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appendix - Lewis Amherst Selby-Bigge, British Moralists, being Selections from Writers principally of the Eighteenth Century, vol. 1 
British Moralists, being Selections from Writers principally of the Eighteenth Century, edited with an Introduction and analytical Index by L.A. Shelby-Bigge in two volumes (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1897). Vol. 1.
Part of: British Moralists, being Selections from Writers principally of the Eighteenth Century, 2 vols.
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I. An Essay on the Nature and Conduct of the Passions and Affections.
II. Illustrations upon the Moral Sense.
[First edition, 1728; reprinted here from the third edition, 1742.]
III. A System of Moral Philosophy.
[Reprinted here from the first edition, 1755.]
On the Nature and Conduct of the Passions and Affections
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431 Some strange Love of Simplicity in the Structure of human Nature, or Attachment to some favourite Hypothesis, has engaged many Writers to pass over a great many simple Perceptions, which we may find in ourselves. We have got the number Five fixed for our external Senses, though a larger Number might perhaps as easily be defended. We have Multitudes of Perceptions which have no relation to any external Sensation; if by it we mean Perceptions immediately occasioned by Motions or Impressions made on our Bodies, such as the Ideas of Number, Duration, Proportion, Virtue, Vice, Pleasures of Honour, of Congratulation; the Pains of Remorse, Shame, Sympathy, and many others. It were to be wished, that those who are at such Pains to prove a beloved Maxim, that 'all Ideas arise from Sensation and Reflection,' had so explained themselves, that none should take their Meaning to be, that all our Ideas are either external Sensations, or reflex Acts upon external Sensations: Or if by Reflection they mean an inward Power of Perception, as Mr. Locke declares expressly, calling it internal Sensation, that they had as carefully examined into the several kinds of internal Perceptions, as they have done into the external Sensations: that we might have seen whether the former be not as natural and necessary and ultimate, without reference to any other, as the latter. Had they in like manner considered our Affections without a previous Notion, that they were all from Self-Love, they might have felt an ultimate Desire of the Happiness of others as easily conceivable, and as certainly implanted in the human Breast, though perhaps not so strong as Self-Love.
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432 One may easily see from the great variety of Terms, and diversity of Schemes invented, that all Men feel something in their own Hearts recommending Virtue, which yet it is difficult to explain. This Difficulty probably arises from our previous Notions of a small Number of Senses, so that we are unwilling to have recourse in our Theories to any more; and rather strain out some Explication of moral Ideas, with relation to some of the natural Powers of Perception universally acknowledged. The like difficulty attends several other Perceptions, to the Reception of which Philosophers have not generally assigned their distract Senses; such as natural Beauty, Harmony, the Perfection of Poetry, Architecture, Designing, and such like affairs of Genius, Taste, or Fancy; The Explications or Theories on these Subjects are in like manner full of Confusion and Metaphor.
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—A general Account of our several Senses and Desires. Selfish or Publick.
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433 I. If we may call 'every Determination of our Minds to receive Ideas independently of our Will, and to have Perceptions of Pleasure and Pain, a Sense' we shall find many other Senses beside those commonly explained. Though it is not easy to assign accurate Divisions on such Subjects, yet we may reduce them to the following Classes, leaving it to others to arrange them as they think convenient. A little Reflection will shew that there are such Natural Powers in the human Mind, in whatever Order we place them. In the 1st Class are the External Senses, universally known. In the 2nd, the Pleasant Perceptions arising from regular, harmonious, uniform Objects; as also from Grandeur and Novelty. These we may call, after Mr. Addison, the Pleasures of the Imagination; or we may call the Power of receiving them, an Internal Sense. Whoever dislikes this Name may substitute another. 3. The next Class of Perceptions we may call a Publick Sense, viz. 'our Determination to be pleased with the Happiness of others, and to be uneasy at their Misery.' This is found in some degree in all Men, and was sometimes called Κοτνονοημοσύνη, or Sensus Communis by some of the Antients. This inward Pain of Compassion cannot be called a Sensation of Sight. It solely arises from an Opinion of Misery felt by another, and not immediately from a visible Form. The same Form presented to the Eye by the exactest Painting, or the Action of a Player, gives no Pain to those who remember that there is no Misery felt. When Men by Imagination conceive real Pain felt by an Actor, without recollecting that it is merely feigned, or when they think of the real Story represented, then, as there is a confused Opinion of real Misery, there is also Pain in Compassion. 4. The fourth Class we may call the Moral Sense, by which 'we perceive Virtue or Vice, in ourselves, or others.' This is plainly distinct from the former Class of Perceptions, since many are strongly affected with the Fortunes of others, who seldom reflect upon Virtue or Vice, in themselves, or others, as an Object: as we may find in Natural Affection, Compassion, Friendship, or even general Benevolence to Mankind, which connect our Happiness or Pleasure with that of others, even when we are not reflecting upon our own Temper, nor delighted with the Perception of our own Virtue. 5. The fifth Class is a Sense of Honour, which makes the Approbation, or Gratitude of others, for any good Actions we have done, the necessary occasion of pleasure; and their Dislike, Condemnation, or Resentment of Injuries done by us, the occasion of that uneasy Sensation called Shame, even when we fear no further evil from them.
434 There are perhaps other Perceptions distinct from all these Classes, such as some Ideas 'of Decency, Dignity, Suitableness to human Nature in certain Actions and Circumstances; and of an Indecency, Meanness, and Unworthiness, in the contrary Actions or Circumstances, even without any conception of Moral Good, or Evil.' Thus the Pleasures of Sight, and Hearing, are more esteemed than those of Taste or Touch: The Pursuits of the Pleasures of the Imagination, are more approved than those of simple external Sensations. Plato makes one of his Dialogists1 account for this difference from a constant opinion of Innocence in this sort of Pleasures, which would reduce this Perception to the Moral Sense. Others may imagine that the difference is not owing to any such Reflection upon their Innocence, but that there is a different sort of Perceptions in these cases, to be reckoned another Class of Sensations.
435 II. Desires arise in our Mind, from the Frame of our Nature, upon Apprehension of Good or Evil in Objects, Actions, or Events, to obtain for ourselves or others the agreeable Sensation, when the Object or Event is good: or to prevent the uneasy Sensation, when it is evil. Our original Desires and Aversions may therefore be divided into five Classes, answering to the Classes of our Senses. 1. The Desire of sensual Pleasure, (by which we mean that of the external Senses, of Taste and Touch chiefly); and Aversion to the opposite Pains. 2. The Desires of the Pleasures of Imagination or Internal Sense 1 , and Aversion to what is disagreeable to it. 3. Desires of the Pleasures arising from Public Happiness, and Aversion to the Pains arising from the Misery of others. 4. Desires of Virtue, and Aversion to Vice, according to the Notions we have of the Tendency of Actions to the Public Advantage or Detriment. 5. Desires of Honour, and Aversion to Shame2 .
436 And since we are capable of Reflection, Memory, Observation, and Reasoning about the distant Tendencies of Objects and Actions, and not confined to things present, there must arise, in consequence of our original Desires, 'secondary Desires of every thing imagined useful to gratify any of the primary Desires, and that with strength proportioned to the several original Desires, and the imagined Usefulness, or Necessity of the advantageous Object.' Thus as soon as we come to apprehend the Use of Wealth or Power to gratify any of our original Desires, we must also desire them. Hence arises the Universality of these Desires of Wealth and Power since they are the Means of gratifying all other Desires. How foolish then is the Inference, some would make, from the universal Prevalence of these Desires, that human Nature is wholly selfish, or that each one is only studious of his own Advantage; since Wealth or Power are as naturally fit to gratify our Publick Desires, or to serve virtuous Purposes, as the selfish ones?'
