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An Inquiry into the Original of Our Ideas of Beauty and Virtue in Two Treatises, ed. Wolfgang Leidhold (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2004).
A seminal text of the Scottish Enlightenment which was written as a critical response to the work of Bernard Mandeville and as a defense of the ideas of Anthony Ashley Cooper, Lord Shaftesbury. It consists of two treatises exploring our aesthetic and our moral abilities.
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natural law and enlightenment classics
The political dimension of liberty is at least twofold: civil liberties and independence. The former is a matter of the political order of a country; the latter, of freedom from foreign domination. Liberty and happiness can be related to each other as they were in the third section of the “Virginia Bill of Rights,” from 6 June 1776:
That government is or ought to be instituted for the common benefit, protection and security of the people, nation or community; of all the various modes and forms of government, that is best which is capable of producing the greatest degree of happiness and safety and is most effectually secured against the danger of maladministration; and that when any government shall be found inadequate or contrary to these purposes, a majority of the community has an indubitable, inalienable and indefeasible right to reform, alter or abolish it, in such manner as shall be judged most conducive to the public weal.
The preceding section puts forward a short argument: The right to reform, alter, or abolish government is founded on the judgment of whether such government is adequate or contrary to its main purpose, namely the greatest degree of happiness and safety of the community. The argument has a philosophical background. The criterion of “producing the greatest degree of happiness” is part of the principal maxim of utilitarian ethics. The right of resistance against inadequate government, on the other hand, is part of the liberal creed. In the eighteenth century the Scottish philosopher Francis Hutcheson (1694–1746), in his Inquiry into the Original of Our Ideas of Beauty and Virtue (London, 1725), linked the two sides of the argument for the first time. There he even coined the phrase, “That action is best, which procures the greatest happiness for the greatest numbers.”
Hutcheson’s philosophy became part of the ideas that formed the American polity. In the eighteenth century his books were imported to America and his philosophy was well known through his students and learned visitors to Scotland—among them was Benjamin Franklin in 1759. Hutcheson’s ideas even became part of the colonial curriculum. The Inquiry, which is published here in a new edition, was the book that established Hutcheson’s reputation as a philosopher.
Already in this early work, Hutcheson detailed some of his political ideas. However, his main task was examining the foundations of his aesthetic, moral, and political philosophy. This was done in two treatises, one dealing with the principles of aesthetics, the other with those of ethics and, to some extent, their political consequences. In both treatises the structure of the argument is similar: (1) Our ideas have their origin in our perceptions and are received by senses. (2) For different perceptions we have different senses. (3) Perceptions are founded in certain qualities of the objects perceived. (4) These qualities we can describe in a maxim or formula. Hutcheson’s theory in both treatises therefore is a complex of three related components: a subjective sense, an objective foundation, and an analytical formula. Hutcheson presents the outline of his theory of perception in the first treatise.
Hutcheson’s theory of perception starts with the ideas of John Locke. For Locke all materials of reason and knowledge come “from experience” and our senses are “the first step and degree towards knowledge, and the inlet of all the materials of it.” Hutcheson accordingly defines different senses as the powers “of receiving . . . different Perceptions” (I. I. §§ I, II) and maintains that we also acquire the material for our aesthetic and ethical knowledge by some sort of perception. However, what is the specific quality we perceive in aesthetic perceptions? Here Hutcheson relies on Shaftesbury. Shaftesbury’s analysis of aesthetic perception is based on the Platonic concept of form (forma is the Latin version of the Greek Platonic term idea). Beauty then is the “outward form” of things, reflecting the “inward form” of some “forming power.” Accordingly Hutcheson defines beauty as a “form” or as “Figures . . . in which there is Uniformity amidst Variety” (I. II. § III).
Hutcheson implies that form and uniformity cannot be perceived by the normal senses but by a special sense only. Therefore he expands the notion of experience beyond the confines of the ordinary five senses. Form or uniformity then is the particular quality in objects that is the “Foundation or Occasion of the Ideas of Beauty among Men” (I. II. §§ I, II). Beauty is our perception or knowledge of this objective quality, and in accord with his definition of “sense” as the power of perceiving these objective qualities, he assumes a special sense of beauty. This sense is but one of a group of “internal senses,” which include among others the “good Ear” or “sense of harmony” (I. VI. § IX). The formula by which the objective form in things themselves can be described is, as already noted, “uniformity amidst variety.” With these words Hutcheson paraphrases Shaftesbury’s concept of beauty. As in his analysis of moral actions, Hutcheson thinks that aesthetic phenomena are capable of a mathematical analysis, which he sketches in his study of “original or absolute beauty” (title of I. II.).
After delineating his theory of aesthetic knowledge, Hutcheson in the remaining chapters of the first treatise develops a general aesthetic theory. This theory of beauty is not limited to a theory of art but extends to a general, almost cosmological theory. This becomes clear when we look at his basic distinction of original or absolute beauty from comparative or relative beauty at the end of the first section. Absolute beauty we “perceive in Objects without comparison to any thing external, of which the Object is suppos’d an Imitation, or Picture” (I. I. § XVI). Examples of such beauty are the works of nature (such as heaven and earth, plants and animals); the harmony of music; some works of art, when their beauty, as in architecture or gardening, is not an imitation of something else. Even theorems, such as those in mathematics, can in the absolute sense be beautiful. Relative beauty is “founded on a Conformity, or a kind of Unity between the Original and the Copy” (I. IV. § I). Instances here are poetry and painting and the creation as a whole—since in the beauty of the effects it reflects the design and wisdom of its cause, which is God the Father as the Creator (I. V.).
It is the general theory of perception as developed in the first treatise that forms the basis of the similar argument in the second. We may assume that Hutcheson wanted first to establish the idea of additional senses in a field that was not as controversial as that of moral philosophy.
The moral controversy is found right in the title of the book. In the first edition we read that Hutcheson wants to defend Shaftesbury’s ideas against the author of the Fable of the Bees, that is, Mandeville. The two names reflect the clash between the “benevolent” and the “selfish” system. The first position argues that men have by nature moral principles, the second that these principles are but a political invention that is socially useful and based only on self-love or self-interest. Shaftesbury taught that social affections were the foundation of morals and that a moral sense was the origin of our moral ideas. Where Shaftesbury speaks of “social affections” as the foundation of morals, Hutcheson prefers the Christian concept of “love” as “benevolence.” The logical structure of the second treatise is similar to the first. Again we can discern three major components: an objective foundation, which here is benevolence; a particular sense, which is the moral sense; and the analytical formula of “the greatest happiness for the greatest numbers.”
In the second treatise, Hutcheson wants to establish the notion of a moral sense as the “Original of our Ideas of . . . Virtue” and love or benevolence as the particular quality we perceive in virtue:
The Affections which are of most Importance in Morals, are Love and Hatred: All the rest seem but different Modifications of these two original affections. (II. II. § II)
Since Hutcheson wanted to follow Locke’s theory of knowledge (as in the first treatise), he had to analyze love or benevolence in accordance with Locke’s ideas. According to Locke, all materials of experience consist either of simple ideas or of complex ideas, which are composed of simple ideas. Complex ideas can be real or they can be fictitious (being put together by the imagination or by reason). However, neither imagination nor reason can invent simple ideas. Therefore, only simple ideas necessarily represent something real. If Hutcheson thinks benevolence is the objective foundation of morals, he must show what simple ideas constitute it.
Locke had defined love by the simple ideas of pleasure and pain. Love for him is the subjective pleasure of something and is identical with self-love. This definition of love is compatible only with the selfish system. Hutcheson wants to avoid just that. Therefore he distinguishes two versions of “good” and “evil,” that is, natural and moral good or evil. A natural good is perceived only in inanimate beings. This perception is one of advantage or disadvantage, of pleasure or pain. A moral good is perceived in rational agents since “they study the interest, and desire the Happiness of other Beings.” Our moral relationship with rational agents then is twofold: (1) a moral perception and (2) a moral affection or desire. The moral perception is generally called “approbation” or “disapprobation”; the desire is generally named “love” and “benevolence” or “dislike” and “hate” (II. Introduction; II. I. § I; II).
Hutcheson defines love by the “simple idea of desire.” In the first edition of the Inquiry the terminology is not yet quite consistent; refinements are added later. In the Essay he defines love as the “desire” for the happiness of others and addresses desire as a simple idea (Essay, p. 64). In contrast to Locke, Hutcheson considers desire to be an act of the will. This is consistent with the Christian idea of love. Love in the Christian sense of benevolence is not an emotion or a feeling, but an act of the will. Otherwise, the words of the Sermon on the Mount—“Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself” (Matthew 19:19)—would become a very strange commandment: a feeling cannot be commanded. A contemporary Christian author, Richard Cumberland (1631–1718), knew this very well.
While benevolence is the foundation of the moral good, the moral sense is the source of moral ideas, of approbation and disapprobation. Hutcheson concedes that the moral sense is a “secret sense” (II. Introduction; II. I. § III). That means the existence of such a sense is not immediately known and calls for an indirect proof. On the basis of his theory of perception he demonstrates that there are distinct moral perceptions and concludes that there must be a distinct sense:
since the Definition agrees to it, viz. a Determination of the Mind, to receive any Idea from the Presence of an Object which occurs to us, independent on our Will. (II. I. § I)
For Hutcheson, the particular moral perception is approbation. We perceive a “moral good” when a person acts from benevolence, and this “(excites) . . . Approbation or Perception of moral Excellence.” The “natural good,” on the other hand, raises the “Desire of Possession toward the good Object.” Hutcheson emphasizes that approbation should not be mixed up with the “Opinion of Advantage,” and later on throughout the first and the following chapters he strengthens his position with a number of instances. That the perception of approbation or moral excellence is different from other perceptions is for Hutcheson a matter of evidence. Evidence for him seems to be a proof from experience, which cannot be supported by other sufficient reasons (II. I. § I).
To be sure, the moral quality of actions is not the same in all cases. Sometimes we approve one act more than another, or we may have to choose between different options. To clarify the difference, we have to analyze the object of perception, that is, the moral quality itself. In this case we would make a judgment about moral quality. This is what Hutcheson does with his maxim of the greatest happiness for the greatest numbers. In the third section Hutcheson introduces the formula:
that Action is best, which procures the greatest Happiness for the greatest Numbers; and that, worst, which, in like manner, occasions Misery. (II. III. § VIII)
The formula is based on the moral sense, the objective moral quality, and a rational procedure, namely a comparison of the varying moral qualities of actions. The subsequent judgment is based on the moral sense that still performs a leading role. In the earlier editions, the presentation of the maxim was followed by a number of mathematical algorithms that, however, are omitted in the fourth edition. Hutcheson states in the preface to the latter that he had left out the mathematical expressions since they “appear’d useless, and were disagreeable to some Readers” (4th ed., Preface, p. xxi; see Preface, note 38, in the Textual Notes of the present edition). The term “happiness” is defined as a “natural good.” To be sure, the greatest good turns out to be benevolence itself (II. III. § XV) or the “Possession of good moral Qualities” (II. VI. § I). The greatest happiness for Hutcheson cannot be found in wealth and external pleasures, but virtue is “the chief Happiness in the Judgment of all Mankind” (II. VI. § II).
Hutcheson’s moral philosophy has a political perspective. This becomes clear in phrases like the “common good” or “public interest” that he uses throughout the Inquiry. Especially in its final chapter he treats the basic questions of political order. His main subjects are the corruption of human nature, prudence, rights, and the form of government. The political problem emerges right from the center of Hutcheson’s moral philosophy. Since virtue is the highest form of happiness, and virtue is based on benevolence and benevolence in turn on the will, then only people who can exert their will autonomously (in other words, who are free in a political sense) can be happy. Liberty therefore becomes a central political idea. At the same time, liberty can provide difficulties: it may happen that people do not follow the path of virtue.
What shall we do if the moral foundation is weak and if the moral ideas are insufficient? The argument is based on the insight that not all citizens may be virtuous all the time. Although the moral sense and all good reasons may point toward a virtuous life, human nature is open to corruption because men are free. Man is moved by two opposing principles, love and self-love, and is free to follow either. Therefore liberty and happiness sometimes counteract each other. It is difficult to determine the prevailing motive, benevolence or self-love, particularly in public life (II. III. § XII). The polity therefore can be based not on good intentions but on good results. Government can rest only on prudence, not on moral perceptions. The importance of prudence as opposed to moral reflections is typical for both the republican tradition of James Harrington and the Whig tradition, and Hutcheson was close to both. Accordingly, the moral sense must be supplemented by an external motive to “beneficent Actions . . . for the publick Good . . . to counter-ballance those apparent Motives of Interest.” This external motive is “a Law with Sanctions” (II. VII. § I). For Hutcheson the transfer and restriction of liberty therefore is the central question of political order and of the limits of government:
Men have [the Right] to constitute Civil Government, and to subject their alienable Rights to the Disposal of their Governours, under such Limitations as their Prudence suggests. And as far as the People have subjected their Rights, so far their Governours have an external Right at least, to dispose of them, as their Prudence shall direct, for attaining the Ends of their Institution; and no further. (II. VII. § VIII)
To be acceptable, liberty and its restriction must be in balance with happiness. If a government assumes all rights from its people and neglects the “publick Good of the State” altogether, it is called despotism. For Hutcheson a “Despotick Government” is directly inconsistent with his idea of a civil government (II. VII. § X). With despotism, liberty and happiness are at stake. In such cases, Hutcheson advocates a right of resistance (II. VII. § X). And later on he argued that this is “When it is that colonies may turn independent.”
This volume is the revised edition of Hutcheson’s Inquiry into the Original of Beauty and Virtue prepared for the series Natural Law and Enlightenment Classics. The first edition was sold out by mid-2006. Since then, more variants among the four different editions from the author’s lifetime have been discovered, misprints and errata of the first edition have been compiled, and the entire text has been revised and edited anew. In the paragraphs following, an asterisk (*) indicates the additional versions that have now been taken into account.
During Hutcheson’s lifetime, four different editions of the Inquiry into the Original of Beauty and Virtue were published. These editions are chronologically referred to as A, B, C, and D. The texts of B, C, and D not only contain corrections but also introduce alterations and additions by the author. A separate booklet titled Alterations and Additions was published in 1726 “by the Author” (i.e., Hutcheson); it is listed below (after A3) by this title. The present edition is based on the second edition (B) from 1726; it presents the variants of the other editions and of the aforementioned Alterations and Additions in a critical apparatus. The second edition was chosen for its philosophical relevance. Although the later editions display further additions and corrections, these are mostly of philological importance.
Several versions of the first edition (A) and fourth edition (D) exist. In the eighteenth century it was common practice to intervene in the process of printing to correct misprints and to introduce changes. In many cases some copies containing uncorrected sheets or leaves were sold nevertheless. That practice produced at least three versions of the first edition and four versions of the fourth. Arabic numerals are used to mark the variants (A1, A2, A3; D1, D2, D3, D4); whenever all four versions of the fourth edition are identical, they are referred to as D (without an Arabic numeral). So far no additional versions of editions B and C have been discovered.
A1: The first edition was published in London in 1725: “Printed by J. Darby in Bartholomew Close, for Will. and John Smith on the Blind Key in Dublin; and sold by W. and J. Innys at the West End of St. Paul’s Churchyard, J. Osborn and T. Longman in Pater-Noster-Row, and S. Chandler in the Poultry.”
*A2: This version of the first edition was published in London in 1725. It differs from A1 in three instances and from A3 in two: (a) The title page does not display the paragraph referring to Shaftesbury, Mandeville, and the “attempt to introduce a mathematical calculation in subjects of morality” and instead displays the subtitles of the two treatises: “I. Concerning Beauty, Order, Harmony, Design.” and “II. Concerning Moral Good and Evil.” (b) In the last paragraph of the title page the first names of the printer and the booksellers are printed in full except for the last one, and one name (T. Longman) is omitted: “Printed by John Darby in Bartholomew Close, for William and John Smith on the Blind Key in Dublin; and sold by William and John Innys at the West End of St. Paul’s Churchyard, John Osborn in Pater-Noster-Row, and Sam. Chandler in the Poultry.” (c) Finally, on page 216, line 31 it displays, as does A3, “appears” instead of the plural “appear”: “Our Misery and Distress appears immediately in our Countenance.. . .”
Copies used for editing *A2: (a) National Library of Scotland, Edinburgh, shelf mark RB.s.916; other copies (not seen except for the photocopied title page and page 216): (b) Warwick University, Special Collections, shelf mark B 1501.I6; (c) McGill University Library, Montreal, Rare Book Division, McLennan Building, shelf mark BJ604 H8 1725.
*A3: This version of the first edition was published in London in 1725. It differs from A1 in two instances: (a) In the last section of the title page, containing the names of the printer and the booksellers, the first bookseller (William and John Smith on the Blind Key in Dublin) is printed as “Wil.” (one “L” instead of two): “Printed by J. Darby in Bartholomew Close, for Wil. and John Smith on the Blind Key in Dublin; and sold by W. and J. Innys at the West End of St. Paul’s Churchyard, J. Osborn and T. Longman in Pater-Noster-Row, and S. Chandler in the Poultry.” (b) On page 216, line 31 an “appears” is displayed as in A2: “Our Misery and Distress appears immediately in our Countenance.. . .”
Copies used for editing *A3: (a) University of Aberdeen, Special Libraries and Archives, shelf mark GY 1571 Hut; (b) Yale University, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, shelf mark K8 H97 b725; (c) Harvard University, Houghton Library, Special Collections (facsimile printed by microfilm/xerocopy in 1985 by University Microfilm International, Ann Arbor, Michigan), shelf mark EC7 H9706 725i, facsimile obtained from Staatsbibliothek Preußischer Kulturbesitz, Berlin, registration number 701276.
*Alterations and Additions, Made in the Second Edition of the Inquiry into Beauty and Virtue, by the Author [i.e., Francis Hutcheson], [no place, no printer] 1726 [reprinted in: Francis Hutcheson, Collected Works, ed. B. Fabian, pp. 277–308]. Copy used for editing: British Museum, shelf mark 116.i.18.
B: The second edition “corrected and enlarg’d” was published in London in 1726: “Printed for J. Darby, A. Bettesworth, F. Fayram, J. Pemberton, C. Rivington, J. Hooke, F. Clay, J. Batley, and E. Symon.”
C: The third edition “corrected” was published in London in 1729: “Printed for J. and J. Knapton, J. Darby, A. Bettesworth, F. Fayram, J. Pemberton, J. Osborne and T. Longman, C. Rivington, F. Clay, J. Batley, and A. Ward.”
Copies used for editing C: (a) British Library, shelf mark 526.k.23 (also available as a digital facsimile from Eighteenth Century Collections Online); (b) Deutsche Zentralbibliothek für Wirtschafts wissenschaften, Kiel (Germany), shelf mark I 14829.
*D1: The first version of the fourth edition was published in London in 1738: “Printed for D. Midwinter, A. Bettesworth, and C. Hitch, J. and J. Pemberton, R. Ware, C. Rivington, F. Clay, A. Ward, J. and P. Knapton, T. Longman, R. Hett, and J. Wood.”
Copies used for editing *D1: (a) University of Edinburgh, Main Library, Special Collections, shelf mark D.S.g.1.33; (b) University of Oxford, Bodleian Library, shelf mark Godw. Octavo. 534; (c) Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, Baker-Berry Library, shelf mark B1604.H8 1738.
D2: The second version of the fourth edition was also published in London in 1738: “Printed for D. Midwinter, A. Bettesworth, and C. Hitch, J. and J. Pemberton, R. Ware, C. Rivington, F. Clay, A. Ward, J. and P. Knapton, T. Longman, R. Hett, and J. Wood.” While D1 is largely a reset version of C, D2 differs considerably from both. These changes are not exhausted by the “Additions and Corrections &c.” and “Small Alterations designed for this Edition” added at the end, after p. 304. At the beginning of this appendix Hutcheson remarks:
This edition having been inadvertently cast off, before the Author’s corrections were obtained, a few sheets have been cancelled where it was necessary, and some few additional paragraphs or notes are here subjoined, with some few corrections of the Expressions referred to their proper pages and lines, where the reader may make a mark.
Since the appendix is not paginated, the pages here are counted consecutively, starting from the last numbered page of the text itself. Textual notes refer to this appendix as Corrigenda and indicate the page number: for example, D2 [Corrigenda, p. 310].
Copies used for editing D2: (a) Princeton University, Rare Books and Special Collections: shelf number (F) 6102.349.11 (the only original copy of D2 identified until now); (b) an unidentified copy of the D2 edition reprinted in 1969 by Gregg International Publishers Limited, Westmead, Farnborough, Hants., in England. The reprint gives no information on the original source; the publisher no longer exists.
D3: The third version of the fourth edition was also published in London in 1738 and “Printed for D. Midwinter, A. Bettesworth, and C. Hitch, J. and J. Pemberton, R. Ware, C. Rivington, F. Clay, A. Ward, J. and P. Knapton, T. Longman, R. Hett, and J. Wood.”
Version D3 differs from D2 in several instances: (a) A new sixth article in Treatise II, section 3 was added. (b) After the identical “Additions and Corrections &c.,” a paragraph with “Directions to the Bookbinder” was added, stating: “In the Preface, Cancel from p. 15 to the End. In the Work, Cancel from p. 9 to 17. From 29 to 39. From 57 to 59. From 173 to 179. From 185 to 203. From 217 to 223. From 253 to 255. From 287 to 293.” (c) In the D3 version the page numbers 179 and 180 are used twice.
Copies used for editing D3: (a) Staatsbibliothek Preußischer Kulturbesitz, Berlin, shelf mark 50MA15122; (b) Universität Bonn, Universitäts- und Landesbibliothek, shelf mark B 743.
*D4: The fourth version of the fourth edition was also published in London in 1738 and “Printed for D. Midwinter, A. Bettesworth, and C. Hitch, J. and J. Pemberton, R. Ware, C. Rivington, F. Clay, A. Ward, J. and P. Knapton, T. Longman, R. Hett, and J. Wood.”
Version D4 differs from all other versions of the fourth edition: (a) From the title page to p. 28 it is identical with D3, (b) from p. 29 to p. 38 with D1, and (c) from p. 39 to the end again with D3. (d) A misprint displayed in D3 on p. 220 (last line: Maultiplicity) is corrected (Multiplicity). Because D4 differs from other versions in only these respects, it is not documented separately in the textual notes.
Copy used for editing D4: British Library, shelf mark 8411.m.57 (the only original copy of D4 identified so far; also available as a digital facsimile from Eighteenth Century Collections Online).
A fifth edition was published posthumously in London in 1753: “Printed for R. Ware, J. and P. Knapton, T. and T. Longman, C. Hitch and L. Hawes, J. Hodges, J. and J. Rivington, and J. Ward.” This edition has been found to be a close version of D3. There is no evidence that Hutcheson had any hand in preparing this edition, which appeared six years after his death. Accordingly it has not been documented in the textual notes.
In spelling and punctuation the present edition is based on the text of the second edition, except in cases of obvious misprints, which were silently corrected. Differences in spelling and punctuation displayed in other editions have been annotated on those occasions where, in the judgment of the editor, such variants may be of intellectual relevance. The typography has been standardized and ignores Hutcheson’s, or his printer’s, liberal use of italics and small capitals. There are no other silent editorial deletions or additions. The page breaks of the second edition are indicated by square brackets [ ]: for example, the text of page 215 begins after .
The editor’s explanatory notes are marked by lowercase Roman numerals (i, ii, iii, etc.). Textual notes are marked by Arabic numerals. The textual notes state the differences between the text of B and the other editions. In all cases, the editions are cited in the alphanumeric order given above (A1, A2, A3, C, D1, D2, D3), followed by the page and the text. For example, C (p. 2), D (p. 2): great means that in edition C, on page 2, and in edition D, on page 2, a word (or phrase) was changed into great. When a new passage was inserted, a single superscript number refers to the note giving the new passage.
When alterations of the text occur, in addition to the Arabic superscript, pairs of double vertical bars indicate the beginning and the end of a passage that was changed. For example, ∥4we enjoy the Delights of Virtue∥ means that beginning with ∥4 and ending with ∥ the words “we enjoy the Delights of Virtue” were altered as shown in note 4. In some cases there are changes within changes. Here the Arabic numerals for footnotes are supplemented with lowercase letters to indicate the beginning and the end of the respective variants. For example, ∥3aamiable or disagreeable Ideas of Actions, when they ∥4bshallb∥ occur to our Observationa∥ means that one changed passage starts after ∥3a and ends at a∥ and that another variant affecting only the word “shall” was inserted between ∥4b and b∥.
First of all I would like to thank Elisabeth Schreiber and Andreas Kamp, who—together with Christine Unrau, Fotios Amanatides, Johannes Clessienne, Hermann Halbeisen, Felix Krafft, Dirk Neumann, and Alexander Scheufens—revised the text and contributed to the task with many hours of research. I am much indebted to Christoph Fehige for his critical remarks and to Thomas Mautner and Luigi Turco (again!), who helped with a lot of information to fill many gaps and to locate additional copies of rare books.
The scientists and staff of the libraries with whom we have worked were extraordinarily helpful. Without their nonbureaucratic help, a timely completion of the revised edition would have been a futile attempt. I would like to express thanks especially to Peter X. Accardo (Harvard University), Polly Armstrong (Stanford University), Anne Bertling (English Seminar, Universität Münster), Patricia Boyd (Edinburgh University), Irene Danks and Eoin Shalloo (National Library of Scotland), June Ellner (University of Aberdeen), Lydia Ferguson (Trinity College Dublin), Helen Ford and Peter Larkin (University of Warwick), Ivana Frian (University of Birmingham), Michelle Gait (University of Aberdeen), Ruth Greenwood (British Library), Helen J. Hills (Cambridge University), Kathryn James (Yale University), Josie Lister and Dunja Sharif (Bodleian Library, Oxford), Robert MacLean (Glasgow University), Raymond L. Marcotte (Dartmouth College), Margaret Sherry Rich (Princeton University), Richard Virr (McGill University, Montreal), Christine Weidlich (Universitätsbibliothek, Bonn), and Christiane Wiese (Staatsbibliothek Preußischer Kulturbesitz, Berlin).
Last but not least, I am very much indebted to Laura Goetz and Knud Haakonssen, who supported our work with great patience and professional advice.
In Two Treatises.
∥I. Concerning Beauty, Order, Harmony, Design. II. Concerning Moral Good and Evil.∥ The Second Edition, Corrected and Enlarg’d.
Itaque eorum ipsorum quae aspectu sentiuntur, nullum aliud animal pulchritudinem, venustatem, convenientiam partium sentit. Quam similitudinem natura ratioque ab oculis ad animum transferens, multo etiam magis pulchritudinem, constantiam, ordinem in consiliis, factisque conservandum putat. Quibus ex rebus conflatur & efficitur id quod quaerimus honestum: Quod etiamsi nobilitatum non sit, tamen honestum sit: quodque etiamsi à nullo laudetur, naturâ est laudabile. Formam quidem ipsam & ∥ tanquam∥ faciem honesti vides, quae si oculis cerneretur, mirabiles amores excitaret sapientiae.
—Cic. de Off. lib. I. c. 4.
When I publish’d these Papers, I had so little Confidence of their Success, that I was unwilling to own them; and what I was unwilling myself to own, I durst not presume to inscribe to any great Name.
Your Excellency’s favourable Reception of them, soon put me out of all Fears about their Success with the wiser and better Part of the World; and since this has given me Assurance to own them, I humbly presume to inscribe them in this second Edition to your Excellency, that I may have at once an Opportunity of expressing the sincerest Gratitude for the Notice you were pleas’d to take of me, and have the Pleasure also of letting the World know that this small Work has your Excellency’s Approbation.
The Praise bestow’d by Persons of real Merit and Discernment, is allow’d by all to give a noble and rational Pleasure. Your Excellency first made me feel this in the most lively manner; and it will be a Pleasure as lasting as it is great: ’twill ever be matter of the highest Joy and Satisfaction to me, that I am Author of a Book my Lord Carteret approves.
I know, my Lord, that much of your Commendation is to be attributed to your own Humanity: you can entirely approve the Works of those alone, who can think and speak on these Subjects as justly as your self; and that is what few, if any, even of those who spend their Lives in such Contemplations, are able to do. In the Conversation, with which your Excellency has been pleas’d to honour me, I could not, I own, without the utmost surprize, observe so intimate an Acquaintance with the most valuable Writings of contemplative Men, Antient, and Modern; so just a Taste of what is excellent in the ingenious Arts, in so young a man, amidst the Hurry of an active Life. Forgive me, my Lord, that ∥ I∥ mention this part of your Character: ’tis so uncommon that it deserves the highest Admiration; and ’tis the only one which an obscure Philosopher, who has receiv’d the greatest Obligations from your Excellency, can with any Propriety take notice of.
Those other great Endowments which have enabled you, even in Youth, to discharge the most difficult Employments, with the highest Honour to your self, and Advantage to your Country, I dare not presume to de-scribe. He who attempts to do Justice to so great and good a Character, ought himself to be one of uncommon Merit and Distinction: and yet the ablest Panegyrist would find it difficult to add any thing to your Excellency’s Fame. The Voices of Nations proclaim your Worth. I am,
June 19. 1725.
There is no part of Philosophy of more importance, than a just Knowledge of Human Nature, and its various Powers and Dispositions. Our late Inquirys have been very much employ’d about our Understanding, and the several Methods of obtaining Truth. We generally acknowledge, that the Importance of any Truth is nothing else than its Moment, or Efficacy to make Men happy, or to give them the greatest and most lasting Pleasure; and Wisdom denotes only a Capacity of pursuing this End by the best Means. It must surely then be of the greatest importance, to have distinct Conceptions of this End it self, as well as of the Means necessary to obtain it; that we may find out which are the greatest and most lasting Pleasures, and not employ our Reason, after all our laborious Improvements of it, in trifling Pursuits. It is to be fear’d indeed, that most of our Studys, without this Inquiry, will be of very little use to us; for they seem to have scarce any other tendency than to lead us into speculative Knowledge it self. Nor are we distinctly told how it is that Knowledge, or Truth is pleasant to us.
This Consideration ∥ put∥ the Author of the following Papers ∥ upon∥ inquiring into the various Pleasures which Human nature is capable of receiving. We shall generally find in our modern philosophick Writings, nothing ∥ further∥ on this Head, than some bare Division of them into Sensible, and Rational, and some trite Common-place Arguments to prove the ∥ latter more∥ valuable than the former. Our sensible Pleasures are slightly pass’d over, and explain’d only by some Instances in Tastes, Smells, Sounds, or such like, which Men of any tolerable Reflection generally look upon as very trifling Satisfactions. Our rational Pleasures have had much the same kind of treatment. We are seldom taught any other Notion of rational Pleasure than that which we have upon reflecting on our Possession, or Claim to those Objects, which may be Occasions of Pleasure. Such Objects we call advantageous; but Advantage, or Interest, cannot be distinctly conceiv’d, till we know what ∥ those∥ Pleasures are which advantageous Objects are apt to excite; and what Senses or Powers of Perception we have ∥ with respect to∥ such Objects. We may perhaps ∥ find∥ such an Inquiry of more importance in Morals, to prove what we call the Reality of Virtue, or that it is the surest Happiness of the Agent, than one would at first imagine.
In reflecting upon our external Senses, we plainly see, that our Perceptions of Pleasure, or Pain, do not depend directly on our Will. Objects do not please us, according as we incline they should. The presence of some Objects necessarily pleases us, and the presence of others as necessarily displeases us. Nor can we by our Will, any otherwise procure Pleasure, or avoid Pain, than by procuring the former kind of Objects, and avoiding the latter. By the very Frame of our Nature the one is made the occasion of Delight, and the other of Dissatisfaction.
The same Observation will hold in all our other Pleasures and Pains. For there are many other sorts of Objects, which please, or displease us as necessarily, as material Objects do when they operate upon our Organs of Sense. There ∥ is scarcely any Object which our Minds are employ’d about, which is∥ not thus constituted the necessary occasion of some Pleasure or Pain. Thus we ∥ find∥ our selves pleas’d with a regular Form, a piece of Architecture or Painting, a Composition of Notes, a Theorem, an Action, an Affection, a Character. And we are conscious that this Pleasure necessarily arises from the Contemplation of the Idea, which is then present to our Minds, with all its Circumstances, although some of these Ideas have nothing of what we ∥ call∥ sensible Perception in them; and in those which have, the Pleasure arises from some Uniformity, Order, Arrangement, Imitation; and not from the simple Ideas of Colour, or Sound, or mode of Extension separately consider’d.
These Determinations to be pleas’d with ∥ any Forms, or Ideas which occur to our Observation,∥ the Author chuses to call Senses; distinguishing them from the Powers which commonly go by that Name, by calling our Power of perceiving the Beauty of Regularity, Order, Harmony, an Internal Sense; and that Determination to ∥ be pleas’d with the Contemplation of those∥ Affections, Actions, or Characters of rational Agents, which we call virtuous, he marks by the name of a Moral Sense.
His principal Design is to shew, “That Human Nature was not left quite indifferent in the affair of Virtue, to form to it self Observations concerning the Advantage, or Disadvantage of Actions, and accordingly to regulate its Conduct.” The weakness of our Reason, and the avocations arising from the ∥ Infirmity∥ and Necessitys of our Nature, are so great, that very few ∥ Men could ever have∥ form’d those long Deductions of Reason, which ∥ shew∥ some Actions to be in the whole advantageous to the Agent, and their Contrarys pernicious. The Author of Nature has much better furnish’d us for a virtuous Conduct, than ∥ our∥ Moralists seem to imagine, by almost as quick and powerful Instructions, as we have for the preservation of our Bodys. ∥ He has made Virtue a lovely Form, to excite our pursuit of it; and has given us strong Affections to be the Springs of each virtuous Action.∥
This moral Sense of Beauty in Actions and Affections, may appear strange at first View. Some of our Moralists themselves are offended at it in my Lord Shaftesbury, so much ∥ are they∥ accustom’d to deduce every Approbation, or Aversion, from rational Views of ∥ Interest∥, (except it be merely in the simple Ideas of the external Senses) and have such a Horror at innate Ideas, which they imagine this borders upon. But this moral Sense has no relation to innate Ideas, as will appear in the second Treatise. Our Gentlemen of good Taste can tell us of a great many Senses, Tastes, and Relishes for Beauty, Harmony, Imitation in Painting and Poetry; and may not we find too in Mankind a Relish for a Beauty in Characters, in Manners? ∥aI doubt we have made Philosophy, as well as Religion, by our foolish management of it, so austere and ungainly a Form, that a Gentleman cannot easily bring himself to like it; and those who are Strangers to it, can scarcely bear to hear our Description of it. So much ∥bit isb∥ changed from what was once the delight of the finest Gentlemen among the Antients, and their Recreation after the Hurry of publick Affairs!a∥
In the first Treatise, the Author perhaps in some Instances has gone too far, in supposing a greater Agree-ment of Mankind in their Sense of Beauty, than Experience ∥ will∥ confirm; but all he is solicitous about is to shew, “That there is some Sense of Beauty natural to Men; ∥ that we find∥ as great an Agreement of Men in their Relishes of Forms, as in their external Senses which all agree to be natural; and that Pleasure or Pain, Delight or Aversion, are naturally join’d to their Perceptions.” If the Reader be convinc’d of ∥ such Determinations of the Mind to be pleas’d with Forms, Proportions, Resemblances, Theorems,∥ it will be no difficult matter to apprehend another superior Sense, natural ∥ also∥ to Men, determining them to be pleas’d with Actions, Characters, Affections. This is the moral Sense, which makes the Subject of the second Treatise.
The proper Occasions of Perception by the external Senses, occur to us as soon as we come into the World; ∥ whence∥ perhaps we easily look upon these Senses to be natural: but the Objects of the superior Senses of Beauty and Virtue generally do not. It is probably some little time before Children ∥ reflect∥, or at least let us know that they reflect upon Proportion and Similitude; upon Affections, Characters, Tempers; or come to know the external Actions which are Evidences of them. ∥ Hence∥ we imagine that their Sense of Beauty, and their moral Sentiments of Actions, must be entirely owing to Instruction, and Education; whereas it ∥ is as∥ easy to conceive, how a Character, a Temper, as soon as they are observ’d, may be constituted by Nature the necessary occasion of Pleasure, or an Object of Approbation, as a Taste or a Sound; ∥ tho it be sometime before these Objects present themselves to our Observation.∥
∥ The first Impression of these Papers was so well receiv’d, that the Author hopes it will be no offence to any who are concern’d in the Memory of the late Lord Viscount Molesworth, if he lets his Readers know that he was the Noble Person mention’d in the Preface to the first Edition, and that their being published was owing to his Approbation of them. It was from him he had that shreud Objection, which the Reader may find in the first Treatise; besides many other Remarks in the frequent Conversations with which he honour’d the Author; by which that Treatise was very much improved beyond what it was in the Draught presented to him. The Author retains the most grateful Sense of his singular Civilitys, and of the Pleasure and Improvement he received in his Conver-sation; and is still fond of expressing his grateful Remembrance of him: but,
Id cinerem, & Manes credas curare sepultos.
To be concern’d in this Book can be no honour to a Person so justly celebrated for the most generous Sentiments of Virtue and Religion, deliver’d with the most manly Eloquence: yet it would not be just toward the World, should the Author conceal his Obligations to the Reverend Mr. Edward Syng; not only for revising these Papers, when they stood in great need of an accurate Review, but for suggesting several just Amendments in the general Scheme of Morality. The Author was much confirm’d in his Opinion of the Justness of these Thoughts, upon finding, that this Gentleman had fallen into the same way of thinking before him; and will ever look upon his Friendship as one of the greatest Advantages and Pleasures of his Life.
To recommend the Lord Shaftesbury’s Writings to the World, is a very needless Attempt. They will be esteemed while any Reflection remains among Men. It is indeed to be wished, that he had abstained from mixing with such Noble Performances, some Prejudices he had receiv’d against Christianity; a Religion which gives us the truest Idea of Virtue, and recommends the Love of God, and of Mankind, as the Sum of all true Religion. How would it have moved the Indignation of that ingenious Nobleman, to have found a dissolute set of Men, who relish nothing in Life but the lowest and most sordid Pleasures, searching into his Writings for those Insinuations against Christianity, that they might be the less restrained from their Debaucherys; when at the same time their low Minds are incapable of relishing those noble Sentiments of Virtue and Honour, which he has placed in so lovely a Light!∥
Whatever Faults the Ingenious may find with ∥ this Performance, the Author∥ hopes no body will find any thing in it contrary to Religion or good Manners: and he shall be well pleased if he gives the learned World an occasion of examining more thorowly these Subjects, which are, he presumes, of very considerable Importance. The chief Ground of his Assurance that his Opinions in the main are just, is this, That as he took the first Hints of them from some of the greatest Writers of Antiquity, so the more he has convers’d with them, he finds his Illustrations the more conformable to their Sentiments.
