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CHAPTER V.: INFLUENCE OF TIME. - Jeremy Bentham, The Works of Jeremy Bentham, vol. 1 (Principles of Morals and Legislation, Fragment on Government, Civil Code, Penal Law) 
The Works of Jeremy Bentham, published under the Superintendence of his Executor, John Bowring (Edinburgh: William Tait, 1838-1843). 11 vols. Vol. 1.
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INFLUENCE OF TIME.
We now come to speak of the influence of time on the expediency of a law, or set of laws. The question on this head divides itself into two: the laws that are the best possible for a given place, at the time present being found; would the same laws, had they happened to be found in time past, have been the best possible for that time past? and the like, with relation to the time future. This, we see, when considered with a view to any direct influence it can have, is a mere question of speculation: nobody can transfer our present laws to time past; we cannot transfer them to time future. Nevertheless, as a right way of thinking on this head may contribute, perhaps, in a manner more or less remote, to guard us against mistakes in practice, a few words on this head may not be altogether thrown away.
Time, as we have already had occasion to observe, is nothing of itself. To learn what influence, it possesses, we must inquire, what influence may be exercised by those causes of a superior order into which that influence is resolvable. In regard to causes purely physical, the field of variation, at least as to any correspondent variation of influence, cannot be very considerable: as to the nature of the soil, lands once marshy may be drained; lands once dry may be overflowed; rivers, which formerly flowed into the sea, may, in very particular situations, be intercepted and dissipated in their course; from lakes, communication may be opened to the sea; peninsulas may, by nature or by industry, be converted into islands; and continents may be intersected, in various directions, by canals. The higher parts of mountains may crumble down by their own weight, or be washed down by rivers: at the mouths of rivers, islands may be formed, or the continents lengthened out by deposition in the sea. Volcanoes, when constant, may tend to reduce mountains to a level; when occasional, they may raise plains into hills, sink beds in them for lakes, or throw up islands in the sea. Ports may be deserted, or new ones hollowed out by the caprices of the ocean. All these alterations may give occasion for correspondent changes, in regard to the individual places that are the objects of certain laws; principally those laws to which semi-public offences, offences against the public force, offences against the public wealth, respectively owe their birth. But the general nature of those offences, and the general nature of those laws, will be still the same; and, at any rate, whatever modifications on this head are made requisite by time, will be such, and such only, as are made requisite by place.
It is the same thing with regard to climate, and those peculiarities in respect of animal and vegetable produce, which are the consequences, partly of this circumstance and partly of the former. Partly by means of cultivation, and partly by other causes, of which the operation is less known, the quantity of sensible heat diffused over the surface of the earth appears to have a tendency, by slow degrees, to verge towards an equilibrium: hot climates become, perhaps, a little cooler; more certainly, cold climates become a little warmer. The productions of one country are, in course of time, transplanted to another: and the course of cultivation may, in consequence, be changed; but if any change is in consequence required in the laws, it arises from the blindness or indolence of the legislator of former times. If, in his enactments, he have employed specific terms, he must alter and add to them: but if he have employed generic terms, it is the nature of these to open up and let in the specific ones, as fast as they are formed.
So far, then, as the texture of the soil and the nature of its productions are concerned, a succession of time may give occasion to a demand for some of the alterations to which a change of place may give occasion: but this change will not extend to those variations, which are consequences of climate, in the moral qualities of men. The changes which time may bring on in respect of heat and cold, will never be considerable enough to give to one zone the temperature of another.
It seems to be a common notion, that those laws, which are the best with reference to the circumstances of a civilized nation, would not have been so with reference to the circumstances of a rude and ignorant nation: on the contrary, that rude nations must have rude and simple, that is, imperfect laws: I mean, not only that in point of fact the laws of a rude nation will have been rude, but that in point of expediency it was proper they should be so. The former of these propositions is undeniable: the latter, I deny. Let us examine the time past, and look forward to the future.
On this occasion, we must once more bring to view the distinction between matters of fact and the matter of right, or rather of expediency; between what has taken place, and what ought to have taken place. That in rude ages the tenor of the laws has always been very different from what would be the standard of perfection for the present age, is not to be disputed. That it could not but have been so without a miracle, is also pretty clear. But were the imperfect laws which obtained then, better for that time than the most perfect which we can imagine now would have been for the same time? The affirmative is what seems to have been insinuated, but, as it should seem, without sufficient cause.
There are two classes of people, from whom this notion seems to have gained countenance: the one consisting of those who, from indolence or timidity, or less pardonable motives, have found it convenient to set their faces against every proposal that savours of improvement or reformation. To people of this description, it must have seemed the happiest contrivance imaginable, if from the very excellence of a system of laws they could raise an argument, and that a conclusive one, against its fitness. Such an argument, when sifted to the bottom, will indeed be found to be a contradiction in terms: but how few are they by whom such arguments can be sifted to the bottom? If they can get such an argument to apply to the laws of past times, the next step is to transfer it to the present. Get such an argument to pass muster in the first case, in which there is but little reason in it, and perhaps you may get it received in the other case, in which there is no reason in it at all.
The other class of people are those who have a system to defend, which, without some such expedient, would be indefensible. This is the case with the votaries of all those absurd and false religions which have descended into the details of legislation. Viewed by the light of polished reason, the defects of our code are too glaring to be dissembled. Say, then, that from causes peculiar to that age, it could not have been better. That to invest it with the authority of law in present times, would appear to be a measure equally ridiculous and destructive in any country, in which the defects of it are not veiled by the thickest prejudice, is not to be denied. That this pretended emanation of divine wisdom would be found worse than the worst of those systems of law which are in force in polished nations, is scarcely to be disputed with any prospect of success. What is to be done? There is but one thing; which is, to take the blame off the shoulders of the legislator, and lay it upon the people. Say they were stupid, stubborn, prejudiced, intractable: this will put you at your ease. You may then acknowledge, and acknowledge with safety, that in a certain sense the laws were bad; and this will entitle you to maintain, that in another sense they are good: they were bad in theory, but they were good, the best possible, in practice: they were bad in appearance, but they were the best possible in effect.
The plea is plausible enough while it keeps to generals; and as there is no other, it must be made the most of. Distress of argument forced it from minds engrossed by prejudice; and it may pass, as any thing else would pass, upon those who are prejudiced the same way. But come to particulars, the illusion vanishes. Take what nation you will; give them what character you please: where could have been the advantage that injuries should have been left without redress; that men should be teazed and perplexed by a chain of minute and frivolous obligations; that punishments, perhaps of the severest kind, should be heaped on them for acts from which no mischievous consequences can be traced; that when the act, which is forbidden, happens to be of the number of those that are pernicious, no account should be taken of the various grounds of justification, aggravation, extenuation, and exemption, which are pertinent to the case; that punishments should be inflicted without measure and without choice; that no enumeration should be given of the grounds of right, nor any complete set of principles established for the decision of claims to property; that the business of judicial procedure should be abandoned to arbitrary discretion; and that, where power of any other sort is given, no care should be taken to shape it to its end, by the necessary apparatus of obligations, qualifications, and exceptions?
If there be any ground for denying the truth of the position, that the laws which are the best for a civilized, would have also been the best for a rude age in any case, it is in the case of that part of the law which concerns punishments, and that part of it which concerns the laws in principium. In a very rude age, it is possible that punishments, in point of quantity, might require to be somewhat greater than it is necessary they should be in a civilized one. In a rude age, the religious sanction has commonly given but little assistance to the political: the force of the former, though much greater in a rude than a civilized age, being diverted into other channels; hence one reason why the quantum of punishment provided by the political sanction may require to be somewhat greater in the former period than in the latter. In a rude age, the moral sanction has less force than in a civilized one: hence another reason for adding something to the magnitude of the punishment provided by the political sanction. In a rude period of society, the people are not yet broken in to the habit of spontaneously lending their assistance to the laws: hence a third reason. The differences, however, that may be occasioned by these circumstances, can at the utmost be but very slight; especially if the maxim laid down in a former chapter be true, that even in a civilized age the whole complement of punishment that is judged necessary, must be taken from the political sanction, and that the auxiliary sanctions alone cannot safely be depended upon for any part of it.
If an intelligent Mahometan be to be found, press him upon the absurdity of the laws of Mahomet; drive him to his last shift: he will say, “True: considered with regard to their application to the purposes of the present life, they are indeed not altogether what they might have been, if made now: but consider the time, consider the state of the people, the state of knowledge at that time. Such laws as a man might make now would not have been understood: they were excellent for the time; they were excellent for the people: better laws than those, the people would never have received. Such laws as a man might make now, either could not then have been expressed, or would not have been understood.”
To this argument there is a short answer: the words that Mahomet made use of we know: to those words the same ideas, or ideas that were the same to all material purposes, were annexed then, that are annexed now; so at least we must suppose, in as far as we pretend to understand them. Give me the words of the Koran; give me the ideas that belong to them; I ask no more: out of them, and them alone, I undertake to produce you a code, which shall contain a hundred times the useful matter there is in that, without any of those absurdities, the existence of which, upon comparison made with the ideas of utility we have at present, you cannot but acknowledge.
But, better laws, though they could have been written at that time, and would have been understood, would not have been received; for the people were an ignorant, prejudiced, and headstrong people. This argument may also be demolished without much difficulty.
Ignorant, prejudiced, and stubborn as they were, did not your prophet tear from them their dearest, their most sacred prejudices? Were they not polytheists, and did he not make them unitarians? Did he not search out with the severest diligence the crimes and vicious propensities they were most addicted to? Throughout the whole of his system and of his proceedings, is any want of firmness, any of audacity, discernible? If not, there is but one want, to which the imperfection of his system can any longer be attributed, the want of wisdom; the want of wisdom on the part of a man, who, you say, was taught by God himself; the want of a share of wisdom equal to what may be found at present in a man of the most ordinary level.
My people will not endure even the most necessary restraints; I have therefore laid them under a vast multitude that are of no use. Such logic may pass upon some minds; but they must first of all have been prepared by a pretty ample dose of prejudices.
The energy of character necessary to enable a man to lead mankind, to influence as well the intellectual faculties as the affections; the character to which we have given the name of enthusiasm, is made up of a determined active courage, and a rambling imagination. No coward, no man even of selfish prudence, was ever a founder of a new system of legislation. Nemo unquam vir magnus sine aliquo afflatu divino fuit, says Cicero: the plain truth of this, as far as it is true, is, that the energy of the head, in the degree in which it is necessary to constitute a legislator, I mean always an enterprising innovating legislator, is always accompanied with a more than common degree of energy in the heart.
It is not to considerations of personal prudence that the imperfections of the laws of Mahomet must be attributed: he attempted every thing that his genius had discovered. The defects in his work arose from want of knowledge: if he had known better, he would have done better. This conclusion, if true, completely overturns the foundations of the Mahometan religion: hence he has neglected nothing that could enable him to elude it; and the universal ignorance of its professors is partly the result of the contrivance of the legislator to prevent the detection of his imposture.
It is a saying attributed to Solon, that the laws he had given to the Athenians were not such as were the best in themselves, but the best they were capable of receiving. In this there was doubtless somewhat of truth, especially when applied to that turbulent and jealous people; and the saying would hold good, in the greatest degree, in regard to the constitutional branch of their laws; but that it was strictly true, one may venture without much hesitation to deny.
There could not have been a more convenient maxim for saving the credit of a legislator; and those who have had a legislator to defend, have not failed to make the most of it. But there are few maxims, perhaps, that have been carried so much beyond the mark: and it has been frequently cited in cases where it has not only been erroneous in itself, but not altogether innocent in its consequences.
