Infomotions, Inc.The metaphysical theory of the state : a criticism / by L. T. Hobhouse. / Hobhouse, L. T. (Leonard Trelawney), 1864-1929

Author: Hobhouse, L. T. (Leonard Trelawney), 1864-1929
Title: The metaphysical theory of the state : a criticism / by L. T. Hobhouse.
Publisher: London : G. Allen & Unwin ; New York : Macmillan, 1918.
Tag(s): state, the; hegel, georg wilhelm friedrich, 1770-1831; metaphysical theory; theory; social; freedom; society; individual
Contributor(s): Eric Lease Morgan (Infomotions, Inc.)
Versions: original; local mirror; HTML (this file); printable; PDF
Services: find in a library; evaluate using concordance
Rights: GNU General Public License
Size: 57,752 words (short) Grade range: 11-14 (high school) Readability score: 52 (average)
Identifier: metaphysicaltheo00hobhuoft
Delicious Bookmark this on Delicious

Discover what books you consider "great". Take the Great Books Survey.


of % 

of Toronto 

Executors of Mrs. Hume Blake 



Director of the London School of Economics and Political Science. 

No. 51 in the Series of Monographs by writers connected with the London 
School of Economics and Political Science. 







?v*. i? 43 




do p. 3 

First published in igi8 

(All rights reserved) 



If you can carry your memory across the abyss 
which separates us all from July 1914, you will remember 
some hours which we spent reading Kant together in 
a cool Highgate garden in those summer days of peace. 
I think by way of relaxation we sometimes laid aside 
Kant, took up Herodotus, and felt ourselves for a moment 
in the morning of the world. But it is of Kant that 
I remind you, because three years later I was reading his 
great successor in the same garden in the same summer 
weather, but not with you. One morning as I sat there 
annotating Hegel's theory of freedom, jarring sounds 
broke in upon the summer stillness. We were well 
accustomed to the noises of our strange new world that 
summer. Daily if the air was still we heard, as some one 
said, the thud of guns across the northern sea, and mur- 
mur of innumerable 'planes. But this morning it was soon 
clear that something more was on foot. Gunfire, at first 
distant, grew rapidly nearer, and soon broke out from 
the northern heights hard by. The familiar drone of the 
British aeroplanes was pierced by the whining of the 
Gothas. High above, machine guns barked in sharp 
staccato and distant thuds announced the fall of bombs. 


Presently three white specks could be seen dimly through 
the light haze overhead, and we watched their course 
from the field. The raid was soon over. The three 
specks drifted away towards the east, the gunfire died 
down, the whining faded away, and below the hill the 
great city picked up its dead. The familiar sounds 
resumed their sway, the small birds chirruped from the 
shrubs, and the distant murmur of the traffic told of a 
world going steadily on its accustomed course. 

As I went back to my Hegel my first mood was one of 
self-satire. Was this a time for theorizing or destroying 
theories, when the world was tumbling about our ears ? 
My second thoughts ran otherwise. To each man the 
tools and weapons that he can best use. In the bombing 
of London I had just witnessed the visible and tangible 
outcome of a false and wicked doctrine, the foundations 
of which lay, as I believe, in the book before me. To 
combat this doctrine effectively is to take such part in 
the fight as the physical disabilities of middle age allow. 
Hegel himself carried the proof-sheets of his first work to 
the printer through streets crowded with fugitives from the 
field of Jena. With that work began the most penetrating 
and subtle of all the intellectual influences which have 
sapped the rational humanitarianism of the eighteenth 
and nineteenth centuries, and in the Hegelian theory of 
the god-state all that I had witnessed lay implicit. You 
may meet his Gothas in mid air, and may the full power of 
a just cause be with you. I must be content with more 
pedestrian methods. But " to make the world a safe 
place for democracy," the weapons of the spirit are as 
necessary as those of the flesh. You have described to 
me times when your lofty world is peaceable enough- 
above the Canal in the dawn, when all the desert 
lies gray and still before the first sunbeam sets the air 
moving, or alone in the blueness, cut off by a bank of 


cloud from earth. When at such times the mind works 
freely and you think over the meaning of the great 
contest, I should like to think that you carried with you 
some ideas from this volume to your heights. At any 
rate you will bear with you the sense that we are 
together as of old, in that in our different ways we are 
both fighters in one great cause. 

Your affectionate father, 



THE substance of this volume was given in a course 
of lectures at the London School of Economics in the 
autumn of 1917. 

I have to thank my colleague Dr. A. Wolf for reading 
the MS. and making several useful emendations of detail. 













INDEX 155 




PEOPLE naturally begin to think about social questions 
when they find that there is something going wrong in 
social life. Just as in the physical body it is the ailment 
that interests us, while the healthy processes go on without 
our being aware of them, so a society in which everything 
is working smoothly and in accordance with the accepted 
opinion of what is right and proper raises no question 
for its own members. We are first conscious of diges- 
tion when we are aware of indigestion, and we begin to 
think about law and government when we feel law to be 
oppressive or see that government is making mistakes. 
Thus the starting-point of social inquiry is the point at 
which we are moved by a wrong which we desire to set 
right, or, perhaps at a slightly higher remove, by a lack 
which we wish to make good. But from this starting- 
point reflection advances to a fuller and more general 
conception of society. If we begin by criticizing some 
particular injustice, we are led on to discuss what justice 
is. Beginning with some special social disorder, we are 
forced to examine the nature of social order and the 
purposes for which society exists. The social theory 
which we reach on these lines is a theory of ends, values, 
purposes, which leads us up to Ethics or Moral Philosophy, 
to questions of the rights and duties of man, and the 
means by which institutions of society may be made to 


conform thereto. The principles of Ethics are supreme, 
or, as they have been called, architectonic. They apply 
to man in all relations and to life on all sides. They 
guide, or are meant to guide, the personal life of man 
no less than his collective and political activities. They 
provide the standard by which all human relations are 
to be judged. When, therefore, we study social and 
political institutions with a view to ascertaining their 
value or justification, our inquiry is in reality a branch 
of Ethics. Our results rest in the end on the application 
of principles of well-being to the social organization of 
man. This is one perfectly legitimate method of social 
inquiry, and as involving an analysis of common experi- 
ence, leading up to or down from a theory of ends or 
values, it is appropriately called Social Philosophy. 

Legitimate as it is, this method of investigating society 
' has its special danger. In pursuing the ideal it some- 
times loses hold of the actual. In analysing the meaning 
of institutions it may overlook their actual working, and 
if we follow it too blindly we may end either in abstract 
propositions which have little relation to practical 
possibility and serve only to breed fanatics ; or in 
abandoning the interest in actual society altogether and 
amusing ourselves with the construction of Utopias. 
In reaction from this tendency many students would 
say that the primary business of social theory is to inves- 
tigate the facts of social life as they are, the historical 
development of society and its several institutions, the 
statistical description of any given society as it is, the 
endeavour to ascertain the laws of cause and effect which, 
it is held, must permeate social life as they permeate every 
other sphere of reality. In place of a social philosophy, 
then, we have a social science, and it is held that by a 
social science we can ascertain, measure and predict, just 
as we can ascertain, measure and predict the behaviour 
of any system of physical bodies. 

Without touching here on the question whether in 
social science prediction is possible or not, it is suffi- 
cient to say that the scientific study of social life or the 


endeavour to ascertain the relations of cause and effect 
is not only a legitimate object but one which has in 
point of fact yielded good results. Few would now deny 
that the strictly scientific method has its place in social 
inquiry. But objection may still be taken to the dis- 
tinction between ideals and facts. To begin with, it 
may be urged that the social inquirer could not if he 
would lay aside his ideals. Whenever we are dealing 
with social life we are dealing with a matter of profound 
interest to ourselves. When the chemist wishes to 
ascertain the temperature at which a solid liquefies, or 
a liquid boils, he has in the end to read off a certain obser- 
vation, and it is not a matter of profound human interest 
whether the figure that he reads is 150 or 160 ; but 
when a social student inquires how an institution is 
working, whether a new law is attaining its object, 
whether Trade Union activity is or is not succeeding in 
raising wages, shortening hours or otherwise improving 
the condition of the operatives, the answer to his question 
is not only in reality much more difficult to ascertain 
but is also one which stirs prejudices, confirms or refutes 
presuppositions, is certain to be challenged by lively 
interests. The difficulty is not peculiar to the study 
of contemporary fact. History, even ancient history, 
is written in a certain spirit and a certain temper de- 
pendent on the personal presuppositions of the writer. 
Human affairs are so complex and the interweaving of 
cause and effect so subtle that in the presentation of an 
historical development there will always be an element 
dependent on the point of view of the writer and on the 
selection and emphasis which may honestly seem the 
fairest selection and the natural emphasis to the par- 
ticular writer, but which may seem quite other to a 
different investigator approaching the same object with 
a different background of thought. 

Nor is this all. Putting aside all that may be said 
as to the bias of investigators, it may be urged that the 
subject of investigation itself is charged throughout with 
the ideals, emotions, interests of men and women, both 


as individuals and as corporate bodies ; and, moreover, 
the logic of those ideals, the very thing which social 
philosophy investigates, the degree, that is, of their 
mutual consistency or inconsistency, is a matter of pro- 
found importance to their actual working. If two ideals 
penetrate the same nation or the same class and those 
two ideals are at bottom in conflict, the results must 
show themselves in the tangle of history. They must 
manifest themselves in divided aims and ultimately in 
failure. If, on the other hand, they are coherent and 
harmonious, then once more that result must appear in 
the greatness of the success attending their historical 
development. Thus, if we start with the most rigid 
determination to adhere to facts, we shall find that ideals 
are a part of the facts, and if we say that nevertheless 
we will treat them as facts without examining their truth, 
we shall find it hard to adhere to that position because 
their consistency and coherence, which are intimately 
relevant to their truth, deeply affect their practical 

It may be granted that it is easier to distinguish the 
philosophical and the scientific treatment of society in 
principle than to keep them apart in practice. In prin- 
ciple we call the philosophical inquiry that which deals 
with the aim of life, with the standard of conduct, with 
all that ought to be, no matter whether it is or is not. 
The scientific method we call that which investigates 
facts, endeavours to trace cause and effect, aims at the 
establishment of general truths which hold good whether 
they are desirable or not. The distinction of principle 
is clear, but in point of fact the inquiry into ideals can 
never deser,t the world of experience without danger of 
losing itself in unreality and becoming that which the 
poet of idealism was unfairly called, " a beautiful, ineffec- 
tual angel beating in the void his luminous wings in 
vain." The ideal, though it has never been realized 
and perhaps may never be realized, must grow out of 
reality. It must be that which we can become, not that 
which is utterly removed from the emotions and aspi- 


rations which have grown up within us in the actual 
evolution of mind. The ethically right, Professor 
Hoffding has said, must be sociologically possible. Thus, 
even as pure theory, the philosophical view cannot afford 
to disregard the facts. Still less can it do so if it passes 
over, as philosophy should, into the constructive attempt 
to reorganize life in accordance with its ideals. If the 
principles which it discovers are to be realized in this 
workaday world, this can only be by intimate knowledge 
of the details of this world, by the control of events 
through their causes, for the discovery of which we must 
go to pure science. Social Science, on the other hand, 
as we have seen, cannot ignore the elements of idealism 
as a working factor, as one of the forces, if you will, 
among the other forces, which it studies ; nor can it dis- 
regard the logical consistency or inconsistency of ideas, 
upon which their working force depends. Thus the 
philosophical, the scientific, and the practical interest, 
however distinct in theory, tend in their actual operation 
to be intermingled, and it must be admitted that we 
cannot carry one through without reference to the other. 
Nevertheless, to keep the issues distinct at every point 
is the first necessity of sound reasoning upon social affairs. 
What is essential for social investigation, whether it starts 
with the philosophic or scientific interest, is that in 
putting any question it should know precisely what that 
question is ; specifically, whether it is a question of what 
is desirable, of what ought to be; or a question of what 
has been, is, or probably will be. These two questions, 
though necessarily related, are no less necessarily distinct, 
and to confuse them is the standing temptation of the 
social inquirer. If the social philosopher has sometimes 
thought to legislate for society without first informing 
himself of the facts as to what is possible and what is 
not, the scientific sociologist on his side is not innocent 
of all encroachments. It is a standing temptation to 
overbear questions of right and wrong by confident pre- 
dictions, which in reality rest more on the prepossessions 
of the prophet than on his insight into cause and effect. 


It is the weakness of human nature that it likes to be 
on the winning side, and just as in an election the argu- 
ment most effective in catching votes is- the demonstra- 
tion that we are winning already a demonstration which 
might seem to make effort on that side superfluous so 
in the study of social and economic development it is 
rhetorically effective to demonstrate that a particular 
social change is at hand, that it is an inevitable conse- 
quence of a concatenation of events that is bringing it 
about whether we will or not ; and this demonstration 
exercises, and is intended to exercise, a kind of coercion 
upon our minds whereby we resign ourselves to accept 
the change as desirable on the strength of arguments 
which have never touched its desirability at all, but have 
proved, if they have proved anything, nothing more than 
the probable effect of certain operative causes. Intel- 
lectually, this method is one of confusion ; morally, it 
is paralysing to the will. If there were nothing for us 
but to accept the trend of events as we find it, then our 
science would relapse into fatalism, and, as members of 
the society which we study, we should be in the position 
simply of knowing the course of the stream which carries 
us along without any increase in the power to guide it, 
whether it happen to be taking us into the haven or 
over Niagara. 

When we allow Social Science thus to persuade us of 
the inevitableness of things, we are reversing the normal 
course of science. For, whatever else may be said of 
science, one of its functions is to increase human power, 
and this applies to sciences which deal with human life 
as well as to sciences which deal with inanimate objects. 
When we know the etiology of a disease we acquire for 
the first time a real prospect of controlling it. So it 
should be in social affairs, but so it can only be if we 
hold firmly to the distinction between the desirable and 
the actual, if we grasp clearly the principles which should 
regulate social life, and do not allow ourselves to be 
shaken in our hold of them by any knowledge of the 
changes which are actually going on among us. The 


foundation, therefore, of true social method is to hold 
the ideal and the actual distinct and use our knowledge 
of the one as a means to realizing the other. We may 
pursue the two investigations, if we will, side by side, 
for we have seen how very closely they are interwoven. 
But every question that we ask and every statement that 
we make ought to be quite clearly a statement as to fact , 
or an assertion of what ought to be, and never a hybrid 
of the two. 

This distinction would, I think, be accepted both by 
the bulk of ethical thinkers and of scientific students of 
society, but there exists a form of social theory which 
repudiates it in principle. The foundation of this theory 
is the belief that the ideal is realized in the actual world, 
and in particular in the world of organized society, not 
in the sense already noted above that there are ideals 
operating as psychological forces in human beings, but 
in the sense that the world at large, and in particular 
the social world, is, if properly understood, an incarnation 
or expression of the ideal ; that, as one thinker would 
put it, the Absolute is perfection ; or, as Hegel, who may 
be considered as the father of this school, laid down, 
" the insight to which . . . philosophy is to lead us is 
that the real world is as it ought to be." I The theory 
of society on this view is not to be detached from general 
metaphysics ; it is an integral part of the philosophy of 
things. Just as in a simple form of religion, the powers 
that be are ordained of God, so with the metaphysician 
who starts from the belief that things are what they should 
be, the fabric of human life, and in particular the state 
system, is a part of an order which is inherently rational 
and good, an order to which the lives of individuals are 
altogether subordinate. The problem of social theory 
upon this view will not consist in the formulation of 
ideals as distinct from anything actual, yet capable of 
becoming actual if once human beings grasp them with 
a very firm determination to realize them ; still less 
can it consist in investigating facts in distinction from 
1 Philosophy of History, p. 38. 


ideals, for the very foundation of society as a part of 
the fabric of things is the ideal which it enshrines. 
The problem will be neither ethical nor scientific. It 
will start by a repudiation of the distinction upon which 
we have been insisting, and its task will be to state the 
nature of society in terms revealing the ideal elements 
which mere facts have a tendency to veil from our 
human eyes. 

This, then, is the metaphysical theory of the state. 
It is the endeavour to exhibit the fabric of society in a 
light in which we shall see it, in or through its actual 
condition, as the incarnation of something very great 
and glorious indeed, as one expression of that supreme 
being which some of these thinkers call the Spirit and 
others the Absolute. There is no question here of 
realizing an ideal by human effort. We are already living 
in the ideal. It does not much matter whether we are 
rich or poor, healthy or enfeebled, personally aware of 
happiness or misery ; nay, it does not seem to matter 
very much whether we are just or unjust, virtuous or 
depraved, for we all are integral parts in something much 
wider and nobler than the individual life, something to 
which mere human good and evil, happiness or misery, 
are small matters, mere constituent elements that, what- 
ever they may be for each one of us, play their part right 
well in the magnificent whole. Evil is indeed necessary 
to good. It is a part of the Perfection of the Absolute, 
and anything which would point to its extirpation as an 
ideal is condemned as an offshoot of popular notions of 
progress or ridiculed as a piece of humanitarian enthusiasm. 

Such, then, is the spirit of the metaphysical theory 
of society which I propose to examine in the shape given 
to it by its founder, Hegel, and his most modern and most 
faithful exponent, Dr. Bosanquet. This theory is com- 
monly spoken of as idealism, but it is in point of fact 
a much more subtle and dangerous enemy to the ideal 
than any brute denial of idealism emanating from a one- 
sided science. Against every attempt to construe the 
world as mere fact which we cannot modify, there will 


always spring up the reaction of human hope, of human 
endeavour, of the deep-seated indignation at injustice, 
the " rebel passion " of pity. If the scientific man 
insists that as this world rose out of the whirl of atoms, 
agitated by mechanical forces, so it will ultimately dis- 
appear in the cold and darkness, none the less men will 
say " Here are we, conscious living beings palpitating 
with emotion, with feeling, products it may be of your 
whirl of atoms, yet allowed meanwhile some latitude to 
shape our lives, to avoid the worst evils and to cultivate 
' some fleeting happiness ; let us at least stand together 
against this unkindly fate and make the best of life while 
we can, not only for our short-lived selves, but for our 
feeble race." Thus mechanical science stimulates at 
least the ethics of revolt. But when we are taught to 
think of the world which we know as a good world, to 
think of its injustices, wrongs and miseries as necessary 
elements in a perfect ideal, then, if we accept these argu- 
ments, our power of revolt is atrophied, our reason is 
hypnotized, our efforts to improve life and remedy wrong 
fade away into a passive acquiescence in things as they 
are ; or, still worse, into a slavish adulation of the Abso- 
lute in whose hands we are mere pawns. These, it may 
be said, are questions of general rather than social 
philosophy, but the point is that to the idealistic school, 
social philosophy is an application of the theory of the 
Absolute to human affairs. As Dr. Bosanquet tells us, 1 
" the treatment of the state in this discussion is natu- 
rally analogous to the treatment of the universe." The 
happiness of the state is not to be judged by the happiness 
of the individual ; the happiness of the individual must 
be judged by the goodness of the state. It is to be 
valued by the perfection of the whole to which he belongs. 
In the conception, therefore, of the state as a totality, 
'which is an end in itself, an end to which the lives of 
men and women are mere means, we have the working 
model of an Absolute. For the thoroughgoing idealist, 
all the conscious beings that live under the shadow of 

1 The Principle of Individuality and Value, p. 311. 


the Absolute seem to have just as much or as little 
title to independent consideration as the cells of the 
human body. Now, for Hegel, the state is a form of 
the absolute spirit, which is the essence of all things. 
" The state is the divine idea as it exists on earth." * 
For " all the worth which the human being possesses 
all spiritual reality he possesses only through the state." 
" The state is the spirit which stands in the world and 
realizes itself therein consciously. . . . The existence of 
the state is God's movement in the world." 3 " The 
state is the divine will as the present spirit unfolding itself 
to the actual shape and organization of a world " (Ph. d. R. 
p. 327). " It is the absolute power upon earth " (p. 417). 
"It is its own end (Selbst-zweck). It is the ultimate end 
which has the highest right against the individual, whose 
highest duty is to be a member of the state" (p. 306). 
The method followed by this theory is not ethical 
because it does not seek to find reasons for human con- 
duct in any ultimate goal of human endeavour or in any 
rational principle of human duty. It does not seek 
these because it denies that the reflective reason of the 
individual is the method by which truth about ideals 
is to be ascertained. All true ideals are actual ; they 
belong to what is called the objective mind ; they are 
incarnated in the laws, traditions, customs of the society 
to which we belong. Nor, again, is the method scientific. 
It is neither historical nor statistical. It does not con- 
cern itself with the varying forms of social institutions, 
nor with the correlations of co-existence or succession. 
It assumes certain abstract conceptions 4 and expounds 
them dogmatically in general terms, putting aside the 
appeal to experience. If actual societies differ from 
the idealistic conception of them, so much the worse for 

1 Philosophy of History, E. T., p. 41; 
1 Ibid. p. 40 f. 

3 Philosophie des Rechis, pp. 312-13. 

4 Not that they are admitted to be abstract. They are believed 
by the idealist to be the very soul of reality (see, e.g., Phil, des 
Rechts, p. 58). 


those societies. Thus the centre of discussion is "the 
state," as though there were precisely one and only one 
type of social organization to which the name applies 
and which can be described without reference to experi- 
ence in universal terms. Dr. Bosanquet in his latest 
restatement justifies this procedure. "The state," he 
tells us, " is a brief expression for states qua states." * 
Now it may be perfectly true that there are propositions 
which hold of states as such, distinguishable from propo- 
sitions which hold of some states and not of others ; but 
the urgent question for any science is how such general 
truths are arrived at. Is it by induction a comparison 
of states, from which the points of agreement and differ- 
ence may emerge ? No such inductive process is to 
be found in the metaphysical theory. Is it by self- 
evidence ? Is it, for example, self-evident " that states 
represent differentiations of a single human spirit . . . 
whose extent and intensity determine and are determined 
by territorial limits " ? * Is this a proposition which 
commands acceptance by intuition like a mathematical 
axiom ? If not, on what evidence is it based ? When 
Hegel asserts that the state must have a monarch to 
complete its personality and that the monarch must be 
determined by a natural method, and this is primo- 
geniture, are these self-evident propositions ? Do they 
rest on intrinsic necessities revealed to Hegel's intuition 
or do they really do no more than clothe the practice 
of the Prussian state in sounding generalities ? The 
truth is that in social investigation large and unproven 
principles are apt to be either mere generalizations of 
customs or institutions which happen to ba familiar to 
the writer, or expressions of his ideals, or very possibly 
a fusion of the two. Dr. Bosanquet thinks that his 
critics, dealing unguardedly " with states " (positively 
wandering off into the region of fact), " attribute to states 
that which qua states they are not, namely, defects 
which the state organization exists to remove." For 
him the state is the power which, as the organization 
1 Social and International Ideals (1917), p. 274. * Ibid., p. 275. 


of the community, " has the function of maintaining the 
external conditions necessary to the best life." If one 
objects that many states maintain conditions that are 
quite adverse to the best life, Dr. Bosanquet retorts that 
we must distinguish a function from its derangement. 
States qua states do not maintain bad conditions. It 
results that the state is not the actual organized commu- 
nity, but only so much of the organized community as 
makes for good. This is to define the state by an ideal. 
But elsewhere J Dr. Bosanquet defines the state as that 
society " which is habitually recognized as a unit lawfully 
exercising force," a definition which would apply to the 
rule of the Czar or Sultan. The second definition is 
much nearer to common usage, which certainly thinks 
of the state as an organization which may serve good 
or bad ends, maintain good or bad conditions, but is a 
state as long as it holds together and maintains law and 
government. It is a violent departure from usage, 
which at best would only lead to constant misunder- 
standing, to restrict the term to the good elements of 
any such organization. But things are still worse if 
the state means at one time that which is actually common 
to stable political organizations and at another the ideal 
functions of a possible political organization. 3 Such 
methods of definition are equally fatal to science and 

i The Philosophical Theory of the State, p. 186. 

It may be permissible to define a structure by its function, 
provided the definition be unambiguous. For this purpose the 
structure must only have one function, and we must know what 
it is, and that it is invariably performed. If every government 
performed the function of promoting the common good and no 
other, there would be no harm in defining the state as that which 
exists for the common good, but if, e.g., the state is in the hands 
of a governing class which governs for selfish ends, it does not 
perform this function. Do we then mean by the state the organ- 
ization which sustains government or the organization which 
sustains a peculiar kind of government aiming at a particular 
kind of purpose ? If the latter, we must get another name instead 
of the state for every actual organization in so far as it deflects 
from our ideal, otherwise we shall never know whether we are 
talking about the ideal world or the real world. 


philosophy, and our general charge against the method 
of idealism must be that it starts with and never corrects 
the fundamental confusion of the ideal and the actual. 1 
In older days we passed by the Hegelian exaltation 
of the state as the rhapsodical utterances of a meta- 
physical dreamer. It was a mistake. The whole con- 
ception is deeply interwoven with the most sinister 
developments in the history of Europe. It is fashionable 
to conceive German militarism as a product of the reaction 
against a beautiful sentimental idealism that reigned in 
the pre-Bismarckian era. Nothing could be more false. 
The political reaction began with Hegel, whose school 
has from first to last provided by far the most serious 
opposition to the democratic and humanitarian con- 
ceptions emanating from eighteenth-century France, 
sixteenth-century Holland and seventeenth-century Eng- 
land. It was the Hegelian conception of the state which 
was designed to turn the edge of the principle of freedom 

1 The truth seems to be that idealists suppose actual states to 
be so good that the error is insignificant. Thus, Hegel interrupts 
one of his rhapsodies (Phil, des Rechts, p. 313) with the caution, 
" In the idea of the state one must not have particular states before 
one's eyes nor particular institutions. One must rather treat the 
idea of this actual god on its own account (fiirsich)." For the moment 
the reader thinks that after all Hegel has only been romancing 
harmlessly about an ideal world. But he goes on, " Every state, 
though one may recognize this or that fault in it, has always, 
especially when it belongs to the developed states of our own time, 
the essential moments of its existence in itself." The god, it seems, 
is actually incarnated in actual states, though it seems to have 
some little trouble in the flesh. 

There is a case for restricting the use of the term " state " to those 
political organizations which recognize the rule of law and some 
measure of self-government. The present writer has himself used 
the term in this sense (Morals in Evolution, ch. ii), but this still 
defines the state by actual and assignable features of its organ- 
ization, not by the way in which that organization performs its 
functions ; and the term " state " is in practice used by many writers 
in a much wider sense, as applicable to all communities that 
possess an organized government. In the Hegelian state in par- 
ticular, though the reign of law is certainly postulated, there is 
no notion of self-government. 


by identifying freedom with law; of equality, by substi- 
tuting the conception of discipline; of personality itself, 
by merging the individual in the state ; of humanity, by 
erecting the state as the supreme and final form of human 
association. 1 

The direct connection between Bismarckian ethics and 
Hegelian teaching was ably worked out many years ago 
by a close student of the relations of ideas and facts in 
the political sphere, Mr. William Clark, but it is not in 
Germany alone that the Hegelian influence has pro- 
foundly affected the course of thought in one form or 
another. It has permeated the British world, dis- 
crediting the principles upon which liberal progress has 
been founded and in particular depreciating all that 
British and French thinkers have contributed. Perhaps 
it has been none the less dangerous because it has capti- 
vated men of real humanity, genuinely interested in 
liberal progress, so much so that in the hands of T. H. 
Green the Hegelian theory was for a time transmuted 
into a philosophy of social idealism, a variant which has 
a value of its own and does not lack distinguished living 
disciples. But as a fashionable academic philosophy 
genuine Hegelianism has revived, and the doctrine of 
the state as an incarnation of the Absolute, a super- 
personality which absorbs the real living personality of 
men and women, has in many quarters achieved the 
position of an academic orthodoxy. For academic 
purposes, indeed, it is a convenient doctrine ; its bed-rock 
conservatism is proof against all criticisms of the existing 
order. It combats the spirit of freedom in the most 
effective method possible, by adopting its banner and 
waving it from the serried battalions of a disciplined 
army. It justifies that negation of the individual which 

1 Above the state stands the Spirit which realizes itself in world 
history and is the absolute judge of the state. There is here a 
hint of a wider view which perhaps explains how it was that Karl 
Marx could reach internationalism from a Hegelian basis. But 
for Hegel combinations of states are only relative and limited (Phil, 
des Rechts, p. 314). 


the modern practice of government is daily emphasizing. 
It sets the state above moral criticism, constitutes war 
a necessary incident in its existence, contemns humanity, 
and repudiates a Federation or League of Nations. In 
short, we see in it a theory admirably suited to the period 
of militancy and regimentation in which we find ourselves. 
The truth or falsity of such a theory is a matter of no 
small interest ; indeed, it is not a question of theory 
alone but of a doctrine whose historical importance is 
written large in the events of the nineteenth and twentieth 
centuries. I propose in the following lectures to set 
out the fundamentals of this theory and endeavour to 
discover the processes of thought by which, in the judg- 
ment of so many able men, the state assumes in the 
modern world a position which earlier ages might have 
given to the church or to the Deity Himself. 


DURING the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries estab- 
lished authority came under criticism from many points 
of view. The authority of the church was challenged 
by the claims of conscience ; the authority of law and 
government was opposed by the natural right of the 
individual. Presently the whole social structure, the 
notions of political prosperity and national well-being 
were scrutinized in the interest of the happiness of 
individual men and women. It is not my purpose here 
to trace the movements of these theories, nor to show 
how in some forms they were brought round to a justi- 
fication of the social order, while in others they issued 
in a more or less revolutionary ideal. I call attention 
only to the tendency to judge the state, the fabric of 
law and government, the structure of social institutions 
in terms of and by reference to the conscience or the 
rights or the happiness of individuals. This tendency 
is not very happily or fairly described when it is called 
a tendency to put the individual above society. This 
suggests a kind of egoism, as though one man counted 
for more than millions. It is more fairly to be described 
as an effort to go back from institutions, laws and forms, 
to the real life that lay behind them, insisting that this 
was a life of individual men and women with souls to be 
saved, with personalities to be respected, or simply with 
capacity for feeling anguish or enjoying their brief span 
of life. The danger was that the emphasis on personality 
might be exaggerated to the point of depreciating the 


common life, that criticism might degenerate into 
anarchy, and what was valuable in the social tradition 
might be thrown away along with what was bad. The 
natural man might be endowed with none of the vices and 
all the virtues of his civilized counterpart, and it might 
be supposed that, if left to himself, or enabled to start 
afresh without the incubus of the established order upon 
him, he would build up a new life incomparably more 
free and beautiful. The exaggeration of revolution is 
the opportunity of reaction, and in the new world of 
theory, partly reflecting, partly anticipating the world of 
action, exaggerated individualism paved the way for 
reconstructions. Of these the most far-reaching and in 
the end the most influential was the metaphysical theory 
which challenged the whole assumption, tacit or avowed,) 
of the critical school in all its forms, by setting up the 
state as a greater being, a spirit, a superpersonal entity, j 
in which individuals with their private consciences or 
claims of right, their happiness or their misery, are merely 
subordinate elements. 

The starting-point of this theory, reduced to its lowest 
terms, is the principle that organized society is some- 
thing more than the individuals that compose it. This 
principle cannot be as quickly disposed of as some indi- 
vidualists think. Every association of men is legitimately 
regarded as an entity possessing certain characteristics 
of its own, characteristics which do not belong to the 
individuals apart from their membership of that associa- 
tion. In any human association it is true, in a sense, 
that the whole is something more than a sum of its parts. 
For example, the whole can do things which the parts 
severally cannot. If two men in succession push a 
heavy body, they may be wholly unable to move it. If 
they work together, they bring it along. Mechanically 
the summed output of energy in the two cases is equal, 
but in the one case it will be dissipated physically in heat, 
morally in the sense of frustration and loss of temper. 
In the other case it will succeed in its object and shift 
the resisting weight. The association of the two there- 


fore has palpable effects which without the association 
could not be achieved. On the other hand, it is important 
to remark that the result of the joint effort of the two 
men working together is simply the sum of their efforts 
as they work together, though it is something other than 
the sum of those efforts when not co-ordinated. Any 
association of people involves some modification, tem- 
porary or permanent, superficial or far-reaching, in 
the people themselves. The work or the life of the 
association is something different from the work which 
could be achieved or the life lived by the same people 
apart from that association. But it does not follow that 
it is anything other than the sum, the expression or the 
result of the work that is being done, or the life that is 
being lived, by all the members of the association as 
members. When we are told, then, that the whole is 

I more than the sum of its parts, we must reply that this 
depends on the sense in which the " parts " are taken. 
Further, we must observe that the statement, so far as 
it is true, is true generally ; it holds of all associations, 
not only of that particular association which we call the 
state. Family life, for example, necessarily exercises 
a profound influence upon its members. The family is 
a whole which co-operates for certain purposes and in 
which the various members lead lives quite other than 
that they would do if the family were scattered. On 
the other hand, the family as it stands at any given 
moment is simply the co-ordinated or associated whole 
of its members as they stand at the same moment. It 
is an expression of their lives so far as lived in common 
or in close association with one another. The family 
in particular has no well-being, no happiness, no good 
or evil fortune, which is not the well-being, the happiness, 
good or evil fortune of its members one or more. In an 
organized body, a profession, for example, a Trade Union, 
a business, a factory, there is again a whole numbering 
so many scores, hundreds, thousands of individuals as 
its members. In every case the members are in greater 
or lesser degree modified by the association into which 


they enter. Of the Trade Union, of the profession or 
business, certain things will hold true, which would not 
hold true of the individuals who belong to any of those 
associations if they did not belong to them. But again 
in the whole there is nothing but the co-ordinated or 
associated activity of the individuals which constitute 
it. This remains true though the organization may be 
permanent and the individuals changing. A college may 
have for hundreds of years a certain peculiar character 
and stamp of its own. The number of individuals pass- 
ing through it and affected by it is quite indefinite. It 
is not constituted solely by the number present within 
its walls at any given time ; nor can we enumerate those 
who may have come within its influence during the whole 
period of its establishment. Nevertheless its tradition, 
its spirit which seems to be lodged in no single individual, 
is maintained by individuals, propagated from generation 
to generation, sometimes perhaps broken by the influx 
of a new type of character which fails to assimilate the 
tradition which it encounters. 