∥ In the former Edition of this Book there were some Mistakes in one or two of the Instances borrowed from other Sciences, to a perfect Knowledge of which the Author does not pretend; nor would he now undertake that this Edition is every way faultless. He hopes that those who are studious of the true measures of Life, may find his Ideas of Virtue and Happiness tolerably just; and that the profound Connoisseurs will pardon a few Faults, in the Illustrations borrow’d from their Arts, upon which his Arguments do not depend.∥
An Inquiry ∥ Concerning Beauty, Order, &c.∥
To make the following Observations understood, it may be necessary to premise some Definitions, and Observations, either universally acknowledg’d, or sufficiently prov’d by many Writers both ancient and modern, concerning our Perceptions called Sensations, and the Actions of the Mind consequent upon them.
∥ Sensation.∥Art. ∥ I∥. Those Ideas ∥ which∥ are rais’d in the Mind upon the presence of external Ob-jects, and their acting upon our Bodys, are call’d Sensations. We find that the Mind in such Cases is passive, and has not Power directly to prevent the Perception or Idea, or to vary it at its Reception, as long as we continue our Bodys in a state fit to be acted upon by the external Object.
Different Senses.II. When two Perceptions are entirely different from each other, or agree in nothing but the general Idea of Sensation, we call the Powers of receiving those different Perceptions, different Senses. Thus Seeing and Hearing denote the different Powers of receiving the Ideas of Colours and Sounds. And altho Colours have ∥ vast∥ Differences among themselves, as also have Sounds; yet there is a greater Agreement among the most opposite Colours, than between any Colour and a Sound: Hence we call all Colours Perceptions of the same Sense. All the several Senses seem to have their distinct Organs, except Feeling, which is in some degree diffus’d over the whole Body.
The Mind how active.III. The Mind has a Power of compounding Ideas, ∥ which∥ were receiv’d separately; of comparing ∥ their∥ Objects by means of the Ideas, and of observing their Relations and Proportions; of enlarging and diminishing its Ideas at pleasure, or in any certain Ratio, or Degree; and of considering separately each of the simple Ideas, which might perhaps have been impress’d jointly in the Sensation. This last Operation we commonly call Abstraction.
Substances.IV. The Ideas of ∥ Substances∥ are compounded of the various simple Ideas jointly impress’d, when they presented themselves to our Senses. We define Substances only by enumerating these sensible Ideas: And such Definitions may ∥ raise an Idea clear enough∥ of the Substance in the Mind of one who never immediately perceiv’d the Substance; provided he has separately receiv’d by his Senses all the simple Ideas ∥ which∥ are in the Composition of the complex one of the Substance defin’d: But if ∥ there be any simple Ideas which he has not receiv’d, or if he wants any of the Senses necessary for the Perception of them, no Definition can raise any simple Idea which has not been before perceived by the Senses.∥
Education. Instruction.V. Hence it follows, “That when Instruction, Education, or Prejudice of any kind, raise any Desire or Aversion toward an Object, this Desire or Aversion must be founded upon an Opinion of some Perfection, or of some Deficiency in those Qualitys, for Perception of which we have the proper Senses.” Thus if Beauty be desir’d by one who has not the Sense of Sight, the Desire must be rais’d by some apprehended Regularity of Figure, Sweetness of Voice, Smoothness, or Softness, or some other Quality perceivable by the other Senses, without relation to the Ideas of Colour.
Pleasure. Pain.VI. Many of our sensitive Perceptions are pleasant, and many painful, immediately, and that without any knowledge of the Cause of this Pleasure or Pain, or how the Objects excite it, or are the Occasions of it; or without seeing to what further Advantage or Detriment the Use of such Objects might tend: Nor would the most accurate Knowledge of these things vary either the Pleasure or Pain of the Perception, however it might give a rational Pleasure distinct from the sensible; or might raise a distinct Joy, from ∥ a∥ prospect of further Advantage in the Object, or Aversion, from ∥ an∥ apprehension of Evil.
Different Ideas.VII. The ∥ simple∥ Ideas rais’d in different Persons by the same Object, are probably ∥ some way∥ different, when they disagree in their Approbation or Dislike; and in the same Person, when his Fancy at one time differs from what it was at another. This will appear from reflecting on those Objects, to which we have now an Aversion, tho they were formerly agreeable: And we shall generally find that there is some accidental Conjunction of a disagreeable Idea, which always recurs with the Object; as in those Wines ∥ to∥ which Men acquire an ∥ Aversion∥, after they have taken them in an Emetick Preparation: ∥ In this case∥ we are conscious that the Idea is alter’d from what it was when that Wine was agreeable, by the Conjunction of the Ideas of Loathing and Sickness of Stomach. The like Change of Idea may be insensibly made by the Change of our Bodys, as we advance in Years, ∥ or when we are accustomed to any Object,∥ which may occasion an Indifference ∥ toward∥ Meats we were fond of in our Childhood∥a; and may make some Objects cease to raise the disagreeable Ideas, which they excited upon our first use of them. ∥bMany of our simple Perceptions are disagreeable only thro the too great Intenseness of the Quality: thus moderate Light is agreeable, very strong Light may be painful; moderate Bitter may be pleasant, a higher Degree may be offensive. A Change in our Organs will necessarily occasion a Change in the Intenseness of the Perception at least; nay sometimes will occasion a quite contrary Perception: Thus a warm Hand shall feel that Water cold, which a cold hand ∥cshallc∥ feel warmab∥.
We shall not find it perhaps so easy to account for the Diversity of Fancy ∥aabout more complex Ideas of Objects, ∥bin which we regardb∥ many Ideas of different Senses at once; as ∥cinc∥ some Perceptions of those call’d primary Qualitys, and some secondary, as explain’d by Mr. Locke: for instance, in the different Fancys about Architecture, Gardening, Dress. Of the two former we shall offer something in Sect. VI. As to Dress, we may generally account for the Diversity of Fancys from a like Conjunction of Ideas: Thusa∥, if either from any thing in Nature, or from the Opinion of our Country or Acquaintance, the fancying of glaring Colours be look’d upon as an evidence of Levity, or of any other evil Quality of Mind; or if any Colour or Fashion be commonly us’d by Rusticks, or by Men of any disagreeable Profession, Employment, or Temper; these additional Ideas may recur constantly with that of the Colour or Fashion, and cause a constant Dislike to them in those who join the additional Ideas, altho the Colour or Form be no way disagreeable of themselves, and actually do please others who join no such Ideas to them. But there ∥ does not seem to be any∥ Ground to believe such a Diversity in human Minds, as that the same ∥ simple∥ Idea or Perception should give pleasure to one and pain to another, or to the same Person at different times; not to say that it seems a Contradiction, that the same ∥ simple∥ Idea should do so.
Complex Ideas.VIII. The only Pleasure of Sense, ∥ which∥ ∥ our∥ Philosophers seem to consider, is that which accompanys the simple Ideas of Sensation: But there are ∥ vastly∥ greater Pleasures in those complex Ideas of Objects, which obtain the Names of Beautiful, Regular, Harmonious. Thus every one acknowledges he is more delighted with a fine Face, a just Picture, than with the View of any one Colour, were it as strong and lively as possible; and more pleas’d with a Prospect of the Sun ∥ arising∥ among settled Clouds, and colouring their Edges, with a starry Hemisphere, a fine Landskip, a regular Building, than with a clear blue Sky, a smooth Sea, or a large open Plain, not diversify’d by Woods, Hills, Waters, Buildings: And yet even these latter Appearances are not quite simple. So in Musick, the Pleasure of fine Composition is incomparably greater than that of any one Note, how sweet, full, or swelling soever.
Beauty.IX. Let it be observ’d, that in the following Papers, the Word Beauty is taken for the Idea rais’d in us, and a Sense of Beauty for our Power of receiving this Idea. Harmony.Harmony also denotes our pleasant Ideas arising from Composition of Sounds, and a good Ear (as it is generally taken) a Power of perceiving this Pleasure. In the following Sections, an Attempt is made to discover “what is the immediate Occasion of these pleasant Ideas, or what real Quality in the Objects ordinarily excites them.”
Internal Sense.X. It is of no consequence whether we call these Ideas of Beauty and Harmony, Perceptions of the External Senses of Seeing and Hearing, or not. I should rather chuse to call our Power of perceiving these Ideas, an Internal Sense, were it only for the Convenience of distinguishing them from other Sensations of Seeing and Hearing, which men may have without Perception of Beauty and Harmony. It is plain from Experience, that many Men have in the common meaning, the Senses of Seeing and Hearing perfect enough; they perceive all the simple Ideas separately, and have their Pleasures; they distinguish them from each other, such as one Colour from another, either quite different, or the stronger or fainter of the same Colour, ∥ when they are plac’d beside each other, altho they may often confound their Names, when they occur a-part from each other; as some do the Names of Green and Blue:∥ they can tell in separate Notes, the higher, lower, sharper or flatter, when separately sounded; in Figures they discern the Length, Breadth, Wideness of each Line, Surface, Angle; and may be as capable of hearing and seeing at great distances as any men whatsoever: And yet perhaps they shall ∥ find∥ no Pleasure in Musical Compositions, in Painting, Architecture, natural Landskip; or but a very weak one in comparison of what others enjoy from the same Objects. This greater Capacity of receiving such pleasant Ideas we commonly call a fine Genius or Taste: In Musick we seem universally to acknowledge something like a distinct Sense from the External one of Hearing, and call it a good Ear; and the like distinction we ∥ should∥ probably acknowledge in other ∥ Objects∥, had we also got distinct Names to denote these Powers of Perception by.
Different from External.XI. There will appear another Reason perhaps ∥ afterwards∥, for calling this Power of perceiving the Ideas of Beauty, an Internal Sense, from this, that in some other Affairs, where our External Senses are not much concern’d, we discern a sort of Beauty, very like, in many respects, to that observ’d in sensible Objects, and accompany’d with like Pleasure: Such is that Beauty perceiv’d in Theorems, or universal Truths, in general Causes, and in some extensive Principles of Action.
XII. Let ∥aevery one here consider, how different we must suppose the Perception to be, with which a Poet is transported upon the Prospect of any of those Objects of natural Beauty, which ravish us even in his Description; from that cold lifeless Conception which we ∥bimagine inb∥ a dull Critick, or one of the Virtuosi, without what we call a fine Taste. This latter Class of Men may have greater Perfection in that Knowledge, which is deriv’d from external Sensation; they can tell all the specifick Differences of Trees, Herbs, Minerals, Metals; they know the Form of every Leaf, Stalk, Root, Flower, and Seed of all the Species, about which the Poet is often very ignorant: And yet the Poet shall have a ∥cvastlyc∥ more delightful Perception of the Whole; and not only the Poet but any man of a fine Taste. Our External ∥dSensesd∥ may by measuring teach us all the Proportions of Architecture to the Tenth of an Inch, and the Situation of every Muscle in the human Body; and a good Memory may retain these: and yet there is still something further necessary, not only to make ∥ea mane∥ a compleat Master in Architecture, Painting or Statuary, but even a tolerable Judge in these Works; or ∥fcapable of receivingf∥ the highest Pleasure in contemplating them.a∥ Since then there are such different Powers of Perception, where what are commonly called the External Senses are the same; since the most accurate Knowledge of what the External Senses discover, ∥ often does∥ not give the Pleasure of Beauty or Harmony, which yet one of a good Taste will en-joy at once without much Knowledge; we may justly use another Name for these higher, and more delightful Perceptions of Beauty and Harmony, and call the Power of receiving such Impressions, an Internal Sense. The Difference of the Perceptions seems sufficient to vindicate the Use of a different Name, ∥ especially when we are told in what meaning the Word is applied.∥
Its Pleasures necessary and immediate.XIII. This superior Power of Perception is justly called a Sense, because of its Affinity to the other Senses in this, that the Pleasure ∥ does not arise∥ from any Knowledge of Principles, Proportions, Causes, or of the Usefulness of the Object; ∥ but strikes us at first with the Idea of∥ Beauty: nor does the most accurate Knowledge increase this Pleasure of Beauty, however it may super-add a distinct rational Pleasure from prospects of Advantage, or ∥ from∥ the Increase of Knowledge.
XIV. And further, the Ideas of Beauty and Harmony, like other sensible Ideas, are necessarily pleasant to us, as well as immediately so; neither can any Resolution of our own, nor any Prospect of Advantage or Disadvantage, vary the Beauty or Deformity of an Object: For as in the external Sensations, no View of Interest will make an Object grateful, nor ∥ View of∥ Detriment, distinct from immediate Pain in the Perception, make it disagreeable to the Sense; so propose the whole World as a Reward, or threaten the greatest Evil, to make us approve a deform’d Object, or disapprove a beautiful one; Dissimulation may be procur’d by Rewards or Threatnings, or we may in external Conduct abstain from any pursuit of the Beautiful, and pursue the Deform’d; but our Sentiments of the Forms, and our Perceptions, would continue invariably the same.
This Sense antecedent to and distinct from prospects of interest.XV. Hence it plainly appears, “that some Objects are immediately the Occasions of this Pleasure of Beauty, and that we have Senses fitted for perceiving it; and that it is distinct from that Joy which arises ∥ from Self-love∥ upon Prospect of Advantage.” Nay, do not we often see Convenience and Use neglected to obtain Beauty, without any other prospect of Advantage in the Beautiful Form, than the suggesting the pleasant Ideas of Beauty? Now this shews us, that however we may pursue beautiful Objects from Self-love, with a view to obtain the Pleasures of Beauty, as in Architecture, Gardening, and many other Affairs; yet there must be a Sense of Beauty, antecedent to Prospects ∥ even of∥ this Advantage, without which Sense, these Objects would not be thus Advantageous, nor excite in us this Pleasure which constitutes them advantageous. Our Sense of Beauty from Objects, by which they are constituted good to us, is very distinct from our Desire of them when they are thus constituted: Our Desire of Beauty may be counter-ballanc’d by Rewards or Threatnings, but never our Sense of it; even as Fear of Death, ∥ or Love of Life,∥ may make us ∥ chuse and∥ desire a bitter Potion, or neglect those Meats which the Sense of Taste would recommend as pleasant; ∥ and yet no prospect of Advantage, or Fear of Evil, can∥ make that Potion agreeable to the Sense, or ∥ Meat∥ disagreeable to it, ∥ which was∥ not so antecedently to this Prospect. ∥ Just in the same manner as to∥ the Sense of Beauty and Harmony; that the Pursuit of such Objects is frequently neglected, from prospects of Advantage, Aversion to Labour, or any other Motive of ∥ Self-love∥, does not prove that we have no Sense of Beauty, but only that our Desire of it may be counter-ballanc’d by a stronger Desire∥ : So Gold out-weighing Silver, is never adduc’d as a proof that the latter is void of Gravity∥.
XVI. Had we no such Sense of Beauty and Harmony; Houses, Gardens, Dress, Equipage, might have been recommended to us as convenient, fruitful, warm, easy; but never as beautiful: ∥aAnd in Faces I see no-thing ∥bwhichb∥ could please us, but Liveliness of Colour, and Smoothness of Surface:a∥ And yet nothing is more certain, than that all these Objects are recommended under quite different Views on many Occasions: ∥ And no Custom, Education, or Example could ever∥ give us Perceptions distinct from those of the Senses which we had the use of before, or recommend Objects under another Conception than grateful to them. But of the Influence of Custom, Education, Example, upon the Sense of Beauty, we shall treat below.
Beauty, Original or Comparative.∥XVII.∥ ∥ Beauty∥ is either Original or Comparative; or, if any like the Terms better, Absolute, or Relative: Only let it be ∥ observ’d∥, that by Absolute or Original Beauty, is not understood any Quality suppos’d to be in the Object, ∥ which∥ should of itself be beautiful, without relation to any Mind which perceives it: For Beauty, like other Names of sensible Ideas, properly denotes the Perception of some Mind; so Cold, ∥ Hot∥, Sweet, Bitter, denote the Sensations in our Minds, to which perhaps there is no resemblance in the Objects, ∥ which∥ excite these Ideas in us, however we generally imagine ∥ that there is something in the Object just like our Perception∥. The Ideas of Beauty and Harmony being excited upon our Perception of some primary Quality, and having relation to Figure and Time, may indeed have a nearer resemblance to Objects, than these Sensations, ∥ which∥ seem not so much any Pictures of Objects, as Modifications of the perceiving Mind; and yet were there no Mind with a Sense of Beauty to contemplate Objects, I see not how they could be call’d beautiful. We therefore by Absolute Beauty understand only that Beauty, which we perceive in Objects without comparison to any thing external, of which the Object is suppos’d an Imitation, or Picture; such as that Beauty perceiv’d from the Works of Nature, artificial Forms, Figures∥ , Theorems∥. Comparative or Relative Beauty is that which we perceive in Objects, commonly considered as Imitations or Resemblances of something else. These two Kinds of Beauty employ the three following Sections.
Sense of Men.I. Since it is certain that we have Ideas of Beauty and Harmony, let us examine what Quality in Objects excites these Ideas, or is the occasion of them. And let it be here observ’d, that our Inquiry is only about the Qualitys ∥ which∥ are beautiful to Men; or about the Foundation of their Sense of Beauty: for, as was above hinted, Beauty has always relation to the Sense of some Mind; and when we afterwards shew how generally the Objects ∥ which∥ occur to us, are beautiful, we mean ∥ that such Objects are∥ agreeable to the Sense of Men: ∥ for as there are not a few∥ Objects, which seem no way beautiful to Men, ∥ so we see a variety of∥ other Animals ∥ who∥ seem delighted with them; they may have Senses otherwise constituted than those of Men, and may have the Ideas of Beauty excited by Objects of a quite different Form. We see Animals fitted for every Place; and what to Men appears rude and shapeless, or loathsom, may be to them a Paradise.
II. That we may more distinctly discover the general Foundation or Occasion of the Ideas of Beauty among Men, it will be necessary to consider it first in its simpler Kinds, such as occurs to us in regular Figures; and we may perhaps find that the same Foundation extends to all the more complex Species of it.
Uniformity with Variety.III. The Figures ∥ which∥ excite in us the Ideas of Beauty, seem to be those in which there is Uniformity amidst Variety. There are many Conceptions of Objects ∥ which∥ are agreeable upon other accounts, such as Grandeur, Novelty, Sanctity, and some others, ∥ which shall be mention’d hereafter. ∥ But what we call Beautiful in Objects, to speak in the Mathematical Style, seems to be in a compound Ratio of Uniformity and Variety: so that where the Uniformity of Bodys is equal, the Beauty is as the Variety; and where the Variety is equal, the Beauty is as the Uniformity. This ∥ will be plain from Examples.∥
Variety.First, the Variety increases the Beauty in equal Uniformity. The Beauty of an equilateral Triangle is less than that of the Square; which is less than that of a Pentagon; and this again is surpass’d by the Hexagon. When indeed the Number of Sides is much increas’d, the Proportion of them to the Radius, or Diameter of the Figure, ∥ or of the Circle to which regular Polygons have an obvious Relation,∥ is so much lost to our Observation, that the Beauty does not always increase with the Number of Sides; and the want of Parallelism in the Sides of Heptagons, and other Figures of odd Numbers, may also diminish their Beauty. So in Solids, the Eicosiedron surpasses the Dodecaedron, and this the Octaedron, which is still more beautiful than the Cube; and this again surpasses the regular Pyramid: The obvious Ground of this, is greater Variety with equal Uniformity.
Uniformity.The greater Uniformity increases the Beauty amidst equal Variety, in these Instances: An Equilateral Triangle, or even an Isosceles, surpasses the Scalenum: A Square surpasses the Rhombus or Lozenge, and this again the Rhomboides, ∥ which is∥ still more beautiful than the Trapezium, or any Figure with irregular curve Sides. So the regular Solids ∥ vastly∥ surpass all other Solids of equal number of plain Surfaces: And the same is observable not only in the Five perfectly regular Solids, but in all those which have any considerable Uniformity, as Cylinders, Prisms, Pyramids, Obelisks; which please every Eye more than any rude Figures, where there is no Unity or Resemblance among the Parts.
Compound Ratio.Instances of the compound Ratio we have in comparing Circles or Spheres, with Ellipses or Spheroids not very eccentric; and in comparing the compound Solids, the Exoctaedron, and Eicosidodecaedron, with the perfectly regular ones of which they are compounded: and we shall find, that the Want of that most perfect Uniformity observable in the latter, is compensated by the greater Variety in the ∥ others∥, so that the Beauty is nearly equal.
IV. These Observations would probably hold true for the most part, and might be confirm’d by the Judgment of Children in the simpler Figures, where the Variety is not too great for their Comprehension. And however uncertain some of the particular aforesaid Instances may seem, yet this is perpetually to be observ’d, that Children are fond of all regular Figures in their little Diversions, altho they be no more convenient, or useful for them, than the Figures of our common Pebbles: We see how early they discover a Taste or Sense of Beauty, in desiring to see Buildings, regular Gardens, or even Representations of them in Pictures of any kind.
Beauty of Nature.V. ∥ It is∥ the same foundation ∥ which∥ we have for our Sense of Beauty in the Works of Nature. In every Part of the World which we call Beautiful, there is a ∥ vast∥ Uniformity amidst ∥ an∥ almost infinite Variety. Many Parts of the Universe seem not at all design’d for the use of Man; nay, it is but a very small Spot with which we have any acquaintance. The Figures and Motions of the great Bodys are not obvious to our Senses, but found out by Reasoning and Reflection, upon many long Observations: and yet as far as we can by Sense discover, or by Reasoning enlarge our Knowledge, and extend our Imagination, we generally find ∥ their Structure, Order∥, and Motion, agreeable to our Sense of Beauty. Every particular Object in Nature does not indeed appear beautiful to us; but there is a ∥ vast∥ Profusion of Beauty over most of the Objects which occur either to our Senses, or Reasonings upon Observation: For not to mention the apparent Situation of the heavenly Bodys in the Circumference of a great Sphere, which is wholly occasion’d by the Imperfection of our Sight in discerning distances; the Forms of all the great Bodys in the Universe are nearly Spherical; the Orbits of their Revolutions generally Elliptick, and without great Eccentricity, in those which continually occur to our Observation: ∥ now∥ these are Figures of great Uniformity, and therefore pleasing to us.
Further, to pass by the less obvious Uniformity in the Proportion of their Quantitys of Matter, Distances, Times of revolving, to each other; what can exhibit a greater Instance of Uniformity amidst Variety, than the constant Tenour of Revolutions in nearly equal Times, in each Planet, around its Axis, and the central Fire or Sun, thro all the Ages of which we have any Records, and in nearly the same Orbit? ∥ by which∥, after certain Periods, all the same Appearances are again renew’d; the alternate Successions of Light and Shade, or Day and Night, constantly pursuing each other around each Planet, with an agreeable and regular Diversity in the Times they possess the ∥ several∥ Hemispheres, in the Summer, Harvest, Winter and Spring; and the various Phases, Aspects, and Situations, of the Planets to each other, their Conjunctions and Oppositions, in which they suddenly darken each other with their Conick Shades in Eclipses, are repeated to us at their fixed Periods with invariable Constancy: These are the Beautys which charm the Astronomer, and make his tedious Calculations pleasant.
Molliter austerum studio fallente laborem.
Earth.VI. Again, as to the dry Part of the Surface of our Globe, a great Part of which is cover’d with a very pleasant inoffensive Colour, how beautifully is it diversify’d with various Degrees of Light and Shade, according to the different Situations of the Parts of its Surface, in Mountains, Valleys, Hills, and open Plains, which are variously inclin’d toward the great Luminary!
Plants.VII. If we descend to the minuter Works of Nature, what ∥ vast∥ Uniformity among all the Species of Plants and Vegetables in the manner of their Growth and Propagation! ∥ what exact∥ Resemblance among all the Plants of the same Species, whose Numbers surpass our Imagination! And this Uniformity is not only observable in the Form in gross; ∥ nay, in this it is not so very exact in all Instances∥, but in the Structure of their ∥ minutest Parts,∥ which no Eye unassisted with Glasses can discern. In the almost infinite Multitude of Leaves, Fruit, Seed, Flowers of any one Species, we ∥ often∥ see ∥ an exact∥ Uniformity in the Structure and Situation of the smallest Fibres. This is the Beauty which charms an ingenious Botanist. Nay, what ∥ vast∥ Uniformity and Regularity of Figure is found in each particular Plant, ∥ Leaf∥, or Flower! In all Trees and ∥ most of the∥ smaller Plants, the Stalks or Trunks are either Cylinders nearly, or regular Prisms; the Branches similar to their several Trunks, arising at nearly regular Distances, when no Accidents retard their natural Growth: In one Species the Branches arise in Pairs on the opposite Sides; the perpendicular Plain of Direction of the immediately superior Pair, intersecting the Plain of Direction of the inferior, nearly at right Angles: In another species, the Branches ∥ spring∥ singly, and alternately, all around in nearly equal Distances: And the Branches in other Species ∥ sprout∥ all in Knots around the Trunk, one for each Year. And in ∥ every∥ Species, all the Branches in the first Shoots preserve the same Angles with their Trunk; and they again sprout out into smaller Branches exactly after the Manner of their Trunks. Nor ought we to pass over that great Unity of Colours ∥ which we often see∥ in all the Flowers of the same Plant or Tree, and often of a whole Species; and their exact Agreement in many shaded Transitions into opposite Colours, in which all the Flowers of the same Plant generally agree, nay often all the Flowers of a Species.
Animals.VIII. Again, as to the Beauty of Animals, either in their inward Structure, which we come to the Knowledge of by Experiment and long Observation, or their outward Form, we shall find ∥ vast∥ Uniformity among all the Species which are known to us, in the Structure of those Parts, upon which Life depends more immediately. And how amazing is the Unity of Mechanism, when we shall find ∥ an∥ almost infinite diversity of Motions, all their Actions in walking, running, flying, swimming; all their serious Efforts for Self-preservation, all their freakish Contortions when they are gay and sportful, in all their various Limbs, perform’d by one simple Contrivance of a contracting Muscle, apply’d with inconceivable Diversitys to answer all these Ends! Various Engines might have obtain’d the same Ends; but then there had been less Uniformity, and the Beauty of our Animal Systems, and of particular Animals, had been much less, when this surprizing Unity of Mechanism had been remov’d from them.
IX. Among Animals of the same Species, the Unity is very obvious, and this Resemblance is the very Ground of our ranking them in such Classes or Species, notwithstanding the great Diversitys in Bulk, Colour, Shape, which are observ’d even in those call’d of the same Species. And then in each Individual, ∥ what vast Beauty∥ arises from the exact Resemblance of all the external double Members to each other, which seems the universal Intention of Nature, when no Accident prevents it! We see the Want of this Resemblance never fails to pass for an Imperfection, and Want of Beauty, tho no other Inconvenience ensues; as when the Eyes are not exactly like, or one Arm or Leg is a little shorter or smaller than its fellow.
∥aAs to that most powerful Beauty in Countenances, Airs, Gestures, Motion, we shall shew in the second Treatise, that it arises from some imagin’d Indication of morally good Dispositions of ∥bMind.ab∥
Proportion.X. There is a further Beauty in Animals, arising from a certain Proportion of the various Parts to each other, which still pleases the Sense of Spectators, tho they cannot calculate it with the Accuracy of a Statuary. The Statuary knows what Proportion of each Part of the Face to the whole Face is most agreeable, and can tell us the same of the Proportion of the Face to the Body, or any Parts of it; and between the Diameters and Lengths of each Limb: When this Proportion of the Head to the Body is remarkably alter’d, we shall have a Giant or a Dwarf. And hence it is, that either the one or the other may be represented to us even in Miniature, without Relation to any external Object, by observing how the Body surpasses the Proportion it should have to the Head in Giants, and falls below it in Dwarfs. There is a further Beauty arising from that Figure, which is a natural Indication of Strength; but this may be pass’d over, because probably it may be alleg’d, that our Approbation of this Shape flows from ∥ an∥ opinion of Advantage, and not from the Form it self.
The Beauty arising from Mechanism, apparently adapted to the Necessitys and Advantages of any Animal; which pleases us, even tho there be no Advantage to our selves ensuing from it; will be consider’d under the Head of Relative Beauty, or Design.
Fowls.XI. The peculiar Beauty of Fowls can scarce be omitted, which arises from the ∥ vast∥ Variety of Feathers, a curious Sort of Machines adapted to many admirable Uses, which retain a ∥ vast∥ Resemblance in their Structure among all the Species, ∥ and∥ a perfect Uniformity in those of the same Species in the corresponding Parts, and in the two Sides of each Individual; besides all the Beauty of lively Colours and gradual Shades, not only in the external Appearance of the Fowl, resulting from an artful Combination of shaded Feathers, but often visible even in one Feather separately.
Fluids.XII. If our Reasonings about the Nature of Fluids be just, the vast Stores of Water will give us an Instance of Uniformity in Nature above Imagination, when we reflect upon the almost infinite Multitude of small, polish’d, smooth Spheres, which must be suppos’d form’d in all the parts of this Globe. The same Uniformity there is probably among the Parts of other Fluids as well as Water: and the like must be observ’d in several other natural Bodys, as Salts, Sulphurs, and such like; whose uniform Propertys do probably depend upon an Uniformity in the Figures of their Parts.
Harmony.XIII. Under Original Beauty we may include Harmony, or Beauty of Sound, if that Expression can be allow’d, because Harmony is not usually conceiv’d as an Imitation of any thing else. Harmony often raises Pleasure in those who know not what is the Occasion of it: And yet the Foundation of this Pleasure is known to be a sort of Uniformity. When the several Vibrations of one Note regularly coincide with the Vibrations of another, they make an agreeable Composition; and such Notes are call’d ∥ Concords∥. Thus the Vibrations of any one Note coincide in Time with ∥ two Vibrations∥ of its Octave; and two Vibrations of any Note coincide with three of its Fifth; and so on in the rest of the ∥aCon-cords. ∥bNow no Composition can be harmonious, in which the Notes are not, for the most part, dispos’d according to these natural Proportions. Besides which, a due Regard must be had to the Key, which governs the whole, and to the Time and Humour, in which the Composition is begun: ∥ca frequent and inartificialc∥ Change of any of which will produce the greatest, and most unnatural Discord.b∥ This will appear, by observing the Dissonance which would arise from tacking Parts of different Tunes together as one, altho both were separately agreeable. A likea∥ Uniformity is also observable among the Bases, Tenors, Trebles of the same Tune.
∥aThere is indeed ∥bobservableb∥, in the best Compositions, a mysterious Effect of Discords: They often give as great Pleasure as continu’d Harmony; whether by refreshing the Ear with Variety, or by awakening the Attention, and enlivening the Relish for the succeeding Harmony of Concords, as Shades enliven and beautify Pictures, or by some other means not yet known: Certain it is however that they have their place, and some good Effect in our best Compositions.a∥ Some other Powers of Musick may be consider’d ∥ hereafter∥.
XIV. But in all these Instances of Beauty let it be observ’d, That the Pleasure is communicated to those who never reflected on this general Foundation; and that all here alledg’d is this, “That the pleasant Sensation arises only from Objects, in which there is Uniformity amidst Variety:” We may have the Sensation without knowing what is the Occasion of it; as a Man’s Taste may suggest Ideas of Sweets, Acids, Bitters, tho he be ignorant of the Forms of the small Bodys, or their Motions, which excite ∥ these∥ Perceptions in him.
Theorems.I. The Beauty of Theorems, or universal Truths demonstrated, deserves a distinct Consideration, ∥ being∥ of a Nature pretty different from the former kinds of Beauty; and yet there is none in which we shall see such an amazing Variety with Uniformity: and hence arises a very great Pleasure distinct from Prospects of any further Advantage.
II. For in one Theorem we may find included, with the most exact Agreement, an infinite Multitude of particular Truths; nay, often ∥ an Infinity∥ of Infinites: so that altho the Necessity of forming abstract Ideas, and universal Theorems, arises perhaps from the Limitation of our Minds, which cannot admit an infinite Multitude of singular Ideas or Judgments at once, yet this Power gives us an Evidence of the Largeness of the human Capacity above our Imagination. Thus for instance, the 47th Proposition of the first Book of Euclid’s Elements contains an infinite Multitude of Truths, concerning the infinite possible Sizes of right-angled Triangles, as you make the Area greater or less; and in each of these Sizes you may find an infinite Multitude of dissimilar Triangles, as you vary the Proportion of the Base to the Perpendicular; all which ∥ Infinitys of∥ Infinites agree in the general Theorem. ∥aIn Algebraick, and Fluxional Calculations, we shall ∥bstill find a greaterb∥ Variety of particular Truths included in general Theorems; not only in general Equations applicable to all Kinds of Quantity, but in more particular Investigations of Areas and Tangents: In which one Manner of Operation shall discover Theorems applicable to ∥cinfinitec∥ Orders or Species of Curves, to the infinite Sizes of each Species, and to the infinite Points of the ∥dinfinited∥ Individuals of each Size.a∥
Foundation of their Beauty.III. That we may the better discern this Agreement, or Unity of an Infinity of Objects, in the general Theorem, to be the Foundation of the Beauty or Pleasure attending their Discovery, let us compare our Satisfaction in such Discoverys, with the uneasy state of Mind ∥ in which we are∥, when we can only measure Lines, or Surfaces, by a Scale, or are making Experiments which we can reduce to no general Canon, but ∥ only∥ heaping up a Multitude of particular incoherent Observations. Now each of these Trials discovers a new Truth, but with no Pleasure or Beauty, notwithstand-ing the Variety, till we can discover some sort of Unity, or reduce them to some general Canon.
Little Beauty in Axioms.IV. Again, let us ∥ take∥ a Metaphysical Axiom, such as this, Every Whole is greater than its Part; and we shall find no Beauty in the Contemplation. ∥ For tho∥ this Proposition ∥ contains∥ many Infinitys of particular Truths; yet the Unity is inconsiderable, since they all agree only in a vague, undetermin’d Conception of Whole and Part, and in an indefinite Excess of the former above the latter, which is sometimes great and sometimes small. So, should we hear that the Cylinder is greater than the inscrib’d Sphere, and this again greater than the Cone of the same Altitude and Diameter ∥ with∥ the Base, we shall find no pleasure in this Knowledge of a general Relation of greater ∥ and∥ less, without any precise Difference or Proportion. But when we see the universal exact Agreement of all possible Sizes of such Systems of Solids, that they preserve to each other the constant Ratio of 3, 2, 1; how beautiful is the Theorem, and how are we ravish’d with its first Discovery!
Easy Theorems.∥aWe may likewise observe, that easy or obvious Propositions, even where the Unity is sufficiently distinct, and determinate, do not please us so much as those, which being less obvious, give us some Surprize in the Discovery: Thus we find little Pleasure in discovering that a Line bisecting the vertical Angle of an Isosceles ∥bTriangle, bisectsb∥ the Base, or the Reverse; or, that Equilateral Triangles are Equiangular. These Truths we ∥calmostc∥ know Intuitively, without Demonstration: They are like common Goods, or those which Men have long possessed, which do not give such sensible ∥dJoysd∥ as much smaller new Additions may give us. But let none hence imagine, that the sole Pleasure of Theorems is from Surprize; for the same Novelty of a single Experiment does not please us much: nor ought we to conclude from the greater Pleasure accompanying a new, or unexpected Advantage, that Surprize, or Novelty is the only Pleasure of Life, or the only ground of Delight in ∥eTruth.ae∥
Corollarys.V. There is another Beauty in Propositions, ∥ which cannot be omitted; which is∥, When one Theorem ∥ contains∥ a ∥ vast∥ Multitude of Corollarys easily deducible from it. Thus ∥ that Theorem which gives us the Equation of a Curve, whence perhaps most of its Propertys may be deduc’d, does some way please and satisfy our Mind above any other Proposition∥: Such a Theorem ∥ also∥ is the 35th of the 1st Book of Euclid, from which the whole Art of measuring right-lin’d Areas is deduc’d, by Resolution into Triangles, which are the halfs of so many Parallelograms; and these are each respectively equal to so many Rectangles of the Base into the perpendicular Altitude: The 47th of the 1st ∥ Book∥ is another of like Beauty, and so are many ∥ others∥.
In the search of Nature there is the like Beauty in the Knowledge of some great Principles, or universal Forces, from which innumerable Effects do flow. Such is Gravitation, in Sir Isaac Newton’s Scheme; ∥ such also is the Knowledge of the Original of Rights, perfect and imperfect, and external; alienable and unalienable, with their manner of Translations; from whence the greatest Part of moral Dutys may be deduc’d in the various Relations of human Life.∥
It is easy to see how Men are charm’d with the Beauty of such Knowledge, besides its Usefulness; and how this sets them upon deducing the Propertys of each Figure from one Genesis, and demonstrating the mechanick Forces from one Theorem of the Composition of Motion; even after they have sufficient Knowledge and Certainty in all these Truths from distinct independent Demonstrations. And this Pleasure we enjoy even when we have no Prospect of obtaining any other ∥ Advantage∥ from such Manner of Deduction, ∥ than∥ the immediate Pleasure of contemplating the Beauty: nor could Love of Fame excite us to such regular Methods of Deduction, were we not conscious that Mankind are pleas’d with them immediately, by this internal Sense of their Beauty.
Fantastick Beauty.It is no less easy to see into what absurd ∥ Attempts∥ Men have been led by this Sense of Beauty, and ∥ a silly Affectation∥ of obtaining it in the other Sciences as well as the Mathematicks. ’Twas this probably which set Descartes on that hopeful Project of deducing all human Knowledge from one Proposition, viz. Cogito, ergo sum; while others ∥ with as little Sense contended∥, that Impossibile est idem simul esse & non esse, had much fairer Pretensions to the Style and Title of Principium humanae Cognitionis absolutè primum. Mr. Leibnitz had an equal Affection for his favourite Principle of a sufficient Reason for every thing in Nature, and ∥ brags to Dr. Clarke ∥ of the Wonders he had wrought in the intellectual World by its Assistance; ∥ but his learned Antagonist seems to think he had not sufficient Reason for his Boasting. ∥ If we look into particular Sciences, we ∥ may see in the Systems learned Men have given us of them,∥ the Inconveniences of this Love of Uniformity. ∥ How∥ aukardly ∥ is Puffendorf forc’d to∥ deduce the several Dutys of Men to God, themselves, and their Neighbours, from his single fundamental Principle of Sociableness to the whole Race of Mankind? This Observation ∥ might easily be extended farther, were it necessary; and∥ is a strong Proof that Men ∥ have a Sense of Beauty in∥ Uniformity in the Sciences, ∥ even from the Contortions of common Sense they are led into by pursuing it∥.