Whatever Athenian arrogance may pretend, it will not easily gain credit with a discerning mind, that at so early a period of society the best of all possible laws should have presented themselves to view. It will not be believed, that among a people whose character disqualified them from receiving any better laws than those which Solon gave them, there should have existed a man, who in his own mind had carried that most difficult of sciences to so high a pitch of perfection, that it will never be possible for any other man to carry it higher.
This sort of apology, what degree of truth soever there may have been in it, in the instance in which it has been made, has since been much abused; and it has been employed to gain a reputation of wisdom and expediency for many a mischievous and many a foolish law. The law, such as it is, lies before you; yet foolish as you may think it, the lawgiver may, for aught that you know, have been the wisest of mankind. But such as the author is, such are his works. Since, then, the lawgiver is wise, the law itself may perhaps be a wise one too, how foolish soever it may appear to you: it may have had its use, though you and I don’t see it. Let the law, then, stay where it is; to abolish it, is dangerous: a mischief may ensue, which we are not able to foresee. Such is the circle in which many a man who, insensible to the force of truth, has nothing to guide him but the prejudice he has conceived in favour of antiquity, scruples not to run. If any one has a mind to see how far the legislator was entitled to the benefit of this plea, let him consider in what channel the prejudices of the people are likely to have run, and in what points they are likely to have imposed a coercion upon the legislator. It is natural enough they should have opposed any important violent change he might have been inclined to make in the article of religion; and yet we have seen religions overthrown by the legislator, and others set up in their stead. It is natural enough they should oppose the investing men with new powers, or making a new distribution of the old; and yet in this way, too, we have seen great changes made by legislators, with little or no opposition on the part of the people. It is natural enough they should oppose any wishes he might form, or might be suspected to entertain, of subjecting them to new and irksome restraints or obligations; although among the most necessary restraints and obligations, we shall find some of the most irksome. But a supposition, that is not by any means a natural one, is, that by dint of menaces and clamour they should have forced him to fetter their own freedom, by a heap of idle, trifling, and ridiculous obligations and restraints. When a code, amidst all its redundancies, is defective, and regulations of the most obvious use and necessity are looked for in it in vain, it is not a mere ipse dixit that will warrant us to give credit for utility to institutions, in which not the least trace of utility is discernible.
Before a period be put to this chapter, it may naturally be expected that some notice should be taken of the immutability, which many have been so fond of attributing to certain laws, or pretended laws; as also of the much-talked-of distinction between mala in se and mala prohibita, with reference to actions; a distinction which seems analogous to the former.
How mighty in every branch of science, and in the moral branch in particular, how mighty and how universal is the force of words! How many questions, even of those of which one would least expect it, would, if examined with attention, be found to turn upon nothing else! Who would have thought it? Even the question concerning the immutability of certain laws, is of the number! The same act which ought to be forbidden in one age and country, ought it to be forbidden in every other? Yes, and No: yes, if, in pronouncing the word act, we have in view a large and general class of acts: no, if a narrow and particular one. The plain truth of the matter is this: there are certain acts which admit of laws, which, if worded in a certain manner, may stand good, and be equally applicable to all places and times; while there are other acts for which no such laws can be devised. Under the former predicament come those acts, of which the name is included in a single word; such as murder, theft, adultery, perjury, and the like. Let no one commit murder; let no one commit theft; let no one commit adultery; let no one commit perjury; and so on. Upon this plan, we might make a variety of laws, of which the expediency might without impropriety be termed universal and immutable.
But laws, while the expression of them is confined to terms so loose and so extensive, will never be found precise and clear enough for use. The act thus vaguely described must, before it can be thoroughly understood and perfectly distinguished, be broken down into species: the law relating to it must, accordingly, be broken down into a multitude of laws: the phrase, pure as it stands now, must be transformed into others, in which provisions of an expository, limitative, or exceptive nature, will be necessary. Now, among these qualifying provisions, will in every case be some, the effect of which is to except out of the general prohibition certain cases, in which the act is either commanded or allowed by some other branch of the code of law. Now, of these qualifying provisions, some, it will be found, ought, in point of expediency, to be different in one country from what they are in another; different in the same country at one time from what they are at another: and this is the secret history of the universality and immutability of these universal and immutable laws.
The notion concerning the essential distinction between mala in se, and mala prohibita, is a sort of counterpart and consequence of the former. Mala in se are the offences that are forbidden by the laws that are immutable: mala prohibita, such as are prohibited by laws that are not immutable.
The common notion of this distinction (as far as a distinction which has no clearness in it is capable of an explanation) seems to be this. Mala in se, which I suppose is put instead of mala per se, are acts which are evil of themselves; that is, although there be no political law by which they stand prohibited: mala prohibita are such acts as are indeed evil, but would not have been so, had it not been for the law by which they stand prohibited.
The foundation of this distinction is none of the clearest: but to throw some little matter of light upon all this darkness, the following observations may be of use:—
If any act can with propriety be termed pernicious, it must be so in virtue of some events which are its consequences: this has been clearly shown already; therefore no act can, strictly speaking, be mala in se, in itself pernicious; nor even of, or by itself, any farther than the words of or by may be understood to exclude the influence of certain laws. Now, then, as to mala prohibita. Why is it that any act is prohibited, if prohibited with good cause? Because the events, which are its consequences, are pernicious, if the law is a good one. The distinction between mala in se and mala prohibita, therefore, appears but verbal. If the consequences are otherwise than pernicious, the law, and whatever punishment it is sanctioned by, are groundless, and thence improper.
Again, the distinction pretends to suppose abstraction to be made of subsisting political laws; but, in truth, no such abstraction is ever made. The cases in which the taking the goods of another is theft, depend upon the laws; and a similar observation may be made with regard to other acts, considered as mala in se: even killing becomes murder, only in the absence of any ground of extenuation or justification allowed by the law. On the other hand, the evil of acts termed mala prohibita, does not arise from the prohibitory law itself, but is the result of that cluster of laws, by which the negative or positive act, directed to be done or omitted, is applied to beneficial purpose.
The evil, however, of an act which becomes mischievous, in consequence of the establishment of certain laws, is not less real than that of an act mala in se. The evil of such an act may, indeed, far exceed the evil even of an act of murder. Let such an act be the non-payment of taxes: let the deficiency rise to a certain amount: an enemy breaks in, and among the consequences of the irruption are many thousand homicides, which, if they have not the name, have the effect of murder.
Were I to choose to what I would (most truly and readily) attribute these magnificent prerogatives of universality and immutability, it should rather be to certain grounds of law, than to the laws themselves: to the principles upon which they should be founded: to the subordinate reasons deducible from those principles, and to the best plan upon which they can be put together: to the considerations by which it is expedient the legislator should suffer himself to be governed, rather than to any laws which it is expedient he should make for the government of those who stand committed to his care.
On this ground, then, a man engaged in a design like that which is the object of this work, might lay claim to the attributes of universality and eternity for the rectitude of his doctrines, with as little arrogance as he could claim for them the most confined and temporary expediency, provided that in the execution of his plan, he has boldness and strength of mind enough to set apart all along whatsoever is peculiar to particular times and places, and to raise his contemplation to that elevated point from which the whole map of human interests and situations lies expanded to his view.
The rules concerning the cases that are respectively meet and unmeet for punishment and for reward; the rules concerning the proportion proper to be observed between offences and punishments, between acts of merit and reward; the rules concerning the properties to be wished for in a lot of punishment and reward; the principles on which the division of offences has its foundation; the principles on which the various methods of attacking offences by indirect or far-fetched means: all these, if they are just and proper now, would at any time have been so, and will be so every where, and to the end of time. They will hold good, so long as pleasure is pleasure, and pain is pain; so long as steel wounds, fire burns, water seeks a level, bread nourishes, inanition destroys; so long as the tooth of the slanderer keeps its venom; so long as difference of sex attracts; so long as neighbour needs the help of neighbour; so long as men derive credit or fortune from their ancestors, or feel an affection for their children.
The author of a work entitled “Public Happiness,” has maintained that the condition of man has gone on progressively ameliorating from the commencement of time; and Dr. Priestley has expressed his expectation that man will ultimately attain a degree of happiness and knowledge which far surpasses our present conceptions. These glorious expectations remind us of the golden age of poetry: they have, however, this advantage; the happiness of which they speak is to come, and we are not discouraged by vain regrets for what is past.
We may hope, then, that in future time improvements will be made, among other things, in the practice of legislation. But we must only consider that the laws have reached the maximum of their perfection, and that men have obtained the maximum of their happiness, inasmuch as it depends upon the laws, when great crimes shall be known only by the laws which prohibit them: when the catalogue of prohibited acts shall no longer contain actions the evil of which is imaginary: when the rights and duties of the different classes of men shall be so well defined in the civil code, that there shall be no suits arising upon points of law: when the system of procedure shall be so simplified, that the disputes which from time to time may arise upon questions of fact, shall be terminated without any other expense or delay than is absolutely necessary: when the courts of justice, though always open, shall be rarely resorted to: when nations, having laid aside their arms and disbanded their armies by mutual agreement, and not from mutual weakness, shall only pay almost imperceptible taxes: when commerce shall be free, so that what may be done by many, shall not be restricted exclusively to a small number; and when oppressive taxes, prohibitions, and bounties, shall not prevent its natural development: when perfect liberty shall be allowed to those branches of trade which require liberty, and positive encouragements shall be granted to those which require it: when, from the perfection of constitutional law, the rights and duties of public officers shall have been so well distributed, and the dispositions of the people to submit and to resist so well tempered, that the prosperity resulting from the preceding causes shall be beyond the danger of revolutions: and, in conclusion, when the law, which should be the rule of human actions, shall be concise, intelligible, without ambiguity, and in the hands of every one.
But to what will the happiness arising from all this amount? It may be described as the absence of a certain quantity of evil. It will arise from the absence of a part of the different evils to which human nature is subject. The increase of happiness which will hence result, is doubtless sufficiently great to excite the zeal of all virtuous minds in this career of perfection which is open to us; but there is nothing in it unknown or mysterious, and which cannot be perfectly understood.
Every thing beyond this is chimerical. Perfect happiness belongs to the imaginary regions of philosophy, and must be classed with the universal elixir and the philosopher’s stone. In the age of greatest perfection, fire will burn, tempests will rage, man will be subject to infirmity, to accidents, and to death. It may be possible to diminish the influence of, but not to destroy, the sad and mischievous passions. The unequal gifts of nature and of fortune will always create jealousies: there will always be opposition of interests; and, consequently, rivalries and hatred. Pleasures will be purchased by pains; enjoyments by privations. Painful labour, daily subjection, a condition nearly allied to indigence, will always be the lot of numbers. Among the higher as well as the lower classes, there will be desires which cannot be satisfied; inclinations which must be subdued: reciprocal security can only be established by the forcible renunciation by each one, of every thing which might wound the legitimate rights of others. If we suppose, therefore, the most reasonable laws, constraint will be their basis: but the most salutary constraint in its distant effect is always an evil, is always painful in its immediate operation.
The limits of perfectibility are not so easily assigned in some other points; it is not possible to say precisely how far the human mind may go in the regions of poetry, in the different branches of literature, in the fine arts, as painting, music, &c. It is, however, probable that the sources of novelty will be exhausted; and that, if the instruments of pleasure become more exquisite, taste will become proportionably severe.