437 Let it be premised, that there is a certain Pain or Uneasiness accompanying most of our violent Desires. Though the Object pursued be Good, or the Means of Pleasure, yet the Desire of it generally is attended with an uneasy Sensation. When an Object or Event appears Evil, we desire to shun or prevent it. This Desire is also attended with uneasy Sensation of Impatience: Now this Sensation immediately connected with the Desire, is a distinct Sensation from those which we dread, and endeavour to shun. It is plain then,
1. (That no Desire of any Event is excited by any yaw of removing the uneasy Sensation attending this Desire itself.' Uneasy Sensations previously felt, will raise a Desire of whatever will remove them: and this Desire may have its concomitant Uneasiness. Pleasant Sensations expected from any Object may raise our Desire of it; this Desire too may have its concomitant uneasy Sensations: But the uneasy Sensation, accompanying and connected with the Desire itself, cannot be a Motive to that Desire which it presupposes. The Sensation accompanying Desire is generally uneasy, and consequently our Desire is never raised with a view to obtain or continue it; nor is the Desire raised with a view to remove this uneasy Sensation, for the Desire is raised previously to it. This holds concerning all Desire publick or private.
There is also a peculiar pleasant Sensation of Joy, attending the Gratification of any Desire, beside the Sensation received from the Object itself, which we directly intended. 'But Desire does never arise from a View of obtaining that Sensation of Joy, connected with the Success or Gratification of Desire; otherwise the strongest Desires might arise toward any Trifle, or an Event in all respects indifferent: Since, if Desire arose from this View, the stronger the Desire were, the higher would be the Pleasure of Gratification; and therefore we might desire the turning of a Straw as violently as we do Wealth or Power.' This Expectation of that Pleasure which merely arises from gratifying of Desire, would equally excite us to desire the Misery of others as their Happiness; since this Pleasure of Gratification might be obtained from both Events alike.
438 2. It is certain that 'that Desire of the Happiness of others which we account virtuous, is not directly excited by prospects of any secular Advantage, Wealth, Power, Pleasure of the external Senses, Reward from the Deity, or future Pleasures of Self-Approbation. To prove this let us consider, 'That no Desire of any Event can arise immediately or directly from an Opinion in the Agent, that his having such a Desire will be the Means of private Good.' This Opinion would make us wish or desire to have that advantageous Desire or Affection; and would incline us to use any means in our power to false that Affection: but no Affection or Desire Is raised in us, directly by our volition or desiring it. That alone which raises in us from Self-Love the Desire of any Event, is an Opinion that that Event is the Means of private Good. As soon as we form this Opinion, a Desire of the Event immediately arises: But if having the Desire, or the mere Affection, be imagined the Means of private Good, and not the Existence of the Event desired, then from Self-Love we should only desire or wish to have the Desire of that Event, and should not desire the Event itself, since the Event is not conceived as the Means of Good.
439 3. 'There are in Men Desires of the Happiness of others, when they do not conceive this Happiness as the Means of obtaining any sort of Happiness to themselves.' Self-Approbation, or Rewards from the Deity, might be the Ends, for obtaining which we might possibly desire or will from Self-Love, to raise in ourselves kind Affections; but we could not from Self-Love desire the Happiness of others, except we imagined their Happiness to be the Means of our own. Now it is certain that sometimes we may have this subordinate Desire of the Happiness of others, conceived as the Means of our own; as suppose one had laid a Wager upon the Happiness of a Person of such Veracity, that he would own sincerely whether he were happy or not; when Men are Partners in Stock, and share in Profit or Loss; when one hopes to succeed to, or some way to share in the Piosperity of another; or if the Deity had given such Threatnings, as they tell us Telamon gave his Sons when they went to War, that he would reward or punish one according as others were happy or miserable: In such Cases one might have this subordinate Desire of another's Happiness from Self-Love. But as we are sure the Deity has not given such Comminations, so we often are conscious of the Desire of the Happiness of others, without any such Conception of it as the Means of our own; and are sensible that this subordinate Desire is not that virtuous Affection which we approve. The virtuous Benevolence must be an ultimate Desire, which would subsist without view to private Good. Such ultimate publick Desires we often feel, without any subordinate Desire of the same Event, as the Means of private Good. The subordinate may sometimes, nay often does concur with the ultimate; and then indeed the whole Moment of these conspiring Desires may be greater than that of either alone: But the subordinate alone is not that Affection which we approve as virtuous.
440 Art. IV. This will clear our Way to answer the chief Difficulty: 'May not our Benevolence be at least a Desire of the Happiness of others, as the Means of obtaining the Pleasure of the publick Sense, from the Contemplation of their Happiness?' If it were so, it is very unaccountable, that we should approve this subordinate Desire as virtuous, and yet not approve the like Desire upon a Wager, or other Considerations of Interest. Both Desires proceed from Self-Love in the same manner: In the latter case the Desires might be extended to multitudes, if any one would wager so capriciously; and, by increasing the Sum wagered, the Motive of Interest might, with many Tempers, be made stronger than that from the Pleasures of the publick Sense.
Do not we find that we often desire the Happiness of others without any such selfish Intention? How few have thought upon this part of our Constitution which we call a Publick Sense? Were it our only View, in Compassion to free ourselves from the Pain of the publick Sense; should the Deity propose it to our Choice, either to obliterate all Ideas of the Person in Distress, or to harden our Hearts against all feelings of Compassion, on the one hand, while yet the Object continued in Misery; or on the other hand to relieve him from it; should we not upon this Scheme be perfectly indifferent, and chase the former as soon as the latter? Should the Deity assure us that we should be immediately annihilated, so that we should be incapable of either Pleasure or Pain, but that it should depend upon our Choice at our very Exit, whether our Children, our Friends, or our Country should be happy or miserable; should we not upon this Scheme be entirely indifferent? Or, if we should even desire the pleasant Thought of their Happiness, in our last Moment, would not this Desire be the faintest imaginable?
It is true, our Publick Sense might be as acute at our Exit as ever; as a Man's Taste of Meat or Drink and his Sensations of Hunger and Thirst might be as lively the instant before his Dissolution as in any part of his Life. But would any Man have as strong Desires of the Means of obtaining these Pleasures, only with a view to himself, when he was to perish the next Moment? Is it supposable that any Desire of the Means of private Pleasure can be as strong when we only expect to enjoy it a Minute, as when we expect the Continuance of it for many Years? And yet, it is certain, any good Man would as strongly desire at his Exit the Happiness of others, as in any part of his Life, which must be the Case with those who voluntarily hazard their Lives, or resolve on Death for their Country or Friends. We do not therefore desire it as the Means of private Pleasure.
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441 The Occasion of the imagined Difficulty in conceiving distinterested Desires, has probably been from the attempting to define this simple Idea, Desire. It is called an uneasy Sensation in the absence of Good1 . Whereas Desire is as distinct from any Sensation, as the Will is from the Understanding or Senses. This every one must acknowledge, who speaks of desiring to remove Uneasiness or Pain.
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—Of the Affections and Passions: The natural Laws of pure Affection: The confused Sensations of the Passions with their final Causes.
442 There is a Distinction to be observed on this Subject, between 'the calm Desire of Good, and Aversion to Evil, either selfish or publick, as they appear to our Reason or Reflection; and the particular Passions towards Objects immediately presented to some Sense.' Thus nothing can be more distinct than the general calm Desire of private Good of any kind, which alone would incline us to pursue whatever Objects were apprehended as the Means of Good, and the particular selfish Passions, such as Ambition, Covetousness, Hunger, Lust, Revenge, Anger, as they arise upon particular Occasions. In like Manner our publick Desires may be distinguished into the general calm Desire of the Happiness of others, or Aversion to their Misery upon Reflection; and the particular Affections or Passions of Love, Congratulation, Compassion, natural Affection.
