Friday, October 08, 2004

Wisdom from Butler

Upon the whole, then, besides the good and bad effects of virtue and vice upon men's own minds, the course of the world does in some measure turn upon the approbation and disapprobation of them as such, in others. The sense of well and ill doing, the presages of conscience, the love of good characters and dislike of bad ones, honour, shame, resentment, gratitude; all these considered in themselves, and in their effects, do afford manifest real instances of virtue as such naturally favoured, and of vice as such discountenanced, more or less, in the daily course of human life, in every age, in every relation, in every general circumstance of it.

(Joseph Butler's Analogy, Part I, Chapter III: Of the Moral Government of God. This passage is part of a much larger and more complicated argument that we have good reason to believe that virtue is rewarded and vice punished, for the most part and all things considered.)

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