Thus, in discussing society, we are liable to two fallacies. 
On the one hand we may be tempted to deny the reality 
of the social group, refusing to conceive it as a distinct 
entity, insisting on resolving it into its component indi- 
viduals as though these individuals were unaffected by 
the fact of association. On the other side, in reaction ? 
from this exaggerated individualism, we are apt to regard 
society as an entity distinct from the individuals, not 
merely in the sense that it is an aggregate of individuals 
viewed in some special relation, but in the sense that 
it is a whole which in some way stands outside them, 
or in which they are merged to the prejudice of their 
individual identity. Further, having reached the con- 
ception of a superpersonal entity in which individuals 
are submerged, we are inclined to look for this entity, 
not in all the varied forms of associated life which inter- 
sect and cut across one another, but in some particular 
form of association which seems to include the rest and 
so to present itself as a whole to which the individual 


must belong as an element. This entity, idealist writers 
have found in the state. There are thus two points 
which we have to consider, first the general notion of a 
/superpersonal entity and, secondly, the identification of 
this entity with the state. 

We have seen that the notion of a superpersonal entity 
appears at first sight to express a very obvious fact. It 
may also appear to formulate a clear principle of ethics. 
The conception of duty, it may be said, teaches us that 
the individual lives not for himself but for a greater 
whole to which his own claims must be subordinated. 
An abstract individualism might regard the individual 
as possessed of certain rights, but rights are a function 
of the social group, since rights involve demands made 
upon others either for positive services or for negative 
forbearances. The rights of A impose obligations on B 
and C. They are obligations incident to and arising out 
of social relations, and can only be justified if their fulfil- 
ment is held to be for the good of the society temporary 
or permanent for which they are prescribed. Thus the 
individualistic conception defeats itself and leads us back 
to the whole and the duties rendered to the whole by 
each of its members. Now, in maintaining the superiority 
of the whole to any of its parts, the idealist, it may be 
thought, is merely asserting the superior claims of society 
to any one of its members. But here again there is 
an element of danger in the contrast between society and 
the individual. Any one individual is but an insignifi- 
cant element in the great society, and may justly feel 
that his small interests must be subordinated to those 
of the greater body. But we cannot thus contrast a 
society with all the individuals which belong to it. 
Ethically there would be no sense in the demand for the 
sacrifice of all the individuals who belong or may belong 
to a society to the interests of that society. The million 
is more than the one, the interests of the million greater 
than the interests of the one. The question is whether 
the society of the million has any interests other than the 
conjoint interests of the million belonging to it. If the 


society is something other than the individuals, such a 
position is arguable, and we shall have to consider it as 
we proceed. What has to be said here is that it by no 
means follows from the ethical claim that the interests 
of the individual must give way to those of the whole 
to which he belongs. That claim is satisfied by the 
conception of the whole as the organized body of living 
men and women. We are not speaking here of associa- 
tions that exist to promote objects beyond themselves 
a conspiracy, for example, aiming at a political revo- 
lution. Here the whole society of conspirators might 
rightly judge that it were better for them all as individuals 
to perish than that the movement should be lost. " Que 
mon nom soit fletri, que la France soit libre." This, 
indeed, might be the motto not only of the individual 
but of the association too. We are speaking of a society 
regarded as an end in itself. If we ask what good is 
actually realized in a society other than the good of its 
members, we certainly get no answer from the ethical 
consciousness which bids us do our duty to others and 
love our neighbours as ourselves. These requirements 
are amply recognized by the conception of ourselves as 
human beings placed among other human beings, whose 
happiness and misery our actions sensibly affect. 

The method by which the idealist turns the flank of 
these arguments is to contend in substance that the I 
individual possesses no independent value, ultimately we ' 
may say no independent life of his own. He is absorbed 
in the organized political society, the state of which he 
is a member. He claims freedom. The claim is ad- ! 
mitted. Freedom is the starting-point of the Hegelian 
philosophy of the state, but freedom in Hegel's sense 
turns out to be conformity with the law and custom as 
interpreted by the ethical spirit of the particular society 
to which the individual belongs. He claims the right of 
judgment, he aims at a rational order of ethics. The 
claim is admitted but the rational order is that of the 
objective mind, and this on analysis turns out to be 
the system of institutions and customs which the state has 


engendered and maintains. Finally he claims to be at 
least himself, an independent centre of thought and 
feeling, palpitating with its own emotions, subject to its 
own joys and sorrows, but not even selfhood is left to 
him, for his self is realizable only in the organized whole 
in which he is a kind of transitory phase. Thus the 
edge of the revolutionary weapon is turned, or rather 
the hilt is grasped and the point directed towards the 
revolutionary himself. The freedom which the revolu- 
tionary, the liberal, or for that matter the plain man of 
the modern world, asserts is accepted and transmuted 
into obedience to law. His demand for rationality in 
society is granted, but granted in order to be attributed 
to the existing social order. The very sense of person- 
ality, instead of being checked and chastened by the 
stern assertion of duty, is gently and subtly resolved into 
a phase or expression of the general will. There can be 
no finer example of the supreme maxim of dialectical 
art, that the admission of an opponent's contentions is 
the deadliest method of refutation. 

It will be convenient to set out in briefest possible 
terms the central points in the conception of society with 
which we have to deal. The point of departure in Hegel 
is his doctrine of freedom. Free^gm is, in his view, 
I falsely conceived in ordinary thought as equivalen\_tg 
W absence of constraint. That is a negative and, in the 
en^rHegej_argues^a self-contradictory ideaT True freer 
dom is something positive. It is self-determination. 
The free will is the will which determines itself. The 
sense in which the will can determine itself is this, that 
Hrforms a rational whole or system of conduct, in which 
'any ^particular act or deliverance of the will performs a 
certain necessary function. Such a system of conduct 
is~not achieved by the indiyirlnal on his nwn arr.onn,t 
but Ts~incbrporated in the law and custom_of__snciely_, 
taw "atone is merely the ~exterfiaT^ide"of this system, 
but law, developed by the moral consciousness of man 
and worked out into the detail of custom that regulates 
daily life and society, constitutes the actual fabric that 


we require and is the objective expression of freedom. 
That which sustains this fabric of a rationaF life is the 
state, which is therefore the realization of the moral 
idea. The state is its own end, and the highest duty of 
the individual is to be a member of the state. Beyond 
the state there is no higher association and states 
have no duties to one another or to humanity, but their 
rise and fall is the process of universal history, which 
is the ultimate court of judgment before whose bar 
they come. 

In order to examine this very summary account, we 
see we have (i) to consider the meaning of freedom. We 
have to understand the process of argument by which 
freedom is defined as self-determination and self-deter- 
mination as the subordination of action to an articulate 
system ; (2) we have to inquire into the identification 
of this system with law and custom, and that will bring 
us (3) to the conception of the state and the reasons 
why it is regarded not only as an end in itself but as the 
supreme and the highest form of human association. 

In his theory of the freedom of the will lies the key 
to the Hegelian theory of the state, of morality and of 
law. This theory consists in essentials of three posi- 
tions. I (i) The underlying principle is that freedom consists 
not in the negative condition of absence of constraint 
but in the positive fact of self-determination. Will is 
freedom because it is self-determination. What then 
does self-determination mean ? This will bring us to 
the second position. The will is determined by its 
purposes or objects, and we are apt to think of the object 
as something external, pulling at it, so to say. So to 
think is to abandon self-determination, and in reaction 
from this view we think of the will as exerting free choice 
as between its objects. But again freedom, so con- 
ceived, is an uncharted, motiveless freedom, for if I 
choose one thing rather than another, there must surely 

1 I confine myself here to the essentials of the argument as I 
understand it. A somewhat expanded statement of Hegel's view 
will be found in Appendix I. 



be something in the thing which moves me or my choice 
appears groundless and irrational. Here arises a 
form of the familiar controversy between determinism 
and free will which Hegel holds to be insoluble on this 
plane of thought. The position (2) reached then is that 
the will must be determined by its object, but that if 
this object is independent of the will, an insoluble 
dilemma ensues. This brings us to the third position, 
namely, (3) that the object of the will is determined by the 
will itself. Before asking how this could be, let us note 
the reasoning. Freedom is understood to be self-deter- 
mination. The will is determined by its object, but the 
object is determined by the will. Ultimately, therefore, 
the will is self-determined and free. 

But in this reasoning there appears to be a circle. 
How can the will be determined by its object and yet 
determine the object ? To escape the circle we must 
realize that the object of the will is not outside the will 
at all, it is the will itself. At first sight this seems peri- 
lously near to sheer nonsense. How can the will will 
itself ? The line of answer seems to be that the will at 
any given moment and in any given relation may have 
the whole nature of the will as its object. Thus, to 
suggest an example, we might think of the consistent 
Christian who directs his action from hour to hour by 
the light of a principle running right through his life. 
This principle he has adopted for good and all. It has 
become the comprehensive expression of his will. So 
in each act of his will it is his own will that is its object. 
If then the will is determined by its object, it is here 
determined by itself, that is, it is free. 

Two lines of criticism suggest themselves. First, the 
Christian himself would probably say that it is not his 
own will but the will of God which he seeks to obey, 
and whatever illustration we might take, the answer 
would in essentials be the same. I must will something 
that is not yet realized, otherwise I achieve nothing. 
Even if I will to reform myself, the one case in which 
I do seem to have my own will for an object, this means 


that I, as I am now, set a different self before myself 
as something to be achieved. And if I could attain 
perfect consistency of action, this would mean that I 
should consistently serve some comprehensive end beyond 
myself and only to be realized by my action. The end 
or object then is always other than the will as it is 
when acting for the end. Will, like other acts of mind, 
has relation to an object, and things that are related 
are not the same. The identification of subject and 
object fails here as elsewhere and with it the whole scheme 
of self-determination breaks down. 

The second criticism has a special bearing on the use 
which Hegel makes of his definition of freedom. Grant, 
for the sake of argument, that self-determination is some- 
thing more than absence of constraint. But it is not 
less than absence of constraint. Where and in so far 
as an act of will is constrained, it is not free. What is 
absolutely free is absolutely unconstrained. What is 
relatively free is relatively unconstrained. Freedom in 
one thing may indeed imply restraint on something else 
if I am secure in freedom to go about my business, 
this implies that others are prevented from hindering me 
in doing so but the thing which is free is not in the 
respect in which it is free also restrained. To be free 
in one part or in one relation it will have to be restrained 
in another part or relation, but in that in which it is 
restrained it is not also free. 

Now in adopting a principle of conduct we may be 
acting on our own motion in response to an internal 
conviction. So far we are free. But the principle may 
be such as to put heavy constraint on a part of our 
nature, and if so, that part of our nature is not free. We 
may be slaves to our principles, as well as to our impulses, 
and in fact common experience tells us that there are 
those who would be better men without their principles, 
if they would only give their natural emotions free play. 
But a life of uncharted impulses cannot be free, because 
unregulated impulses not only restrain but utterly frus- 
trate and destroy one another. But neither is a life 


of narrow principle free, because such a principle at best 
holds a great part of us subdued, perhaps sullen and 
unsatisfied. 1 In a word freedom for one element in 
our nature, be it an impulse or a conviction, may mean 
the subjection of the rest of our nature. If there be 
such a thing as freedom for our personality as a whole, 
its parts must have as much scope as is compatible with 
their union. This cannot mean absolute freedom for 
each part, for no one must override the remainder. It 
means freedom limited by the conditions of develop- 
ment in harmony, and by nothing else. If we suppose 

a whole of many partsj:aj3ab|e of a hnrmnm'nnc. 

ment, and if we_sup2p_se ; jthis_ whole_jto_be .subject to no 

restraintiTexcept those which it itself imposes on its parts_ 

to sprnrp J^hg romrnnrL ffovplnpmpnf f thpn WP havp ap 
intelligible sense in which the whole may be termed free r 
Now the self is a whole capable of a harmonious develop- 
ment, and it may be termed free when it orders its life 
accordingly. The principle of freedom then springs from 
the nature of the self as a coherent whole. It is to be 
distinguished from a principle cramping harmony of 
development, even if accepted by our own consent. 
Still more is it to be distinguished from one imposed 
from without by suggestion, authority and perhaps 
some mingling of compulsion. Now Hegel does not 
draw these distinctions. Discarding absence of con- 
straint from the idea of freedom, and concentrating 
attention on the element of unity which the will un- 
doubtedly introduces into action, he tends to identify 
freedom with mere acceptance of a principle of conduct 
and thus paves the way for its further identification 
with law. He saw that freedom involved restraint on 
something but did not see that it was restraint on some- 
thing else, that which is free being in the respect in which 
it is free necessarily unconstrained. 

1 It may be said that it is the function of will to subdue nature, 
but this is precisely to give it the freedom of a despot, and leave 
the personality unfree. To do Hegel justice, no such antithesis 
seems contemplated in his argument. 


Hegel's first position is now before us. Freedom for 
him rests not on absence of constraint but on the accept- 
ance of a principle expressing the true nature of rational 
will running through and unifying all the diverse pur- 
poses of men. The embodiment of such a principle 
and therefore of freedom Hegel finds in the system of 
right and law. Two terms here require some consider- 
ation before the meaning of this principle can be under- 
stood. By the term " embodiment " I have rendered the 
word Daseyn. Daseyn in the Hegelian philosophy is 
a term used in contradistinction to what we ordinarily 
call a mere idea or bare thought of a thing, for example, 
or to its mere potentiality. We must not, however, 
translate the word Daseyn by "reality" or even by "exist- 
ence," as both of these terms are assigned to distinct 
phases in the Hegelian dialectical development. We 
may, however, think of the embodiment of a political 
idea in an Act of Parliament or of a political principle 
in an institution or a constitution, as giving what Hegel 
would call Daseyn to that idea or that principle. 
That being understood, we see in general the meaning 
of the phrase that freedom is embodied in right. But 
the term " right " or law also requires comment. Hegel's 
term is Recht, and it would seem better to use the 
German term whenever ambiguity is to be feared. Ac- 
cording to Dr. Bosanquet it is the advantage of the 
German term that it maintains in itself the intimate 
relation between right and law. It may be urged on 
the contrary that the very fact that German writers 
use one term for these two related but quite distinct 
notions is an obstacle to clear thinking in their Juris- 
prudence and Ethics in general, and in the Hegelian 
philosophy in particular. The consequence of its use 
is that we begin and go on with the confusion of two 
issues, which it is the particular purpose of social philo- 
sophy to hold distinct. The one issue is the nature 
of right, the foundation of moral obligation, the meaning, 
value and authority of a moral system ; and the other 
the meaning, value and authority of law; and the final 


question of political philosophy consists of the relation 
between these two distinct things. That relation can 
never be clearly set forth if we use terms which imply 
a confusion between the terms related. 

But in what sense is Recht the embodiment of free- 
dom ? Let us first, for the sake of accuracy, supply 
a correction, without which we should do injustice to 
Hegel, though the correction does not touch the essence 
of the question. Mere law is only an external embodi- 
ment of freedom, Hegel fully admits. Law is abstract, 
general, and regards primarily the externals of behaviour ; 
to complete it we want something which is on the one 
hand more concrete, more closely adapted to the require- 
ments of individual life, and, on the other hand, some- 
thing expressing the inner acceptance of the rule of 
society as well as its external observance. This con- 
ception we find in the word Sittlichkeit, a term which 
can hardly be rendered in English by a single word. We 
cannot translate it " morality," because Hegel uses the 
word Moralitat as something which is purely inward and 
subjective, whereas Sittlichkeit is objective as well. Dr. 
Bosanquet translates it by the phrase " ethical use and 
wont," and we may understand it as the whole system 
of customs and traditions as accepted by the normal 
member of a society, as forming the fabric within which 
he has to live. This system is, in Hegel's phrase, the 
conception of freedom come to self-consciousness in the 
world in which we live. 1 Restating our question there- 
fore we have to ask, in what sense is the social tradition 
an embodiment of freedom ? The examination of this 
question takes us into the heart of the Hegelian concep- 
tion of the relation of the individual man to society, 
and this again will be found to be a particular case of 
the relation of the individual to the universal, which 
is the central point of the Hegelian metaphysics. 

It will have been noticed in discussing the Hegelian 
theory of the will we have always to speak of the will. 
We have not spoken of the wills of different men and 
1 Phil, des Rechts, p. 205. 


their relations to one another. We have never used 
the plural term. We have always spoken of the will 
as though it were one substantive reality ; and this is 
in fact the Hegelian view. But in society there are 
many wills and in obedience to law we conform, as we 
suppose, to the will of another. How then can we talk 
of the will as if there were only one ? The question 
will lead us ultimately into the metaphysical problem 
of the one and the many, for the Hegelian theory of the 
universal underlies the whole issue. But let us first 
set out the problem with more fullness and consider the 
solution proffered by Hegel's most recent and most 
faithful exponent. 

At the first blush it must be owned it is difficult to 
attach any clear meaning to the statement that the social 
tradition is the actual or concrete realization of freedom. 
Freedom, as we have been told, means self-determination. 
Self-determination, we were further told, implies deter- 
mination by a principle as against mere impulse. But 
even if we waive for the moment all controversies on 
these points, it remains that if there is self-determination, 
the determining principle must be a principle of our own 
choosing, an expression of our own character, the real 
bent of our own selves. The established ethical tradition 
may of course fall in with our desires, and if so, we 
are aware of no constraint in accepting it, but socially 
and ethically the question of freedom only arises where 
there is a clash of wills. Suppose then that our will 
happens to be in conflict at one point with the social 
tradition, what are we to understand ? To say that 
in such a case we ought to yield up our judgment and 
conform is at least an intelligible, though sometimes a 
disputable proposition ; but that is not what is said 
or intended. The proposition before us is that in con- 
forming to the social tradition and only in conforming 
to it we are free. It does not appear to matter whether 
we ourselves find the rule which it propounds contrary 
to our happiness or opposed to our conscience. Our 
freedom lies, it would seem, in the surrender of our own 


happiness, even in the stifling of our own conscience, 
for we are free only as we conform to the moral tradition 
embodied in and supported by the state. Freedom is 
self-determination, yet freedom is realized only in the 
submission of self to something which may at any time 
conflict with all that is strongest and all that is deepest 
in ourselves. The use and wont of the organized political 
society to which we belong may, for example, at certain 
points conflict with the teaching of the religious body 
to which we belong, or it may involve injustices and 
oppressions against which our conscience comes to revolt. 
Now it is not merely contended that in such a conflict 
we ought to surrender our judgment. That is at least 
arguable. It is contended that in submitting ourselves, 
and in this alone, we are actually free. We seem faced 
with something like a contradiction. And, however 
we define the state, this particular contradiction does 
not seem to be resolved. For we may think of it as 
essentially an organization of persons like ourselves. In 
that case, in obeying it against our own will we are 
simply under the constraint of others ; or we may think 
of it as something impersonal, superpersonal, or, as 
Hegel calls it, divine, and in that case we are obeying 
an impersonal or divine authority. Even if we are free 
in yielding to it, that would seem to be the last act of 
our freedom. It is an abdication, a final discharge of 
our authority over ourselves. 

Now something like this conception of the relation 
of freedom to the general will goes back to Rousseau. 
Dr. Bosanquet * quotes Rousseau as saying " that who- 
ever shall refuse to obey the general will shall be con- 
strained to do so by the whole body, which means nothing 
else than that he will be forced to be free." He goes 
on to say, " In this passage Rousseau lays bare the very 
heart of what some would call political faith and others 
political superstition. This lies in the conviction that 
the ' moral person which constitutes the state ' is a 
reality." If we follow the development of this con- 
1 The Philosophical Theory of the State, pp. 95, 96. 


ception, we shall find the key to the difficulty before 
us. Reviewing his examination of Rousseau, the details 
of which we need not follow, Dr. Bosanquet writes : 
" (a) The negative relation of the self to other selves begins 
to dissolve away before the conception of the common 
self and (b) the negative relation of the self to law and 
government begins to disappear in the idea of a law 
which expresses our real will as opposed to our trivial 
and rebellious moods. The whole notion of man as 
one among others tends to break down and we begin 
to see something in the one which actually identifies 
him with the others and at the same time tends to make 
him what he admits he ought to be." This passage 
really seems to contain the sum and substance of Idealistic 
Social Philosophy. There is a common self, and this 
is no metaphor. It does not mean a community among 
selves because " the whole notion of man as one 
among many tends to break down." It is a self 
which is a higher unity than the legal or moral 
person, and this self seems to be identified with the 
real will, which is also, it seems, the self that one ought 
to be. 

We now begin to see why that which appears to us a 
stark contradiction is seen in quite a different light by 
the idealist. Our difficulty was that self-determination 
cannot be the same thing as determination by other 
selves, or by an impersonal state. The answer is that the ' 
division between self and others dissolves away into the 
conception of a common self and the division between 
the individual and the state disappears in the conception 
of a law expressing our own real will ; so that in con- 
forming to law, we are submitting ourselves neither to 
other persons nor to something impersonal. We are 
conforming to our own real will. But if in point of 
fact we happen to will just the opposite to that which 
the law ordains, how can this be ? The answer lies in 
the distinction between the actual and the real will. 
We must give Dr. Bosanquet's statement of this dis- 
tinction with some fullness. 


" It was observed above that what Rousseau had before him 
in his notion of the General Will might be described as the ' Will 
in itself,' or the Real Will. Any such conception involves a con- 
trast between the Real Will and the Actual Will, which may seem 
to be meaningless. How can there be a Will which is no one's 
Will ? and how can anything be my Will which I am not fully 
aware of, or which I am even averse to ? This question will be 
treated more fully on psychological grounds in a later chapter. 
For the present, it is enough to call attention to the plain fact 
that often when people do not know what they mean, they yet 
mean something of very great importance ; or that, as has com- 
monly been said, ' what people demand is seldom what would 
satisfy them if they got it.' We may recall the instances in which 
even Mill admitted that it is legitimate to infer, from the inherent 
nature of the will, that people do not really ' will ' something 
which they desire to do at a given moment. . . . Now the con- 
tradiction, which here appears in an ultimate form, pervades the 
' actual ' will, which we exert from moment to moment as conscious 
individuals, through and through. A comparison of our acts of 
will through a month or a year is enough to show that no one 
object of action, as we conceive it when acting, exhausts all that 
our will demands. Even the life which we wish to live, and which 
on the average we do live, is never before us as a whole in the 
motive of any particular volition. In order to obtain a full state- 
ment of what we will, what we want at any moment must at least 
be corrected and amended by what we want at all other moments ; 
and this cannot be done without also correcting and amending 
it so as to harmonize it with what others want, which involves 
an application of the same process to them. But when any con- 
siderable degree of such correction and amendment had been gone 
through, our own will would return to us in a shape in which we 
should not know it again, although every detail would be a neces- 
sary inference from the whole of wishes and resolutions which 
we actually cherish. And if it were to be supplemented and 
readjusted so as to stand not merely for the life which on the whole 
we manage to live, but for a life ideally without contradiction, 
it would appear to us quite remote from anything which we know." 

Postponing for a moment any critical examination 
of this conception, let us take stock of our position. 
According to Dr. Bosanquet, then, there is underlying 
the actual will, of which we are aware, a deeper real 
will, which is the actual will reorganized and made 
completely consistent or coherent. It is in fact that 
organized system of purposes which we found in the 


Hegelian will, and in a later passage Dr. Bosanquet 
adopts the Hegelian phrase " the will that wills itself." 

But now, if we grant for the moment this underlying 
will and suppose ourselves to be free only when we con- 
form to it, we still have not reached the connection 
between the real self and the common self, which is the 
state, in which the distinction between self and others 
is absorbed and whose will is expressed in the social 
tradition. The connection is explained by Dr. Bosanquet 
(p. 123), where we are told, " The habits and institutions 
of any community are, so to speak, the standing inter- 
pretation of all the private wills which compose it." 
And this seems to be taken as the content both of the 
general and the real will. It is an imperfect represen- 
tation of the real will because " every set of institutions 
is an incomplete embodiment of life." On the other 
hand " the complex of social institutions " is " very 
much more complete than the explicit ideas which at 
any given instant move any individual mind in volition." 

The essence of the position is now before us. Moral 
freedom we shall see later that Dr. Bosanquet candidly 
recognizes the distinction between moral and legal liberty 
lies in conformity to the real will. The real will is 
the general will and is expressed in the social fabric. 
The expression is not perfect and admits of progressive 
development, but it is in the main what we require. 
Social tradition, if not the complete expression of our- 
selves, is the fullest available to us at any given time. 
The vehicle of social tradition, or rather the organizing 
principle which gives it vitality, meaning and coherence, 
is the state. The state, therefore, is the true self in 
which the mere individual is absorbed. This is the 
corner stone of moral and political obligation. Briefly, 
we are morally free when our actions conform to our 
real will, our real will is the general will, and the general 
will is most fully embodied in the state. These are the 
governing positions of the metaphysical theory which 
we have to examine. 


(a) THE steps by which the conception of the real will is 
reached by Dr. Bosanquet are contained in the passage 
quoted in the last lecture, and may be summarized 
thus. What we will from moment to moment is called 
our actual will. This actual will is always incomplete 
and often contradictory and inharmonious. To get at 
a full statement of what we will it would have to be 
corrected by (a) what we want at all other moments, and 
(&) by what others want. If this correction were carried 
far enough, our " own will would return to us in a shape 
in which we should not know it again." Yet the whole 
process would only have been a logical series of inferences 
from the whole of the wishes and resolutions which we 
actually cherish. And if, going further than this, we 
suppose criticism carried to a point at which it would 
achieve a life ideally without contradiction, then the 
will to such a life " would appear to us quite remote 
from anything which we know." Remote as it is, this 
is what Dr. Bosanquet seems to mean by the real will. 
We are then left with the paradox that our real will may 
be something which we never really will because we do 
not even know it and could not recognize it if it were 
set before us. 

What is the explanation of this paradox ? How does 
Bosanquet arrive at it ? (i) The justification appears 
to be that the objects which we set before us, at 
which we consciously aim, are not always what we 
really want. They do not really satisfy us. This is a 



form of words expressing of course a perfectly well-known 
truth. A man's nature is constantly driving him on to 
ends which he imperfectly appreciates and the concrete 
shapes which these ends take are often quite unsatis- 
factory. They give illusions of desirability which cheat 
him on attaining them. None the less, so far as he really 
chooses them that choice is for the time being his real 
will, in the true sense of real as that which is not merely 
supposed to be but is. Moreover, the fact that he so 
chooses them and makes a mistake in doing so is a real 
limitation of his will. The illusoriness of the will is pre- 
cisely as hard a fact, as stubborn a reality, as the persistent 
background of want and unrest, which is the other side 
of the matter. The man's will is in short just what it 
is with all its limitations and not what it might be if 
these limitations were removed. It may be suggested, 
and this is what Bosanquet seems to mean, that logically 
a man must be taken to will all that his actual will implies. 
But this is quite fallacious. On the contrary, show me a 
consequence following from an act of my will, which I 
have not yet seen, and it is quite possible that I may 
recoil from it. In any case the act seen with fresh impli- 
cations is a different act, the will which chooses it a 
different will. We may reasonably say that the man 
who has gone through the long process of criticism 
and judgment described by Bosanquet in the evolution 
of the real will has become in that process a very 
different man. 

But there is a more fundamental objection to the term 
"real will." Strictly there is no part in me which is more 
real than any other part. There are elements in me 
which are more permanent, and if the self is permanent, 
there are, let us say, moods or actions which really 
belong to myself more than others do, but one mood 
is not more real a mood or one act more real an act than 
another. The term " Real "is in fact in such passages as 
these used rhetorically, that is, in a way which does not 
distinguish between its adjectival meaning, connecting a 
particular phase of myself with myself as a whole, and 


its substantival meaning, in which the term " Reality " is 
something which must either be simply asserted or simply 
denied, and there is no more or less. A particular emotion 
is either something which I have and then it is real, 
whether permanent or transitory, reasonable or un- 
reasonable ; or it is something which, say, you falsely 
attribute to me and then it is unreal. For the contrast 
between the real and the unreal then should be substi- 
tuted the contrast between the self as it is permanently 
constituted and the self as it acts in some transitory 

(2) The real will then, if it means anything, means 
the permanent underlying nature of any one of us, but 
this again does not mean our nature as it might be if 
we were spiritually born again, transformed by no matter 
what process of rational reflection, hortatory suggestion 
or moral and emotional re-orientation. This has a most 
important bearing on our second position. Dr. Bosan- 
quet's assumption is that the real will is in fact 
identical with the general will. The supposed ground is 
that the real will must be one which would be perfectly 
harmonious with itself. This is assumed to involve a 
harmony with other wills. The assumption begs the 
principal question of Ethics, but let it pass for the moment. 
Let us agree that the perfectly rationalized will involves 
a harmony of self and others. What ground is there 
for assuming that this harmony would express the true 
permanent nature of John Jones ? John Jones, if you 
unrolled before him the life which you expected him to 
lead as a rational being, might repel it with scorn. He 
might say, if articulate enough, that it makes no room 
for certain elements which he finds very real in him, 
his passions, his physical appetites, his desires to get the 
better of others. How are you to prove to him that 
these are not real parts of himself ? The answer seems 
to be that if you carry John Jones through the pro- 
cess of rational criticism, he will discover elements of 
contradiction in these warring desires. As long as you 
present this to him as an intellectual proposition, how- 


ever, John Jones will reply, " Consistency be hanged ! 
I will have my life in parts, each as good as I can make 
it. It is these that are the true John Jones." To this 
again the only reply available seems to be that the process 
of revealing the true rational harmony to John Jones 
cannot be an intellectual process merely, it must be one 
which touches his emotions, his will itself. But what 
is this but to admit that the true John Jones must 
undergo a change ? If he is to be formed into a rational 
will, he must be transformed. I would be far from 
denying that every human being is capable of such refor- 
mation. I insist only that it is a reformation which is 
a transformation and that the will, which Bosanquet 
calls real and which I would call rational, harmonious 
or simply good, is not real in the average man, nor even 
in its completeness in the best of men. 1 Bosanquet's 

1 In the discussion of the criminal (pp. 226, etc.) there are some 
instructive remarks, illustrating the nature of the real will. 
Bosanquet says justly that if an uneducated man were told that 
" in being punished for an assault he was realizing his own will, 
he would think it cruel nonsense." Some who are not the criminal 
might also think it nonsense ; and the only reason why they should 
not think it assigned by Bosanquet is (a) that the criminal would 
quite well understand that he was being served, as he would say, 
in the same way as somebody else would be served who had done 
the same thing, (b) That the punishment is the reaction on the 
criminal of a system of rights to which he is a party. As to (a) 
the essential difference between the criminal and the good will 
is that while the criminal may be prepared to judge others, he 
makes exceptions in favour of himself. Very often he cannot 
see the identity of his act with another which he condemns and 
even if he can see it, so far as he is criminal, his attitude is " I 
don't care." If an acute dialectician were to argue with him, 
he would no doubt entangle him in inconsistencies and show that 
if he were a reasonable man, and if he admitted universal rules 
applying to himself and others, he would not be a criminal. But 
if this argument is to have effect, it must not only convince the 
man's intelligence but convert his will. In order genuinely to 
condemn himself, the criminal must therefore become another 
man than that which he in fact is. And we see very clearly from 
this instance that the good, rational or social will imputed to the 
criminal as his real will is precisely the will that the criminal, as 
criminal, really does not possess. The fallacy consists in describ- 


own description of course shows he is perfectly aware 
of this, yet he confuses the whole issue by the use of the 
adjective "real." It is misleading to contrast real with 
transitory, trivial aims. It is not merely one's super- 
ficial or casual interests that clash with others and exhibit 
contradiction with one another so that they interfere 
with the best life, it is also the deepest passions and some- 
times the most fervid conscience. A man may feel, and 
the feeling may be no illusion, that a personal passion 
goes to the very foundation of his being, and yet the 
passion may be lawless or it may collide with the entire 
bent of his life in other directions, his devotion to public 
duty, for example, or perhaps deeprooted obligations of 
family and friendship. If the real self means that 
which goes deep, we cannot deny that it contains possi- 
bilities of contradiction far more serious than the collision 
between permanent interest and passing desire. 

There is conceivable a will which is perfectly rational 
and harmonious in all its deliverances. There is con- 
ceivable a system of wills so harmonizing with themselves 

ing as a real will something which a logician regards as being 
implied in the actual will of the criminal. This implication rests 
on some principle of impartiality which the logician may have 
very good grounds for maintaining ; but this is precisely the 
principle which the criminal, as criminal, either ignores or 
definitely rejects. As to (&), at bottom the same analysis applies. 
The criminal acquiesces in the system as far as he chooses, as far 
as he finds it suits him, or perhaps as far as he is unable to resist 
it, but, qua criminal, does not in the least care for the incon- 
sistency, as a rational man would judge it to be, involved in his 
departure from the system where that departure suits him better. 
In brief, the murderer does not really want himself to be hanged 
unless he has repented and ceased to be the man that he was when 
he committed the murder. 

