There is within the souls of man an innate principle of justice and virtue on the basis of which, against our own convictions, we judge our actions and others as good or bad, and this principle is consciousness…
If this were the subject here, I would try to show how the first voices of consciousness appear from the heart of man, and how from the feeling of love and hatred are born the notion of good and bad.
I would like to show that justice and kidness are not just abstract words, pure moral creations made by thought, but true feelings of the soul enlightened by rationality, that they are an orderly progression of our primary feelings.
I would like to show that only by rationality, independent of consciousness, it is not possible to establish any natural law, and that the entire natural right is just a chimera if it is not based on a natural necessity of the human soul.
Even the precept of behaving towards one another in the way we want from the other to behave towards us is based on consciousness and sentiment. Someone may ask where is the exact reason to behave as if he were another, knowing that he would not, morally, ever be in this case; and if he follows this principle, will this cause others to do the same ?
The villain makes profit from his own injustice and the honor of right man, and it’s easy for him that everyone is honest, excepting him. This agreement, whatever it is said, is not very advantageous for the right people. If I were him, it means that in order not to feel pain, I don’t want him to feel pain. I’m interested in him for love for me, and the basis of the precept is in the nature itself, which inspires me the desire of my well-being anywhere i would be.
Hence, it results that is not true that the laws of human nature would be based only on rationality, having a safer and more solid base. Love for people, coming from self-love, is the principle of human justice.
J. J. Rousseau, Emil, or On Education
A more careful reading of the novel Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes shows us that unlike Sancho Panza, who is obsessed with the idea of enrichment, Don Quixote is obsessed with the idea that the order of the world should be grounde on: social justice and elimination of the oppression.
“I came to the world to remove the injustice”, always says Don Quixote, for who the true purpose of life is not his own fame, but the benefits that his actions may cause.
And, through so many deprivation, suffering and humiliation, he continues to fight and suffer for the others, to distroy evil and to triumph truth and righteousness.
The character of Don Quixote is built up of a sums of moral values, showing all the time generosity, courage, renunciation, soul purity, disinterest, stoicism, tendency to action and, in general, the ideal to achieve himself in good and beautiful. In this regard, Don Quixote is one of the most beautiful characters that the Renaissance literature had created.
On the other hand, the hero misses these nobile ideals, as shown in the episode of the battle against the windmills, as well as from the other subsequent episodes, mainly for three reasons: he doesn’t fit his deeds into true necessities, doesn’t know how to pursue his intentions according to his real possibilities and the ideals he wants to implement don’t correspond to the concrete circumstances.
But Cervantes emphasizes the hero’s ensemble of moral virtues because in his conception what serves the moral and social progress of mankind is precisely these virtues. Cervantes’s humanist cultural attitude manifests itself particularly in those hero’s speeches, whose eloquence then proceeds with a perfect clarity of logic and purity of expresion.
In the novel is also presented the general decline of Spain, a decline that is severely judged. The leaders of Spain, about whom Sancho says “he doesn’t give a damn about them”, just think of stealing and spending the wealth of the country. Instead of any virtues they display their arrogance, forgetting that the true nobility is based on virtue; the noble rank is inherited, but virtue is conquered.
Neither the other stancheon of the Spanish state, the Church, is forgiven. The priests of that time were said to be small in their hearts, that they only think about food and urge the rich to be hunks.
Finally, Cervantes’s true democratism is in the attention he pays to the characters of the people, very numoerous and varied, objectively presented, defective, but in who beautiful moral attributes predominate.
from Cristina Ionescu, Renasterea in Spania