VI. This Delight which accompanys Sciences, or universal Theorems, may really be call’d a kind of Sensation; since it necessarily accompanys the Discovery of any Proposition, and is distinct from bare Knowledge it self , being most violent at first, whereas the Knowledge is uniformly the same. And however Knowledge enlarges the Mind, and makes us more capable of comprehensive Views and Projects in some kinds of Business, whence Advantage may also arise to us; yet we may leave it in the Breast of every Student to determine, whether he has not often felt this Pleasure without any such prospect of Advantage from the Discovery of his Theorem. All ∥ which∥ can thence be infer’d is only this, that as in our external Senses, so in our internal ones, the pleasant Sensations generally arise from those Objects which calm Reason would have recommended, had we understood their Use, and which might have engag’d our pursuits from Self-interest.
VII. If any alledge, “that this Pleasure in Theorems arises only at first, upon the Novelty of the Discovery, which occasions Surprize:” It must be own’d indeed that Novelty is generally very agreeable, and heightens the Pleasure in the Contemplation of Beauty; but then the Novelty of a particular Truth, found out by measuring, as above mention’d, gives no considerable Pleasure, nor Surprize. That then which is pleasant and surprizing, is the first Observation of this Unity amidst such a great Variety. There is indeed another kind of Surprize, which adds to the Beauty of some Propositions less universal, and may make them equally pleasant with more universal ones; as when we discover a general Truth which seem’d before, upon some confus’d Opinion, to be a Falshood: as that Assymptotes always approaching should never meet the Curve. This is like that Joy, which may be very strong and violent, upon the unexpected Arrival of a small Advantage, from that Occasion from which we apprehended great Evil; but still this Unity of many Particulars in the general Theo-rem, is necessary to make it pleasant, in any case.
Works of Art.VIII. As to the Works of Art, were we to run thro the various artificial Contrivances or Structures, we should ∥ constantly∥ find the Foundation of the Beauty which appears in them, ∥ to be∥ some kind of Uniformity, or Unity of Proportion among the Parts, and of each Part to the Whole. As there is a ∥ vast∥ Diversity of Proportions possible, and different Kinds of Uniformity, so there is room enough for that Diversity of Fancys observable in Architecture, Gardening, and such like Arts in different Nations; they all may have Uniformity, tho the Parts in one may differ from those in another. The Chinese or Persian Buildings are not like the Grecian and Roman, and yet the former has its Uniformity of the various Parts to each other, and to the Whole, as well as the latter. In that kind of Architecture which the Europeans call Regular, the Uniformity of Parts is very obvious, the several Parts are regular Figures, and either equal or similar at least in the same Range; the Pedestals are Parallelopipedons or square Prisms; the Pillars, Cylinders nearly; the Arches Circular, and all those in the same Row equal; there is the same Proportion every where observ’d in the same Range between the Diameters of Pillars and their Heights, their Capitals, the Dia-meters of Arches, the Heights of the Pedestals, the Projections of the Cornice, and all ∥ the∥ Ornaments in each of our five Orders. And tho other Countrys do not follow the Grecian or Roman Proportions; yet there is even among them a Proportion retain’d, a Uniformity, and Resemblance of corresponding Figures; and every Deviation in one part from ∥ that∥ Proportion which is observ’d in the rest of the Building, is displeasing to every Eye, and destroys or diminishes at least the Beauty of the Whole.
IX. The same might be observ’d thro all other Works of Art, even to the meanest Utensil; the Beauty of every one of which we shall always find to have the same Foundation of Uniformity amidst Variety, without which they ∥ appear∥ mean, irregular and deform’d.
Comparative Beauty.I. If the preceding Thoughts concerning the Foundation of absolute Beauty be just, we may easily understand wherein relative Beauty consists. All Beauty is relative to the Sense of some Mind perceiving it; but what we call relative is that which is apprehended in any Object, commonly consider’d as an Imitation of some Original: And this Beauty is founded on a Conformity, or a kind of Unity between the Original and the Copy. The Original may be either some Object in Nature, or some establish’d Idea; for if there be any known Idea as a Standard, and Rules to fix this Image or Idea by, we may make a beautiful Imitation. Thus a Statuary, Painter, or Poet, may please us with an Hercules, if his Piece retains that Grandeur, and those marks of Strength, and Courage, which we imagine in that Hero.
And farther, to obtain comparative Beauty alone, it is not necessary that there be any Beauty in the Original; the Imitation of absolute Beauty may indeed in the whole make a more lovely Piece, and yet an exact Imitation shall still be beautiful, tho the Original were intirely void of it: Thus the Deformitys of old Age in a Picture, the rudest Rocks or Mountains in a Landskip, if well represented, shall have abundant Beauty, tho perhaps not so great as if the Original were absolutely beautiful, and as well ∥ represented.∥
Description in Poetry.II. The same Observation holds true in the Descriptions of the Poets either of natural Objects or Persons; and this relative Beauty is what they should principally endeavour to obtain, as the peculiar Beauty of their Works. By the Moratae Fabulae, or the ἢθη of Aristotle, we are not to understand virtuous Manners ∥ in a moral Sense∥, but a just Representation of Manners or Characters as they are in Nature; and that the Actions and Sentiments be suited to the Characters of the Persons to whom they are ascrib’d in Epick and Dramatick Poetry. Perhaps very good Reasons may be suggested from the Nature of our Passions, to prove that a Poet should ∥ not∥ draw ∥ his Characters perfectly Virtuous∥; these Characters indeed abstractly consider’d might give more Pleasure, and have more Beauty than the imperfect ones which occur in Life with a mixture of Good and Evil: But it may suffice at present to suggest against this Choice, that we have more lively Ideas of imperfect Men with all their Passions, than of morally perfect Heroes, such as really never occur to our Observation; and of ∥ which∥ consequently we cannot judge exactly as to their Agreement with the Copy. And further, thro Consciousness of our own State, we are more nearly touch’d and affected by the imperfect Characters; since in them we see represented, in the Persons of others, the Contrasts of Inclinations, and the Struggles between the Passions of Self-Love and those of Honour and Virtue, which we often feel in our own Breasts. This is the Perfection of Beauty for which Homer is justly admir’d, as well as for the Variety of his Characters.
Probability, Simily∥, Metaphor.III. Many other Beautys of Poetry may be reduc’d under this Class of relative Beauty: The Probability is absolutely necessary to make us imagine Resemblance; it is by Resemblance that the Similitudes, Metaphors and Allegorys are made beautiful, whether either the Subject or the Thing compar’d to it have Beauty or not; the Beauty indeed is greater, when both have some original Beauty or Dignity as well as Resemblance: and this is the foundation of the Rule of studying Decency in Metaphors and ∥ Similys∥ as well as Likeness. The Measures and Cadence are instances of Harmony, and come under the head of absolute Beauty.
Proneness to compare.IV. We may here observe a strange Proneness in our Minds to make perpetual Comparisons of all things which occur to our Observation, even ∥ those which would seem very remote∥. There are certain Resemblances in the Motions of all Animals upon like Passions, which easily found a Comparison; but this does not serve to entertain our Fancy: Inanimate Objects have often such Positions as resemble those of the human Body in various Circumstances; these Airs or Gestures of the Body are Indications of ∥ certain∥ Dispositions in the Mind, so that our very Passions and Affections as well as other Circumstances obtain a Resemblance to natural inanimate Objects. Thus a Tempest at Sea is often an Emblem of Wrath; a Plant or Tree drooping under the Rain, of a Person in Sorrow; a Poppy bending its Stalk, or a Flower withering when cut by the Plow, resembles the Death of a blooming Hero; an aged Oak in the Mountains shall represent an old Empire, a Flame seizing a Wood shall represent a War. In short, every thing in Nature, by our strange inclination to Resemblance, shall be brought to represent other things, even the most remote, especially the Passions and Circumstances of human Nature in which we are more nearly concern’d; and to confirm this, and furnish Instances of it, one need only look into Homer or Virgil. A fruitful Fancy would find in a Grove, or a Wood, an Emblem ∥ for∥ every Character in a Commonwealth, and every turn of Temper, or Station in Life.
Intention.V. Concerning that kind of comparative Beauty which has a necessary relation to some establish’d Idea, we may observe, that some Works of Art acquire a distinct Beauty by their Correspondence to some universally suppos’d Intention in the ∥ Artificer∥, or the Persons who employ’d ∥ him∥: And to obtain this Beauty, sometimes they do not form their Works so as to attain the highest Perfection of original Beauty separately consider’d; because a Composition of this relative Beauty, along with some degree of the original Kind, may give more Pleasure, than a more perfect original Beauty separately. Thus we see, that strict Regularity in laying out of Gardens in Parterres, Vista’s, parallel Walks, is often neglected, to obtain an Imitation of Nature even in some of its Wildnesses. And we are more pleas’d with this Imitation, especially when the Scene is large and spacious, than with the more confin’d Exactness of regular ∥ Works∥. So likewise in the Monuments erected in honour of deceased Heroes, although a Cylinder, or Prism, or regular Solid, may have more original Beauty than a very acute Pyramid or Obelisk, yet the latter pleases more, by answering better the suppos’d Intentions of Stability, and being conspicuous. For the same reason Cubes, or square Prisms, are generally chosen for the Pedestals of Statues, and not any of the more beautiful Solids, which do not seem so secure from rolling. This may be the reason too, why Columns or Pillars look best when made a little taper from the middle, or a third from the bottom, that they may not seem top-heavy and in danger of falling.
VI. The like reason may influence Artists, in many other Instances, to depart from the Rules of original Beauty, as above laid down. And yet this is no Argument against our Sense of Beauty being founded, as was above explain’d, on Uniformity amidst Variety, but only an Evidence that our Sense of Beauty of the Original Kind may be vary’d and over ballanc’d by another kind of Beauty.
VII. This Beauty arising from Correspondence to Intention, would open to curious Observers a new Scene of Beauty in the Works of Nature, by considering how the Mechanism of the various Parts known to us, seems adapted to the Perfection of that Part, and yet in Subordination to the Good of some System or Whole. We generally suppose the Good of the greatest Whole, or of all Beings, to have been the Intention of the Author of Nature; and cannot avoid being pleas’d when we see any part of this Design executed in the Systems we are acquainted with. The Observations already made on this Subject are in every one’s hand, in the Treatises of our late Improvers of mechanical Philosophy. ∥ We shall only observe here, that every one has a certain Pleasure in∥ seeing any Design well executed by curious Mechanism, even when his own Advantage is no way concern’d; ∥ and also∥ in discovering the Design to which any complex Machine is adapted, when he has perhaps had a general Knowledge of the Machine before, without seeing its Correspondence or Aptness to execute any Design.
The Arguments by which we prove Reason and Design in any Cause from the Beauty of the Effects, are so frequently us’d in some of the highest Subjects, that it may be necessary to enquire a little more particularly into them, to see how far they will hold, and with what degree of Evidence.
Sense, Arbitrary in its Author.I. There seems to be no necessary Connection of our pleasing Ideas of Beauty with the Uniformity or Regularity of the Objects, from the Nature of things, ∥ antecedent∥ to some Constitution of the Author of our Nature, which has made such Forms pleasant to us. Other Minds ∥ may∥ be so fram’d as to receive no Pleasure from Uniformity; and we actually find that the same regular Forms ∥ seem not∥ equally to please all the Animals known to us, as shall probably appear ∥ afterwards∥. Therefore let us make what is the most unfavourable Supposition to the present Argument∥ , viz.∥ That the Constitution of our Sense so as to approve Uniformity, is merely arbitrary in the Author of our Nature; and that there are an infinity of Tastes or Relishes of Beauty possible; so that it would be impossible to throw together fifty or a hundred Pebbles, which should not make an agreeable Habitation for some Animal or other, and appear beautiful to it. And then it is plain, that from the Perception of Beauty in any one Effect, we should have no reason to conclude Design in the Cause: for a Sense might be so constituted as to be pleas’d with such Irregularity as may be the effect of an undirected Force. But then, as there are an Infinity of Forms ∥ possible∥ into which any System may be reduc’d, an Infinity of Places in which Animals may be situated, and an Infinity of Relishes or Senses ∥ in these Animals∥ is suppos’d possible; that in the immense Spaces any one Animal should by Chance be plac’d in a System agreeable to its Taste, must be improbable as infinite to one at least: And much more unreasonable is it to expect from Chance, that a multitude of Animals agreeing in their Sense of Beauty should obtain agreeable Places.
Undirected Force.II. ∥ There is also∥ the same Probability, that in any one System of Matter an Undirected Force ∥ will∥ produce a regular Form, as any one given irregular one, of the same degree of Complication: But still the irregular Forms into which any System may be rang’d, surpass in multitude the Regular, as Infinite does Unity; for what holds in one small System will hold in a Thousand, a Million, a Universe, with more Advantage, viz. that the irregular Forms possible infinitely surpass the Regular. For Instance, the Area of an Inch Square is capable of an Infinity of regular Forms, the Equilateral Triangle, the Square, the Pentagon, Hexagon, Heptagon, &c. but for each one regular Form, there are an Infinity of Irregular, as an Infinity of Scalena for the one equilateral Triangle, an Infinity of Trapezia for the one Square, of irregular Pentagons for the one Regular, and so on: and therefore supposing any one System agitated by undesigning Force, it ∥ is∥ infinitely more probable that it ∥ will∥ resolve itself into an irregular Form, than a regular. Thus, that a System of six Parts upon Agitation shall not obtain the Form of a regular Hexagon, is at least infinite to Unity; and the more complex we make the System, the greater is the hazard, from a very obvious Reason.
We see this confirm’d by our constant Experience, that Regularity never arises from any undesign’d Force of ours; and from this we conclude, that wherever there is any Regularity in the disposition of a System capable of many other ∥ Dispositions∥, there must have been Design in the Cause; and the Force of this Evidence increases, according to the Multiplicity of Parts imploy’d.
But this Conclusion is too rash, unless some further Proof be introduc’d; and what leads us into it is this. Men, who have a Sense of Beauty in Regularity, are led generally in all their Arrangements of Bodys to study some kind of Regularity, and seldom ever design Irregularity; ∥ hence∥ we judge the same of other Beings too, ∥ viz.∥ that they study Regularity, and presume upon Intention in the Cause wherever we see it, making Irregularity always a Presumption of Want of Design: ∥ Whereas if other Agents have different Senses of Beauty,∥ or if they have no Sense of it at all, Irregularity may as well be design’d as Regularity. And then let it be observ’d, that in this Case there is just the same reason to conclude Design in the Cause from any one irregular Effect, as from a regular one; for since there are an Infinity of other Forms possible as well as this irre-gular one produc’d, and since to such a Being void of a Sense of Beauty, all Forms are as to its own Relish indifferent, and all agitated Matter meeting must make some Form or other, and all Forms, upon Supposition that the Force is apply’d by an Agent void of a Sense of Beauty, would equally prove Design; it is plain that no one Form proves it more than another, or can prove it at all; except from a general metaphysical Consideration, ∥ too subtile to be certain,∥ that there is no proper Agent without Design and Intention, and that every Effect flows from the Intention of some Cause.
Similar Forms by Chance, impossible.III. This however follows from the above ∥ mention’d∥ Considerations, that supposing a Mass of Matter surpassing a cubick Inch, as infinite of the first Power does Unity, and that this whole Mass were some way determin’d from its own Nature without any Design in a Cause (which perhaps is scarce possible) to resolve itself into ∥ the solid Content of a cubick Inch∥, and into a prismatick Form whose Base should always be ½ of a square Inch; suppose these Conditions determin’d, and all others left to undirected Force; all ∥ which∥ we could expect from undirected Force in this Case would be one equilateral Prism, or two perhaps; because there are an Infinity of irregular Prisms possible of the same Base, and solid Content: and when we ∥ met∥ with many such Prisms, we must probably conclude ∥ them produc’d by Design,∥ since they are more than could have been expected by the Laws of Hazard.
IV. But if ∥ this∥ infinite Mass was ∥ no way∥ determin’d to a prismatick Form, we could only expect from its casual Concourse one Prism of any Kind, since there ∥ is an Infinity of other Solids∥ into which the Mass might be resolv’d; and if we found any great number of Prisms, we should have ∥ reason to presume∥ Design: so that in a Mass of Matter as infinite of the first Power, we could not from any Concourse or Agitation expect with any good ground a Body of any given Dimensions or Size, and of any given Form; since of any Dimension there are infinite Forms possible, and of any Form there are an Infinity of Dimensions; and if we found several Bodys of the same Dimension and Form, we should have so much Presumption for Design.
V. There is one trifling Objection which may perhaps arise from the crystallizing of certain Bodys, when the Fluid is evaporated in which they were swimming; for in this we frequently see regular Forms arising, tho there is nothing ∥ suppos’d in this Affair but an undirected Force of Attraction∥. But to remove this Objection, we need only consider, that we have good Reason to believe, that the smallest Particles of crystalliz’d Bodys have fix’d regular Forms ∥ given∥ them in the Constitution of Nature; and then it is easy to conceive how their Attractions may produce regular Forms: but unless we suppose some preceding Regularity in the Figures of attracting Bodys, they ∥ can∥ never form any regular Body at all. And hence we see how improbable it is, that the whole Mass of Matter, not only in this Globe, but in all the fixed Stars known to us by our Eyes or Glasses, were they a thousand times larger than our Astronomers suppose, could in any Concourse have produc’d any Number of similar Bodys Regular or Irregular.
Combinations by Chance, impossible.VI. And let it be here observ’d, that there are many Compositions of Bodys which the smallest Degree of Design could easily effect, which yet we would in vain expect from all the Powers of Chance or undesign’d Force, ∥ after∥ an Infinity of Rencounters; even supposing a Dissolution of every Form except the regular one, that the Parts might be prepar’d for a new Agitation. Thus, supposing we could expect one equilateral Prism of any given Dimensions should be form’d from undirected Force, in an Infinity of Matter some way determin’d to resolve ∥ itself∥ into Bodys of a given solid Content, (which is all we could expect, since it is infinite to one after the solid Content is obtain’d, that the Body shall not be Prismatical; and allowing it Prismatical, it is infinite to one that it shall not be Equilateral:) And again, supposing another Infinity of Matter determin’d to resolve itself into Tubes, of Orifices exactly equal to the Bases of the former Prisms, it is again at least as the second Power of Infinite to Unity, that not one of these Tubes shall be both Prismatick and Equiangular; and then if the Tube were thus form’d, so as to be exactly capable of receiving one of the Prisms and no more, it is infinite to one that they shall never meet in infinite Space; and should they meet, it is infinite to one that the Axes of the Prism and Tube shall never happen in the same strait Line; and supposing they did, it is again as infinite to three, that Angle shall not meet Angle, so as to enter. We see then how infinitely improbable it is, “that all the Powers of Chance in infinite Matter, agitated thro infinite Ages, could ever effect this small Composition of a Prism entering a Prismatick Bore; and, that all our hazard for it would at most be but as three is to the third Power of Infinite.” And yet the smallest Design could easily effect it.
VII. May we not then justly count it altogether absurd, and next to an absolute strict Impossibility, “That all the Powers of undirected Force should ever effect such a complex Machine ∥ as∥ the most imperfect Plant, or the meanest Animal, even in one Instance?” for the Improbability just increases, as the Complication of Mechanism in these natural Bodys surpasses that simple Combination above mention’d.
VIII. Let it be here observ’d, “That the preceding Reasoning from the Frequency of regular Bodys of one Form in the Universe, and from the Combinations of various Bodys, is intirely inde-pendent on any Perception of Beauty; and would equally prove Design in the Cause, altho there were no Being which perceiv’d Beauty in any Form whatsoever:” for it is in short this, “That the recurring of any Effect oftner than the Laws of Hazard ∥ determine∥, gives Presumption of Design; and, That Combinations which no undesign’d Force could give us reason to expect, must necessarily prove the same; and that with superior probability, as the multitude of Cases in which the contrary ∥ might∥ happen, surpass all the Cases in which this could happen:” which appears to be in the simplest Cases at least as Infinite ∥ does∥ Unity. And the frequency of similar irregular Forms, or exact Combinations of them, is an equal Argument of Design in the Cause, since the Similarity, or exact Combinations of irregular Forms, are as little to be expected from all the Powers of undirected Force, as any sort whatsoever.
IX. To bring this nearer to something like a Theorem, altho the Idea of Infinite be troublesome enough to manage in Reasoning. The Powers of Chance, with infinite Matter in infinite Ages, may answer Hazards as the fifth Power of Infinite and no more: thus the Quantity of Matter may be conceiv’d as the third Power of Infinite and no more, the various Degrees of Force may make another Power of Infinite, and the Number of Rencounters may make the fifth. But this last only holds on Supposition, that after every Rencounter there is no Cohesion, but all is dissolv’d again for a new Concourse, except in similar Forms or exact Combinations; which Supposition is entirely groundless, since we see dissimilar Bodys cohering as strongly as any, and rude Masses more than any Combinations. Now to produce any given Body, in a given Place or Situation, and of given Dimensions, or Shape, the Hazards of the contrary are, one Power of Infinite at least to obtain the Place or Situation; when the Situation is obtain’d, the solid Content requires another Power of Infinite to obtain it; the Situation and Solidity obtain’d require, for accomplishing the simplest given Shape, at least the other three Powers of Infinite. For instance, let the Shape be a four-sided Prism or Parallelopiped; that the Surfaces should be Planes requires one Power; that they should be Parallel in this Case, or inclin’d in any given Angle in any other Case, requires another Power of Infinite; and that they should be in any given Ratio to each other, requires at least the third Power: for in each of these Heads there ∥ is still an Infinity at least∥ of other Cases possible beside the one given. So that all the Powers of Chance could only produce perhaps one Body of every simpler Shape or Size at most, and this is all we could expect: we might expect one Pyramid, or Cube, or Prism perhaps; but when we increase the Conditions requir’d, the Prospect must grow more improbable, as in more complex Figures, and in all Combinations of Bodys, and in similar Species, which we never could reasonably hope from Chance; and therefore where we see them, we must certainly ascribe them to Design.
Combinations of irregular Forms, equally impossible.X. The Combinations of regular Forms, or of irregular ones exactly adapted to each other, require such vast Powers of Infinite to effect them, and the Hazards of the contrary Forms are so infinitely numerous, that all Probability or Possibility of their being accomplish’d by Chance seems quite to vanish. Let us apply the Cases in Art. vi. ∥ of∥ this Section about the Prism and Tube, to our simplest Machines, such as a pair of Wheels of our ordinary Carriages; each Circular, Spokes equal in length, thickness, shape; the Wheels set Parallel, the Axle-tree fix’d in the Nave of both, and secur’d from coming out at either End: ∥ Now∥ the Cases in which the contrary might have happen’d from undirected Concourses, were there no more requir’d than what is just now mention’d, must amount in Multitude to a Power of ∥ Infinite∥ equal to every Circumstance requir’d. What shall we say then of a Plant, a Tree, an Animal, a Man, with such multitudes of adapted Vessels, such Articulations, Insertions of Muscles, Diffusion of Veins, Arterys, Nerves? The Improbability that such Machines ∥ should be the Effect of Chance, must be near the infinitesimal Power of Infinite to Unity.∥
XI. Further, were all the former Reasoning from Similarity of Forms and Combinations groundless, and could Chance give us ground to expect such Forms, with exact Combination, yet we could only promise ∥ ourselves∥ one of these Forms among an Infinity of others. When we see then such a multitude of Individuals of a Species, similar to each other in a ∥ vast∥ number of Parts; and when we see in each Individual, the corresponding Members so exactly ∥ like∥ each other, what possible room is there left for questioning Design in the Universe? None but the barest Possibility against an inconceivably great Probability, surpassing every thing which is not strict Demonstration.
XII. This Argument, ∥ as∥ has been already observ’d, is quite abstracted from any Sense of Beauty in any particular Form; for the exact Similarity of a hundred or a thousand Trapezia, proves Design as well as the Similarity of Squares, since both are equally above all the Powers of undirected Force or Chance∥ , as the hundredth or thousandth Power of Infinite surpasses Unity;∥ and what is above the Powers of Chance, must give us proportionable Presumption for Design.
Thus, allowing that a Leg, or Arm, or Eye, might have been the Effect of Chance, (which was shewn to be most absurd, and next to absolutely impossible) that it ∥ would∥ not have a corresponding Leg, Arm, Eye, exactly similar, must be a hazard of a Power of Infinite proportion’d to the Complication of Parts; for in Proportion to this is the multitude of Cases increas’d, in which it would not have a corresponding Member similar: so that allowing twenty or thirty Parts in such a Structure, it would be as the twentieth or thirtieth Power of Infinite to Unity, that the corresponding Part should not be similar. What shall we say then of the similar Forms of a whole Species?
Gross Similarity by Chance, impossible.XIII. If it be objected, “That natural Bodys are not exactly similar, but only grosly so to our Senses; as that a Vein, an Artery, a Bone is not perhaps exactly similar to its Correspondent in the same Animal, tho it appears so to our Senses, which ∥ judge only∥ of the Bulk, and do not discern the small constituent Parts; and that in the several Individuals of a Species the Dissimilarity is always sensible, often in the internal Structure, and ∥ often, nay∥ always in the external Appearance.” To remove this Objection it will be sufficient to shew, “That the multitude of Cases wherein sensible Dissimilitude cou’d have happen’d, are still infinitely more than all the Cases in which sensible Similitude ∥ might∥;” so that the same Reasoning holds from sensible Similarity, as from the mathematically exact: And again, “That the Cases of gross Dissimilarity do in the same manner surpass the Cases of gross Similarity possible, as infinite does one.”
XIV. To prove both these Assertions, let us consider a simple Instance. ∥ Suppose∥ a Trapezium of a foot Square in Area ∥ should∥ appear grosly similar to another, while no one side differs, by 1/10 of an Inch; or no Angle in one surpasses the corresponding one in the other above ten ∥ Minutes∥: now this tenth of an Inch is infinitely divisible, as ∥ are also∥ the ten Minutes, so that the Cases of insensible Dissimilarity under apparent Similarity are really Infinite. But then it is also plain that there are an Infinity of different sensibly dissimilar Trapezia, even of the same Area, ac-cording as we vary a Side by one Tenth, two Tenths, three Tenths, and so on, and ∥ vary∥ the Angles and another Side so as to keep the Area equal. Now in each of these infinite Degrees of sensible Dissimilitude the several Tenths are infinitely divisible as well as in the first Case; so that the multitude of sensible Dissimilaritys are to the multitude of insensible Dissimilaritys under apparent Resemblance, still as the second Power of Infinite to the first, or as Infinite to Unity. And then how vastly greater must the Multitude be, of all possible sensible Dissimilaritys in such complex Bodys as Legs, Arms, Eyes, Arterys, Veins, Skeletons?
XV. As to the Dissimilaritys of Animals of the same Species, it is in the same manner plain, that the possible Cases of gross Dissimilarity are Infinite; and then every Case of gross Dissimilarity contains also all the Cases of insensible Dissimilarity. Thus, if we would count all Animals of a Species grosly similar, while there was no Limb which in Length or Diameter did exceed the ordinary Shape by above a third of the Head; it is plain that there are an Infinity of ∥ gross∥ Dissimilaritys possible, and then in each of these Cases of gross Dissimilarity, there are an Infinity of Cases of nicer Dissimilarity, since 1/3 of the Head may be infinitely divided. To take a low but easy Instance; two Cockle-Shells which fitted each other naturally, may have an Infinity of insensible Differences, but still there are an Infinity of possible sensible Differences; and then in any one of the sensibly different Forms, there may be the same Infinity of insensible Differences beside the sensible one: So that still the hazard for even gross Similarity from Chance is Infinite to one, and this always increases by a Power of Infinite for every distinct Member of the Animal, in which even gross Similarity is retain’d; since the Addition of every Member or Part to a complex Machine, makes a new Infinity of Cases, in which sensible Dissimilarity may happen; and this Infinity combin’d with the infinite Cases of the former Parts, raises the Hazard by a Power of Infinite.
Now this may sufficiently shew us the Absurdity of the Cartesian or Epicurean Hypothesis, even granting their Postulatum of undirected Force impress’d on infinite Matter; and seems almost a Demonstration of Design in the Universe.
XVI. One Objection ∥ more∥ remains to be remov’d, viz. “That some imagine, this Argument may hold better à Priori than à Posteriori; that is, we have better Reason to believe, when we see a Cause about to act, without Knowledge, that he will not attain any given, or desir’d End; than we have on the other hand to believe, when we see ∥ the∥ End actually attain’d, that he acted with Knowledge: Thus, say they, when a ∥ particular Person∥ is about to draw a Ticket in a Lottery, where there is but one Prize to a thousand Blanks, it is highly probable that he shall draw a Blank; but suppose we have seen him actually draw for himself the Prize, we have no ground to conclude that he had Knowledge or Art to accomplish this End.” But the Answer is obvious: In such Contrivances we generally have, from the very Circumstances of the Lottery, very strong moral Arguments, which almost demonstrate that Art can have no place; so that a Probability of a ∥ thousand to one∥, ∥ does∥ not surmount those Arguments: But let the Probability be increas’d, and it will soon surmount ∥ all∥ Arguments to the contrary. For instance, If we saw a Man ten times successively draw Prizes, in a Lottery where there were but ten Prizes to ten thousand Blanks, I fancy few would question whether he us’d Art or not: much less would we imagine it were Chance, if we saw a Man draw for his own Gain successively a hundred, or a thousand Prizes, from among a proportionably greater number of Blanks. Now in the Works of Nature the Case is entirely different: we have not the least Argument against Art or Design. An intelligent Cause is surely at least as probable a Notion as Chance, general Force, Conatus ad Motum, or the Clinamen Principiorum, to account for any Effect whatsoever: And then all the Regularity, Combinations, Similaritys of Species, are so many Demonstrations, that there was Design and Intelligence in the Cause of this Universe: Whereas in fair Lotterys, all ∥ Art∥ in drawing is made, if not actually impossible, at least highly improbable.
Irregularity does not prove want of Design.XVII. Let it be here observ’d also, “That a rational Agent may be capable of impressing Force ∥ without∥ intending to produce any particular Form, and of designedly producing irregular or dissimilar Forms, as well as regular and similar:” And hence it follows, “That altho all the Regularity, Combination and Similarity in the Universe, are Presumptions of Design, yet Irregularity is no Presumption of the contrary; unless we suppose that the Agent is determin’d from a Sense of Beauty always to act regularly, and delight in Similarity; and that he can have no other inconsistent Motive of Action:” Which last is plainly absurd. We do not want in the Universe many Effects which seem to have been left to the general Laws of Motion upon some great Impulse, and have many Instances where Similarity has been ∥ plainly design’d∥ in some respects, and probably neglected in others; or even Dissimilarity design’d. Thus we see the general exact Resemblance between the two Eyes of most persons; and yet perhaps no other third Eye in the World ∥ is∥ exactly like them. We see a gross Conformity of shape in all Persons in innumerable Parts, and yet no two Individuals of any Species are undistinguishable; which perhaps is intended for valuable Purposes to the whole Species.
Wisdom, Prudence.XVIII. Hitherto the Proof amounts only to Design or Intention barely, in opposition to blind Force or Chance; and we see the Proof of this is independent on the arbitrary Constitution of our internal Sense of Beauty. Beauty is often suppos’d an Argument of more than Design, to wit, Wisdom and Prudence in the Cause. Let us enquire also into this.
Wisdom denotes the pursuing of the best Ends by the best Means; and therefore before we can from any Effect prove the Cause to be wise, we must know what is best to the Cause or Agent. Among men who have pleasure in contemplating Uniformity, the Beauty of Effects is an Argument of Wisdom, because this is Good to them; but the same Argument would not hold as to a Being void of this Sense of Beauty. And therefore the Beauty apparent to us in Nature, will not of itself prove Wisdom in the Cause, unless this Cause, or Author of Nature be suppos’d Benevolent; and then indeed the Happiness of Mankind is desirable or Good to the Supreme Cause; and that Form which pleases us, is an Argument of his Wisdom. And the Strength of this Argument is increased always in proportion to the Degree of Beauty produc’d in Nature, and expos’d to the View of any rational ∥ Agent∥; since upon supposition of a benevolent Deity, all the apparent Beauty produc’d is an Evidence of the Execution of a Benevolent Design, to give ∥ him∥ the Pleasures of Beauty.
But what more immediately proves Wisdom is this; when we see any Machine with a ∥ vast∥ Complication of Parts actually obtaining an End, we justly conclude, “That since this could not have been the Effect of Chance, it must have been intended for that End, which is obtain’d by it;” and then the Ends or Intentions, being in part known, the Complication of Organs, and their nice Disposition adapted to this End, is an Evidence “of a comprehensive large Understanding in the Cause, according to the Multi-plicity of Parts, and the Appositeness of their Structure, even when we do not know the Intention of the Whole.”
General Causes.XIX. There is another kind of Beauty ∥ also which is still pleasing to our Sense, and∥ from which we conclude Wisdom in the Cause as well as Design, ∥ and that is,∥ when we see many useful or beautiful Effects flowing from one general Cause. There is a very good Reason for this Conclusion among Men. Interest must lead Beings of limited Powers, who are uncapable of a great diversity of Operations, and distracted by them, to chuse this frugal Oeconomy of their Forces, and to look upon such Management as an Evidence of Wisdom in other Beings like themselves. Nor is this speculative Reason all which influences them, for even beside this Consideration of Interest, they are determin’d by a Sense of Beauty where that Reason does not hold; as when we are judging of the Productions of other Agents about whose Oeconomy we are not sollicitous. Thus, who does not approve of it as a Perfection in Clock-work, that three or four Motions of the Hour, Minute, and second Hands, and monthly Plate, should arise from one Spring or Weight, rather than from three, or four Springs, or Weights, in a very Compound Machine, which should perform the same Effects, and answer all the same Purposes with equal exactness? Now the Foundation of this Beauty plainly appears to be ∥ Uniformity∥ or Unity of Cause amidst Diversity of Effects.
General Laws.XX. We ∥ shall hereafter∥ offer some Reasons, why the Author of Nature ∥ may∥ chuse to operate in this manner by General Laws and Universal extensive Causes, altho the Reason just now mention’d does not hold with an Almighty Being. This is certain, That we have some of the most delightful Instances of Universal Causes in the Works of Nature, and that the most studious men in these Subjects are so delighted with the Observation of them, that they always look upon them as Evidences of Wisdom in the Administration of Nature, from a Sense of Beauty.
XXI. The wonderfully simple Mechanism which performs all Animal Motions, was mention’d already; nor is that of the inanimate Parts of Nature less admirable. How innumerable are the Effects of that one Principle of Heat, deriv’d to us from the Sun, which is not only delightful to our Sight and Feeling, and the Means of discerning Objects, but is the Cause of Rains, Springs, Rivers, Winds, and the universal Cause of Vegetation! The uniform Principle of Gravity preserves at once the Planets in their Orbits, gives Cohesion to the Parts of each Globe, and Stability to Mountains, Hills, and artificial Structures; it raises the Sea in Tides, and sinks them again, and restrains them in their Channels; it drains the Earth of its superfluous Moisture, by Rivers; it raises the Vapours by its Influence on the Air, and brings them down again in Rains; it gives an uniform Pressure to our Atmosphere, necessary to our Bodys in general, and more especially to Inspiration in Breathing; and furnishes us with an universal Movement, capable of being apply’d in innumerable Engines. How incomparably more beautiful is this Structure, than if we suppos’d so many distinct Volitions in the Deity, producing every particular Effect, and preventing some of the accidental Evils which casually flow from the general Law! ∥ We may rashly imagine that∥ this latter manner of Operation might have been more useful to us; and ∥ it∥ would have been no distraction to Omnipotence: But then the great Beauty had been lost, and there had been no more Pleasure in the Contemplation of this Scene, which is now so delightful. One would rather chuse to run the hazard of its casual Evils, than part with that harmonious Form which has been ∥ an∥ unexhausted Source of Delight to the successive Spectators in all Ages.
Miracles.XXII. Hence we see, “That however Miracles may prove the Superintendency of a voluntary Agent, and that the Universe is not guided by Necessity or Fate, yet that Mind must be weak and inadvertent, which needs them to confirm the Belief of a Wise and Good Deity; since the deviation from general Laws, unless upon very extraordinary Occasions, must be a presumption of Inconstancy and Weakness, rather than of steddy Wisdom and Power, and must weaken the best Arguments we can have for the Sagacity and Power of the universal Mind.”
Internal Sense not an immediate Source of Pain.I. We before insinuated, “That all Beauty has a relation to some perceiving Power;” and consequently since we know not ∥ how great a∥ Variety of Senses ∥ there∥ may be among Animals, there is no Form in Nature concerning which we can pronounce, “That it has no Beauty;” for it may still please some perceiving Power. But our Inquiry is confin’d to Men; and before we examine the Universality of this Sense of Beauty, or their agreement in approving Uniformity, it may be proper to consider, “∥ whether∥, as the other Senses which give us Pleasure do also give us Pain, so this Sense of Beauty does make some Objects disagreeable to us, and the occasion of Pain.”
That many Objects give no pleasure to our Sense is obvious, many are certainly void of Beauty: But then there is no Form which seems necessarily disagreeable of itself, when we dread no other Evil from it, and compare it with nothing better of the Kind. Many Objects are naturally displeasing, and distasteful to our external Senses, as well as others pleasing and agreeable; as Smells, Tastes, and some separate Sounds: ∥ but as∥ to our Sense of Beauty, no Composition of Objects which give not unpleasant simple Ideas, seems positively unpleasant or painful of it self, had we never observ’d any thing better of the Kind. Deformity is only the absence of Beauty, or deficiency in the Beauty expected in any Species: Thus bad Musick pleases Rusticks who never heard any better, and the finest Ear is not offended with tuning of Instruments if it be not too tedious, where no Harmony is expected; and yet much smaller Dissonancy shall offend amidst the Performance, where Harmony is expected. A rude Heap of Stones is no way offensive to one who shall be displeas’d with Irregularity in Architecture, where Beauty was expected. And had there been a Species of that Form which we ∥ call now∥ ugly or deform’d, and had we never seen or expected greater Beauty, we should have receiv’d no disgust from it, altho the Pleasure would not have been so great in this Form as in those we now admire. Our Sense of Beauty seems design’d to give us positive Pleasure, but not ∥ positive∥ Pain or Disgust, any further than what arises from disappointment.