This faithful picture, the result of facts, is more worthy of regard than the deceptive exaggerations which excite our hopes for a moment, and then precipitate us into discouragement, as if we had deceived ourselves in hoping for happiness. Let us seek only for what is attainable: it presents a career sufficiently vast for genius; sufficiently difficult for the exercise of the greatest virtues. We shall never make this world the abode of perfect happiness: when we shall have accomplished all that can be done, this paradise will yet be, according to the Asiatic idea, only a garden; but this garden will be a most delightful abode, compared with the savage forest in which men have so long wandered.
This discussion has been necessary in order to show, that scarcely at present have just ideas been formed of perfection in matters of government. Until the grand principle of utility had been exhibited; until it had been separated from the two false principles with which it had been unceasingly confounded; until, by the aid of this principle, the end to be pursued, and the means to be employed, had been recognised; until, so to speak, all the legislative apparatus had been provided, and all the fundamental truths had been arranged, it was impossible to form any precise notion of a perfect system of legislation. But if at length these different objects have been accomplished, the idea of its perfection is no longer a chimera: it is, so to speak, presented to him who knows how to appreciate it: he may trace the whole of its horizon; and though no one now living may be permitted to enter into this land of promise, yet he who shall contemplate it in its vastness and its beauty may rejoice, as did Moses, when on the verge of the desert, from the mountain top, he saw the length and the breadth of that good land into which he was not permitted to enter and take possession.
A TABLE OF THE SPRINGS OF ACTION:
THE SEVERAL SPECIES OF PLEASURES AND PAINS OF WHICH MAN’S NATURE IS SUSCEPTIBLE:
THE SEVERAL SPECIES OF INTERESTS, DESIRES, AND MOTIVES RESPECTIVELY CORRESPONDING TO THEM:
THE SEVERAL SETS OF APPELLATIVES, NEUTRAL, EULOGISTIC,andDYSLOGISTIC, BY WHICH EACH SPECIES OF MOTIVE IS WONT TO BE DESIGNATED:
to which are added,
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND OBSERVATIONS,
THE APPLICATIONS OF WHICH THE MATTER OF THIS TABLE IS SUSCEPTIBLE, IN THE CHARACTER OF A BASISorFOUNDATION, OF AND FOR THE ART AND SCIENCE OF MORALS, OTHERWISE TERMED ETHICS,
PRIVATEorPUBLIC alias POLITICS—(INCLUDING LEGISLATION)—THEORETICALorPRACTICAL alias DEONTOLOGY—EXEGETICAL alias EXPOSITORY (WHICH COINCIDES MOSTLY WITH THEORETICAL,) OR CENSORIAL, WHICH COINCIDES MOSTLY WITH DEONTOLOGY:
also of and for
PSYCHOLOGY, IN SO FAR AS CONCERNS ETHICS, AND HISTORY (INCLUDING BIOGRAPHY) IN SO FAR AS CONSIDERED IN AN ETHICAL POINT OF VIEW.
Since the printing of this Tract, the following apposite passage from Helvetius was discovered, and pointed out to the Author:—
“Chaque passion a donc ses tours, ses expressions, et sa manière particulière de s’exprimer: aussi l’homme qui, par une analyse exacte des phrases et des expressions dont se servent les différentes passions, donneroit le signe auquel on peut les reconnoître, mériteroit sans doute infiniment de la reconnoissance publique. C’est alors qu’on pourroit, dans le faisceau de sentiments qui produisent chaque acte de notre volonté, distinguer du moins le sentiment qui domine en nous. Jusques-là les hommes s’ignoreront eux-memes, et tomberont, en fait de sentiments, dans les erreurs les plus grossières.”
Helvet.de l’Esprit. Tom. II. Disc. iv. Ch. ii. p. 305.
TABLE OF THE SPRINGS OF ACTION.
No. I. PLEASURES AND PAINS,—of theTaste—thePalate—the Alimentary Canal—ofIntoxication.
Corresponding Interest, Interest of the PALATE—Interest of theBottle.
Corresponding MOTIVES—with Names,
No. II. PLEASURES AND PAINS,—of the Sexual Appetite, or of the Sixth Sense.
Corresponding Interest, SEXUAL INTEREST.
Corresponding MOTIVES—with Names,
No. III. PLEASURES AND PAINS,—ofSense,or of theSenses:viz. generically or collectively considered.
Corresponding Interest, Interest of SENSE—of the Senses:—SENSUAL INTEREST.
Corresponding MOTIVES—with Names,
No. IV. PLEASURES AND PAINS, Derived from the matter ofWealth.—Pleasuresof Possession—Fruition—Acquisition—Affluence—Opulence.Painsof Privation—Loss—Poverty—Indigence.
Corresponding Interest, PECUNIARY INTEREST. Interest of the Purse.
Corresponding MOTIVES—with Names,
No. V. PLEASURES AND PAINS,—ofPower,Influence, Authority, Dominion, Governance, Government, Command, Rule, Sway, &c.;—of Governing, Commanding, Ruling, &c.
Corresponding Interest, Interest of the SCEPTRE.
Corresponding MOTIVES—with Names,
No. VI. PLEASURES AND PAINS,—ofCuriosity.
Corresponding Interest, Interest of the SPYING-GLASS.
Corresponding MOTIVES—with Names,
No. VII. PLEASURES AND PAINS,—ofAmity:viz.Pleasuresderivable from the Good-will, thence from the Free Services, of this or that individual.—Painsderivable from the Loss or Non acquisition of ditto.
Corresponding Interest, Interest of the CLOSET.
Corresponding MOTIVES—with Names,
No. VIII. PLEASURES AND PAINS,—of theMoralorPopularSanction: viz.PleasuresofReputation,or Good-repute:PainsofBad Reputation,or Ill-repute.
Corresponding Interest, Interest of the TRUMPET.
Corresponding MOTIVES—with Names,
No. IX. PLEASURES AND PAINS,—of theReligious Sanction.
Corresponding Interest, Interest of the ALTAR.
Corresponding MOTIVES—with Names,
No. X. PLEASURES AND PAINS,—ofSympathy.
Interest of the HEART: viz. more or less expanded, expansive, comprehensive—in proportion to the Number of the Persons whose Welfare is the object of the Desire.
Corresponding MOTIVES—with Names,
No. XI. PLEASURES AND PAINS,—ofAntipathy—of Ill-will—of theIrascible Appetite:including thePleasuresof Revenge, and thePainsof Unsatisfied Vindictiveness.
Corresponding Interest, Interest of the GALL-BLADDER.
Corresponding MOTIVES—with Names,
No. XII. PAINS,—ofLabour—Toil—Fatigue.
Corresponding Interest, Interest of the PILLOW.
Corresponding MOTIVES—with Names,
No. XIII. PAINS,—ofDeath,and bodily Pains in general.
Corresponding Interest, Interest of EXISTENCE—of Bodily, Corporal, Personal, SELF-PRESERVATION—Safety—Security.
Corresponding MOTIVES—with Names,
No. XIV. PLEASURES AND PAINS,—of theSelf-RegardingClass, generically or collectively considered: i. e. of all the above sorts, except Nos. X. and XI.
Corresponding Interest, SELF-REGARDING Interest.
Corresponding MOTIVES—with Names,
(a) [Springs of action.] 1. Under this denomination, those objects and considerations alone are included in this Table, which, in their operation on the will, act as it were in the way of immediate contact. Concerning those which act on the will no otherwise than through the understanding, see Note (m) on the word Motives.
2. The words here employed as leading terms, are names of so many psychological entities, mostly fictitious, framed by necessity for the purpose of discourse. Add, and even of thought: for, without corresponding words to clothe them in, ideas could no more be fixed, or so much as fashioned, than communicated.
3. By habit, wherever a man sees a name, he is led to figure to himself a corresponding object, of the reality of which the name is accepted by him, as it were of course, in the character of a certificate. From this delusion, endless is the confusion, the error, the dissension, the hostility, that has been derived.
4. Of all these groups or classes of intimately connected psychological entities, to motives alone is the appellation Springs of action immediately applicable: to the others, no otherwise than in virtue of the relation they respectively bear to Motives.
5. Psychological dynamics (by this name may be called the science, which has for its subject these same springs of action, considered as such) has for its basis psychological pathology. Pleasure and exemption from pain fall to be considered every where in the character of ends: pleasure and pain here in the character of means.
(b) [Pleasures.] Synonyms to the word pleasure: including those by which are designated the correspondent states of mind, and their respective causes. 1. Gratification. 2. Enjoyment. 3. Fruition. 4. Indulgence. 5. Joy. 6. Delight. 6*. Delectation. 7. Hilarity. 8. Merriment. 9. Mirth. 10. Gaiety. 11. Airiness. 12. Comfort. 13. Solace. 14. Content. 15. Satisfaction. 16. Rapture. 17. Transport. 18. Ecstasy. 19. Bliss.—20. Joyfulness. 21. Gladness. 22. Gladfulness. 23. Gladsomeness. 24. Cheerfulness. 25. Comfortableness. 26. Contentedness. 27. Happiness. 28. Blissfulness. 29. Felicity. 30. Well-being. 31. Prosperity. 32. Success. 33. Exultation. 34. Triumph. 35. Amusement. 36. Entertainment. 37. Diversion. 38. Festivity. 39. Pastime. 40. Sport. 41. Play. 42. Frolic. 43. Recreation. 44. Refreshment. 45. Ease. 46. Repose. 47. Rest. 48. Tranquillity. 49. Quiet. 50. Peace. 51. Relief. 52. Relaxation. 53. Alleviation. 54. Mitigation.
(c) [Pains.] Synonyms to the word pain: including those by which are designated the correspondent states of mind and their respective causes. 1. Vexation. 2. Suffering. 3. Mortification. 4. Humiliation. 5. Sorrow. 6. Grief. 7. Mourning. 8. Concern. 9. Distress. 10. Discomfort. 11. Discontent. 12. Dissatisfaction. 13. Regret. 14. Anguish. 15. Agony. 16. Torture. 17. Torment. 18. Pang. 19. Throe. 20. Excruciation. 21. Distraction. 22. Trouble. 23. Embarrassment. 24. Anxiety. 25. Solicitude. 26. Perplexity. 27. Disquiet. 28. Disquietude. 29. Inquietude. 30. Unquietness. 31. Discomposure. 32. Disturbance. 33. Commotion. 34. Agitation. 35. Perturbation. 36. Disorder. 37. Harassment. 38. Restlessness. 39. Uneasiness. 40. Discontentedness. 41. Anxiousness. 42. Sorrowfulness. 43. Sadness. 44. Weariness. 45. Mournfulness. 46. Bitterness. 47. Unhappiness. 48. Wretchedness. 49. Misery. 50. Infelicity. 51. Melancholy. 52. Gloom. 53. Depression. 54. Dejection. 55. Despondence. 56. Despondency. 57. Despair. 58. Desperation. 59. Hopelessness. 60. Affliction. 61. Calamity. 62. Plague. 63. Grievance. 64. Misfortune. 65. Mishap. 66. Misadventure. 67. Mischance.
2. Note, that in many instances the transient sensation, the permanent state of mind, and the cause of one or both, are designated by the same word.
3. In the plural number, in some instances, the word is scarcely in use.
4. In some instances, different modifications of the principal idea, as above, are designated by the two numbers. See for example under Pleasure, Nos. 11, 12, 13, 14, 15.
5. Fully to delineate and illustrate these and other observable modes of difference, would require a volume.
6. Use of these synonyms. It is only by means of its relation to objects designated by other names, that the nature of any object can be made known: proportioned to the number of the names brought to view, is the number of the relations here exhibited. Synonymation is denomination. By denomination, to an extent proportioned to that of the denominatives employed, the work of classification is performed. In physics, right denomination and right conception,—and, so far as depends upon right conception, right practice,—are acknowledged to be inseparable. By identity of denomination, identity of nature, i. e. of properties; by diversity, diversity is declared.
