Quote of the Week: Paul Elmer More, “Aristocracy and Justice”

Paul Elmer MoreThere is, in fact, a terrible confusion hidden in the New Morality, an ulcerous evil that is ever working inward. Sympathy, creating the desire for even-handed justice, is in itself an excellent motive of conduct, and the stronger it grows, the better the world shall be. But sympathy, spoken with the word “social” prefixed, as it commonly is on the platforms of the day, begins to take on a dangerous connotation. And ‘social sympathy’ erected into theory which leaves out of account the responsibility of the individual and seeks to throw out the blame of evil on the laws and on society, though it may effect desirable reforms here and there in institutions, is bound to leave the individual weakened in his powers of resistance against the temptations which can never be eliminated from human life. The whole effect of calling sympathy justice and putting it in the place of judgment is to relax the fiber of character and nourish the passions at the expense of reason and the will.”

▪ Paul Elmer More, Aristocracy and Justice – Shelburne Essays Ninth Series (Houghton Mifflin Company, 1915) extract from page 211.

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