Approbation and Dislike from Association of Ideas.II. There are indeed many Faces which at first View are apt to raise Dislike; but this is generally not from any ∥ positive∥ Deformity which of it self is positively displeasing, but either from want of expected Beauty, or much more from their carrying some natural indications of morally bad Dispositions, which we all acquire a Faculty of discerning in Countenances, Airs, and Gestures. That this is not occasion’d by any Form positively disgusting, will appear from this, That if upon long acquaintance we are sure of finding sweetness of Temper, Humanity and Cheerfulness, altho the bodily Form continues, it shall give us no Disgust or Displeasure; whereas ∥ if any thing was∥ naturally disagreeable, or the occasion of Pain, or positive Distaste, ∥ it∥ would always continue so, even although the Aversion we might have toward it were counterballanc’d by other Considerations. There are Horrors rais’d by some Objects, which are only the Effect of Fear for our selves, or Compassion ∥ toward∥ others, when either Reason, or some foolish Association of Ideas, makes us apprehend Danger, and not the Effect of any thing in the Form it self: for we find that most of ∥ those∥ Objects which excite Horror at first, when Experience or Reason has remov’d the Fear, may become the occasions of Pleasure; as ∥ ravenous∥ Beasts, a tempestuous Sea, a craggy Precipice, a dark shady Valley.
Associations.III. We shall see ∥ hereafter∥, “That Associations of Ideas make Objects pleasant, and delightful, which are not naturally apt to give any such Pleasures; and the same way, the casual Conjunctions of Ideas may give a Disgust, where there is nothing disagreeable in the Form it self.” And this is the occasion of many fantastick Aversions to Figures of some Animals, and to some other Forms: Thus ∥ Swines∥, Serpents of all Kinds, and some Insects really beautiful enough, are beheld with Aversion by many People, who have got some accidental Ideas associated to them. And for Distastes of this Kind, ∥ no∥ other Account can be given.
Universality of this Sense.IV. But as to the universal Agreement of Mankind in their Sense of Beauty from Uniformity amidst Variety, we must consult Experience: and as we allow all Men Reason, since all Men are capable of understanding simple Arguments, tho few are capable of complex Demonstrations; so in this Case it must be sufficient to prove this Sense of Beauty universal, “if all Men are better pleas’d with Uniformity in the simpler Instances than the contrary, even when there is no Advantage observ’d attending it; and likewise if all Men, according as their Capacity enlarges, so as to receive and compare more complex Ideas, ∥ have a greater∥ Delight in Uniformity, and are pleas’d with its more complex Kinds, both Original and Relative.”
Now let us consider if ever any Person was void of this Sense in ∥ the∥ simpler Instances. Few Trials have been made in the simplest Instances of Harmony, because as soon as we find an Ear ∥ incapable∥ of relishing complex Compositions, such as our Tunes are, no further Pains are employ’d about such. But in Figures, did ever any Man make choice of a Trapezium, or any irregular Curve, for the Ichnography ∥ or Plan∥ of his House, without Necessity, or some great Motive of ∥ Convenience∥? or to make the opposite Walls not parallel, or unequal in Height? Were ever Trapeziums, irregular Polygons or Curves chosen for the Forms of Doors or Windows, tho these Figures might have answer’d the Uses as well, and would have often sav’d a great part of the ∥ Time, Labour∥ and Expence to Workmen, which is now employ’d in suiting the Stones and Timber to the regular Forms? Among all the fantastick Modes of Dress, none was ever quite void of Uniformity, if it were only in the resemblance of the two Sides of the same Robe, and in some general Aptitude to the human Form. The Pictish Painting had always relative Beauty by resemblance to other Objects, and often those Objects were originally beautiful: however justly we ∥ might∥ apply Horace’s Censure of impertinent Descriptions in Poetry.
Sed non erat his locus ———
But never were any so extravagant as to affect such Figures as are made by the casual spilling of liquid Colours. Who was ever pleas’d with an inequality of Heights in Windows of the same Range, or dissimilar Shapes of them? with unequal Legs or Arms, ∥ Eyes∥ or Cheeks in a Mistress? It must ∥ however be∥ acknowledg’d, “That Interest ∥ may often∥ counterballance our Sense of Beauty in this Affair as well as in others, and superior good Qualitys may make us overlook such Imperfections.”
Real Beauty alone pleases.V. Nay further, it may perhaps appear, “That Regularity and Uniformity are so copiously diffus’d thro the Universe, and we are so readily determin’d to pursue this as the Foundation of Beauty in Works of Art, that there is scarcely any thing ever fancy’d as Beautiful, where there is not really something of this Uniformity and Regularity.” We are indeed often mistaken in imagining that there is the greatest possible Beauty, where it is but very imperfect; but still it is some degree of Beauty which pleases, altho there may be higher Degrees which we do not observe; and our Sense acts with full Regularity when we are pleas’d, altho we are kept by a false Prejudice from pursuing Objects which would please us more.
A Goth, for instance, is mistaken, when from Education he imagines the Architecture of his country to be the most perfect: and a Conjunction of ∥ some∥ hostile Ideas, may make him have an Aversion to Roman Buildings, and study to demolish them, as some of our Reformers did the Popish Buildings, not being able to separate the Ideas of the superstitious Worship, from the Forms of the Buildings where it was practised: and yet it is still real Beauty which pleases the Goth, founded upon Uniformity amidst Variety. For the Gothick Pillars are uniform to each other, not only in their Sections, which are Lozenge-form’d; but also in their Heights and Ornaments: Their Arches are not one uniform Curve, but yet they are Segments of similar Curves, and generally equal in the same Ranges. The very Indian Buildings have some kind of Uniformity, and many of the Eastern nations, tho they differ much from us, yet have great ∥ Regularity∥ in their Manner, as well as the Romans in theirs. Our Indian Screens, which wonderfully supply ∥ the regular Imaginations of our Ladys∥ with Ideas of Deformity, in which Nature is very churlish and sparing, do want indeed all the Beauty arising from Proportion of Parts, and Conformity to Nature; and yet they cannot divest themselves of all Beauty and Uniformity in the separate Parts: And this diversifying the human Body into various Contortions, may give some wild Pleasure from Variety, since some Uniformity to the human Shape is still retain’d.
History pleases in like manner.VI. There is one sort of Beauty which might perhaps have been better mention’d before, but will not be impertinent here, because the Taste or Relish of it is universal in all Nations, and with the Young as well as the Old, and that is the Beauty of History. Every one knows how dull a Study it is to read over a Collection of Gazettes, which shall perhaps relate all the same Events with the Historian: The superior Pleasure then of History must arise, like that of Poetry, from the Manners; ∥ as∥ when we see a Character well drawn, wherein we find the secret Causes of a great Diversity of seemingly inconsistent Actions; or an Interest of State laid open, or an artful View nicely unfolded, the Execution of which influences very different and opposite Actions, as the Circumstances may alter. Now this reduces the whole to an Unity of Design at least: And this may be observ’d in the very Fables which entertain Children, otherwise we cannot make them relish them.
VII. What has been said will probably be assented to, if we always remember in our Inquirys into the Universality of the Sense of Beauty, “That there may be real Beauty, where there is not the greatest; and that there are an Infinity of different Forms which ∥ may∥ all have some Unity, and yet differ from each other.” So that Men may have different Fancys of Beauty, and yet Uniformity be the universal Foundation of our Approbation of any Form whatsoever as Beautiful. And we shall find that it is so in the Architecture, Gardening, Dress, Equipage, and Furniture of Houses, even among the most uncultivated Nations; where Uniformity still pleases, without any other Advantage than the Pleasure of the Contemplation of it.
Diversity of Judgments concerning our Senses.VIII. It will deserve our Consideration on this Subject, how, in like Cases, we form very different Judgments concerning the internal and external Senses. Nothing is more ordinary among those, who after Mr. Locke have ∥ shaken off the groundless Opinions about∥ innate Ideas, than to alledge, “That all our Relish for Beauty, and Order, is either from ∥ prospect of Advantage,∥ Custom, or Education,” for no other Reason but the Variety of Fancys in the World: and from this they conclude, “That our Fancys do not arise from any natural Power of Perception, or Sense.” And yet all allow our external Senses to be Natural, and that the Pleasures or Pains of their Sensations, however they may be increas’d, or diminish’d, by Custom, or Education, and counterballanc’d by Interest, yet are really antecedent to Custom, Habit, Education, or Prospect of Interest. Now it is certain, “That there is at least as great a variety of Fancys about their Objects, as the Objects of Beauty:” Nay it is much more difficult, and perhaps impossible, to bring the Fancys or Relishes of the external Senses to any general Foundation at all, or to find any Rule for the agreeable or disagreeable: and yet we all allow “that these are natural Powers of Perception.”
The Reason of it.IX. The Reason of this different Judgment can be no other than this, That we have got distinct Names for the external Senses, and none, or very few, for the Internal; and by this are led, as in many other Cases, to look upon the former as some way more fix’d, and real and natural, than the latter. The Sense of Harmony has got its Name, ∥ viz.∥ a good Ear; and we are generally brought to acknowledge this a natural Power of Perception, or a Sense some way distinct from Hearing: now it is certain, “That there is as necessary a Perception of Beauty upon the presence of regular Objects, as of Harmony upon hearing certain Sounds.”
An internal Sense does not presuppose innate Ideas.X. But let it be observ’d here once for all, “That an internal Sense no more presupposes an innate Idea, or Principle of Knowledge, than the external.” Both are natural Powers of Perception, or Determinations of the Mind to receive necessarily certain Ideas from the presence of Objects. The internal Sense is, a passive Power of receiving Ideas of Beauty from all Objects in which there is Uniformity amidst Variety. Nor does there seem any thing more difficult in this matter, than that the Mind should be always determin’d to receive the Idea of Sweet, when Particles of such a Form enter the Pores of the Tongue; or to have the Idea of Sound upon any quick Undulation of the Air. The one seems to have as little Connection with its Idea, as the other: And the same Power could with equal ease constitute the former the occasion of Ideas as the latter.
Associations Cause of Disagreement.XI. The Association of Ideas above hinted at, is one great Cause of the apparent Diversity of Fancys in the Sense of Beauty, as well as in the external Senses; and often makes Men have an aversion to Objects of Beauty, and a liking to others void of it, but under different Conceptions than those of Beauty or Deformity. And here it may not be improper to give some Instances of some of these Associations. The Beauty of Trees, their cool Shades, and their Aptness to conceal from Observation, have made Groves and Woods the usual Retreat to those who love Solitude, especially to the Religious, the Pensive, the Melancholy, and the Amorous. And do not we find that we have so join’d the Ideas of these Dispositions of Mind with those external Objects, that they always recur to us along with them? The Cunning of the Heathen Priests might make such obscure Places the Scene of the fictitious Appearances of their Deitys; and hence we join Ideas of something Divine to them. We know the like Effect in the Ideas of our Churches, from the perpetual use of them only in religious Exercises. The faint Light in Gothick Buildings has had the same Association of a very foreign Idea, which our Poet shews in his Epithet,
——— A Dim religious Light.
In like manner it is known, That often all the Circumstances of Actions, or Places, or Dresses of Persons, or Voice, or Song, which have occur’d at any time together, when we were strongly affected by any Passion, will be so connected that any one of these will make all the rest recur. And this is often the occasion both of great Pleasure and Pain, Delight and Aversion to many Objects, which of themselves might have been perfectly indifferent to us: but these Approbations, or Distastes, are remote from the Ideas of Beauty, being plainly different Ideas.
Musick, how it pleases differently.XII. There is also another Charm in Musick to various Persons, which is distinct from the Harmony, and is occasion’d by its raising agreeable Passions. The human Voice is obviously vary’d by all the stronger Passions; now when our Ear discerns any resemblance between the Air of a Tune, whether sung or play’d upon an Instrument, either in its Time, or ∥ Modulation,∥ or any other Circumstance, to the sound of the human Voice in any Passion, we shall be touch’d by it in a very sensible manner, and have Melancholy, Joy, Gravity, Thoughtfulness excited in us by a sort of Sympathy or Contagion. The same Connexion is observable between the very Air of a Tune, and the Words expressing any Passion which we have heard it fitted to, so that they shall both recur to us together, tho but one of them affects our Senses.
Now in such a diversity of pleasing or displeasing Ideas which may be ∥ join’d∥ with Forms of Bodys, or Tunes, when Men are of such different Dispositions, and prone to such a variety of Passions, it is no wonder “that they should often disagree in their Fancys of Objects, even altho their Sense of Beauty and Harmony were perfectly uniform;” because many other Ideas may either please or displease, according to Persons Tempers, and past Circumstances. We know how agreeable a very wild Country may be to any Person who has spent the chearful Days of his Youth in it, and how disagreeable very beautiful Places may be, if they were the Scenes of his Misery. And this may help us in many Cases to account for the Diversitys of Fancy, without denying the Uniformity of our internal Sense of Beauty.
XIII. Grandeur and Novelty are two Ideas different from Beauty, which often recommend Objects to us. The Reason of this is foreign to the present Subject. See Spectator No. 412.
I. Custom, Education, and Example are so often alledg’d in this Affair, as the occasion of our Relish for beautiful Objects, and for our Approbation of, or Delight in a certain Conduct in Life, in a moral ∥ Sense∥, that it is necessary to examine these three particularly, to make it appear “that there is a natural Power of Perception, or Sense of Beauty in Objects, antecedent to all Custom, Education, or Example.”
Custom gives no new Sense.II. Custom, as distinct from the other two, operates in this manner. As to Actions, it only gives a disposition to the Mind or Body more easily to perform those Actions which have been frequently repeated, but never leads us to apprehend them under any other View than what we were capable of apprehending them under at first; nor gives us any new Power of Perception about them. We are naturally capable of Sentiments of Fear, and Dread of any powerful Presence; and so Custom may connect the Ideas of religious Horror to certain Buildings: but ∥ Custom could never∥ have made a Being naturally incapable of Fear, receive such Ideas. So had we no other Power of perceiving, or forming Ideas of Actions, but as they were advantageous or disadvantageous, Custom could only have made us more ready at perceiving the Advantage or Disadvantage of Actions. But this is not to our present Purpose.
As to our Approbation of, or Delight in external Objects. When the Blood or Spirits of which Anatomists talk are rouz’d, quicken’d, or fermented as they call it, in any agreeable manner by Medicine or Nutriment; or any Glands frequently stimulated to Secretion; it is certain that to preserve the Body easy, we ∥ shall∥ delight in Objects of Taste which of themselves are not immediately pleasant to ∥ it∥, if they promote that agreeable State which the Body had been accustom’d to. Further, Custom will so alter the State of the Body, that what at first rais’d uneasy Sensations will cease to do so, or perhaps raise another agreeable Idea of the same Sense; but Custom can never give us any Idea of ∥ a Sense different from those∥ we had antecedent to it: It will never make the Blind approve Objects as coloured, or those who have no Taste approve Meats as delicious, however they might ∥ approve them as∥ Strengthning or Exhilarating. Were our Glands and the Parts about them void of Feeling, did we perceive no Pleasure from certain brisker Motions in the Blood, ∥ Custom could never∥ make stimulating or intoxicating Fluids or Medicines agreeable, when they were not so to the Taste: So by like Reasoning, had we no natural Sense of Beauty from Uniformity, Custom could never have made us imagine any Beauty in Objects; if we had had no Ear, Custom could never have given us the Pleasures of Harmony. When we have these natural Senses antecedently, Custom may make us capable of extending our Views further, and of receiving more complex Ideas of Beauty in Bodys, or Harmony in Sounds, by increasing our Attention and quickness of Perception. But however Custom may increase our Power of receiving or comparing complex Ideas, yet it seems rather to weaken than strengthen the Ideas of Beauty, or the Impressions of Pleasure from regular Objects; else how ∥ is∥ it possible that any Person could go into the open Air on a sunny Day, or clear Evening, without the most extravagant Raptures, such as Milton represents our Ancestor in upon his first Creation? For such any Person would certainly fall into, upon the first Representation of such a Scene.
Custom in like manner ∥ may∥ make it easier for any Person to discern the Use of a complex Machine, and approve it as advantageous; but he would never have imagin’d it Beautiful, had he no natural Sense of Beauty. Custom may make us quicker in apprehending the Truth of complex Theorems, but we all find the Pleasure or Beauty of Theorems as strong at first as ever. Custom makes us more capable of retaining and comparing complex Ideas, so as to discern more complicated Uniformity, which escapes the Observation of Novices in any Art; but all this presupposes a natural Sense of Beauty in Uniformity: for had there been nothing in Forms, which was constituted ∥ the necessary∥ occasion of Pleasure to our Senses, no Repetition of indifferent Ideas as to Pleasure or Pain, Beauty or Deformity, could ever have made them grow pleasing or displeasing.
Nor Education.III. The Effect of Education is this, that thereby we receive many speculative Opinions, ∥ which are∥ sometimes true and sometimes false; and are often led to believe that Objects may be naturally apt to give Pleasure or Pain to our external Senses, ∥ which in reality have∥ no such Qualitys. And further, by Education there are some strong Associations of Ideas without any Reason, by mere Accident sometimes, as well as by Design, which it is very hard for us ever after to break asunder. Thus Aversions are rais’d to Darkness, and to many kinds of ∥ Meat∥, and to certain innocent Actions: Approbations without Ground are rais’d in like manner. But in all these Instances, Education never makes us apprehend any Qualitys in Objects, which we have not naturally Senses capable of perceiving. We know what Sickness of the Stomach is, and may without Ground believe that very healthful Meats will raise this; we by our Sight and Smell receive disagreeable Ideas of the Food of Swine, and their Styes, and perhaps cannot prevent the recurring of these Ideas at Table: but never were Men naturally Blind prejudic’d against Objects as of a disagreeable Colour, or in favour of others as of a beautiful Colour; they ∥ perhaps hear∥ Men dispraise one Colour, ∥ and may∥ imagine this Colour to be some quite different sensible Quality of the other Senses∥ , but that is all∥: And the same way, a Man naturally void of Taste could by no Education receive the Ideas of Taste, or be prejudic’d in favour of Meats as delicious: So, had we no natural Sense of Beauty and Harmony, we ∥ could never∥ be prejudic’d in favour of Objects or Sounds as Beautiful or Harmonious. Education may make an unattentive Goth imagine that his Countrymen have attain’d the Perfection of Archi-tecture; and an Aversion to their Enemys the Romans, may have join’d some disagreeable Ideas to their very Buildings, and excited them to their Demolition; but he had never form’d these Prejudices, had he been void of a Sense of Beauty. Did ever blind Men debate whether Purple or Scarlet were the finer Colour? or could any Education prejudice them in favour of either as Colours?
Thus Education and Custom may influence our internal Senses, where they are antecedently, by enlarging the Capacity of our Minds to retain and compare the Parts of complex Compositions: And ∥ then∥ if the finest Objects are presented to us, we grow conscious of a Pleasure far superior to what common Performances excite. But all this presupposes our Sense of Beauty to be natural. Instruction in Anatomy, Observation of Nature, and of those Airs of the Countenance and Attitudes of Body, which accompany any Sentiment, Action, or Passion, may enable us to know where there is a just Imitation: but why should an exact Imitation please upon Observation, if we had not naturally a Sense of Beauty in it, more than the observing the Situation of fifty or a hundred Pebbles thrown at random? and should we ∥ observe∥ them ever so often, we ∥ should∥ never dream of their growing Beautiful.
Prejudices how removed.IV. There is something worth our Observation as to the manner of rooting out the Prejudices of Education, not quite foreign to the present purpose. When the Prejudice arises from Associations of Ideas without any natural Connection, we must frequently force our selves to bear Representations of those Objects, or the Use of them when separated from the disagreeable Idea; and this may at last disjoin the unreasonable Association, especially if we can join new agreeable Ideas to them: Thus Opinions of Superstition are best remov’d by pleasant Conversation of Persons we esteem for their Virtue, or ∥ by observing that they∥ despise such Opinions. But when the Prejudice arises from an Apprehension or Opinion of natural Evil, as the Attendant, or Consequent of any Object or Action; if the Evil be apprehended to be the constant and immediate Attendant, a few Trials without receiving any Damage will remove the Prejudice, as in that against Meats: But where the Evil is not represented as the perpetual Concomitant, but as what may possibly or probably at some time or other accompany the use of the Object, there must be frequent Reasoning with our selves, or a long Series of Trials without any Detriment, to remove the Prejudice; such is the Case of our Fear of Spirits in the dark, and in Church-yards. And when the Evil is represented as the Consequence perhaps a long time after, or in a future State, it is then hardest of all to remove the Prejudice; and this is only to be effected by slow Processes of Reason, because in this Case there can be no Trials made: and this is the Case of superstitious Prejudices against Actions apprehended as offensive to the Deity; and hence it is that they are so hard to be rooted out.
Example not the Cause of internal Sense.V. Example seems to operate in this manner. We are conscious that we act very much for Pleasure, or private Good; and ∥ are thereby∥ led to imagine that others do so too: hence we conclude there must be some Perfection in the Objects which we see others pursue, and Evil in those which we observe them constantly shunning. Or, the Example of others may serve to us as so many Trials to remove the Apprehension of Evil in Objects ∥ to which we had an Aversion∥. But all this is done upon an Apprehension of Qualitys perceivable by the Senses which we have; for no Example will induce the Blind or Deaf to pursue Objects as Colour’d or Sonorous; nor could Example any more engage us to pursue Objects as Beautiful or Harmonious, had we no ∥ natural Sense of Beauty or Harmony∥.
Example may make us ∥ conclude without Examination,∥ that our Countrymen have obtain’d the Perfection of Beauty in their Works, or that there is less Beauty in the Orders of Architecture or Painting us’d in other Nations, and so content our selves with very imperfect Forms. ∥ And∥ Fear of Contempt as void of Taste or Genius, ∥ often∥ makes us join in approving the Performances of the reputed Masters in our Country, and restrains those who have naturally a fine Genius, or the internal Senses very acute, from studying to obtain the greatest Perfection; it makes also those of a bad Taste pretend ∥ to∥ ∥ a∥ Perception of ∥ Beauty∥ ∥ which in reality they have not∥: But all this presupposes some natural Power of receiving Ideas of Beauty and Harmony. Nor can Example effect any thing further, unless it be to lead Men to pursue Objects by implicit Faith, for some Perfection which the Pursuer is conscious he does not know, or which perhaps is some very different Quality from the Idea perceiv’d by those of a good Taste in such Affairs.
Importance of the internal Senses.I. The busy part of Mankind may look upon these things as airy Dreams of an inflam’d Imagination, which a wise Man should despise, who rationally pursues more solid Possessions independent on Fancy: but a little Reflection will convince us, “That the Gratifications of our internal Senses are as natural, real, and satisfying Enjoyments as any sensible Pleasure whatsoever; and that they are the chief Ends for which we commonly pursue Wealth and Power.” For how is Wealth or Power advantageous? How do they make us happy, or prove good to us? No otherwise than as they supply Gratifications to our Senses or Facultys of perceiving Pleasure. Now, are these Senses or Facultys only the External ones? No: Every body sees, that a small portion of Wealth or Power will supply more Pleasures of the external Senses than we can enjoy; we know that Scarcity often heightens these Perceptions more than A-bundance, which cloys that Appetite which is necessary to all Pleasure in Enjoyment: and hence the Poet’s Advice is perfectly just;
——— Tu pulmentaria quaere Sudando ———
In short, the only use of a great Fortune, above a very small one (except in good Offices and moral Pleasures) must be to supply us with the Pleasures of Beauty, Order, and Harmony.
∥aIt is true indeed, that ∥bthe Enjoyment ofb∥ the ∥cnoblestc∥ Pleasures of the internal Senses, in the Contemplation of the Works of Nature, ∥disd∥ expos’d to every one without Expence; the Poor and the Low, may have as free ∥eae∥ use of these Objects, in this way, as the Wealthy or Powerful. And even in Objects which may be appropriated, the Property is of little Consequence to the Enjoyment of their Beauty, which is often enjoy’d by others beside the Proprietor. But then there are other Objects of these internal Senses, which require Wealth, or Power to procure the use of them as frequently as we desire; as appears in Architecture, Musick, Gardening, Painting, Dress, Equipage, Furniture; of which we cannot have the full Enjoyment without Property. And there are some confus’d Imaginations, which often lead us to pursue Property, even in Objects where it is not necessary to the true Enjoyment of them. These are the ultimate Motives of our pursuing the greater Degrees of Wealth, where there are no generous Intentions of virtuous Actions.a∥
This is confirm’d by the constant Practice of the very Enemys to these Senses. As soon as they think they are got above the World, or extricated from the Hurrys of Avarice and Ambition; banish’d Nature will return upon them, and set them upon Pursuits of Beauty and Order in their Houses, Gardens, Dress, Table, Equipage. They are never easy without some degree of this; and were their Hearts open to our View, we should see Regularity, Decency, Beauty, as what their Wishes terminate upon, either to themselves or their Posterity; and what their Imagination is always presenting to them as the possible ∥ Effects∥ of their Labours. Nor without this, could they ever justify their Pursuits to themselves.
There may perhaps be some Instances of human Nature perverted into a thorow Miser, who loves nothing but Money, and whose Fancy arises no higher than the cold dull Thought of Possession; but such an Instance in an Age, must not be made the Standard of Mankind against the whole Body.
If we examine the Pursuits of the Luxurious, who ∥ in the opinion of the World is∥ wholly devoted to his Belly; we shall generally find that the far greater part of his Expence is employ’d to procure other Sensations than those of Taste; such as fine Attendants, regular Apartments, Services of Plate, and the like. ∥ Besides∥, a large share of the Preparation must be suppos’d design’d for some sort of generous friendly Purposes, ∥ as∥ to please Acquaintance, Strangers, Parasites. How few would be contented to enjoy the same Sensations alone, in a Cottage, or out of earthen Pitchers? To conclude this Point, however these internal Sensations may be overlook’d in our Philosophical Inquirys about the human Facultys, we shall find in Fact, “That they employ us more, and are more efficacious in Life, either to our Pleasure, or Uneasiness, than all our external Senses taken together.”
Final Cause of the internal Senses.II. As to the final Causes of this internal Sense, we need not enquire, “whether, to an almighty and all-knowing Being, there be any real Excellence in regular Forms, in acting by general Laws, in knowing by Theorems?” We seem scarce capable of answering such Questions any way; nor need we enquire, “whether other Animals may not discern Uniformity and Regularity in Objects which escape our Observation, and may not perhaps have their Senses constituted so as to perceive Beauty, from the same Foundation which we do, in Objects which our Senses are not ∥ fit∥ to examine or compare?” We shall confine our selves to a Subject where we have some certain ∥ Foundation∥ to go upon, and only enquire, “if we can find any Reasons worthy of the great Author of Nature, for making such a Connection between regular Objects, and the Pleasure which accompanys our Perceptions of them; or, what Reasons might possibly influence him to create the World, as it at present is, as far as we can observe, every where full of Regularity and Uniformity?”
Let it be here observ’d, that as far as we know ∥ concerning∥ any of the great Bodys of the Universe, we see Forms and Motions really Beautiful to our Senses; and if we were plac’d in any Planet, the apparent Courses would still be Regular and Uniform, and consequently Beautiful to ∥ our Sense∥. Now this gives us no small Ground to imagine, that if the Senses of their Inhabitants are in the same manner adapted to their Habitations, and the Objects occurring to their View, as ours are here, their Senses must be upon the same general Foundation with ours.
But to return to the Questions: What occurs to resolve them, may be contain’d in the following Propositions.
1. The manner of Knowledge by universal Theorems, and of Operation by universal Causes, as far as we can attain ∥ it,∥ must be most convenient for Beings of limited Understanding and Power; since this prevents Distraction in their Understandings thro the Multiplicity of Propositions, and Toil and Weariness to their Powers of Action: and consequently their Reason, without any Sense of Beauty, must approve of such Methods when they reflect upon their apparent Advantage.
2. Those Objects of Contemplation in which there is Uniformity amidst Variety, are more distinctly and easily comprehended and retain’d, than irregular Objects; because the accurate Observation of one or two Parts often leads to the Knowledge of the Whole: Thus we can from a Pillar or two, with an intermediate Arch, and Cornice, form a distinct Idea of a whole regular Building, if we know of what Species it is, and have its Length and Breadth: From a Side and solid Angle, we have the whole regular Solid; the measuring one Side, gives the whole Square; one Radius, the whole ∥ Circle∥; two Diameters, an Oval; one Ordinate and Abscissa, the Parabola; ∥ and so on in more complex Figures which have any Regularity, which can be entirely determin’d and known in every Part∥ from a few Data: Whereas it must be a long Attention to a vast Multiplicity of Parts, which can ascertain or fix the Idea of any irregular Form, or give any distinct Idea of it, or make us capable of retaining it; as appears in the Forms of rude Rocks, and Pebbles, and confus’d Heaps, even when the Multitude of sensible Parts is not so great as in the regular Forms: for such irregular Objects distract the Mind with Variety, since for every sensible Part we must have a quite different Idea.
3. From ∥ these∥ two Propositions it follows, “That Beings of limited Understanding and Power, if they act rationally for their own Interest, must chuse to operate by the simplest Means, to invent general Theorems, and to study regular Objects, if they be ∥ as useful as∥ irregular ones; that they may avoid the endless Toil of producing each Effect by a separate Operation, of searching ∥ out∥ each different Truth by a different Inquiry, and of imprinting the endless Variety of dissimilar Ideas in irregular Objects.”
4. But then, beside this Consideration of Interest, there does not appear to be any necessary Connection, ∥ antecedent∥ to the Constitution of the Author of Nature, ∥ between∥ regular Forms, Actions, Theorems, and that sudden sensible Pleasure excited in us upon observation of them, even when we do not reflect upon the Advantage mention’d in the former Proposition. And possibly, the Deity could have form’d us so as to have receiv’d ∥ no∥ Pleasure from such ∥ Objects∥, or connected Pleasure to those of a quite contrary Nature. We have a tolerable Presumption of this in the Beautys of various Animals; they give some small Pleasure indeed to every one who views them, but then every ∥ one∥ seems ∥ vastly∥ more delighted with ∥ the peculiar Beautys of its own Species, than with those of a different one,∥ which seldom raise any desire ∥ but among Animals of the same Species with the one admir’d∥. This makes it probable, that the Pleasure is not the necessary Result of the Form it self, otherwise it would equally affect all Apprehensions in what Species soever∥ ; but depends upon a voluntary Constitution,∥ adapted to preserve the Regularity of the Universe, and is probably not the Effect of Necessity but Choice in the Supreme Agent, who constituted our Senses.
From the divine Goodness.5. Now from the whole we may conclude, “That supposing the Deity so kind as to connect sensible Pleasure with certain Actions or Contemplations, beside the rational Advantage perceivable in them; there is a great moral Necessity, from his Goodness, that the internal Sense of Men should be constituted as it is at present, so as to make Uniformity amidst Variety the Occasion of Pleasure.” For were it not so, but on the contrary, if irregular Objects, particular Truths, and Operations pleased us, beside the endless Toil this would involve us in, there must arise a perpetual Dissatisfaction in all rational Agents with themselves; since Reason and Interest would lead us to simple general Causes, while a contrary Sense of Beauty would make us disapprove them: Universal Theorems would appear to our Understanding the best Means of increasing our Knowledge of what might be useful; while a contrary Sense would set us on the search after ∥ particular∥ Truths: Thought and Reflection would recommend Objects with Uniformity amidst Variety, and yet this perverse Instinct would involve us in Labyrinths of Confusion and Dissimilitude. And hence we see “how suitable it is to the sagacious Bounty which we suppose in the Deity, to constitute our internal Senses in the manner in which they are; by which Pleasure is join’d to the Contemplation of those Objects which a finite Mind can best imprint and retain the Ideas of with the least Distraction; to those Actions which are most efficacious, and fruitful in useful Effects; and to those Theorems which most enlarge our Minds.”
Reason of general Laws.III. As to the other Question, “What Reason might influence the Deity, whom no ∥ Diversity∥ of Operation could distract or weary, to chuse to operate by simplest Means and general Laws, and to diffuse Uniformity, Proportion and Similitude thro all the Parts of Nature which we can observe?” Perhaps there may be some real Excellence in this Manner of Operation, and in these Forms, which we know not: but this we may probably say, that since the divine Goodness, for the Reasons above mention’d, has constituted our Sense of Beauty as it is at present, the same Goodness might ∥ determine∥ the Great Architect to adorn this ∥ vast∥ Theatre in ∥ a manner∥ agreeable to the Spectators, and that part which is expos’d to the Observation of Men, so as to be pleasant to them; especially if we suppose that he design’d to discover himself to them as Wise and Good, as well as Powerful: for thus he has given them greater Evidences, thro the whole Earth, of his Art, Wisdom, Design, and Bounty, than they can possibly have for the Reason, Counsel, and Good-will of their fellow-Creatures, with whom they converse, with full Persuasion of ∥ these qualities in them, about∥ their common Affairs.
As to the Operations of the Deity by general Laws, there is ∥ still a further Reason from a Sense∥ superior to these already consider’d, even that of Virtue, or the Beauty of Action, which is the Foundation of our greatest Happiness. For were there no general Laws fix’d in the Course of Nature, there could be no Prudence or Design in Men, no rational Expectation of Effects from Causes, no Schemes of Action projected, ∥ or∥ any regular Execution. If then, according to the Frame of our Nature, our greatest happiness must depend upon our Actions, as it may perhaps be made appear it does, “The Universe must be govern’d, not by particular Wills, but by general Laws, upon which we can found our Expectations, and project our Schemes of Action.” ∥aNay further, tho general Laws did ordinarily obtain, yet if the Deity usually stopp’d their ∥bEf-fectsb∥ whenever it was necessary to prevent any particular Evils; this would effectually, ∥cand justlyc∥ supersede all human Prudence and Care about Actions; since a superior Mind did thus relieve Men from their Charge.a∥
∥ The End of the First Treatise.∥
—Hor. Sat. 6. Lib. 2. v. 72.∥
Moral Good and Evil.The Word Moral Goodness, ∥ in this Treatise,∥ denotes our Idea of some Quality apprehended in Actions, which procures Approbation, ∥ and Love toward the Actor, from those who receive no Advantage by the Action.∥ Moral Evil, denotes our Idea of a contrary Quality, which excites ∥ Aversion, and Dislike toward the Actor, even from Persons unconcern’d in its natural Tendency.∥ We must be contented with these imperfect Descriptions, until we discover ∥ whether we really have such Ideas, and what general Foundation there is in Nature for∥ this Dif-ference of Actions, as morally Good or Evil.
These Descriptions seem to contain an universally acknowledg’d Difference of Moral Good and Evil, from Natural. All Men who speak of moral Good, acknowledge that it procures ∥ Love∥ toward those we apprehend possess’d of it; whereas natural Good does not. In this matter Men must consult their own Breasts. How differently are they affected toward ∥ those∥ they suppose possess’d of Honesty, Faith, Generosity, Kindness∥ , even when they expect no Benefit from these admir’d Qualitys∥; and those who are possess’d of the natural Goods, such as Houses, Lands, Gardens, Vineyards, Health, Strength, Sagacity? We shall find that we necessarily love and approve the Possessors of the former; but the Possession of the latter procures no ∥ Love∥ at all toward the Possessor, but often contrary Affections of Envy and Hatred. In the same manner, whatever Quality we apprehend to be morally Evil, raises our ∥ Hatred∥ toward the Person in whom we observe it, such as Treachery, Cruelty, Ingratitude∥ , even when they are no way hurtful to our selves∥; whereas we heartily love, esteem and pity many who are expos’d to natural Evils, such as Pain, Poverty, Hunger, Sickness, Death∥ , even when we our selves suffer Inconveniencies, by these natural Evils of others∥.
Now the first Question on this Subject is, “Whence arise these different Ideas of Actions.”
Interest. Advantage.Because we shall afterwards frequently use the Words Interest, Advantage, natural Good, it is necessary here to fix their Ideas. The Pleasure in our sensible Perceptions of any kind, gives us our first Idea of natural Good, or Happiness; and then all Objects which are apt to excite this Pleasure are call’d immediately Good. Those Objects which may procure others immediately pleasant, are call’d Advantageous: and we pursue both Kinds from a View of Interest, or from Self-Love.
Our Sense of Pleasure is antecedent to Advantage or Interest, and is the Foundation of ∥ it∥. We do not perceive Pleasure in Objects, because it is our Interest to do so; but Objects or Actions are Advantageous, and are pursu’d or undertaken from Interest, because we receive Pleasure from them. Our Perception of Pleasure is necessary, and nothing is Advantageous or naturally Good to us, but what is apt to raise Pleasure mediately, or ∥ immediately. Such∥ Objects as we know, either from Experience of Sense, or Reason, to be immediately, or mediately Advantageous, or apt to minister Pleasure, we ∥ are said to∥ pursue from Self-Interest, when our Intention is only to enjoy this Pleasure, which they have the Power of exciting. Thus Meats, Drink, Harmony, fine Prospects, Painting, Statues, are perceiv’d by our Senses to be immediately Good; and our Reason shews Riches and Power to be mediately so, that is, apt to furnish us with Objects of immediate Pleasure: and both Kinds of these natural Goods are pursu’d from Interest, or Self-Love.
Opinions about our Sense of moral Good and Evil.Now the greatest part of our latter Moralists establish it as undeniable, “That all moral Qualitys have necessarily some Relation to the Law of a Superior, of sufficient Power to make us Happy or Miserable;” and since all Laws operate only by Sanctions of Rewards, or Punishments, which determine us to Obedience by Motives of Self-Interest, they suppose, “that it is thus that Laws do constitute some Actions mediately Good, or Advantageous, and others the same way Disadvantageous.” They say indeed, “That a benevolent Legislator constitutes no Actions Advantageous to the Agent by Law, but such as in their own Nature tend to the natural Good of the Whole, or, at least, are not inconsistent with it; and that therefore we approve the Virtue of others, because it has some small Tendency to our Happiness, either from its own Nature, or from this general Consideration, That Obedience to a benevolent Legislator, is in general Advantageous to the Whole, and to us in particular; and that for the contrary Reasons alone, we disapprove the Vice of others, that is, the prohibited Action, as tending to our particular Detriment in some degree.” ∥ But∥ then they maintain, “That we are determin’d to Obedience to Laws, or deterr’d from Disobedience, merely by Motives of Self-Interest, to obtain either the natural Good arising from the commanded Action, or the Rewards promised by the Sanction; or to avoid the natural evil Consequences of Disobedience, or at least the Penaltys of the Law.”
