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A System of Moral Philosohy - 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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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
 See above, chap. iv.§ 10.
 See Leibmtz's censure on Puffendorf, and Barbeyaque's defence of him.