7. Constructed in different languages, a Table of this sort would afford an interesting specimen of their comparative copiousness and expressiveness.
8. Of the value of a pleasure, the elements or ingredients are, 1. Its intensity: 2. Its duration (of these two its magnitude is composed:) 3. Its certainty (say rather its probability:) 4. Its propinquity or nearness (measurable no otherwise than by the opposite quality, its remoteness;) in both which cases, by the supposition, it is not present: 5. Its purity, which is inversely as the value of any pain or pains, loss or losses (viz. of pleasure), in such sort associated with it, as that, in case of his experiencing the pleasure, a man will experience them, otherwise not: 6. Its fecundity, which is directly as the value of any pleasure or pleasures, exemption or exemptions (viz. from pain), which, in case of his experiencing the pleasure, he will experience, otherwise not: 7. Its extent, which is as the number of the persons, by whom a pleasure of the sort in question, produced by the individual event or state of things in question which is the cause of the pleasure, is experienced.
9. Apply this to reward, to punishment, to compensation; to the matter of good and the matter of evil employed to those respective purposes. In so far as this application is neglected, the business of law and government is carried on blindfold.
10. Positive good (understand pathological good) is either pleasure itself, or a cause of pleasure: negative good, either exemption from pain, or a cause of such exemption.
11. In like manner, positive evil is either pain itself, or a cause of pain: negative evil, either loss of pleasure, or a cause of such loss.
12. In the character of an interest—a desire—a motive—equivalent to, and thence equipollent with, a given pleasure, may be exemption from a given pain:—say for simplicity’s sake an exemption: equivalent to a given pain, loss of a given pleasure:—say for simplicity’s sake, a loss.
13. Moral good is, as above, pathological good, in so far as human will is considered as instrumental in the production of it: in so far as any thing else is made of it, either the word is without meaning, or the thing is without value. And so in regard to evil.
14. For pathological might here have been put the more ordinary adjunct physical, were it not that, in that case, those pleasures and pains, the seat of which is not in the body, but only in the mind, might be regarded as excluded.
15. Take away pleasures and pains, not only happiness, but justice, and duty, and obligation, and virtue—all which have been so elaborately held up to view as independent of them—are so many empty sounds.
16. As a spring of action, a pleasure cannot operate, but in so far as, in the particular direction in question, action is regarded as a means of obtaining it; a pain, in so far as action is regarded as a means of avoiding it.
17. In so far as it happens not to operate as a spring of action, a pleasure may be termed inert. Pleasures which in their very nature are inert, are: 1. All pleasures of mere recollection. 2. All pleasures of mere imagination. 3. Even pleasures of expectation, when the expected pleasure is regarded as certain, and not capable of being by action either brought nearer or increased. And so it is with pains.
18. In a remote way, indeed, it may happen to any such pleasure, howsoever in itself inert, to give birth to action: but then it is only by means of some different pleasure, which it happens to bring to view.
19. In itself, the pleasure derived, for example, from a recollected landscape, is an inert one. An effect of it may indeed be the sending a man again to the place to take another view. But, in that case, the operating pleasure—the actuating motive—is a different one: viz. the pleasurable idea of the pleasurable sensation expected from that other view.
(d) [Original.] 1. viz. as opposed to derivative. By the adjunct original, may be distinguished such pleasures as are the immediate and simultaneous accompaniments of perception: viz. physical, i. e. corporeal, or merely psychological, i. e. mental:—and so of pains.
2. By the adjunct derivative, such as are not accompaniments of perception, viz. of present perception, but are derived from past perception:—and so of pains.
3. Derived from past perception, they are the fruit of memory (i. e. of recollection), or of imagination: of memory, in so far as they are copies of an entire picture: of imagination, in so far as they are copies taken in the way of abstraction, from detached parts of any such picture;—those parts being taken either, each by itself, or mixed up together, in any order, along with parts taken in like manner from other pictures.
4. Derived from imagination, if the conception formed of them be accompanied with a judgment more or less decided—a persuasion more or less intense—of the future realization of the pictures so composed, the imagination is styled expectation: and the pleasure, if any there be, which is the immediate accompaniment of such persuasion, is styled a pleasure of expectation, or a pleasure of hope: if not so accompanied, a pleasure of imagination, and nothing more. And so of pains: except that pains of expectation have for their synonyms, not pains of hope, but pains of apprehension.
5. Thus, it is no otherwise than through the medium of the imagination, that any pleasure, or any pain, is capable of operating in the character of a motive. It is only through the medium of these derivative representations that the past original can, in any shape, or in any part, be brought to view.
6. Note, that in the way of imagination, from original pleasures may be derived not pleasures only but likewise pains. Pain, for example, is a natural accompaniment of the recollected idea of the past pleasure, when the expectation is that it will not be—as pleasure is, when the expectation is that it will be—again realized. And so in the case of pains.
(e) [simple.] 1. The pleasures and pains here brought to view are, every one of them, simple and elementary. Out of these, others in any number may be compounded; and for the compound so made, appropriate denominations may be, and in an indefinite number have been framed; giving, each of them, to the compound object, especially in so far as the denomination employed is single-worded, the aspect of a simple one. For example, in Note (r), Pleasures of the bottle: 2. Love (the sexual) considered as a motive. 3. Love of justice. 4. Love of liberty.
2. Objection. The pleasures and pains styled, as above, simple, are not so in every instance: for, under the import of the word physical pleasure (No. 3.), physical pleasures of all sorts, with the several motives, are included.
Answer. The pleasure which, on any individual occasion, is here considered as being in question is not the less simple: for, on the occasion here supposed, no more than one such pleasure is as being in prospect, though that one may be of any one of the species comprised under the class designated by the word in question, viz. physical. Whether of this same class, or of any other class, or of any two classes, suppose two pleasures operating on the same occasion in the character of motives, then, and then only is it, that to the pleasure and to the correspondent motive, the epithet compound, in the sense in which it is here employed, is applicable.
(f) [Interest.] 1. A man is said to have an interest in any subject, in so far as that subject is considered as more or less likely to be to him a source of pleasure or exemption:—subject, viz. thing or person; thing, in virtue of this or that use which it may happen to him to derive from that thing; person, in virtue of this or that service, which it may happen to him to receive at the hands of that person.
2. A man is said to have an interest in the performance of this or that act, by himself or any other—or in the taking place of this or that event or state of things,—in so far as, upon and in consequence of its having place, this or that good (i. e. pleasure or exemption) is considered as being more or less likely to be possessed by him.
3. It is said to be a man’s interest that the act, the event, or the state of things in question should have place, in so far as it is supposed that—upon, and in consequence of, its having place—good, to a greater value, will be possessed by him than in the contrary case. In the former case, interest corresponds to a single item in the account of good and evil; in the latter case, it corresponds to a balance on the side of good.
4. For the word interest no synonyms have been found.
(g) [Desires.] Synonyms to the word desire. 1. Wish (to, or for.) 2. Appetite (for.) 3. Craving (for.) 4. Longing (for, or after.) 5. Coveting (of, or for.) 6. Liking (to, or for.) 7. Inclination (to, or for.) 8. Regard (for.) 9. Affection (for.) 10. Attachment (to.) 11. Love (of, or for.) 12. Hankering (after.) 13. Propensity (to, or towards.) 14. Zeal (for, or in behalf of.) 15. Eagerness (for.) 16. Anxiety (for.)
(h) [Aversions.] Synonyms to the word aversion. 1. Dislike (of, to, or for.) 2. Distaste (of, or for.) 3. Disgust (at.) 4. Antipathy (against, or towards.) 5. Loathing (of.) 6. Abhorrence (of.) 7. Detestation (of.) 8. Execration. 9. Hatred (of, or towards.)
(i) [Wants.] Synonyms to the word want are: 1. Need (of.) 2. Demand (for.) 3. Exigency. 4. Necessity.
(k) [Hopes.] Synonyms to the word hope. 1. Expectation (of, or from.) 2. Prospect (of, or from).
(l) [Fears.] 1. Synonyms to the word fear. 1. Apprehension (of, for, or about.) 2. Dread (of.) 3. Terror. 4. Horror (of.) 5. Solicitude (for, or about, or concerning.) 6. Anxiety (for, or about.) 7. Suspicion (of, or about.)
2. As desire is to pleasure (and its expected causes), so is aversion to pain and its expected causes. So, as to hope and fear.
3. Want bears a common reference to pleasure and to pain: satisfied, it produces pleasure; unsatisfied, pain; though capable of being overbalanced by the pleasure of hope, i. e. of expectation.
4. Need, demand exigency, necessity, may exist without any corresponding desire: so likewise want, in so far as it is synonymous to these four appellatives without being so to desire. Exposed to danger, a man has need of, and so far is in want of, all necessary means of safety: but, so long as he is ignorant of the danger, he has no desire of or for any of them.
5. As hope is to pleasure and exemption, so is fear to pain and loss.
6. Expectation and prospect are, without self-contradiction, applicable to pain, to loss, and to their supposed causes: hope, not.
(m) [Motives.] 1. Synonyms to the word motive. 1. Inducement. 2. Incitement 3. Incentive. 4. Spur. 5. Invitation. 6. Solicitation. 7. Allurement. 8. Enticement. 9. Temptation.
2. Motives to the will—motives to the understanding:—note well the difference. Motive to the will, a desire—the corresponding desire—operating in the character of a motive: motive to the understanding, any consideration,—the apparent tendency of which is to give increase to the efficiency of the desire, in the character of a motive to the will.
Of the modifications of good and evil, capable of operating in the character of motives to the will, this Table presents a view: of the corresponding considerations capable of operating, in subservience to these several motives to the will, in the character of motives to the understanding, no book could comprise the catalogue.
3. To the head of motives to the understanding belong means.
4. The desire existing, whatsoever, in the character of a means, promises to be contributory to the attainment of the end (i. e. to the possession of the pleasure or the exemption which is the object of the desire), operates in the character of an incentive, i. e. a motive: viz. by giving increase to the apparent value of the good in respect of certainty.
5. As by judgment, desire is influenced, so by desire, judgment: witness interest-begotten prejudice:—the tendency of the influence being, in the first case regular and salutary, rightly instructive and directive; in the other case irregular, and naturally sinister, deceptious, and seductive.
6. Motives to the understanding operate as such in every case on the will: else they would not be motives. The converse does not hold good. Antecedently to action (the actions termed involuntary excepted), the will is, in every case, perceptibly in exercise: not so the understanding.
7. In so far as the effect or tendency of the desire is to restrain action, not to produce it, the term motive cannot be employed without a contradiction in terms. Unfortunately, the word restrictive, though in the form of an adjective it is, in the form of a substantive is not, as yet in the language.
8. Of the sorts of psychological powers brought to view in this Table under the appellation of motives, three at least, viz. No. 8 (regard for reputation, &c.) No. 9 (piety), and No. 10 (sympathy), will be found to be more frequently and extensively, as well as more usefully, employed to the purpose of restraint, than to that of incitement—as restrictives than as motives. In comparison of the degree of efficiency, with which man’s power of producing unhappiness, small indeed is that with which his power of producing happiness is capable of being employed. By the power of the political sanction, almost all the pleasures and pains of which man’s nature is susceptible, thence almost all the motives to the action of which he is sensible, are capable of being applied to the purpose of restraint: but, except in so far as they are so employed by that power, incitement alone is the purpose, to which, in the character of springs of action (as the term springs of action imports) the motives under the governance of which man is placed, are mostly employed. All perform alike the office of a spur: upon these few rests principally the charge of performing the office of a bridle.