Some other Moralists suppose “an immediate natural Good in the Actions call’d Virtuous; that is, That we are determin’d to perceive some Beauty in the Actions of others, and to love the Agent, even without reflecting upon any Advantage which can any way redound to us from the Action; that we have also a secret Sense of Pleasure ∥ accompanying∥ such of our own Actions as we call Virtuous, even when we expect no other Advantage from them.” But they alledge at the same time, “That we are excited to perform these Actions, even as we pursue, or purchase Pictures, Statues, Landskips, from Self-Interest, to obtain this Pleasure which ∥ accompanys the very Action, and which we necessarily enjoy in doing it.∥” The Design of the following Sections is to enquire into this matter; and perhaps the Reasons to be offer’d may prove,
I. “That some Actions have to Men an immediate Goodness; or, that by a superior Sense, which I call a Moral one, we ∥ perceive Pleasure in the Contemplation of such Actions in others, and are determin’d to love the Agent, (and much more do we perceive Pleasure in being conscious of having done such Actions our selves)∥ without any View of further natural Advantage from them.”
II. It may perhaps also appear, “∥ That what excites us to these Actions which we call Virtuous, is not an Intention to obtain even this sensible Pleasure∥; much less the future Rewards from Sanctions of Laws, or any other natural Good, which may be the Consequence of the virtuous Action; but an entirely different Principle of Action ∥ from Interest or Self-Love.∥”
Different Ideas of Moral and Natural Good.I. That the Perceptions of moral Good and Evil, are perfectly different from those of natural Good, or Advantage, every one must convince himself, by reflecting upon the different Manner in which he finds himself affected when these Objects occur to him. Had we no Sense of Good distinct from the Advantage or Interest arising from the external Senses, and the Perceptions of Beauty and Harmony; ∥ our Admiration and Love∥ toward a fruitful Field, or commodious Habitation, would be much the same with what we have toward a generous Friend, or any noble Character; for both are, or may be advantageous to us: And we should no more admire any Action, or love any Person in a distant Country, or Age, whose Influence could not extend to us, than we love the Mountains of Peru, while we are unconcern’d in the Spanish Trade. We should have the same Sentiments and Affections toward inanimate Beings, which we have toward rational Agents; which yet every one knows to be false. Upon Comparison, we say, “Why should we ∥ admire or love with Esteem∥ inanimate Beings? They have no Intention of Good to ∥ us∥; their Nature makes them fit for our Uses, which they neither know nor study to serve. But it is not so with rational Agents: ∥ they study our Interest, and delight in our Happiness, and are Benevolent toward us.∥”
We are all then conscious of the Difference between that ∥ Love and Esteem∥, or Perception of moral Excellence, which Benevolence excites toward the Person in whom we observe it, and that Opinion of natural Goodness, which only raises Desire of Possession toward the good Object. Now “what should make this Difference, if all Approbation, or Sense of Good be from Prospect of Advantage? Do not inanimate Objects promote our Advantage, as well as Benevolent Persons who do ∥ us∥ Offices of Kindness, and Friendship? Should we not then have the same endearing ∥ Sentiments∥ of both? or only the same cold Opinion of Advantage in both?” The Reason why it is not so, must be this, “That we have a distinct Perception of Beauty, or Excellence in the kind Affec-tions of rational Agents; whence we are determin’d to admire and love such Characters and Persons.”
In Actions done to our selves.Suppose we reap the same Advantage from two Men, one of ∥ whom∥ serves us ∥ from Delight in our Happiness, and Love toward us;∥ the other from Views of Self-Interest, or by Constraint: both are in this Case equally beneficial or advantageous to us, and yet we shall have quite different Sentiments of them. We must then certainly have other Perceptions of moral Actions than those of Advantage: And that Power of receiving these Perceptions may be call’d a Moral Sense, since the Definition agrees to it, viz. a Determination of the Mind, to receive any Idea from the Presence of an Object which occurs to us, ∥ independent∥ on our Will.∥ ∥
Of Evil, Moral and Natural.This perhaps will be equally evident from our Ideas of Evil, done to us designedly by a rational Agent. Our Senses of natural Good and Evil would make us receive, with equal Serenity and Composure, an Assault, a Buffet, an Affront from a Neighbour, a Cheat from a Partner, or Trustee, as we would an equal Damage from the Fall of a Beam, ∥ a∥ Tile, or a Tempest; and we should have the same Affections and Sentiments ∥ of both∥. Villany, Treachery, Cruelty, would be as meekly resented as a Blast, or Mildew, or an overflowing Stream. But I fancy every one is very differently affected on these Occasions, tho there may be equal natural Evil in both. Nay, Actions no way detrimental, may occasion the strongest Anger, and Indignation, if they evidence only impotent Hatred, or Contempt. And, on the other hand, the Intervention of moral Ideas may prevent our ∥ Hatred∥ of the Agent, or bad moral Apprehension of that Action, which causes to us the greatest natural Evil. Thus the Opinion of Justice in any Sentence, will prevent all Ideas of moral Evil in the Execution, or Hatred toward the Magistrate, who is the immediate Cause of our greatest Sufferings.
In Actions toward others.II. In our Sentiments of Actions ∥ which affect∥ our selves, there is indeed a Mixture of the Ideas of natural ∥ and moral∥ Good, which ∥ require∥ some Attention to separate ∥ them∥. But when we reflect upon the Actions ∥ which affect other Persons only,∥ we may observe the moral Ideas unmix’d with those of natural Good, or Evil. For let it be here observ’d, that those Senses by which we perceive Pleasure in natural Objects, whence they are constituted Advantageous, could never raise in us any Desire of publick Good, but only of what was good to our selves in particular. Nor could they ever make us ∥ approve an∥ Action ∥ because∥ of its promoting the Happiness of others. And yet as soon as any Action is represented to us as flowing from Love, Humanity, Gratitude, Compassion, a Study of the good of others, and ∥ a Delight in∥ their Happiness, altho it were in the most distant Part of the World, or in some past Age, we feel Joy within us, admire the lovely Action, and praise its Author. And on the contrary, every Action represented as flowing ∥ from Hatred, Delight in the Misery of others∥, or Ingratitude, raises Abhorrence and Aversion.
It is true indeed, that the Actions we approve in others, are generally imagin’d to tend to the natural Good of Mankind, or ∥ of∥ some Parts of it. But whence this secret Chain between each Person and Mankind? How is my Interest connected with the most distant Parts of it? And yet I must admire ∥ Actions which are beneficial to them∥, and love the Author. Whence this Love, Compassion, Indignation and Hatred toward even feign’d Characters, in the most distant Ages, and Nations, according as they appear Kind, Faithful, Compassionate, or of the opposite Dispositions, toward their imaginary Contemporaries? If there is no moral Sense, ∥ which makes rational Actions appear Beautiful, or Deform’d∥; if all Approbation be from the Interest of the Approver,
What’s Hecuba to us, or we to Hecuba?
Moral Ideas not from Interest.III. Some refin’d Explainers of Self-Love may tell us, “That we ∥ hate, or love∥ Characters, according as we apprehend we should have been supported, or injur’d by them, had we liv’d in their Days.” But how obvious is the Answer, if we only observe, that had we no Sense of moral Good in Humanity, Mercy, Faithfulness, why should not Self-Love, ∥ and our Sense of natural Good∥ engage us always to the victorious Side, and make us admire and love the successful Tyrant, or Traitor? Why do not we love Sinon, or Pyrrhus, in the Aeneid? for had we been Greeks, these two would have been very advantageous Characters. Why are we affected with the Fortunes of Priamus, Polites, Choroebus or Aeneas? It is plain we have some secret Sense which determines our Approbation without regard to Self-Interest; otherwise we should always favour the fortunate Side without regard to Virtue ∥ , and suppose our selves engaged with that Party∥.
Suppose any great Destruction occasion’d by mere Accident, without any Design, or Negligence of the Person who casually was the Author of it: This Action might have been as disadvantageous to us as design’d Cruelty, or Malice; but who will say he has the same Idea of both Actions, or Sentiments of the ∥ Agents?∥ “Whence then this Difference?”
And further, Let us make a Supposition, which perhaps is not far from Matter of Fact, to try if we cannot approve even disadvantageous Actions, and perceive moral Good in them. A few ingenious Artisans, persecuted in their own Country, flee to ours for Protection; they instruct us in Manufactures which support Millions of Poor, ∥ increase∥ the Wealth of almost every Person in the State, and make us formidable to our Neighbours. In a Nation not far distant from us, some resolute Burgomasters, full of Love to their Country, and Compassion toward their Fellow-Citizens, opprest in Body and Soul by a Tyrant, and Inquisition, with indefatigable Diligence, public Spirit, and Courage, support a tedious perilous War against the Tyrant and form an industrious Republick, which rivals us in Trade, and almost in Power. All the World sees whether the former or the latter have been more ad-vantageous to us: and yet let every Man consult his own Breast, which of the two Characters he has the most agreeable Idea of? whether of the useful Refugee, or the public-spirited Burgomaster, by whose Love to his own Country, we have often suffer’d in our Interests? And I am confident he will find some other Foundation of Esteem than Advantage, and will see a just Reason, why the Memory of our Artisans is so obscure among us, and yet that of our Rivals is immortal.
Self-Love not the Ground of Approbation.IV. Some Moralists, who will rather twist Self-Love into a thousand Shapes, than allow any other Principle of Approbation than Interest, may tell us, “That whatever profits one Part without detriment to another, profits the Whole, and then some small Share will redound to each Individual; that those Actions which tend to the Good of the Whole, if universally perform’d, would most effectually secure to each Individual his own Happiness; and that consequently, we may approve such Actions, from the Opinion of their tending ultimately to our own Advantage.”
We need not trouble these Gentlemen to shew by their nice Train of Consequences, and Influences of Actions by way of Precedent in particular Instances, that we in this Age reap any Advantage from Orestes’s killing the treacherous Aegysthus, or from the Actions of Codrus or Decius. Allow their Reasonings to be perfectly good, they only prove, that after long Reflection, and Reasoning, we may find out some ground, ∥ even from Views of Interest, to approve the same Actions∥ which every Man admires as soon as he hears of them; and that too under a quite different Conception.
Should any of our Travellers find some old Grecian Treasure, the Miser who hid it, ∥ certainly perform’d∥ an Action more to the Traveller’s Advantage than Codrus or Orestes; for he must have but a small Share of Benefit from their Actions, whose Influence is so dispers’d, and lost in various Ages, and Nations: Surely then this Miser must appear to the Traveller a prodigious Hero in Virtue! For Self-Interest will ∥ make us only esteem Men∥ according to the Good they do to our Selves, and not give us high Ideas of public Good, but in proportion to our Share of it. But must a Man have the Reflection of Cumberland, or Puffendorf, to admire Generosity, Faith, Humanity, Gratitude? Or reason so nicely to apprehend the Evil in Cruelty, Treachery, Ingratitude? Do not the former excite our Admiration, and Love, and Study of Imitation, wherever we see them, almost at first View, without any such Reflection; and the latter, our ∥ Hatred,∥ Contempt and Abhorrence? Unhappy would it be for Mankind, if a Sense of Virtue was of as narrow an Extent, as a Capacity for such Metaphysicks.
Our Moral Sense cannot be brib’d.V. This moral Sense, either of our own Actions, or of those of others, has this in common with our other Senses, that however our Desire of Virtue may be counterballanc’d by Interest, our Sentiment or Perception of its Beauty cannot; as it certainly might be, if the only Ground of our Approbation were Views of Advantage. Let us consider this both as to our own Actions and those of others.
In judging of our own Actions.A Covetous Man shall dislike any Branch of Trade, how useful soever it may be to the Publick, if there is no Gain for himself in it; here is an Aversion from Interest. Propose a sufficient Premium, and he shall be the first who sets about it, with full Satisfaction in his own Conduct. Now is it the same way with our Sense of moral Actions? Should any one advise us to wrong a Minor, or Orphan, or to do an ungrateful Action toward a Benefactor; we at first View abhor it: Assure us that it will be very advantageous to us, propose even a Reward; our Sense of the Action is not alter’d. It is true, these Motives may make us undertake it; but they have no more Influence upon us to make us approve it, than a Physician’s Advice has to make a nauseous Potion pleasant to the Taste, when we perhaps force our selves to take it for the Recovery of Health.
Had we no Notion of Actions, beside our Opinion of their Advantage, or Disadvantage, could we ever chuse an Action as Advantageous, which we are conscious is still Evil? as it too often happens in human Affairs. Where would be the need of such high Bribes to prevail with Men to abandon the Interests of a ruin’d Party, or of Tortures to force out the Secrets of their Friends? Is it so hard to convince Mens Understandings, if that be the only Faculty we have to do with, that it is ∥ probably more∥ advantageous to secure present Gain, and avoid present Evils, by joining with the prevalent Party, than to wait for the remote Possibility of future Good, upon a Revolution often improbable, and sometimes unexpected? And when Men are overpersuaded by Advantage, do they always approve their own Conduct? Nay, how often is their remaining Life odious, and shameful, in their own Sense of it, as well as in that of others, to whom the base Action was profitable?
If any one becomes satisfy’d with his own Conduct in such a Case, upon what Ground is it? How does he please himself, or vindicate his Actions to others? Never by reflecting upon his private Advantage, or alledging this to others as a Vindication; but by gradually warping into the moral Principles of his new Party; for no Party is without them. And thus Men become pleas’d with their Actions under some Appearance of moral Good, distinct from Advantage.
Our Moral Sense not founded on Religion.It may perhaps be alledg’d, “That in those Actions of our own which we call Good, there is this constant Advantage, superior to all others, which is the Ground of our Approbation, and the Motive to them from Self-love, viz. That we suppose the Deity will reward them.” This will be more fully consider’d ∥ afterwards∥: At present it is enough to observe, that many have high Notions of Honour, Faith, Generosity, Justice, who have scarce ∥ any Opinions about the Deity, or any Thoughts of future Rewards∥; and abhor any thing which is Treacherous, Cruel, or Unjust, without any regard to future Punishments.
But further, tho these Rewards, and Punishments, may make my own Actions appear advantageous to me, ∥ and make me approve them from Self-Love,∥ yet they would never make me approve, and love another Person for the like Actions, whose Merit would not be imputed to me. Those Actions are advantageous indeed to the Agent; but his Advantage is not my Advantage: and Self-Love could never ∥ influence me to approve∥ Actions as advantageous to others, or ∥ to love∥ the Authors of them on that account.
Our Moral Sense of the Actions of others, not to be brib’d.∥ This is∥ the second thing to be consider’d, ∥ “Whether∥ our Sense of the moral Good or Evil, in the Actions of others, can be over-ballanc’d, or brib’d by Views of Interest.” ∥ Now I may indeed∥ easily be capable of wishing, that another would do an Action I abhor as morally Evil, if it were very Advantageous to me: Interest in that Case may overballance my Desire of Virtue in another. But no Interest ∥ to my self∥ will make me approve an Action as ∥ morally∥ Good, which, without that Interest to my self, would have appear’d morally Evil∥ ; if, upon computing its whole Effects, it appears to produce as great a Moment of Good in the Whole, when it is not beneficial to me, as it did before when it was. In our Sense of moral Good or Evil, our own private Advantage or Loss is of no more moment, than the Advantage or Loss of a third Person, to make an Action appear Good or Evil. This Sense therefore cannot be over-ballanc’d by Interest.∥ How ridiculous an Attempt wou’d it be, to engage a Man by Rewards, or ∥ to threaten him∥ into a good Opinion of an Action, which was contrary to his moral Notions? We may procure Dissimulation by such means, and that is all.
Not occasion’d by Praise.VI. A late witty Author says, “That the Leaders of Mankind do not really admire ∥ such Actions∥ as those of Regulus, or Decius, but only observe, that Men of such Dispositions are very useful for the Defence of any State; and therefore by Panegyricks, and Statues, they encourage such Tempers in others, as the most tractable, and useful.” Here first let us consider, If a Traitor, who would sell his own Country to us, may not often be as advantageous to us, as ∥ a∥ Hero who defends us: And yet we can love the Treason, and hate the Traitor. We can at the same time praise a gallant Enemy, who is very pernicious to us. Is there nothing in all this but an Opinion of Advantage?
Again, upon this Scheme what could a Statue or Panegyrick effect?—Men love Praise—They will do the Actions which they observe to be praised—Praise, with Men who have no other Idea of Good but Self-Interest, is the Opinion which a Nation or Party have of a Man as useful to them—Regulus, or Cato, or Decius, had no Advantage by the Actions which profited their Country, and therefore they themselves could not admire them, however the Persons who reap’d the Advantage might praise such Actions.—Regulus or Cato could not possibly praise or love another Hero for a virtuous Action; for this would not gain them the Advantage of Honour; and their own Actions they must have look’d upon as the hard Terms on which Honour was to be purchas’d, without any thing amiable in them, ∥awhich they could contemplate or reflect upon with ∥bPleasure.ab∥—Now how unlike is this to what the least Observation would teach a Man concerning such Characters?
But says he, “These wondrous cunning Governours made Men believe, by their Statues and Panegyricks, that there was publick Spirit, and that this was in it self Excellent; and hence Men are led to admire it in others, and to imitate it in themselves, forgetting the Pursuit of their own Advantage.” So easy a matter it seems to him, to quit judging of others by what we feel in our selves!—for a Person who is wholly selfish, to imagine others to be publick-spirited!—for one who has no Ideas of Good but in his own Advantage, to be led, by the Persuasions of others, into a Conception of Goodness in what is avowedly detrimental to himself, and profitable to others; nay so entirely, as not to approve the Action thorowly, ∥ but so∥ far as he was conscious that it proceeded from a disinterested Study of the Good of others!—Yet this it seems Statues and Panegyricks can accomplish!
Nil intra est oleam, nil extra est in nuce duri!
It is an easy matter for Men to assert any thing in Words; but our own Hearts must decide the Matter, “Whether some moral Actions do not at first View appear amiable, even to those who are unconcern’d in their Influence? ∥aWhether we do not ∥bsincerelyb∥ love a generous kind Friend, or Patriot, whose Actions procure Honour to him only without any Advantage to our selves?a∥” It is true, that the Actions which we approve, are useful to Mankind; but not always to the Approver. It would perhaps be useful to the Whole, that all Men agreed in performing such Actions; and then every one would have his Share of the Advantage: But this only proves, that Reason and calm Reflection may recommend to us, from Self-Interest, those Actions, which at first View our moral Sense determines us to admire, without considering this Interest. Nay, our Sense shall operate even where the Advantage to our selves does not hold. We can approve the Justice of a Sentence against our selves: A condemn’d Traitor may approve the Vigilance of a Cicero in discovering conspiracies, tho it had been for the Traitor’s Advantage, that there never had been in the World any Men of such Sagacity. To say that he may still approve such Conduct as tending to the publick Good, is a Jest from one whose only Idea of Good is Self-Interest. Such a Person has no ∥ Desire∥ of publick Good further than it tends to his own Advantage, which it does not at all in the present Case.
Nor Custom, Education, &c.VII. If what is said makes it appear, that we have some other amiable Idea of Actions than that of Advantageous to our selves, we may conclude, “That this Perception of moral Good is not deriv’d from Custom, Education, Example, or Study.” These give us no new Ideas: They might make us see ∥ Advantage to our selves∥ in Actions whose Usefulness did not at first appear; or give us Opinions of some Tendency of Actions to our Detriment, by some nice Deductions of Reason, or by a rash Prejudice, when upon the first View of the Action we should have observ’d no such thing: but they never could have made us apprehend Actions as amiable or odious, ∥ without∥ any Consideration of our own Advantage.
VIII. It remains then, “That as the Author of Nature has determin’d us to receive, by our external Senses, pleasant or disagreeable Ideas of Objects, according as they are useful or hurtful to our Bodys; and to receive from uniform Objects the Pleasures of Beauty and Harmony, to excite us to the Pursuit of Knowledge, and to reward us for it; or to be an Argument to us of his Goodness, as the Uniformity it self proves his Existence, whether we had a Sense of Beauty in Uniformity or not: ∥ in the same manner∥ he has given us a Moral Sense, to direct our Actions, and to give us still nobler Pleasures; so that while we are only intending the Good of others, we undesignedly promote our own greatest private Good.”
This Moral Sense does not infer innate Ideas or Propositions.We are not to imagine, that this moral Sense, more than the other Senses, supposes any innate ∥ Ideas,∥ Knowledge, or practical Proposition: We mean by it only a Determination of our Minds to receive ∥aamiable or disagreeable Ideas of Actions, when ∥btheyb∥ occur to our Observationa∥, ∥ antecedent∥ to any Opinions of Advantage or Loss to redound to our selves from them; even as we are pleas’d with a regular Form, or an harmonious Composition, without having any Knowledge of Mathematicks, or seeing any Advantage in that Form, or Composition, different from the immediate ∥ Pleasure.∥
∥ ∥The Motives of human Actions, or their immediate Causes, would be best understood after considering the Passions and Affections; but here we shall only consider the Springs of the Actions which we call virtuous, as far as it is necessary to settle the general Foundation of the Moral Sense.
Affections, the Motives to Actions.I. Every Action, which we apprehend as either morally good or evil, is always suppos’d to flow from some Affection toward ∥ rational Agents∥; and whatever we call Virtue or Vice, is either some such Affection, or some Action consequent upon it. Or it may perhaps be enough to make an Action, or Omission, appear vitious, if it argues the Want of such Affection toward rational Agents, as we expect in Characters counted morally good. All the Actions counted religious in any Country, are suppos’d, by those who count them ∥ so∥, to flow from some Affections toward the Deity; and whatever we call social Virtue, we still suppose to flow from Affections toward our Fellow-Creatures: for in this all seem to agree, “That external Motions, when accompany’d with no Affections toward God or Man, or evidencing no Want of the expected Affections toward either, can have no moral Good or Evil in them.”
Ask∥ , for instance,∥ the most abstemious Hermit, if Temperance of it self would be morally good, supposing it shew’d no Obedience toward the Deity, made us no fitter for Devotion, or the Service of Mankind, or the Search after Truth, than Luxury; and he will easily grant, that it would be no moral Good, tho still it might be naturally good or advantageous to Health: And mere Courage, or Contempt of Danger, if we conceive it to have no regard to the Defence of the Innocent, or repairing of Wrongs, ∥ or Self-Interest,∥ wou’d only entitle its Possessor to Bedlam. When such sort of Courage is sometimes admir’d, it is upon some secret Apprehension of a good Intention in the use of it∥ , or as a natural Ability capable of an useful Application∥. Prudence, if it ∥ was∥ only employ’d in promoting private Interest, is never imagin’d to be a Virtue: and Justice, or observing a strict Equality, if it ∥ has∥ no regard to the Good of Mankind, the Preservation of Rights, and securing Peace, is a Quality properer for its ordinary Gestamen, a Beam and Scales, than for a rational Agent. So that these four Qualitys, commonly call’d Cardinal Virtues, obtain that Name, because they are Dispositions universally necessary to promote publick Good, and denote Affections toward rational Agents; otherwise there would appear no Virtue in them.
Affections, disinterested.II. Now if it can be made appear, that none of these Affections which we ∥ call virtuous, spring from∥ Self-love, or Desire of private Interest; since all Virtue is either some such Affections, or Actions consequent upon them; it must necessarily follow, “∥ That Virtue is not pursued from the Interest or Self-love of the Pursuer, or any Motives of his own Advantage.∥”
Love of Complacence, and Hatred of Displicence.The Affections which are of most Importance in Morals, ∥ are Love and Hatred: All the rest seem but different Modifications of these two original Affections∥. Now in discoursing of Love ∥ toward rational Agents∥, we need not be caution’d not to include that Love between the Sexes, which, when no other Affections accompany it, is only Desire of Pleasure, and is never counted a Virtue. Love toward rational Agents, is subdivided into Love of Complacence or Esteem, and Love of Be-nevolence: And Hatred is subdivided into Hatred of Displicence or Contempt, and Hatred of ∥ Malice.∥ Concerning each of these separately we shall consider, “Whether they can be influenc’d by Motives of Self-Interest.”
Are entirely disinterested.∥ Love of∥ Complacence, Esteem, or Good-liking, at first view appears to be disinterested, and so ∥ the Hatred of∥ Displicence or Dislike; and are entirely excited by some moral Qualitys, Good or Evil, apprehended to be in the Objects; which Qualitys the very Frame of our Nature determines us ∥ to love or hate,∥ to approve or disapprove, according to the moral Sense above explain’d. Propose to a Man all the Rewards in the World, or threaten all the Punishments, to engage him to ∥ love with∥ Esteem, and Complacence, ∥ a third∥ Person entirely unknown, or if known, apprehended to be cruel, treacherous, ungrateful; you may procure external Obsequiousness, or good Offices, or Dissimulation ∥ of Love∥; but real ∥ Love of∥ Esteem no Price can purchase. And the same is obvious as to ∥ Hatred of∥ Contempt, which no Motive of Advantage can prevent. On the contrary, represent a Character as generous, kind, faithful, humane, tho in the most distant Parts of the World, and we cannot avoid ∥ loving it with∥ Es-teem, and Complacence. A Bribe may ∥ possibly∥ make us attempt to ruin such a Man, or some strong Motive of Advantage may excite us to oppose his Interest; but it can never make us ∥ hate∥ him, while we ∥ apprehend him as morally excellent∥. Nay, when we consult our own Hearts, we shall find, that we can scarce ever persuade our selves to attempt any Mischief against such Persons, from any Motive of Advantage, nor execute it, without the strongest Reluctance, and Remorse, until we have blinded our selves into a ∥ bad Opinion of the Person in a moral Sense∥.
Benevolence and Malice, disinterested.III. As to the Love of Benevolence, the very Name excludes Self-Interest. We never call that Man benevolent, who is in fact useful to others, but at the same time only intends his own Interest, without any ∥ desire of, or delight in,∥ the Good of others. If there be any ∥ Benevolence∥ at all, it must be disinterested; for the most useful Action imaginable, loses all appearance of Benevolence, as soon as we discern that it only flowed from Self-Love or Interest. Thus, never were any human Actions more advantageous, than the Inventions of Fire, and Iron; but if these were casual, or if the Inventor only intended his own Interest in them, there is nothing which can be call’d Benevolent in them. Wherever then Benevolence is suppos’d, there it is imagin’d disinterested, and design’d for the Good of ∥ others.∥
Self-Love join’d with Benevolence.But it must be here observ’d, That as all Men have Self-Love, as well as Benevolence, these two Principles may jointly excite a Man to the same Action; and then they are to be consider’d as two Forces impelling the same Body to Motion; sometimes they conspire, sometimes are indifferent to each other, and sometimes are in some degree opposite. Thus, if a Man have such strong Benevolence, as would have produc’d an Action without any Views of Self-Interest; that such a Man has also in View private Advantage, along with publick Good, as the Effect of his Action, does no way diminish the Benevolence of the Action. When he would not have produc’d so much publick Good, had it not been for Prospect of Self-Interest, then the Effect of Self-Love is to be deducted, and his Benevolence is proportion’d to the remainder of Good, which pure Benevolence would have produc’d. When a Man’s Benevolence is hurtful to himself, then Self-Love is opposite to Benevolence, and the Benevolence is proportion’d to the Sum of the Good produc’d, ∥ added to∥ the Resistance of Self-Love surmounted by it. In most Cases it is impossible for Men to know how far their Fellows are influenc’d by the one or other of these Principles; but yet the general Truth is sufficiently certain, That this is the way in which the Benevolence of Actions is to be computed. ∥ Since then, no Love to rational Agents can proceed from Self-Interest, every Action must be disinterested, as far as it flows from Love to rational Agents.∥
Cause of Benevolence.∥ If any enquire, “Whence arises this Love of Esteem, or Benevolence, to good Men, or to Mankind in general, if not from some nice Views of Self-Interest? Or, how we can be mov’d to desire the Happiness of others, without any View to our own?” It may be answer’d, “That the same Cause which determines us to pursue Happiness for our selves, determines us both to Esteem and Benevolence on their proper Occasions; even the very Frame of our Nature, or a generous Instinct, which shall be afterwards explain’d.”
Benevolence presupposes Esteem.IV. Here we may observe, That as Love of Esteem and Complacence is always join’d with Benevolence, where there is no strong Opposition of Interest; so Benevolence seems to presuppose some small degree of Esteem, not indeed of actual good Qualitys; for there may be strong Benevolence, where there is the Hatred of Contempt for actual Vices; as a Parent may have great Benevolence to a most abandon’d Child, whose Manners he hates with the greatest Displicence: but Benevolence supposes a Being capable of Virtue. We judge of other rational Agents by our selves. The human Nature is a lovely Form; we are all conscious of some morally good Qualitys and Inclinations in our selves, how partial and imperfect soever they may be: we presume the same of every thing in human Form, nay almost of every living Creature: so that by this suppos’d remote Capacity of Virtue, there may be some small degree of Esteem along with our Benevolence, even when they incur our greatest Displeasure by their Conduct.∥
Human Nature incapable of sedate Malice.∥ As to Malice,∥ Human Nature seems scarce capable of malicious disinterested Hatred, or a sedate ∥ Delight in∥ the Misery of others, when we imagine them no way pernicious to us, or opposite to our ∥ Interest∥: And for that Hatred which makes us oppose those whose Interests are opposite to ours, it is only the Effect of Self-Love, and not of disinterested Malice. A sudden Passion may give us wrong Representations of our Fellow-Creatures, and for a little time represent them as absolutely Evil; and during this Imagination perhaps we may give some Evidences of disinterested Malice: but as soon as we reflect upon human Nature, and form just Conceptions, this unnatural Passion is allay’d, and only Self-Love remains, which may make us, from Self-Interest, oppose our Adversarys.
Every one at present rejoices in the Destruction of our Pirates; and yet let us suppose a Band of such Villains cast in upon some desolate Island, and that we were assur’d some Fate would confine them there perpetually, so that they should disturb Mankind no more. Now let us calmly reflect that these Persons are capable of Knowledge and Counsel, may be happy, and joyful, or may be involv’d in Misery, Sorrow, and Pain; that they may return to a State of Love, Humanity, Kindness, and become Friends, Citizens, Husbands, Parents, with all the sweet Sentiments which accompany these Relations: then let us ask our selves, when Self-Love ∥ or regard to the Safety of better Men,∥ no longer makes us desire their Destruction, and when we cease to look upon them, under the Ideas suggested by fresh Resentment of Injurys done to us or our Friends, as utterly incapable of any good moral Quality; whether we ∥ would∥ wish them the Fate of Cadmus’s Army, by plunging their Swords in each others Breast, or a worse Fate by the most exquisite Tortures; or rather that they should recover the ordinary Affections of Men, become Kind, Compassionate, and Friendly; contrive Laws, Constitutions, Governments, Propertys; and form an honest happy Society, with Marriages, and
I fancy the latter would be the Wish of every Mortal, notwithstanding our present just Abhorrence ∥ of them∥ from Self-Interest, or publick Love and Desire of promoting the Interest of our Friends who are expos’d to their Fury. Now this plainly evidences, that we scarce ever have any sedate Malice against any Person, or ∥ delight in∥ his Misery. Our ∥ Hatred∥ is only from Opposition of Interest; or if we can entertain sedate Malice, it must be toward a Character apprehended necessarily and unalterably Evil in a moral Sense; such as a sudden Passion sometimes represents our Enemies to us: ∥ and∥ perhaps no such Being occurs to us among the Works of a good Deity.
Other Affections disinterested.V. ∥ Having∥ offer’d what may perhaps prove, That ∥ our Love either of Esteem, or Benevolence, is not founded on Self-Love∥, or views of Interest; let us see “if some other Affections, in which Virtue may be plac’d, do arise from Self-Love;” such as Fear, or Reverence, arising from an Apprehension of Goodness, Power, and Justice. For no body apprehends any Virtue in base Dread and Servitude toward a powerful Evil Being: This is indeed the meanest Selfishness. Now the same Arguments which prove ∥ Love of∥ Esteem to be disinterested, will prove this honourable Reverence to be so too; for it plainly arises from an Apprehension of amiable Qualitys in the Person, and Love toward him, which raises an Abhorrence of offending him. Could we reverence a Being because it ∥ was∥ our Interest to do so, a third Person might bribe us into Reverence toward a Being neither Good, nor Powerful, which every one sees to be a Jest. And this we might shew to be common to all other Passions, which have ∥ rational Agents for their Objects∥.
Objections.VI. There is one Objection against disinterested ∥ Love∥, which occurs from considering, “That nothing so effectually ∥ excites∥ our Love toward rational Agents, as their Beneficence ∥ to us∥; whence we are led to imagine, that our Love of Persons, as well as irrational Objects, flows intirely from Self-Interest.” But let us here examine our selves more narrowly. Do we only ∥ love∥ the Beneficent, because it is our Interest to ∥ love them∥? Or do we chuse to love them, because our love is the means of procuring their Bounty? If it be so, then we could indifferently love any Character, even to obtain the Bounty of a third Person; or we could be brib’d by a third Person to love the greatest Villain heartily, as we may be brib’d to external Offices: Now this is plainly impossible.
∥ But further∥, is not our ∥ Love always∥ the Consequent of Bounty, and not the Means of procuring it? External Shew, Obsequiousness, and Dissimulation may precede an Opinion of Beneficence; but real Love always presupposes it, and ∥ shall∥ necessarily arise even when we expect no more, from consideration of past Benefits. Or can any one say he only loves the Beneficent, as he does a Field or Garden, because of its Advantage? His Love then must cease toward one who has ruin’d himself in kind Offices to him, when he can do him no more; as we cease to love an inanimate Object which ceases to be useful, unless a Poetical Prosopopoeia animate it, and raise an imaginary Gratitude, which is indeed pretty common. ∥ And then again, our Love would be the same towards the worst Characters that ’tis towards the best, if they were equally bountiful to us, which is also false. Beneficence then must raise our Love as it is an amiable moral Quality∥: and ∥ hence we∥ love even those who are beneficent to others.
∥aIt may be further alledg’d, “That Bounty toward our selves is ∥ba stronger Incitement tob∥ Love, than equal Bounty toward others.” This is true for a Reason to be offer’d below: but it does not prove, that in this Case our Love of Persons is from Views of Interest; since this Love is not prior to the Bounty, as the means to procure it, but subsequent upon it, even when we expect no more.a∥ In the Benefits which we receive our selves, we are more fully sensible of their Value, and of the Circumstances of the Action, which are Evidences of a generous Temper in the Donor; and ∥ from∥ the good Opinion we have of our selves, ∥ we are apt to∥ look upon the Kindness ∥ as∥ better employ’d, than when it is bestow’d on others, of whom perhaps we have less favourable Sentiments. It is however sufficient to remove the Objection, that Bounty from a Donor apprehended as morally Evil, or extorted by Force, or conferr’d with some View of Self-Interest, will not procure real ∥ Love∥; nay, it may raise Indignation, if we suspect Dissimulation of Love, or a Design to allure us into any thing Dishonourable: whereas wisely employ’d Bounty is always approv’d, and gains love to the Author from all who hear of it.
Virtue disinterested.If then no ∥ Love∥ toward Persons ∥ be influenc’d by∥ Self-Love, or Views of Interest, and all Virtue flows from ∥ Love∥ ∥ toward Persons∥, or some other Affection equally disinterested; it remains, “That there must be some other ∥ Motive∥ than Self-Love, or Interest, which excites us to the Actions we call Virtuous.”
Objection from Religion.∥aVII. There may perhaps still remain another Suspicion of Self-Interest in our Prosecution of Virtue, ∥barisingb∥ from this, “That the whole Race of Mankind seems persuaded of the Existence of an Almighty Being, who will certainly secure Happiness either now, or hereafter, to those who are Virtuous, according to their several Notions of Virtue in various Places: and upon this Persuasion, Virtue may in all Cases be pursu’d from Views of Interest.” Here again we might appeal to all Mankind, whether there be no Benevolence but what flows from a View of Reward from the Deity? Nay, do we not see a great deal of it among those who entertain few ∥cif anyc∥ Thoughts of Devotion at all? Not to say that this Benevolence ∥dscarce deservesd∥ the Name, when we desire not, nor delight in the Good of others, ∥efurthere∥ than it serves our own Ends.a∥
∥aBut if we have no other Idea of Good, ∥bthanb∥ Advantage to our selvesa∥, we must imagine that every rational Being ∥ acts only∥ for its own Advantage; and however we may call a beneficent Being, a good Being, because it acts for our Advantage, yet upon this Scheme ∥ we should not be apt to think∥ there is any beneficent Being in Nature, or a Being who acts for the Good of others. Particularly, if there is no Sense of Excellence in publick Love, and promoting the Happiness of others, whence should this Persuasion arise, “That the Deity will make the Virtuous happy?” Can we prove that it is for the Advantage of the Deity to do so? This I fancy will be look’d upon as very absurd, ∥aunless we suppose some beneficent Dispositions essential to the Deity, which determine him to consult the publick Good of his Creatures, and reward such as co-operate with ∥bhisb∥ kind Intentiona∥. And if there be such Dispositions in the Deity, where is the impossibility of some small degree of this publick Love in ∥ his∥ Creatures? And why must they be suppos’d incapable of acting but from Self-Love?
In short, without acknowledging some other Principle of Action in rational Agents than Self-Love, I see no Foundation to expect Beneficence, or Rewards from God, or Man, further than it is the Interest of the Benefactor; and all Expectation of Benefits from a Being whose Interests are independent on us, must be perfectly ridiculous. What should engage the Deity to reward Virtue? Virtue is commonly suppos’d, upon this Scheme, to be only a consulting our own Happiness in the most artful way, consistently with the Good of the Whole; and in Vice the same thing is foolishly pursu’d, in a manner which will not so probably succeed, and which is contrary to the Good of the Whole. But how is the Deity concern’d in this Whole, if every Agent always acts from Self-Love? And what Ground have we, from the Idea of ∥ a God it self∥, to believe the Deity is good in the Christian Sense, that is, studious of the Good of his Creatures? Perhaps the Misery of ∥ his∥ Creatures may ∥ give him as much∥ Pleasure, as their Happiness: And who can find fault, or blame such a Being to study their Misery; for what else should we expect? A Manichean Evil God, is a Notion which Men would as readily run into, as that of a Good one, if there is no Excellence in disinterested Love, and no Being acts but for its own Advantage; unless we prov’d that the Happiness of Creatures was advantageous to the Deity.