It must be added here that the conception of punishment as 
expressing the will of the offender has a sinister application to 
the rebel. It may be said that the rebel has accepted the social 
system and thereby the punishment which will follow upon him 
when he comes to challenge it. From the rebel's point of view 
the answer may be that he never willingly accepted the social 
system as a whole but found himself involved in it and could 
not react against it until the moment for rebellion had arrived. 


and with one another ; such a perfect harmony we may 
legitimately speak of as the ideally rational life and the 
ideally good life and, as such, may contrast it with any 
actual life which is imperfect in these respects. Again, 
we may grant that there is something real within us 
which answers to the conception of such a life, and some- 
thing real within any society of human beings which, 
in a sense, moves us towards such a life. At any rate, 
from the nature of the case contradiction tends to defeat 
itself and harmony to fructify. Thus by continual trial 
and error society moves on. Unfortunately the inhar- 
monious elements are equally real and the disharmonies 
are not merely trivial, transitory, superficial, but rooted 
in the structure of the self and, what is almost as im- 
portant, in the social structure. Every group of human 
beings acquires a corporate life and with it only too 
probably a collective selfishness, which over long periods 
may hold the development of other groups in arrest. The 
contrast is between the rational harmonious good and the 
irrational conflicting bad. When this contrast is con- 
fused with the contrast between the real and the unreal 
the problem is stated in wrong terms and does not admit 
of solution. The peculiar vice of this statement is that, 
in laying down a certain kind of life as expressing the 
real will of the individual, the ground is prepared for the 
argument that in the compulsion of the individual to 
lead such a life there is no interference with his real will. 
He is supposed to be merely unable to judge for himself. 
Thus, in principle, there is no limitation to restraints 
upon the individual, no core of freedom which collective 
action should not touch. And yet it must be plain that 
no actual human being, or association of human beings, 
knows what the real will is, for it is admitted that the 
process of eliciting it is so roundabout and involved that 
a man would not recognize his real will if it was put before 
him. Why not then admit that it is not real but ideal 
an ideal which is beyond human nature though it may 
be a legitimate object of human endeavour ? 

(6) The General Will. If for the " real " we write the 



ideal or rational will, we have next to ask whether this 
would be a general will. We may grant that if the will 
in you or me were made completely rational, it would 
accept principles upon which we should agree. Thus, 
in all rational wills there would be a qualitative identity. 
We should so far be like one another in our fundamental 
attitude towards life and conduct. But when we pass 
from the conception of like persons or like selves to a 
corporate person or a common self, there is an inevitable 
transition from qualitative sameness to the sameness of 
continuity and numerical unity. The assumptions are 
(i) There is in me a real self, my real will, which is opposed 
to what I very often am. (2) This real will is what I 
ought to be as opposed to what I very often am. (3) There 
is in you a real will and in every other member of society 
a real will. All these real wills are what you and every 
other member of society ought to be. In quality and 
character these real wills are indistinguishable. They are 
therefore the same. (4) This sameness constitutes of all 
the real wills together one self. But the kind of unity 
involved in what is called qualitative identity or sameness 
of character is quite a different unity from that involved 
in the self or from that involved in the state. The self 
is a . continuous identity united by strands of private 
memory and expectation, comprising elements of feeling, 
emotion and bodily sensation, which are its absolute 
exclusive property. No such continuity unites distinct 
selves, however alike, or however united in their objects. 
So at least it seems to those whom Dr. Bosanquet dis- 
misses with contempt as " theorists of the first look." 
For them human individuality is and remains some- 
thing ultimate. To Dr. Bosanquet on the other hand x 
individuality is only a particular case of the distinct 
contribution offered by parts within a system which he 
calls the universal. The differences within the self are 
for him in their essential nature identical with the differ- 
ences between selves. I am of course in a sense one, but 
I am in a sense many. I am a centre of many experiences, 
1 The Philosophical Theory of the State, ch. vii. 


and even of many groups of experiences, each of which 
has its own controlling principle. This makes me, as 
popular metaphor has always recognized, a kind of 
miniature state ; and for Bosanquet this metaphor ex- 
presses the real truth. Two passages may be taken as 
summing up his discussion. 

" If we consider my unity with myself at different times as the 
limiting case, we shall find it very hard to establish a difference 
between the unity of what we call one ' mind ' and that of all the 
' minds ' which enter into a single social experience." l 

And again in the following chapter : 3 

" Individuals are limited and isolated in many ways, but their 
true individuality does not lie in their isolation but in that dis- 
tinctive act or service by which they pass into unique contributions 
to the universal." 

Common sense confronted by these statements has a 
feeling of outrage which makes it disinclined to argue. 
It is inclined to say that the difference between self and 
another is as plain as the difference between black and 
white, and that if a man does not see it, there is nothing 
plainer to appeal to. It is inclined to add that, if certain 
views of the state are reduced to justifying themselves 
by such confusion as this, that is their sufficient refutation. 

But it is not quite satisfactory to leave the argument 
at this point. We must trace the roots of the fallacy. 
Let us first ask in what sense it is true that individuals 
have a common life or a common experience. To begin 
with they live in the same world. A and B may be said 
to have a common experience when they both perceive 
the same object. For example, both are reading the 
same book, studying the same subject, have before 
their eyes the same rose, are partners in one enterprise, 
members of one society. Here is a real unity, a numerical 
unity, but this unity is in the outer world, the world 
with which both minds are in contact. It may be in 
the actual existing world, as in the case of the rose which 
' P. 178. P. 183. 


both see and both smell, or it may be in the processes 
of the world and the changes to which both contribute, 
the purpose which both desire to realize, but in any case 
it is external to both. The unity is in the object a 
term here which may be conveniently used in its popular 
ambiguity as meaning sometimes a real thing, sometimes 
a purpose. The individuals are subjects, distinct centres 
of sensation, perception, thought, feeling, active will, 
standing in relation to that object. They are two, while 
the object is one. But, secondly, even between A and 
B, as two, there is a kind of unity. They are, or may 
be, similarly affected by or to the object. The rose 
smells sweet to both. The success of the business is an 
object of eager interest to both. The relation here is 
one which some would call resemblance, others identity 
of character. When spoken of as identity of character 
it is easily merged in thought with the numerical identity 
belonging to the object. Nevertheless it is a distinct 
relation. These then are the two foundations of identity 
as between individuals, the relationship to an identical 
world and the partial identity of character in themselves. 
How do these relations differ fundamentally from the 
relations between parts of my experience to one another ? 
For example, I may smell the same rose twice and pursue 
the same object through successive days and with con- 
siderable differences of mood, slackening and tensioning 
of interest and so on. The answer is that there is some- 
thing common in me to all my acts and experiences which 
is never common to you and me. I am aware in myself 
not only of the object that I experience but of the act 
of experiencing it, but I am never aware of your act of 
experiencing any object. Certainly I believe that you 
experience objects but I believe it on inference, you 
being a person like myself and acting in ways sufficiently 
similar to mine to enable me to interpret them. When 
it is said that our experience is common there is an 
ambiguity in the term " experience " which is overlooked. 
There is a sense in which you share my experience. There 
is also a sense in which your experience is absolutely 


and for ever private to you, and mine absolutely and for 
ever private to me. Experience may mean a series of 
objects that is before the mind, and in that sense it may 
be common, or it may mean what Professor Alexander 
calls enjoyment, or what might with more propriety be 
called suffering. Mind is always dealing with objects, 
apprehending them, thinking about them, operating upon 
them and so on. The dealing, the thinking is not the 
object dealt with, the object thought about, it is the 
act or state that is enjoyed or suffered. True it becomes 
known and is in that sense an object, but it is an object 
of a distinct class, the character of which class is that 
everything in it is known as the subject of some other 
object. The entire system of these subjective acts or 
states forms a continuum, constituting what I know within 
me as my individuality or myself. My consciousness of 
myself rests upon a distinction between this thread of 
enjoyment and suffering and the entire system of the 
objects to which it relates, and my sense of personal 
identity is my recognition of the continuity of this thread. 
This is the element of isolation which, in contradiction 
to Bosanquet's dictum, is the true core of individuality. 
This isolation is not merely physical. My body is a part 
of the objective world to me. I know it by the senses 
as I know the rose, but the experience, as suffering, is 
always located in the body, felt within the body, and the 
physical separateness of my body from another, though 
not the ground of my isolation, is inseparably connected 
with it. What in practical philosophy is even more 
important is that the whole series of my feelings belongs 
to the thread of suffering. True, I am aware of my 
feelings and can name and classify them and to that 
extent they are objects to me, but I always know them 
as feelings of my own, which I enjoy or suffer as being 
attributes or states of the subjective continuum that is 
distinct from the outer world as being in me incom- 
municably private. When I am said to share another's 
feeling, that is confused metaphor. The sight of another's 
pain may arouse pain in me but it is another pain. 


Normally, it is not even qualitatively the same pain. I 
do not feel toothache when my child is suffering from 
toothache but pity or anxiety, an emotion not a sensation. 
There are cases of what is sometimes conceived to be 
sympathy in the strictest sense in which the sight or 
description of physical torture seems to stimulate some- 
thing of the same anguish in myself, but even here it is 
a qualitative and not a numerical identity that is in 
question. And it is fortunate that it is so, for if I felt 
all the real anguish of the sufferer, I should hardly be 
in a position to come to his relief. 

We trace the foundations of Dr. Bosanquet's identi- 
fication of individuals then to a confusion in the use of 
the term "experience." Experience as meaning a world 
of objects may be common to many selves. Experience 
as that which each self enjoys or suffers is absolutely 
private. In the former sense different minds can enter 
into a single experience ; in the latter sense never, though 
they may know about one another's experience. In the 
former sense experience is not as such a universal but 
rather one comprehensive world of objects to which all 
individuals are related. In the latter sense it is a uni- 
versal in the true sense of a class of individual beings 
resembling one another or possessing identities of 
character. 1 

1 It would be unfair to Dr. Bosanquet to suggest that he ignores 
the exclusiveness of consciousness. In the present work he tells 
us, for example (p. 183), " In a sense it is true that no one con- 
sciousness can partake of or can actually enter into another." 
And similarly in his Principle of Individuality and Value he writes 
(p. 47) : " No one would attempt to overthrow what we have 
called the formal distinctness of selves or self. This consists in the 
impossibility that one finite centre of experience should possess 
as its own immediate experience the immediate experience of 
another." But he seems to regard what we have called enjoy- 
ment as a kind of form, to which the object of experience gives 
content. So in the same work a little earlier (p. 38) we read : 
" The pure privacy and incommunicability of feeling as such is 
superseded in all possible degrees by the self-transcendence and 
universality of the contents with which it is unified ; and as these 
contents are constituents of our individuality, the conception that 


The privacy of enjoyed experience , and in particular of 
feeling, has an important bearing on the doctrine of force 

individuality or personality has its centre in the exclusiveness 
of feeling, neglects the essential feature of individuality or person- 
ality itself. It has an aspect of distinct unshareable immediacy ; 
but in substance and stuff and content, it is universal, communi- 
cable, expansive." And so we learn a little later (p. 48) that the 
inevitable distinctness of any immediate experience, which is said 
to contain the essence of individuality, is a very different thing 
from the inexplicable and fundamental foreignness commonly 
postulated as between different persons. " It merely comes to 
this, that they are organizations of content, which a difference of 
quality, generally though not strictly dependent on belonging to 
different bodies, prevents from being wholly blended." There 
must, it would seem, be some characteristic differences between 
you and me, just as there are characteristic differences between 
any two parts of the same thing, but not such as to interfere with 
our fundamental sameness, not radically distinct from the differ- 
ences which may be discerned within myself at different times 
or in different relations. This position is developed on p. 58. 
" With the one exception, of the thread of ccenaesthesia, com- 
patible with any degree of hostility and foreignness, there is no 
ground of unity with our past and future selves which would not 
equally carry us to unity and fellowship with others and with the 
world. Our certainty of their existence is in both cases inferential, 
and on the same line of inference, both are cemented to it by the 
same stuff and material of unity, language, ideas, purposes, contents 
of communicable feeling ; and, as we have seen, the other may 
in these ways be far more closely knit with me than is my 
previous self." Hence we are not surprised to learn in the same 
book (p. 62) that " Separateness is not an ultimate character of 
the individual, but is a phase of being akin to externality, and 
tending to disappear in so far as true individuality prevails." 
It appears from these passages that in spite of admissions as to 
the exclusiveness of finite centres of experience, the radical dis- 
tinction between the subject and the object, between enjoyment 
and things experienced, escapes Dr. Bosanquet. His whole 
world is, as it were, on one plane. It is all experience more or 
less articulate and complete, more or less partial and confused. 
Individuality means a relatively high level of articulateness, and 
for that reason all individualities, in proportion as they develop, 
approximate to one and the same limit, the single experience which 
is wholly articulate. This conception of the entire fabric leading 
up to it and down from it falls to the ground as soon as subject 
and object are distinguished. 

and freedom. When Bosanquet comes in chapter viii 
to deal with the limits of state action he finds the 
difficulty to lie in the antithesis between force and the 
spiritual character of the real will. The state has to 
rely on rewards and punishments (p. 190) that destroy 
the value of an action " a p an element in the best life." 
" An action performed in this sense under compulsion 
is not a true part of the will." This, so far as it goes, 
is very sound and undoubtedly touches one of the true 
motives for restricting the operations of the state, 1 but 

1 It is only fair to Dr. Bosanquet to say that he recognizes the 
character of moral liberty more fully than some other writers 
and in particular than Hegel. His general conception of liberty, 
as explained in The Philosophical Theory of the State, is that the self 
is free when it is master of its passions, or, more precisely, when 
the real will is the master of the false will. But it is recognized 
by a piece of candour, which should be acknowledged, that this 
is not the literal or elementary sense of liberty. That literal sense 
means the absence of constraint exercised by one upon others, 
and in going beyond that we are more or less making use of a 
metaphor (p. 137). It is, however, maintained that we may 
acquiesce as " rational beings in a law and order, which on the 
whole makes for the possibility of asserting our true or universal 
selves, at the very moment when this law and order is constraining 
our particular private wills in a way which we resent or even con- 
demn." The term " condemn " here is odd. Does it mean we 
condemn the law judicially, that is rationally ? If so, there would 
seem to be a contradiction. What Bosanquet must mean is that 
we recognize law to be necessary, or rather perhaps recognize law- 
abidingness to be necessary even if a particular law is bad. But 
the real question lies beyond this. In what sense is law as such 
an instrument of moral liberty ? The suggestion is apparently that 
the coercive repression of warring impulses in me sets my real, 
that is rational, will free. Thus, there would be no objection in 
theory to the plan of making men good by legislation. But this 
hardly seems to express Bosanquet's own meaning because at a 
later stage he frankly recognizes the limits of coercion, and 
fundamentally the whole idea is untrue. If my rational will has 
conquered the erring impulse, then it has established its own 
mastery, and may be called free in the moral sense. But, if and in 
so far as the erring impulse is overcome by an external restraint, 
my will is not only not free but not even effective. The best that 
can be said for making men good by coercion is that coercive 
restraints at a given moment may prevent an irreparable error 


the denial of individuality leads Bosanquet to repudiate 
the view that force, or generally speaking state inter- 
ference, lies in the intrusion of others upon the self (see 
p. 183). To him in principle there are no others. I 
should be inclined to subjoin that, if that is so, there is 
no force. What is at the back of force and what does it 
rest upon ? The isolation of the individual. When we 
speak of forcing a man to do a certain kind of action, 
we do not mean thzt we take hold of his hands and make 
him do it. A nurse may do that with a small child but 
it is not what is intended or practical in adult life. What 
we mean is that pains and penalties are imposed, that 
there is an appeal to fear of future suffering or to the 
hope of future reward. Now when A puts forth force 
on B, what is the situation ? B, let us suppose, is the 
subject of a certain impulse, craving or feeling which is 
absolutely private to him, not shared and not necessarily 
in the least understood by A. B, if he yields to this 
impulse, is under the fiat of A to suffer a penalty. Once 
more the feeling of pain, grief, perhaps agony, is abso- 
lutely private to him, unshared and perhaps little 
appreciated by A. The danger is that A may be indifferent 
to B's feelings. There is nothing necessarily to com- 
municate to A the experience either of the craving or of 
the penalty by which he represses it. Now if A literally 
shared all B's experiences, there would not be this danger. 
In prescribing for B, A would have to go through the same 
thing himself and would have to take his own prescription. 
If there were always this community of experience in 
the sense of a community of suffering, there would be no 
special practical danger in the use of force, and in a 
democratic and uniform society we do in fact expect 
to find greater mildness in the use of penalties to which 
all are equally exposed. But in so far as there is a dis- 

and so make it possible for me to recover my genuine self-control 
later on ; just as, if I am prevented from suicide, I have at least 
the opportunity of living to do better another day. But if I am 
permanently in tutelage, I am permanently unfree and without 
means of freedom. 


tinction between the governors and the governed, the 
use of force is subject to great abuse, which consists 
precisely in the fact that it is an intrusion on one set 
of people by others who are in a large measure immune 
from the practical working consequences. 

We may carry the theoretical point a little further, 
and we may ask if a man could ever put force upon him- 
self in the sense in which he could put force upon another. 
We have seen that when he puts force upon another 
there is the threat of pain, not necessarily following from 
the action and not a pain which he will feel himself. 
Neither of these conditions is realized when a man puts 
force on himself. When a man puts force upon himself 
he conquers an impulse, that is to say, he brings the 
whole force of his nature to bear, or more accurately, 
the organized system of convictions, principles, interests, 
which is his personality, and does not in truth so much 
conquer himself as win a victory for himself. He does 
not threaten himself with a penalty which he will not 
share. He does not, strictly speaking, threaten himself 
at all. It is true he may fear a penalty, remorse it may 
be, or a headache it may be, and he may say to himself 
that this will follow as surely as day follows night. This, 
however, is not a threat but an anticipation, and it is an 
anticipation, not of something arbitrarily attached ab 
extra to the act, but of something following from it as an 
inherent consequence. Obviously, too, it is not some- 
thing from which the author of the supposed menace 
is to be immune. The only sense in which a man can 
be said to threaten himself would be under some artificial 
form of self -reformation in which a man undertakes a 
vow to himself to undergo a specific penance for a specific 
trespass. Such a case, if we may regard it as real, would 
be an analogical transfer to the sphere of self of the re- 
lation of self and others, and can only belong to the sphere 
of play-acting with our moral nature. 

I conclude, therefore, that the use of force is essentially 
what Bosanquet denies it to be. It is an imposition on 
the individual by others, and its practical dangers lie 


precisely in that isolation of the individual feelings through 
which force acts, which Dr. Bosanquet dismisses as of 
secondary importance. 

We cannot, therefore, accept the definition of freedom 
suggested by Dr. Bosanquet in his new volume. To the 
question how self-government is possible, he replies that 
the answer is drawn " from the conception of the general 
will which involves the existence of an actual community 
of such a nature as to share an identical mind and feeling. 
There is no other way of explaining how a free man can 
put up with compulsion and even welcome it." * On the 
surface this theory is attractive. In an ordered society 
I am free, though under compulsion, because the will of 
society is my own will, and the compulsion is exercised 
by myself upon myself. But these are mere words. 
The will of society may be radically opposed to my own, 
and yet I must obey. It may even be my duty to obey, 
and normally it is so, even though I think the law wrong, 
because society must be kept together ; and if its deliberate 
decision is to carry no weight with its dissentient members, 
profound disorganization must ensue. The evil of one 
bad law is not, unless in a very extreme case, to be weighed 
against the evil of diminishing the authority of all law. 

The only sense, therefore, in which I am conforming 
to my own will, in obedience, is that of two evils I prefer 
the lesser. If in this I am free, it is not because I am a 
member of a society like-minded with myself, but simply 
because I am master of my own actions and can choose, 
if I will, to abide by the penalties which disobedience 
will entail. If freedom depended upon identity of will, 
there would not be much of it in a complex world. In 
general freedom depends (i) on the defined and restricted 
use of compulsion. If the state prevents another man 
from coercing or oppressing me by force or the use of 
superior economic power, it augments my freedom ; and 
the uniform compulsion of law is in fact the only known 
method by which individuals can be assured in the enjoy- 
ment of a common liberty from possible oppression by 
1 Social and International Ideals, p. 271. 


one another. If, on the other hand, the law prevents me 
from drinking or compels me to serve in the army, it is 
absurd to maintain that it is in these very respects 
augmenting my freedom. It may be justified in either 
of these actions by other considerations even by the 
consideration of other kinds of freedom if, for example, 
it has been right in judging that compulsory service is 
necessary to national freedom. That does not alter the 
fact that freedom is impaired at one point even if it is 
gained at another, and the man who is compelled against 
his will to give up his drink or to join the army is mocked 
if you tell him that in doing that which he most resents 
his will is free because the decision of society is his own. 
Essentially political freedom does not consist in like- 
mindedness, but in the toleration of differences ; or, 
positively, in the acceptance of differences as contributing 
to richer life than uniformity. Freedom, as something 
shareable by all members of a community, involves 
restraint upon that which prevents such sharing. A 
society is on the whole free not because there is in it 
little law or much law, but because the law is such as to 
secure scope for personal development and free associ- 
ation as a common possession by restricting those develop- 
ments, and those only, in which the fulfilment of one is 
the frustration of another. It is free, not where a common 
mind shapes the individual, but where all minds have 
that fullness of scope which can only be obtained if certain 
fundamental conditions of their mutual intercourse are 
maintained by organized effort. 1 

1 Properly interpreted, the dictum of Lycophron the Sophist, 
that the law is a guarantee of mutual justice, is nearer the truth 
than the contrary proposition of Aristotle, that it is such as to 
make the citizens good and just (Aristotle, Politics, Book III, 
ch. ix, 8). It is not the business of compulsion to make men good 
and just, but the guarantee of protection for him who acts justly 
is a condition under which men may make themselves good and 
just. The state can, however, without serious increase of coercion 
apply the resources of organization to secure more positive condi- 
tions of development than the mere restraint of injustice, and in 
particular it is only the state which can accumulate for social ends 


(2) In a second and more specific sense, political free- 
dom implies active citizenship. The claim of the free 
individual is not the impossible one that the common 
decision should coincide with his own, but that his de- 
cision should be heard and taken into account. He 
claims his part in the common councils ; he takes his 
share of responsibility. In so far as he makes this claim 
effective he contributes to the common decision even 
though in a particular case it goes dead against him. He 
is free, not because the social will is his own, but because 
he has as much scope for expression as any one man can 
have if all are to have it and yet live and act together. 
More than this is the beginning of tyranny, less is the 
beginning of slavery. 

We cannot, however, do justice to the argument from 
the likeness between individuals to a common self which 
actually unites them without reference to the ultimate 
metaphysical theory of which this transition is a par- 
ticular case. Let us restate our position as we have 
maintained it against Dr. Bosanquet's attacks. For us 
the system of law, the social tradition, is clearly not 
the product of one will, unless in the imaginary case 
of an omnipotent despot who imposes a complete system 
of laws on a subject people. It is rather the product of 
innumerable wills, acting sometimes in concert, some- 
times in opposition to one another, and through their 
conflicts and combinations issuing in a more or less orderly 
system, part of which gets itself inscribed on the statute 
book, while part is incorporated in customs and insti- 
tutions, and as such passes through generations, con- 
serving its main outlines through long periods, but also 
subject to expansion, growth and decay. Such is the 
system of Recht, partly moral, partly legal, as under- 
stood by the plain man, and as more fully understandable 

that large element of wealth which does not depend on the energy 
of living individuals. It should be remarked in this connection 
that to restrict the functions of the state is by no means to place 
a limit on the value of voluntary co-operation, but rather the 


by comparative and historical investigation. If we call 
it an expression or embodiment of the will, we do not 
mean by that term a single continuous entity but a 
universal, that is, something which in reality consists 
of thousands and millions of wills, all distinct in their 
existence, though acting on and acted on by one another. 
But to the Hegelian this statement implies a false view 
of the universal. We are contending for individuality, 
for the irreducible distinction between self and others, 
and we have met some of the arguments directed 
against that distinction. But now we have admitted a 
" universal " running through thousands and millions of 
selves. This admission, according to the idealist, will 
be fatal to the separateness which we have maintained. 
The universal for him unites the instances which fall 
under it just in the manner which we dispute. We have 
maintained a radical distinction between the identity of 
character found in different individuals and the identity 
of continuous existence which constitutes each indi- 
vidual. But the idealist will deny the radical character 
of this distinction. For him identity is universality, and 
the two cases of identity that we distinguish are mere 
specific forms of the universal. We come, therefore, to that 
theory of the universal which, as we said above, underlies 
the whole question. This theory is due to Hegel. 

What then for Hegel is the universal ? x Like other 
things in his dialectic it can only be understood by sur- 
mounting certain false and partial views. Firstly, then, 
for him the universal is apprehended in contrast with 
the particular cases in which it is manifested. Thus the 
colour red is a universal, but it is not the red rose, nor 
the red cloth, nor the red blood. The red rose is a par- 
ticular instance of the universal, the red blood is another. 
Redness, the universal, here is something distinct from, 
and in a manner opposed to, the cloth and the rose which 
are red. This is the abstract universal, the universal 
arrived at by taking away all the particulars in which 
it appears. But if we take away all the particulars, 
1 See especially Wissenschaft der Logik, II, Werke, vol. v. pp. 36-63. 


what remains ? If it is neither the red rose, nor the 
red cloth, nor the red blood nor red anything else, there 
is no red, nothing appears to remain for the abstract 
universal, and we seem forced to say that only particulars 
exist. To escape this difficulty we might perhaps say 
that red means the common element in the flower, the 
cloth and the blood. It is the character in which all 
agree and in which they all share as distinct from the 
characters in which they differ. But here another diffi- 
culty arises. The character of redness is not exactly 
identical in the different cases. The rose is of one tint 
or shade, the cloth of another, the blood of a third. The 
red that is common to all becomes something thinner 
and more attenuated, of which we can no longer form 
even a perfectly clear and unambiguous image. If we 
try to picture the red that is all these things, we stumble, 
as Hume says, in our minds not upon red in general but 
some particular shade of red. The difficulty becomes 
greater the higher we go in the region of abstraction. 
Red, blue and green are all colours, for example, but 
what precisely is the colour that is above all, which is 
not red, nor blue, nor green, nor of any other particular 
tint ? If we try to think upon these lines, we get into 
the way of constructing our conception into a kind of 
mosaic. If colour is an element which is common to two 
coloured objects, then let us say redness is another element 
common to one set of coloured objects and distinct from 
others, and crimson a third element, and luminosity, 
transparence, opaqueness again further elements, and in 
this red rose before me several of these particular elements 
must coexist. Here then in another sense the universal 
has passed into the particular the common element, 
colour, being just one of the constituent parts of the 
actual colour which is before me. On the other hand, 
it may be said each of these particulars is also universal, 
since the colour is common to the entire class of objects, 
the redness is common to a section of that class, and 
the particular tint to a smaller section, while certain 
characteristics like luminosity cut across the distinctions 


of tint and are common to colours of many different 
tints. The conclusion of this argument is that the uni- 
versal as placed in opposition to the particulars, and the 
particulars placed in opposition to the universal, both 
involve contradictions. They pass into one another. 

What is the truth then ? The truth may be seen in 
this way. Colour is not a distinguishable element common 
to red, blue, green, etc. It is rather that which is now 
red, now blue, now green, and so all of them, though 
it is not all of them at one and the same time and place. 
Nor is it the sum or totality of them all. This would 
ultimately be only the collection of all the individual 
things that are coloured. It is rather the principle that 
permeates them and that develops itself into the one or 
the other, and the thought appears to be that, if we had 
insight into the nature of the universal, we should under- 
stand that all these differences arise out of it, as the 
different organs of the body come from the development 
of a germ. Hegel expresses this by saying that the true 
or concrete universal is the individual. By this he does 
not mean, as he explicitly says, the individual object 
that our senses appreciate, e.g. the red rose. He means 
an individuality which permeates or runs through differ- 
ences of development or expression, so that the differences 
are related to the universal as are the attributes of an 
individual thing to the thing itself, or the phases or 
activities of life to the living being. This distinction is 
much more plausible as applied to a concept than to the 
reality to which a concept refers. If one thinks of colour, 
for example, as an attribute of the material world, to 
describe it as an individual becomes paradoxical in the 
highest degree. Colours appear here, there and every- 
where under all sorts of changing conditions. There is 
among them nothing at all resembling the continuity 
and self sameness of an individual object. On the other 
hand, if we think of the concept colour in our mind, we 
can with more reason regard it as a kind of scheme, which 
to be realized at all must be filled in in some definite way, 
but which as a scheme is a permanent unity, and is main- 


tained without changing its character through all its 
differences of fulfilment. We can then understand that 
to say of a thing that it has a particular colour is to place 
it in the scope of this scheme, so that we escape from 
the difficulty of trying to assign to the term " colour " a 
meaning which gives it some definite quality distinguish- 
able from other definite qualities, an attempt which Hegel 
rightly says leads us further and further into meaningless 

Let us agree then that when we predicate a universal, 
e.g. colour, we bring an object into relation with a certain 
system which is operative in our minds, and that generally 
speaking it is true to say that our concepts are systems of 
this kind and systems of such systems. The fallacy in 
the Hegelian theory consists in identifying the system of 
our thought with the reality to which it refers. The 
system of our thought is not identical with the system 
of reality, except in the sense that our thought itself 
is an event, but has reference to that reality, and reality 
itself is not finally intelligible until we take the relation 
between it and thought into account by a further and 
more comprehensive thought. For example, in the par- 
ticular case before us we have to recognize that while 
in classifying things we form certain systems of universals 
and particulars, and while these systems describe things 
accurately in one aspect, they do not describe them 
under other aspects. If we ask how a thing grows, comes 
to be, disappears, for example, we do not get the answer 
by exhibiting its place in a classification, but by tracing 
its relation to its antecedents, concomitants, consequents 
The classificatory system, being all held together in our 
thought, has within our thought a unity, even if you 
will an individuality. The thinking of it is an individual 
act. But the objects to which this unified thought refera 
the objects to which the system applies, may be in any 
degree scattered through the universe, and devoid of all 
the interconnecting threads that make an individual 
whole. This then in the last analysis is the fallacy in- 
volved in the famous Hegelian doctrine of the concrete 



universal. It attributes the unity which belongs to the 
concept as contained in the act of thinking to the mass 
of objects to which the concept refers. 1 The reality 
which the universal describes consists of indefinite numbers 
of individuals related by identities and differences of 
character, i.e. by more or less exact resemblance, and 
not by any substantive or causal continuity such as 
constitutes the individual. 

The confusion of the individual with the universal, 
however, would never have commanded any acceptance 
if it had not some plausible basis in fact. What is this 
plausible basis ? It is that if you consider the individual 
under a certain partial aspect, and allowing one funda- 
mental point to drop, its resemblance to the universal 
leaps to the eyes. Consider the living being, for example, 
a man. He is in a sense one and the same thing from 
birth to death, but he is also different from babyhood 
to youth and youth to manhood ; in a lesser degree, 
from moment to moment. You have in him a sameness 
running through difference, which is just what you have 
in the colour that is common to red, blue and green. 
He is, moreover, many things in one. He is a thinking, 
willing being, a spiritual being and a physical being, and 
his unity pervades all these just as the redness pervades 
all its tints. Here, too, the question arises whether he 
is distinct from all the different things that he is, or 
whether he is all these things regarded as a whole, or 
whether he is something that is now one and now the 
other, something which must be the one or the other 
and which finally manifests itself completely only in the 
whole series. In all these ways the self-identity of the 
individual resembles the universal. The fundamental 
difference is that the individual is continuous throughout 
his existence. The man's life is not broken, he is always 

1 It may be said that every time we make use of the same concept 
we refer to the same mass of facts. There is thus an identity of 
reference as well as identity in the thought which makes the 
reference. But this is not to say that the mass of facts so 
identified constitute in their internal relations an individual. 


there at a given spot at any particular time, and never 
breaking the continuity of his temporal existence. In 
speaking of him as an individual we affirm or imply a 
belief in a substantial continuity. We believe, that is, 
that what he is at one moment is the basis of what he 
is at the next, that he has become whatever we find him 
to be by a process of self-determination. That self- 
determination is certainly not absolute, for his environ- 
ment affects him, but there is always an element of self- 
determination which makes up the continuous thread of 
his identity. Now as between individuals of the same 
class, there is no necessary continuity of this kind. Two 
men may come into relation with one another or they 
may not. They are nevertheless both members of the 
same universal and they share a common character which 
has nothing whatever to do with any substantive con- 
tinuity. On the other hand and here is a further source 
of confusion as between different individuals there may 
also be in certain relations important inter-connections, 
so that while each is an individual and while they con- 
stitute members of a class, they may nevertheless be so 
united as to form a totality which has a certain substan- 
tive continuity of its own. Now this is precisely the 
case with any society. Take a family, for example. 
All the members are individuals, that is, each has his 
own substantive continuity. But the family is also a 
close union of these individuals who in certain relations 
very intimately affect one another, and so build up a 
common life. Thus the family is both the class of indi- 
viduals which compose it, say, all the Thomas Browns 
the members of the family Thomas Brown and also a 
true individual of a higher order, the family of the Thomas 
Browns possessing a certain life and unity of its own 
which makes it behave for many purposes as a single 
self-contained entity. So regarded, however, the family 
is not a universal but an individual, though of a different 
order from the physical individual. It is the confusion 
of these two aspects of the community which dominates 
the whole theory of the general will. 