9. Pleasure, pain, &c.—connection between the respective imports of these several appellatives.
When to a man’s enjoying a certain good, i. e. a certain pleasure or exemption from a certain pain—it has appeared to him to be necessary that a certain event or state of things should have had place; and, for the purpose of causing it to have place, he has performed a certain act; then so it is, that among the psychological phænomena, which, on the occasion in question, have had place and operation in his mind, are the following, viz. 1. He has felt himself to have an interest in the possession of that same good. 2. He has felt a desire to possess it. 3. He has felt an aversion to the idea of his not possessing it. 4. He has felt the want of it. 5. He has entertained a hope of possessing it. 6. He has had before his eyes the fear of not possessing it. 7. And the desire he has felt of possessing it has operated on his will in the character of a motive, by the sole operation, or by the help of which, the act exercised by him, as above, has been produced.
10. Such has been the state of the case, of whatsoever nature the pleasure or the pain in question has been: whether of the self-regarding or of the extra-regarding class: if of the extra-regarding class, whether of the social, or of the dissocial order or genus.
11. Thus it is, that these intimately connected, but not otherwise commensurable, appellatives serve for the exposition of each other: no one of these having any superior genus, nor consequently being susceptible of the only species of exposition as yet in common use, viz. that which is called a definition, and is performed by the assignment of some word expressive of a superior genus, of which the word in question denotes a species.
12. To the will it is that the idea of a pleasure or an exemption applies itself in the first instance; in that stage its effect, if not conclusive, is velleity: by velleity, reference is made to the understanding, viz. 1. For striking a balance between the value of this good, and that of the pain or loss, if any, which present themselves as eventually about to stand associated with it: 2. Then, if the balance appear to be in its favour for the choice of means: thereupon, if action be the result, velleity is perfected into volition, of which the correspondent action is the immediate consequence. For the process that has place, this description may serve alike in all cases: time occupied by it may be of any length; from a minute fraction of a second, as in ordinary cases, to any number of years.
(n) [eulogistic] (o) [dyslogistic] (p) [neutral.] 1. Eulogistic or dyslogistic, any such appellative may in either case be termed censorial.
2. Thus it is that, in addition to the import which, in the character of a simple term, properly belongs to it, will be found involved in every such censorial appellation the import of at least one entire proposition: viz. a proposition expressive of a judgment of approbation or disapprobation, as above.
3. Various, and as yet seldom altogether determinate, are the grounds on which this judgment seems to have been framed:—1. A supposed excess of intensity on the part of the desire: (See Nos. 1, 2, 4, 5, 11, 12, 13, 14.) 2. A supposed impropriety in the choice of the subject, on which the act from which the pleasure is expected to be derived is exercised: (See No. 2.) 3. A supposed impropriety in the nature of the act, i. e. in so far as the imputed impropriety has any intelligible grounds, a supposed mischievousness—a balance on the side of evil (pathological evil) on the part of its consequences. See the above, and the several other instances.
4. On this occasion, to take the case of a dyslogistic appellative, the error, in so far as there is any, consists in this: viz. that, on account of some accidental effect, which, on this or that occasion, has been observed to be produced by the desire, the whole corresponding group of psychological entities—pleasure, interest, desire, motive—are, on all occasions, by the undistinguishing and uneludible force of this condemnatory appellative, involved in one common and undistinguishing censure: and, vice versâ, when the censorial appellative is of the eulogistic cast. whatsoever mischievous effects are liable, and apt, to be produced by the desire, are covered and kept out of sight: whereas, to a truly enlightened, as well as sincerely benevolent mind, it will appear, that, on each individual occasion, it is by the probable balance in the account of utility, whether of pleasure or of pain, that the judgment, whether it be of approbation or of disapprobation, ought to be determined.
(q) [impassioned.] 1. Between such as are simply censorial and such as are moreover impassioned, the line will almost every where be necessarily and irremediably indeterminate: on the question to which of the two classes the appellative belongs, the decision therefore cannot but be in a proportionable degree arbitrary.
2. Passion being among the causes of wrong judgment and consequent misconduct, any intimation of the existence of any such feeling, in the breast of him by whom the appellative is applied, may on that score have its practical use.
3. Having, without the form, the force of an assumption,—and having for its object, and but too commonly for its effect, a like assumption on the part of the hearer or reader,—the sort of allegation in question, how ill-grounded soever, is, when thus masked, apt to be more persuasive than when expressed simply and in its own proper form: especially where, to the character of a censorial adding the quality and tendency of an impassioned allegation, it tends to propagate, as it were by contagion, the passion by which it was suggested. On this occasion, it seeks and finds support in that general opinion, of the existence of which the eulogistic or dyslogistic sense, which thus, as it were by adhesion, has connected itself with the import of the appellative, operates as proof.
4. Applied to the several springs of action, and in particular to pleasures and to motives, these censorial and impassioned appellatives form no inconsiderable part of the ammunition employed in the war of words.
5. Under the direction of sinister interest and interest-begotten prejudice, they have been employed in the character of fallacies, or instruments of deception, by polemics of all classes:—by politicians, lawyers, writers on controversial divinity, satirists, and literary censors.
6. Causes of the comparative numbers of censorial and neutral names of motives. Eulogistic appellatives; in some instances abundant, in others rare or wanting: so likewise, dyslogistic; in some instances both abundant: neutral appellatives; in most instances either rare or wanting:—such are among the observations which the contents of this Table may be apt to suggest. Of so remarkable a diversity, where (it may be asked) are we to look for the cause?—Answer. In the interest, which, on the several occasions, in their character of makers and employers of language, men have understood themselves to have, in propagating the persuasion which, by the appellatives respectively in question, has been endeavoured to be impressed.—Of this proposition, the proof will, it is supposed, be seen in the following paper, entitled OBSERVATIONS.
N. B. Where on this occasion appellatives are said to be wanting, understand single-worded ones: by combinations of words, no assignable object for which appellatives may not be found.
(r) [Compound Pleasures exemplified.]
Example I. Pleasures of the bottle.—No. 1.—Component elements, commonly conjoined in this aggregate, are: 1. Pleasure of the palate; viz. from the taste of the liquor.—2. Pleasure of exhilaration; viz. of what may be termed physical or pharmaceutic exhilaration:—seat of it, the nervous system in general (No. 1.)—3. Pleasure of sympathy or good-will (No. 10.) viz. as towards co-partakers, the compotators.
Example II. Love, (the passion).—Component elements—1. Sexual desire (No. 2.) 2. Do. enhanced by particular beauty. 3. Desire of good-will (No. 7.) viz. the good-will of the person beloved; including the indefinite train of services, of which it may be the imagined and expected source: 4. Good-will itself; viz. towards that same person (No. 10.) or say sympathy: viz. in contemplation of the qualities, intellectual or moral, ascribed to that same person, &c. &c.
Example III. Love of justice.—Component elements—1. In so far as it is to the individual in question, that, in the instance in question, the benefit of justice accrues, Desire of self-preservation (No. 13.) 2. Sympathy (No. 10.) for this or that other individual, considered as being, on the occasion in question, or on other similar ones, liable to become a sufferer by the opposite injustice. 3. Sympathy (No. 10.) for the community at large, in respect of the interest which it has in the maintenance of justice: i. e. as being liable, in an indefinite extent, to become a sufferer by injustice. 4. Antipathy (No. 9.) towards any other person or persons, considered as profiting, or being in a way to profit, by the opposite injustice. 5. Antipathy (No. 9.) towards any other person, who, in the character of a judge, is considered as concerned, or about to be concerned, in giving existence or effect to the injustice.
Example IV. Love of liberty: viz. constitutional liberty, or rather (to speak more distinctly) security.—Component elements—1. Desire of self-preservation (No. 13.) viz. against misrule and its effects. 2. Sympathy (No. 10.) viz. that which has for its object the community at large, considered as liable to be made to suffer from the misrule. 3. Sympathy (No. 10.) towards this or that individual, considered as being, or having been, or about to be, or liable to be, on the occasion in question, or other similar one, a particular sufferer from the misrule;—4. Antipathy (No. 9.) towards individuals, viz. in the character of lovers and supporters, creators or preservers, of misrule; and partakers, actual or expected, in the fruits of it. 5. Love of power (No. 5.) ex. gr. in respect of the influence exercised,—immediately or through the medium of the understanding,—on the wills of persons on the same side; or, in the way of intimidation, on the wills or sensibilities of persons on the opposite side.
In the same manner may be analyzed—and resolved into the simple and elementary pleasures, of which they are composed,—other complex pleasures, agreeing with, and differing from, one another, in endless variety, according to the nature of the sources from whence they are respectively derived: ex. gr. 1. Pleasures of the ball-room:—2. Pleasures of the theatre:—3. Pleasures of the fine arts,—whether severally produced, or conjunctively, in modes, proportion, and groups indefinitely diversifiable.
Note that,—according to the nature of the instrument, by means of which, or of the channel, through which, any such complex pleasure is considered as being capable of being experienced,—the desire may be resolvable into the desire, corresponding to this or that one in the catalogue of the more simple pleasures. For instance into (No. 4.) desire of the matter of wealth;—(No. 7.) desire of amity;—(No. 8.) desire of reputation.
Pleasures and Pains the Basis of all the other Entities: these the only real ones; those, fictitious.
Among all the several species of psychological entities, the names of which are to be found either in the Table of the Springs of Action, or in the Explanations above subjoined to it, the two of which are as it were the roots,—the main pillars or foundations of all the rest,—the matter of which all the rest are composed—or the receptacles of that matter,—which soever may be the physical image, employed to give aid, if not existence to conception,—will be, it is believed, if they have not been already, seen to be, Pleasures and Pains. Of these, the existence is matter of universal and constant experience. Without any of the rest, these are susceptible of,—and as often as they come unlooked for, do actually come into,—existence: without these, no one of all those others ever had, or ever could have had, existence.
True it is, that, when the question is—what, in the case in question, are the springs of action, by which, on the occasion in question, the mind in question has been operated upon, or to the operation of which it has been exposed,—the species of psychological entity, to be looked out for in the first place, is the motive. But, of the sort of motive, which has thus been in operation, no clear idea can be entertained, otherwise than by reference to the sort of pleasure or pain, which such motive has for its basis: viz. the pleasure or pain, the idea, and eventual expectation, of which, is considered as having been operating in the character of a motive.
This being understood, the corresponding interest is at the same time understood: and, if it be to the pleasurable class that the operating cause in question belongs, then so it is that, in its way to become a motive, the interest has become productive of a desire: if to the painful class, of a correspondent aversion: and thus it is, that, on the occasion in question, the operation of a motive of the kind in question, whatever it be (meaning a motive to the will), having had existence, it cannot but be, that a corresponding desire or aversion,—and the idea, and eventual expectation at least, of a corresponding pleasure or pain,—and the idea and belief of the existence of a corresponding interest,—must also have had existence.
On this basis must also be erected, and to this standard must be referred,—whatsoever clear explanations are capable of being suggested, by the other more anomalous appellatives above spoken of; such as emotion, affection, passion, disposition, inclination, propensity, quality (viz. moral quality), vice, virtue, moral good, moral evil.