From Concomitant Pleasure.∥aVIII. The last, and only remaining Objection against what has been said, is this, “That ∥bVirtue perhapsb∥ is pursu’d because of the concomitant Pleasure.” To which we may answer, first, by observing, that this plainly supposes a Sense of Virtue antecedent to Ideas of Advantage, upon which this Advantage is founded; and that from the very Frame of our Nature we are determin’d to perceive Pleasure in the practice of Virtue, and to approve it when practis’d by our selves, or others.
cBut further, may we not justly question, whether all Virtue is pleasant? Or, whether we are not determin’d to some amiable Actions in which we find no Pleasure? ’Tis true, all the Passions, and Affections justify themselves; or, we approve our being affected in ∥da certaind∥ manner on ∥ecertain Occasionse∥, and condemn a Person who is otherwise affected. So the Sorrowful, the Angry, the Jealous, the Compassionate, think it reasonable they should be so upon the several Occasions which move these Passions; but we should not therefore say that Sorrow, Anger, Jealousy, or Pity are pleasant, and that we chuse to be in these Passions because of the concomitant Pleasure. The matter is plainly this. The Frame of our Nature, on such Occasions as move these Passions, determines us to be thus affected, and to approve our being so: Nay, we dislike any Person who is not thus affected upon such occasions, notwithstanding the uneasiness of these Passions. ∥fThisf∥ uneasiness determines us to endeavour an Alteration in the state of the Object; but not otherwise to remove the painful Affection, while the occasion is unalter’d: which shews that these ∥gAffections are neither chosen for their concomitant Pleasure, nor voluntarily brought ∥hupon our selvesh∥ with a view to private Goodg∥. The Actions which these Passions move us to, ∥itend generallyi∥ to remove the uneasy Passion by altering the state of the Object; but the ∥jRemoval of our Pain is seldom directly intended in the uneasy Benevolent Passions: nor is the Alteration intended in the State of the Objects by such Passions, imagin’d to be a private Good to the Agent, as it always is in the selfish Passions. If our sole Intention, in Compassion or Pity, ∥kwask∥ the Removal of our Pain,j∥ we should run away, shut our Eyes, divert our Thoughts from the miserable Object, to avoid the Pain of Compassion, which we seldom do: nay, we croud about such Objects, and voluntarily ∥lexpose our selves tol∥ Pain, unless Reason, and Reflection upon our Inability to relieve the Miserable, countermand our Inclination; or some selfish Affection, as fear of Danger, overballances it.
Now there are several morally amiable Actions, which flow from these Passions which are so uneasy; such as Attempts of relieving the Distress’d, of defending the Injur’d, of repairing of Wrongs done by our selves. These Actions are often accompany’d with no Pleasure in the mean time, nor have they any subsequent Pleasure, except as they are successful; unless it be that which may arise from calm Reflection, when the Passion is over, upon our having been in a Disposition, which to our moral Sense appears lovely and good: but this Pleasure is never intended in the Heat of Action, nor is it any Motive exciting to it.
Besides, In the pleasant Passions, we do not love, because it is pleasant to love; we do not chuse this State, because it is an advantageous, or pleasant State: This Passion necessarily arises from seeing its proper Object, a morally good Character. And if we could love, whenever we see it would be our Interest to love, Love could be brib’d by a third Person; and we could never love Persons in Distress, for then our Love gives us Pain. The same Observation may be extended to all the other Affections from which Virtue is suppos’d to flow: And from the whole we may conclude, “That the virtuous Agent is never apprehended by us as acting only from Views of his own Interest, but as principally influenc’d by some other Motive.”a∥
The true Spring of Virtue.IX. Having remov’d these ∥ false∥ Springs of ∥ virtuous Actions∥, let us next establish the true one, viz. some Determination of our Nature to study the Good of others; or some Instinct, antecedent to all Reason from Interest, which influences us to the Love of others; even as the moral Sense, above ∥ explain’d∥, determines us to approve the Actions which flow from this Love in our selves or others. This disinterested Affection, may appear strange to Men impress’d with Notions of Self-Love, as the sole ∥ Motive∥ of Action, from the Pulpit, the Schools, the Systems, and Conversations regulated by them: but let us consider it in its strongest, and simplest Kinds; and when we see the Possibility of it in these Instances, we may easily discover its universal Extent.
Natural Affection.An honest Farmer will tell you, that he studies the Preservation and Happiness of his Children, and loves them without any design of Good to himself. But say some of our Philosophers, “The Happiness of their Children gives Parents Pleasure, and their Misery ∥ gives them∥ Pain; and therefore to obtain the former, and avoid the latter, they study, from Self-Love, the Good of their Children.” Suppose several Merchants join’d in Partnership of their whole Effects; one of them ∥ is employ’d∥ abroad in managing the Stock of the Company; his Prosperity occasions Gain to all, and his Losses give them Pain ∥ from∥ their Share in the Loss: is this then the same Kind of Affection with that of Parents to their Children? Is there the same tender, personal Regard? I fancy no Parent will say so. In this Case of Merchants there is a plain Conjunction of Interest; but whence the Conjunction of Interest between the Parent and Child? Do the Child’s Sensations give Pleasure or Pain to the Parent? Is the Parent hungry, thirsty, sick, when ∥ the Child is so∥? ∥ “No, but his Love to the Child makes him affected with his Pleasures or Pains.” This Love∥ then is antecedent to the Conjunction of Interest, and the Cause of it, not the Effect: ∥ this Love∥ then must be disinterested. “No, ∥ says another Sophist∥, Children are Parts of our selves, and in loving them we but love our selves in them.” A very good Answer! Let us carry it as far as it will go. How are they Parts of our selves? Not as a Leg or an Arm: We are not conscious of their Sensations. “But their Bodys were form’d from Parts of ours.” So is a Fly, or a Maggot which may breed in any discharg’d Blood or Humour: Very dear Insects surely! There must be something else then which makes Children Parts of our selves; and what is this but that Affection which Nature determines us to have toward them? This Love makes them Parts of our selves, and therefore does not flow from their being so before. This is indeed a good Metaphor; and wherever we find a Determination among several rational Agents to mutual Love, let each Individual be look’d upon as a Part of a great Whole, or System, and concern himself in the publick Good of ∥ it.∥
But a later Author observes, “That natural Affection in Parents is weak, till the Children begin to give Evidences of Knowledge and Affections.” Mothers say they feel it strong from the very first: and yet I could wish for the Destruction of his Hypothesis, that what he alledges ∥ was∥ true; as I fancy it is ∥ in some measure, tho we may find in some Parents an Affection toward Idiots∥. The observing of Understanding and Affections in Children, which make them ∥ appear moral∥ Agents, can increase Love toward them without prospect of Interest; for I hope this Increase of Love, is not from Prospect of Advantage from the Knowledge or Affections of Children, for whom Parents are still toiling, and never intend to be refunded their Expences, or recompens’d for their Labour, but in Cases of extreme Necessity. If then the observing a moral Capacity can be the occasion of increasing Love without Self-Interest, even from the Frame of our Nature; pray, may not this be a Foundation of weaker degrees of Love where there is no preceding tie of Parentage, and extend it to all Mankind?
Publick Affections, natural.X. And that this is so in fact, will appear by considering some more distant Attachments. If we observe any Neighbours, from whom perhaps we have receiv’d no good Offices, form’d into Friendships, Familys, Partnerships, and with Honesty and Kindness assisting each other; pray ask any Mortal if he would not ∥ be better pleas’d with∥ their Prosperity, when their Interests are no way inconsistent with his own, than with their Misery, and Ruin; and you shall find a Bond of Benevolence further extended than a Family and Children, altho the Ties are not so strong. Again, suppose a Person, for Trade, had left his native Country, and with all his Kindred had settled his Fortunes abroad, without any View of returning; and only imagine he had receiv’d no Injurys from his Country: ask such a Man, ∥ would it give him no Pleasure to hear of the Prosperity of his Country∥? Or could he, now that his Interests are separated from that of his Nation, as ∥ gladly hear∥ that it was laid waste by Tyranny or a foreign Power? I fancy his Answer would shew us a Benevolence extended beyond Neighbourhoods or Acquaintances. Let a Man of a compos’d Temper, out of the hurry of his private Affairs, ∥ only∥ read of the Constitution of a foreign Country, even in the most distant parts of the Earth, and observe Art, ∥ Design, and a Study∥ of publick Good in the Laws of this Association; and he shall find his Mind mov’d in their favour; he shall be contriving Rectifications and Amendments in their Constitution, and regret any unlucky part of it which may be pernicious to their Interest; he shall bewail any Disaster which befalls them, and accompany all their Fortunes with the Affections of a Friend. Now this ∥ proves Benevolence to be in∥ some degree extended to all Mankind, where there is no interfering Interest, which from Self-Love may obstruct it. And had we any Notions of rational Agents, capable of moral Affections, in the most distant Planets, our good Wishes would still attend them, and we should ∥ delight in∥ their ∥ Happiness.∥
National Love.XI. Here we may transiently remark the Foundation of what we call national Love, or Love of one’s native Country. Whatever place we have liv’d in for any considerable time, there we have most distinctly remark’d the various Affections of human Nature; we have known many lovely Characters; we remember the Associations, Friendships, Familys, natural Affections, and other human Sentiments: our moral Sense determines us to approve these lovely Dispositions where we have most distinctly observ’d them; and our Benevolence concerns us in the Interests of ∥ the∥ Persons possess’d of them. When we come to observe the like as distinctly in another Country, we begin to acquire a national Love toward it also; nor has our own Country any other preference in our Idea, unless it be by an Association of the pleasant Ideas of our Youth, with the Buildings, Fields, and Woods where we receiv’d them. This may let us see, how Tyranny, ∥ Faction∥, a Neglect of Justice, a Corruption of Manners, ∥ and∥ any thing which occasions the Misery of the Subjects, destroys this national Love, and the dear Idea of a Country.
The Reason why natural Affections do not always appear.We ought here to observe, That the only Reason of that apparent want of natural Affection among collateral Rela-tions, is, that these natural Inclinations, in many Cases, are overpower’d by Self-Love, where there happens any Opposition of Interests; but where this does not happen, we shall find all Mankind under its Influence, ∥ tho∥ with different degrees of Strength, according to the nearer or more remote Relations they stand in to each other; and according as the natural Affection of Benevolence ∥ is∥ join’d with and strengthen’d by Esteem, Gratitude, Compassion, or other kind Affections; or on the contrary, weaken’d by Displicence, Anger, or Envy.
All Virtue Benevolent.I. If we examine all the Actions which are counted amiable any where, and enquire into the Grounds upon which they are approv’d, we shall find, that in the Opinion of the Person who approves them, they ∥ always∥ appear as Benevolent, or flowing from ∥ Love of others∥, and ∥ a∥ Study of their Happiness, whether the Approver be one of the Persons belov’d, or profited, or not; so that all those kind Affections which incline us to make others happy, and all Actions suppos’d to flow from such Affections, appear morally Good, if while they are benevolent toward some Persons, they be not pernicious to others. Nor shall we find any thing amiable in any Action whatsoever, where there is no Benevolence imagin’d; nor in any Disposition, or Capacity, which is not suppos’d applicable to, and design’d for benevolent Purposes. Nay, as was before observ’d, the Actions which in fact are exceedingly useful, shall appear void of moral Beauty, if we ∥ know∥ they proceeded from no kind Intentions ∥ toward∥ others; and yet an unsuccessful Attempt of Kindness, or of promoting publick Good, shall appear as amiable as the most successful, if it flow’d from as strong Benevolence.
Religion.II. ∥ Hence those∥ Affections which would lead us to do good to our Benefactor, shall appear amiable, and the contrary Affections odious, even when our Actions cannot possibly be of any advantage or hurt to him. Thus a sincere Love and Gratitude toward our Benefactor, a chearful Readiness to do whatever he shall require, how burdensom soever, a hearty Inclination to comply with his Intentions, and Contentment with the State he has plac’d us in, are the strongest Evidences of Benevolence we can shew to such a Person; and therefore they must appear exceedingly amiable. And under these is included all the rational Devotion, or Religion toward a Deity apprehended as Good, which we can possibly perform.
∥ Gratitude.∥We may here transiently observe one Circumstance in the Frame of our Nature, which is wonderfully adapted to promote Benevolence, viz. that as a Benefit conferr’d necessarily raises Gratitude in the ∥ Person who receives it∥, so the Expressions of this Gratitude, even from the meanest of Mankind, are wonderfully delightful to the Benefactor. Never were there any Mortals so poor, so inconsiderable, whose grateful Praise would not be some way delightful; and by whom we would not rather chuse to be ∥ lov’d∥, than hated, if their Love no way evidenc’d us to be Partners in their Vices, or concern’d in their Meanness. And thus the most abject ∥ Person oblig’d∥ is capable, and inclin’d to make no small addition to our Happiness by his Love, and Gratitude, when he is utterly incapable of any other Return, and when we expect none from him: Thus,
As to external Performances of Religion, they are no doubt very various in different Nations, and Ages; and Education may give Men Opinions, that certain Actions are pleasing, and others displeasing to the Deity: but then wherever any external Rite of Worship is approv’d, there also it is look’d upon to proceed from Love toward the Deity, or some other Affec-tion necessarily join’d with Love, as Reverence, Repentance, or Sorrow to have offended. So that the general Principle of Love, is the Foundation of all the apparent moral Excellence, even in the most fantastick Rites of Worship which were ever approv’d. For as to Rites design’d only to appease a furious Being, no Mortal, I fancy, apprehends there is any Virtue, or Excellence in them; but that they are chosen only as the dishonourable Means of avoiding a greater Evil. Now as there are various ∥ speculative∥ Opinions about what is acceptable to the Deity, it necessarily follows, “That, accordingly, Practices, and Approbation, must be various; tho all the moral Goodness of Actions is still presum’d to flow from Love.”
Social Virtues.III. Again, that we may see how ∥ Love, or∥ Benevolence, is the Foundation of all apprehended Excellence in social Virtues, let us only observe, That amidst the diversity of Sentiments on this Head among various Sects, this is still allow’d to be the way of deciding the Controversy about any disputed Practice, ∥ viz.∥ to enquire whether this Conduct, or the contrary, will most effectually promote the publick Good. The Morality is immediately adjusted, when the natural Tendency, or Influence of the Action upon the universal natural Good of Mankind is agreed upon. That which pro-duces more Good than Evil in the Whole, is acknowledg’d Good; and what does not, is counted Evil. In this Case, we no other way regard the good of the Actor, or that of those who are thus enquiring, than as they make a Part of the great System.
In our late Debates about Passive Obedience, and the Right of Resistance in Defence of Privileges, the Point disputed among Men of Sense was, “whether universal Submission would probably be attended with greater natural Evils, than temporary Insurrections, when Privileges are invaded; and not whether what tended in the Whole to the publick natural Good, was also morally Good?” And if a divine Command was alledg’d in favour of the Doctrine of Passive Obedience, this would, no doubt, by its eternal Sanctions cast the ballance of natural Good to its own side, and determine our Election from Interest; and yet our Sense of the moral Good in Passive Obedience, would still be founded upon some Species of Benevolence, such as Gratitude toward the Deity, and Submission to his Will to whom we are so much oblig’d. But I fancy those, who believe the Deity to be Good, would not rashly alledge such a Command, unless they also asserted, that the thing commanded did tend more to the universal Good, than the contrary, either by prevent-ing the external Evils of Civil War, or by enuring Men to Patience, or some other Quality which they apprehended necessary to their everlasting Happiness. And were it not so, Passive Obedience might be recommended as an inglorious Method of escaping a greater Mischief, but could never have any thing morally amiable in it.
But let us quit the Disputes of the Learned, on whom, it may be alledg’d, Custom and Education have a powerful Influence; and consider upon what Grounds, in common Life, Actions are approv’d or condemn’d, vindicated or excus’d. We are universally asham’d to say an Action is Just, because it ∥ tends∥ to my Advantage, or to the Advantage of the Actor: And we as seldom condemn a beneficent kind Action, because it ∥ is∥ not advantageous to us, or to the Actor. Blame, and Censure, are founded on a Tendency to publick Evil, or a Principle of private Malice in the Agent, or Neglect at least of the Good of others; on Inhumanity of Temper, or at least such strong Selfishness as makes the Agent careless of the Sufferings of others: and thus we blame and censure when the Action no way affects our selves. All the moving and persuasive Vindications of Actions, which may, from some partial evil Tendency, appear evil, are taken from this, that they were necessary to some greater Good which counterballanc’d the Evil: “Severity toward a few, is Compassion toward multitudes.—Transitory Punishments are necessary for avoiding more durable Evils.—Did not some suffer on such Occasions, there would be no living for honest Men.”—and such like. And even when an Action cannot be entirely justify’d, yet how greatly is the Guilt extenuated, if we can alledge; “That it was only the Effect of Inadvertence without Malice, or of partial good Nature, Friendship, Compassion, natural Affection, or Love of a Party?” All these Considerations shew what is the universal Foundation of our Sense of moral Good, or Evil, viz. Benevolence toward others on ∥ one∥ hand, and Malice, or even Indolence, and Unconcernedness about the ∥ apparent∥ publick Evil on the other. And let it be here observ’d, that we are so far from imagining all Men to ∥ act∥ only ∥ from∥ Self-Love, that we universally expect in others a Regard for the Publick; and do not look upon the want of this, as barely the absence of moral Good, or Virtue, but even as positively evil and hateful.
Moral Evil not always Malice.IV. Contrarys may illustrate each other; let us therefore observe the general Foundation of our Sense of moral Evil more particularly. Disinterested Malice, or ∥ Delight in∥ the Misery of others, is the highest pitch of what we count vitious; and every Action appears evil, which is imagin’d to flow from any degree of this Affection. Perhaps a violent Passion may hurry Men into it for a few Moments, and our rash angry Sentiments of our Enemys, may represent them as having such odious Dispositions; but it is very probable, from the Reasons offer’d above, that there is no such degree of Wickedness in human Nature, as in cold blood, to ∥ be pleas’d with∥ the Misery of others, when it is ∥ conceiv’d no∥ way useful to our Interests.
∥aThe Story of Nero and Paetus may be alledg’d against this, but perhaps unjustly, even allowing the Fact to be true. Nero was ∥bconscious heb∥ was hated by those whom the World call’d good Men, and that they were dangerous to him; he fancy’d his best Security lay in being terrible, and appearing such on all Occasions, by making others miserable when he pleas’d, to let his Enemys see, that they should have no Security from that Compassion which a Nero would imagine argu’d Weakness. This unfortunate Gentleman’s Happiness might by some foolish Courtier be so related, as to carry a Reproof of the Tyrant’s unnatural Pursuits, whereby his Passion might be excited to cut off the Per-son admir’d, and prefer’d before him. Any of these Motives of apparent Interest seem more probably to have influenc’d him, than that we should in him, and a few others, supposea∥ a Principle of calm Malice without Interest, of which the rest of Mankind seem entirely incapable.
Temper of a Tyrant.The Temper of a Tyrant seems ∥ probably to be∥ a continu’d state of Anger, Hatred, and Fear. To form our Judgment then of his Motives of Action, and those of Men of like Tempers in lower Stations, let us reflect upon the Apprehensions we form of Mankind, when we are under any of those Passions which to the Tyrant are habitual. When we are under the fresh Impressions of an Injury, we ∥ plainly∥ find, that our Minds are wholly fill’d with Apprehensions of the Person who injur’d us, as if he ∥ was∥ absolutely Evil, and delighted in doing Mischief: We overlook the Virtues, which, when calm, we could have observ’d in him: we forget ∥ that∥ perhaps ∥ only Self-Love, and not Malice, was his Motive; or∥ it may be some generous or kind Intention toward others. These, probably, are the Opinions which a Tyrant constantly forms concerning Mankind; and having very much weaken’d all kind Affections in himself, however he may pretend to them, he judges of the Tempers of others by his own. And were ∥ Men∥ really such as he apprehends them, his Treatment of them would not be very unreasonable. We shall generally find our Passions arising suitably to the Apprehensions we form of others: if ∥ these be∥ rashly form’d upon some sudden slight Views, it is no wonder if we find Dispositions following upon them, very little suited to the real State of human Nature.
Ordinary Springs of Vice.The ordinary ∥ Springs∥ of Vice ∥ then∥ among Men, ∥ must be∥ a mistaken Self-Love, made ∥ so∥ violent, ∥ as∥ to overcome Benevolence; or Affections arising from false, and rashly form’d Opinions of Mankind, which we run into thro the weakness of our Benevolence. When Men, who ∥ had∥ good Opinions of each other, happen to have contrary Interests, they are apt to have their good Opinions of each other abated, by imagining a design’d Opposition from Malice; without this, they can scarcely hate one another. ∥ Thus∥ two Candidates for the same Office wish each other dead, because that is an ordinary way by which Men make room for each other; but if there remains any Reflection on each other’s Virtue, as there sometimes may in benevolent Tempers, then their Opposition may be without Hatred; and if another better Post, where there is no Competition, were bestow’d on one of them, the other shall rejoice at it.
Self-Love indifferent.V. ∥ The∥ Actions which flow solely from Self-Love, and yet evidence no Want of Benevolence, having no hurtful Effects upon others, ∥ seem perfectly indifferent in a moral Sense∥, and neither raise the Love or Hatred of the Observer. Our Reason can ∥ indeed discover∥ certain Bounds, within which we may not only act from Self-Love, consistently with the Good of the Whole, but every Mortal’s acting thus within these Bounds for his own Good, is absolutely necessary for the Good of the Whole; and the Want of such Self-Love would be universally pernicious. ∥ Hence∥, he who pursues his own private Good, with an Intention also to concur with that Constitution which tends to the Good of the Whole; and much more he who promotes his own Good, with a direct View of making himself more capable of serving God, or doing good to Mankind; acts not only innocently, but also honourably, and virtuously: for in both these Cases, ∥ a Motive of∥ Benevolence concurs with Self-Love to excite him to the Action. And thus a Neglect of our own Good, may be morally evil, and argue a Want of Benevolence toward the Whole. But when Self-Love breaks over the Bounds above-mention’d, and leads us into Actions detrimen-tal to others, and to the whole; or makes us insensible of the generous kind Affections; then it appears vitious, and is disapprov’d. So also, when upon any small Injurys, or sudden Resentment, or any weak superstitious Suggestions, our Benevolence ∥ becomes∥ so faint, as to let us ∥ entertain∥ odious Conceptions of ∥ Men∥, or any Part of them, without just Ground, as if they were wholly Evil, or Malicious, or as if they were a worse Sort of Beings than they really are; these Conceptions must lead us into malevolent Affections, or at least weaken our good ones, and make us really Vitious.
Self-Love not excluded by Benevolence.VI. Here we must also observe, that every moral Agent justly considers himself as a Part of this rational System, which may be useful to the Whole; so that he may be, in part, an Object of his own Benevolence. Nay further, as was hinted above, he may see, that the Preservation of the System ∥ requires every one to be∥ innocently sollicitous about himself. Hence he may conclude, that an Action which brings greater Evil to the Agent, than Good to others, however it may evidence ∥ strong Benevolence or∥ a virtuous Disposition in the Agent, yet it ∥ must be founded upon a mistaken Opinion of its Tendency to publick Good, when it has no such Tendency: so that a∥ Man who reason’d justly, and consider’d the whole, would not be led into it, ∥ were his Benevolence ever so strong∥; nor would he recommend it to the Practice of others; however he might acknowledge, that the Detriment arising to the Agent from a kind Action, did evidence a ∥ strong Disposition to Virtue∥. Nay ∥ further, if any Good was∥ propos’d to the Pursuit of an Agent, and he had a Competitor in every respect only equal to himself; the highest Benevolence possible would not lead a wise Man to prefer another to himself, were there no Ties of Gratitude, or some other external Circumstance to move him to yield to his Competitor. A Man surely of the strongest Benevolence, may just treat himself as he would do a third Person, who was a Competitor of equal Merit with the other; and as his preferring one to another, in such a Case, would argue no Weakness of Benevolence; so, no more would he evidence it by preferring himself to a Man of only equal Abilitys.
∥aWherever a Regard to my self, tends as much to the good of the Whole, as Regard to another; or where the Evil to my self, is equal to the Good obtain’d for another; tho by acting, in such Cases, for the good of another, I really shew a very amiable Disposition; yet by acting in the contrary manner, from Regard to my self, I evidence no evil Disposition, nor any want of the most extensive Benevolence; since the Moment of good to the Whole is, in both Cases, exactly equal. And let it be here observ’d, that this does not supersede the necessity of Liberality, or gratuitous Gifts, altho in such Actions the Giver loses ∥bas much asb∥ the other receives; since the Moment of Good to any Person, in any given Case, is in a compound ∥cRatioc∥ of the Quantity of the Good it self, and the Indigence of the Person. Hence it appears, that a Gift may make a much greater Addition to the happiness of the Receiver, than the Diminution it occasions in the happiness of the Giver: And that the most useful and important Gifts are those from the Wealthy to the Indigent. ∥dGiftsd∥ from Equals are not useless ∥eneithere∥, since they often increase the Happiness of both, as they are strong Evidences of mutual Love: but Gifts from the Poor to the Wealthy are really foolish, unless they be only little Expressions of Gratitude, which are also fruitful of Joy on both Sides: for these Expressions of Gratitude are really delightful and acceptable to the Wealthy, if they have any Humanity; and their Acceptance of them is matter of Joy to the poor Giver.
In like manner, when an Action does more Harm to the Agent, than Good to the Publick; the doing it evidences an amiable and truly virtuous Disposition in the Agent, tho ’tis plain he acts upon a mistaken View of his Duty. But if the private Evil to the Agent be so great, as to make him incapable at another time, of promoting a publick Good of greater moment than what is attain’d by this Action; the Action may really be Evil, so far as it evidences a prior Neglect of a greater ∥fattainablef∥ publick Good for a smaller one; tho at present this Action also flows from a virtuous Disposition.a∥
Benevolence, how affected by the Qualitys of its Object.VII. The moral Beauty, or Deformity of Actions, is not alter’d by the moral Qualitys of the Objects, any further ∥ than∥ the Qualitys of the Objects increase or diminish the Benevolence of the Action, or the publick Good intended by it. Thus Benevolence toward the worst Characters, or the Study of their Good, may be as amiable as any whatsoever; yea often more so than that toward the Good, since it argues such a strong Degree of Benevolence as can surmount the greatest Obstacle, the moral Evil in the Object. Hence the Love of unjust Enemys, is counted among the highest Virtues. Yet when our Benevolence to the Evil, encourages them in their bad Intentions, or makes them more capable of Mischief; this diminishes or destroys the Beauty of the Action, or even makes it evil, as it betrays a Neglect of the Good of others more valuable; Beneficence toward whom, would have tended more to the publick Good, than that toward our Favourites: But Benevolence toward evil Characters, which neither encourages ∥ them∥, nor enables them to do Mischief, nor diverts our Benevolence from Persons more useful, has as much moral Beauty as any whatsoever.
Qualitys determining our Election.VIII. In comparing the moral Qualitys of Actions, in order to regulate our Election among various Actions propos’d, or to find which of them has the greatest moral Excellency, we are led by our moral Sense of Virtue ∥ to judge thus∥; that in equal Degrees of Happiness, expected to proceed from the Action, the Virtue is in proportion to the Number of Persons to whom the Happiness shall extend; (and here the Dignity, or moral Importance of Persons, may compensate Numbers) and in equal Numbers, the Virtue is as the Quantity of the Happiness, or natural Good; or that the Virtue is in a compound Ratio of the Quantity of Good, and Number of Enjoyers. ∥ In∥ the same manner, the moral Evil, or Vice, is as the Degree of Misery, and Number of Sufferers; so that, that Action is best, which ∥ procures∥ the greatest Happiness for the greatest Numbers; and that, worst, which, in like manner, occasions Misery.
Consequences, how they affect the Morality of Actions.IX. Again, when the Consequences of Actions are of a mix’d Nature, partly Advantageous, ∥ and∥ partly Pernicious; that Action is good, whose good Effects preponderate the evil, by being useful to many, and pernicious to few; and that, evil, which is otherwise. Here also the moral Importance of Characters, or Dignity of Persons may compensate Numbers; as may also the Degrees of Happiness or Misery: for to procure an inconsiderable Good to many, but an immense Evil to few, may be Evil; and an immense Good to few, may preponderate a small Evil to many.
∥aBut the Consequences which affect the Morality of Actions, are not only the direct and natural Effects of the Actions themselves; but also all those Events which otherwise would not have happen’d. ∥bForb∥ many Actions which have no immediate or natural evil Effects, nay which actually produce good Effects, may be evil; if a man foresees that ∥cthe evilc∥ Consequences, which will probably flow from the Folly of others, upon his doing of such Actions, are so great as to overballance all the ∥dGood produc’d by those Actionsd∥, or all the Evils which would flow from the Omission of ∥etheme∥: And in such Cases the Probability is to be computed on both sides. Thus if an Action of mine will probably, thro the ∥fMistakesf∥ or Corruption of others, be made a Precedent in unlike Cases, to very evil Actions; or when my Action, tho good in it self, will probably provoke Men to very evil Actions, upon some mistaken Notion of their Right; any of these Considerations foreseen by me, may make such an Action of mine evil, whenever the Evils ∥gwhich will probablyg∥ be occasion’d by the Action, ∥hare greaterh∥ than the Evils occasion’d by the Omission.
And this is the Reason that many Laws prohibit Actions in general, even when some particular Instances of ∥ithosei∥ Actions would be very useful; because an universal Allowance of them, considering the Mistakes Men would probably fall into, would be more pernicious than an universal Prohibition; nor could there be any more special Boundarys fix’d between the right and wrong Cases. In such Cases, it is the Duty of Persons to comply with the generally useful Constitution; or if in some very important Instances, the Violation of the Law would be of less evil Consequence than Obedience to it, they must patiently resolve to undergo those Penalties, which the State has, for valuable Ends to the Whole, appointed: and this Disobedience will have nothing criminal in ∥jit.aj∥
Partial Benevolence, how virtuous.∥ X∥. From ∥ the two last∥ Observations, we may see what Actions our moral Sense would most recommend to our Election, as the most perfectly Virtuous: viz. such as appear to have the most universal unlimited Tendency to the greatest and most extensive Happiness of all the rational Agents, to whom our Influence can ∥ reach∥. All ∥ Benevolence∥, even toward a Part, is amiable, ∥ when∥ not inconsistent with the Good of the Whole: But this is a smaller Degree of Virtue, unless our Beneficence be restrain’d by want of Power, and not want of Love to the Whole. All strict Attachments to Partys, Sects, Factions, have but an imperfect Species of Beauty, ∥ unless∥ when the Good of the Whole requires a stricter Attachment to a Part, as in natural Affection, or virtuous Friendships; ∥ or∥ when some Parts are so eminently useful to the Whole, that even universal Benevolence ∥ would∥ determine us with special Care and Affection to study their Interests. Thus universal Benevolence would incline us to a more strong Concern for the Interests of great and generous Characters in a high Station, or make us more earnestly study the Interests of any generous Society, whose whole Constitution ∥ was∥ contriv’d to promote universal Good. Thus a good Fancy in Architecture, would lead a Man, who was not able to bear the Expence of a compleatly regular Building, to chuse such a Degree of Ornament as he could keep uniformly thro the Whole, and not move him to make a vain unfinish’d Attempt in one Part, of what he foresaw he could not succeed in as to the Whole. And ∥ the most perfect Rules of Architecture condemn an excessive∥ Profusion of Ornament on one Part, above the Proportion of the Whole, unless that Part be some eminent Place of the Edifice, such as the chief Front, or publick Entrance; the adorning of which, would beautify the Whole more than an equal Expence of Ornament on any other Part.
∥aThis Increase of the moral Beauty of Actions, or Dispositions, according to the Number of Persons to whom the good Effects of them extend, may shew us the Reason why Actions which flow from the nearer Attachments of Nature, such as that between the Sexes, and the Love of our Offspring, are not so amiable, nor do they appear so virtuous as Actions of equal Moment of Good towards Persons less attach’d to us. The Reason is plainly this. These strong Instincts are by Nature limited to small Numbers of Mankind, such as our Wives or Children; whereas a Disposition, which would produce a like Moment of Good to others, upon no special Attachment, ∥bif it wasb∥ accompany’d with natural Power to accomplish its Intention, would be incredibly more fruitful of great and good Effects to the Whole.a∥
Moral Dispositions and Abilitys. From this primary Idea of moral Good in Actions, ∥ arises the Idea of∥ Good in those Dispositions, whether natural or acquir’d, which enable us to do good to others; or which are presum’d to be design’d, and acquir’d or cultivated for that purpose . And hence those Abilitys, while nothing appears contrary to our Presumption, may increase our ∥ Love to∥ the Possessor of them; but when they are imagin’d to be intended for publick Mischief, they make us hate him the more: Such are a penetrating Judgment, a tenacious Memory, a quick Invention; Patience of Labour, Pain, Hunger, Watching; a Contempt of Wealth, Rumour, Death. These may be rather call’d natural Abilitys, than moral ∥ Qualitys. Now, a Veneration for these Qualitys, any further than they are employ’d for the publick Good, is foolish, and flows from our moral Sense, grounded upon a false Opinion; for if∥ we plainly see them maliciously employ’d, they make the Agent more detestable.
How we compute the Morality of Actions in our Sense of them.XI. To find a universal ∥ Canon∥ to compute the Morality of any Actions, with all their Circumstances, when we judge of the Actions done by our selves, or by others, we must observe the following Propositions, or Axioms.
∥a1. The moral Importance of any ∥bAgentb∥, or the Quantity of publick Good produc’d by him, is in a compound Ratio of his Benevolence and Abilitys: or (by substituting the initial Letters for the Words, as M = Moment of Good, and μ = Moment of Evil) M = B × A.
2. ∥cIn like manner, the Moment of private Good, or Interest produc’d by any Person ∥dto himselfd∥, is in a compound Ratio of his Self-Love, and Abilitys: or (substituting the initial Letters) I = S × A.c∥
3. When in comparing the Virtue of two ∥eActions, the Abilitys of the Agents aree∥ equal; the ∥fMoment of publick Good produc’d by them in like Circumstances, is as the Benevolence: or M = B × 1f.∥
4. When Benevolence in two Agents is equal, and other Circumstances alike; the Moment of publick Good is as the Abilitys: or M = ∥gAg∥ × 1
5. The Virtue then of Agents, or their Benevolence, is always directly as the Moment of Good produc’d in like Circumstances, and inversly as their Abilitys: or B = .
6. But as the natural Consequences of our Actions are various, some good to our selves, and evil to the Publick; and others evil to our selves, and good to the Publick; or either useful both to our selves and others, or pernicious to both; the entire ∥hMotive toh∥ good Actions is not always Benevolence alone; ∥ior Motive to Evili∥, Malice alone; (nay, ∥jthis last is seldom any Motive at allj∥) but in most Actions we must look upon Self-Love as another Force, sometimes conspiring with Benevolence, and assisting it, when we are excited by Views of private Interest, as well as publick Good; and sometimes opposing Benevolence, when the good Action is any way difficult or painful in the Performance, or detrimental in its Consequences to the Agent. ∥kIn the former Case, M = (B + S) × A = BA + SA; and therefore BA = M − SA = M −= I, and B = . In the latter Case, M = (B − S) × A = BA − SA; therefore BA = M + SA = M + I, and B = .ak∥
These selfish Motives shall be ∥ hereafter∥ more ∥ fully∥ explain’d; here we may in general denote them by the Word In-terest: which when it concurs with Benevolence, in any Action capable of Increase, or Diminution, must produce a greater Quantity of Good, than Benevolence alone in the same Abilitys; and therefore when the Moment ∥ of Good, in an∥ Action partly intended for the Good of the Agent, is but equal to the Moment ∥ of Good∥ in the Action of another Agent, influenc’d only by Benevolence, the former is less virtuous; and in this Case the Interest must be deducted to find the true Effect of the Benevolence, or Virtue. ∥ In∥ the same manner, when Interest is opposite to Benevolence, and yet is surmounted by it; this Interest must be added to the Moment, to increase the Virtue of the Action, or the Strength of the Benevolence∥ : Or thus, in advantageous Virtue, B = . And in laborious, painful, dangerous or expensive Virtue, B = . By Interest, in this last Case, is understood all the Advantage which the Agent might have obtain’d by omitting the Action, which is a negative Motive to it; and this, when subtracted, becomes positive.
Intention, and Foresight, affect Actions.But here we must observe, that no Advantage, not intended, altho casually, or naturally redounding to us from the Action, does at all affect its Morality to make it less amiable; nor does any Difficulty or Evil unforeseen, or not resolved upon, make a kind Action more virtuous; since in such Cases Self-Love neither assists nor opposes Benevolence. Nay, Self-Interest ∥ then only∥ diminishes the Benevolence, when without this View of Interest the Action would not have been undertaken, or so much Good would not have been produc’d by the Agent; and it extenuates the Vice of an evil Action, ∥ only∥ when without this Interest the Action would not have been ∥ pleasing to∥ the Agent, ∥ or∥ so much Evil have been produc’d by him.
The ∥ sixth∥ Axiom only explains the external Marks by which Men must judge, who do not see into each others Hearts; for it may really happen in many Cases, that Men may have Benevolence sufficient to ∥ surmount∥ any Difficulty, and yet they may meet with none at all: And in that Case, it is certain there is as much Virtue in the Agent, tho he does not give such Proof of it to his Fellow-Creatures, as if he had surmounted Difficultys in his kind Actions. And this too must be the Case with the Deity, to whom nothing is difficult.
Perfect Virtue.Since then ∥ Benevolence, or Virtue in any Agent, is as , or as , and no Being can act above his natural Ability∥; that must be the Perfection of Virtue where ∥ M = A∥, or when the Being acts to the utmost of ∥ his∥ Power for the publick Good; and hence the Perfection of Virtue in this Case, ∥ or ,∥ is as Unity. And this may shew us the only Foundation for the boasting of the Stoicks, “That a Creature suppos’d Innocent, by pursuing Virtue with ∥ his∥ utmost Power, may in Virtue equal the Gods.” For in their Case, if ∥ [A] or∥ the Ability be Infinite, unless ∥ [M] or∥ the Good to be produc’d in the whole, be so too, the Virtue is not absolutely perfect; and the Quotient can never surmount Unity.
Moral Evil, how computed.∥aXII. The same Axioms may be apply’d to compute the moral Evil in Actions; that is, calling the Disposition which leads us to Evil, Hatred, tho it is oftner only Self-Love, with Inadvertence to its Consequences: then,
1st. The Moment of Evil produc’d by any Agent, is as the Product of his Hatred into his Ability, or μ = H × A. And,
2dly. In equal Abilitys, ∥bH = μ × 1b∥.
3dly. When Hatred is equal; μ = A × 1 And,
4thly. The Degree of moral Evil, ∥cor Vicec∥, which is equal to the Hatred or Neglect of publick Good, is thus express’d, H = .