Let us see how the logic of it works. In the first place, 
the particular, as such, is unreal. Every particular must 
be a case of the universal, a manifestation of the universal. 
Thus the particular man, as particular, has no real exis- 
tence. He is only a phase in some universal. Where 
then are we to look for the universal ? Not in his identity 
of character with other men. That is the false or abstract 
universal. We should look for it in something which is 
to be called an individual, that must be in some systematic 
totality, some fabric or union of human beings, self- 
sustaining, self -determining, a sort of system of wills. 
Now there are several such systems, but in the Hegelian 
view that which includes them all is the state, and thus 
the state is the highest universal to which a particular 
man belongs as a case or a manifestation, and the will 
of the state is the real will, the universal will of which 
particular wills are only incidents or phases. Accordingly 
the Hegelian logic abolishes on the one side the inde- 
pendence of the individual living human being, and on 
the other side the universal ties of identity of character 
which relate the individual to the human species as a 
whole, and substitutes for it as the reality the organized 
body of human beings, which in its highest manifestation 
is the state. How far there is an error in fact here, that 
is, how far it is true that the state is the highest human 
organization, we need not for the moment inquire. The 
point is that by identifying the universal with the indi- 
vidual, Hegel has destroyed the universality of character 
on which all the highest ethics and the highest religions 
are founded. They mean nothing to him because they 
are mere abstract universals. At the same stroke he 
has destroyed the self-dependence of the individual 
which is the root of freedom, and we can understand why 
for him all that unsophisticated men call freedom is an 
irrational and unmeaning caprice, a caprice of the par- 
ticular, imagining itself to be a substantive reality instead 
of a mere fold in the garment of the all-covering universal. 
And yet Hegel's doctrine may be said to have contradicted 
itself, for if it is true that universality of character rests 


on membership of some organized whole, then that uni- 
versality of character, which we do as a matter of fact 
find in human beings, must imply that humanity is in 
some sense an organic whole, and the mere fact that we 
speak of the state as a generic term and recognize that 
there are many states must imply a universal element 
connecting them, and therefore must lead to the con- 
ception after all of a super-state, at any rate of some- 
thing that is above all states, comprehending them all 
and forming an organic unity among them. It is just 
this organic unity which Hegel denies, recognizing above 
the state only a spirit of world history which is essentially 
a process and a process in which states contend and destroy 
one another, not a unity inspiring them with a single 
spirit and finding for them also a true freedom in con- 
formity to universal law. 1 

1 Dr. Bosanquet in his Principle of Individuality a-nd Value 
(Lecture II) recognizes the distinction between generality and 
what he calls the individuality. He takes the line of depreciating 
generality, e.g. p. 34, " the most general knowledge . . . must 
obviously be the least instructive and must have its climax in 
complete emptiness." To this it may be replied that the law of 
gravitation is neither uninstructive nor empty, because it applies 
to all bodies. On the contrary, it was precisely the discovery 
that it did apply to all bodies, and not only the earth and the 
objects on its surface, that enabled Newton to draw inferences 
of extraordinary range and interest. He goes on to argue that 
" you cannot explain a human body or a steam-engine by classi- 
fying the parts in each under their resemblances to one another." 
This is of course one part of the truth, though not the whole 
truth. We should not understand the operation of any part of the 
steam-engine if we could not regard it as an instance of a general 
law of the operation of bodies precisely similar to that part. 

For the rest, Bosanquet's contention only goes to illustrate the 
difference between the general and the individual, and does not 
justify the use of the term "universal" derived from generality 
to characterize the individual. Bosanquet justly finds a certain 
correspondence, the correspondence noted above, between the 
individual and the general. " The ultimate principle we may 
say is sameness in the other. Generality is sameness in spite of 
the other. Universality is sameness by means of the other " 
(p. 37). We should say rather generality implies a plurality of 
objects similar, but not necessarily connected in any other way. 


Individuality is a connection, psychical, physical, or whatever 
it may be, running through many parts and constituting of them 
one whole. Being unable to deny the distinctness of what we 
call generality, Bosanquet seems to set himself to minimize its 
value. He almost seems to scold its obstinacy in remaining a 
part of the universe. Exclusiveness, we are told, is a kind of minor 
mark of the individual. It is misleading if too strongly insisted 
on. It is admitted (p. 104) that a potential generality or repe- 
tition is a corollary of the universal infinite experience, " but it 
is a character of imperfection in such experience and not of per- 
fection . . . why should any being express a second time what 
has been adequately expressed before?" So, again, on p. 116, 
" repetition suggests failure." Is it not rather that the admis- 
sion of repetition suggests the failure of the theory which 
identifies the universal with the individual ? A true proposition 
is not refuted by belittling its significance. 



So far we have dealt with two of the three main propo- 
sitions of the metaphysical theory of the state. Of these 
three the first is that true individuality or freedom lies 
in conformity to our real will. The second is that our 
real will is identical with the general will, and the third 
with which we have not yet dealt is that the general 
will is embodied more or less perfectly in the state. On 
analysing th? first proposition we found that it rested 
upon a confusion of two distinct conceptions. The first 
is the conception of human nature, which .is richer and 
more various than the conscious and deliberate will. 
The second is the ideal will which would express the 
practical possibilities of harmony in human nature. The 
first of these is real, but is neither identical with will 
nor with rationality. The second is rational will, but 
is not real. It is something which at best may only 
be attained by that great transformation of ourselves 
which is symbolized by the religions in such phrases as 
" being born again." 

The term "real will," therefore, we discarded as a source 
of nothing but confusion. But having accepted the 
phrase provisionally from the idealist, we found a further 
confusion, the argument by which he identifies it with 
the general will. This argument confused identity of 
character with identity of continuous existence, the 
result of which was to set up a common self wherein 
the difference between one person and another is lost 
and the whole problem of social relations accordingly is 



These are the two leading fallacies in the metaphysical 
theory of society, but there is a third fallacy emerging 
from them which is no less important in its practical 
applications. That is that the common self or the general 
will is to be identified with the state. It might be thought 
that, if we altogether repudiate the conception of a 
common self, the application falls to the ground along 
with the principle. None the less the argument needs 
examination both because it brings out certain elements 
of fallacy in the central conception and because it bears 
upon the whole question of the relations of the state 
to the social life of man. 

Waiving all our criticism of the metaphysical identi- 
fication of the real and the general will, we can understand 
what is meant by the contention that the full expression 
of a man's nature is social, that his interests, in the fullest 
sense of that term, are bound up with those of others 
and extend in endless ramifications into the texture of 
the social fabric. But why are they in particular bound 
up with the state ? Is the state then another name 
for the entire social fabric, for the family, for the mass 
of one's social interests, for science, art, literature and 
religion ? To the modern mind, at any rate to the non- 
German mind, the question answers itself in the negative, 
and outside the metaphysical school most thinkers would 
regard this as one of the points on which the modern 
outlook differs essentially from the Greek. To the Greeks x 
the city-state was the focus of all life, and on this fact 
depended at once the completeness and the harmony of 
the Greek conception within a certain range and the 
narrowness and final insufficiency of that range. The 
self-sufficiency of the city-state was bound up with 
the failure of the Greeks to achieve a wider nationality 
and with the undeveloped condition of their religion, which 
made it impossible to set up a spiritual over the temporal 
power. Nevertheless, for the Greek thinkers themselves 
the boundaries to state life were too narrow. Plato 

1 I.e. the Greeks of the orthodox tradition. The Cynics and, 
following them, the Stoics, laid the foundation of the larger view. 


might hold that the happiness of his guardians was not 
to be considered apart from the well-being of the state, 
to which it was their prime function to contribute, but 
none the less it is clear that for him the real desires of a 
trained philosopher are to graze apart in the Elysian 
Fields of contemplation, and that to recall him to the 
service of the state is to bring him back into the cave 
from which he had escaped into the upper air. We do 
him no wrong, he contends, in demanding this service 
of the philosopher, for we are merely expecting him to 
repay what the state has given him in education. None 
the less it is clear that the philosophic life, which is for 
Plato the spiritual life, has begun to develop an interest 
of its own. And so in Aristotle philosophic wisdom is 
the mistress, not the servant, of the practical wisdom 
of the statesman, and the theoretic life is primarily con- 
cerned with things much higher than man. In the 
modern world again, apart from Germany, the state had 
until recent times receded into the background. It was 
rather the prosaic necessity of social life than the living 
principle itself. In the metaphysical theory the entire 
modern tendency is reversed. The state has become, as ' 
we have seen, an end in itself, and the reason is that 
the stale is regarded as the sum and substance of our 
social activities, the organized fabric of civilized life. 

Let us follow the reasoning by which Dr. Bosanquet 
arrives at this conclusion, by which, that is to say, he 
passes from his conception of the real will as the foun- 
dation of our individuality to the state as the supreme 
object of our allegiance. This transition is introduced 
by a passage which runs : " The imperative claim of 
the will that wills itself is our own inmost nature and we 
cannot throw it off. This is the ultimate root of political 
obligation." Should we not rather say, a rational harmony 
of life has an imperative claim on us, and this claim is what 
we call moral obligation ? Such a proposition would 
harmonize better with the sentence preceding our quota- 
tion, in which rebellion is recognized as a possible duty 
on the ground that the particular system which claims 


our obedience may be irreconcilable with the conditions 
essential to a rational will. If this is understood, it is 
clear that there is no political obligation that is not sub- 
ordinate to moral obligation and politics are subordinate 
to ethics. Thus, the main question of political or social 
philosophy has to be answered in a manner adverse to 
those who, like Bosanquet, are seeking to make political 
philosophy an independent discipline. 

None the less Bosanquet goes on to say l that the real 
will is that which thinkers like Rousseau have identified 
with the state. The justification offered is, that if, starting 
from the human being, you try to devise that which will 
furnish him with " an outlet of stable purpose," you 
will be driven on " at least as far as the state and perhaps 
further." The " perhaps further " is a saving clause 
that may be considered later. Meanwhile we have to 
deal with Dr. Bosanquet's conception of the state. It 
is not, we are told, " merely the political fabric, but 
is the entire hierarchy of institutions by which life is 
determined, including e.g. the family, trade, the church, 
the university. It is the structure which gives life and 
meaning to them all." It is " the operative criticism 
of all institutions." A perfect conception of the end 
of the state would mean " a complete idea of the realiza- 
tion of all human capacity." At the same time the state 
is necessarily force. Force is inherent in the state, being 
exercised not only in the " restraint of disorderly persons 
but in the form of instruction and authoritative suggestion 
to the ordinary law-abiding citizen." It forms a kind 
of automatism, which underlies our more conscious and 
intelligent behaviour. But though necessary as a basis 
of life, force and automatic suggestion are in their nature 
" contradictory to the nature of the highest self-assertion 
of mind," not because in the use of force the state is 
controlling the individual or one man controlling another, 
for there are no others and there is no individuality 
opposed to the state, but because the element of force is 
antagonistic to the best life. It is "a dangerous drug" 
1 See The Philosophical Theory of the State, p. 149, etc. 


which must be administered " as a counter-poison to 
tendencies which would otherwise give no chance to the 
logical will." The consequence is that the state, as 
exercising force, must be rigidly limited in its functions. 
It must not seek the direct promotion of the good 
life. " What it can effect is to remove obstacles, to 
destroy conditions hostile to the realization of the 
end." Its business is to " hinder hindrances " to the 
best life. 

We have thus a definition of the state, consisting of 
two clauses, which we must examine separately. As to 
the first, which identifies the state with the entire social 
fabric, Dr. Bosanquet seems partly aware that here the 
state is used in an unusual sense. By the state we 
ordinarily mean either the government or, perhaps a 
little more accurately, the organization which is at the 
back of law and government. The state is the organi- 
zation of society for the control of its common interests, 
an organization of which the various departments of 
law and government are the particular organs. This is 
something less than the entire fabric. Dr. Bosanquet 
might argue that there must be organization in order 
to support the fabric. In advanced societies this is 
probably true, but (a) many simple societies enjoy a 
fairly well-ordered fabric of social life without any govern- 
mental organization, and others have the very rudest 
forms of governmental organization, (b) It is quite 
possible to hold, with the philosophical anarchists, that 
societies more advanced than our own may achieve an 
equally good order of social life on a large scale and in 
complex relations without governmental organization, or 
at any rate without the use of force. And it is still more 
possible to hold that the reduction of the use of force to 
a minimum is a desirable element in the advance of society. 
If that is so, while it would remain true to identify moral 
obligation and social obligation, true to maintain that 
the best life can only be realized in society, it would be 
untrue to identify that best life with the state. Under- 
lying Bosanquet's account, in fact, there is a serious 


confusion between the state and society. 1 The state is 
at present necessary to society, but it is only one of its 
conditions. The bony skeleton is necessary to the human 
body and in a sense holds it together, but it is hardly 
that which constitutes the life of the body, still less that 
which makes the life of the body desirable and possibly 
beautiful. Nor is it correct to describe the state as the 
" operative criticism of institutions." The entire life of 
society is a whole, of which the parts act and react upon 
each other. Institutions and customs gradually change 
and modify each other in large measure without any 
conscious criticism, just through the actions of individuals 
seeking to adapt themselves as best they may to their 
medium. But the bulk of explicit criticism also proceeds 
through discussion and through all sorts of voluntary 
agencies, which have not the power of the state, and it 
is only at certain turning-points that acts of government 
and legislation have to be called in to make some decisive 
change. The entire fabric, we may say, carries out its 
own self-criticism, and once again it is only misleading 
to identify the entire fabric with a state organization 
which is only one of its necessary components. 

Lastly, much of the organization of life is more extensive 
than any organized state, and many social divisions cut 
across state divisions. Bosanquet's own ideas are mostly 
derived from Germany. The Christian church, in ideal, 
has always been a cosmopolitan and not a national 
organization ; and the same is true of other higher religions 
and of higher ethics and the entire republic of letters, 
science, philosophy and art. The same is true in another 
relation of the economic market, which is a world market, 
and even of economic ideas and to some extent of economic 
organizations, such as the Socialist International. In a 

* In the Introduction to his second edition (p. xxix) Dr. 
Bosanquet seems to recognize some of the difficulties of his position, 
and speaks of a social co-operation which does not belong strictly 
either to the state or to the private person. If this admission is 
pressed, it will be found fatal to his first definition of the state 
as the entirety of the social fabric. 


word, the state, as an organization, is a mere means to 
an end. It is one of the ways in which human beings 
are grouped. In its present form it is the product of 
certain modern conditions not of very long standing 
and probably not destined to very long endurance. To 
confuse the state with society and political with moral 
obligation is the central fallacy of the metaphysical 
theory of the state. 

The truth is that Bosanquet's double definition of the 
state, on the one hand as the operative criticism of insti- 
tutions and on the other hand as force, is an abortive 
union of two radically opposed conceptions. Criticism 
is the very opposite of force. It is something essentially 
spiritual. It belongs to the mind, it demands the maxi- 
mum of freedom. It lives in discussion unconstrained. 
It is no respecter of persons. It fills up no forms. It 
is bound by no traditions. It is free as air. Force, on 
the other hand, moves on the solid ground. As law, 
its principles must be defined and established, executed 
by authority, regardless of finer meanings and subtle 
differences. It closes its ear to discussion, which is taken 
to be complete at the moment when force is decided upon. 
Human society has not often found it possible to dispense 
with force because, though mind is free as air, the body 
to which mind is attached must have the solid rock to 
stand on, and men have judged an imperfect order better 
than no order at all. The modern mind, aware of this 
contrast, of the necessity of force and of the threat which 
it contains to the life of the spirit, has sought unceasingly 
for some theory of the limits of force, has asked itself 
anxiously how much and how little is the state bound 
to exact from its members. But the idealistic theory, 
far from illuminating, serves to confuse the entire issue. 
In Dr. Bosanquet's presentation in particular we get a 
most confusing oscillation between the two principles 
conveyed by his definition. If we ask about the duties 
of the individual to the state, we find him leaning on the 
state as operative criticism. The duty of the individual 
appears to be absolute, his very personality is merged 


in the state, and for the same reason, as we shall see 
presently, the state has no authority over it, but is the 
final form of human association. If, on the other hand, 
we ask about the duties of the state to the individual, 
what it can do for the promotion of the well-being of its 
members, we find that the state is only force and all its 
action is limited by the clumsiness and externality of 
compulsion. It cannot directly promote freedom, but 
only hinder hindrances. 1 By playing between these two 
meanings, we get the worst of both worlds ; on the one 
side a state which absorbs and cancels individual per- 
sonality and knows little or no morality in its external 
relations ; and on the other side the social morals of the 
Charity Organization Society, a state which cannot 
actively promote the well-being of its members, but can 
only remove obstructions and leave to them a fair field 
in which to run the race. The truth is that the state 
jjis only one element in the society of humankind. It is 
'an organization which men have built up, partly with 
' conscious purpose, but largely through a clash of purposes 
which has settled down into an order exhibiting some 

1 The hindrance of hindrances is indeed so vague an expression 
that almost anything can be extracted out of it, e.g. we are told 
(p. 172) that the state hinders illiteracy by compelling education. 
When formulae are so stretched it is a sign of something wrong in 
the theory underlying them. In public education two functions 
of the state are involved, (i) Compulsion, which is necessary to 
secure the right of the child against a neglectful parent, a right 
which, like all rights, is a condition of social welfare, and (2) the 
organization of public resources for a public object. We too often 
tend to think of such organization in terms of compulsion because 
it involves taxation. But taxation is not adequately conceived when 
thought of as the compulsory taking from individuals of property 
which is absolutely theirs. There are social factors in production, 
and therefore elements due to society rather than to the individual, 
which can only be secured for the community by the mechanism 
of the state. Taxation is a very rough, and in practice not always 
an equitable, method of securing these elements of collective 
wealth, but to secure them for common objects and organize their 
application is one of the functions of the state which is entirely 
missed by Dr. Bosanquet's account. 


permanence, but constantly threatened with more or 
less revolutionary changes. In this order there is nothing 
sacrosanct. On the contrary, government, law and the 
institutions lying behind and supporting them are far 
from being the most successful of the experiments of 
mankind. They call aloud for radical criticism, and to 
deify them is to establish false gods, gods who at the present 
time figure as veritable Molochs before whom our sons 
are made to pass in millions through the fire. 

But there is a further point. Let us for the moment 
take the state in the extended sense which the Hegelians 
assign to it. Let us regard it as the entire fabric of exist- 
ing society. What then is the nature of our obligations 
to this fabric ? What is its authority and its claim upon 
our reason and conscience ? 

The idealist maintains that the customs, traditions and 
institutions of society are the expression of an objective 
mind or spirit. These are contrasted by Hegel with the 
abstractions which the subjective reason evolves, and he 
speaks of the French Revolution as a monstrous display 
of the result of overthrowing the given and existing con- 
stitution of a great actual state, and endeavouring to 
make the mere supposedly rational the basis of a consti- 
tution in place of the historic reality. " Against the 
principle of the individual will we are to remind our- 
selves of the fundamental conception that the objective 
will is rational in its concept, whether it is recognized 
by individuals and willed with pleasure or not." x In 
the same way 3 Dr. Bosanquet tells us that in the system 
of institutions we have objective mind : 

" We have only to repeat what many great men have explained 
at length, that in this world of content, the work of thinking will, 
we have in an external and factual form the body and substance 
of thinking will itself. Here is its concrete and actual content, 
what it finds to affirm in its volition from moment to moment, 
what forms the steps and systematic connections by which its 

Phil, des Rechts, p. 308. 
Principle of Individuality, p. 112. 


self-expression from day to day is linked with enters into 
the total world of its satisfaction in a law which is at once its own 
nature and a high expression of the absolute. What a contrast 
with the abstract formulas of Hedonist or intuitionist axioms ! " 

It comes then to this. The attempts of thinking men 
to conceive and establish a rational order of society are 
mere fantasies of the subjective reason. The actual 
institutions of a given society are the objective reason. 
Society, any society it would seem that ever has been, 
is a higher embodiment of reason than any of the conscious 
reflections of the philosopher or statesman. When we 
think of the actual inconsistencies of traditional social 
morality, the blindness and crudity of law, the elements 
of class-selfishness and oppression that have coloured it, 
the mechanical dullness of state .institutions even at 
their best, the massive misery that has lain at the foun- 
dation of all historic civilizations, we are inclined to say 
that no mere philosopher, but only the social satirist, 
could treat this conception as it deserves. 

But we must endeavour to understand the conception 
on which it rests and the reason why it is wrong. For 
this purpose we may start from the passage in which 
Dr. Bosanquet sums up the theory of state action in the 
Rousseauite formula " sovereignty is the exercise of the 
general will." He justifies this by saying that all state 
action is general ; that is, it consists in customs, laws 
and institutions of general application. And, secondly, 
by saying that " all state action is at bottom the exercise 
of the will," and this is " the real will." To say that 
state action is general 'and that it is willed, is not, how- 
ever, the same thing as to say that it is the exercise of 
a general will. The distinction seems dialectical, but it 
touches the substance of the question. It is true that 
laws and customs are general, but, as general, h6w far are 
they willed ? How far, that is, are they the products of 
an intelligence that has clearly foreseen all their bearings ? 
How far are they the products of a unitary will that has 
taken all social life into its account as a single coherent 
system and thought out the bearings of one part upon 


another ? The answer to this question is, not very far, 
hardly at all. The life of society is not the product of 
coherent thinking by a single mind. On the contrary, 
many customs and institutions, which make up social 
life, have grown up in a detached, sporadic, unconscious, 
often unreasonable fashion, and even the more conscious 
and deliberate ones are rather efforts to correct some 
particular mischief, amend some particular anomaly, than 
clearsighted applications of a governing principle to 
social life as a whole. And so, secondly, when Dr. 
Bosanqutt says that society rests on will, the answer 
is rather that it rests on wills. We seldom find in a great j 
society, as a whole, a will comparable to that in you or 
me relative to our personal ends. When I will a thing 
I clearly see what I mean to do. I have weighed it in 
the balance with its advantages and disadvantages, 
brought it into relation with emotions and desires, some 
of which it may satisfy while others it may thwart, and 
I have in the result identified myself as a whole with a 
particular course or particular object, whatever it may 
be. It is rare that society does anything of this kind 
collectively. The nearest approach is found in a war, 
and for instructive reasons. It is in a war, when pitted 
against others, that the millions of men, constituting a 
society, find themselves to be most distinctly an individual 
whole contending with other individuals, when they 
must win or lose as a whole and make up their minds 
definitely whether the struggle with all its losses is worth 

In the internal developments of a nation, where no j' 
such external pressure exists, it is rare to find decisions \ 
clearly taken by the people as a whole. True, in a 
democratic notion laws are in the end passed by parlia- 
mentary majorities, which may and should represent 
the majority of the nation, but any one who considers 
the actual process of legislation, the steps by which a 
bill reaches the form in which it is ultimately inscribed 
in the statute book, to say nothing of the form in which 
it is really applied by the courts, must recognize that 



it is a process made up of innumerable conflicts of in- 
numerable wills, in which there is every sort of give and 
take, compromise and adjustment, contrasting very 
clearly with the simple and crisp decisions of an individual 
mind. It is true that with political education and the 
development of effective democracy the sphere of intelli- 
gent social control is extended, and it would be a sound 
statement of the democratic ideal to say that it con- 
ceives a possible society regulating its common life by 
common consent, in which a larger and larger proportion 
of its members actively participate until a position be 
reached in which society would control itself as simply 
and effectively as the individual controls himself. This is 
an ideal, and not one very near to realization. Of the 
social structure of any state that exists it is generally 
untrue to say that it is clearly conceived by the minds 
of the majority of those who live in it, and it is profoundly 
untrue to regard the actual development of any society, 
as we have known it in history, as the product of an 
intelligent purpose alone. 1 

Too often it h not the state as a whole which sets definite 
ends before itself. In the normal development of peace- 
time, and for that matter even in the concentrated purpose 
of war- time, there are many sections within the state 
which have each for itself a general will, far more properly 
so called because much more clearly conscious and united 
than any will which permeates the state as a whole. The 
actual institutions of society have been in large measure 
determined by class conflicts, struggles of churches, racial 
wars, and everywhere J here are the marks of the struggles. 
If and in so far as there is any meaning in the term 
" general will " at all, there are many general wills within 
the state, and too often the institutions of society are 
just the result of the victory, resting not on logic but on 
superior organization, which one of these wills has attained 

1 It is remarkable that in another connection Dr. Bosanquet 
writes, " Nothing is properly due to finite mind, as such, which 
never was a plan before any finite mind." Principle of Individuality, 
p. 152. 


over others. Green, who, whatever the idealistic basis 
of his theory, retained his fundamental humanity, saw 
that there were instances in which it was a mere mockery 
to describe the institutions of a state as the realization 
of freedom for all its members, and contended forcibly 
that the requirements of the state have " largely arisen 
out of force directed by selfish motives." It is inter- 
esting to see how Dr. Bosanquet deals with these uncom- 
fortable criticisms. He partly admits their truth, but 
turns the edge of them by insisting on a rational element 
running through the selfishness and shortsightedness of 
the particular wills that have gone to make up the social 
order, dwelling at the same time on the potential and 
implied recognition of the interests of society in the minds 
of its selfish members. If state organization were radically 
and fundamentally well-meaning, and marred only by 
imperfection of insight and inadequacy of means to an 
end, this answer might be sufficient, but in so far as 
civilized society throughout its history has in very large 
measure consisted in the imposition upon the many of 
an order of life wherein the essential benefits are reaped 
by the few, Bosanquet fails to meet the real point of 
Green's challenge. We come back again to the central 
point that the institutions of society are not the outcome 
of a unitary will but of the clash of wills, in which the 
selfishness and generally the bad in human nature is 
constantly operative, intermingled with but not always 
overcome by the better elements. 

The point is very clearly seen in a Note in the chapter 
which follows on p. 296 as to the term " the mind of 
society/' " I neglect for the moment the difference 
between the mind of society and mind at its best. The 
difference is practically considerable, but I shall attempt 
to make it appear in the course of the present chapter 
to be a difference of progress and not of direction." The 
comment to be made on this is that the difference is so 
fundamental that it cannot be neglected even for a moment 
without risk of the most serious fallacy. So far as the 
metaphorical expression " mind of society " can be 


justified at all, it must be said that it is mind at a very 
low stage of its development. In other words, social 
institutions may be regarded as outcomes of a mentality 
of a kind, but that mentality, when viewed in relation 
to the objects which it has to subserve, is of a low type 
compared, let us say, to the mentality of a mother con- 
sidering the welfare of her child. A good mother will 
act with a clear vision and an unselfish prompting for 
the child's good, unmixed with thought of her own. If 
there were a social will which so conceived the good of 
all the vast numbers of human beings affected by social 
institutions, it would be on a level with the mind of the 
mother, and be something much greater than her mind 
in proportion to the vastness of its object. But just 
because the object is so vast and so impersonal, the " social 
mind " falls lamentably short in attaining it, and we may 
rather compare social mentality to the gropings of one 
of the lower orders of animals which shifts itself from 
side to side, straining after a momentary adjustment 
which it does not even distinctly conceive. But even 
in this image we have somewhat overestimated the 
mentality of society, for the animal is after all one, and 
suffers discomfort as a whole. We might think rather 
of the separate tentacles of a sea-anemone, of which 
experiment has shown that one may be educated to reject 
a non-nutritious object while another is still seeking to 
grasp it. 

Dr. Bosanquet speaks of an ideal that one hopes may 
be realized somewhere on the far horizon of human pro- 
gress, but one of the surest ways of arresting that progress 
is to speak as though that horizon had already been 

We have quoted above the passage in which Dr. 
Bosanquet speaks of the habits and institutions of any 
community as "so to speak the standing interpretation 
of all the private wills which compose it." Though an 
imperfect representation of the real will " because every 
set of institutions is an incomplete embodiment of life," 
they are " very much more complete than the explicit 


ideas which at any given instant move any individual mind 
in volition." The logic of such passages is this. The real 
will would work itself out in a harmony of actions. The 
institutions of society produce some kind of order and so 
are a partial embodiment of the real will. But (a) when 
it is said that these institutions are more complete than 
the explicit ideas of individual minds, it seems to be 
forgotten that they may also be very much less explicit, 
much less reasoned out, much less clearly reduced to 
principle than the ideas of a reflecting mind. An individual 
mind may not be able to grasp, and certainly could not 
create the complex of institutions and customs that is 
the work of many millions of minds, but these complex 
customs have in very large measure grown up in a groping, 
unreflective fashion, with little or no reference to any 
general and comprehensive principle of social well-being, 
and to grasp such principles is the work of the reflective 
individual consciousness, which moves on a much higher 
level than the general will, if we adopt for the moment 
Dr. Bosanquet's name for the complex of psychological 
forces which generate and maintain a tradition, (b) When 
Dr. Bosanquet speaks of the institutions of a community 
as the standing interpretation of all the private wills 
that compose it, he speaks as though all society were a 
real working democracy. Of the working of society as 
a whole this is invariably untrue. In ordinary workaday 
life the individual man has simply to accept the fabric 
within which he finds himself a part. Many features in 
it he may resent or dislike, but he has simply to deal 
with them as best he may. And wherever a community 
is governed by one class or one race, the remaining class 
or race is permanently in the position of having to take 
what it can get. To say that the institutions of such a 
society express the private will of the subject class is 
merely to add insult to injury. It was not by the private 
wills of the peasantry of England that their land was 
enclosed. It may be said they did not revolt. The 
answer is that they could not do so with effect, and that 
if, in Bosanquet's language, their real will means the 

expression of what they really wished, they would have 
revolted and prevented it. The actual institutions of a 
society are not the imperfect expression of a real will, 
which is essentially good and harmonious, but the result 
into which the never-ceasing clash of wills has settled 
down with some degree of permanency, and that result 
may embody much less of justice, morality and ration- 
ality than the explicit ideas of many an individual mind. 
As to the problems of social philosophy, Dr. Bosanquet 
has a very easy solution. " The end. of the state, as of 
the individual, is the realization of the best life." As to 
this we may all agree, but Dr. Bosanquet proceeds, " The 
difficulty of denning the best life does not trouble us 
because we rely throughout on the fundamental logic 
of human nature qua rational." Yet it is supposed to 
be the object of philosophy to exhibit this logic, and the 
despised " theorists of the first look " have made it their 
business to do so. They have confessed that the object 
of the state is to consist in realizing a good life, and they 
have sought by reason, that is, by actually following, as 
far as in them lies, the logic of human nature, to ascertain 
the principles of the best life and the way in which these 
principles should be realized in society. Dr. Bosanquet 
professes to skip all that, which is in effect to take the 
substance out of social philosophy. The underlying 
explanation of this is the fundamental conservatism of 
the idealistic attitude. The idealist sees the good or the 
rational realized in the existing order, not perfectly, he 
would admit, but in its essential outlines. The rationalist 
approaches the existing order with an unbiassed mind, 
and testing it by inquiry, he finds in it elements of radical 
good and radical evil blended. Tha reason for this blend 
goes right back to the roots of social and mental evolution ; 
it rests on the fact that society i? precisely not the outcome 
of one real will but of millions and millions of wills 
through the generations. In these millions and millions 
of wills there is a social element working. There are 
elements of idealism, sparks of justice, uniting threads 
of human kindness, and there are also selfishness and vanity 


and pride and hardness, corporate and collective as well 
as individual, and these elements acting upon one another 
make up the piebald pattern of human society. 

To sum up. The conception of social institutions as 
objective reason annuls the function of reason in human 
society. It teaches the man who would think about 
social order, who would try to work back from it to 
some set of ethical principles commending themselves to 
rational reflection, that in seeking to reason he is sinning 
against reason. He is to realize that in society he is in 
the presence of a being infinitely higher than himself, 
contemplating a reason much more exalted than his own. 
His business is not to endeavour to remodel society, 1 but 
to think how wonderfully good and rational is the social 
life that he knows, with its Pharisees and publicans, its 
gin-palaces, its millions of young men led out to the 
slaughter, and he is to give thanks daily that he is a 
rational being and not merely as the brutes that perish. 
And, having so given thanks, he is to do his duty in that 
state of life to which it has pleased the state-god to call 
him. The root of this conception is the common self. 
It is the notion that one mind, one will vastly greater 
than yours or mine, constitutes the life and directs the 
course of each organized society. Against this concep- 
tion both philosophy and science may protest, philo- 
sophy claiming the ultimate right of reason, the conscious 
reason which each individual may and must acquire 
for himself, to criticize the established fact and to form 
its own ideal for the best life that is within its power; 
science on the ground that human society, as it has grown 
up, is the product of unnumbered wills, of their clash as 
well as their harmony. We may say truly that ethical 
philosophy cannot construct the state without reference 
to the established fact. We must start from the place 
in which we find ourselves. We must understand society, 
know how it works, before we can improve it. Science 
must be added to philosophy before we can have a social 

1 For Hegel philosophy comes after reality, and has merely to 
interpret it. Phil, des Rechts, p. 20. 


art ; and if this had been their line of criticism, much 
of what the idealists from Hegel onwards have had to 
say about the shortsighted revolutionaries might have 
been justified. But this is not their point of view. They 
use the failures, the wrongs, and the wilful dogmatism 
of some social philosophers to discredit philosophy itself, 
and with it all genuine reason. 

But now, it may be asked, if we deny the ultimate 
authority of law, custom and tradition, what do we set 
in its place ? We make political obligation subordinate 
to moral obligation. But what is moral obligation ? 
The details of political obligation are written down in 
a code of law or incorporated in judicial decisions, or 
more vaguely, but still with sufficient precision, in the 
customs and understandings of society. This is the 
concrete rule of life which Hegel calls Sittlichkeit. Apart 
from some fringes of uncertainty, where there is a latitude 
of interpretation, it is something objective and impersonal. 
When a man refuses to recognize it, on what authority 
does he fall back ? In many historic cases the answer 
has been that in place of the law of the state or the custom 
of society, a rebel has appealed to the law of God or 
the church. In the case of the church he is appealing 
from one society to another society, from the secular to 
the spiritual, from the supposedly lower, therefore, to 
the supposedly higher. And, if the appeal is not to the 
church but to God, it has been the belief of many men 
that the written word of God is n.o less clear or certain 
than the written law of the state. In the case of the 
appeal to the church we have a conflict, not between 
one organized socisty and the individual, but between 
one organized society and another ; and historically men 
have attempted to solve the difficulties which have 
arisen on one of three possible lines, by making the church 
subordinate to the state, by making the state subordinate 
to the church, or by an attempt to delimit the affairs 
of the church and the state, a compromise which has on 
the whole been accepted in the modern world, which in 
the main has found the means of compelling the citizen 


to render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's, while 
allowing him to render unto God the things which he 
believes to be God's. Both in practice and theory this 
demarcation, if not finally satisfactory, is at least a better 
solution than either of the alternatives. For, on the 
one side, in so far as the church rules by a spiritual 
influence, its authority is morally the higher. Every 
church worthy of the name is in principle that which 
the idealist falsely maintains the state to be : a society 
founded upon principles laying down what are believed 
to be the conditions of a good and righteous life. If 
any church had in fact succeeded in grasping the entire 
spiritual meaning of life, its authority would be absolute 
and it would absorb the state as a subordinate branch. 
But as churches, like other human associations, are 
fallible, and as they are founded upon principles which 
are obscure and upon which, therefore, men differ, it has 
not in point of fact been found possible to place govern- 
ment and citizenship in a free society on the basis of a 
common acknowledgment of certain dogmas of religion. 
Thus the maintenance of certain common requisites of 
social life has either been kept out or has passed out of 
the hands of the church. With regard to these common 
requisites, the state will exert an authority against or 
over the authority of any church to which its members 
may happen to belong. Hence the necessity of defining 
as closely as possible the common requisites for the sake 
of which the state must exercise compulsion even in 
defiance of spiritual authority, (i) The state, as the 
organized power of the community, is the guarantor of 
the rights of all its members and will not allow a wrong 
to be done to any one of them in the name of any other 
authority. The state is fallible and may err in its 
definition of rights as in other things, but it is its business 
to form the best judgment in this matter according to 
its lights, and, having formed it, to enforce it. (2) The 
state operates through universal laws, and it may find 
that objects essential to the common welfare, even to 
the common existence, cannot be secured if exceptions 


are admitted in such cases. Again, as a guardian of the 
common existence, the state is within its right in exact- 
ing conformity. The other side of this principle, perhaps 
more readily forgotten, is that it is only whi;n universal 
conformity is provedly necessary that compulsion is 
justified in overriding religious conviction. 