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We obtain Command over the particular Passions, principally by strengthening the general Desires through frequent Reflection, and making them habitual, so as to obtain Strength superior to the particular Passions 1 .
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443 If it seems too rash to assert a Distinction between Affections and Passions, or that Desire may subsist without any uneasiness, since perhaps we are never conscious of any Desire absolutely free from all uneasiness; 'let it be considered, that the simple Idea of Desire is different from that of Pain of any kind, or from any Sensation whatsoever: Nor is there any other Argument for their Identity than this, that they occur to us at once: But this Argument is inconclusive, otherwise it would prove Colour and Figure to be the same, or Incision and Pain.'
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—Particular Divisions of the Affections and Passions.
444 Since our Moral Sense represents Virtue as the greatest Happiness to the Person possessed of it, our publick Affections will naturally make us desire the Virtue of others. When the Opportunity of a great Action occurs to any Person against whom we are no way prejudiced, we wish he would attempt it, and desire his good Success. If he succeeds we feel Joy; if he is disappointed, or quits the Attempt, we feel Sorrow. Upon like Opportunity of, or Temptation to a base Action, we have Aversion to the Event: If he resists the Temptation, we feel Joy; if he yields to it, Sorrow. Our Affections toward the Person arise jointly with our Passions about this Event, according as he acquits himself virtuously or basely.
—How far our several Affections and Passions are in our Power, either to govern them when raised, or to prevent their arising: with some general Observations about their Objects.
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445 II. The Government of our Passions must then depend much upon our Opinions: But we must here observe an obvious Difference among our Desires, viz. that 'some of them have a previous, painful, or uneasy Sensation, antecedently to any Opinion of Good in the Object; nay, the Object is often chiefly esteemed good, only for its allaying this Pain or Uneasiness; or if the Object gives also positive Pleasure, yet the uneasy Sensation is previous to, and independent of this Opinion of Good in the Object.' 'These Desires we may call Appetites.' 'Other Desires and Aversions necessarily pre-suppose an Opinion of Good and Evil in their Objects; and the Desires or Aversions, with their concomitant uneasy Sensations, are produced or occasioned by this Opinion or Apprehension.' Of the former kind are Hunger and Thirst, and the Desires between the Sexes; to which Desires there is an uneasy Sensation previous, even in those who have little other Notion of Good in the Objects, than allaying this Pain or Uneasiness. There is something like to this in the Desire of Society, or the Company of our Fellow-creatures.
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446 In other Desires the Case is different. No Man is distressed for want of fine Smells, harmonious Sounds, beautiful Objects, Wealth, Power, or Grandeur, previously to some Opinion formed of these things as good, or some prior Sensation of their Pleasures. In like manner, Virtue and Honour as necessarily give us Pleasure, when they occur to us, as Vice and Contempt give us Pain; but, antecedently to some Experience or Opinion of this Pleasure, there is no previous uneasy Sensation in the Absence, as there is in the Absence of the Objects of Appetite. The Necessity of these Sensations previous to our Appetites, has been considered already1 . The Sensations accompanying or subsequent to our other Desires, by which they are denominated Passions, keep them in a just Ballance with our Appetites, as was before observed.
But this holds in general, concerning all our Desires or Aversions, that according to the Opinion or Apprehension of Good or Evil, the Desire or Aversion is increased or diminished: Every Gratification of any Desire gives at first Pleasure; and Disappointment Pain, generally proportioned to the Violence of the Desire. In like manner, the escaping any Object of Aversion, tho' it makes no permanent Addition to our Happiness, gives at first a pleasant Sensation, and relieves us from Misery, proportioned to the Degree of Aversion or Fear. So when any Event, to which we had an Aversion, befals us, we have at first Misery proportioned to the Degree of Aversion. So that some Pain is subsequent upon all Frustration of Desire or Aversion, but it is previous to those Desires only, which are called Appetites.
Illustrations upon the Moral Sense
447 The Words Election and Approbation seem to denote simple Ideas known by Consciousness; which can only be explained by synonimous Words, or by concomitant or consequent Circumstances. Election is purposing to do an Action rather than its contrary, or than being inactive. Approbation of our own Action denotes, or is attended with', a pleasure in the Contemplation of it, and in Reflection upon the Affections which inclined us to it. Approbation of the Action of another has some little Pleasure attending it in the Observer, and raises Love toward the Agent, in whom the Quality approved is deemed to reside, and not in the Observer, who has a Satisfaction in the Act of approving.
The Qualities moving to Election, or exciting to Action, are different from those moving to Approbation: We often do Actions which we do not approve, and approve Actions which we omit: We often desire that an Agent had omitted an Action which we approve; and wish he would do an Action which we condemn. Approbation. is employed about the Actions of others, where there is no room for our Election.
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—Concerning the Character of Virtue, agreeable to Truth or Reason.
448 Since Reason is understood to denote our Power of finding out true Propositions, Reasonableness must denote the same thing, with Conformity to true Propositions, or to Truth.
Reasonableness in an Action is a very common Expression, but yet upon inquiry, it will appear very confused, whether we suppose it the Motive to Election, or the Quality determining Approbation.
There is one sort of Conformity to Truth which neither determines to the one or the other; viz. that Conformity which is between every true Proposition and its Object. This sort of Conformity can never make us clause or approve one Action more than its contrary, for it is found in all Actions alike: Whatever Attribute can be ascribed to a generous kind Action, the contrary Attribute may as truly be ascribed to a selfish cruel Action: Both Propositions are equally true, and the two contrary Actions, the Objects of the two Truths are equally conformable to their several Truths, with that sort of Conformity which is between a Truth and its Object. This Conformity then cannot make a Difference among Actions, or recommend one more than another either to Election or Approbation, since any Man may make as many Truths about Villany, as about Heroism, by ascribing to it contrary Attributes.
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449 But what is this Conformity of Actions to Reason? When we ask the Reason of an Action, we sometimes mean, 'What Truth shews a Quality in the Action, exciting the Agent to do it?' Thus, why does a Luxurious Man pursue Wealth? The Reason is given by this Truth, 'Wealth is useful to purchase Pleasures.' Sometimes for a Reason of Actions we shew the Truth expressing a Quality, engaging our Approbation. Thus the Reason of hazarding Life in just War, is, that 'it tends to preserve our honest Countrymen, or evidences publick Spirit:' The Reason for Temperance, and against Luxury is given thus, 'Luxury evidences a selfish base Temper.' The former sort of Reasons we will call exciting, and the latter justifying1 . Now we shall find that all exciting Reasons presuppose Instincts and Affections; and the justifying pre-suppose a Moral Sense.
As to exciting Reasons, in every calm rational Action some end is desired or intended; no end can be intended or desired previously to some one of these Classes of Affections, Self-Love, Self-Hatred, or desire of private Misery, (if this be possible) Benevolence toward others, or Malice: All Affections are included under these: no end can be previous to them all; there can therefore be no exciting Reason previous to Affection.
We have indeed many confused Harangues on this Subject, telling us, 'We have two Principles of Action, Reason, and Affection or Passion: the former in common with Angels, the latter with Brutes: No Action is wise, or good, or reasonable, to which we are not excited by Reason, as distinct from all Affections; or, if any such Actions as flo'v from Affections be good, it is only by chance, or materially and not formally.' As if indeed Reason, or the Knowledge of the Relations of things, could excite to Action when we proposed no End, or as if Ends could be intended without Desire or Affection.
