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"His face, unshaven since ever so long, is quite emaciated, and presents all the symptoms of nervous exhaustion. Once more twenty German soldiers are being nursed in his college, where only once a German doctor came to see them. He (Dr. Goffin) and a couple of Sisters have to manage everything by themselves, and the Germans do not even dream of providing food for their own wounded, although the college is so inadequately provisioned that the Head and the Sisters have to deny themselves the necessary nourishment that they may feed the wounded.
Yet, while the Stoics were far from anticipating the methods of modern Utilitarianism, they were, in a certain sense, strict Utilitariansthat is to say, they measured the goodness or badness of actions by their consequences; in other words, by39 their bearing on the supposed interest of the individual or of the community. They did not, it is true, identify interest with pleasure or the absence of pain; but although, in our time, Hedonism and Utilitarianism are, for convenience, treated as interchangeable terms, they need not necessarily be so. If any one choose to regard bodily strength, health, wealth, beauty, intellect, knowledge, or even simple existence, as the highest good and the end conduciveness to which determines the morality of actions, he is a Utilitarian; and, even if it could be shown that a maximum of happiness would be ensured by the attainment of his end, he would not on that account become a Hedonist. Now it is certain that the early Stoics, at least, regarded the preservation of the human race as an end which rightfully took precedence of every other consideration; and, like Charles Austin, they sometimes pushed their principles to paradoxical or offensive extremes, apparently for no other purpose than that of affronting the common feelings of mankind,84 without remembering that such feelings were likely to represent embodied experiences of utility. Thusapart from their communistic theoriesthey were fond of specifying the circumstances in which incest would become legitimate; and they are said not only to have sanctioned cannibalism in cases of extreme necessity, but even to have recommended its introduction as a substitute for burial or cremation; although this, we may hope, was rather a grim illustration of what they meant by moral indifference than a serious practical suggestion.85Before entering on the chain of reasoning which led Aristotle to postulate the existence of a personal First Cause, we must explain the difference between his scientific standpoint, and that which is now accepted by all educated minds. To him the eternity not only of Matter, but also of what he called Form,that is to say, the collection of attributes giving definiteness to natural aggregates, more especially those known as organic specieswas an axiomatic certainty. Every type, capable of self-propagation, that could exist at all, had existed, and would continue to exist for ever. For this, no explanation beyond the generative power of Nature was required. But when he had to account for the machinery by which the perpetual alternation of birth and death below, and the changeless revolutions of the celestial spheres above the moon were preserved, difficulties arose. He had reduced every other change to transport through space; and with regard to this his conceptions were entirely mistaken. He believed that moving matter tended to stop unless it was sustained by some external force; and whatever their advantages over him in other respects, we cannot say that the Atomists were in a position to correct him here: for their349 theory, that every particle of matter gravitated downward through infinite space, was quite incompatible with the latest astronomical discoveries. Aristotle triumphantly showed that the tendency of heavy bodies was not to move indefinitely downwards in parallel lines, but to move in converging lines to the centre of the earth, which he, in common with most Greek astronomers, supposed to be also the centre of the universe; and seeing light bodies move up, he credited them with an equal and opposite tendency to the circumference of the universe, which, like Parmenides and Plato, he believed to be of finite extent. Thus each kind of matter has its appropriate place, motion to which ends in rest, while motion away from it, being constrained, cannot last. Accordingly, the constant periodicity of terrestrial phenomena necessitates as constant a transformation of dry and wet, and of hot and cold bodies into one another. This is explained with perfect accuracy by the diurnal and annual revolutions of the sun. Here, however, we are introduced to a new kind of motion, which, instead of being rectilinear and finite, is circular and eternal. To account for it, Aristotle assumes a fifth element entirely different in character from the four terrestrial elements. Unlike them, it is absolutely simple, and has a correspondingly simple mode of motion, which, as our philosopher erroneously supposes, can be no other than circular rotation.
LOCK WILLOW, 3rd October
CHAPTER XXXIX. DESIGNING MACHINES.