But let us a: sume bona fides on both sides, and let 
us suppose that every effort has been made on the part 
of the state to reduce its requirements to its lowest terms, 
and on the part of the church to equate its spiritual 
teaching with the temporal duties of the citizen. None 
the less, as we are dealing with fallible human beings 
in a complex world, there is always a marginal possi- 
bility of conflict. In case of such conflict it is not possible 
to say a priori that either the state is right or the church 
is right. It is a case of one association of fallible human 
beings against another. Each owes a certain consider- 
ation to the other. The state is bound to respect religious 
conviction, the church to have regard for the value of 
law and order in society. But when the last word has 
been said and those responsible for the state can see no 
other way to the preservation of social order or national 
existence but the enforcement of a given law upon all 
citizens regardless of creed, then those responsible for 
the state, and all citizens as owing allegiance to the state, 
are bound to act in accordance with their final judgment, 
fallible as it may be, of what is necessary to social pre- 
servation. And similarly, the churchman, when he has 
taken the state's point of view fully into account and 
weighed it in the scale against his own law, if he can find 
no way of escaping from the spiritual duty incumbent 
upon him, seems bound to take the risks, moral as well 
as legal, of disobedience. 

There is indeed a court of appeal. There is an objective 
moral order underlying all disputes, an order which if 
once apprehended would settle all controversies. But, 
unless and- until this objective order is apprehended 
and agreed upon by men, moral conflicts will not cease. 
Appeal indeed is always open until agreement is reached. 


New facts and new arguments are never barred, and no 
opinion is to be silenced ; but if no clear verdict is col- 
lected and both parties remain firm in their conviction, 
there is nothing for it but that the case should go to 
the ordeal, the barbaric ordeal of endurance. That this 
is a satisfactory solution no one would contend, but it 
is better to recognize frankly that in the region of ultimate 
moral conflict each party is bound by its own conviction 
than to obscure the issue by such subterfuges as the con- 
tention that true freedom would consist in subordination. 
What has been said of the possible conflict between 
church and state, which now has for the most part only 
a historic interest, is also applicable in principle to con- 
flicts between the state and the individual which have 
a present, and, it is to be feared, a future significance of 
a tragic kind. The difference is that where the church- 
man pleads the recognized law of an organized body, the 
individual pleads his conscience. We are thus brought 
to the question of the rights of conscience, their reality 
and their limitations. In a simpler time, and in our 
own time to the more simple-minded men, conscience 
can be taken as the voice of God within and its deliver- 
ances may be fortified by an appeal to the written word 
of God without. So conceived, conscience is as much 
above state law in authority as it is below it in power ; 
but in a sceptical age men realize more fully that there 
is a subjective element in conscience. Consciences differ, 
and the word of God, even if we take it to be an inspired 
document, is manifestly liable to the greatest diversities 
of interpretation. What I call my conscience is my final 
judgment, when all things bearing on the situation have 
been summed up, of my right and my duty. This judg- 
ment, common experience and psychological analysis 
will alike show, is in part dependent on idiosyncrasies 
of my own, on special experiences that have impressed 
me, on emotional tendencies that make me attach more 
weight to one thing and less to another, on partial appli- 
cation of principles, on obscurity of ideas. Conscience, 
then, would seem to have but little final authority. It 


falls short of the objectivity attached to law and the 
social tradition. How can it be set up as a standard 
of nonconformity in some vital matter ? The answer 
of the individual in the first place is that conscience may 
be a poor thing, but it is his own ; and the answer of the 
moral law must be that, though there may be many 
errors incident to the principle that men should do 
ultimately what is right in their own eyes, yet, if they do 
anything else than what is right in their own eyes, there 
is no moral law at all. Moral action is action in con- 
formity with an inward principle, an action that the 
agent considers to be right and performs because he 
believes it to be right. If people are required to give 
up what they consider to be right, morality is annulled. 
May a man act, then, without regard to law or the 
judgment of others ? On the contrary, what experience 
in practical matters will often teach him is that others 
are wiser than he, what morality will teach him is that 
the law which is right for him must in principle be a law 
of universal application, holding for all men similarly 
situated. What duty and practical sense will combine 
to show him is that he is a man among many, a member 
of an organized society, and if morality teaches him that 
he must do what he thinks good, it inculcates at the same 
time that what is good for him must be a common good. 
Nevertheless, he is in the end to stand by his judgment 
of the nature of the common good and the means by 
which it is to be realized. Once given, as in the case of 
the churchman, that he has well and truly weighed all 
that law and society have to say, that he has taken into 
account the limitations of his own experience and the 
fallibility of his own judgment as one weak individual 
opposed perhaps to the millions of all organized society ; 
when he has then asked himself frankly if it is not his 
final duty to waive his first judgment, to stifle the inw r ard 
prompting from respect for an outward order built up by 
the organized efforts of men, valuable in itself and en- 
dangered if any one rebels against it ; when, having duly 
tested the case in a spirit of humility, he has nevertheless 


come finally to the conclusion that, all said and done, 
the obligation is upon him to disobey, then, as a free 
agent, nonconformity is his only course. 

It should be observed that when we say he is right 
in following this course our proposition has two meanings, 
which must not be confused. To disentangle them, let 
us for a moment put ourselves on the side of the state. 
Let us suppose the state is justified in its behest, that 
if we were gods knowing good and evil, we should give 
our verdict on the side of the state, then in that sense 
and from that point of view, the nonconformist is clearly 
wrong just as, if the verdict were given the other way, 
he would be clearly right. But even in the case where 
he is wrong in one sense he is also right in another. It 
is right that he should do what he thinks right although, 
as it happens, he thinks wrong ; the ultimate reason of 
this is that, though by so acting he is wrong on occasion, 
if he acted otherwise as a matter of principle he would 
never do right at all, and if every one so acted, right and 
wrong as moral terms would disappear. And by the 
same reasoning, the state, in so far as it holds itself trustee 
for the final good of society, will recognize that it is better 
for its members to be free men who will from time to 
time give trouble by mistakes of judgment, than con- 
forming persons with whom everything is smooth because 
they never think at all. For this reason the state will 
avoid coercion of conscience up to the last resort, but 
once again, as in the case of the church, we have to admit 
as correlative to the ultimate right of conscience, an 
ultimate right of coercion. The state, a fallible organi- 
zation of fallible men, has nevertheless to act according 
to its lights for the safety of the whole. Where it can 
see no escape from a universal rule, where this rule would 
be frustrated by individual acts of disobedience, where 
by disobeying A would in its judgment do a wrong to B, 
there in the end it has to exercise constraint, and there 
seems to be no appeal. The judgment of mankind may 
ultimately say that the state was wrong, but even so 
it will have to extend to the state the same charity which 


is due to the nonconforming individual. If the state 
acted bona fide by its best lights, it could do no better. 
What the state has no right to do is to exercise cruelty 
or insult. It has no right to place the conscientious 
objector on a level with the felon or to use the weapon 
of derision, contumely and degradation. 1 

It may be asked finally whether the duty which we 
have recognized in a subordinate place of surrendering 
our judgment to that of others and in particular to the 
organized will of society, is not of a more authoritative 
character. If conscience is not the voice of God, why 
should we attach so much importance to what one or 
two individuals happen to think ? Does not the wisdom 
of our ancestors, enshrined in institutions, supply a better 
test of truth ? What social value attaches to individ- 
uality ? The answer is that the individual, fallible and 
weak as he may be in his isolation, is still the centre of 
a rich diversity of relations, of which his relation to a 
society claiming his allegiance is only a part. The 
organized system of life only covers a portion of the 
ground. What is recognized and formulated is but a 
fragment of living experience. Every individual draws 
from deeper wells of being than those revealed in current 

1 In the actual controversy with the conscientious objectors to 
military service the state has definitely put itself in the wrong. 
For a mechanism was devised for exempting the small number 
of men whose principles were perfectly well known and who could 
not be expected to change them on demand without incurring 
personal dishonour. This mechanism was such as to leave the 
general obligation to service untouched, and the refusal of the hand- 
ful of objectors in no way obstructed the organization of the 
man-power of the country as a whole. But the machinery was 
not consistently applied, with the result that some conscientious 
objectors were left unmolested and others sentenced to long and 
repeated terms of rigorous imprisonment. This is state action 
at its worst, arbitrary, inconsistent and vindictive, and persistent 
in its wickedness. I rejoice to read in Dr. Bosanquet's new volume 
that " the conscientious objector will follow his conscience to the 
end, and if we believe him to be sincere we all respect him for it." 
I rejoice, but with some bewilderment, for I cannot fuse the spirit 
of this remark (and of some others in Social and International Ideals) 
with the general spirit of The Philosophical Theory of the State. 


speech and custom. If we do not any longer think of 
him as directly in converse with God, we can think of 
him as a part of nature, the product physically and 
spiritually of a long ancestral line of development, sus- 
ceptible to emotional and ideal suggestions from all 
manner of experience. If it is through all these that 
error comes, it is always through one individual that 
each new truth first comes, and it is better for society 
in the end to be exposed to many errors than to run the 
risk of losing one truth. Given freedom of discussion 
and even of experiment in living, errors will reveal them- 
selves for what they are, and sometimes, the husk being 
stripped off, the kernel of truth will be found within them. 
What the state has to prevent is the emergence of error 
is such a form as will destroy society, and that is one 
reason why the dictum of Hegel is profoundly false that 
the claim to say and write what you will is parallel to 
the right to do what you will. If nonsense is freely 
uttered and freely controverted, it will reveal that it is 
nonsense. What is true will be found not by silencing error 
but by confuting it, and in its regard for the individual, 
however troublesome he may be, the state is conserving 
the conditions of its own progress. The line between 
speech and action is not always clear, but the difference 
of principle is not obscure. A man may claim a right 
which invades the rights of another or paralyses the 
organized effort of the community. In the former case 
the right claimed by A is resented as a wrong by B, and 
the state is in its proper sphere in judging between them, 
deciding where right lies and seeing the limit is not over- 
stepped. In the latter the recalcitrance of one man might 
wreck the purpose, perhaps endanger the safety of a 
community. The community has a right through the 
state to protect itself against such injury. Where both 
these grounds fail the state has no right to put compul- 
sion upon conscience. Where there is no question of 
conscience the limits of state activity are matters of 
convenience, good organization and the relative merits 
of individual spontaneity and collective regulation 



THE idealistic conception of the state has sometimes 
figured as an organic theory of society. In the form given 
to it by Green this description is not unjust, for to Green, 
the ethical basis of the state is a common good, which 
at the same time is the good of each individual citizen. 
The state rests, for Green, on a mutual recognition of 
rights, rights being for each the conditions under which 
he can live the best life. We have here bej'-ond doubt 
the elements of an organic theory, or, if the term be pre- 
, ferred, of a harmony between the state and the individual. 
Now such a harmony, it is only fair to say, is contemplated 
by Hegel himself as the true relation between the state 
and the individuals which compose it. The individual, he 
says, 1 " must, in the fulfilment of his duties, in some way 
or other at the same time find his own interest, his satisfac- 
tion, and from his relations ii the state a right must accrue 
to him whereby the universal interest (Sache) is his own 
particular interest. The particular interest should not 
actually be set aside or altogether suppressed, but put 
into agreement with the universal, whereby both it and the 
universal are sustained." And again, " All turns on the 
unity of the universal and particular in the state " ; and 
in this the modern state is distinguished from the ancient. 
This points to the true ideal, but unfortunately there 
is nowhere in Hegel a clear distinction between the 
ideal and the actual. The idealistic habit of talking 
of " the state " as though there were only one type that 

1 Phil, des Rechts, p. 317. 


is real, while all existing instances may be regarded as 
merely casual and secondary aberrations, bars the way 
to a frank exposition of the contrast of which in experience 
we are painfully aware between that which might be and 
that which is. 

Hegel recognizes bad states, but he deals with them 
very summarily. " The state (p. 339) is actual (wirklich) 
and its actuality consists in this, that the interest of the 
whole realizes itself in the particular aims. ... In so far 
as this unity is absent, a thing is not actual, even if its 
existence might be assumed. A bad state is such a one 
as merely exists. A sick body also exists, but it is no true 
reality." Thus in place of asking to what extent it is really 
true that individual and universal interests coincide and 
what we are to do when they are palpably in conflict, 
how we are to cure the sick state and what is the duty of 
the individual when he finds himself unable to do so, we 
find the whole question waved aside by a radically unsound 
distinction between reality and existence. A sick body, 
as the sufferer has too much reason to know, is as hard a 
reality as a sound body, and if Hegel's criterion of reality 
were to be accepted, no state that is or has ever been is 
real. Regard the harmonic conception of society as an 
ideal and you give us something to work for, regard it as 
something actually realized and you confuse every issue 
of practical reform and theoretic right. In particular, 
in the notion that the state has the authority of a common 
self standing above the individual, we have a principle 
which may but too easily develop into a complete denial 
of the organic conception, because, instead of recognizing 
that the value of the state lies in its service to the har- 
monious development of all its component members, 
it subordinates that development in each and therefore 
in all to the fictitious whole which contains them but is 
not them. 

Had Hegel carried through the organic conception 
of the state, he would have found room for the conception 
of liberty, equality and democracy ; but his state system 
is a negation of all these. By an inconsistency which goes 



to the root of his whole metaphysical argument, he 
suddenly declares that the personality of the state is 
only real as a person, a monarch (p. 359). The monarch 
at one point appears as little more than the figure-head. 
If the constitution is fixed and formed, he has often nothing 
to do but to sign his name (p. 363). It is wrong to 
demand objective qualities of the monarch. He has 
only to say " yes " and to dot the i (p. 365). And so 
there is no objection to his being chosen in "a natural 
way " through natural birth (p. 364). An election of 
a ruler by popular choice will be something dependent 
on the opinions and expressions of the many and is gener- 
ally opposed to the idea of " Sittlichkeit " (p. 367). Yet 
this monarch, who is only to dot the i and requires no 
objective qualities, may in short be a fool or a brute, is 
to have the choice of counsellors responsible for the govern- 
ment, in his unlimited caprice (Willkur, p. 370). 

To ask for consistency in these deliverances would 
no doubt be censured by Hegel as a demand of reflective 
reasoning. But if the king may be a fool, whose caprice 
may yet determine the government of the state, the 
opinion of the people is allowed no such latitude. The 
people, without the monarch and the articulation of 
the whole into ranks, classes, corporations and so forth, 
is the formless mass which is no longer a state (p. 360). 
That the organization of the people as a voting power 
might be a necessary corrective of the social divisions 
incident to a large and developed society, does not seem 
to have suggested itself to Hegel. The people, as far as 
that word expresses a special portion of the members of 
the state, is that portion which does not know what it 
wants (p. 386). Special interests should be represented, 
but to let the many elect representatives is to give hostages 
to accident (p. 398). Goethe is quoted with approval 
as saying that " the masses can fight. There they are 
respectable. Their judgment is miserable," or, as the 
modern German phrase puts it, they are " cannon fodder." 
Public opinion always contains an underlying truth, 
but is always false in its expression. It must be as much 


despised as respected (p. 403). It contains all error and 
truth, and to find the truth in it is the work of the great 
man (p. 404). We must not ask the people themselves 
what they think apparently, but we must tell them what 
they think. The principal guarantee of the freedom 
of the press is the guarantee of contempt. The claim to 
say and write what one will is parallel to the freedom to 
do what one will (p. 404). The landowning class is alone 
suited for participation in political power on account of 
its property, which secures it both against the government 
and against the uncertainty of trade (pp. 391-2). 

From all this we can see how much participation in 
the general will means for the ordinary individual in the 
Hegelian scheme. Those who have taken the Hegelian 
conception as a stable framework for democracy on the 
ground that simple membership of the community involves 
a share in the common self, would be condemned by Hegel 
himself for adherence to an abstract conception ; even the 
rational, thinking element within the common man is to be 
elicited for him by the great man, the ruler or the law. He 
is to be told what he thinks. It may be admitted that 
these are not necessary consequences of the doctrine of 
the common self ; they are not even natural consequences. 
It would be more reasonable to expect of a thinker who 
started from the spiritual unity of society that he would, 
with Green, insist upon including the humblest along 
with the highest in the moral unity and would emphasize 
that which the common man has to contribute no less than 
that which he has merely to accept. He would, in the 
spirit of Green, lay bare the elements of a higher meaning, 
the filaments, however incompletely developed, that bind 
the humble man to the whole to which he belongs, the 
half- understood emotions and desires in which higher 
and wider purposes are implied. It would be unfair to 
deny that in Hegel himself there are hints of such a 
development of thought. That they are not carried out 
is a consequence traceable in the end to that conception 
of will as having its freedom in determination by a principle 
rather than in a harmony of impulses which we found to 


be the starting-point of the Hegelian conception of the 

The state being the individual writ large, its own inde- 
pendence is the primary condition of its internal life and 
indeed of its freedom (p. 409). And for this reason it 
imposes an absolute sacrifice on the individual when it is 
necessary to maintain it. Hegel finds in this circumstance 
a contradiction of the view that the end of the state is 
the security of life and property of individuals, because 
he says this security would not be reached by the sacrifice 
of that which was to be secured (p. 410), as though the 
life of some might not willingly be offered up for the well- 
being of othersj However, in the security of the state 
lies the " ethical moment " of war, which is to be regarded 
as not an absolute evil or as merely an external accident 
(p. 410). Its good side is that it compels us to risk life 
and property. We hear much in the pulpit of the 
insecurity, the vanity and instability of temporal things, 
but each of us thinks that he will still hold his own. If, 
however, the insecurity comes " in the form of hussars," 
this readiness to forsake all turns into curses on the con- 
querors. We are apparently to think it is positively good 
if not only our property but also the lives of those dearest 
to us should be destroyed from time to time by the god- 
state in order to teach us the vanity of earthly affections. 
This is one advantage of war. Another is that it inculcates 
discipline and moral soundness. People who will not 
endure sovereignty within are brought under the heel of 
others (pp. 411-13). Kant's proposal of a League of 
Peace is specifically repudiated. Those know little of the 
spirit of the people who think that they can make a 
whole along with others (p. 409) (as e.g. the proud Scot 
has made with the Englishman), and even if a number of 
states can make themselves into a family, this union as 
an individuality would create an opposite and engender 
an enemy (p. 412). That in all this argument Hegel 
is in touch with some dismal realities must be admitted. 
War, like other public calamities, does teach sacrifice 
to some who did not know it before. It does impose 


discipline and make democracy difficult. Wider unions 
are hard to achieve and most easily consolidated by a 
common enemy. A great humanitarian thinker, like 
Kant, is not unaware of these grave disharmonies in 
human life and in the social order. The peculiar vice of 
Hegel is that to him they are part of the ideal and they 
receive a non-moral justification from the inhuman con- 
ception of the state as a god with a life of its own, reckless 
of the fibres of human feeling that it rends and mangles 
to assist its vital processes, devouring its children. Yet 
the conception of the selfhood of the state is not even 
carried through with consistency. The state is a self- 
dependent totality (p. 417), and yet it cannot be an actual 
individual without relation to other states. The inter- 
state relations are necessarjr, therefore, to the existence of 
each state. As these states are spiritual beings, one would 
suppose that their relations were of spiritual and, a fortiori, 
of moral and legal character. Not at all. When we 
consider their relations their dependence on one another 
vanishes, and they are put above the moral law. Their 
relation is other than one of mere morality or private law. 
Private persons have a court over them. State relations 
should be of a legal kind (rcchtlich), but, as there is no 
power above them to decide what is right, we are here 
merely in the region of what should be. States may make 
a stipulation between one another, but at the same time 
stand above this stipulation, or, as the current phrase 
goes, their treaties are scraps of paper. As there are no 
judges, disputes must be decided by war, and the causes 
of war are quite indeterminate. The state must judge 
for itself what it will treat as a matter of honour, and is 
the more inclined to susceptibility (Rcizbarkeit) in this 
respect, the more a strong individuality is driven, through 
a long internal peace, to seek and procure for itself some 
matter for activity beyond its bounds (p. 420). Thus 
there seems no moral limit to the restless ambition of 
this god. He should in some sense have regard to right 
in dealing with his fellow-gods, but he may be expected 
to disregard this recommendation when he is conscious 


of his own strength, and he need not even wait for any 
actual injury. The idea of a threatening danger is sufficient. 
Anticipatory wars are justified (p. 420). Nor is the state 
to be guided by any philanthropic conception in war. It 
is to think of its own well-being, the well-being of the state 
having a quite other justification than that of the individual. 
It is only the state's concrete existence, not any of the 
general conceptions that are thought of as moral com- 
mands, that can be taken as the principle of its action 
(p. 421). In only one respect has Hegel failed to anticipate 
the whole practice of modern Germany, and that is that he 
lays down that the relations of states remain in war and 
that, in war the possibility of peace is preserved. It is 
not waged against inner institutions, family and private 
life. And this is why modern wars are humanely con- 
ducted. With this amiable inconsistency, in which Hegel 
seems to fail to interpret the spirit of his own teaching, 
we may take leave of the Hegelian state, having seen 
perhaps enough of it to recognize the germ of the colossal 
suffering of Europe and of the backward movement that 
went so far to arrest the civilizing tendencies of the 
eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. 

Dr. Bosanquet follows Hegel in conceiving the state as 
necessarily one unity among others, a conception which 
rules out the possibility of a world-state. " We have 
hitherto (p. 184) spoken of the state and society as almost 
convertible terms." Having said this, Bosanquet pro- 
ceeds to a definition of the state. " By the state, then, 
we mean society as a unit recognized as rightly exercising 
control over its members through absolute physical 
power." Questions arise here as to the unit, as to the term 
" recognize " and as to the term " rightly." 

First as to the unit. The limits of this Bosanquet admits 
" to be determined by what looks like historical accident." 
But he contends that there is " logic underneath the 
apparent accident." This so-called logic may be nothing 
but physical force. What logic incorporated Alsace- 
Lorraine with Germany ? Bribery incorporated the 
Irish with the British Parliament. If it is untrue to say 


with Treitschke that force alone has built up states, it is 
equally false to shut our eyes to the fact that force has 
had a great deal to do with the building up of a great 
many states. 

But there is perhaps a more fundamental point. Bosan- 
quet regards the state as necessarily a unit among others 
(p. 185). " A single independent corporation among other 
independent corporations." If it is of the essence of the 
state, as Hegel certainly thought and as Bosanquet seems 
to think, to be one among many, then society is always 
something wider than the state. Bosanquet thinks that 
the area of the state should be as great as is " compatible 
with the unity of experience which is demanded by effective 
self-government." In reality there is no such thing as 
a unity of experience as between the members of a state 
contrasted with the lack of unity as between members of 
different states. In the civilized world the ramifications 
of mutual influence are not bounded by a frontier, but the 
whole is potentially one society, and for many purposes 
the relations between corresponding classes of different 
states are closer than the relations between very different 
classes within the same state. Instead of denning the 
state, then, as society, we should speak of it as a society, 
and the difference is much greater than it appears. " A " 
society is simply a particular organization which may be 
of great value but which yet might be destroyed and leave 
society standing. The ultimate obligations of man as a 
social being are not to any particular society, but to 
society as such. 

Next the state is recognized. We may well ask, By 
whom ? Must it be recognized by all its members ? If not 
recognized as rightly exercising control by some consider- 
able section of its members, does it cease to be a state ? 
And what are the limits, if any, of political obligation in 
this direction ? The question seems unanswerable unless 
you refer politics back to ethics. A disobedient section 
will probably put forward certain claims of right which 
they say that the state that exercises authority over them 
ignores. If these claims of right are ethically well founded, 


then their denial of the right of the state to exercise control 
appears to be justified, and if not, not. So far then from 
the rights being derivable from the state, the moral 
authority of the state rests upon the validity of the rights 
which it asserts. 

With this we pass to the third point, of the state as 
rightly exercising control over its members through 
absolute physical power. The state has absolute physical 
power in the sense that it can inflict imprisonment, torture 
or death if it has an army and a police force, but how 
far does it do so rightly ? Here again we have a question 
that runs back to ethics. The states in the modern world 
which claim to be free owe much of their history to the 
protest of individuals, classes or churches against various 
applications of physical force which they have denied 
to be right applications. In a word, Dr. Bosanquet's 
definition is an intermixture of moral considerations with 
questions of fact, just those questions which it is the 
business of philosophy to disentangle. 

Dr. Bosanquet goes on to say that every individual 
must belong to one state and one only because there must 
be some power which makes the ultimate adjustment of 
claims. What is the one state to which a Canadian 
belongs ? Is it Canada or is it the British Empire ? In 
all working relations of the Canadian's life it is Canada, 
and the Canadian law and Canadian custom with which 
he is in contact. To the non-British world he is simply 
a British subject and the relations of Canada as a whole 
are principally, though not wholly, adjusted by the 
British Empire. It may be said that the British Parlia- 
ment delegated the bulk of its rights to the Dominion 
Parliament and can resume them. As a fact it can 
certainly do nothing of the kind, and the realities of the 
situation are only expressed by admitting a dual state, 
a dual loyalty, which under certain circumstances might 
give rise to sharp conflict. All this is very intelligible 
if we simply understand the state as an organization 
coming into being for certain purposes and capable of 
being adapted, expanded, changed, and even abolished, 


as may suit those particular purposes. In modern 
political structure the interweaving of such organizations 
is playing a growing part. And it is of practical as well 
as theoretical importance that this growth should not 
be checked by overdrawn distinctions between what is a 
state and what is not a state. 

The limits of the state which can achieve the kind of 
individuality required appear to Dr. Bosanquet to admit 
of simple statement. " The nation-state is the widest 
organization which has a common experience necessary 
to found a common life." We have already criticized 
Dr. Bosanquet 's conception of the limitation of common 
experience to the boundaries of any state short of humanity 
as a whole. That any philosopher should suggest that the 
nation-state is the last word in political development is 

In the first place the identity of the nation with the 
state is perhaps not perfectly realized in any single known 
political community, while the divergencies in many 
political communities constitute one of the acute standing 
problems of most modern states. The only value of the 
term "nation-state " is that it serves as a mark of distinc- 
tion on the one hand from the city-state of antiquity and 
on the other hand of the purely non-national empire, while 
it further indicates the kind of ideal to which the more 
fortunate political societies approximate and to which 
closer approximation is requisite if the problems referred 
to above are to be solved. These problems, however, are 
insoluble if the state is the unity on which Bosanquet 
insists. They are soluble only by recognizing detached 
allegiances within the state. Austria, for example, solved 
one of her difficulties fifty years ago by dualism. She 
may solve her present difficulties by trialism or possibly 
quadruplism. If her statesmen begin by saying that 
there must be one Austro-Hungarian state, to which 
Czech, Slovene, Croat and Serb owe unqualified allegiance, 
then .the future for Austria holds no prospect but the 
continued menace of warfare. 

In the Introduction to his second edition Dr. Bosanquet 


seems to have modified his view of the limitation of the 
state to the boundaries of the nation. " How far even 
the absolute power of any one group in relation to indi- 
viduals within it may be interfered with by constitutional 
tradition or by a conflict of authorities ... or by inter- 
national courts or leagues, is a question of degree and 
detail. . . . There is therefore no technical difficulty in 
the modification of the nation-state towards larger forms 
of authoritative co-operation so long as it is made clear 
to what system of authorities every separate human being 
is subject in respect to the ultimate adjustment of claims 
upon him." 

Finally, in his recent book Social and International 
Ideals, he carries the subject further by a discussion of the 
idea of the League of Nations, which has now become a 
matter of practical politics. Each state, we are now told, 
is " a member of an ethical family of nations, so far at 
least as the European world is concerned " we can hardly 
suppose Dr. Bosanquet intends to exclude America and 
other civilized nations and Mazzini's doctrine is accepted 
that each state has its individual mission, furnishing its 
specific contribution to human life. Fundamentally this 
mission is discharged by the right performance on the part 
of each state of its internal function, the maintenance of 
the conditions of a good life, and an entire chapter is given 
to the development of the thesis that, if each state would 
look at home and reform itself, there would be no conflict 
of states and no wars. As a remedy for war, this is a little 
like the proposal that each man should reform himself as 
a remedy for social injustice. It is quite true that, if 
every one would reform himself, injustices would disappear, 
and similarly, if every state would reform itself, conflicts 
of states would disappear, but what is to happen if one 
or two or three states cultivate their own gardens, while 
other states cast covetous eyes on these gardens ? That 
is the question which exercises the supporters of the 
League of Nations, who find in the requirement for internal 
reform nothing but a pious platitude as long as security 
against external disturbance is not guaranteed. 


Dr. Bosanquet contends that beyond the state " there 
is no organized moral world," and that an organized 
moral world involves a unity which must grow out of a 
pervading will. 1 The advocate of the League of Nations 
will reply that he is seeking to establish an organized 
moral world, such as may give expression to the pervading 
desire for peace. Dr. Bosanquet answers 3 that " though 
you may find several communities desiring peace and 
though they make a league to enforce it, their general 
wills taken together are not one will ; that is, they have 
not in common the same object or views of life." It will 
be found that the real bond in a league of communities 
will be the bond of force. There will be a solid foundation 
for international unity only if there is a prevailing general 
will. This cannot be effected by setting up a machinery. 
The machinery must be a consequence, not the cause. 
Whether a true general will can in fact be realized in an 
area " exceeding what has generally been called the 
territories of a nation " is a problem for the future. 
The essential thing for the present is to insist that 
" the foundation of all sound political thinking is the 
supremacy of absolute values in the self-moulded life 
of the community." 

The entire argument rests at bottom on an assertion 
of distinction in kind where there is only distinction of 
degree. The unity of the will in the state, except as an 
expression of a partial agreement for certain purposes, is, 
as we have seen, a fiction. The state itself frequently 
transcends what has been usually called the territories 
of a nation. The British Empire consists of many nations 
and many dependencies, but it has been shown to act 
together for certain purposes with great effect. Should 
it seek to unify itself for other purposes, it would be 
wrecked. Why cannot all civilized humanity then unite 
itself for some purposes and not others ? Such a union, 
for Dr. Bosanquet, is mere machinery. We may agree 
that without a will to back it, the machinery would be 
unavailing. But Dr. Bosanquet himself admits the 
1 P. 313- * P. 314- 


converse proposition that the will would be unavailing 
without the machinery. What are those to do who have 
the will and desire to cultivate it ? What can they do 
but endeavour to persuade others to agree with them in 
setting up the institutions required to express that will ? 
If they get their way, the will has won its first victory. 
It has so far * established itself, and that is the first step 
to consolidation. The machinery, Dr. Bosanquet objects, 
involves force, but the state itself involves force. In 
the procedure of the state we do not wait until every one 
agrees. We win enough agreement to make possible the 
application of force to the remainder who differ. 

Dr. Bosanquet 's discussion brings out the contrast 
between the metaphysical way of regarding social problems 
and the way which is at once ethical and scientific, or, in 
a word, practical. The metaphysical method says that 
in the state there is a real self and beyond it there are 
only external and mechanical relations. The practical 
spirit says men are involved in innumerable relations 
with their fellows, which require organization because, if 
unorganized, they are left to anarchy and disaster. All 
sorts of different organizations are required to deal with 
the different relations of men. They must be united for 
some purposes and left free for others. One sphere of 
life may be controlled by one organization and another 
by another, and both organizations may in turn be brought 
as parts within some common organization for certain 
purposes. Where there is to be unity and where there 
is to be freedom, what purposes are to be assigned to one 
organization and what to another, these are questions 
to be determined with such wisdom and foresight as 
we can win from experience in practical affairs. The 
utmost plasticity is required in adapting the form of 
organization to the multiplicity of human requirements. 
What ruins everything is the conception of an abso- 
lute sovereignty that admits no independent rights, an 
absolute unity that leaves no room for divergence, an 
absolute demarcation between a state which claims the 
entire devotion of its citizens and all other political or 


social organizations which are conceived as mechanical, 
arbitrary and insignificant. 

At the conclusion of his earlier work, 1 Dr. Bosanquet 
passes to the question of the morality of state action. 
The discussion is inconclusive and so involved that it is 
difficult to grasp the real upshot. He seems to have great 
difficulty in admitting that the state can act immorally, 
but not wholly to repudiate its possibility. When he 
draws a distinction between the state and its agents, he 
seems to open the door to very Jesuitical interpretations. 
First he asks the question, When an act is immoral, can 
the state as such really have willed it ? He waives this, 
however, as a mere refinement, so that one does not like 
to press the point against him personally. But it must be 
remarked that for the state as one organization of human 
beings to will something unjust to another organization 
of human beings seems no more difficult than for a family 
to act under an impulse of collective selfishness for its 
own good against the rights of another family, or for a 
Trade Union to inflict unjustifiable injury on another 
Trade Union. It is merely the confusion of the state as 
an organization with the rational will which causes any 
difficulty in the matter. 