450 Writers on these Subjects should remember the common Divisions of the Faculties of the Soul. That there is 1. Reason presenting the natures and relations of things, antecedently to any Act of Will or Desire: 2. The Will, or Appetitus Rationalis, or the disposition of Soul to pursue what is presented as good, and to shun Evil. Were there no other Power in the Soul, than that of mere contemplation, there would be no Affection, Volition, Desire, Action. Nay without some motion of Will no Man would voluntarily persevere in Contemplation. There must be a Desire of Knowledge, and of the Pleasure which attends it: this too is an Act of Willing. Both these Powers are by the Antients included under the #x039B;#x03CC;#x03B3;#x03BF;#x03C2; or #x039B;#x03BF;#x03B3;#x03C4;#x03BA;#x03CC;#x03BD;. Below these they place two other powers dependent on the Body, the Sensus, and the Appetitus Sensitivus, in which they place the particular Passions: the former answers to the Understanding, and the latter to the Will. But the Will is forgot of late, and some ascribe to the Intellect, not only Contemplation or Knowledge, but Choice, Desire, Prosecuting, Loving. Nay some are grown so mgemous in uniting the Powers of the Soul, that contemplating with Pleasure, Symmetry and Proportion, an Act of the Intellect as they plead, is the same thing with Goodwill or the virtuous Desire of publick Happiness.
451 But are there not also exciting Reasons, even previous to any end, moving us to propose one end rather than another? To this Aristotle long ago answered, 'that there are ultimate Ends desired without a view to any thing else, and subordinate Ends or Objects desired with a view to something else.' To subordinate Ends those Reasons or Truths excite, which shew them to be conducive to the ultimate End, and shew one Object to be more effectual than another: thus subordinate Ends may be called reasonable. But as to the ultimate Ends, to suppose exciting Reasons for them, would infer, that there is no ultimate End, but that we desire one thing for another in an infinite Series.
Thus ask a Being who desires private Happiness, or has Self-Love, 'what Reason excites him to desire Wealth?' He will give this Reason, that 'Wealth tends to procure Pleasure and Ease.' Ask his Reason for desiring Pleasure or Happiness: One cannot imagine what Proposition he could assign as his exciting Reason. This Proposition is indeed true, 'There is an Instinct or Desire fixed in his Nature, determining him to pursue his Happiness;' but it is not this Reflection on his own Nature, or this Proposition which excites or determines him, but the Instinct itself. This is a Truth, 'Rhubarb strengthens the Stomach:' But it is not a Proposition which strengthens the Stomach, but the Quality in that Medicine. The Effect is not produced by Propositions shewing the Cause, but by the Cause itself.
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452 We may transiently observe a Mistake some fall into; They suppose, because they have formed some Conception of an infinite Good, or greatest possible Aggregate, or Sum of Happiness, under which all particular Pleasures may be included; that there is also some one great ultimate End, with a view to which every particular Object is desired; whereas, in truth, each particular Pleasure is desired without farther view, as an ultimate End in the selfish Desires. It is true, the Prospect of a greater inconsistent Pleasure may surmount or stop this Desire; so may the Fear of a prepollent Evil. But this does not prove 'that all Men have formed Ideas of infinite Good, or greatest possible Aggregate, or that they have any Instinct or Desire, actually operating without an Idea of its Object. Just so in the benevolent Affections, the Happiness of any one Person is an ultimate End, desired with no farther view: and yet the observing its Inconsistency with the Happiness of another more beloved, or with the Happiness of many, though each one of them were but equally beloved, may overcome the former Desire. Yet this will not prove, that in each kind Action Men form the abstract Conception of all Mankind, or the System of Rationals. Such Conceptions are indeed useful, that so we may gratify either our Self-Love or kind Affections in the fullest manner, as far as our Power extends; and may not content ourselves with smaller Degrees either of private or publick Good, while greater are in our power: But when we have formed these Conceptions, we do not serve the Individual only from Love to the Species, no more than we desire Grapes with an Intention of the greatest Aggregate of Happiness, or from an Apprehension that they make a Part of the General Sum of our Happiness. These Conceptions only serve to suggest greater Ends than would occur to us without Reflection; and by the Prepollency of one Desire toward the greater Good, to either private or publick, to stop the Desire toward the smaller Good, when it appears inconsistent with the greater.
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453 If any alledge as the Reason exciting us to pursue publick Good, this Truth, that the Happiness of a System, a Thousand, or a Million, is a greater Quantity of Happiness than that of one Person: and consequently, if Men desire Happiness, they must have stronger Desires toward the greater Sum, than toward the less.' This Reason still supposes an Instinct toward Happiness as previous to it: And again, To whom is the Happiness of a System a greater Happiness? To one Individual, or to the System? If to the Individual, then his Reason exciting his Desire of a happy System supposes Self-Love: If to the System, then what Reason can excite to desire the greater Happiness of a System, or any Happiness to be in the Possession of others? None surely which does not presuppose publick Affections. Without such Affections this Truth, 'that an hundred Felicities is a greater Sum than one Felicity,' will no more excite to study the Happiness of the Hundred, than this Truth, 'an hundred Stones are greater than one,' will excite a Man, who has no desire of Heaps, to cast them together.
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454 This leads to consider Approbation of Actions, whether it be for Conformity to any Truth, or Reasonableness, that Actions are ultimately approved, independently of any moral Sense? Or if all justifying Reasons do not presuppose it?
If Conformity to Truth, or Reasonableness, denote nothing else but that 'an Action is the Object of a true Proposition,' it is plain, that all Actions should be approved equally, since as many Truths may be made about the worst, as can be made about the best. See what was said above about exciting Reasons.
But let the Truths commonly assigned as justifying be examined. Here it is plain, 'A Truth shewing an Action to be fit to attain an End,' does not justify it; nor do we approve a subordinate End for any Truth, which only shews it to be fit to promote the ultimate End; for the worst Actions may be conducive to their Ends, and reasonable in that Sense. The justifying Reasons then must be about the Ends themselves, especially the ultimate Ends. The Question then is, 'Does a Conformity to any Truth make us approve an ultimate End, previously to any moral Sense?' For example, we approve pursuing the publick Good. For what Reason? Or what is the Truth for Conformity to which we call it a reasonable End? I fancy we can find none in these Cases, more than we could give for our liking any pleasant Fruit1
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455 When we say one is obliged to an Action, we either mean, 1. That the Action is necessary to obtain Happiness to the Agent, or to avoid Misery: Or, 2. That every Spectator, or he himself upon Reflection, must approve his Action, and disapprove his omitting it, if he considers fully all its Circumstances. The former Meaning of the Word Obligation presupposes selfish Affections, and the Senses of private Happiness: The latter Meaning includes the moral Sense. Mr. Barbeyrac, in his Annotations upon Grotius2 , makes Obligation denote an indispensable Necessity to act in a certain manner. Whoever observes his Explication of this Necessity, (which is not natural, otherwise no Man could act against his Obligation) will find that it denotes only 'such a Constitution of a powerful Superior, as will make it impossible for any Being to obtain Happiness, or avoid Misery, but by such a Course of Action.' This agrees with the former Meaning, though sometimes he also includes the latter.
Many other confused Definitions have been given of Obligation, by no obscure Names in the learned World. But let any one give a distinct Meaning, different from the two above-mentioned. To pursue them all would be endless; only let the Definitions be substituted in place of the Word Obligation, in other parts of each Writer, and let it be observed whether it makes good Sense or not.