5thly. The Motives of Interest may ∥dco-operate with Hatred, or opposed∥ it the same way as with Benevolence; and then according as Self-Interest may partly excite to the Action, and so diminish the Evil; or dissuade from it, and so increase it, the Malice which surmounts it, or H = , in like manner as in the Case of moral Good.a∥
Intention, Foresight.But we must observe, that not only Innocence is expected from all Mortals, but they are presum’d from their Nature, in some measure inclin’d to publick Good; so that a bare Absence of this Desire is enough to make an Agent be reputed Evil: Nor is a direct Intention of publick Evil necessary to make an Action evil, it is enough that it flows from Self-Love, with a plain Neglect of the Good of others∥a, or an Insensi-bility of their Misery, which we either actually foresee, or have a probable Presumption of.
It is true indeed, that that publick Evil which I neither certainly foresee, nor have actual Presumptions of, as the Consequence of my Action, does not make my present Action Criminal, or Odious; even altho I might have foreseen this Evil by a serious Examination of my own Actions; because such Actions do not, at present, evidence either Malice, or want of Benevolence. But then it is also certain, that my prior Negligence, in not examining the Tendency of my Actions, is a plain Evidence of the want of that Degree of good Affections which is necessary to a virtuous Character; and consequently the Guilt properly lies in this Neglect, rather than in an Action which really flows from a good Intention. Human Laws however, which cannot examine the Intentions, ∥bor secretb∥ Knowledge of the Agent, must judge in gross of the Action itself; presupposing all that Knowledge as actually attain’d, which we are oblig’d to attain.
In like manner, no good Effect which I did not actually foresee and intend, makes my Action morally Good; however Human ∥cLaws or Governoursc∥, who cannot search into Mens Intentions, or know their secret Designs, justly reward Actions ∥dwhich tendd∥ to the publick Good, altho the Agent was engag’d to those Actions only by selfish Views; and consequently had no virtuous Disposition influencing him to them.
The difference in degree of Guilt between Crimes of Ignorance, when the Ignorance is Vincible, and Faulty, as to the natural Tendency of the Action; and Crimes of Malice, or direct evil Intention, consists in this; that the former, by a prior Neglect, argues ∥eae∥ want of the due degree of Benevolence, or right Affection; the latter, evidences direct evil Affections, which are vastly more odiousa∥.
Morality distinct from Interest.XIII. ∥ From Axiom the 5th∥, we may form almost a demonstrative Conclusion, “that we have a Sense of Goodness and moral Beauty in Actions, distinct from Advantage;” for had we no other Foundation of Approbation of Actions, but the Advantage which might arise to us from them, if they were done toward our selves, we ∥ should∥ make no Account of the Abilitys of the Agent, but would barely esteem them according to their Moment. The Abilitys come in only to shew the Degree of Benevolence, which supposes Benevolence necessarily amiable. Who was ever the better pleas’d with a barren rocky Farm, or an inconvenient House, by being told that the poor Farm gave as great Increase as it could; or that the House accommodated its Possessor as well as it could? And yet in our Sentiments of Actions, whose Moment is very inconsiderable, it shall wonderfully increase the Beauty to alledge, “That it was all the poor Agent could do for the Publick, or his Friend.”
Morality of Characters.XIV. The moral Beauty of Characters arises from their Actions, or sincere Intentions of the publick Good, according to their Power. We form our Judgment of them according to what appears to be their fix’d Disposition, and not according to any particular Sallys of unkind Passions; altho ∥ these∥ abate the Beauty of good Characters, as the Motions of the kind ∥ Affections∥ diminish the Deformity of the bad ones. What then properly constitutes a virtuous Character, is not some few accidental Motions of Compassion, natural Affection, or Gratitude; but such a fix’d Humanity, or Desire of the publick Good of all, to whom our Influence can extend, as uniformly excites us to all Acts of ∥ Beneficence, according to our utmost Prudence and Knowledge of the Interests of others: and a strong Benevolence will not fail to make us∥ careful of informing our selves right, concerning the truest Methods of serving ∥ the Interests of Mankind∥. Every Motion indeed of the kind Affections appears in some degree amiable; but we denominate the Character from the prevailing Principle.
Instinct may be the spring of Virtue.XV. ∥ I Know not for what Reason some will not allow that to be Virtue, which flows from Instincts, or Passions; but how do they help themselves? They say, “Virtue arises from Reason.” What is Reason but that Sagacity we have in prosecuting any End? The ultimate End propos’d by the common Moralists is the Happiness of the Agent himself, and this certainly he is determin’d to pursue from Instinct.∥ Now may not another Instinct toward the Publick, or the Good of others, be as proper a Principle of Virtue, as the Instinct toward private Happiness? ∥ And is there not the same Occasion for the Exercise of our Reason in pursuing the former, as the latter?∥ This is certain, that whereas we behold the selfish Actions of others, with Indifference at best, we see something amiable in every Action which flows from kind Affections or Passions ∥ toward∥ others; if they be conducted by Prudence, so as any way to attain their ∥aEnd. ∥bOur passionate Actions, as we shew’d above, are not ∥calwaysc∥ Self-interested; since our In-tention is not to free our selves from the Uneasiness of the Passion, but to alter the State of the Object.ab∥
If it be said, “That Actions from Instinct, are ∥ not the∥ Effect of Prudence and Choice;” this Objection holds full as strongly against ∥ the∥ Actions which flow from ∥ Self-Love; since the use of our Reason is as requisite, to find the proper Means of promoting publick Good, as private Good. And as it must be an Instinct, or a Determination previous to Reason, which makes us pursue private Good, as well as publick Good, as our End; there is the same occasion for Prudence and Choice, in the Election of proper Means for promoting of either. I see∥ no harm in supposing, “that Men are naturally dispos’d to Virtue, and not left merely indifferent, ∥ to be ingag’d in Actions only as they appear to tend to their own private Good.∥” Surely, the Supposition of a benevolent universal Instinct, would recommend human Nature, and its Author, more to the Love of a good Man, and leave room enough for the Exercise of our Reason, in contriving and settling Rights, Laws, Constitutions; in inventing Arts, and practising them so as to gratify, in the most effectual manner, that generous Inclination. And if we must bring in Self-Love to make Virtue Rational, a little Reflection will discover, as ∥ shall appear hereafter∥, that this Benevolence is our greatest Happiness; and thence we may ∥ resolve to cultivate, as much as possible,∥ this sweet Disposition, and to despise every opposite Interest. Not that we can be truly Virtuous, if we intend only to obtain the Pleasure which ∥ accompanies∥ Beneficence, without the Love of others: Nay, this very Pleasure is founded on our being conscious of disinterested Love to others, as the Spring of our Actions. But Self-Interest may be our Motive, ∥ in chusing to∥ continue in this agreeable State, tho it cannot be the sole, or principal Motive of any Action, which to our moral Sense appears Virtuous.
Heroism, in all stations.∥aThe applying a mathematical Calculation to moral Subjects, ∥bwillb∥ appear perhaps at first extravagant and wild; but some Corollarys, which are easily and certainly deduc’d below, may shew the Conveniency of this Attempt, if it could be further pursu’d. At present, we ∥cshall only drawc∥ this onea∥, which seems the most joyful imaginable, even to the lowest rank of Mankind, viz. “That no external Circumstances of Fortune, no involuntary Disadvantages, can exclude any Mortal from the most heroick Virtue.” For how small soever the Moment of publick Good be, which any one can accomplish, yet if his Abilitys ∥ are∥ proportionably small, the ∥ Quotient, which expresses the Degree of∥ Virtue, may be as great as any whatsoever. Thus, not only the Prince, the Statesman, the General, are capable of true Heroism, tho these are the chief Characters, whose Fame is diffus’d thro various Nations and Ages; but when we find in an honest Trader, the kind Friend, the faithful prudent Adviser, the charitable and hospitable Neighbour, the tender Husband and affectionate Parent, the sedate yet chearful Companion, the generous Assistant of Merit, the cautious Allayer of Contention and Debate, the Promoter of Love and good Understanding among Acquaintances; if we consider, that these were all the good Offices which his Station in the World gave him an Opportunity of performing to Mankind, we must judge this Character really as amiable, as those, whose external Splendor dazzles an injudicious World into an Opinion, “that they are the only Heroes in Virtue.”
This Moral Sense universal.I. To ∥ shew∥ how far Mankind agree in that which we have made the universal Foundation of this moral Sense, viz. Benevolence, we have observ’d already,∥ ∥ that when we are ask’d the Reason of our Approbation of any Action, we ∥ perpetually∥ alledge its Usefulness to the Publick, and not to the Actor himself. If we are vindicating a censur’d Action, and maintaining it lawful, we ∥ always∥ make this one Article of our Defence, “That it injur’d no body, or did more Good than Harm.” On the other hand, when we blame any piece of Conduct, we shew it to be prejudicial to others, besides the Actor; or to evidence at least a Neglect of their Interest, when it was in our power to serve them; or when Gratitude, natural Affection, or some other disinterested Tye should have rais’d in us a Study of their Interest. ∥aIf we sometimes blame foolish Conduct in others, without any reflection upon its Tendency to publick Evil, it is ∥bstill occasion’db∥ by our Benevolence, which makes us concern’d for the Evils befalling ∥cthe Agent, whom we must always look upon as a part of the System.ac∥ We all know how great an Extenuation of Crimes ∥ it∥ is, to alledge, “That the poor Man does harm to no body but himself;” and how often this turns Hatred into Pity. And yet ∥ if we examine the Matter well,∥ we shall find, that the greatest part of the Actions which are immediately prejudicial to our selves, and are often look’d upon as innocent toward others, do really tend to the publick Detriment, by making us incapable of performing the good Offices we could otherwise have done, and perhaps would have ∥ been∥ inclin’d to do. This is the Case of Intemperance and extravagant Luxury.
Benevolence the sole ground of Approbation.II. And further, we may observe, that no Action of any other Person was ever approv’d by us, but upon some Apprehension, well or ill grounded, of some really good moral Quality. If we observe the Sentiments of Men concerning Actions, we shall find, that it is ∥ always∥ some really amiable and benevolent Appearance which engages their Approbation. We may perhaps commit Mistakes, in judging ∥ that Actions tend∥ to the publick Good, which do not; or be so ∥ stupidly∥ inadvertent, that while our Attention is fix’d on some partial good Effects, we may quite over-look many evil Consequences which counter-ballance the Good. Our Reason may be very deficient in its Office, by giving us partial Representations of the tendency of Actions; but it is still some apparent Species of Benevolence which commands our Approbation. And this Sense, like our other Senses, tho counter-acted ∥ from Motives of external Advantage, which are stronger than it∥, ∥ ceases not∥ to operate, but ∥ has Strength enough to make∥ us uneasy and dissatisfy’d with our selves; even as the Sense of Tasting ∥ makes∥ us loath, and dislike the nauseous Potion which we may ∥ force∥ our selves, from Interest, to swallow.
False Approbations.It is therefore to no purpose to alledge here, “That many Actions are really done, and approv’d, which tend to the universal Detriment.” For the same way, Actions are often perform’d, and in the mean time approv’d, ∥ which tend∥ to the Hurt of the Actor. But as we do not from the latter, infer the Actor to be void of Self-Love, or a Sense of Interest; no more should we infer from the former, that such Men are void of a Sense of Morals, or a desire of publick Good. The matter is plainly this. Men are often mistaken in the Tendency of Actions either to publick, or private Good: Nay, sometimes violent Passions, while they last, will make ∥ them∥ approve very bad Actions ∥ in a moral∥ Sense, ∥ or∥ very pernicious ones to the Agent, ∥ as∥ advantageous: But this proves only, “That sometimes there may be some more violent Motive to Action, than a Sense of moral Good; or that ∥ Men, by Passion, may become blind∥ even to their own Interest.”
∥ But to prove that Men∥ are void of a moral Sense, we should find some Instances of cruel, malicious Actions, done, ∥ and approv’d in others, when there is no Motive of Interest, real or apparent, save gratifying that very Desire of Mischief to others∥: We must find a Country where Murder in cold blood, Tortures, and every thing malicious, without any Advantage, is, if not approv’d, at least look’d upon with indifference, and raises no Aversion toward the Actors, in the unconcern’d Spectators: We must find Men with whom the Treacherous, Ungrateful, Cruel, are in the same account with the Generous, Friendly, Faithful, and Humane; and who approve the latter, no more than the former, in all Cases where they are not affected by the Influence of these Dispositions, or when the natural Good or Evil befals other Persons. And it may be question’d, whether the Universe, tho large enough, and stor’d with no inconsiderable variety of Characters, will yield us any Instance, not only of a Nation, but even of a Club, or a single ∥ Person, who∥ will think all Actions indifferent, but those which ∥ regard∥ his own Concerns.
Diversity of Manners accounted for.III. From what has been said, we may easily account for the vast Diversity of moral Principles, in various Nations, and Ages; ∥awhich is indeed a good Argument against innate Ideas, or Principles, but will not evidence Mankind to be void of a moral Sense to perceive Virtue or Vice ∥bin Actions, when theyb∥ occur to their Observation.
Thea∥ Grounds of this Diversity are principally these:
From various Notions of Happiness.1st. Different Opinions of Happiness, or natural Good, and of the most effectual Means to advance it. Thus in one Country, where there prevails a courageous Disposition, where Liberty is counted a great Good, and War an inconsiderable Evil, all Insurrections in Defence of Privileges, will have the Appearance of moral Good to our Sense, because of their appearing benevolent; and yet the same Sense of moral Good in Benevolence, shall in another Country, where the Spirits of Men are more abject and timorous, where Civil War appears the greatest natural Evil, and Liberty no great Purchase, make the same Actions appear odious. So in Sparta, where, thro Contempt of Wealth, the Security of Possessions was not much regarded, but the thing chiefly desir’d, as naturally good to the State, was to abound in a hardy shifting Youth; Theft, if dexterously perform’d, was so little odious, that it receiv’d the Countenance of a Law to give it Impunity.
But in these, and all other Instances of the like nature, the Approbation is founded on Benevolence, because of some real, or apparent Tendency to the publick Good. For we are not to imagine, that this Sense should give us, ∥ without∥ Observation, Ideas of complex Actions, or of their natural Tendencys to Good or Evil: It only determines us to approve Benevolence, whenever it appears in any Action, and to hate the contrary. So our Sense of Beauty does not, without Reflection, Instruction, or Observation, give us Ideas of the regular Solids, Temples, Cirques, and Theatres; but determines us to approve and delight in Uniformity amidst Variety, wherever we observe it. Let us read the Preambles of any Laws we count unjust, or the Vindications of any dispu-ted Practice by the Moralists, and we shall find no doubt, that Men are often mistaken in computing the Excess of the natural Good, or evil Consequences of certain Actions; but the Ground on which any Action is approv’d, is still some Tendency to the greater natural Good of others, apprehended by those who approve it.
Travellers accounts of barbarous Customs.The same Reason may ∥ remove∥ also the Objections against the Universality of this Sense, from some Storys of Travellers, concerning strange Crueltys practis’d toward the Aged, or Children, in certain Countrys. If such Actions be done in ∥ sudden∥ angry Passions, they only prove, that other Motives, or Springs of Action, may overpower Benevolence in its strongest Ties; and if they really be universally allow’d, look’d upon as innocent, and vindicated; it ∥ is certainly∥ under some Appearance of Benevolence; such as to secure them from Insults of Enemys, to avoid the Infirmitys of Age, which perhaps appear greater Evils than Death, or to free the vigorous and useful Citizens from the Charge of maintaining them, or the Troubles of Attendance upon them. A love of Pleasure and Ease, may, in the immediate Agents, be stronger in some Instances, than Gratitude toward Parents, or natural Affection to Children. But that such Nations are continu’d, notwithstanding all the Toil in educating their Young, is still a sufficient Proof of natural Affection: For I fancy we are not to imagine any nice Laws in such Places, compelling Parents to a proper Education of some certain number of their Offspring. We know very well that an Appearance of publick Good, was the Ground of Laws, equally barbarous, enacted by Lycurgus and Solon, of killing the deform’d, or weak, to prevent a burdensome Croud of useless Citizens.
∥aA late ingenious Author has justly observ’d the Absurdity of the monstrous Taste, which has possess’d both the Readers and Writers of Travels. ∥bThey scarce give us any Accountb∥ of the natural Affections, the Familys, Associations, Friendships, Clans, of the Indians; and as ∥crarelyc∥ do they mention their Abhorrence of Treachery among themselves; their Proneness to mutual Aid, and to the Defence of their several States; their Contempt of Death in defence of their Country, or upon points of Honour. “These are but common Storys.—No need to travel to the Indies for what we see in Europe every Day.” The Entertainment therefore in these ingenious Studys consists chiefly in exciting Horror, and making Men Stare. The ordinary Employment of the Bulk of the Indians in support of their Wives and Offspring, or Relations, has nothing of the Prodigious. But a Human Sacrifice, a Feast upon Enemys Carcases, can raise an Horror and Admiration of the wondrous Barbarity of Indians, in Nations no strangers to the Massacre at Paris, the Irish Rebellion, or the Journals of the Inquisition. These they behold with religious Veneration; but the Indian Sacrifices, flowing from a like Perversion of Humanity by Superstition, raise the highest Abhorrence and Amazement. What is most surprizing in these Studys, is the wondrous Credulity of some Gentlemen, of great Pretensions ∥din other matters to Caution of Assentd∥, for these marvellous Memoirs of Monks, Fryars, Sea-Captains, Pyrates; and for the Historys, Annals, Chronologys, receiv’d by Oral Tradition, or Hieroglyphicks.a∥
Use of Reason in Morals.Men have Reason given them, to ∥ judge of the Tendencys of their∥ Actions, that they may not stupidly follow the first Appearance of publick Good; but it is still some Appearance of Good which they pursue. And it is strange, that Reason is universally allow’d to Men, notwithstanding all the stupid, ridiculous Opinions receiv’d in many Places, and yet absurd Practices, founded upon those very Opinions, shall seem an Argument against any moral Sense; altho the bad Conduct is not ∥ owing to∥ any Irregularity in the moral Sense, but ∥ to a wrong∥ Judgment or Opinion. If putting the Aged to death, with all ∥ its∥ Consequences, really tends to the publick Good, and ∥ to∥ the lesser Misery of the Aged, it is no doubt justifiable; nay, perhaps the Aged chuse it, in hopes of a future State. If a deform’d, or weak Race, could never, by Ingenuity and Art, make themselves useful to Mankind, but should grow an absolutely unsupportable Burden, so as to involve a whole State in Misery, it is just to put them to death. This all allow to be just, in the Case of an over-loaded Boat in a Storm. And as for killing of their Children, when Parents are sufficiently stock’d, it is perhaps practis’d, and allow’d from Self-love; but I can scarce think it passes for a good Action any where. If Wood, or Stone, or Metal be ∥ a Deity∥, have Government, and Power, and have been the Authors of Benefits to us; it is morally ∥ amiable∥ to praise and worship them. Or if the true Deity be pleas’d with Worship before Statues, or any other Symbol of some more immediate Presence, or Influence; Image-Worship is virtuous. If he delights in Sacrifices, Penances, Ceremonys, Cringings; they are all laudable. Our Sense of Virtue, generally leads us exactly enough according to our Opinions; and therefore the absurd Practices which prevail in the World, are much better Arguments that Men have no Reason, than that they have no moral Sense of Beauty in Actions.
Narrow Systems pervert the moral Sense.IV. The next Ground of Diversity in Sentiments, is the Diversity of Systems, to which Men, from foolish Opinions, confine their Benevolence. We ∥ insinuated∥ above, that it is regular and beautiful to have stronger Benevolence, toward the morally good Parts of Mankind, who are useful to the Whole, than toward the useless or pernicious. Now if Men receive a low, or base Opinion of any Body, or Sect of Men; if they imagine them bent upon the Destruction of the more valuable Parts, or but useless Burdens of the Earth; Benevolence itself will lead ∥ them∥ to neglect the Interests of such, and to suppress them. This is the Reason, why, among Nations who have high Notions of Virtue, every Action toward an Enemy may pass for just; why Romans, and Greeks, could approve of making those they call’d Barbarians, Slaves.
Sects pernicious to Virtue.∥aA late ingenious Author∥bb∥ justly observes, “That the various Sects, Partys, ∥cFactions, Cabalsc∥ of Mankind in larger Societys, are all influenc’d by a publick Spirit: That some generous Notions of publick Good, some strong friendly Dispositions, raise them at first, and excite Men of the same Faction or Cabal to the most disinterested mutual Succour and Aid: That all the Contentions of the different Factions, and even the fiercest Wars against each other, are influenc’d by a sociable publick Spirit in a limited ∥dSystem.”d∥ But certain it is, that Men are little oblig’d to those, who often artfully raise and foment this Party Spirit; or cantonize them into several Sects for the Defence of very trifling Causes. Associations for innocent Commerce, or Manufactures; Cabals for Defence of Liberty against a Tyrant; or even lower Clubs for Pleasantry, or Improvement by Conversation, are very amiable and good. But when Mens heads are filled with some trifling Opinions; when designing Men raise in their Minds some unaccountable ∥enotione∥ of Sanctity, and Religion, in Tenets or Practices, which neither increase our Love to God, or our own Species; when the several Factions are taught to look upon each other as Odious, Contemptible, Profane, because of their different Tenets, or Opinions; even when these Tenets, whether true or false, are perhaps perfectly useless to the publick Good; when the keenest Passions are rais’d about such Trifles, and Men begin to hate each other for what, of it self, has no Evil in it; and to love the Zealots of their own Sect for what is no way valuable; nay, even for their Fury, Rage, and Malice against opposite Sects; (which is what all Partys commonly call Zeal) ’tis then no wonder if our moral Sense ∥fbe muchf∥ impair’d, and our natural Notions of Good and Evil almost lost; when our Admiration, and Love, or Contempt, and Hatred, are thus perverted from their natural Objects.
If any Mortals are so happy as never to have heard of the Party-Tenets of most of our Sects; or if they have heard of them, have either never espous’d any Sect, or all equally; they bid fairest for a truly natural and good Disposition, because their Tempers have never been soured about vain Trifles; nor have they contracted any Sullenness, or Rancour against any Part of their own Kind. If any Opinions deserve to be contended for, they are those which give us lovely Ideas of the Deity, and of our Fellow-Creatures: If any Opinions deserve Opposition, they are such as raise Scruples in our Minds about the Goodness of Providence, or represent our Fellow-Creatures as base and selfish, by instilling into us some ill-natur’d, cunning, shreud Insinuations, “that our most generous Actions proceed wholly from selfish Views.” This wise Philosophy of some Moderns, after Epicurus, must be fruitful of nothing but Discontent, Suspicion, and Jealousy; a State infinitely worse than any little transitory Injurys to which we might be expos’d by a good-natur’d Credulity. But thanks be to the kind Author of our Nature, that, in spite of such Opinions, our Nature it self leads us into Friendship, Trust, and mutual Confidence.a∥
Were we freely conversant with Robbers, who shew a moral Sense in the equal or proportionable Division of their Prey, and in Faith to each other, we should find they have their own sublime moral Ideas of their Party, as Generous, Courageous, Trusty, nay Honest too; and that those we call Honest and Industrious, are imagin’d by them ∥ to be∥ Mean-spirited, Selfish, Churlish, or Luxurious; on whom that Wealth is ill bestow’d, which therefore they would apply to better Uses, to maintain gallanter Men, who have a Right to a Living as well as their Neighbours, who are their profess’d Enemys. Nay, if we observe the Discourse of our profess’d Debauchees, our most dissolute Rakes, we shall find their Vices cloth’d, in their Imaginations, with some amiable Dress of Liberty, Generosity, just Resentment against the Contrivers of artful Rules to enslave Men, and rob them of their Pleasures.
Perhaps never any Men pursu’d ∥ Vice long with Peace of Mind∥, without some such deluding Imagination of moral Good, while they may be still inadvertent to the barbarous and inhuman Consequences of their Actions. The Idea of an ill-natur’d Villain, is too frightful ever to become familiar to any Mortal. ∥ Hence∥ we shall find, that the basest Actions are dress’d in some tolerable Mask. What others call Avarice, appears to the Agent a prudent Care of a Family, or Friends; Fraud, artful Conduct; Malice and Revenge, a just Sense of Honour, and a Vindication of our Right in Possessions, or Fame; Fire and Sword, and Desolation among Enemys, a just thorow Defence of our Country; Persecution, a Zeal for the Truth, and for the eternal Happiness of Men, which Hereticks oppose. In all these Instances, Men generally act from a Sense of Virtue upon false Opinions, and mistaken Benevolence; upon wrong or partial Views of publick Good, and the means to promote it; or upon very narrow Systems form’d by like foolish Opinions. It is not a Delight in the Misery of others, or Malice, which occasions the horrid Crimes which fill our Historys; but generally an injudicious unreasonable Enthusiasm for some kind of limited Virtue.
False Opinions of the divine Laws.V. The last Ground of Diversity which occurs, are the false Opinions of the Will or Laws of the Deity. To obey these we are determin’d from Gratitude, and a Sense of Right imagin’d in the Deity, to dispose at pleasure the Fortunes of his Creatures. This is so abundantly known to have produc’d Follys, Superstitions, Murders, Devastations of Kingdoms, from a Sense of Virtue and Duty, that it is needless to mention particular Instances. Only we may observe, “That all those Follys, or Barbaritys, rather confirm than destroy the Opinion of a moral Sense;” since the Deity is believ’d to have a Right to dispose of his Creatures; and Gratitude to him, if he be conceiv’d good, must move us to Obedience to his Will: if he be not ∥ conceiv’d good∥, Self-love may overcome our moral Sense of the Action which we undertake to avoid his Fury.
As for the Vices which ∥ commonly∥ proceed from Love of Pleasure, or any violent Passion, since generally the Agent is soon sensible of their Evil, and ∥ that sometimes∥ amidst the heat of the Action, they only prove, “That this moral Sense, and Benevolence, may be overcome by the more importunate Sollicitations of other Desires.”
Objection from Incest.VI. Before we leave this Subject, it is necessary to remove one of the strongest Objections against what has been said so often, viz. “That this Sense is natural, and independent on Custom and Education.” The Objection is this, “That we shall find some Actions always attended with the strongest Abhorrence, even at first View, in some whole Nations, ∥ in which there appears nothing contrary to Benevolence∥; and that the same Actions shall in another Nation be counted innocent, or honourable. Thus Incest, among Christians, is abhorr’d at first appearance as much as Murder; ∥ even by those who do not know or reflect upon any necessary tendency of it to the detriment of Mankind. Now we generally allow, that what is from Nature in one Nation, would be so in all. This∥ Abhorrence ∥ therefore∥ cannot be from Nature, since in Greece, the marrying half Sisters was counted honourable; and among the Persian Magi, the marrying of Mothers. Say they then, may not all our Approbation or Dislike of Actions arise the same way from Custom and Education?”
The Answer to this may be easily found from what is already said. Had we no moral Sense natural to us, we should only look upon Incest as hurtful to our selves, and shun it, and never ∥ hate∥ other incestuous Persons, more than we do a broken Merchant; so that still this Abhorrence supposes a Sense of moral Good. And further, it is true, that ∥ many who abhor Incest do not know, or reflect upon the∥ natural tendency of some sorts of Incest to the publick Detriment; but wherever it is hated, it is apprehended as offensive to the Deity, and that it exposes the ∥ Person∥ concern’d to his just Vengeance. Now it is universally acknowledg’d to be the grossest Ingratitude and Baseness, in any Creature, to counteract the Will of the Deity, to whom it is under such ∥ Obligations. This then∥ is plainly a moral evil Quality apprehended in Incest, and reducible to the general Foundation of ∥ Malice, or rather Want of Benevolence∥. Nay further, where this Opinion, “that Incest is offensive to the Deity,” prevails, Incest must have another direct Contrariety to Benevolence; since we must apprehend the Incestuous, as exposing an Associate, who should be dear to him by the Ties of Nature, to the lowest State of Misery, and Baseness, Infamy and Punishment. But in those Countrys where no such Opinion prevails of the Deity’s abhorring ∥ or prohibiting Incest; if no obvious natural Evils attend it∥, it may be look’d upon as innocent. And further, as Men who have the Sense of Tasting, may, by Company and Education, have Prejudices against Meats they never tasted, as unsavoury; so may Men, who have a moral Sense, acquire an Opinion by implicit Faith, of the moral Evil of Actions, altho they do not themselves discern in them any tendency to natural Evil; imagining that others ∥ do: or, by Education, they may have some Ideas associated, which raise an abhorrence without Reason. But∥ without a moral Sense, we could receive no Prejudice against Actions, under any other View than as naturally disadvantageous to our selves.
Moral Sense not from Education.VII. The Universality of this moral Sense, and that it is antecedent to Instruction, may appear from observing the Sentiments of Children, upon hearing the Storys with which they are commonly entertain’d as soon as they understand Language. They always passionately interest themselves on that side where Kindness and Humanity are found; and detest the Cruel, the Covetous, the Selfish, or the Treacherous. How strongly do we see their Passions of Joy, Sorrow, Love, and Indignation, mov’d by these moral Representations, even tho there has been no pains taken to give them Ideas of a Deity, of Laws, of a future State, or of the more intricate Tendency of the universal Good to that of each Individual!
Degrees of Benevolence.I. We have already endeavour’d to prove, “That there is ∥ a∥ universal Determination to Benevolence in Mankind, even toward the most distant parts of the Species:” But we are not to imagine that ∥ this Benevolence is equal, or in the same degree toward all.∥ There are ∥ some∥ nearer and stronger ∥ Degrees∥ of Benevolence, when the Objects stand in some nearer relations to our selves, which have obtain’d distinct Names; such as natural Affection, ∥ and∥ Gratitude, ∥aor when Benevolence is increas’d by greater ∥bLove of ab∥ Esteem.
Natural Affection.One Species of natural Affection, viz. That in Parents towards ∥ their∥ Children, has been consider’d already; we ∥ shall only observe further∥, That there is the same kind of Affection among collateral Relations, tho in a weaker degree; which is universally observable where no Opposition of Interest produces contrary Actions, or counterballances the Power of this natural Affection.
Not founded on Merit, or Acquaintance. We may also observe, that as to the Affection of Parents, it cannot be entirely founded on Merit ∥ or∥ Acquaintance; not only because it is antecedent to all Acquaintance, which might occasion the ∥ Love of∥ Esteem; but because it operates where Acquaintance would produce Hatred, even toward Children apprehended to be vitious. And this Affection is further confirm’d to be from Nature, because it is always observ’d to descend∥ , and not ascend∥ from Children to Parents mutually. Nature, who seems sometimes frugal in her Operations, has strongly determin’d Parents to the Care of their Children, because they universally stand in absolute need of Support from them; but has left it∥ ∥ to Reflection, and a Sense of Gratitude, to produce Returns of Love in Children, toward such tender kind Benefactors, who very seldom stand in such absolute need of Support from their Posterity, as their Chil-dren did from them. Now did Acquaintance, or Merit produce natural Affection, we surely should find it strongest in Children, on whom all the Obligations are laid by a thousand good Offices; which yet is quite contrary to Observation. Nay, this Principle seems not confin’d to Mankind, but extends to other Animals, where yet we scarcely ever suppose any Ideas of Merit; and is observ’d to continue in them no longer than the Necessitys of their Young require. Nor could it be of any service to the Young that it should, since when they are grown up, they can receive little Benefit from the Love of their Dams. But as it is otherwise with rational Agents, so their Affections are of longer continuance, even during their whole lives.
Gratitude.II. ∥ But∥ nothing will give us a juster Idea of the wise Order in which human Nature is form’d for universal Love, and mutual good Offices, than considering that strong attraction of Benevolence, which we call Gratitude. Every one knows that Beneficence toward our selves makes a much deeper Impression upon us, and raises Gratitude, or a stronger Love toward the Benefactor, than equal Beneficence toward a third Person. Now because of the ∥ vast∥ Numbers of Mankind, their distant Habi-tations, and the Incapacity of any one to be remarkably useful to ∥ vast∥ Multitudes; that our Benevolence might not be quite distracted with ∥ a multiplicity∥ of Objects, whose equal Virtues would equally recommend them to our regard; or ∥abecome useless, by being equally extended to Multitudes ∥bat vast distancesb∥, whose Interest we could not understanda∥, nor be capable of promoting, having no Intercourse of Offices with them; Nature has ∥amore powerfully determin’d us to admire, and love the moral Qualitys of others which affect our selves, and has given us more powerful Impressions of Good-will ∥btowardb∥ those who are beneficent to our ∥cselvesa∥. This we call Gratitude. And thus a Foundation is laidc∥ for joyful Associations in all kinds of Business, and virtuous Friendships.
By this Constitution also the Benefactor is more encourag’d in his Beneficence, and better secur’d of an increase of Happiness by grateful Returns, than if his Virtue were only to be honour’d by the colder general Sentiments of Persons unconcern’d, who could not know his Necessitys, nor how to be profitable to him; especially, when they would all be equally determin’d to love innumerable Multitudes, whose equal Virtues would have the same Pretensions to their Love∥a, were there not an increase of Love, according as the Object is more nearly attach’d to us, or our Friends, by ∥bgoodb∥ Offices which affect our selves, or thema∥.
∥ This∥ universal Benevolence toward all Men, we may compare to that Principle of Gravitation, which perhaps extends to all Bodys in the Universe; but∥ , like the Love of Benevolence,∥ increases as the Distance is diminish’d, and is strongest when Bodys come to touch each other. Now this increase ∥ of Attraction∥ upon nearer Approach, is as necessary ∥ to the Frame of the Universe,∥ as that there should be any Attraction at all. For a general Attraction, equal in all Distances, would by the Contrariety of such multitudes of equal Forces, put an end to all Regularity of Motion, and perhaps stop it ∥ altogether.∥
∥ This increase of Love toward the Benevolent,∥ according to their nearer Approaches to our selves by their Benefits, is observable in the high degree of Love, which Heroes and Law-givers universally obtain in their own Countrys, above what they find abroad, even among those who are not insensible of their Virtues; and in all the strong Ties of Friendship, Acquaintance, Neighbourhood, Partnership; which are exceedingly necessary to the Order ∥ and Happiness∥ of human Society.
Love of Honour.III. From considering that ∥ strong Determination in our Nature to∥ Gratitude, and Love toward our Benefactors, which was already shewn to be disinterested; we are easily led to consider another Determination of our Minds, equally natural with the former, which is to ∥ delight∥ in the good Opinion and Love of others, even when we expect no other Advantage from them, except what flows from this Constitution, whereby Honour is made an immediate Good. This Desire of Honour I would call Ambition, had not Custom join’d some evil Ideas to that Word, making it denote such a violent desire of Honour, and of Power also, as will make us stop at no base Means to obtain them. On the other hand, we are by Nature subjected to a grievous Sensation of Misery, from the unfavourable Opinions of others concerning us, even when we dread no other Evil from them. This we call Shame; which in the same manner ∥ is constituted an immediate Evil, as we said Honour was an immediate Good.∥
Now were there no moral Sense, or had we no other Idea of Actions but as advantageous or hurtful, I see no reason why we should be delighted with Honour, or sub-jected to the uneasiness of Shame; or how it could ever happen, that a Man, who is secure from Punishment for any Action, should ever be uneasy at its being known to all the World. The World may have ∥ the worse Opinion of him for it; but what subjects my Ease to the Opinion of the World? Why, perhaps, we∥ shall not be so much trusted henceforward in Business, and so suffer Loss. If this be the only reason of Shame, and it has no immediate Evil, or Pain in it, distinct from Fear of Loss; then wherever we expose our selves to Loss, we should be asham’d, and endeavour to conceal the Action: and yet it is quite otherwise.
A Merchant, for instance, ∥ lest it should impair his Credit∥, conceals a Shipwrack, or a very bad Market, which he has sent his Goods to. But is this the same with the Passion of Shame? Has he that Anguish, that Dejection of Mind, and Self-condemnation, which one shall have whose Treachery is detected? Nay, how will Men sometimes glory in their Losses, when in a Cause imagin’d morally good, tho they really weaken their Credit in the Merchant’s Sense; that is, the Opinion of their Wealth, or fitness for Business? Was any Man ever asham’d of impoverishing himself to serve his Country, or his Friend?
The Foundation of Morals not the Opinions of our Country.IV. The Opinions of our Country are by some made the first Standard of Virtue. They alledge, “That by comparing Actions to them, we first distinguish between moral Good, and Evil: And then, say they, Ambition, or the Love of Honour, is our chief Motive.” But what is Honour? It is not ∥ the being∥ universally known, no matter how. A covetous Man is not honour’d by being universally known as covetous; nor a weak, selfish, or luxurious Man, when he is known to be so: Much less can a treacherous, cruel, or ungrateful Man, be said to be honour’d for his being known as such. A Posture-master, a Fire-eater, or Practiser of Leger-de-main, is not honour’d for these publick Shews, unless we consider him as a Person capable of giving the Pleasures of Admiration and Surprize to Multitudes. Honour then is the Opinion of others concerning our morally good Actions, or Abilitys presum’d to be apply’d that way; for Abilitys constantly apply’d to other Purposes, procure the greatest Infamy. Now, it is certain, that Ambition∥ , or Love of Honour is really selfish∥; but then ∥ this∥ Determination to love Honour, presupposes a Sense of moral Virtue, both in the Persons who confer the Honour, and in him who pursues it.
And let it be observ’d, that if we knew an Agent had no other Motive of Action ∥ than∥ Ambition, we should apprehend no Virtue even in his most useful Actions, since they flow’d not from any Love to others, or Desire ∥ of∥ their Happiness. When Honour is thus constituted by Nature pleasant to us, it may be an additional Motive to Virtue, as we said above,∥ ∥ the Pleasure arising from Reflection on our Benevolence was: but the Person whom we imagine perfectly virtuous, acts immediately from the Love of others; however these refin’d Interests may be joint Motives to him to set about such a Course of Actions, or to cultivate every kind Inclination, and to despise every contrary Interest, as giving a smaller Happiness than Reflection on his own Virtue, and Consciousness of the Esteem of others.
Shame is in the same manner constituted an immediate Evil, and influences us the same way to abstain from moral Evil; not that any Action or Omission would appear virtuous, where the sole Motive was Fear of Shame.