Destitute of reference to the ideas of pain and pleasure, whatever ideas are annexed to the words virtue and vice, amount to nothing more than that of groundless approbation or disapprobation. All language in which these appellatives are employed, is no better than empty declamation. A virtuous disposition is the disposition to give birth to good—understand always pathological good,—or to prevent, or abstain from giving birth to evil,—understand always pathological evil,—in so far as the production of the effect requires exertion in the way of self-denial. i. e. sacrifice of supposed lesser good to supposed greater good. In so far as the greater good, to which the less is sacrificed, is considered as being the good of others, the virtue belongs to the head of probity or beneficence: in so far as it is considered as being the good of self, to that of self-regarding prudence. (No. 13.) Means selecting is the name by which the other branch of prudence may be designated: viz. that which, being subservient in its nature, and being so with reference to some interest, is equally capable of being understood to be so, whether that interest be of the self-regarding class (No. 14.) or of the extra-regarding, viz. of the social (No. 10.) or of the dissocial class (No. 9.)
No Act, properly speaking, disinterested.
If so it be, that, of the view here given of the causes of human action, the general tenor is conformable to the truth of things, then so it is, that, by means of it, divers psychological phænomena—divers phænomena of the human mind—which till now have been either not at all or but indistinctly perceived—phænomena of the most unquestionable importance with reference to practice—will, now for the first time, have become distinctly visible.
1. In regard to interest, in the most extended,—which is the original and only strictly proper sense,—of the word disinterested, no human act ever has been, or ever can be, disinterested. For there exists not ever any voluntary action, which is not the result of the operation of some motive or motives: nor any motive, which has not for its accompaniment a corresponding interest, real or imagined.
2. In the only sense in which disinterestedness can with truth be predicated of human action, it is employed in a sense more confined than the only one which the etymology of the word suggests, and can with propriety admit of:—what, in this sense, it must be understood to denote, being—not the absence of all interest,—a state of things which, consistently with voluntary action, is not possible,—but only the absence of all interest of the self-regarding class. Not but that it is very frequently predicated of human action, in cases, in which divers interests, to no one of which the appellation of self-regarding can with propriety be denied, have been exercising their influence: and in particular (No. 9.) fear of God or hope from God, and (No. 8.) fear of ill-repute or hope of good repute.
3. If what is above be correct, the most disinterested of men is not less under the dominion of interest than the most interested. The only cause of his being styled disinterested is—its not having been observed that the sort of motive (suppose it sympathy for an individual, or a class of individuals) has as truly a corresponding interest belonging to it, as any other species of motive has. Of this contradiction, between the truth of the case, and the language employed in speaking of it, the cause is—that, in the one case, men have not been in the habit of making,—as in point of consistency they ought to have made,—of the word interest, that use which, in the other case, they have been in the habit of making of it.
4. At the same time, by its having been as properly, and completely, and indisputably, the product of interest, as any other action ever is or can be, whatsoever merit may happen to belong to any action, to which, in the loose and ordinary way of speaking, the epithet disinterested would be applied, is not in any the slightest degree lessened.
Not that, in the case where sympathy is the motive, there is less need of—nor even less actual demand for—such a word as interest, than in the case where the motive and interest are of the self-regarding class. Not but that, even in the case of sympathy, conjugates of the word interest are employed, and even the word itself. Witness these expressions among so many—There stands a man, in whose behalf I feel myself strongly interested: a man, in whose fate—in whose sorrows—I take a lively interest, &c. &c.
Appellatives Eulogistic, Dyslogistic, and Neutral—Cause of their comparative penury and abundance, as applied to Springs of Action.
Of the declared opinions of such of the several members of the community, by whom respectively, in relation to the subject in question, an opinion or judgment of approbation or disapprobation is expressed, is that quantity of the force of public opinion, otherwise termed the force of the popular or moral sanction, which is thus brought to bear upon that subject, composed and constituted. In and by any act, by which intimation is given of such his judgment, in quality of member of the tribunal, by which that judgment is considered as pronounced, a man may be considered as delivering his vote. On the present occasion, the subject-matter of this judgment will be seen to be the several springs of action, by which, on the several occasions in question, human conduct—human action—is liable to be influenced and determined:—these several springs of action, considered as being in operation, and as giving birth to whatsoever acts, or modes of conduct, may respectively be the result.
On and by the delivery of this vote, in so far as it is with himself that it originates, he makes as it were a motion, which, by the concurrence of as many as join with him in the sentiment so expressed, is formed into a judgment; a judgment, pronounced by that portion, be it what it may, of the tribunal of public opinion, which the persons so concurring compose.
I. In this, as in every other instance, in which any thing is either done or said, whatsoever is done or said is the result of interest: of interest in this or that one of its shapes, as above explained—(benevolence—sympathy not excluded)—operating upon him by whom it is done or said, in the character of a motive. In this interest will be seen the cause of the several diversities above spoken of, and which will now be in a more particular manner brought to view.
I. Case 1. Eulogistic appellatives, none:—for the numbers, see the Table.
Instances. (No. 1.) Desire of food and drink. (No. 2.) Sexual desire. (No. 3.) Physical desires in general. (No. 5.) Desire of power. (No. 6.) Curiosity. (No. 12.) Love of ease. (No. 13.) Desire of self-preservation. (No. 14.) Personal interest in general.
Cause or Reason of this deficiency.—Men in general do not derive any advantage, one man from what is done by another, for the satisfaction of those several desires.
Objection, in the case of No. 2. In this case, it is on what is done by some other person for the gratification of this desire, that, on the part of each person, the correspondent gratification depends.—Answer. True; but, on the occasion of those more or less elaborated discourses, of which language, as it stands expressed in and by means of its permanent signs, is composed, it does not answer a man’s purpose, to bring it to view in any state, other than that in which, being, as abovem entioned (p. 10), combined with other desires, it enters into the composition of that complex desire, which admits of the neutral, or rather eulogistic appellative—love.
II. Case 2. Eulogistic abundant.—Instances. (No. 4.) Love of the matter of wealth:—(No. 8.) Regard for reputation:—(No. 9.) Fear of God:—(No. 10.) Good-will towards men. Cause or Reason. Of all these several desires, there is not one which it is not common for one man to behold an advantage to himself, in the creating and increasing, in the breasts of other men. But, as to Love of the matter of wealth, see below, Case 7.
III. Case 3. Dyslogistic wanting.—Instances, none.—Cause or Reason. There exists not any species of desire such, that by the pursuit of it, i. e. of the object of it, it does not frequently happen, that one man’s interest is opposed, and his desires frustrated, by the interests and corresponding desires and pursuits of other men.
IV. Case 4. Dyslogistic abundant.—Instances: generally speaking, all fourteen, with little distinction worth noticing. Cause or Reason, the same as just mentioned.
For sexual desire, when taken by itself, dyslogistic appellatives may be observed to be in a more particular degree abundant. Cause or Reason. This may be seen in—1. The intensity of the desire;—2. Its aptitude to enter into combination with others, as above;—3. The importance of the consequences, with which the gratification of it is liable to be attended;—4. The variety of ways, in which the interests of different persons are liable to be put in opposition to each other, by the force of it. 1. Of two rivals, each is thus, by the interest correspondent to this desire, prompted to vent his antipathy against his opponent, by whatsoever names of reproach he can find applicable. 2. Husbands find themselves annoyed by it in the persons of Gallants: and so, in a corresponding manner, Wives. 3. Parents and other Guardians, in the persons of their Wards. 4. Legislators, Moralists, and Divines, finding it operating, to so great an extent, and with so efficient a force, in opposition to their views and endeavours, make unceasing war upon it. The corresponding compound or mixed desire (love), being protected by its necessity to the preservation of the species, and thence by public opinion, the form of invective is by this means directed exclusively against the simple desire; which however is not only the basis, but the indispensably necessary basis, of the whole compound.
V. Case 5. Neutral abundant.—Instances, none.—Cause or Reason. Seldom, comparatively speaking, has a man occasion to speak of a motive as operating, or of a desire, &c. as having place, in any human breast—whether his own or any other—without feeling an interest in presenting it either to the approbation or to the disapprobation of those for whose ear or eye his discourse is intended.
VI. Case 6. Neutral wanting.—Instances, many: understand single-worded appellatives, which are the only ones here in question: viz. (No. 2.) Sexual desire:—(No. 3.) Physical desire in general:—(No. 4.) Love of money, or rather of the matter of wealth:—(No. 5.) Love of power;—unless Ambition, as well as Aspiringness, be regarded as purely neutral:—(No. 6.) Desire of Amity:—(No. 7.) Regard for reputation:—(No. 12.) Love of Ease:—(No. 14.) The desire corresponding to Personal interest at large.
VII. Case 7. Eulogistic and Dyslogistic, both abundant.—Instance. (No. 4.) Love of the matter of wealth.—Cause or Reason. Under the two respective heads, indication has, in some measure, been already given of it. What remains to be given is—an indication of the different circumstances in which judgments thus opposite,—the judgment having moreover in each case emotion for its not unfrequent accompaniment,—take their rise.
1. As to disbursement and non-disbursement, in so far as acquisition has already taken place. Some persons there will commonly be, connected with the person in question, by this or that circumstance, the effect of which has been to render it their interest, that in this or that particular way, on this or that particular occasion, he should disburse: in speaking of disbursement, by these it is that appellatives of the eulogistic cast will naturally have been employed:—so, on the other hand, in speaking of non-disbursement, appellatives of the dyslogistic cast. Others there will have been, by whose connection with that same person it will have been rendered their interest, that, in the way in question, or the occasion in question, he should not disburse: in speaking of non-disbursement, by these it is that appellatives of the eulogistic cast will naturally have been employed: in speaking of disbursement, appellatives of the dyslogistic cast.
2. As to acquisition and non-acquisition. Rivality and competition of interests apart,—generally speaking, of those who, by any tie, whether of self-regarding interest or sympathy, are more or less intimately connected, or disposed to be connected, with the party in question, it is the interest, that the quantity of the matter of wealth possessed by him—(of wealth, of which an inseparable accompaniment is power)—and thence that the quantity of it acquired by him should at all times be as great as possible. But, so far as concerns acquisition, finding that operation, necessary as it is to human existence, loaded notwithstanding, to wit, by the influence of the abovementioned causes, with the sort of reproach involved in the import of the several articles, in the long list of dyslogistic appellatives exhibited in the Table,—and at the same time not provided with eulogistic, nor so much as with neutral appellatives,—thence, in their endeavours to obtain for it the approbation of their hearers or readers,—and for that purpose to elude the force of the dyslogistic appellatives, which in a manner lie in wait for it, unable to find for the desire in question any appellatives, which, by its eulogistic quality, would be rendered applicable to their purpose,—men put aside that species of desire, and look out for some other, which, being furnished with eulogistic appellatives, shall, at the same time, be nearly enough resembling to it, or connected with it, to be made to pass instead of it. Under these circumstances, labour being necessary to the acquisition of wealth, and at the same time equally necessary to the preservation of existence, thus it is that, disguised under the name of desire of labour, the desire of wealth has been, in some measure, preserved from the reproach which, with so much profusion, has been wont to be cast upon it, when viewed in a direct point of view, and under its own name.
Meantime, as to labour, although the desire of it—of labour simply—desire of labour for the sake of labour,—of labour considered in the character of an end, without any view to any thing else, is a sort of desire that seems scarcely to have place in the human breast; yet, if considered in the character of a means, scarce a desire can be found, to the gratification of which labour, and therein the desire of labour, is not continually rendered subservient: hence again it is, that, when abstraction is made of the consideration of the end, there scarcely exists a desire, the name of which has been so apt to be employed for eulogistic purposes, and thence to contract an eulogistic signification, as the appellative that has been employed in bringing to view this desire of labour. Industry is this appellative: and thus it is, that, under another name, the desire of wealth has been furnished with a sort of letter of recommendation, which, under its own name, could not have been given to it.