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456 We may transiently observe what has occasioned the Use of the Word reasonable, as an Epithet of only virtuous Actions. Tho' we have Instincts determining us to desire Ends, without supposing any previous Reasoning; yet it is by use of our Reason that we find out the Means of obtaining our Ends. When we do not use our Reason, we often are disappointed of our End. We therefore call those Actions which are effectual to their Ends, in one Sense reasonable of that Word.
Again, in all Men there is probably a moral Sense, making publickly useful Actions and kind Affections grateful to the Agent, and to every Observer: Most Men who have thought of human Actions, agree, that the publiekly useful are in the whole also privately useful to the Agent, either in this Life or the next: We conclude, that all Men have the same Affections and Senses: We are convinced by our Reason, that it is by publickly useful Actions alone that we can promote all our Ends. Whoever then acts in a contrary manner, we presume is mistaken, ignorant of, or inadvertent to, these Truths which he might know; and say he acts unreasonably. Hence some have been led to imagine, some Reasons either exciting or justifying previously to all Affections or a moral Sense.
467 Two Arguments are brought in. defence of this Epithet, as antecedent to any Sense, viz. 'That we judge even of our Affections and Senses themselves, whether they are morally Good or Evil.'
The second Argument is, that 'if all moral Ideas depend upon the Constitution of our Sense, then all Constitutions would have been alike reasonable and good. to the Deity, which is absurd.'
As to the first Argument, it is plain we judge of our own Affections, or those of others by our moral Sense, by which we approve kind Affections, and disapprove the contrary. But none can apply moral Attributes to the very Faculty of perceiving moral Qualities; or call his moral Sense morally Good or Evil, any more than he calls the Power of Tasting, sweet or bitter; or of Seeing, strait or crooked, white or black.
Every one judges the Affections of others by his own Sense; so that it seems not impossible that in these Senses Men might differ as they do in Taste. A Sense approving Benevolence would disapprove that Temper, which a Sense approving Malice would delight in. The former would judge of the latter by his own Sense, so would the latter of the former. Each one would at first view think the Sense of the other perverted. But then, is there no difference? Are both Senses equality good? No certainly, any Man who observed them would think the Sense of the former more desirable than of the latter, but this is, because the moral Sense of every Man is constituted in the former manner. But were there any Nature with no moral Sense at all observing these two Persons, would he not think the State of the former preferable to that of the latter? Yes, he might: but not from any Perception of moral Goodness in the one Sense more than in the other. Any rational Nature observing two Men thus constituted, with opposite Senses, might by reasoning see, not moral Goodness in one Sense more than in the contrary, but a Tendency to the Happiness of the Person himself, who had the former Sense in the one Constitution, and a contrary Tendency in the opposite Constitution: nay, the Persons themselves might observe this; since the former Sense would make these Actions grateful to the Agent which were useful to others; who, if they had a like Sense, would love him, and return good Offices; whereas the latter Sense would make all such Actions as are useful to others, and apt to engage their good Offices, ungrateful to the Agent; and would lead him into publickly hurtful Actions, which would not only procure the Hatred of others, if they had a contrary Sense, but engage them out of their Self-Love, to study his Destruction, tho' their Senses agreed. Thus any Observer, or the Agent himself with this latter Sense, might perceive that the Pains to be feared, as the Consequence of malicious Actions, did over-ballance the Pleasures of this Sense; so that it would be to the Agent's Interest to counteract it. Thus one Constitution of the moral Sense might appear to be more advantageous to those who had it, than the contrary; as we may call that Sense of Tasting healthful, which made wholsome Meat pleasant; and we would call a contrary Taste pernicious. And yet we should no more call the moral Sense morally good or evil, than we call the Sense of Tasting savoury or unsavoury, sweet or bitter.
458 But must we not own, that we judge of all our Senses by our Reason, and often correct their Reports of the Magnitude, Figure, Colour, Taste of Objects, and pronounce them right or wrong, as they agree or disagree with Reason? This is true. But does it then follow, that Extension, Figure, Colour, Taste, are not sensible Ideas, but only denote Reasonableness, or Agreement with Reason? Or that these Qualities are perceivable antecedently to any Sense, by our Power of finding out Truth? Just so a compassionate Temper may rashly imagine the Correction of a Child, or the Execution of a Criminal, to be cruel and inhuman: but by reasoning may discover the superior Good arising from them in the whole; and then the same moral Sense may determine the Observer to approve them. But we must not hence conclude, that it is any reasoning antecedent to a moral Sense, which determines us to approve the Study of publick Good, any more than we can in the former Case conclude, that we perceive Extension, Figure, Colour, Taste, antecedently to a Sense. All these Sensations are often corrected by Reasoning, as well as our Approbations of Actions as Good or Evil1 : and yet no body ever placed the Original idea of Extension, Figure, Colour, or Taste, in Conformity to Reason.
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459 As to the second Argument, What means [alike reasonable or good to the Deity?] Does it mean, 'that the Deity could have had no Reasons exciting him to make one Constitution rather than another?' 'Tis plain, if the Deity had nothing essential to his Nature, resembling or analogous to our sweetest and most kind Affections, we can scarce suppose he could have any Reason exciting him to any thing he has done: but grant such a Disposition in the Deity, and then the manifest Tendency of the present Constitution to the Happiness of his Creatures was an exciting Reason for chusing it before the contrary. Each sort of Constitution might have given Men an equal immediate Pleasure in present Self-Approbation for any sort of Action; but the Actions approved by the present Sense, procure all Pleasures of the other Senses; and the Actions which would have been approved by a contrary moral Sense, would have been productive of all Torments of the other Senses.
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If it be meant, that 'upon this Supposition, that all our Approbation presupposes in us a moral Sense, the Deity could not have approved one Constitution more than another:' where is the Consequence? Why may not the Deity have something of a superior Kind, analogous to our moral Sense, essential to him? How does any Constitution of the Senses of Men binder the Deity to reflect and judge of his own Actions? How does it affect the divine Apprehension, which way soever moral Ideas arise with Men?
If it means, 'that we cannot approve one Constitution more than another, or approve the Deity for making the present Constitution:' This Consequence is also false. The present Constitution of our moral Sense determines us to approve all kind Affections: This Constitution the Deity must have foreseen as tending to the Happiness of his Creatures; it does therefore evidence kind Affection or Benevolence in the Deity, this therefore we must approve.
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460 Some farther perplex this Subject, by asserting, that 'the same Reasons determining Approbation, ought also to excite to Election.' Here, 1. We often see justifying Reasons where we can have no Election; viz. when we observe the Actions of others, which were even prior to our Existence. 2. The Quality moving us to Election very often cannot excite Approbation; viz. private usefulness, not publickly pernicious. This both does and ought to move Election, and yet I believe few will say, 'they approve as virtuous the eating a Bunch of Grapes, taking a Glass of Wine, or sitting down when one is tired. Approbation is not what we can voluntarily bring upon ourselves. When we are contemplating Actions, we do not chuse to approve, because Approbation is pleasant; otherwise we would always approve, and never condemn any Action; because this is some way uneasy. Approbation is plainly a Perception arising without previous Volition, or Choice of it, because of any concomitant Pleasure. The Occasion of it is the Perception of benevolent Affections in ourselves, or the discovering the like in others, even when we are incapable of any Action or Election. The Reasons determining Approbation are such as shew that an Action evidenced kind Affections, and that in others, as often as in ourselves. Whereas the Reasons moving to Election are such as shew the Tendency of an Action to gratify some Affection in the Agent.
