The British Encyclopedia, or Dictionary of Arts and Sciences Comprising an Accurate and Popular View of the Present Improved State of Human Knowledge Volume 5
This historic book may have numerous typos and missing text. Purchasers can download a free scanned copy of the original book (without typos) from the publisher. Not indexed. Not illustrated. 1809 edition. Excerpt: ...refer to those which Godwin has advanced in his work on Political Justice.--His most general principle is, that every individual exertion should be directed so as to produce the greatest possible sum of good to the species. Hence, that if we have the power to save the life or increase tbe happiness of one or two fellow crea-tures, we owe our exertions to him who is useful, and perhaps extensively useful to society, in preference to him who is an useless, or perhaps injurious member of society. The claims of self are exclnded by the general principle. "What magic," says Godwin, "can-there be in the word my which should change its operation 'f" Hence tbe claims of confined charities ought not to oppose the deductions from the general principle. Hence it is not our business in tbe direction of our benevolent exertions, to consider what is the relation in which the individual 'stands to us; but tliat in which be stands to society. Not, is he my parent, relative, friend, or benefactor; but, is be a wormy or a worthless member of society.--Godwin's errors are the more injurious, becanse tliey appear to be the errors.of benevolence; they result from the inaccurate extension and application of principles which in themselves are indisputable. Whenever private interest interferes with tbe public good, private interest is to be sacrificed; and this, whether our owp immegood is the object, or the good of those who are intimately connected with us, by some of the natural bonds; that is, those which arise in the mind by the laws of our constitution. That the conduct dictated by confined charity is to yield to general good, cannot be disputed; but that we are in all cases to act totally independently of a regard to those confined charities', ...
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