Aversion—not desire—is the emotion—the only emotion—which labour, taken by itself, is qualified to produce: of any such emotion as love or desire, ease, which is the negative or absence of labour—ease, not labour—is the object. In so far as labour is taken in its proper sense, love of labour is a contradiction in terms.
Frugality, economy,—these, it is true, are eulogistic terms; but by these, preservation of the quantity of wealth acquired,—preservation only, not acquisition,—is the thing indicated. Add to the above the terms thrift and thriftiness: for if, in the import of these two latter terms, acquisition be in any way included, it is only in a confined way, and, as in the before-mentioned cases, as it were by stealth. Insinuated it is; declared it can scarce be said to be. To thrive is the property—the physical property—of a plant or an inferior species of animal. Applied to a human being—employed in a psychological sense—it is indicative of prosperity in general—of happiness in general;—and not in the shape of any particular pleasure, reaped in and from the gratification of the correspondent particular desire.
VIII. Case 8. Eulogistic appellatives how supplied.—In some instances, in default of a single-worded one, many-worded appellatives of the eulogistic cast may be formed, by adding, to a neutral, or but faintly dyslogistic appellative, an eulogistic adjunct.—Examples:
1. (No. 3.) Dyslogistic appellative, sensuality: eulogistic adjunct, refined. 2. Neutral, though but faintly dyslogistic appellative, luxury: eulogistic adjunct, elegant: and note in this view the phrase luxury of beneficence. 3. (No. 5.) Neutral, or but faintly dyslogistic appellative, ambition: eulogistic adjunct, honest, generous, noble, laudable, virtuous, &c. 4. (No. 7.) Dyslogistic appellative, pride: eulogistic adjunct, honest, generous, &c. as above.
N. B. Some instances there are, in which the quantity of odium heaped upon the desire by this or that dyslogistic appellative, is so great, as not to be overbalanced or so much as counterbalanced by any eulogistic adjunct that can be set in the scale against it. By any such additament, the expression would be made to wear the appearance of a self-contradictory one.—Examples: (No. 1.) Dyslogistic appellatives, gluttony, drunkenness. (No. 2.) Dyslogistic appellatives, lewdness, &c. (No. 7.) Dyslogistic appellative, servility (No. 11.) Neutral appellative, antipathy: dyslogistic appellative, malignity. In company with none of these would any such epithets as honest, generous, noble, virtuous, laudable, &c. be found endurable.
Good and Bad—Attributives, applied to Species of Motives: Impropriety of the application—its Causes and Effects.
As there is not any sort of pleasure, the enjoyment of which, if taken by itself, is not a good—(taken by itself, that is, on the supposition that it is not preventive of a more than equivalent pleasure, or productive of more than equivalant pain)—nor any sort of pain, from which taken in like manner by itself, the exemption is not a good;—in a word, as there is not any sort of pleasure that is not itself a good, nor any sort of pain the exemption from which is not a good,—and as nothing but the expectation of the eventual enjoyment of pleasure in some shape, or of exemption from pain in some shape, can operate in the character of a motive,—a necessary consequence is, that if by motive be meant sort of motive, there is not any such thing as a bad motive: no, nor any such thing as a motive which, to the exclusion of any other, can with propriety be termed a good motive. Incontestable as the correctness of these positions will be found to be, perpetual are the occasions on which, in discourses on moral, political, and even legal subjects, motives are distinguished from, and contrasted with, one another, under the respective names of good motives, and bad motives.
From this speculative error, practical errors of the very first importance may be seen to have taken their rise. In the instance of any person, to assign, as the cause by which any act of his has been produced, any motive to which the adjunct bad is wont to be prefixed, is among the number of acts, for which, under the description of criminal offences, men are held punishable.—Punishable?—Yes: and actually and habitually punished:—when perhaps, in the very nature of the case, one of the sort of motives thus denominated, is the only one by which the act in question, the existence of which is unquestionable, could have been produced.
In the composition of this error, what there is of truth seems to be this: viz. that, as there are some motives, the force of which, they being either of the self-regarding, or of the dissocial class, is more liable than the force of those of the remaining class, viz. the social class, to operate in the breast of each particular individual, to the prejudice of the general good—of the interest of mankind at large; so, on the other hand, there are others,—and more particularly among those which belong to the social class,—which, in a particular degree, are capable of being employed, and with success, in checking the operative force of the above comparatively dangerous motives, and restraining it from applying itself with effect to the production of acts of the tendency just mentioned.
But, if in any such observations a sufficient warrant were supposed to be found, for attaching to a motive of the former description the appellative of a bad motive, or to a motive of the other description any such appellative as that of a good motive,—and for acting accordingly; viz. by punishing a man as often as his conduct was deemed to have for its cause one of these bad motives, or rewarding him as often as it was found to have for its cause any one of those good motives,—of any such error, supposing it universally embraced and permanently acted upon, the destruction of the whole human race would be the certain consequence.—“Regulators are good things; mainsprings are bad things; therefore, to make a good watch, put into it regulators, two, or as many more as you please, but not one mainspring.” Exactly as conducive as such notions would be to good watchmaking, would be to good government the notion that men’s conduct ought not to be influenced by any motives but those of the sort commonly called good motives;—that it ought not ever to be influenced by any motives of the sort commonly called bad motives.
A measure of government is brought to view:—by certain persons it is opposed—the motives by which they are engaged in the opposition to it are, it is said, bad motives:—conclusion, it ought to be adopted.
A measure of government is brought to view:—by certain persons it is supported:—the motives by which they are engaged in the support of it are, it is said, bad motives:—conclusion, it ought to be rejected.—By the influence of arguments such as these, how frequently has a bad measure been adopted, a good measure thrown out!
For an alleged wrong, a person is under prosecution: the motives by which the prosecutor is engaged in the prosecution are, it is said, bad motives: lucre, for example, or selfish ambition, or vengeance: therefore the defendant ought to be acquitted, or the prosecution quashed.—By the influence of arguments such as these, how frequently has a wrongdoer been exempted from the infliction due to his transgression!—exempted, more or less, either from punishment, or from the burthen of satisfaction, in a pecuniary, or in whatever other shape it has been due! And note, that for the sort of imputation of which this argument is composed, seldom can there be any difficulty in finding a plausible ground, or even a true one.
Note, however, that, from the nature of the motive, the mischief, produced by an action of a mischievous species, is really liable to receive very considerable increase. But it is not from the sort of motive which is most apt to be spoken of as a bad motive, that in this case the mischief will always receive the greatest increase. The desire of acquiring the matter of wealth,—let this, as it so commonly is, be set down in the catalogue of bad motives; yet, by those who bear hardest upon it, it will hardly be deemed so bad a motive as revenge. But there are offences, of which, when produced by the desire of the matter of wealth, the mischief is by far greater than that of an offence of the same denomination produced by revenge. Take for example murder committed in prosecution of a plan of highway robbery, and murder produced by a private quarrel. In the first case, in the alarm and danger,—in which consists by far the greater part of the mischief,—all are sharers, whose occasions happen to call them that way: in the second case, none but those, to whom it might happen to offer to the murderer a provocation, equally irritating with that which gave occasion to his crime.*
Of all motives, actual or imaginable, the very best, if goodness were to be measured by necessity to human existence, would be the motives that correspond respectively to the desires of food and drink (No. 1.) and to sexual desire (No. 2.) Yet, to any such desire as that of eating or drinking, by those by whom so much is said of good motives, and so much stress is laid upon the degree of goodness of a man’s motives, admittance would scarcely have been given into their list of good motives: and as to sexual desire, taken by itself, so bad a thing is it commonly deemed in the character of a motive, or even in the character of a desire, that all the force which it is in the power of human exertion to muster has, to a great extent, been employed in the endeavour to extinguish it altogether.
Under the general name of self-regarding interest (No. 14.) are comprisable the several particular interests, corresponding to all the several motives, that do not belong either to the social class (No. 10.) or the dissocial class (No. 11.) Weed out of the heart of man this species of interest, with the corresponding desires and motives, the thread of life is cut, and the whole race perishes.—Self-regarding interest—has it any where a place in the catalogue of good motives? Oh no: scarce any where as yet is it known by any such unimpassioned, any such neutral name. Self-interest, selfishness, interestedness, these are the only names it is known by: and, to any of these to attach good—any such epithet as good—would be a contradiction in terms.
Fear of God (No. 9.)—Sympathy (No. 10.)—Love of reputation (No. 8.)—to these, if to any, would be assigned a place—and, if not the only place, the highest place—in the catalogue of good motives. Yet, in a savage state (to look no higher), men have existed, from the very first, in countless multitudes, with scarce any perceptible traces in their conduct, of the influence or existence of any such motives: at any rate, in the character of motives, capable of operating with efficiency, as a check to excess, in the action of the self-regarding and dissocial motives.
Moreover, of all those good motives, the goodness or badness of the effect depends altogether upon the direction in which, on each occasion, they act,—upon the nature of the effects,—the consequences, pleasurable or painful, of which they become efficient causes or preventives. 1. Fear of God. The mischiefs of which this motive has been productive are altogether as incontestable as, and still more distinctly visible than, the good effects: witness the word persecution, with the miseries which it serves to bring to view. 2. Sympathy. Of the operation of sympathy, in so far as the object of it is but a single individual, the effects, supposing it to operate alone and unchecked, may be neither better nor worse than those of selfishness: of these effects, the degree of its efficiency being given, the goodness depends upon the extent to which they reach: and that extent—such is its amplitude—has at one end unity, at the other, the number of the whole of the human race,—or rather of the whole sensitive race, all species included,—present and future. 3. Love of reputation. Infanticide, when committed by the mother of an illegitimate offspring, has no other motive for its cause. Murder committed upon the body of any other individual in whose agency, in the way of testimony or any other, a man beholds a cause of life in respect of reputation, is equally capable of being produced by the same cause. Conquest—a short word for the aggregate of all the crimes and all the mischiefs that man is capable of committing or suffering by,—in particular, for murder, robbery, and violence in every other imaginable shape, committed all of them upon the very largest scale,—is, even without any such aid as that of love of power, love of the matter of wealth, or antipathy, capable of being produced by this same motive. See more on this head in Introduction to Principles of Morals and Legislation, ch. Motives.
Proper Subjects of the Attributives Good and Bad, are Consequences, Intentions, Acts, Habits, Dispositions, Inclinations, and Propensities; so of the Attributives Virtuous and Vitious, except Consequences: how as to Interests and Desires.
Consequences and intentions,—intentions, considered in respect of the consequences, to the production of which they are directed, or at any rate in respect of the consequences which, at the time of the intention, a man actually had, or at least ought (it is supposed) to have had in view,—these, together with the acts, which the intentions in question are considered as having been directed to the production of, or as having a tendency to produce,—will (it is believed) be seen to be the only subjects, to which, in the character of attributives, such adjuncts as good and bad can either with speculative propriety, or without danger of practical error, in so far as acts and springs of action are concerned, be attached.
To motives they cannot, without impropriety, be attached:—viz. for the reasons already exhibited at large.
For the like reasons, neither can bad be attached to pleasures, or to exemptions (viz. from pain); nor good, to pains, or to losses (viz. of pleasure.)
For the like reasons, neither can vitious be attached to pleasures, any more than virtuous to pains.
For the like reasons, neither can bad be attached to any species of interests,—nor therefore good, to any species of interest, to the exclusion of any other.