The Prospect of the Pleasure of Self-Approbation, is indeed often a Motive to chase one Action rather than another; but this supposes the moral Sense, or Determination to approve, prior to the Election. Were Approbation voluntarily chosen, from the Prospect of its concomitant Pleasure, then there could be no Condemnation of our own Actions, for that is unpleasant.
As to that confused Word [ought] it is needless to apply to it again all that was said about Obligation.
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—Shewing the Use of Reason concerning Virtue and Vice, upon Supposition that we receive these Ideas by a Moral Sense.
461 Perhaps what has brought the Epithet Reasonable, or flowing from Reason, in opposition to what flows from Instinct, Affection, or Passion, so much into use, is this, 'That it is often observed, that the very best of our particular Affections or Desires, when they are grown violent and passionate, through the confused Sensations and Propensities which attend them, make us incapable of considering calmly the whole Tendency of our Actions, and lead us often into what is absolutely pernicious, under some Appearance of relative or particular Good.' This indeed may give some ground for distinguishing between passionate Actions, and those from calm Desire or Affection which employs our Reason freely: But can never set rational Actions in Opposition to those from Instinct, Desire or Affection. And it must be owned, that the most perfect Virtue consists in the calm, impassionate Benevolence, rather than in particular Affections.
462 If one asks 'how do we know that our Affections are right when they are kind?' What does the Word [right] mean? Does it mean what we approve? This we know by Consciousness of our Sense. Again, how do we know that our Sense is right, or that we approve our Approbation? This can only be answered by another Question, viz. How do we know we are pleased when we are pleased?'—Or does it mean, 'how do we know that we shall always approve what we now approve?' To answer this, we must first know that the same Constitution of our Sense shall always remain: And again, that we have applied ourselves carefully to consider the natural Tendency of our Actions. Of the Continuance of the same Constitution of our Sense, we are as sure as of the Continuance of Gravitation, or any other Law of Nature: The Tendency of our own Actions we cannot always know; but we may know certainly that we heartily and sincerely study to act according to what, by all the Evidence now in our Power to obtain, appears as most probably tending to publick Good. When we are conscious of this sincere Endeavour, the evil Consequences which we could not have foreseen, never will make us condemn our Conduct. But without this sincere Endeavour, we may often approve at present what we shall afterwards condemn.
488 If the Question means, 'How are we sure that we approve, all others shall also approve?' Of this we can be sure upon no Scheme; but it is highly probable that the Senses of all Men are pretty uniform: That the Deity also approves kind Affections, otherwise he would not have implanted them in us, nor determined us by a moral Sense to approve them. Now since the Probability that Man shall judge truly, abstracting from any presupposed Prejudice, is greater than that they shall judge falsly; it is more probable, when our Actions are really kind and publickly useful, that all Observers shall judge truly of our Intentions, and of the Tendency of our Actions, and consequently approve what we approve our. selves, than that they shall judge falsly and condemn them.
464 If the Meaning of the Question be, 'Will the doing what our moral Sense approves tend to our Happiness, and to the avoiding Misery?' It is thus we call a Taste wrong, when it makes that Food at present grateful, which shall occasion future Pains, or Death. This Question concerning our Self-Interest must be answered by such Reasoning as was mentioned above, to be well managed by our Moralists both antient and modem.
Thus there seems no part of that Reasoning which was ever used by Moralists, to be superseded by supposing a moral Sense. And yet without a moral Sense there is no Explication can be given of our Ideas of Morality; nor of that Reasonableness supposed antecedent to all Instincts, Affections, or Sense.
485 'But may there not be a right or wrong State of our moral Sense, as there is in our other Senses, according as they represent their Objects to be as they really are, or represent them otherwise?' So may not our moral Sense approve that which is vicious, and disapprove Virtue, as a sickly Palate may dislike grateful Food, or a vitiated Sight misrepresent Colours or Dimensions? Must we not know therefore antecedently what is morally Good or Evil by our Reason, before we can know that our moral Sense is right? To answer this, we must remember that of the sensible Ideas, some are allowed to be only Perceptions in our Minds, and not Images of any like external Quality, as Colours, Sounds, Tastes, Smells, Pleasure, Pain. Other Ideas are Images of something external, as Duration, Number, Extension, Motion, Rest: These latter, for distinction, we may call concomitant Ideas of Sensation, and the former purely sensible. As to the purely sensible Ideas, we know they are altered by any Disorder in our Organs, and made different from what arise in us from the same Objects at other times. We do not denominate Objects from our Perceptions during the Disorder, but according to our ordinary Perceptions, or those of others in good Health: Yet nobody imagines that therefore Colours, Sounds, Tastes, are not sensible Ideas. In like manner many Circumstances diversify the concomitant Ideas: But we denominate Objects from the Appearances they make to us in an uniform Medium, when our Organs are in no disorder, and the Object not very distant from them. But none therefore imagines that it is Reason and not Sense which discovers these concomitant Ideas, or primary Qualities.
466 Just so in our Ideas of Actions. These three Things are to be distinguished, 1. The Idea of the external Motion, known first by Sense, and its Tendency to the Happiness or Misery of some sensitive Nature, often inferred by Argument or Reason, which on these Subjects, suggests as invariable eternal or necessary Truths as any whatsoever. 2. Apprehension or Opinion of the Affections in the Agent, inferred by our Reason: So far the Idea of an Action represents something external to the Observer, really existing whether he had perceived it or not, and having a real Tendency to certain Ends. 3. The Perception of Approbation or Disapprobation arising in the Observer, according as the Affections of the Agent are apprehended kind in their lust Degree, or deficient, or malicious. This Approbation cannot be supposed an Image of any thing external, more than the Pleasures of Harmony, of Taste, of Smell. But let none imagine, that calling the Ideas of Virtue and Vice Perceptions of a Sense, upon apprehending the Actions and Affections of another does diminish their Reality, more than the like Assertions concerning all Pleasure and Pain, Happiness or Misery. Our Reason often corrects the Report of our Senses, about the natural Tendency of the external Action, and corrects rash Conclusions about the Affections of the Agent. But whether our moral Sense be subject to such a Disorder, as to have different Perceptions, from the same apprehended Affections in an Agent, at different times, as the Eye may have of the Colours of an unaltered Object, it is not easy to determine: Perhaps it will be hard to find any Instances of such a Change. What Reason could correct, if it fell into such a Disorder, I know not; except suggesting to its Remembrance its former Approbations, and representing the general Sense of Mankind. But this does not prove Ideas of Virtue and Vice to be previous to a Sense, more than a like Correction of the Ideas of Colour in a Person under the Jaundice, proves that Colours are perceived by Reason, previously to Sense.
487 If any say, 'this moral Sense is not a Rule:' What means that Word? It is not a strait rigid Body: It is not a general Proposition, shewing what Means are fit to obtain an end: It is not a Proposition, asserting, that a Superior will make those happy who act one way. and miserable who act the contrary way. If these be the Meanings of Rule, it is no Rule; yet by reflecting upon it our Understanding may find out a Rule. But what Rule of Actions can be formed, without Relation to some End proposed? Or what End can be proposed, without presupposing Instructs, Desires, Affections, or a moral Sense, it will not be easy to explain.
—Shewing that Virtue may have whatever is meant by Merit; and be rewardable upon the Supposition, that it is perceived by a Sense, and elected from Affection or Instinct.
468 Some will not allow any Merit in Actions flowing from kind Instincts: 'Merit, say they, attends Actions to which we are excited by Reason alone, or to which we freely determine ourselves. The Operation of Instincts or Affections is necessary, and not voluntary; nor is there more Merit in them than in the Shining of the Sun, the Fruitfulness of a Tree, or the Overflowing of a Stream, which are all publickly useful.'
