The growth of the ethical consciousness in the individual
has not been adequately studied by the psychologists. The
question has indeed attracted the attention of several writers
but the treatment of it has been on the whole unsatisfactory.
For this there are several reasons. In some cases the
problem has been examined in a more or less incidental way
in connection with the discussion of some special theory or
theories. The problem is too comprehensive, however, to admit
of being adequately treated in this way. Where it has
been more directly attacked, two things have detracted from the
value of the discussion. Either the writer has failed to
preface his genetic account with an analysis of the developed
ethical consciousness or, where such an analysis has been offered,
the view adopted of that consciousness has been too narrow to
enable one to see the genetic problems in their true focus.
In the former case, where no analysis is given, the writer either
assumes that the ethical consciousness is too familiar a fact
to require elaborate analysis; or he considers that this analysis
has been sufficiently carried out by the philosophers who have
made Ethics their special province. The history of ethical theory
from Socrates onwards, is a standing refutation of the notion
that we can safely dispense with the analysis in question.
It can be said, on the contrary, that there is no question
of general philosophic interest that makes a severer demand on
the resources of the psychologist.