Bosanquet finds it hard to. see how the state can commit 
theft or murder. History has not found it difficult to 
conceive governments and statesmen committing theft 
of other people's territories, and when Bosanquet denies 
(on p. 338) that a country is guilty of murder when it 
carries on war, he overlooks the justice or injustice of 
that war. Is it not in all seriousness collective murder 
on a large scale to carry war into the bounds of another 
country without a justification which must not only satisfy 
the state that plans the war but an impartial tribunal ? 
Between an unjustifiable war and an act of brigandage 
there is no moral difference. The difficulty is to fix the 
guilt of individuals, but this is because the responsibility 
is diffused. It would generally speaking be harsh to 
charge the citizen soldier, acting partly under compulsion, 

1 P. 322. 


partly from a sense of loyalty, with bloodguiltiness ; and 
yet the finer minds would, and do, refuse to fight in a 
quarrel which they are convinced is unjust. The Biglow 
Papers contain a sounder morality than Bosanquet's 

" Ef you take a sword an' dror it, 

Go an' stick a feller thru, 
Guv'ment aint to answer for it, 
God '11 send the bill to you." 

But the responsibility of statesmen is surely much more 
direct, and those who are actively responsible for bringing 
on a war cannot as individuals shift the moral burden 
from their own consciences. If a higher international 
morality is to be achieved, it is precisely by reversing the 
argument of the idealist. The individual must not be 
able to shelter himself from moral responsibility behind 
the state. But the actions of the state being judged on 
the same principle as those of individuals, every individual 
supporting the state in its action must be rightly regarded 
as assuming a personal responsibility in so doing. As to 
the state itself, it may be said that an intangible thing like 
an organization cannot be the subject of moral guilt. 
Nevertheless that organization may be condemned as a 
bad organization and it may justly suffer punishments in 
the infliction of losses or penalties. 

By a curiously involved argument the private honour 
of the agents of the state is distinguished from the good 
faith of the state itself. Dr. Bosanquet argues, so far 
justly, that the state is not to be blamed for the ill-faith 
or other misdeed of its agents. That is of course true on 
condition that the state does not consciously benefit by 
this misdeed. So much Bosanquet seems to admit, but 
he goes on to say that the agent is likely to go wrong if 
he mixes up the obligations of the state with his private 
honour. Precisely the contrary view must be maintained. 
If the agent of the state enters into an undertaking which, 
as an honourable man, he would not do on his own account, 
he is doing wrong and no reason of state justifies him. So 
low is the reputation of states that, for example, it was 


palpable that the personal respect for Sir Edward Grey's 
character was a greater asset to British diplomacy in the 
years before the war and in the events leading up to it 
than any word of any government as government. The 
private standard is above the public standard, and therefore 
it is by insisting rather that statesmen are bound to act 
as honourable men than that honourable men should act 
as servants of the state that we can best hope to raise 
the moral level of the state. 

The cause of all the hesitancy with which Bosanquet 
deals with this question is to be found in a paragraph on 
pp. 324-5. The state, we learn here, " has no determinate 
function in a larger community, but is itself the supreme 
community ; the guardian of a whole world, but not a 
factor within an organized moral world. The moral 
relations presuppose an organized life ; but such a life is 
only within the state and not in the relations between the 
state and other communities." The smaller part of the 
profound error found in this passage is the mistake as to 
fact. Organized relations of many kinds do exist at 
present outside the boundaries of the state, commercial 
relations, religious relations, the more ideal relations of 
community of thought, literature, art and the rest. But 
the fundamental fallacy is the conception that morality 
depends upon the legal organization which is the distinctive 
mark of the state. Moral relations exist as between all 
human beings, if not between all living beings, that come 
into any sort of contact with one another. For their full 
and adequate expression these relations no doubt require 
an organized expression. If, where they are close and 
frequent, they fail to obtain such organized expression, 
there is danger of moral anarchy. This is exactly the 
position which has arisen among nations of the present 
day. Here we have relations becoming ever closer and 
more vital, but a failure in the attempt to build up 
institutions to express, to shield and to develop the moral 
requirements which those relations impose. The vice of 
the idealist theory of the state is that it denies the need 
and even the possibility of such transcendence of state 


limits. This theory, true to its fundamental misconcep- 
tion that the ideal is inherent in the nature of the exist- 
ing order, proceeds to justify and apply the fallacy. There 
is no more glaring instance of that fallacy of philo- 
sophic idealism which has been expressed by saying that 
instead of seeking to realize the ideal it idealizes the real. 

In his new volume Dr. Bosanquet discusses the question 
anew and repudiates with some warmth the accusation 
of denying the moral responsibility of the state. One is 
glad to think this was never his intention, but in view 
of the character noted above of his earlier discussion, it 
is not surprising if he laid himself open to some mis- 
understanding. He now asks his critics : l "Is our fault 
in saying that the community, which asserts itself through 
the state, is a moral being and has a conscience, or is not 
a moral being and has not a conscience ? They seem to 
me in effect to say both at once, but only one can be true." 
The reply to this is that Dr. Bosanquet has appeared to 
his critics to say both at once, that he has greatly exag- 
gerated the moral character of the state in certain relations 
and appeared to depreciate it as unduly in others. This 
double and opposite exaggeration still, I feel, subsists in 
his new statement. The moral character of the state is 
exaggerated to the point of caricature when it is spoken 
of as " sole organizer of rights and as guardian of moral 
values." On the other hand, it is depreciated unduly 
in its external relations. Dr. Bosanquet repeats the 
allegation that there exists no organized moral world, 
prescribing the course of duty to the state. It is not the 
mere absence of sanction that makes the difference 
between the state and the individual ; it is more " the 
absence of a recognized moral order such as to guide the 
conscience itself." 

On this I have two comments to make. In the first 
place, if the state is the conscience of mankind, the sole 
guardian of rights and duties, the moral individual in a 
much more real sense than the simple man or woman, 
how comes it that it has built up no moral order in its 
* P. 282. P. 284. 


external relations ? Here are states (Dr. Bosanquet 
must in this relation admit the plural) in constant inter- 
course with each other. Each of them is a moral being 
with a conscience much more highly developed than 
that of any individual, yet on his showing these gifted 
beings have built up no recognized order to guide their 
consciences. They are left to anarchy and to do what is 
right in their own eyes, for this is what it comes to when 
it is said that the state must see in the moral world of 
which it is the guardian, the only definite guide in any 
difficult problem of its relations to others. It is a paradox 
that verges on contradiction that highly moral beings in 
close relations to one another should evolve no moral 
order and no common understanding. 

Secondly, Dr. Bosanquet depreciates unduly the partial 
moral order which has actually been established. I do 
not recollect to have come across the phrase " international 
law " in the course of his discussion, nor in fact do I see 
it in the index. There is a law as between states and 
there has been " Sittlichkeit " between them, very imperfect 
no doubt, yet not without its value. What has paralysed 
the development of international law and morality is, on 
the side of theory, just that doctrine of state absolutism 
of which the idealistic theory of the state is the most 
subtle justification. Every organization of men tends to 
become conscienceless because it forms an internal public 
opinion wherein men back one another in the pursuit of 
everything that tends to the interest or feeds the pride 
in which, as members of the organization, they share. 
But in so great an organization as the state the impartial 
opinion of outsiders scarcely makes itself heard and every 
plea for right or reasonableness is denounced as treacherous. 
It is the high duty of philosophy to look beyond this narrow 
standpoint and seek the universal view. When philosophy 
deserts its duty, who will fulfil it ? International anarchy 
is not due to philosophy but to the passions of men, but 
the restraint which humanitarian philosophy has sought 
to impose has been fatally loosened by the sophistications 
of idealism. 



Developing his position in his recent volume, Dr. 
Bosanquet finds a double difficulty in the conception of 
" an organism of humanity " which he admits to be the 
natural extension of the idea of the social organism. The 
difficulty is (a) that humanity in fact possesses no com- 
munal consciousness whatever. Neither did England 
under the Heptarchy, nor France under the Merovingians. 
A common consciousness is a thing which grows, and 
Dr. Bosanquet admits that the defect might be overcome. 
The idea of humanity is due in part to the Stoic philosophy 
and in part to the great world religions, and if it has never 
fully matured, neither has it ever perished. It has never 
lost its appeal to the greater and deeper thinkers and 
teachers and it has continually inspired the missionary 
effort of the church. The conditions of an effective unity 
of mankind to-day are at least as matured as the conditions 
of an effective German unity in the eighteenth century, or 
an effective French unity during the Hundred Years' War. 
And just as a farsighted and wide-minded Frenchman or 
German was he who realized the unity underlying dif- 
ferences and prepared the way for its growth, so the far- 
sighted man of to-day is he who holds to the unity of human 
nature and the common interests of mankind and places 
them above all causes of quarrel. But (b) Dr. Bosanquet 
finds no adequate expression of the higher human qualities 
in the aggregate of human beings. The valuable things 
are the possessions of particular communities and, " to 
put it bluntly, a duty to realize the best life cannot be 
shown to coincide with the duty to the masses of mankind." 
We do not need to be told that the achievements of ancient 
Athens and modern France are not shared by Hottentots 
and Kaffirs. But it does not follow that Hottentots and 
Kaffirs are outside the pale of rights and duties, and I 
do not suppose Dr. Bosanquet would contend that they 
are. But to say this is to admit the fundamental principle 
of universalism, that all human beings, as human, are 
within the scope of the fundamental moral law. Special 
obligations arise in distinct communities, but these are 
developments of common obligations which man owes to 


man. To make them override these fundamentals, to 
push devotion to a group to the point at which it breaks 
with the common rule, is the sin of all group morality, of 
which the Machiavellian doctrine of the state is the standing 

Finally, Dr. Bosanquet imputes to the Comtists the 
mistake of identifying humanity as a real corporate being 
with the aggregate of human beings. That this is a com- 
plete misapprehension will be shown by the following 
passage by a distinguished Comtist : 

" No one thinks that when he mentions the word England or 
France or Germany, he is talking of a ghost or a phantom. Nor 
does he mean a vast collection of so many millions of men in the 
abstract ; so many million ghosts. Man in the abstract is of all 
abstractions the most unreal. By England we mean the pre- 
judices, customs, traditions, history, peculiar to Englishmen, 
summed up in the present generation, in the living representatives 
of the past history. So with Humanity. ... Is such a religion 
self-worship ? . . . What explains the error is the belief that by 
Humanity we mean the same thing as the human race. We mean 
something widely different. Of each man's life, one part has 
been personal, the other social : one part consists in actions for 
the common good, the other part in actions of pure self-indulgence, 
and even of active hostility to the common welfare. Such actions 
retard the progress of Humanity, though they cannot arrest it : 
they disappear, perish, and are finally forgotten. There are lives 
wholly made up of actions such as these. They form no part of 
Humanity. Humanity consists only of such lives, and only of 
those parts of each man's life, which are impersonal, which are 
social, which have converged to the common good." x 

The " Comtist " Humanity is mankind in so far as it 
forms a spiritual unity. To this unity individuals, races, 
communities contribute, some more and some less, some 
perhaps not at all ; and the contribution may be conscious 
or unconscious. Dr. Bosanquet should find no difficulty 
here. The state is for him a real corporate being which 
has an aggregate of citizens for its members, some of whom 
contribute to its unity much, some little, and others, as 
individuals, perhaps not at all, while the contribution 
1 J. H. Bridges, Essays and Addresses, pp. 86-8. 


may in any case be conscious or unconscious. There are 
difficulties in the Comtist conception, but it is both more 
spiritual and truer to fact than the idealistic conception. 
More spiritual because it goes below the externals of 
unity and relies on the permanence and penetrativeness 
of the inward forces which, uniting man to man, have built 
up the fabric of collective achievement. It is, so to say, 
a unity of the church rather than of the state. More 
true to fact because it recognizes that the higher values, 
on which Dr. Bosanquet insists, are not the achievements 
of one state or one nation, but of many, that the history 
of thought, ethics, religion or art, is not a history of separate 
communities but a world history. The co-operation, 
conscious or unconscious, which has wrought the best 
things in civilized life, is one to which races and peoples 
have contributed unequally, and some have not contributed 
at all, but it is one which far transcends the limit of any 
people or nation, not to speak of any state. 

But below the idea of humanity, which he deems merely 
a confusion, Dr. Bosanquet detects a darker and more 
dangerous aspiration. He " suspects " current ideas of 
the international future to be seriously affected by popular 
notions of progress and an evanescence of evil, which 
should " compensate for the wrongs and sufferings of the 
past." To the idealist this is sheer blasphemy against 
the Absolute. Dr. Bosanquet tells us that he personally 
believes in a nobler future, but since the Absolute is 
perfection and since evil exists, evil is necessary to per- 
fection and its evanescence seems " altogether contra- 
dictory." Its disappearance is certainly a remote danger. 
The world need not be under the apprehension of a pre- 
mature drying up of the springs of misery and wrong. In 
the meanwhile it is instructive to find that in the last 
resort the gospel of state absolutism and opposition to the 
League of Nations rests on the necessity of evil as a part 
of the permanent scheme of things. Dr. Bosanquet may 
say that at any rate future good is no compensation for 
past wrong. In a sense, we must all agree, wrong done 
cannot be undone. Blighted and ruined lives cannot 


be lived anew. Yet, if it is a question of the depth and 
genuineness of the feeling that a better future for the world 
is worth the sacrifice of the present generation, the idealist 
may bethink himself of many a young man, German as 
well as English, who has found in this thought an alleviation 
of the stark horrors of the trenches and the near approach 
of mutilation or death. It is not a question of compensa- 
tion, but of the final meaning of the painful struggle of 
human life. If the world cannot be made incomparably 
better than it has hitherto been, then the struggle has no 
issue, and we had better strengthen the doctrine of the 
militant state and arm it with enough high explosive to 
bring life to an end. At any rate the final question is 
laid bare. There are those who believe life can be made 
good. There are those who believe it is good enough 
already. There are those who see life as an effort towards 
a harmony, of which as yet we see only the germs. They 
are well aware of all the tragedy that is involved in growth 
and do not delude themselves with any dream of personal 
reparation, but they recognize in the evolutionary process 
a principle which is neither the blind whirl of conflicting 
passions nor the clash of egoisms, but the emergence of 
a spirit of harmonious freedom, and on this they rest, and 
with this they identify themselves. There are those again 
for whom the world as it is is the incarnation of the ideal, 
for whom change is secondary and of no vital significance. 
For them evil must be justified as essential to good, though 
a more self-contradictory conception than that of good 
maintaining evil for its own purposes cannot well be devised. 
To the former the turning-point in the development of 
harmony is the clear consciousness and the adequate 
expression of the unity of mankind. To the latter it is 
a source of apprehension because it would cut the tap- 
root of those egoisms of state and nation, class and sex, 
colour and race, which engender the massive miseries of 
the world. 

We have summed up the metaphysical theory in three 
propositions, (i) The individual attains his true self 


and freedom in conformity to his real will ; (2) this real 
will is the general will ; and (3) the general will is embodied 
in the state. We have seen reasons for denying all 
these propositions. We have maintained that there is 
no distinction between the real will and the actual will, 
that the will of the individual is not identical with the 
general will and that the rational order, which the general 
will is supposed to maintain, is not confined and may be 
opposed to the state organization. We have suggested 
that serious fallacies, as calamitous morally as they are 
logically vicious, are involved in the political philosophy 
which turns upon this conception. But it would be unfair 
to the metaphysical theory of the state to leave the im- 
pression that it has always received the kind of interpreta- 
tion which we have here examined. In the hands of 
Green, for example, the notion of the general will is stated 
in terms which bring it into closer relation to the facts of 
experience, and the relation of the state to the individual 
is so defined as to approach far more closely to the 
organic conception of society. It is not my purpose 
here either to explain or criticize Green's Principles oj 
Political Obligation, a work of great power and of some 
weaknesses, which could not be adequately examined in 
anything short of an independent treatise, but for the sake 
of fairness to Green and to living writers who have drawn 
their principal inspiration from him rather than Hegel, 
I would call attention to one or two points in which Green 
departs notably from the Hegelian model. 

First and above all, the right of the individual runs 
through Green's entire argument. For Green, each man 
has to attain his own good, realize his own perfection as 
an integral part of the common good. If society has a 
claim upon him for the performance of his duty, he like- 
wise has a claim upon society for the power to fulfil it. 
(P. 347:) "The claim or right of the individual to have 
certain powers secured to him by society, and the 
counterclaim of society to exercise certain powers 
over the individual, alike rest on the fact that these 
powers are necessary to the fulfilment of man's 


vocation as a moral being, to an effectual self-devotion 
to the work of developing the perfect character in him- 
self and others." The state does not absorb the indi- 
vidual. It is (p. 443) " a bod5' of persons, recognized 
by each other as having rights and possessing certain 
institutions for the maintenance of those rights." The 
reciprocal relations of state and society could not be put 
better in a single and succinct phrase. The rights of the 
individual certainly do not exist independently of society, 
but they are conditions of its own best life and therefore 
of the best life of the individuals which constitute it, which 
society is bound to recognize. (P. 351 :) " Only through 
the possession of rights can the power of the individual 
freely to make a common good his own have reality given 
to it. Rights are what may be called the negative realiza- 
tion of this power. That is, they realize it in the sense of 
providing for its free exercise, of securing the treatment 
of one man by another as equally free with himself ; but 
they do not realize it positively, because their possession 
does not imply that in any active way the individual 
makes a common good of his own. The possession of 
them, however, is the condition of this positive realization 
of the moral capacity, and they ought to be possessed 
because this end (in the sense explained) ought to be 

Where Green is less happy, as I think, is in his discussion 
of the rights which society ought to recognize but does not. 
Thus he tells us on p. 416 " a right against society, in 
distinction from a right to be treated as a member of 
society, is a contradiction in terms." The truth which 
this sentence contains is that a right is a social relation 
just as much as a duty is a social relation, your right 
being something which I or some one else or society at 
large owes to you. But Green is apt to confuse the social 
character of rights with the recognition of rights, even 
going so far as to say (p. 446) " rights are made by recog- 
nition. There is no right ' but thinking makes it so.' ' 
This is not consistent with his admission (p. 351) of " rights 
which remain rights though any particular state or all 


states refuse to recognize them " ; a sense in which he has 
justly said a slave has natural rights. He gives the truth 
in the following sentence (p. 450) : " They are ' natural ' 
in the sense of being independent of, and in conflict with, 
the laws of the state in which he lives, but they are not 
independent of social relations." What is needed to make 
these positions consistent is merely to observe that social 
relations are not all conscious relations. The position is 
well stated in an early lecture (p. 353) : " The capacity, 
then, on the part of the individual of conceiving a good 
as the same for himself and others, and of being determined 
to action by that conception, is the foundation of rights ; 
and rights are the condition of that capacity being realized." 
Such a condition is something objective, independent of 
recognition. If any one can prove that some specific 
condition is in fact requisite to the realization of a good 
life, then that condition is scientifically demonstrated to 
be a right, though it may never have been recognized 
from the beginning of time to the present day, and though 
society may refuse to recognize it now. It is in this sense 
that all true rights are natural rights. 

In all this discussion Green is on the track of the truth, 
but is obstructed by his idealistic presupposition that what 
is real must somehow be in the minds of men. Enough, 
however, has been said to show that Green's conception 
of the common good, far from overriding the individual, 
assumes his participation as an individual, and, far from 
ignoring his rights, jealously preserves them as conditions 
under which he is a free and rational being to achieve a 
good which is his own as well as the good of society. 1 

1 In his new volume, Social and International Ideals, Dr. Bosanquet 
advances a fresh definition of the state, which is more in line with 
Green's way of thinking. " I understand by the state the power 
which, as an organ of the community, has the function of main- 
taining the external conditions necessary to the best life. These 
conditions are called rights. They are the claims recognized by 
the whole of the community as the sine qua non of the highest 
obtainable fulfilment of the capacities for the best life possessed 
by its best members." This seems to carry a much fuller recognition 
of the individual than is usual in Dr. Bosanquet's writings. If 


Nor does the general will in Green figure as the common 
self. It is rather an element in popular psychology, which 
Green finds in experience. Thus he speaks (p. 404) of 
" that impalpable congeries of the hopes and fears of a 
people, bound together by common interests and sympathy, 
which we call the general will." For Green it is the common 
will and reason of men, that is " the will and reason of 
men as determined by social relations, as interested in 
each other, as acting together for common ends." In 
these expressions we are at any rate in contact with reality. 
It may be said that they are vague, but Green might reply 
that so also are the facts which he is describing. That is 
to say, the actual extent to which men are swayed by com- 
mon interests, the degree of their allegiance to the social 
order, the strength of the emotion prompting to obedience 
or warring against it are not rigidly determined, they 
fluctuate from people to people, even from district to 
district and from occasion to occasion. There is, he seems 
to say, a common good, which to the reflective mind is 
a definite conception and a clear ideal, but which is vaguely 
and partially apprehended by the ordinary man, so that 
it is rather the diffused sense of the common good than a 
clear purpose of realizing it which operates as a force in 
the ordinary life of society. These are propositions, I 
would suggest, rather in social psychology than in meta- 

When Green goes on to contend that will, in the sense 
which he has described, and not force is the basis of the 
state, it becomes clear that his conception of the state has 
to be shaped to suit his definition. But of course he ad- 
mits the element of force and shows how it is fused with 
moral factors and in the end saves his general proposi- 
tion by excluding political organizations based on power. 
(P. 443:) "We only count Russia a state by a sort of 

consistently pressed, it would, I think, lead to the reconstruction 
of his entire theory, but the chapter from which it is taken is pro- 
fessedly not a correction but a restatement of his theory of the 
state, and the criticisms on this theory in general must therefore 
stand unaffected. 


courtesy on the supposition that the power of the Czar, 
though subject to no constitutional control, is so far exer- 
cised in accordance with a recognized tradition of what 
the public good requires as to be on the whole a suscainer 
of rights." 

Green's principle, therefore, is less paradoxical, perhaps 
also less important, than appears at first sight. If will 
not force is the basis of the state, that is because 
only that society is a state which is based not on force 
but on will. It would be unfair, however, to reduce 
Green's argument to a truism. We may fairly put his 
conclusion in this form. In every organized society there 
are other elements than force sustaining the general 
conformity to law, and in the higher organization of society 
conditions are realized in which force recedes further and 
further into the background, goodwill at each step taking 
its place. Only societies which have made some sensible 
progress in this direction deserve the name of states. 
This definition would seem to be justified by the compara- 
tive study of political institutions. 

Enough has perhaps been said to show that in Green's 
hands the conception of the general will is not allowed to 
overwhelm the individual, nor to override the moral law, 
but that the state is thought of rather as a guarantor to 
the individual of the conditions which enable him to fulfil 
his functions as a moral being. It may be objected that 
if we go behind Green's philosophy to his metaphysics, 
we shall find ourselves involved in the old difficulties of 
the universal and the particular and once more find person- 
ality absorbed in the universal self. This may be true, 
but it is a criticism of Green as a metaphysician rather 
than of Green as a political thinker. His living interest 
was in practical life, the strength of his grasp lay upon 
the hard problems of social reform. He was at his best 
in working through practical issues to the principles 
guiding them. As he receded from these principles to the 
ultimate theory of ethics and metaphysics, his grasp grew 
weaker and his meaning is often lost in obscurity and con- 
fusion. Descending again from this misty region to the 


living world, we find the man for whom principles at least 
mean something which will affect the life of human beings, 
which will guide them in wisdom or mislead them in folly, 
will teach them to ensue the happiness of their kind or 
justify them in their pride and ambition, which are the 
cause of misery in society. In his political lectures Green 
never forgets that theoretical principles are charged with 
weighty meaning for the lives of men. 

If we compare Green's account of the general will with 
that of Bosanquet and others, we shall, I think, arrive 
at the conclusion that several distinct conceptions are 
covered by this term which must be held apart if any such 
phrases are to be used at all without breeding confusion, 
(i) In the first place there is a conception of the common 
good, whether real or supposed. The common good is not 
the same thing as the common will, though if there were 
such a thing as a common will, it is presumably the common 
good at which it would aim. The common good is the 
well-being actually shared by the members of society, 
or conceived as desirable for the members of society, 
either, therefore, something actually existent or something 
which may be brought about. It may be regarded as 
realized or realizable in certain permanent institutions 
and conditions of life. (2) We may distinguish such per- 
manent conditions from a particular object which may be 
conceived as a part of the common good for the time being, 
e.g. victory in war. This we may call a common aim. 

(3) Corresponding to the common good or the common aim 
there may be a will to maintain the common good or to 
achieve the common aim. This may be called the good 
will. 1 It may exist in any individual, but, as existing in a 
single individual, it would not seem appropriate to speak 
of it as a general will. It is just the will of a particular 
man to secure a common good or a common purpose. 

(4) But, further, such a will may be diffused more or less 
widely in society. If the will of a society were so united 
that every one of its members willed one and the same 

1 Good at least from the point of view of the society. One 
might call it the loyal will. 


common object, as e.g. if the whole society is bent upon 
victory in a war, there would be something which we could 
appropriately and unambiguously describe as a general will, 
that is to say, a will active in all the members of a society 
as individuals to achieve an object by their organized 
efforts for their society as a whole. (5) If, further, we 
suppose all the members of a society to understand and 
appreciate the permanent good of the society as a whole 
and to will the necessary means for securing it, there would 
similarly be a general will to promote the common good. 
We may allow a little further latitude, and if such a will 
is shared, not by the whole of society but by a majority, 
we may still call it a general will, but for this particular 
case no special term really seems requisite. The general 
will here is simply the will of the majority. (6) But this 
is not the sense of the general will which seems really 
to be intended by the phrase. To interpret Green's ex- 
pressions we must think rather of a network of psycho- 
logical forces making on the whole in a determinate 
direction, generally speaking for the maintenance of a 
certain social structure, and more specifically for the 
attainment of certain definite objects. This network of 
forces will in a free society obtain expression ultimately 
in the will of the majority, but it is a good deal more 
complex and subtle than the content of any majority 
vote on a specific issue. What goes to make up the bent 
of the public mind in this sense is not merely so many 
definite acts of will in such and such a number of individuals. 
It is the intense conviction in some, the relative feeble- 
ness in others, the tacit acquiescence in one man, the 
partisan feeling in another, the support of a certain section 
on one particular part of the issue in spite of indifference 
or hostility on other portions of the issue, a prejudice 
which buttresses up the case on this side, a weakness 
which paralyses opposition on another side a miscel- 
laneous congeries of impulses driven hither and thither, 
out of all of which there will emerge through reams of 
controversy some tangible result. Will, which means the 
basis of clearly thought out action, is really a bad expression 


for this unorganized mass of psychological forces of every 
sort and kind that actually go to the making up of great 
political decisions. It will probably be true, with Green, 
to hold that within this congeries there is a permanent 
element partly above and partly below the level of con- 
sciousness, guided directly or indirectly by considerations 
bearing on the common good. There are, for example, 
people who will not put themselves about much for justice 
in general but will be shocked by some act of concrete 
iniquity with which they come into personal contact. 
Those who have not been troubled to oppose a bad law in 
principle find themselves irked by one of its applications. 
Conversely, the normal man who does not generalize about 
the social good will deal with practical issues often enough 
in the way which principle would require. (7) And 
lastly, though we have taken exception to the description 
of the social tradition as an embodiment of the objec- 
tive reason, we have not of course denied that thought 
and will have gone to the building up of institutions. It 
is not, as we have repeatedly maintained, one thought 
and one will, but the combination of many minds thinking 
and willing, each by its own lights and each acting too 
often in accordance with its selfish interests. None the 
less there is a sense in which the institutions and traditions 
of society imply a certain social mentality. The accept- 
ance of such traditions, though generally unreflective, 
cannot be wholly unconscious, and each individual as he 
accepts them fits himself into a scheme of life, not as 
voluntarily choosing that scheme as a whole, but as 
accepting his part in it. This acceptance affects the 
mind of each individual, calling forth one faculty and 
repressing another, and so modifies the mental growth. 
Thus the outer behaviour of society as seen in its manners 
and customs must have an inner mentality to match. 
So far as there is discrepancy a change will take place in 
institutions. To express this aspect of social life, we might 
speak of social mentality, provided we understand that 
the kind of unity which the term expresses is not the 
unity of a person or self but that of many centres of 
thought and will in interaction. 


One or another of these meanings seem to be in the 
mind of those who use the term " general will " ; but the real 
objection to the term is that in so far as it is will it is not 
general, and in so far as it is general it is not will. The 
common good is explicitly willed by a minority of thinking 
and public-spirited individuals. What is general is more 
undefined and perhaps indefinable, a participation in the 
variegated mass of psychological forces out of which the 
actions and development of the community emerge. 

We may be asked in conclusion whether after all we 
are to entirely deny any further meaning and reality to 
the general will. Was it not admitted at the beginning 
that there is a sense in which society is more than its 
members, and is it not this sense which the general will 
expresses ? We can understand the service of our country. 
Can we in the same way appreciate the service to an 
indefinite number of individuals like ourselves, and is that 
what we rely upon in patriotism or in other forms of social 
duty ? Is the collective life of society to go for nothing, 
and can it all be resolved away into its constituent 
atoms ? 

The broad answer to this question can, I think, only be 
found in the qualifications which we introduced to the 
statement that the life of a whole is more than that of 
its parts. The proposition is true, as we saw, only in this 
sense : that the life of the whole is more or other than that 
of the parts as they exist or would exist outside the whole. 
The body is something other than the cells which compose 
it, for this simple reason among others, that the cells die 
when separated from the body and therefore rapidly cease 
to be that which they at present are. But that the body 
is other than the totality of the cells composing it as they 
exist within the body, as they function in unison with 
one another, is a different and, as I think, an untrue 
proposition. We move in this region between two poles 
of fallacy. Wherever we have a whole consisting of parts, 
we are tempted to say that the whole is something other 
than the sum of its parts, whereby our view of the parts 
is distorted and the effect of their interactions ignored. 


Or, in reaction from this view, we are tempted to say the 
parts alone are real and that the whole is only a way of 
regarding them or at best a superficial consequence of 
their juxtaposition in certain relations to one another. 
Both these theories are untrue. The first theory always 
and the second of those wholes which have any distinctive 
character of their own. 

If I cast my eye idly over the leaves strewn on the lawn, 
I may count them and discover that there are thirty-seven, 
and treat the thirty-seven as forming a whole. This 
numerical whole is nothing to the actual leaves. As I 
count, three of the thirty-seven have run away with the 
wind and instead of thirty-seven I have thirty-four, which 
not having been moved are just what they were before. 
Such a numerical whole is the limiting case in which the 
parts are unaffected by the totality. It is just their 
arithmetical sum, no more and no less. If I gather the 
leaves into a heap, they are at least an aggregate that can 
be picked up and carried away. But still the aggregate 
has no permanence and its effect upon the parts is very 
small and very casual. Unless they happen to be somewhat 
crushed out of shape by pressure, the leaves will experience 
no change in passing into the whole and out of it again. 
If, on the other hand, I consider the leaf itself, even the 
dead leaf, it is something more than an aggregate. It 
consists of parts no doubt, but the parts are connected 
by definite ties. The leaf acts as a whole. If the wind 
catches a part of it, that part carries the rest along with it. 
Such a whole of parts in a determinate arrangement 
which for some purpose act together, is a structure 
which is in every respect as real and significant as the 
elements which compose it. What we call the onesided 
analytic tendency is the tendency to deny this, to think 
the cells something more real than the leaf, which is thus 
conceived only as a certain arrangement of cells, and the 
molecules of protoplasm more real than the cells and 
the atoms more real than the molecule. We get rid of 
a bunch of fallacies incidental to this line of argument 
when we refuse to speak of more or less real altogether. 


Atoms, molecules, protoplasm, cells, leaf, all are just 
real or unreal. What we can say is that in many cases 
the elements are more permanent than the whole which 
they constitute. Certain physical molecules, for example, 
remain, I suppose, when the dead leaf begins to decompose, 
and it is this permanence, or supposed permanence, of 
the simple elements underlying complex structures, which 
has given the illusion of their greater reality. Conversely, 
in many cases the whole is more permanent than the parts. 
E.g. the living organism is always absorbing and excreting ! 
material elements. It remains while its components change. 
The components do not indeed pass out of existence 
when they leave the whole, but in proportion as the struc- 
ture is organic they are profoundly modified. The cell 
does not survive the leaf, nor does the protoplasm, as 
protoplasm, the cell. Of any organic structure this 
principle will hold true. The parts will not survive the 
structure unaltered. Something in each may survive, but 
it will not be exactly that which existed within the whole. 
Now in human society, as in the material world, there 
are many fortuitous aggregations, producing slight con- 
tact between individuals. The people who happen to be 
walking along a street at a particular time may be numeri- 
cally conceived of as a whole, though they are barely 
modified by any contact with one another. A crowd is 
more united than this, though it has no structure, but for 
the time being people are affected by close contact with 
one another, and to that extent even a crowd is a unity 
and a reality, though not one with endurance. Passing 
on, we find all sorts of associations into which men 
can enter, affecting their lives in very varying degrees. 
When the effect is slight, we may well say that it is the 
individuals that are permanent, and if the society is broken 
up, it is just resolved into its component individuals, who 
remain very much what they were before. When we come 
to the deeper and more stable associations, this would no 
longer be true. The life of the family is an integral part 
of the men and women that compose it. When it breaks 
up the lives of those that remain may be tragically altered ; 


certainly they are very different from what they would 
have been if they had never known a family life. The same 
thing would be true of a religious body, or of a state, or of 
any great movement, intellectual, social or political, into 
which a man throws himself. All these deeper associa- 
tions are of the organic type. They express important 
elements, perhaps fundamental elements, in the lives 
which compose them, so that without them those indi- 
viduals would be essentially other than they are. 