But what does Merit mean? or Praiseworthiness? Do these Words denote the 'Quality Actions, which gains Approbation from the Observer, according to the present Constitution of the human Mind?' Or, 2dly, Are these Actions called meritorious, 'which, when any Observer does approve, all other Observers approve him for his Approbation of it; and would condemn any Observer who did not approve these Actions?' These are the only Meanings of meritorious, which I can conceive as distract from rewardable, which is considered hereafter separately. Let those who are not satisfied with either of these Explications of Merit, endeavour to give a Definition of it reducing it to Its simple Ideas. and not, as a late Author has done, quarrelling these Descriptions, tell us only that it is Deserving or being worthy of Approbation, which is defining by giving a synonimous Term.
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469 But it may be said, that to make an Action meritonous, it is necessary not only that the Action be publickly useful, but that it be known or Imagined to be such, before the Agent freely chases it. But what does this add to the former Scheme? Only a Judgment or Opinion in the Understanding, concerning the natural Tendency of an Action to the publick Good: Few, it may be presumed, will place Virtue in Assent or Dissent, or Perceptions. And yet this is all that is superadded to the former Case. The Agent must not desire the publick Good, or have any kind Affections. This would spoil the Freedom of Choice, according to their Scheme, who insist on a Freedom opposite to Affections or Instincts: But he must barely know the Tendency to publick Good and without any Propensity to, or Desire of the Happiness of others, by an arbitrary Election, acquire his Merit. Let every man judge for himself, whether these are the qualities which he approves.
What has probably engaged many into this way of speaking, 'that Virtue is the Effect of rational Choice, and not of Instincts or Affections,' is this; they find, that 'some Actions flowing from particular kind Affections, are sometimes condemned as evil,' because of their bad Influence upon the State of larger Societies; and that the Hurry and confused Sensation of any of our Passions, may divert the Mind from considering the whole Effect of its Actions: They require therefore to Virtue a calm and undisturbed Temper.
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470 Some alledge, that Merit supposes, beside kind Affection, that the Agent has a moral Sense, reflects upon his own Virtue, delights in it, and chases to adhere to it for the Pleasure which attends it1 . We need not debate the Use of this Word Merit: it is plain, we approve a generous kind Action, tho' the Agent had not made this Reflection. This Reflection shews to him a Motive of Self-Love, the joint View to which does not increase our Approbation; But then it must again be owned, that we cannot form a just ConcIusion of a Character from one or two kind, generous Actions, especially where there has been no very strong Motives to the contrary. Some apparent Motives of Interest may afterwards overballance the kind Affections, and lead the Agent into vicious Actions. But the Reflection on Virtue, the being once charmed with the lovely Form, will discover an Interest on its side, which, if well attended to, no other Motive will overballance. This Reflection is a great Security to the Character; and must be supposed in such creatures as Men are, before we can well depend upon a Constancy in Virtue.
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A System of Moral Philosohy
471 II. The calm self-love, or the determination of each individual toward his own happiness, is a motion of the will without any uneasy sensation attending it. But the several selfish desires, terminating on particular objects, are generally attended with some uneasy turbulent sensations in very different degrees: yet these sensations are different from the act of the will to which they are conjoined; and different too from the motives of desire. The motive is some good apprehended in an object or event, toward which good the desire tends; and, in consequence of desire, some uneasiness arises, till the good is obtained. To aversion, the motive is some evil apprehended or feared, and perhaps not yet felt. Uneasiness too attends the aversion, untill the evil is repelled. Prospects of the pleasures or powers attending opulence are the motives to the desire of wealth, and never the uneasy feelings attending the desire itself. These feelings arc, in nature, subsequent to the desire.
Again, when we obtain the thing desired; beside the pleasures to be obtained from this object, which were the motives of the desire, and often before we enjoy them, there is one pleasure immediatly arising from the success, at least in those cases where there was any difficulty in the pursuit, or fear of disappointment. It would be absurd to say that this joy in the success was the motive to the desire. We should have no joy in the success, nor could we have had any desire, unless the prospect of some other good had been the motive. This holds in all our desires, benevolent or selfish, that there is some motive, some end intended, distinct from the joy of success, or the removal of the pain of desire; otherways all desires would be the most fantastick things imaginable, equally ardent toward any trifle, as toward the greatest good; since the joy of success, and the removal of the uneasiness of desire, would be alike in both sorts of desires. 'Tis trifling therefore to say that all desires are selfish, because by gratifying them we obtain the joy of success, and free ourselves from the uneasy feelings of desire.
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472 VI. This moral sense from its very nature appears to be designed for regulating and controlling all our powers. This dignity and commanding nature we are immediatly conscious of, as we are conscious of the power itself. Nor can such matters of immediate feeling be otherways proved but by appeals to our hearts. It does not estimate the good it recommends as merely differing in degree, tho' of the same kind with other advantages recommended by other senses, so as to allow us to practise smaller moral evils acknowledged to remain such, in order to obtain some great advantages of other sorts; or to omit what we judge in the present case to be our duty or morally good, that we may decline great evils of another sort. But as we immediatly perceive the difference in kind, and that the dignity of enjoyment from fine poetry, painting, or from knowledge is superior to the pleasures of the palate, were they never so delicate; so we immediatly discern moral good they be superior in kind and dignity to all others which are perceived by the other perceptive powers.
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473 But of all such dispositions of our nature, different from all our kind affections, none is so nearly connected with them, none so natural an evidence of them, none so immediatly and necessarily subservient to them, as an acute moral sense itself, a strong desire of moral excellence, with an high relish of it wherever it is observed. We do not call the power or sense itself virtuous; but the having this sense in a high degree naturally raises a strong desire of having all generous affections; it surmounts all the little obstacles to them, and determines the mind to use all the natural means of raising them. Now, as the mind can make any of its own powers the object of its reflex contemplation, this high sense of moral excellence is approved above all other abilities.
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474 That disposition therefore which is most excellent, and naturally gains the highest moral approbation, is the calm, stable, universal good-will to all, or the most extensive benevolence. And this seems the most distinct notion we can form of the moral excellency of the Deity.
Another disposition inseparable from this in men, and probably in all beings who are capable of such extensive affection, is the relish or approbation of this affection, and a naturally consequent desire of this moral excellence, and an esteem and good-will of an higher kind to all in whom it is found. This love of moral excellence is also an high object of approbation, when we find it in ourselves by reflection, or observe it in another. It is a pretty different affection from benevolence or the desire of communicating happiness; and is as it were in another order of affection; so that one cannot well determine whether it can be compared with the other. It seems co-ordinate, and the highest possible of that kind; never in opposition to benevolence, nay always conspiring with and assisting it This desire of moral excellence, and love to the mind where it resides, with the consequent acts of esteem, veneration, trust, and resignation, are the essence of true piety toward God.
475 To discover wherein our true happiness consists we must compare the several enjoyments of life, and the several kinds of misery, that we may discern what enjoyments are to be parted with, or what uneasiness to be endured, in order to obtain the highest and most beatifick satisfactions, and to avoid the most distressing sufferings.
As to pleasures of the same kind, 'tis manifest their values are in a joint proportion of their intenseness and duration. In estimating the duration, we not only regard the constancy of the object, or its remaining in our power, and the duration of the sensations it affords, but the constancy of our fancy or relish: for when this changes it puts an end to the enjoyment.