Of late years, though any such expression as good interest has hardly ever been seen or heard, yet the expression best interests—chiefly in the rhetorical or other impassioned style, is become a common one.
According to analogy, for the same reasons, neither should vitious, any more than bad or good, be attached to desires, aversions, or propensities. But, when the word desire is employed, it is commonly with reference to some act—which, for the gratification of the desire, the person in question is considered as having it in contemplation to exercise: and,—forasmuch as, in respect of consequences and intentions, the adjuncts good and bad are, in strictness of speech, and without any danger of leading to error, properly as well as continually, attached to acts,—thence it is that, in as far as any act—any sort of act, or any individual act—to which those epithets may with propriety be attached, is in view, these same epithets may, without impropriety, as in practice they are continually, be applied to desires.
So likewise the epithets vitious and virtuous; as, accordingly, the epithet vitious frequently is; as, also, sometimes the epithet virtuous, though not with equal frequency.
To dispositions, inclinations, and propensities,—vitious and virtuous, as well as bad and good, are, and with similar propriety, frequently applied in practice.
To aversions the occasion for applying them has not, in the instance of any one of those four attributives, been wont to present itself with any considerable degree of frequency.
In respect of the relation that has place between the import of the word act and the import of the word habit,—we hear of good and bad, virtuous and vitious habits,—as properly, and at least as frequently, as of good and bad, virtuous and vitious acts.
Applied to interests, in the character of a dyslogistic epithet, instead of bad or vitious, we have sinister:—eulogistic, except, as above, best—the superlative of good—we have none: in Ethics, sinister has not, as in Anatomy, and thence in Heraldry, dexter for its accompaniment.
On this occasion, by sinister, if any thing determinate is meant, is meant—operating, or tending to operate, in a sinister direction: i. e. in such a direction as to give birth to a bad, alias a vitious act.
The sorts of bad or vitious acts, of which sinister interest is, in practice, commonly spoken of as the efficient cause, seem to be more frequently, if not exclusively, such as come under the denomination of acts of improbity, than such as come under the denomination of acts of imprudence: such as are considered as injurious to the interests of other persons, than such as are considered as injurious to the interest of the agent himself:—but it is in the accidental course of practice, and not in the nature of the case, that the restriction will (it is believed) be seen to have originated.
Causes of Misjudgment and Misconduct—Intellectual Weakness, inborn and adoptive—Sinister Interest, and Interest-begotten Prejudice.
As between the two main departments of the human mind, viz. the volitional and the intellectual—according as it is the one or the other, the state of which is under consideration, as being subjected or exposed to the operation of interest,—termed, in so far as the direction in which it is considered as operating is considered as sinister, sinister interest, as above,—the result of the operation will receive a different description: in so far as it is the volitional department—in so far as it is the will—delinquency, with or without immorality,—or immorality,—with or without delinquency,—is the result: in so far as it is the intellectual faculty, misjudgment—with or without misconduct—is the result. As to error, though mostly employed as synonymous to misjudgment, it is not unfrequently employed as synonymous to misconduct, and therefore not fit to be employed in contradistinction to it.
Indigenous intellectual weakness—adoptive intellectual weakness—or, in one word, prejudice—sinister interest (understand self-conscious sinister interest)—lastly, interest-begotten (though not self-conscious) prejudice—by one or other of these denominations, may be designated (it is believed) the cause of whatever is on any occasion amiss, in the opinions or conduct of mankind.
Of these several distinguishable psychological causes of misjudgment and misconduct, the mutual relations may be stated as follows: Of the intellectual department, the condition—of the intellectual faculties, the operation—is, on every occasion, exposed to the action and influence of the sensitive and the volitional: judgment—opinion—is liable to be acted upon, influenced, and perverted, by interest. On the occasion in question, suppose misjudgment alone, or misconduct alone, or both together, to have had place;—suppose a judgment more or less erroneous to have been pronounced—an opinion in some way or other erroneous to have been formed. In this case, in the production of the result, as above, interest may have had, or may not have had, a share: if no, the result has had for its cause mere weakness—intellectual weakness;—whether it be indigenous or adoptive, i. e. prejudice: if yes, then whatsoever of misconduct may happen to be included in it, has had for its cause, either sinister interest (i. e. self-conscious sinister interest), or interest-begotten prejudice.
Simultaneously operating Motives—co-operating, conflicting, or both.
Seldom (it will readily be seen) does it happen, that a man’s conduct stands exposed to the action of no more than one motive. Frequently, indeed—not to say commonly—does it happen, that, on one and the same occasion, it is acted upon by a number of motives, acting in opposite direction: in each of those two opposite directions respectively, sometimes by one, sometimes by more than one motive: and, on every such occasion, be it what it may, the action is, of course, the result of that one motive, or that group of simultaneously operating motives, of which, on that same occasion, the force and influence happen to be the strongest.
Be this as it may, on every occasion, conduct—the course taken by a man’s conduct—is at the absolute command of—is the never-failing result of—the motives,—and thence, in so far as the corresponding interests are perceived and understood, of the corresponding interests,—to the action of which, his mind—his will—has, on that same occasion, stood exposed.
Employ the term free-will—to the exclusion of the term free-will, employ the term necessity—in respect of the truth of the above observations, the language so employed will not be found to be expressive of any real difference.
Substitution of Motives.Acts produced by one Motive, commonly ascribed to another.—Causes of this misrepresentation.
The sort of motives, to the influence of which a man would in general be best pleased that his breast should be regarded as most sensible,—this, for the present purpose, may serve for the explanation of what is meant by good motives: the reverse may serve for bad motives. In his dealings with other men, it is seldom, however, that a man is not exposed to the conjunct action of motives, more than one. In so far as this sort of concurrence is observable, the sort of motive to which a man’s conduct will be apt to be ascribed in preference, will vary with the relative position of him to whom, on the occasion in question, it happens to speak or think of it. The best motive that will be recognised as capable of producing the effect in question, is the motive to which the man himself,—and, in proportion as their dispositions towards him are amicable, other men in general,—will be disposed to ascribe his conduct, and accordingly to exhibit it in the character of the sole efficient cause, or at the least as the most operative among the efficient causes, by which such his conduct was produced.
Things being in this state,—if, among the causes by which the conduct in question was actually produced, a motive, of a complexion sufficiently respected, be to be found, this is the motive, to which,—at least in the character of a predominant one,—but most naturally, because most simply, in the character of the exclusively operative one, the conduct will be ascribed. But, if no such sufficiently respected motive can be found, then, instead of the actual motive, some such other motive will be looked out for and employed, as, being sufficiently favourable, shall, by the nearness of its connexion with the actual one, have been rendered most difficultly distinguishable from it. To speak shortly, if the actual motive do not come up to the purpose, another will, in the account given of the matter, be substituted to it: or, more shortly still, the motive will be changed.
And so vice versa in the case of enmity.
Thus it is that, for example, in political contention, no line of conduct can be pursued by either of two parties, but what, by persons of the same party, is ascribed to good motives; by persons of the opposite party, to bad motives:—and so in every case of competition, which (as most such cases have) has any thing in it of enmity.
On any such occasion, the motive which, though but one out of several actual and co-operating motives, or though it be but, as above, a substituted motive, is thus put forward, may be designated by the appellation of the covering motive: being employed to serve as a covering, to whatsoever actually operating motives would not have been so well adapted as itself to the purpose in view.
Follow a few examples:—
I. (No. 1.) Desire corresponding to the pleasures of the palate: Eulogistic covering, sympathy: viz. as implied in some such expression as love of good cheer—love of a social bowl or glass. N.B. For pleasure of this sort taken by itself—i. e. for solitary gratification in this shape—a covering of the eulogistic cast would scarcely be to be found.
II. (No. 2.) Sexual desire: Eulogistic covering, love: viz. the compound affection, of which the component elements are brought to view as above. To the single desire of having children, is the sexual intercourse ascribed by Rome-bred lawyers in the case of marriage: a desire for which there is no place, but in the breasts of the comparatively few who are in a state of relative affluence. After birth,—in how high a degree soever the child is an object of love,—before birth, to indigent parents, the same child could scarcely have been an object of desire.
III. (No. 4.) Desire of the matter of wealth: Eulogistic covering, industry: a desire, as above, which, if by it be meant the desire of labour simply, and for its own sake, has no existence.
(No. 5.) Love of power:—Eulogistic coverings: 1. Love of country—a man’s own country, i. e. sympathy for the feelings of its inhabitants—present, or future, or both—taken in the aggregate. 2. Love of mankind, philanthropy: i. e. sympathy for the human race taken in the aggregate: such being the effects, to the production of which the exercise of power will, whether it be or no, be said to be directed. 3. Love of duty: another impossible motive, in so far as duty is understood as synonymous to obligation. An act, the performance of which is seen or supposed to be amicable to mankind at large, or to his own countrymen in particular—any such act a man may love to do, either on that consideration, or on any other: but, be it which it may, and let him find ever so much pleasure in the doing of it, what is not possible is—that a man should derive any pleasure from any such thought as that of being forced to do it. 4. Sense of duty. By this,—if by it be meant any thing but the love of duty as above,—will be meant fear of the several pains, which, in the character of evil consequences to the individual in question, may (as it appears to him) befall him, in case of a neglect on his part, in relation to that same duty:—fear of legal punishment, fear of loss of amity at the hands of this or that individual—fear of loss of reputation—fear of the wrath of God.
IV. (No. 7.) Desire of amity: viz. of obtaining or preserving a share, more or less considerable, in the good-will, and therein in the eventual good offices, of this or that particular individual. Coverings: 1. Sympathy at large, as towards that same individual. 2. Gratitude, as towards that same individual: i. e. sympathy produced by reflection on such or such benefits already received at his hands.
6. (No. 11.) Antipathy;—ill-will: viz. towards this or that particular individual.—In so far as prosecution, whether at the bar of a legal tribunal, or at the bar of public opinion, has been the instrument employed in the gratification of the desire,—Covering, public spirit (No. 10.); or love of justice (the compound affection) as above. So,—if the object, in which a gratification for the desire is sought, be an act of enmity at large, exercised with out any such warrant,—the action may perhaps still, by the agent in question, or even in his behalf by a friend, be termed an act of justice, viz. of that justice, which is exercised by the infliction of suffering on a person to whom, with or without sufficient ground, misconduct in some shape or other has been imputed.
Of these six species of desires and motives, by the operation of which so large a portion of the business of human life is carried on, it is not very often that any one will, either by the man himself, or even by any other person, in so far as such other person speaks in the character of his friend, be recognised in quality of so much as a co-operating cause, much less as the sole cause, of the effect which, by the conjunct, or perhaps sole operation of it, has been produced. These desires and motives may accordingly be considered as the unseemly parts of the human mind. Of the sort of fig-leaves, commonly employed for the covering of them, specimens have now been given, as above.
A FRAGMENT ON GOVERNMENT;
or a COMMENT ON THE COMMENTARIES: being AN EXAMINATION OF WHAT IS DELIVERED ON THE SUBJECT OF GOVERNMENT IN GENERAL, in the INTRODUCTION TO SIR WILLIAM BLACKSTONE’S COMMENTARIES. with A PREFACE, IN WHICH IS GIVEN A CRITIQUE ON THE WORK AT LARGE.
“Rien ne recule plus le progrès des connoissances, qu’un mauvais ouvrage d’un Auteur célèbre: parce qu’avant d’instruire, il faut commencer par detromper.”
Montesquieu,Esprit des Loix, L. XXX. Ch. XV
[* ]See Introd. to Morals and Legislation, ch. Motives. Dum. Traité de Législation.