If thus for a moment we think of the life or value of 
such an association in terms of individuals, we must in 
turn think of the individuals as contributing and con- 
sciously contributing to the life of the whole. If the 
soldier is told that to die for England means to die for 
English men and women, he might say that that was good 
enough for him, but he might also go on to say that it is 
not merely for men and women as men and women, but 
for men and women as continuing to lead a certain life, 
as maintaining and developing the tradition which is 
essentially England. This tradition lives in nothing but 
individuals ; all of it that is incorporated in material, even 
the land itself, however much that is the object of affec- 
tion, vanishes into insignificance apart from the humanity 
which it subserves. The tradition, on the other hand, 
might flourish as well on foreign soil, as colonization 
proves, and as was understood by William the Silent 
when he thought of transporting the entire population of 
Holland and Zeeland to a part of the world where they 
could maintain their life free from the empire-state 
which was crushing it. 

Thus the character of a social whole is as much in danger 
of being misunderstood when it is resolved into its com- 
ponent individuals as it is when conceived as separate 
from them, as though it were not made by them. The 
true organic theory is that the whole is just what is con- 
stituted by the co-operation of the parts, neither more 
nor less, not more real nor less real, not of higher nor of 
inferior value. In saying this we must take time into 
account. All the parts strictly means all that have been 



or will be while the whole endures. When this succession 
of members is taken into account, it is true to equate 
the perfectly organic whole with the sum of its parts in 
their co-operative activity. But there is a sense in which 
a whole may be less, and a sense in which it may be more 
than its existing parts, (i) Wholes in general, even 
relatively organic wholes, may engage only a portion of 
the activity or capacity of their members. This is emi- 
nently true of human associations, none of which embrace 
the entire life of man. In such a case it is only the portion 
incurred in the whole that can be said to live or die with 
the whole, and only so far as that portion is concerned 
that there is anything of the nature of an organic union. 
One of the fallacies of the metaphysical theory is to identify 
the individual with one particular association, and to 
speak of his obligations to that association in terms only 
applicable to the sum of his duties and interests in all the 
relations of his life. (2) While some wholes are less, others, 
and particularly those which engage the deeper nature of 
men, are more permanent than their members. When 
we go, for example, below the state to the nation and 
beyond the nation to the great movements of civilization, 
we come to things in which the whole truly is something 
far greater than any of the parts that constitute it at any 
one moment. What concerns humanity is that such 
wholes should be maintained in so far as they serve its 
abiding interest. But this again is not, if we think it 
out, to erect the whole into an object distinct and opposed 
to those who have been, are or will be its members. It 
is merely to grasp its far-reaching extension, its deeply 
rooted continuity. The nation is all the generations which 
compose it as long as they maintain a certain unity and 
as long as the thread of causation remains uncut. More 
than this it is not. 1 

1 When taken as more it will be found to be really less. If the 
good of the state is opposed to that of its component members, 
it is because its good is being found in ends which do not make 
life really better, for example, glory, wealth, expansion and power. 
Such ends the masses may serve in their capacity of " cannon- 


In what terms we are to describe the reality of the social 
wholes is a standing difficulty of sociology. They are, as 
we have seen, of organic character, yet, if we speak of 
them as organisms, we are liable to confound them with 
animals or plants, which they are not. Essentially they 
are unities of mind. Their component elements are minds 
and the relations into which these elements enter are 
determined by mental operations. Yet if we speak of them 
as personalities, we are liable to the fallacy of the common 
self. Social inquiry suffers from nothing so much as a 
lack of technical terms or of suitable metaphor to supply 
the place of technical terms. It has to use words derived 
from other orders of experience and conceptions elaborated 
in other sciences. What we must most eschew is any terra 
suggesting a form of unity realized in some other whole 
than the particular social whole which we are consider- 

f odder," but then they are not parts of the state but mere living 
tools, the effective organization consisting of the rulers and generals 
who want the glory. At bottom, when any organized human 
society is alleged to have a good other than that of its members, 
it means a good, at least a supposed good, of some of its members 
without regard to the remainder. It may be said that these unhappy 
ones acquiesce, e.g. when the multitude lets itself be dominated 
by its chiefs and led by them to the slaughter in the desire to 
share even in a subordinate capacity in the glory of reducing other 
people to a still more abject subjection. This is the solution 
suggested in a peculiarly sinister passage in Nietzsche. If so, the 
people constitute themselves partners of a common good of a 
false and inhuman sort. So far as the illusion of service to a 
state standing above its members encourages such false values, 
it is practically mischievous as well as theoretically false. Where 
an organized society has a " good " opposed to the summed up 
gain and loss of its component members, it is either that some of 
those alleged members are treated merely as instruments external 
to the body they share or that the good is a false good, cheating 
even those that partake of it. 

When we speak of a good we mean a good supposed to be realized 
in the life of society itself. So far as any society subserves ends 
beyond its own limits, as, e.g. a state may be said to owe, and even 
to perform, a service to civilization, different principles of course 
apply. It may be right and good for a state like Belgium to risk 
all in such a case, but even here there is no final distinction between 
the duty or well-being of Belgium and of the Belgians as Belgians. 


ing. Such a term is " a common self " or " the general 
will," suggested by a particular unity which connects 
the parts of a personality and which is precisely the 
form of unity that different persons do not achieve 
and into which they cannot enter. Such a term as 
"mind," "soul" or "spirit," though not satisfactory, 
is more appropriate, if so used as to suggest a collec- 
tive character rather than a substantial unity. We 
can speak of the soul of a people, meaning thereby 
certain fundamental characteristics of their psychology 
which we believe to be widespread and important 
in the shaping of their social behaviour. We speak of 
the spirit of the times not inappropriately as a summary 
name for certain moral and intellectual tendencies, and 
generally the term " spirit " is appropriate for the relations 
of finite centres of intelligence each thinking, feeling 
and acting with reference to one another, and so linked 
together by mental and moral causation, just as physical 
structures are united by mechanical forces. But whatever 
terms we use, the rule of logic is simple. Our reasonings 
must always stand the test of substituting the thing 
denned for the definition. We must avoid importing 
into our defining term the associations which belong to 
it in another capacity. If we keep this rule before us, 
the terms which we use to describe society will have a 
less disturbing effect upon the progress of sociology. Thus, 
if we speak of a society as organic, we must not think of 
it as a great Leviathan, a whole related to individuals as 
a body to its cells. We must regard the organic as a 
genus into which animals and plants fall as species and 
society as another species. So considered, an organism 
is a whole constituted by the interconnection of parts 
which are themselves maintained each by its intercon- 
nection with the remainder. Its mutual determination 
is the organic character which any given structure may 
share in greater or less degree, a structure being organic 
in so far as this character prevails and otherwise inorganic. 
In its completeness the organic is an ideal. But actual 
societies have a touch of the organic character, some 


more and some less. It is on this character that social 
ethics depends. It is through this character that societies, 
like biological organisms, maintain their plastic adapta- 
bility, their power of adjustment to new circumstances, 
of repairing injuries, of resilience to strokes of fortune. 
It is by reference to this character that their development 
is to be measured. This principle is set at nought when 
society is so resolved into individuals that the character 
of the life which they share is left out of account. It is 
equally set at nought when its life is regarded as other 
than that which its members live in their dealings with 
one another. The happiness and misery of society is the 
happiness and misery of human beings heightened or 
deepened by its sense of common possession. Its will is 
their wills in the conjoint result. Its conscience is an 
expression of what is noble or ignoble in them when the 
balance is struck. If we may judge each man by the 
contribution he makes to the community, we are equally 
right to ask of the community what it is doing for this 
man. The greatest happiness will not be realized by the 
greatest or any great number unless in a form in which 
all can share, in which indeed the sharing is for each an 
essential ingredient. But there is no happiness at all 
except that experienced by individual men and women, 
and there is no common self submerging the soul of men. 
There are societies in which their distinct and separate 
personalities may develop in harmony and contribute to 
a collective achievement. 


THE best and the worst things that men do they do in 
the name of a religion. Some have supposed that only 
supernatural religion could mislead. The history of our 
time shows that if men no longer believe in God they 
will make themselves gods of Power, of Evolution, of 
the Race, the Nation, or the State. In the name of 
such gods will they drench a continent with blood, and 
the youth will offer themselves up as willing martyrs. 
There is no double dose of original sin which established 
this worship in Germany. It is the product of a combina- 
tion of historic causes the long division of the people, 
their geographical situation, the national reaction against 
Napoleon, the achievement of union by military means, 
the fear of the Czardom, causing the acquiescence of 
the more pacific elements in militarism, the loss by 
emigration of those who would not tolerate the governing 
system. The idealized exaltation of the state supervened 
to reconcile the thinking classes and give them a creed 
justifying their dislike of humanitarianism. In Hegel's 
hands this creed had, as we have seen, its idealistic side, 
and events had to move before this could be shed, and the 
naked doctrine of Power be proclaimed by Treitschke. 
But the elevation of the state above men means at bottom 
the supremacy of Power. It is the natural creed of an 
aristocracy or a bureaucracy, as insistence on Personality 
is the natural creed of the people. Theories of politics 
or of conduct that live long and retain influence have 
something more than theory behind them. They appeal 

to powerful instincts and interests, and the Hegelian 



philosophy is no exception. It appeals to the instincts 
and interests of counsellors and kings, of privileged 
classes, of Property and Order. It plays on the fear of 
fundamental criticism, of the razor-edge of thought, of 
the claim of conscience to scrutinize institutions and 
ordinances. It appeals to the slavishness which accepts 
a master if he will give the slave a share of tyranny over 
others more deeply enslaved. It satisfies national egoism 
and class ascendancy. 

It was by no accident that the Greatest Happiness 
Principle took root and flourished during and after the 
last great war that devastated Europe. The spectacle of 
the massive misery caused by Governments had its recoil. 
Men began to test institutions and ideas of life by their 
effect on the felt happiness and misery of millions, and they 
found in the " happy fireside for weans and wife " a 
truer measure of a nation's greatness than stricken fields 
and extended territory. T ^ tllfl* ^ Q " r '" p ^fiP rp wp arp; 
returning to-day. Much has been learnt in the interval, 
and a modern thinker could not regard happiness crudely 
as a sum of pleasures, or divorce it from the mode of life 
which is its substance, or judge the well-being of a whole 
society by the contentment of a numerical majority. 
But the desire to arrest the misery of mankind will 
revive in double strength. Europe has undergone its 
martyrdom, millions in the service of false gods, other 
millions in resisting them. It will ask itself what is the 
true God and where the true religion. The answer, what- 
ever it be, must rest on this truth, that the higher ethics 
and the deeper religion do not come to destroy the 
simplest rights and duties of neighbour to neighbour, 
but to fulfil and extend them. Great purposes, vast 
schemes, haunt the imagination of man, and urge him 
on to achievements without which life would be relatively 
poor and stagnant. But too often such purposes are 
built on foundations of human misery and wrong. It 
is the rarer insight which sees in the great good the com- 
prehensive unity of all the little things that make up 
the life of the common man. The theory of the state 


is a case in point. The state is a great organization. 
Its well-being is something of larger and more permanent 
import than that of any single citizen. Its scope is vast. 
Its service calls for the extreme of loyalty and self- 
sacrifice. All this is true. Yet when the state is set 
up as an entity superior and indifferent to component 
individuals it becomes a false god, and its worship the 
abomination of desolation, as seen at Ypres or on 
the Somme. When it is conceived as a means to the 
extension of our duty towards our neighbour, a means 
whereby we can apply effectively and on the large scale 
what we know to be good in the simple personal relations 
of life, no such discord arises. The purposes of political 
action are no way narrowed, but purified and humanized. 
We learn to think of our political conduct in terms of 
the vast reverberation of consequences on thousands and 
millions of lives, great and lowly, present and to come. 
We cannot, indeed, ever adequately interpret great general 
truths in terms of the particulars which they cover. To 
give to vast social issues all their human meaning is beyond 
the power of imagination an imagination which recoils 
even from the effort to appreciate the daily list of 
casualties. But the true progress of political thought 
lies in the cultivation of imaginative power. It insists 
on going back from the large generality, the sounding 
abstraction, the imposing institution, to the human factors 
which it covers. Not that it wishes to dissolve the fabric. 
Men must continue to build, and on deeper foundations 
and with larger plans. But there must be no slave buried 
alive beneath the corner stone. Or rather, the fabric is 
no building, but a tissue of living, thinking, feeling beings, 
of whom every one is " an end and not a means merely," 
and the value of the whole is marred if it requires the 
suffering of any single element. There is no lack of vast- 
ness in this design. It might rather be accused of vague- 
ness, if it were not that it starts with the simple relations 
of man and man and bids each of us seek to realize in 
political conduct and through social institutions, on the 
widest scale and in impersonal relations, what we well 



understand in our private lives as " our duty towards 
our neighbour." 

Political morality is not super-morality, setting ordinary 
obligations aside. It is morality extended and denned, 
stripped of the limitations of class or national prejudice, 
generalized for application in great impersonal organiza- 
tions, the only thing that can save such organizations 
from becoming inhuman. It may be said that institutions 
and politics generally can do little to make individuals 
happy. That may be true, but they can do a vast deal 
to make individuals unhappy, and to cut off this great 
source of woe is no unworthy aim. That is why a sound 
political philosophy will always insist on the individual, 
the freedom which is his basis of self-respect, the equality 
which is his title to consideration, the happiness whereof 
" the tiny bowl is so easily spilt." It is not that our 
little lives are rounded in ourselves. On the contrary, if 
we find happiness anywhere, it is only in merging our- 
selves in some greater object. It is that if all objects 
worthy of effort may be considered as contributing to 
the advancement of mankind, this advancement, properly 
understood, goes not over the bodies and souls of individuals 
like a Juggernaut's car, but through their heightened 
activities and larger lives like a quickening spirit. Here 
precisely lies the issue between two views of the state. 
In the democratic or humanitarian view it is a means. 
In the metaphysical view it is an end. In the democratic 
view it is the servant of humanity in the double sense 
that it is to be judged by what it does for the lives of its 
members and by the part that it plays in the society of 
humankind. In the metaphysical view it is itself the sole 
guardian of moral worth. In the democratic view the 
sovereign state is already doomed, destined to subordina- 
tion in a community of the world. In the metaphysical 
view it is the supreme achievement of human organization. 
For the truth let the present condition of Europe be 



IN Lecture II the attempt has been made to elicit and criticize 
the main principles underlying Hegel's theory of freedom. A 
somewhat fuller explanation is here subjoined. 

Hegel approaches the subject by a somewhat unfortunate 
analogy. The will is free in the same sense as matter is heavy. 
Gravity, he thinks, constitutes bodies. This in itself seems to 
be a mistake, partly of fact, but principally of definition. The 
expression " body has gravity " is a way of putting the fact 
that bodies, when otherwise unconstrained, move towards one 
another with a certain assignable acceleration. This statement 
by no means exhausts all that is known about bodies. If bodies 
were not known independently, that is, had no other attributes, 
we should not say that bodies had weight, but merely that 
weight exists. Whether all bodies do behave in the way referred 
to is a sheer question of empirical fact. But in any case gravity 
is not body, but is an attribute of body or, if it is preferred, a 
way in which bodies do behave. In the same way, if it is true 
that the will is free, it is certainly not in the sense that freedom 
is will or that will is freedom, but that freedom is a characteristic 
of will or an expression of the way in which will behaves. But 
will is not only freedom to Hegel, it is also thought. Will and 
thought are not two special faculties, but will is a specific mode 
of thought. It is thought as translating itself into existence, 1 

1 In thinking, according to Hegel, I turn an object into a 
thought, stripping the sensible element from it and making it 
essentially and immediately mine. Thought penetrates the object, 
which no longer stands opposed to me because I have taken from 
it what was peculiar to it, which it had over against me. Similarly, 
in willing there appears at first an opposition between myself and 
my object, and in making a choice I make a distinction between 
a determinate end and my abstract potentialities. But this dis- 



setting before itself an object with which it is in a manner identi- 
fied. Ordinary language would recognize these expressions as 
having a loose metaphorical justification, but to Hegel they are 
the kernel of philosophy, and his conception of free will in 
particular will be found to depend upon taking them seriously. 
It is through his identification of the will with the system or 
totality of its objects that Hegel is able to speak of the will as 
determined only by itself, of the will as willing itself, and thus 
free from any other determination. 

The development of this conception follows the ordinary dia- 
lectical process of Hegelian philosophy. We start with the 
conception of a will that is free in the sense of being quite indeter- 
minate, so that it can choose anything and everything. But 
a will so indeterminate as this in fact chooses nothing and defeats 
itself. Hegel likens it to the anarchical movements of politics 
that want everything in general and nothing in particular. 
To escape from this barrenness we take refuge in particular 
objects or ends. But if the particular ends are isolated and 
disconnected they just miss that unity of action which dis- 
tinguishes will. The truth then must be that, while the will 
sets a multitude of particular objects before itself, those objects 
must be united by some underlying principle. 

It is in this unity of principle that Hegel finds what he calls 
freedom. The connection is by no means obvious, 1 but the 
drift of the argument may be gathered from the account of free- 
dom as ordinarily, and in Hegel's view, falsely understood. 3 

tinction is after all my own, and the object, as I achieve it, belongs 
to me. It is mine when accomplished. The object is what I 
have done. There is a trace of my spirit in it. 

1 The argument is that since all the objects of the will fall 
under the same principle or have, as we might say, a function 
in one and the same system, they do not really limit the will as 
they seem to do, but express it in different forms. In seeming 
to limit itself, the will is expressing itself. This, according to Hegel, 
constitutes the freedom of the will, which is its substantive reality, 
as gravity is the substantive reality of body. 

* It may be well to note the dialectical phases by which the 
conception of spurious freedom is reached. First, in 8 we have 
what Hegel calls the formal opposition of the subjective to the 
objective. The will is something within me, contrasted with the 
outer world in which it seeks to realize its end. These particular 
ends form the content of the will, but, in adopting such ends 
( 10), the will does not fully attain its freedom. Its freedom is 


This false conception emerges when the will stands contrasted 
as a distinct faculty or power of choice with the various impulses 
which direct it towards particular objects, each of which counts 
as distinct from and possibly opposed to others. The power 
of the will to choose between them is the kind of freedom which 
Hegel calls caprice (Willkiir). And according to him it is at this 
point that the ordinary controversy as to freewill arises and on 
this plane that it is conducted. As long as the will is regarded 
as a bare potentiality, what Hegel calls something formal, standing 
over against impulses and promptings that proceed from else- 
where, whether within our nature or without it, you can argue 
with equal force either that it is determined or that it is undeter- 
mined. You can argue that it is determined on the ground that 
a mere potentiality, a bare form, has nothing within it to make 
it decide one way rather than another, whence you conclude 
that the propelling force must come from the impulse or from 
the presented object. You can argue equally that the will is 
undetermined because you can show that it can take up or drop 
any one of these objects and that what it can take up it can 
cancel, no matter what the strength of the impulse may be. In 
reality, according to Hegel, both arguments fail because both 
rest on a false conception of the relation of the will as a unity, or 
what he would call the universal, to its particular acts and im- 
pulses. The truth is that these particulars emanate from the 
universal character of the will itself. The will, therefore, does 
not stand over against the impulses which solicit it, but is itself 
the source of each movement in which it accomplishes and fulfils 
itself. The argument seems to ignore the distinction between 
impulse and will, 1 but again let us suspend criticism and try to 
follow the drift of the reasoning to the end. 

implicit. It is in the will itself but it does not exist for the will. 
That it should exist in this fuller sense, the will must realize itself 
as an object. There is a will operating whenever I adopt some 
definite end, and since there is a will operating there is freedom, 
but not, it would seem, the consciousness of freedom, not that 
organic connection between a particular end and a permanent 
underlying principle which constitutes self-determination. This 
is the stage which Hegel calls the immediate or natural will with 
its separate impulses and desires. The will stands above all these 
particular objects and can freely compare and choose between 
them. This brings us to the position examined in the text. 

1 Impulses antagonize one another, and one may calculate which 
impulse would bring the greatest satisfaction, but such calculation 


To do this we must think of the will as expressing itself com- 
pletely in a system of purposes all related to one another. 

When it grasps this system as a whole it is said to exist for 
itself and to be its own object. 1 The meaning is that this system 
completely expresses the nature of the will and therefore for 
Hegel (here we get back to the ultimate identity of subject and 
object) is the will. True, there is always a distinction between 
subjective and objective, inner and outer aspects. Subjectively 
the will is the rational self -consciousness, objectively it is the 
rational system of ends. But to get the full " idea " of the will 
these aspects must be held together. The will therefore in 
willing its object is said to will itself. Thus for the will to be 
determined by its objects as a whole is to be determined 
by itself, and to be determined by itself is freedom. This is 
the substance of the entire argument, which culminates in the 
formula that the idea of the will is the free will which wills the 
free will. 

This peculiarly difficult phrase proceeds directly from Hegel's 
identification of subject and object. Just as in the sphere of 
knowledge the mind, taken in its full concrete reality, is the 
system of the objective world which it knows, the knowledge 
itself being an aspect of the system, so we are to understand 

again is mere caprice. According to Hegel, any identification of 
myself with some one impulse is a distinct limitation of the univer- 
sality of the self, which is described in this section as the system 
of all impulses. This conception gives rise to another dialectical 
stage. The different impulses which issue immediately from the 
will are held to be good. On the other hand, as natural impulses, 
they are opposed to the conception of the spirit and have to be 
eradicated as bad. The truth is that they must be purified by 
being changed from their immediate or natural character and 
restored to what he calls their substantive essence, that is to the 
form in which they can play a part in the rational system which 
is the will. 

The conception of happiness, involving some correlation of the 
different impulses, is a stage towards a rational life, but only a 
stage, because happiness lies in the individual human being, that 
is in his subjective feeling, so that what was to be universal turns 
out to be particular, something realized in particular people that 
is not an organic unity of all consciousness. The underlying truth 
( 21) is the self-determining universal, and this is will and freedom. 

1 And therefore infinite, for it turns back into itself like a circle, 
which, for Hegel, is the true representative of infinitude. 


that in action the will is the system of accomplished purposes, 
the purposiveness of it being a part of that system. We are to 
conceive a system of activity penetrated throughout by a single 
principle or rather, we should say, engendered in all its variety 
of detail by a single principle, which requires infinite variety of 
forms in which to express itself, but a variety which by the 
interconnection of all its parts makes up an organic whole. 
This whole Hegel conceives as determined by nothing external 
to itself ; any part of it may be regarded as determined by the 
will, but is in fact equally a determinant of the will. Its nature 
is to be a part of that will. So, in a sense, the will wills itself. 
Wherever you start, pursue the track of determination and you 
will come back to the point from which you started. This is 
the circle in which Hegel finds the meaning of infinitude, and 
that is why infinitude and self-determination are to him in the 
end the same thing. 

In seeking to render the meaning plain to ourselves, we are 
constantly brought up against the initial difficulty of conceiving 
a will which wills itself. Surely when we will we are making, 
creating or bringing about something that does not exist ; some- 
thing, whatever it may be, which is at any rate other than the 
act of making it. To avoid this fundamental difficulty and to 
discover, if we can, what substance underlies the Hegelian 
argument, let us put it, in more modern phrase, that the will 
and its object are conceived as an organic unity to be understood 
by the contrast in which it stands to that mechanical relation- 
ship which Hegel calls caprice. In this mechanical relationship 
there are a number of distinct and separate impulses, and a 
will apart from them all, moving above them and choosing now 
one and now another. In the organic relationship the different 
movements of the will, though distinct from one another, are 
emanations from one and the same principle. They could 
not exist without that principle, nor yet could the principle 
exist without them, nor indeed without any one of them, for 
each is an organic part of the whole. 1 Each impulse is, as it 

1 The only determinant of the will which Hegel contemplates 
is the object. If then he can show that the object emanates from 
the will, he proves on his presupposition that the will determines 
itself. It is to this that his demonstration is addressed. He does 
not consider the determinist point that the will with all its pur- 
poses (to admit that these emanate from within) arises out of 
antecedent conditions. But he is not really thinking of the will 
of an individual, but rather of the world spirit. 


were, a bit of the will. Each bit of the will is determined by 
the will as a whole. Thus will is determined by will, that is 
by itself. And if, again, the will be considered as a whole which 
is determined by nothing external, but by its constituent parts, 
then similarly the will as a whole is self-determined. All its 
different objects are parts of a whole which hangs together 
and in which it is always expressing itself. This organic 
relationship is what Hegel understands by freedom, and so 
understood we have in this conception a system of action, the 
object of which is to maintain itself as a free system. This 
is what is expressed in the phrase "the free will which wills 
the free will." 

Putting aside the phraseology, which depends on the impos- 
sible identification of subject and object, we have before 
us the conception of an organic or harmonious system of con- 
duct. What precisely is a harmonious system ? It is one in 
which there are many parts, but so related that they all main- 
tain or support one another. If we think of some occupation or 
some purpose which we deem desirable as a whole and which 
interests us in all its successive details, we have the model 
of a harmony of this kind. We take each step for its own sake 
because it is inherently attractive, and we also take it as a step 
in a journey, the end of which is equally attractive ; and thus 
there is at every stage a double motive, the immediate object 
for its own sake and also as contributory to the wider object 
which is intrinsically desired. If all life could be like that, 
it would be a perfect harmony and it would have nothing to do 
but to maintain itself. It would in fact be a self-maintaining 
system, such as Hegel contemplates, a system, that is, in which 
each part in effecting itself helps to give effect to the whole. 
Now the ideal to which moral purpose strives is a system 
of this kind, a harmony within the individual, a harmony 
as between all individuals a unity, that is, in which 
each individual playing his own part, living a life which is 
desirable to him, is forwarding and consciously forwarding 
the life that is desirable for all mankind. In such a harmony, 
moreover, there would be perfect freedom, for the individual 
would be expressing himself unconstrainedly, and yet in ex- 
pressing himself and by expressing himself, would be serving 
the requirements of the whole. But the freedom would be 
possible only because there is harmony and it would be truer 
to say that in such a system it is the will to maintain harmony 


than that it is the will to maintain free will which is the vital 

This leads us to inquire further into the relation between 
freedom and harmony. What is really meant by freedom ? 
Ordinary thought translates freedom as absence of constraint. 
Hegel takes freedom as self-determination. In a world where 
nothing stands alone, where every act or event is related to some- 
thing from which it follows and which is said to determine it, 
it is clear that ef the action of anything whatever that we can 
regard as a continuous object, that we can identify through 
successive moments, one of two things is true. Either that action 
is an action of the object itself, proceeding from the nature of 
the object, arising out of the state in which the object has been, 
and consisting in a further state of activity which is just what the 
object of itself becomes. In that case the object may be said to 
determine its own action, or, regarding the object as one through 
successive phases, that is, before the action and in it, we can speak 
of the object, if we will, as self-determined in its activity. The 
other alternative is that the object should be determined by some- 
thing else acting upon it. Then we speak of it as constrained. 
In the purely physical world, ordinary thought recognizes this 
contrast between freedom and constraint. A lever may be said 
to move freely about its fulcrum. The law of gravity expresses 
the way in which two bodies move freely, the pendulum moves 
freely about its support, all in contrast to the way in which 
these objects would behave under the constraint of some external 
force operating upon them. It may be objected that no one of 
these bodies really moves of itself. The pendulum, for instance, 
is part of a system of forces. There is its point of support, the 
weight attached to the rod, the rod itself and the earth. Never- 
theless the swing of the pendulum is the resultant of just this 
particular system of forces acting without constraint by others, 
and that absence of constraint is what is meant when it is said 
that the pendulum swings freely. That particular system of 
forces determines of itself, and without the impingement of any 
other forces, just the particular set of motions which we discover. 
On the other hand, if the pendulum is deflected by a magnet, 
a push or a catch, a new force intervenes by which it is constrained. 
The whole system, including this new force, again may be said 
to act freely if no other intervenes. But in every case freedom 
from some external constraint will mean determination by the 
forces that are within the particular object or system of objects, 
which is the subject of our discourse. 


When we come to the action of living things, and in particular 
to the will, we still mean by freedom primarily this same thing, 
the determination of the act by the character of the living thing 
itself, in particular of the will, as against determination by any- 
thing other than itself. What I choose to do at this moment, 
if I choose freely, expresses the character of my will at this 
moment. True, some external thing may be the stimulus which 
sets the will in motion, and it is because I see the rose perhaps 
that I have the impulse to bend down and smell it or pick it. 
But the rose does not constrain me, rather it suggests an experi- 
ence, and the fact that I think of that experience as pleasing is a 
circumstance of my inner nature and precisely the circumstance 
which expresses itself in my impulse. In so far as any external 
object does constrain me and in so far as it awakens in me that 
which I cannot resist, I am deemed, and rightly deemed, not 
to be free, to be a slave to the external thing. Or again, if this 
craving is, as rightly regarded it should be regarded, rather 
inner than outer, then I am a slave to one of my impulses and 
my will is not free. If, on the other hand, knowing quite well 
what I am about and what was coming from my act, I perform 
that act with a view to that result, then that act is an expression 
of my will. It is unconstrained by anything external, not 
merely to myself, but to my will, and my will is free. 

But there is a further sense in which the will is free which 
does not apply to material things. Given the pendulum duly 
attached to its support and raised from the vertical and then 
set free, that is, released from all external constraint, the result 
will be uniform and certain. The pendulum will swing to and 
fro. Each swing is determined accurately by the past swing. 
The movement of each moment is determined by the configura- 
tion of the preceding moment. Thus the mechanical system, 
though free from external restraints, is never free from its 
own past. 

The question of the freedom of the will morally considered has 
been whether the will can ever be said to be free from its own 
past. The answer to this must be in a sense negative and in a 
sense affirmative. There is no reason to doubt that what my 
will is now is something which has come out of all that it and 
that I have been ; and there is no ground for assigning at any 
point a breach of continuity. The difference between the will 
and the mechanical system is this. The will looks towards 
that which is coming out of it ; it is in a sense determined not 



by the past but by the future ; and yet that future is something 
which it itself creates. It creates the end by which it is itself 
determined. The fact that the will creates this end is itself 
the determining point of its activity. It is in this sense that the 
will is self-determined in a way in which nothing that is mechanical 
can be. The pendulum does not swing because it wants exercise 
or because it wants to get to the other side. It swings as a result 
of the forces that are working within the system to which it 
belongs. The will, it may be said, also operates in accordance 
with the forces working within it, but these forces are such as 
to create a result which it foresees and it is because they create 
this result that the will acts as it does. The consequence is 
that there is no limit to the self-determination of the will. If 
at any point in the course of its activity something indicating 
a different result, previously unforeseen, emerges the will is able 
to adapt itself to this new circumstance. There is no fact 
bearing upon the issues of its action which the will is constrained 
by its past to omit. The past has made it what it is, but what 
it is is something looking to the future, determining its move- 
ments by their relation to the future. Self-determination in 
general then means the operation of an object in accordance 
with its own character and the self-determination of the will 
in particular, its operation in accordance with the character of 
a creative impulse. Unconstraint and self-determination are 
thus two expressions for the same thing, the one negative and 
the other positive. 

With this definition in mind, we can easily recognize that 
the harmonious system of conduct, or let us say the harmonious 
will, is also in its inward relations a free system and a free will. 
Let us think of such a system as produced in each part by a 
several and separate act of will. Each act expresses itself, 
or rather in each act as it is at the time and in the relations 
appropriate to the action, the will is expressing itself without 
let or hindrance from other acts or relations of the will. Not 
only without let or hindrance from them, but furthered, main- 
tained and supported by them, while also yielding to them 
furtherance and support. We think of the will in each act as 
looking not only towards the act itself, but also towards the entire 
system of willing of which it is a part, as expressing itself in 
both relations and finding the two relations harmonious. In 
such a harmony each deliverance of the will is free, that is it 
is unconstrained by any other deliverance of the will. Now for 


any single act of will there is just the same freedom if it is per- 
formed without any consciousness of relation to the will as a 
whole, for it is performed without constraint and it is therefore 
self-determined. But the will as a whole can only have freedom 
within if its purposes harmonize, otherwise there is constraint 
of some of its deliverances by others and they cannot all be free. 
In particular, if the permanent character of the will, its main 
tendency or its general principle, is in conflict with and overbears 
its own impulse in some particular case, the result in that case 
is not freedom but constraint. Here it would seem that Hegel 
would rejoin, " Yes, but the constraint that you speak of as 
exercised by the will in one particular relation is a constraint 
exercised by the will as a whole upon the will at a particular 
moment, that is, a constraint exercised by the will upon itself. 
Thus it is still self-determination and therefore it is freedom." 
But if this argument is advanced, it must be rejoined that self- 
determination so interpreted is by no means a satisfactory 
definition of freedom. If there is self-determination without 
harmony, what results is that the particular act or phase of will 
may be to any degree constrained, deflected, inhibited in its 
self-expression by the will as a whole, or, if the phrase be pre- 
ferred, by the unifying principle of the will. Thus instead of 
the freedom of each several act of will we may have an absolute 
constraint exercised by the whole upon the parts. If it be said 
that this at any rate leaves the general principle of the will 
free to express itself, it must be replied that all we know of this 
principle is that it consists in the complete domination of all 
distinguishable phases or acts of will. The will is not willing 
itself, but against itself. Thus, in place of the free will 
that wills the free will, we have the conception of the will 
that in its freedom wills the total subordination of will ; or, in 
other words, freedom without harmony turns out to be con- 
straint, the subordination of the particular to the universal. 
On the other hand, the freedom which is found in harmony is 
the expression of each particular phase of will in its own nature, 
and it is only if order and harmony are assumed to be con- 
vertible terms that it is possible to lay down a priori that a 
system dependent on a single principle is at once self-main- 
taining and free. The truth is that the Hegelian conception of 
freedom really points towards an idea of harmony which Hegel 
himself does not seem to have appreciated. 