476 In comparing pleasures of different kinds, the value is as the duration and dignity of the kind jointly. We have an immediate sense of a dignity1 , a perfection, or beatifick quality in some kinds, which no intenseness of the lower kinds can equal, were they also as lasting as we could wish. No intenseness or duration of any external sensation gives it a dignity or worth equal to that of the improvement of the soul by knowledge, or the ingenious arts; and much less is it equal to that of virtuous affections and actions. We never hesitate in judging thus about the happiness or perfection of others, where the impetuous cravings of appetites and passions do not corrupt our judgments, as they do often in our case. By this intimate feeling of dignity, enjoyments and exercises of some kinds, tho' not of the highest degree of those kinds, are incomparably more excellent and beatifick than the most intense and lasting enjoyments of the lower kinds. Nor is duration of such importance to some higher kinds, as it is to the lower. The exercise of virtue for a short period, provided it be not succeeded by something vicious, is of incomparably greater value than the most lasting sensual pleasures. Nothing destroys the excellence and perfection of the state but a contrary quality of the same kind defacing the former character. The peculiar happiness of the virtuous man is not so much abated by Pain, or an early death, as that of the sensualist; tho' his complex state which is made up of all his enjoyments and sufferings of every kind is in some degree affected by them. Nor is it a view of private sublime pleasures in frequent future reflections which recommends virtue to the soul. We feel an impulse, an ardour toward perfection, toward affections and actions of dignity, and feel their immediate excellence, abstracting from such views of future pleasures of long duration. Tho' no doubt these pleasures, which are as sure as our existence, are to be regarded in our estimation of the importance of virtue to our happiness.
477 Now if we denote by intenseness, in a more general meaning, the degree in which any perceptions or enjoyments are beatifick, then their comparative values are in a compound proportion of their intenseness and duration. But to retain always in view the grand differences of the kinds, and to prevent any imaginations, that the intenser sensations of the lower kinds with sufficient duration may compleat our happiness; it may be more convenient to estimate enjoyments by their dignity and duration: dignity denoting the excellence of the kind, when those of different kinds are compared; and the intenseness of the sensations, when we compare those of the same kind.
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478 Thus different men have different tastes. What one admires as the supreme enjoyments, another may despise. Must we not examine these tastes? Are all persons, all orders of beings equally happy if each obtains the enjoyments respectively most relished? At this rate the meanest brute or insect may be as happy as the wisest hero, patriot, or friend can be. What may make a brute as happy as that low order is capable of being, may be but despicable to an order endued with finer perceptive powers, and a nobler sort of desires. Beings of these higher orders are immediately conscious of the superior dignity and importance to happiness in their peculiar enjoyments, of which lower orders are incapable. Nature has thus distinguished the different orders by different perceptive powers, so that the same objects will not be sufficient for happiness to all; nor have all equal happiness when each can gratify all the desires and senses he has.
The superior orders in this world probably experience all the sensations of the lower orders, and can judge of them. But the inferior do not experience the enjoyments of the superior. Nay in the several stages of life each one finds different tastes and desires. We are conscious in our state of mature years that the happiness of our friends, our families, or our country are incomparably nobler objects of our pursuit, and administer proportionably a nobler pleasure than the toys which once abundantly entertained us when we had experienced nothing better. God has assigned to each order, and to the several stages of life in the same person, their peculiar powers and tastes. Each one is as happy when its taste is gratified as it can then be. But we are immediately conscious that one gratification is more excellent than another, when we have experienced both. And then our reason and observation enables us to compare the effects, and consequences, and duration. One may be transitory, and the occasion of great subsequent misery, tho' for the present the enjoyment be intense: another may be lasting, safe, and succeeded by no satiety, shame, disgust, or remorse.
Superior beings by diviner faculties and fuller knowledge may, without experience of all sorts, immediately discern what are the noblest. They may have some intuitive knowledge of perfection and some standard of it, which may make the experience of some lower sorts useless to them. But of mankind these certainly are the best judges who have full experience, with their tastes or senses and appetites in a natural vigorous state. Now it never was alledged that social affections, the admiration of moral excellence, the desire of esteem, with their attendant and guardian temperance, the pursuits of knowledge, or a natural activity, impared any sense or appetite. This is often charged with great justice upon luxury, and surfeiting, and indolence. The highest sensual enjoyments may be experienced by those who employ both mind and body vigorously in social virtuous offices, and allow all the natural appetites to recur in their due seasons. Such certainly are the best judges of all enjoyments. Thus according to the maxim often inculcated by Aristotle, 'The good man is the true judge and standard of every thing.'
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479 The most benign and wise constitution of a rational system is that in which the degree of selfish affection most useful to the individual is consistent with the interest d the system; and where the degree of generous affections most useful to the system is ordinarily consistent with or subservient to the greatest happiness of the individual. A mean low species may indeed be wholly subjected to the interests of a superior species, and have affections solely calculated for these higher interests. But in the more noble systems it would be a blemish if in fact there was an established inconsistence between the two grand ends to each rational being, personal enjoyment and publick happiness, and in consequence, an irreconcilable variance between the affections destined for the pursuit of them.
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480 II. The righteousness or goodness of actions is not indeed the same notion with their tendency to universal happiness, or flowing from the desire of it. This latter is the highest species of the former. Our moral sense has also other immediate objects of approbation, many narrower affections, which we must immediately approve without thinking of their tendency to the interest of a system.
481 VI. To each right there corresponds an obligation, perfect or imperfect, as the right is. The term obligation is both complex and ambiguous. We primarily say one is obliged to an action 'when he must find from the constitution of human nature that he and every attentive observer must disapprove the omission of it as morally evil.' The word is sometimes taken for 'a strong motive of interest constituted by the will of some potent superior to engage us to act as he requires.' In the former meaning, obligation is founded on our moral faculty; in the latter, it seems to abstract from it. But in describing the superior who can constitute obligation, we not only include sufficient force or power, but also a just right to govern; and this justice or right will lead us again to our moral faculty. Through this ambiguity1 ingenious men have contradicted each other with keenness; some asserting an obligation antecedent to all views of interest, or laws; others deriving the original source of all obligation from the law or will of an omnipotent Being.
oxford horace hart in a. printer to the university
 Hippias Major. See also Treat. II. Sect, 5. Art. 7.
 See Treat. I.
 See Treat. II. Sect. 5. Art. 3–8.
 See Mr. Locke's Essay on Human Understanding in the Chap. on the Passions.
 The Schoolmen express this Distinction by the Appetitus rationalis, and the Appetitus Sensitivus. All Animals have in common the External Senses suggesting notions of things as pleasant or painful: and have also the Appetitus Sensitivus, or some instinctive Desires and Aversions. Rational Agents have, superadded to these, two higher analogous Powers; viz. the Understanding, or Reason, presenting farther notions, and attended with an higher sort of Sensations; and the Appetitus rationalis. This latter is a 'constant natural Disposition of Soul to desire what the Understanding, or these sublimer Sensations, represent as Good, and to shun what they represent as Evil, and this either when it respects ourselves or others.' This many call the Will as distinct from the Passions. Some later Writers seem to have forgot it, by ascribing to the Understanding not only Ideas, Notions, Knowledge; but Action, Inclinations, Desires, Prosecution, and their Contraries.
 Sect. 2. Art. 6.
 Thus Grotius distinguishes the Reasons of War. into the Justifice, and Suasoria, or these, sub ratione utilis.
 This is what Aristotle so often asserts that the II§ or β§ is not the End, but the Means.
 Lib. I. chap. i. sect. 10.
 See Sect. 4 of this Treatise.
 See Lord Shaftesbury's Inquiry concerning Virtue, vol. i. pt ii. § 3, P. 28.
 See above, chap. iv.§ 10.
 See Leibmtz's censure on Puffendorf, and Barbeyaque's defence of him.