassage you quote shews that he considers the moral feelings not tobe innate; but as a little further on he says that “the moralfaculty if not a part of our nature is a natural outgrowth from itcapable like the other acquired faculties in a certain small degreeof springing up spontaneously”, he must have been very close toallowing the moral faculty to be inheritable, but rather in a muddleon the whole subjectf4

your affect son | W E Darwin

DAR 88: 76–7

true

Footnotes

f1
The date is conjectured from the relationship between this letter,the letter to John Morley, 14 April [1871], and the letter from JohnMorley, 17 April 1871.
f2
William refers to John Stuart Mill and Mill 1864,pp. 76–7.
f3
William refers to Descent 1: 71 n. 5 and Mill 1864, p. 46.
f4
William refers to Descent 1: 71 n. 5 and Mill 1864, p. 45. CDalso discussed this passage in his letter to John Morley, 14 April[1871].
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