Freedom in the sense of absence of internal friction could be 


realized in a completely harmonious order of conduct but in 
no other. But free will, as Hegel uses the expression, is simply 
will which carries through a single principle, that is really a self- 
disciplined will disciplined in accordance with law and custom 
and wherever he uses the term " freedom," the term " self- 
discipline " should be substituted to make sense of his argument. 
In place of the will that wills the free will we should speak of 
the disciplinarian will that wills the subordination of all those 
partial impulses. In this conception there is, if you like, freedom 
for the central principle of the will, but for that alone a freedom 
like that of James Fs free monarchy, which meant that the 
monarch was free to do what he wished with every one else. It 
follows quite clearly from Hegel's view that the bad will is not 
free, but on this point he must be charged with distinct incon- 
sistency, for when he comes to deal with the responsibility for 
wrong-doing ( 139, p. 183) he explicitly maintains, as against 
the view that evil is necessary, that " the man's decision is 
his own act, the act of his freedom and his guilt." But it is 
clear that in his usage of the terms this could only be true if 
wrong-doing were the universal principle of the will. Hence 
the man who acts wrongfully is not free ; he is expressing caprice 
(Willkur) and has no freedom. Hegel cannot have it both ways. 
Either freedom means self-determination expressing itself in 
the choice between good and bad, and therefore as distinctly 
in the bad as in the good. In that case man as a moral agent 
is free, but free to do both ill and well. Or, freedom means 
subjection to the discipline of the goodwill. In that case man 
is free when he does good, but is not free to choose between good 
and evil. 

To sum up, Hegel's conception of freedom depends upon a 
confusion between two distinct conceptions. On the one hand 
there is freedom in the sense of self-determination in any act 
of the will which is carried through without restraint. Freedom 
in this sense does not depend on any positive relation between 
one purpose and another, but might be realized in an isolated 
act without conscious relation to any other. On the other hand, 
in the will as a system of purposes there is fre'edom from any 
internal check or restraint only if all these purposes are in har- 
mony. Hegel's account seems to fuse these conceptions, taking 
control of the partial purpose by the whole to be self-determina- 
tion and therefore freedom, without postulating harmony as 
a condition. Now in the conception of a moral order which 


is a perfect harmony the freedom of the whole is the gathered 
fruit of the freedom of each part. In self-determination without 
harmony there is for the partial manifestations no freedom 
but subjection, and for the governing will no ideal of freedom 
but only of order. To speak of the latter conception in terms 
only applicable to the former is the fallacy that runs through 
all Hegel's theory of the law and the state. 



DR. BOSANQUET'S theory of the state is so intimately bound 
up with his general theory of Reality, that a discussion of his 
social philosophy can hardly be complete without some reference 
to his conception of the Absolute as contained in the two volumes 
of his Gifford Lectures, to which reference has several times 
been made in the preceding chapters. Indeed, for him the state 
seems in a manner to be the medium, it is certainly one of the 
media, by which the individual comes into contact with the 
Absolute. The Absolute is sovereign Lord, but the state is 
its vicegerent here and now. What then is the Absolute and 
how is it related to our lives ? 

The Absolute is that in which all contradictions are reconciled. 
But this definition really includes two characteristics which are 
perfectly distinct. By contradiction is meant, in the most 
natural and straightforward sense of the term, logical contra- 
diction. It is clearly true, but it is also a platitude, to say that 
logical contradictions cannot exist in reality. If the Absolute 
then is an expression for reality as it is in its completeness, it is 
certain that within it there can be no contradictions. Whether 
we should say on this point that within it contradictions are 
reconciled is not so certain. Contradictions really exist in the 
world of partial knowledge, and it would be truer to say that 
they must necessarily be reconciled, that is, resolved away, 
in complete knowledge, while in reality they cannot really 
exist. However, to let this verbal point pass, it is clear that 
in the Absolute all elements of reality which as partially or 
separately known to us are imperfectly understood, and thus 
give rise to apparent contradictions, are so related by underlying 
principles of connection as to constitute a consistent whole. 
All this is little more than platitude, put it as we may. 

But there is a second meaning of contradiction practical 


contradiction, conflict, opposition, under which, in general, 
pain, misery, evil and destruction may be grouped. That 
there exists any being, call it what we will, in which all such 
conflicts are reconciled, is a much more doubtful proposition. 
It can by no means be regarded as a postulate of thought, as 
the first proposition may be, and I suspect that its plausibility 
depends upon an unconscious transition from the first meaning 
to the second. That contradiction in this second sense may be 
somehow reconciled in undoubtedly the aspiration of the religious 
consciousness, but its realization is not a fundamental postulate 
of philosophy. What has here to be asked, however, is whether 
Bosanquet's Absolute does in fact provide any such reconcilia- 
tion ; and if so, at what cost to our moral and religious ideas ? 
Bosanquet's view is that the Absolute is perfection and that all 
the content of our experience, whether we call it good, bad 
or indifferent, would be found, if we had full knowledge, to play 
its necessary part in this perfect scheme. What we have to 
ask is hi what way evil, pain and conflict and destruction can 
have a part to play in a perfect scheme. One answer would be 
that these things are necessary incidents of a process in which 
some life is evolved or some plan being worked out so good and 
glorious that if we could understand it all, we should deem it 
worth the cost. This conclusion, however, is expressly barred 
by Bosanquet, who refuses to conceive the Absolute as the 
realization of a purpose. In point of fact, the conception 
of purpose is only applicable if we think of it as operating upon 
material which is given to it, or at least under conditions by 
which it is so limited as to make the suffering and destruction 
necessary to the completeness of its work. At bottom this is 
why Bosanquet rejects the conception of purpose. It cannot 
characterize the whole. But he does not seem to consider 
the alternative that the whole might be something in which the 
element of purpose is that which we really value, so that the 
ultimate success of this purpose would reconcile us to the cost. 
Rejecting purpose, we have to be satisfied with a world which 
is not going to be any better than the world of our experience 
but is of one tissue with it, only complete. We might perhaps 
value such a world if we could think of it, for example, as a 
kind of living organism, as an organic unity. But the charac- 
teristic of an organic unity is that it maintains the parts by which 
it is constituted. Thus, if there is destruction and pain within 
the organism, it is either because the organism is acted upon 
by foreign bodies or because it is in some way imperfect. The 


universe is not acted upon from without, and if organic at all, 
must be imperfectly so. But the difficulties that arise here 
are not relevant, for Dr. Bosanquet's Absolute is the very 
reverse of organic in its conception, being quite indifferent to 
the permanent welfare of the units, spiritual beings, selves, 
which go to make it up. The life of any one of them may end 
in disruption and despair, and yet reconciliation is supposed to 
be found in the Absolute. The Absolute thus presented is 
something utterly inhuman, without bowels of compassion. It 
is below the moral categories, as everything that pretends to 
be above them invariably is. 

But if the Absolute is neither purpose nor an organism, what 
is it ? Bosanquet answers that it is perfection. It is not good 
and it is not evil strictly, for we judge things good or bad by 
reference to the perfection of the whole. Can this perfection 
give us any reconciliation ? The answer is that it may reconcile 
logical contradictions, but for that we need no conception of 
perfection but simply of reality, or, to phrase it better, of reality 
thoroughly understood ; but that there is only one way in which 
conflict, pain, evil and ills can be said to be reconciled either 
with one another or with any scheme or order to which our 
emotions and admiration and satisfaction can attach themselves, 
and that is by showing that they are necessary steps in the 
fulfilment of some purpose which we regard as fully adequate 
to the heavy cost which they represent. If reconciliation means 
anything other than this, the meaning should be specified. There 
is, no suggestion that it means anything else except the over- 
coming of contradictions, which has been shown is a different 
concept not to be surreptitiously identified with the ideal in 

Certain passages in Bosanquet suggest a possible line of 
reply approaching more nearly to the ordinary ethical and 
religious view of reconciliation. An evil, it may be said, is 
transformed into something which is not evil and perhaps 
even good by the way in which we take it, by our fortitude, by 
our resignation, by our accepting it as the burden which we 
must bear for others, and so on. Now, it is true that by our 
attitude. an evil may be modified and in some respect turned to 
a good account ; but, though modified, the evil is not cancelled. 
If the sufferer does not resent it for himself, we resent it and are 
right to resent it for him. The finer his attitude, the stronger 
ghpuld be its appeal to us onlookers as a flagrant wrong which 


man, or nature, or an Absolute, if you will, has imposed on 
a being who is showing himself worthy of better things. In 
the individual sufferer who uses his suffering nobly there is 
reconciliation, but it is precisely not in the Absolute that 
this reconciliation is achieved. It is in reality is a whole 
that the wrong remains, and so far as it is overcome it is the 
work of the human spirit operating in reality. 

Lastly, if we really need pain and evil as a substratum for 
our good, then it may be true that the most we can do is to 
maintain a life of struggle. This cannot be attributed to the 
perfection of the Absolute, but to a deep-seated dissonance in 
the structure of things, which not only is not, but on this principle 
never could be reconciled. It must be added that if, as Bosanquet 
appears to maintain, effort cannot ever fundamentally improve 
this situation, then effort is fundamentally hopeless and discord 
is absolute. If, on the other hand, effort can make an improve- 
ment, then, though the discord is there, it is capable of mitigation 
and it becomes conceivable that through effort, conscious and 
active beings may achieve a life worth the pain and travail. 
It is in the notion of such a life, either here or hereafter, either 
for others or for ourselves, that every one who has not argued 
about the issue, but felt it, looks for that which may repay the 
terrible cost of human suffering. 


Absolute, 17, 1 8, 19, 20, 24, 116 

Theory of the, 150, 151, 152, 153 
Alexander, Professor, 53 
Aristotle, 60, 73 

Body, 53 

Bosanquet, Dr., 18, 19, 21, 22, 37, 38, 
40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 50, 
Si. 53. 54, 55, 56, 57. 58, 59- 60, 
61, 69, 70, 73, 74, 75, 76, 77, 78, 
79, 80, 81, 82, 83, 84, 85, 86, 94, 
102, 103, 104, 105, 106, 107, 108, 
109, no, in, 112, 113, 114, 115, 
116, 120, 123, 150, 151, 152, 153 

Philosophical Theory of the State, 22, 
40, 5, 56, 74, 94 

Principle of Individuality and Value, 
19, 69, 79, 82 

Social and International Ideals, 21, 

59, 94, 106, 120 
Bridges, J. H., 115 

Church, the, 88, 89, 90 
Clark, Mr. William, 24 
Common Aim, 123 
Common Good, 123 
Comtists, 115, 116 
Cynics, 72 

Ethics, II, 46 

Force, 74, 77, 122 

Freedom, 26, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 
37 ,39, 40, 59, 60, 139, 141, 145, 
147, 148 
Moral, 43 

Gravity, 138 

Green, T. H., 24, 83, 96, 99, n8, 119 

120, 121, 122, 123, 124, 125 
Principles of Political Obligations, 

Goethe, 98 

Harmony, 36, 46, 47, 143 
Hegel, 17, 18, 20, 21, 23, 24, 31, 32, 33, 
34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 56, 62, 
64, 65, 68, 69, 79, 87, 88, 95, 96, 
97, 98, 99, ioo, 101, 102, 103, 
118, 134, 138, 139, 140, 141, 142, 
143, 144, 147, 148, 149 
Philosophy of History, 17, 20 
Philosophic des Rechts, 20, 23, 24, 

38, 79, 87, 96 

Hegel's Theory of the Will, 38, 138 
Hoflding, Professor, 15 
Humanity, 115, 116 
Hume, 63 

Ideals and Facts, 14, 18 
Idealistic Social Philosophy, 41 
Individual, 51, 66, 67 

Kant, ioo, 101 

Law, 26, 32, 38, 92, 114, 149 
League of Nations, The, 25, 106, 107, 

Lycophron, 60 

Marx, Karl, 24 

Mazzini, 106 

Metaphysical Theory of the State, the, 
18, 21, 73, 76, 117, 118, 122, 130 
Mill, 42 


Mind, 53 

Finite, 82 

Moral Philosophy, II 
Moralitdt, 38 
Morals in Evolution, 23 

Nietzsche, 131 
Newton, 69 


Organization, 75, 76, 78, 96, III, 112, 

Plato, 72, 73 
Power, 134 

Reality, Theory of, 150 

Rccht, 38, 6 1 

Rousseau, 40, 41, 42, 74, 80 

Self, 41 

Common, 13, 41,43. 97. 99. 132, 133 

Determination, 33, 35, 38, 39, 40, 
41, 146, 147, 148, 149 

the Real, 43, 48 
Sittlichkeit, 38, 88, 98, 113 
Social Investigation, n 

Philosophy, 12 

Science, 12, 15, 16 

Theory, 12, 17 

Society, 76, 81, 82, 83, 102, 103, 118 
Spirit, the, 18, 24 

State, the, 18, 21, 33, 43, 56, 59, 60, 
7i, 72, 73. 74. 75. 76, 77, 78, 79. 

82, 86, 88, 89, 90, 93, 94, 95, 96, 
97, 100, 101, 102, 103, 104, 105, 
106, 107, 108, 109, no, in, 112, 

113, IIS, Il8, 119, 120, 121, 122, 
130. 131, 134, 136, 149. ISO 

Stoics, 72, 114 

Theory of the State, the, 135 
Treitschke, 103, 134 

Universal, 62, 63, 64, 65, 66, 68, 69, 
76, 96, 122, 141 

Will, 32, 33, 34,35, 42, 47, 79, 81, 108, 
124, 138, 139, 140, 141, 142, 144, 
145, 146, 147, 148 

Actual, 42, 44, 118 

Common, 123 

Free, 32, 139, 143, 144, 146, 147, 148 

General, 32, 40, 42, 43, 46, 49, 50, 
59, 71, 80, 82, 85, 99, 107, 118, 

121, 122, 123, 124, 126, 132 

Hegelian Theory of, 42, 46, 49, 50, 
59, 71, 80, 82, 85, 99, 107, 118, 
121, 122, 123, 124, 126, 132 

Individual, 79 

Particular, 139 

Real, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 
50,56,68,71,80,84,85,86, u8 

of the State, the, 71 

Universal, 68 

Willkiir, 98, 140, 148 

Printed in Great Britain by 


A Series of Monographs by Lecturers and Students connected 
with the London School of Economics and Political Science 



1. The History of Local Rates in England. The Substance of 

five lectures given at the Sckool in November and December, 1895. By EDWIN 
CANNAM, M.A., LL.D. 1896 ; second, enlarged edition, 1912 ; xv and 215 pp., 
crown 8vo, cloth. 35. 6d. net. P. S. King and Son. 

2. Select Documents Illustrating the History of Trade 

Unionism. I. TME TAILORING TRADE. By F. W. GALTON. With a Preface 
by SIDNEY WEBB, LL.B. 1896 ; 242 pp., crown 8vo, cloth. 55. 

P. S. King and Son. 

3. German Social Democracy. Six lectures delivered at the 

School in February and March, 1896. By the Hon. BERTRAWD RUSSELL, B.A., 
late Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge. With an Appendix on Social 
Democracy and the Woman Question in Germany, by ALYS RUSSELL, B.A. 
1896 ; 204 pp., crown 8vo, cloth. 35. 6d. P. S. King and Son. 

4. The Referendum in Switzerland. By M. SIMON DEPLOIGE, 

University of Louvain. With a Letter on the Referendum in Belgium by 
If. J. VAN DEW HEUVEL, Professor of International Law in the University of 
Louvain. Translated by C. P. TREVELYAN, M.A., Trinity College, Cambridge, 
and edited with Notes, Introduction, Bibliography, and Appendices, by LILIAN 
TOWN (Mrs. Knowles), of Girton College, Cambridge, Research Student at the 
School. 1898 ; x and 334 pp., crown 8vo, cloth. 73. 6d. P. S. King and Son. 

5. The Economic Policy of Colbert. By A. J. SARGENT, M.A., 

Senior Hulme Exhibitioner, Brasenose College, Oxford ; and Whately Prizeman, 
1897, Trinity College, Dublin. 1899 ; viii and 138 pp., crown 8vo, cloth. 25. 6d. 

P. S. King and Son. 

6. Local Variations in "Wages. (The Adam Smith Prize, 

Cambridge University, 1898.) By F. W. LAWRENCE, M.A,, Fellow of Trinity 
College, Cambridge. 1899 ; viii and 90 pp., with Index and 18 Maps and 
Diagrams, 4to, u in. by 8 in., cloth. 8s. 6d. Longmans, Green and Co. 

7. The Receipt Roll of the Exchequer for Michaelmas Term of 

the Tnirty-first Year of Henry II (1186). A unique fragment transcribed 
and edited by the Class in Palaeography and Diplomatic, under the supervision 
of the Lecturer, HUBERT HALL, F.S.A., of H.M. Public Record Office. With 
thirty-one Facsimile Plates in Collotype and Parallel readings from the con- 
temporary Pipe Roll. 1899; vii and 37 pp., folio, 15$ in. by n$ in., in green 
cloth ; 2 Copies left Apply to the Director of the London School of 

8. Elements of Statistics. By ARTHUR L. BOWLEY, M.A., Sc.D. 

F.S.S., Cobden and Adam Smith Prizeman, Cambridge ; Guy Silver Medallist 
of the Royal Statistical Society ; Newmarch Lecturer, 1897-8. 500 pp., and 
40 Diagrams, demy 8vo, cloth. 1901 ; Third edition, 1907 ; viii and 336 pp. 
IDS. 6d. net P. S. King and Son. 

9. The Place of Compensation in Temperance Reform. By 

C. P. SANGER, M.A., late Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge. Barrister-at-Law. 
1901 ; viii and 136 pp., crown 8vo, cloth. 23. 6d. net. P. S. King and Sou. 

10. A History of Factory Legislation. By B. L. HUTCHINS and 

A. HARRISON (Mrs. Spencer), B.A., D.Sc. (Econ.), London. With a Preface by 
SIDNEY WEBB. LL.B. 1903 ; new and revised edition, 1911 ; xvi and 298 pp., 
demy 8vo, cloth. 6s. net. P. S. King and Son. 

11. The Pipe Eoll of the Exchequer of the See of Winchester 

for the Fourth Tear of the Episcopate of Peter Dos Roches (1307). 
Transcribed and edited from the original Roll in the possession of the Eccle- 
siastical Commissioners by the Class in Palaeography and Diplomatic, under the 
supervision of the Lecturer, HUBERT HALL, F.S.A., of H.M. Public Record Office. 
With a Frontispiece giving a Facsimile of the RolL 1903 ; xlviii and 100 pp., 
folio, I3J in. by 8J in., green cloth. 155. net. P. S. King and Son. 

12. Self-Government in Canada and How it was Achieved: 

The Story of Lord Durham's Report. By F. BRADSHAW, B.A., D.Sc. (Econ.), 
London ; Senior Hulme Exhibitioner, Brasenose College, Oxford. 1903 ; 414 pp., 
demy 8vo, cloth. 33. 6d. net. P. S. King and Son. 

13. History of the Commercial and Financial Relations between 
England and Ireland from the Period of the Restoration. By ALICE EKFIE 
MURRAY (Mrs. Radice), D.Sc. (Econ.), London, former Student at Girton College, 
Cambridge ; Research Student of the London School of Economics and Political 
Science. 1903 ; 486 pp., demy 8vo, cloth. 35. 6d. net. P. S. Kin* and Son. 

14. The English Peasantry and the Enclosure of Common 
Fields. By GILBERT SLATER, M.A., St. John's College, Cambridge ; D.Sc. 
(Econ.), London. 1906 ; 337 pp., demy 8vo, cloth. los. 6d. net Constable and Co. 

15. A History of the English Agricultural Labourer. By 

DR. W. HASBACH, Professor of Economics in the University of Kiel. Translated 
from the Second Edition (1908) by Ruth Kenyon. Introduction by SIDNEY WEBB, 
LL.B. 1908 ; rvi and 470 pp. , demy 8vo, cloth. P. S. King and Son. 

16. A Colonial Autocracy : Mew South Wales under Governor 

Macquarie, 1810-1821. By MARION PHILLIPS, B.A., Melbourne ; D.Sc. (Econ.), 
London. 1909 ; xxiii and 336 pp., demy 8vo, cloth, zos. 6d. net. 

P. S. King and Son. 

17. India and the Tariff Problem. By H. B. LEES SMITH, M.A., 

M.P. 1909 ; 120 pp., crown 8vo, cloth. 35. 6d. net. Constable and Co. 

18. Practical Notes on the Management of Elections. Three 

Lectures delivered at the School in November, 1909, by ELLIS T. POWELL, LL.B., 
D.Sc. (Econ.), London, Fellow of the Royal Historical and Royal Economic 
Societies, of the Inner Temple, Barrister-at-Law. 1909 ; 52 pp., 8vo, paper. 
is. 6d. net. P. S. King and Son. 

19. The Political Development of Japan. By G. E. UYEHARA, 

B.A., Washington, D.Sc. (Econ.), London. 1910 ; xxiv and 296 pp., demy 8vo, 
cloth. 8s. 6d. net. Constable and Co. 

20. National and Local Finance. By J. WATSON GRICE, D.Sc., 

(Econ.), London. Preface by SIDNEY WEBB, LL.B. 1910 ; 428 pp., demy 8vo, 
cloth. I2S. 6d. net. P. S. King and Son. 

21. An Example of Communal Currency. Facts about the 

Guernsey Market-house. By J. THEODORE HARRIS, B.A. With an Introduction 
by SIDNEY WEBB, LL.B. 1911 ; xiv and 62 pp., crown 8vo, cloth, is. 6d. net ; 
paper, is. net. P. S. King and Son. 

22. Municipal Origins. History of Private Bill Legislation. 

By F. H. SPENCEE, LL.B., D.Sc. (Econ.), London. With a Preface by Sir 
EDWARD CLARKE, K.C. 1911 ; xi and 333 pp., demy 8vo, cloth. IDS. 6d. net. 

Constable and Co. 

23. Seasonal Trades. By various Authors. With an Intro- 
duction by SIDNEY WEBB. Edited by SIDNEY WEBB, LL.B., and AKNOLD 
FREEMAN, M.A. 1912 ; xi and 410 pp., demy 8vo, cloth. Js. 6d. net. 

Constable and Co. 

24. Grants in Aid. A Criticism and a Proposal. By SIDNEY 

WEBB, LL.B. 1911 ; vii and 135 pp., demy 8vo, cloth. 53. net. 

Longmans, Green and Co. 

25. The Panama Canal : A Study in International Law. By 

H. ARIAS, B.A., LL.D. 1911 ; xiv and iSS pp., 2 maps, bibliography, demy 8vo, 
cloth. los. 6d. net. P. S. King and Son. 

26. Combination Among Railway Companies. By W. A. 

ROBERTSON, B.A. 1912 ; 105 pp., demy 8vo, cloth, is. 6d. net ; paper, is. net. 

Constable and Co. 

27. War and the Private Citizen: Studies in International 

Law. By A. PEARCE HIGGINS, M.A., LL.D. ; with Introductory Note by the 
Rt. Hon. Arthur Cohen, K.C. 1912 ; xvi and 200 pp., demy 8vo, cloth. 55. net. 

P. S. King and Son. 

28. Life in an English Village : an Economic and Historical 

Survey of the Parish of Corsley, in Wiltshire. " By M. F. DAVIES. 1909 ; 
xiii and 319 pp., illustrations, bibliography, demy 8vo, cloth, jos. 6d. net. 

T. Fisher Unwin. 

29. English Apprenticeship and Child Labour: a History. 

By O. JOCBLYN DUNLOP, D.Sc. (Econ.), London ; with a Supplementary Section 
on the Modern Problem of Juvenile Labour, by the Author and R. D. DENMAN, M.P. 

1912 ; 390 pp., bibliography, demy 8vo, cloth, ros. 66. net. T. Fisher Unwin. 

30. Origin of Property and the Formation of the Village 

Community. By. J. ST. LEWINSKI, D.Ec.Sc., Brussels. 1913 ; xi and 71 pp., 
demy 8vo, cloth. 33. 6d. net. Constable and Co. 

31. The Tendency towards Industrial Combination (in some 

Spheres of British Industry). By G. R. CARTER, M.A. 1913 ; xxiii and 391 
pp., demy 8vo, cloth. 6s. net. Constable and Co. 

32. Tariffs at Work : an Outline of Practical Tariff Adminis- 
tration. By JOHN HEDLEY HIGGINSON, B.Sc. (Econ.), London, Mitchell Student 
of the University of London ; Cobden Prizeman and Silver Medallist. 1913 ; 
150 pp., crown 8vo, cloth. 2s. net. P. S. King and Son. 

33. English Taxation, 1640-1799. An Essay on Policy and 

Opinion. By WILLIAM KENNEDY, M.A., D.Sc. (Econ.), London ; Shaw Research 
Student of the London School of Economics and Political Science. 1913 ; 200 pp., 
demy 8vo, 73. 6d. net. G. Bell and Sons. 

34. Emigration from the United Kingdom to North America, 

1763-1912. By STANLEY C. JOHNSON, M.A., Cambridge, D.Sc. (Econ.), London, 

1913 ; xvi and 387 pp., demy 8vo, cloth. 6s. net. G. Routledge and Sons. 

35. The Financing of the Hundred Years' War, 1337-1360. 

By SCHUYLER B. TERRY. 1913 ; xvi and 199 pp., demy 8vo, cloth. 6s. net. 

Constable and Co. 

36. Kinship and Social Organisation. By W. H. R. RIVERS, 

M.D., F.R.S., Fellow of St. John's College, Cambridge. 1914 ; 96 pp., demy 8vo, 
cloth. 2S. 6d. net. Constable and Co. 

37. The Nature and First Principle of Taxation. By ROBERT 

JONES, D.Sc. (Econ.), London. With a Preface by SIDNEY WEBB, LL.B. 1914 ; 
xvii and 299 pp., demy 8vo, cloth. 73. 6d. net. P. S. King and Son. 

38. The Export of Capital. By C. K. HOBSON, M.A., D.Sc. 

(Econ.), London, F.S.S., Shaw Research Student of the London School of 
Economics and Political Science. 1914 ; xxv and 264 pp., demy 8vo, cloth. 
73. 6d. net. Constable and Co. 

39. Industrial Training. By NORMAN BURRELL DEARLE, M.A., 

D.Sc. (Econ.), London, Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford ; Shaw Research 
Student of the London School of Economics and Political Science. 1914 ; 6iopp., 
demy 8vo, cloth. los. 6d. net. P. S. King and Son. 

40. Theory of Rates and Fares. From the French of Charles 

Colson's " Transports et tarifs " (3rd edition, 1907), by L. R. CHRISTIE, G. LEED- 
HAM, and C. TRAVIS. Edited and arranged by CHARLES TRAVIS, with an Intro- 
duction by W. M. ACWORTH, M.A. 1914 ; viii and 195 pp., demy 8vo, cloth. 
33. 6d. net. G. Bell and Sons, Lid. 

41. Advertising: a Study of a Modern Business Power. 

By G. W. GOODALL, B.Sc. (Econ.), London. With an Introduction by SIDNEY 
WEBB, LL.B. 1914 ; xviii and 91 pp., demy 8vo, cloth. 23. 6d. net ; paper, 
is. 6d. net. Constable and Co. 

42. English Railways : their Development and their Relation 

to the State. By EDWARD CARNEGIE CLEVELAND-STEVENS, M.A., Christ Church, 
Oxford ; D.Sc. (Econ.), London ; Shaw Research Student of the London School of 
Economics and Political Science. 1915 ; xvi and 325 pp., demy 8vo, cloth. 6s. net. 

G- Routledge and Sons. 

43. The Lands of the Scottish Kings in England. By MARGARET 

F. MOORE, M.A. With an Introduction by P. HUME BROWN, M.A., LL.D., D.D., 
Professor of Ancient Scottish History and Palaeography, University of Edinburgh. 
1915 ; xii and 141 pp., demv 8vo, cloth. 53. net. George Allen and Unwin. 

44. The Colonisation of Australia, 1829-1842 : the Wakefield 

Experiment in Empire Building. By RICHAED C. MILLS, LL.M., Melbourne, 
D.Sc. (Econ.), London. With an Introduction by GRAHAM WALLAS, M.A. t 
Professor of Political Science in the University of London. 1915 ; xx, 363 pp., 
demy 8vo, cloth. IDS. 6d. net. Sidgvick arid Jackson. 

45. The Philosophy of Nietzsche. By A. WOLF, M.A., D.Lit, 

Fellow of University College, London ; Reader in Logic and Ethics in the 
University of London. 1915 ; 114 pp., demy 8vo, cloth. 33. 6d. net. 

Constable and Co. 

46. English Public Health Administration. By B. G. BANNINO 

TON. With a Preface by GRAHAM WALLAS, M.A., Professor of Political Science 
in the University of London. 1915 ; xiv, 338 pp., demy 8vo, cloth. 8s. 6d. net. 

P. S. King and Son. 

47. British Incomes and Property : The Application of 
Official Statistics to Economic Problems. By J. C. STAMP, D.Sc. (Econ.), 
London. 1916 ; xvi, 538 pp., demy 8vo, cloth. 123. 6d. net. P. S. King and Son. 

48. Village Government in British India. By JOHN MATTHAI, 

D.Sc. (Econ.), London. Sometime Tutor in History, Madras Christian College, 
" Vakil " of the High Court of Judicature, Madras. With a Preface by Professor 
SlDNEYWEBB. 1915 ; xix, 211 pp., demy 8vo, cloth. T. Fisher Unwin. 

49. Welfare Work : Employers' Experiments for Improving 

Working Conditions in Factories. By E. D. PROUD, B.A., Adelaide, D.Sc. 
(Econ.), London; with a Foreword by the Rt. Hon. D. LLOYD GEORGE, M.P. 
1916 ; xx, 363 pp., demy 8vo, cloth. 73. 6d. net. George Bell and Sons. 

50. Rates of Postage. By A. D. SMITH, D.Sc. (Econ.), 

London ; with a Preface by Rt. Hon. HERBERT SAMUEL, M.P. 1917 ; ix, 431 pp., 
demy 8 vo, cloth, George A lien and Unwin. 

51. The Metaphysical Theory of the State. By L. T. HOB- 
HOUSE, M.A., Martin White Professor of Sociology in the University of London. 
1918 ; demy 8vo, cloth. 6s. net. George Allen and Unwin. 

Monographs on Sociology. 

3. The Material Culture and Social Institutions of the 

Simpler Peoples. By L. T. HOBHOUSE, M.A., Martin White Professor of 
Sociology in the University of London, G. C. WHEELER, B.A., and M. GINSBERG, 
B.A. 1915 ; 300 pp., demy 8vo, paper. 23. 6d. net. Chapman and Hall. 

4. Village and Town Life in China. By TAO Li KUNG, B.Sc., 

(Econ.), London, and LEONG YEW KOH, LL.B., B.Sc. (Econ.), London. Edited 
by L. T. HOBHOUSE, M.A. 1915 ; 153 pp., demy 8vo, cloth. 53. net. 

George Allen and Unwin. 

Series of Bibliographies by Students of the School. 

1. A Bibliography of Unemployment and the Unemployed. 

By F. ISABEL TAYLOR, B.Sc. (Econ.), London. Preface by SIDNEY WEBB, LL.B. 
1909 ; xix and 71 pp., demy 8vo, cloth, as. net ; paper, is. 6d. net. 

P.'S. King and Son. 

2. Two Select Bibliographies of Mediaeval Historical Study. 

By MARGARET F. MOORE, M.A. With Preface and Appendix by HUBERT HALL, 
F.S.A. 1912 ; 185 pp., demy 8vo, cloth. 53. net. Constable and Co. 

3. Bibliography of Eoadmaking and Eoads in the United 

Kingdom. By DOROTHY BALLEN, B.Sc. (Econ.), London. An enlarged and 
revised edition of a similar work compiled by Mr. and Mrs. Sidney Webb in 1906. 
1914 ; xviii and 281 pp., demy 8vo, cloth. 155. net. P. S. King and Son. 

4. A Select Bibliography for the Study, Sources, and Litera- 
ture of English Mediaeval Economic History. Edited by HUBERT HALL, F.S.A. 
1914 ; xiii and 350 pp., demy 8vo, cloth. 6s. net. P. S. King and Son. 

Series of Geographical Studies. 

1. The Reigate Sheet of the One-inch Ordnance Survey. A 

Study in the Geography of the Surrey Hills. By ELLEN SMITH. Introduction by 
H. J. MACKINDER, M.A., M.P. 1910 ; xix and no pp., 6 maps, 23 illustrations, 
crown 8vo, cloth. 53. net. A. and C. Black. 

2. The Highlands of South- West Surrey. A Geographical 

Study in Sand and Clay. By E. C. MATTHEWS. 1911 ; viii and 124 pp., 7 maps, 
8 illustrations, Svo, cloth. 53. net. A. and C. Black. 

Series of Contour Maps of Critical jlreas. 
1. The Hudson-Mohawk Gap. Prepared by the Diagram Com- 
pany from a map by B. B. Dickinson. 1913 ; i sheet 18" by 22 J". Scale 20 miles 
to I inch. 6d. net ; post free, folded 7d., rolled gd. Si/ton, Praed and Co. 

\A i 

con. 3 

Hobhouse, Leonard Trelawney 

The metaphysical theory 
of the state 




This file was acquired from London : G. Allen & Unwin ; New York : Macmillan, 1918., and it is in the public domain. It is re-distributed here as a part of the Alex Catalogue of Electronic Texts ( by Eric Lease Morgan (Infomotions, Inc.) for the purpose of freely sharing, distributing, and making available works of great literature. Its Infomotions unique identifier is metaphysicaltheo00hobhuoft, and it should be available from the following URL:

Infomotions, Inc.

Infomotions Man says, "Give back to the 'Net."