Opinions flow from the Moral Sense.V. But to enquire further, how far the Opinions of our Company can raise a Sense of moral Good or Evil. If any Opinion be universal in any Country, Men of little Reflection will probably embrace it. If an Action be believ’d to be advantageous to the Agent, we may be led to believe so too, and then Self-Love may make us undertake it; or may, the same way, make us shun an Action reputed pernicious to the Agent. If an Action pass for advantageous to the Publick, we may believe so too; and what next? If we have no disinterested Benevolence, what shall move us to undertake it? “Why, we love Honour; and to obtain this Pleasure, we will undertake the Action from Self-Interest.” Now, is Honour only the Opinion of our Country that an Action is advantageous to the Publick? No: we see no Honour paid to the useful Treachery of an Enemy whom we have brib’d to our Side, to casual undesign’d Services, or to the most useful Effects of Compulsion on Cowards; and yet we see Honour paid to unsuccessful Attempts to serve the Publick from sincere Love to it. Honour then presupposes a Sense of something amiable besides Advantage, ∥ viz.∥ a Sense of Excellence in a publick Spirit; and therefore the first Sense of moral Good must be antecedent to Honour, for Honour is founded upon it. The Company we keep may lead us, without examining, to believe that certain Actions tend to the publick Good; but that our Company honours such Actions, and loves the Agent, must flow from a Sense of some Excellence in this Love of the Publick, and serving its Interests.
“We therefore, say they again, pretend to love the Publick, altho we only desire the Pleasure of Honour; and we will applaud all who seem to act in that manner, either that we may reap Advantage from their Actions, or that others may believe we really love the Publick.” But shall any Man ever ∥ really love the Publick, or study the Good of others in his heart, if Self-love be∥ the only spring of his Actions? No: that is impossible. Or, shall we ever really ∥ love∥ Men who appear to love the Publick, without a moral Sense? ∥ No: we could form no Idea of such a Temper; and as for these Pretenders to publick Love, we should hate∥ them as Hypocrites, and our Rivals in Fame. Now this is all which could be effected by the Opinions of our Country, even supposing they had a moral Sense, provided we had none our selves: They never could make us admire Virtue, or virtuous Characters in others; but could only give us Opinions of Advantage, or Disadvantage in Actions, according as they tended ∥ procure to∥ us the Pleasures of Honour, or the Pain of Shame.
But if we suppose that Men have, by Nature, a moral Sense of Goodness in Actions, and that they are capable of disinterested Love; all is easy. The Opinions of our Company may make us rashly conclude, that certain Actions tend to the universal Detriment, and are morally Evil, when perhaps they are not so; and then our Sense may determine us to have an Aversion to them, and their Authors; or we may, the same way, be led into implicit Prejudices in favour of Actions as good; and then our desire of Honour may co-operate with Benevolence, to move us to such Actions: but had we no Sense of moral Qualitys in Actions, ∥ nor any∥ Conceptions of them, ∥ except∥ as advantageous or hurtful, we never could have honour’d or lov’d Agents for publick Love, or had any regard to their Actions, further than they affected our selves in particular. We might have form’d the metaphysical Idea of publick Good, but we had never desir’d it, further than it tended to our own private Interest, without a Principle of Benevolence; nor admir’d and lov’d those who ∥ were∥ studious of it, without a moral Sense. So far is Virtue from being (in the Language of a late Author) the Offspring of Flattery, begot upon Pride; that Pride, in the bad meaning of that Word, is the spurious Brood of Ignorance by our moral Sense, and Flattery only an Engine, which the Cunning may use to turn this moral Sense in others, to the Purposes of Self-love in the Flatterer.
Moral Sense, not from Love of Honour.VI. To explain what has been said of the Power of Honour. Suppose a State or Prince, observing the Money which is drawn out of England by Italian Musicians, ∥ should∥ decree Honours, Statues, Titles, for great Musicians: This would certainly excite all who had hopes of Success, to the Study of Musick; and ∥ Men of a good Ear would approve of∥ the good Performers as useful Subjects, as well as very entertaining. But would this give all Men a good Ear, or make them delight in Harmony? Or could it ever make us really love a Musician, who study’d nothing but his own Gain, in the same manner we do a Patriot, or a generous Friend? I doubt not. And yet Friendship, without the Assistance of Statues, or Honours, can make Persons appear exceedingly amiable.
Let us take another Instance. Suppose Statues, and triumphal Arches were decreed, as well as a large Sum of Money, to the Discoverer of the Longitude, or any other useful Invention in Mathematicks: This would raise a universal Desire of such Knowledge from Self-Love; but would Men therefore love a Mathematician as they do a virtuous Man? Would a Mathema-tician love every Person who had attain’d Perfection in that Knowledge, wherever he observ’d it, altho he knew that it was not accompany’d with any Love to Mankind, or Study of their Good, but with Ill-nature, Pride, Covetousness? In short, let us honour other Qualitys by external Shew as much as we please, if we do not discern a benevolent Intention in the Application, or presume upon it; we may look upon these Qualitys as useful, enriching, or otherwise advantageous to any one who is possess’d of them; but they shall never meet with those endearing Sentiments of Esteem and Love, which our nature determines us to appropriate to Benevolence, or Virtue.
Love of Honour, and Aversion to Shame, may often move us to do Actions for which others profess to honour us, even tho we see no Good in them our selves: And Compliance with the Inclinations of others, as it evidences Humanity, may procure some Love to the Agent, from Spectators who see no moral Good in the Action it self. But without some Sense of Good in the Actions, Men shall never be fond of such Actions in Solitude, nor ever love any one for Perfection in them, or for practising them in Solitude; and much less shall they be dissatisfy’d with themselves when they act otherwise in Solitude. Now this is the case with us, as to Virtue; and therefore we must have, by Nature, a moral Sense of it antecedent to Honour.
This will shew us with what Judgment a late Author compares the Original of our Ideas of Virtue, and Approbation of it, to the manner of regulating the Behaviour of aukard Children by Commendation. It shall appear ∥ afterward∥, that our Approbation of some Gestures, and what we call Decency in Motion, depends upon some moral Ideas in People of advanc’d Years. But before Children come to observe this Relation, it is only good Nature, an Inclination to please, and Love of Praise, which makes them endeavour to behave as they are desir’d; and not any Perception of Excellence in this Behaviour. ∥ Hence∥ they are not sollicitous about Gestures when alone, unless with a View to please when they return to Company; ∥ nor do they ever∥ love or approve others for ∥ any∥ Perfection of this kind, but rather envy or hate them; till they either discern the Connexion between Gestures, and moral Qualitys; or reflect on the good Nature, which is evidenc’d by such a Compliance with the desire of the Company.
False Honour.VII. The considering Honour in the manner above explain’d, may shew us the reason, why Men are often asham’d for things which are not vitious, and honour’d for what is not virtuous. For, if any Action only appears vitious to any Persons or Company, altho it be not so, they will have a bad Idea of the Agent; and then he may be asham’d, or suffer Uneasiness in being thought morally Evil. ∥ The∥ same way, those who look upon an Action as morally good, will honour the Agent, and he may be pleas’d with the Honour, altho he does not himself perceive any moral Good in what has procur’d it.
Moral Incapacity, matter of Shame.Again, we shall be asham’d of every Evidence of moral Incapacity, or Want of Ability; and with good ground, when this Want is occasion’d by our own Negligence. Nay further, if any Circumstance be look’d upon as indecent in any Country, offensive to others, ∥ or∥ deform’d; we shall, out of our ∥ Love to∥ the good Opinions of others, be asham’d to be found in such Circumstances, even when we are sensible that this Indecency or Offence is not founded on Nature, but is merely the Effect of Custom. Thus being observ’d in ∥ those∥ Functions of Nature which are counted indecent and offensive, will make us uneasy, altho we are sensible that they really do not argue any Vice or Weakness. But on the contrary, since moral Abilitys of any kind, upon the general Presumption of a good Application, procure the Esteem of others, we shall value our selves upon them, or grow proud of them, and be asham’d of any Discovery of our want of such Abilitys. This is the reason that Wealth and Power, the great Engines of Virtue, when presum’d to be intended for benevolent Purposes, either toward our Friends or our Country, procure Honour from others, and are apt to beget Pride in the Possessor; which, as it is a general Passion which may be either good or evil, according as it is grounded, we may describe to be the Joy which arises from the real or imagin’d Possession of Honour, or Claim to it. ∥ The∥ same are the Effects of Knowledge, Sagacity, Strength; and hence it is that Men are apt to boast of them.
But whenever it appears that Men have only their private Advantage in view, in the application of these Abilitys, or natural Advantages, the Honour ceases, and we study to conceal them, or at least are not fond of displaying them; and much more when there is any Suspicion of an ill-natur’d Application. Thus some Misers are asham’d of their Wealth, and study to conceal it; as the malicious or selfish do their Power: Nay, this is very often done where there is no positive evil Intention; because the diminishing their Abilitys, increases the moral Good of any little kind ∥ Action∥, which they can find in their hearts to perform.
Selfishness shameful.In short, we always see Actions which flow from publick Love, accompany’d with generous Boldness and Openness; and not only malicious, but even selfish ones, the matter of Shame and Confusion; and that Men study to conceal them. The Love of private Pleasure is the ordinary occasion of Vice; and when Men have got any lively Notions of Virtue, they generally begin to be asham’d of every thing which betrays Selfishness, even in Instances where it is innocent. We are apt to imagine, that others observing us in such Pursuits, form mean Opinions of us, as too much set on private Pleasure; and hence we shall find such Enjoyments, in most polite Nations, conceal’d from those who do not partake with us. Such are venereal Pleasures between Persons marry’d, and even eating and drinking alone, any nicer sorts of Meats or Drinks; whereas a hospitable Table is rather matter of boasting; and so are all other kind, generous Offices between marry’d Persons, where there is no Suspicion of Self-love in the Agent; but he is imagin’d as acting from Love to his Associate. This, ∥ I fancy, first introduc’d Ideas of Modesty in polite Nations, and Custom has strengthen’d them wonderfully∥; so that we are now asham’d of many things, upon some confus’d implicit Opinions of moral Evil, tho we know not upon what account.
Honour and Shame, often from some Associations of Ideas.Here too we may see the reason, why we are not asham’d of any of the Methods of Grandeur, or high-Living. There is such a Mixture of moral Ideas, of Benevolence, of Abilitys kindly employ’d; so many Dependants supported, so many Friends entertain’d, assisted, protected; such a Capacity imagin’d for great and amiable Actions, that we are never asham’d, but rather boast of such things: We never affect Obscurity or Concealment, but rather desire that our State and Magnificence should be known. Were it not for this Conjunction of moral Ideas, no Mortal could bear the Drudgery of State, or abstain from laughing at those who did. Could any Man be pleas’d with a Company of Statues surrounding his Table, so artfully contriv’d as to consume his various Courses, and inspir’d by some Servant, like so many Puppets, to give the usual trifling Returns in praise of their Fare? Or with so many Machines to perform the Cringes and Whispers of a Levee?
The Shame we suffer from the Meanness of Dress, Table, Equipage, is entirely owing to the same reason. This Meanness is often imagin’d to argue Avarice, Meanness of Spirit, want of Capacity, or Conduct in Life, of Industry, or moral Abilitys of one kind or other. To confirm this, let us observe that Men will glory in the Meanness of their Fare, when it was occasion’d by a good Action. How ∥ many∥ would be asham’d to be surpriz’d at a Dinner of cold Meat, who will boast of their having fed upon Dogs and Horses at the Siege of Derry? And they will all tell you that they were not, nor are asham’d of it.
This ordinary Connexion in our Imagination, between external Grandeur, Regularity in Dress, Equipage, Retinue, Badges of Honour, and some moral Abilitys greater than ordinary, is perhaps of more consequence in the World than some recluse Philosophers apprehend, who pique themselves upon despising these external Shews. This may possibly be a great, if not the only Cause of what some count miraculous, viz. That Civil Governors of no greater Capacity than their Neighbours, by some inexpressible Awe, and Authority, quell ∥ the∥ Spirits of the Vulgar, and keep them in subjection by such small Guards, as might easily be conquer’d by those Associations ∥ which might be rais’d among∥ the Disaffected, or Factious of any State; who are daring enough among their Equals, and shew a sufficient Contempt of Death for undertaking such an Enterprize.
∥ Hence also we may∥ discover the reason, why the gratifying our superior Senses of Beauty and Harmony, or the Enjoyment of the ∥ Pleasures∥ of Knowledge, never occasions any Shame or Confusion, tho our Enjoyment were known to all the World. The Objects which furnish this Pleasure, are of such a nature, as to afford the same Delights to multitudes; nor is there any thing in the Enjoyment of them by one, which excludes any Mortal from a like Enjoyment. So that altho we pursue these Enjoyments from Self-love, yet∥ , since∥ our Enjoyment cannot be prejudicial to ∥ others, no∥ Man is imagin’d any way inhumanly selfish, from the fullest Enjoyment of them which is possible. The same Regularity or Harmony which delights me, may at the same time delight multitudes; the same Theorem shall be equally fruitful of Pleasure, when it has entertain’d thousands. ∥ Men therefore are not∥ asham’d of such Pursuits, since they ∥ never, of themselves,∥ seduce us into any thing malicious, envious, or ill-natur’d; nor does any one apprehend another too selfish, from ∥ his∥ pursuing Objects of unexhausted universal Pleasure.
This View of Honour and Shame may also let us see the reason, why most Men are uneasy at being prais’d, when they themselves are present. Every one is delighted with the Esteem of others, and must enjoy great Pleasure when he hears himself commended; but we are unwilling others should observe our Enjoyment of this Pleasure, which is really selfish; or that they should imagine us fond of it, or influenc’d by hopes of it in our good Actions: and therefore we chuse Secrecy for the Enjoyment of it, as we do with respect to other Pleasures, in which others do not share with us.
Compassion a motive to Virtue.VIII. Let us next consider another Determination of our Mind, which strongly proves Benevolence to be natural to us, and that is Compassion; by which we are dispos’d to study the Interest of others, without any Views of private Advantage. This needs little Illustration. Every Mortal is made uneasy by any grievous Misery he sees another involv’d in, unless the Person be imagin’d ∥ evil∥, in a moral Sense: Nay, it is almost impossible for us to be unmov’d, even in that Case. Advantage may make us do a cruel Action, or may overcome Pity; but it scarce ever extinguishes it. A sudden Passion of Hatred or Anger may represent a Person as absolutely evil, and so extinguish Pity; but when the Passion is over, it often returns. Another disinterested View may even in cold blood overcome Pity; such as Love to our Country, or Zeal for Religion. Persecution is generally occasion’d by Love of Virtue, and ∥ a∥ Desire of the eternal Happiness of Mankind, altho our Folly makes us chuse absurd Means ∥ to promote it∥; and is often accompany’d with Pity enough to make the Persecutor uneasy, in what, for prepollent Reasons, he chuses; unless his Opinion leads him to look upon the Heretick as absolutely and entirely evil.
We may here observe how wonderfully the Constitution of human Nature is adapted to move Compassion. Our ∥ Misery or Distress immediately appears∥ in our Countenance, if we do not study to prevent it, and propagates some Pain to all Spectators; who from Observation, universally understand the meaning of those dismal Airs. We mechanically send forth Shrieks and Groans upon any surprizing Apprehension of Evil; so that no regard to Decency can sometimes restrain them∥ . This is the Voice of Nature, understood by all Nations, by which∥ all who are present are rous’d to our Assistance, and sometimes our injurious Enemy is made to relent.
We observ’d above, that we are not immediately excited by Compassion to desire the Removal of our own Pain: we think it just to be so affected upon the Occasion, and dislike those who are not so. But we are excited directly to desire the Relief of the Miserable; ∥ without any imagination that this Relief is a private Good to our selves: And∥ if we see this impossible, we may by Reflection discern it to be vain for us to indulge our Compassion any further; and then ∥ Self-love prompts us to∥ retire from the Object which occasions our Pain, and ∥ to endeavour∥ to divert our Thoughts. But where there is no such Reflection, People are hurry’d by a natural, kind Instinct, to see Objects of Compassion, and expose themselves to this Pain when they can give no reason for it; as in the Instance of publick Executions.
This same Principle leads men to Tragedys; only we are to observe, that another strong reason of this, is the moral Beauty of the Characters and Actions which we love to behold. For I doubt, whether any Audience would be ∥ pleas’d to∥ see fictitious Scenes of Misery, if they were kept strangers to the moral Qualitys of the Sufferers, or their Characters and Actions. As in such a case, there would be no Beauty to raise Desire of seeing such Representations, I fancy we would not expose our selves to Pain alone, from Misery which we knew to be fictitious.
It was the same Cause which crouded the Roman Theatres to see Gladiators. There the People had frequent Instances of great Courage, and Contempt of Death, two great moral Abilitys, if not Virtues. Hence Cicero looks upon them as great Instructions in Fortitude. The Antagonist Gladiator bore all the blame of the Cruelty committed, among People of little Reflection; and the courageous and artful one, really obtain’d a Reputation of Virtue, and Favour among the Spectators, and was vindicated by the Necessity of Self-defence. In the mean time they were inadvertent to this, that their crouding to such Sights, and favouring the Persons who presented them with such Spectacles of Courage, and with Opportunitys of following their natural Instinct to Compassion, was the true occasion of all the real Distress, or Assaults which they were sorry for.
What Sentiments can we imagine a Candidate would have rais’d of himself, had he presented his Countrymen only with Scenes of Misery; had he drain’d Hospitals and Infirmarys of all their pityable Inhabitants, or had he bound so many Slaves, and without any Resistance, butcher’d them with his own Hands? I should very much question the Success of his Election, (however Compassion might cause his Shews still to be frequented) if his Antagonist chose a Diversion apparently more virtuous, or with a Mixture of Scenes of Virtue.
Compassion natural.How independent this Disposition to Compassion is ∥ on∥ Custom, Education, ∥ or∥ Instruction, will appear from the Prevalence of it in Women and Children, who are less influenc’d by these. That Children ∥ delight in some Actions which∥ are cruel and tormenting to Animals which they have in their Power, flows not from Malice, or want of Compassion, but from their Ignorance of those signs of Pain which many Creatures make; together with a Curiosity to see the various Contortions of their Bodys. For when they are more acquainted with these Creatures, or come by any means to know their Sufferings, their Compassion often becomes too strong for their Reason; as it generally does in beholding Executions, where as soon as they observe the evidences of Distress, or Pain in the Malefactor, they are apt to condemn this necessary Method of Self-defence in the ∥ State.∥
Importance of the Moral Sense.I. It may now probably appear, that notwithstanding the Corruption of Manners so justly complain’d of every where, this moral Sense has a greater Influence on Mankind than is generally imagin’d, altho it is often directed by very partial imperfect Views of publick Good, and often overcome by Self-love. But we shall offer some further Considerations, to prove, “That it gives us more Pleasure and Pain than all our other Facultys.” And to prevent Repetitions, let us observe, “That ∥ where-ever∥ any morally good Quality gives Pleasure from Reflection, or from Honour, the contrary evil one will give proportionable Pain, from Remorse and Shame.” Now we shall consider the moral Pleasures, not only separately, but as they are the most delightful Ingredient in the ordinary Pleasures of Life.
All ∥ Men∥ seem persuaded of some Excellency in the Possession of good moral Qualitys, which is superior to all other Enjoyments; and on the contrary, look upon a State of moral Evil, as worse and more wretched than any other whatsoever. We must not form our Judgment in this matter from the Actions of Men; for however they may be influenc’d by moral Sentiments, yet it is certain, that Self-interested Passions frequently overcome them, and partial Views of the Tendency of Actions, make us do what is really morally evil, apprehending it to be good. But let us examine the Sentiments which Men universally form of the State of others, when they are no way immediately concern’d; for in these Sentiments human Nature is calm and undisturb’d, and shews its true Face.
Now ∥ should∥ we imagine a rational Creature in a sufficiently happy State, ∥ tho his∥ Mind was, without Interruption, wholly occupy’d with pleasant Sensations of Smell, Taste, Touch, &c. if at the same time all other Ideas were excluded? ∥ Should∥ we not think the State low, mean and sordid, if there were no Society, no Love or Friendship, no good Offices? What then must that State be wherein there are no Pleasures but those of the external Senses, with such long Intervals as human Nature at present must have? Do these short Fits of Pleasure make the Luxurious happy? How insipid and joyless are the Reflections on past Pleasure? And how poor a Recompence is the Return of the transient Sensation, for the nauseous Satietys, and Languors in the Intervals? This Frame of our Nature, so incapable of long Enjoyments of the external Senses, points out to us, “That there must be some other more durable Pleasure, without such tedious Interruptions, and nauseous Reflections.”
Let us even join with the Pleasures of the external Senses, the Perceptions of Beauty, Order, Harmony. These are no doubt more noble Pleasures, and seem to inlarge the Mind; and yet how cold and joyless are they, if there be no moral Pleasures of Friendship, Love and Beneficence? Now if the bare Absence of moral Good, makes, in our Judgment, the State of a rational Agent contemptible; the Presence of contrary Dispositions is always imagin’d by us to sink him into a degree of Misery, from which no other Pleasures can relieve him. Would we ever wish to be in the same Condition with a wrathful, malicious, revengeful, or envious Being, tho we were at the same time to enjoy all ∥ the Pleasures of the external and internal Senses? The internal Pleasures of Beauty and Harmony, contribute greatly indeed toward soothing∥ the Mind into a forgetfulness of Wrath, Malice or Revenge; and they must do so, before we can have any tolerable Delight or Enjoyment: for while these Affections possess the Mind, there is nothing but Torment and Misery.
Castle-builders prove it.What Castle-builder, who forms to himself imaginary Scenes of Life, in which he thinks he ∥ should∥ be happy, ever made acknowledg’d Treachery, Cruelty, or Ingratitude, the Steps by which he mounted to his wish’d for Elevation, or Parts of his Character, when he had attain’d it? We always conduct our selves in such Resveries, according to the Dictates of Honour, Faith, Generosity, Courage; and the lowest we can sink, is hoping we may be enrich’d by some innocent Accident.
O si urnam Argenti Fors quà mihi monstret!——
But Labour, Hunger, Thirst, Poverty, Pain, Danger, have nothing so detestable in them, that our Self-love cannot allow us to be often expos’d to them. ∥ On the contrary∥, the Virtues which these give us occasions of displaying, are so amiable and excellent, that scarce ever is any imaginary Hero in Romance, or Epic, brought to his high-est Pitch of Happiness, without going thro them all. Where there is no Virtue, there is nothing worth Desire or Contemplation; the Romance, or Epos must end. Nay, the Difficulty, or natural Evil, does so much increase the Virtue of the good Action which it accompanys, that we cannot easily sustain these Works after the Distress is over; and if we continue the Work, it must be by presenting a new Scene of Benevolence in a prosperous Fortune. A Scene of external Prosperity or natural Good, without any thing moral or virtuous, cannot entertain a Person of the dullest Imagination, had he ever so much interested himself in the Fortunes of his Hero; for where Virtue ceases, there remains nothing worth wishing to our Favourite, or which we can be delighted to view his Possession of, when we are most studious of his Happiness.
Virtue own’d superior to all Pleasure.Let us take a particular Instance, to try how much we prefer the Possession of Virtue to all other Enjoyments, and how we look upon Vice as worse than any other Misery. Who could ever read the History of Regulus, without concerning himself in the Fortunes of that gallant Man, sorrowing at his Sufferings, and wishing him a better Fate? But how ∥ a better∥ Fate? Should he have comply’d with the Terms of the Carthaginians, and preserv’d himself from the intended Tortures, tho to the detriment of his Country? Or should he have violated his plighted Faith and Promise of returning? Will any Man say, that either of these is the better Fate he wishes his Favourite? Had he acted thus, that Virtue would have been gone, which interests every one in his Fortunes.—“Let him take his Fate like other common Mortals.”—What else do we wish then, but that the Carthaginians had relented of their Cruelty, or that Providence, by some unexpected Event, had rescued him out of their hands.
Now may not this teach us, that we are indeed determin’d to judge Virtue with Peace and Safety, preferable to Virtue with Distress; but that at the same time we look upon the State of the Virtuous, the Publick-spirited, even in the utmost natural Distress, as preferable to all affluence of other Enjoyments? For this is what we chuse to have our Favourite Hero in, notwithstanding all its Pains and natural Evils. We ∥ should∥ never have imagin’d him happier, had he acted otherwise; or thought him in a more eligible State, with Liberty and Safety, at the expence of his Virtue. We secretly judge the Purchase too dear; and therefore we never imagine he acted foolishly in secu-ring his Virtue, his Honour, at the expence of his Ease, his Pleasure, his Life. Nor can we think these latter Enjoyments worth the keeping, when the former are entirely lost.
Necessary in other Pleasures.II. Let us in the same manner examine our Sentiments of the Happiness of others in common Life. Wealth and External Pleasures bear no small bulk in our Imaginations; but does there not always accompany this Opinion of Happiness in Wealth, some suppos’d beneficent Intention of doing good Offices to Persons dear to us, at least to our Familys, or Kinsmen? And in our imagin’d Happiness ∥ from∥ external Pleasure, ∥ are not some Ideas∥ always included of some moral Enjoyments of Society, some Communication of Pleasure, something of Love, of Friendship, of Esteem, of Gratitude? Who ever pretended to a Taste of ∥ these∥ Pleasures without Society? Or if any seem violent in pursuit of ∥ them∥, how base and contemptible do they appear to all Persons, even to those who could have no expectation of Advantage from their having a more generous Notion of Pleasure?
Now were there no moral Sense, no Happiness in Benevolence, and did we act from no other Principle than Self-love; sure there is no Pleasure of the external Sen-ses, which we could not ∥ enjoy alone∥, with less trouble and expence than in Society. But a Mixture of the moral Pleasures is what gives the alluring Relish; ’tis some Appearance of Friendship, of Love, of communicating Pleasure to others, which preserves the Pleasures of the Luxurious from being nauseous and insipid. And this partial Imagination of some good moral Qualitys, some Benevolence, in Actions which have many cruel, inhuman, and destructive Consequences toward others, is what has kept Vice more in countenance than any other Consideration.
But to convince us further wherein the Happiness of Wealth, and external Pleasure lies; let us but suppose Malice, Wrath, Revenge; or only Solitude, Absence of Friendship, of Love, of Society, of Esteem, join’d with the Possession of them; and all the Happiness vanishes like a Dream. And yet Love, Friendship, Society, Humanity, tho accompany’d with Poverty and Toil, nay even with smaller degrees of Pain, such as do not wholly occupy the Mind, are not only the Object of Love from others, but even of a sort of Emulation: which plainly shews, “That Virtue is the chief Happiness in the ∥ Judgment of all∥ Mankind.”
The Charm in Beauty.III. There is a further Consideration which must not be pass’d over, concerning the External Beauty of Persons, which all allow to have ∥ a∥ great Power over human Minds. Now it is some apprehended Morality, some natural or imagin’d Indication of concomitant Virtue, which gives it this powerful Charm above all other kinds of Beauty. Let us consider the Characters of Beauty, which are commonly admir’d in Countenances, and we shall find them to be Sweetness, Mildness, Majesty, Dignity, Vivacity, Humility, Tenderness, Good-nature; that is, that certain Airs, Proportions, je ne scai quoy’s, are natural Indications of such Virtues, or of Abilitys or Dispositions toward them. As we observ’d above of Misery, or Distress appearing in Countenances; so it is certain, almost all habitual Dispositions of Mind, form the countenance in such a manner, as to give some Indications of them to the Spectator. Our violent Passions are obvious at first view in the Countenance; so that sometimes no Art can conceal them: and smaller degrees of them give some less obvious Turns to the Face, which an accurate Eye will observe. Now when the natural Air of ∥ a∥ Face approaches to that which any Passion would form it unto, we make a conjecture from this concerning the leading Disposition of the Person’s Mind.
As to those Fancys which prevail in certain Countrys toward large Lips, little Noses, narrow Eyes; unless we knew from themselves under what Idea ∥ such Features∥ are admir’d, whether as naturally beautiful in Form, or Proportion to the rest of the Face; or as presum’d Indications of some moral Qualitys; we may more probably conclude that it is the latter; since this is so much the Ground of Approbation, or Aversion ∥ towards∥ Faces among our selves. And ∥ as to those∥ Features which we count naturally disagreeable as to Form, we know the Aversion on this account is so weak, that moral Qualitys shall procure a liking, even to the Face, in Persons who are sensible of the Irregularity, or want of that Regularity which is common in others. With us certain Features are imagin’d to denote Dulness; as hollow Eyes, large Lips; a Colour of Hair, Wantonness: and may we not conclude the like Association of Ideas, ∥ perhaps in both Cases without Foundation in Nature,∥ to be the Ground of those Approbations which appear unaccountable to us?
In the same manner, when there is nothing grosly disproportion’d in any Face, what is it we dispraise? ∥ It is∥ Pride, Haugh-tiness, Sourness, Ill-nature, Discontent, Folly, Levity, Wantonness; which some Countenances discover in the manner above hinted at? And ∥ these∥ Airs, when brought by Custom upon the most regular Set of Features, have often made them very disagreeable; as the contrary Airs have given the strongest Charms to Countenances, which ∥ were∥ far from Perfection in external Beauty.
∥ One cannot but observe the Judgment of Homer, in his Character of Helen. Had he ever so much rais’d our Idea of her external Beauty,∥ it would have been ridiculous to have engag’d his Countrymen in a War for such a Helen as Virgil has drawn her. He therefore still retains something ∥ amiable in a moral Sense,∥ amidst all her Weakness, and often suggests to his Reader,
——— Ἑλένης ὁρμήματά τε σοναχάς τε
as the Spring of his Countrymens Indignation and Revenge.
The Cause of different Fancys of Beauty.This Consideration may shew us one Reason, among many others, for Mens different Fancys, or Relishes of Beauty. The Mind of Man, however generally dispos’d to esteem Benevolence and Virtue, yet by more particular Attention to some kinds of it than others, may gain a stronger Admiration of some moral Dispositions than others. Military Men, may admire Courage more than other Virtues; Persons of smaller Courage, may admire Sweetness of Temper; Men of Thought and Reflection, who have more extensive Views, will admire the like Qualitys in others; Men of keen Passions, expect equal Returns of all the kind Affections, and are wonderfully charm’d by Compliance: the Proud, may like those of higher Spirit, as more suitable to their Dignity; tho Pride, join’d with Reflection and good Sense, will recommend to them Humility in the Person belov’d. Now as the various Tempers of Men make various Tempers of others agreeable to them, so they must differ in their Relishes of Beauty, according as it denotes the several Qualitys most agreeable to themselves.
This may also shew us, how in virtuous Love there may be the greatest Beauty, without the least Charm to engage a Rival. Love it self gives a Beauty to the Lover, in the Eyes of the Person belov’d, which no other Mortal is much affected with. And this perhaps is the strongest Charm possible, and that which will have the greatest Power, where there is not some very great Counter-ballance from worldly Interest, Vice, or gross Deformity.
Air, Motion, Gestures.IV. This same Consideration may be extended to the whole Air and Motion of any Person. Every thing we count agreeable, some way denotes Chearfulness, Ease, a Condescension, and Readiness to oblige, a Love of Company, with a Freedom and Boldness which always accompanys an honest, undesigning Heart. On the contrary, what is shocking in Air, or Motion, is Roughness, Ill-nature, a Disregard to others, or a foolish Shame-facedness, which evidences a Person to be unexperienc’d in Society, or Offices of Humanity.
With relation to these Airs, Motions, Gestures, we may observe, that considering the different Ceremonys, and Modes of shewing respect, which are practis’d in different Nations, we may indeed probably conclude that there is no natural Connexion between any of these Gestures, or Motions, and the Affections of Mind which they are by Custom made to express. But when Custom has made any of them pass for Expressions of such Affections, by a constant Association of Ideas, some shall become agreeable and lovely, and others extremely offensive, altho they were both, in their own Nature, perfectly indifferent.
The Spring of Love between the Sexes.V. Here we may remark the manner in which Nature leads Mankind to the Continuance of their Race, and by its strongest Power engages them to what occasions the greatest Toil and Anxiety of Life; and yet supports them under it with an inexpressible delight. We might have been excited to the Propagation of our Species, by such an uneasy Sensation as would have effectually determin’d us to it, without any great prospect of Happiness; as we see Hunger and Thirst determine us to preserve our Bodys, tho few look upon eating and drinking as any considerable Happiness. The Sexes might have been engag’d to Concurrence, ∥ as∥ we imagine the Brutes are, by Desire only, or by a Love of sensual Pleasure. But how dull and insipid had Life been, were there no more in Marriage? Who would have had Resolution enough to bear all the Cares of a Family, and Education of Children? Or who, from the general Motive of Benevolence ∥ alone∥, would have chosen to subject himself to natural Affection toward an Offspring, when he could ∥ so easily foresee what∥ Troubles it might occasion?
This Inclination therefore of the Sexes, is founded on something stronger, and more efficacious and joyful, than the Sollicitations of Uneasiness, or the bare desire of sensible Pleasure. Beauty gives a favourable Presumption of good moral Dispositions, and Acquaintance confirms this into a real Love of Esteem, or begets it, where there is little Beauty. This raises an expectation of the greatest moral Pleasures along with the sensible, and a thousand tender Sentiments of Humanity and Generosity; and makes us impatient for a Society which we imagine big with unspeakable moral Pleasures: where nothing is indifferent, and every trifling Service, being an Evidence of this strong Love ∥ of∥ Esteem, is mutually receiv’d with the Rapture and Gratitude of the greatest Benefit, and of the most substantial Obligation. And where Prudence and Good-nature influence both sides, this Society may answer all their Expectations.
Nay, let us examine those of looser Conduct with relation to the fair Sex, and we shall find, ∥ that Love of sensible Pleasure is not∥ the chief Motive of Debauchery, or false Gallantry. Were it so, the meanest Prostitutes would please as much as any. But we know sufficiently, that ∥ Men∥ are fond of Good-nature, Faith, Pleasantry of Temper, Wit, and many other moral Qualitys, even in a Mistress. And this may furnish us with a Reason for what appears pretty unaccountable, viz. “That Chastity it self has a powerful Charm in the Eyes of the Dissolute, even when they are attempting to destroy it.”
This powerful Determination even to a limited Benevolence, and other moral Sentiments, is observ’d to give a ∥ strong∥ biass to our Minds ∥ toward∥ a universal Goodness, Tenderness, Humanity, Generosity, and contempt of private Good in our whole Conduct; besides the obvious Improvement it occasions in our external Deportment, and in our relish of Beauty, Order, and Harmony. As soon as a Heart, before hard and obdurate, is soften’d in this Flame, we shall observe∥ , arising along with it,∥ a Love of Poetry, Musick, the Beauty of Nature in rural Scenes, a Contempt of other selfish Pleasures of the external Senses, a neat Dress, a humane Deportment, a Delight in and Emulation of every thing which is gallant, generous and friendly.
Society, Friendships, from our Moral Sense.In the same manner we are determin’d to common Friendships and Acquaintances, not by the sullen Apprehensions of our Necessitys, or Prospects of Interest; but by an incredible variety of little agreeable, engaging Evidences of Love, Good-nature, and other morally amiable Qualitys in those we converse with. ∥ And∥ among the rest, none of the least considerable is an Inclination to Chearfulness, a Delight to raise Mirth in others, which procures a secret Approbation and Gratitude toward the Person who puts us in such an agreeable, innocent, good-natur’d, and easy state of Mind, as we are conscious of while we enjoy pleasant Conversation, enliven’d by moderate Laughter.
The Power of Oratory founded on it.VI. Upon this moral Sense is founded all the Power of the Orator. The various Figures of Speech, are the several Manners which a lively Genius, warm’d with Passions suitable to the Occasion, naturally runs into, only a little diversify’d by Custom: and they only move the Hearers, by giving a lively Representation of the Passions of the Speaker; which are communicated to the Hearers, as we observ’d above of one Passion, viz. Pity.
Now the Passions which the Orator attempts to raise, are all founded on moral Qualitys. All the bold Metaphors, or Descriptions, all the artificial Manners of Expostulation, Arguing, and addressing the Audience, all the Appeals to Mankind, are but more lively Methods of giving the Audience a stronger impression of the moral Qualitys of the Person accus’d, or defended; of the Action advis’d, or dissuaded: And all the Antitheses, or Witticisms; all the Cadences of sonorous Periods, whatever inferior kind of Beauty they may have separately, are of no consequence to persuade, if we neglect moving the Passions by some Species of Morality. They may perhaps raise a little Admiration of the Speaker, among those who already favour his Party, but they oftner raise Contempt in his Adversarys. But when you display the Beneficence of any Action, the good Effect it shall have on the Publick in promoting the Welfare of the Innocent, and relieving the unjustly distressed; if you prove your Allegations, you make every Mortal approve the undertaking it. When any Person is to be recommended, display his Humanity, Generosity, Study of the publick Good, and Capacity to promote it, his Contempt of Dangers, and private Pleasures; and you are sure to procure him Love and Esteem. If at the same time you shew his Distress, or the Injurys he has suffer’d, you raise Pity, and every tender Affection.
On the contrary, represent the Barbarity, or Cruelty of any Action, the Misery it shall procure to the Kind, the Faithful, the Generous, or only to the Innocent; and you raise an Abhorrence of it in the Breasts of the Audience, tho they were not the Persons who would have suffer’d by it. The same way, would you make a Person infamous, and despis’d and hated, represent him as cruel, inhuman, or treacherous toward the most distant rational Agents; or shew him only to be selfish, ∥ and∥ given to solitary Luxury, without regard to any Friend, or the Interest of others; and you have gain’d your Point as soon as you prove what you alledge. Nay, ∥ how does it∥ stop our Admiration of any celebrated Action, to suggest, “That the Author of it was no Fool; he knew it would turn to his own Advantage?”
Now, are the Learned and Polite the only Persons who are mov’d by such Speeches? Must Men know the Schemes of the Moralists and Politicians, or the Art of Rhetorick, to be capable of being persuaded? Must they be nicely conversant in all the Methods of promoting Self-Interest? Nay, do we not see on the contrary, the rude undisciplin’d Multitude most affected? Where had Oratory so much Power as in popular States, and that too before the Perfection of the Sciences? Reflection, and Study, may raise in Men a Suspicion of Design, and Caution of Assent, when they have some knowledge of the various Topicks of Argument, and find them employ’d upon themselves: but rude Nature is still open to every moral Impression, and carry’d furiously along without Caution, or Suspense. It was not the Groves of the Academy, or the polish’d Stones of the Portico, or the manag’d Horses of Greece, which listen’d to the Harp of an Amphion, or an Orpheus; but the Trees, and Rocks, and Tygers of the Forest: which may shew us, “That there is some Sense of Morality antecedent to Instruction, or metaphysical Arguments proving the private Interest of the Person who is persuaded, to be connected with the publick Good.”
Poetry pleases from this Moral Sense.VII. We shall find ∥ this∥ Sense to be the Foundation ∥ also∥ of the chief Pleasures of Poetry. We hinted, in the former Treatise, at the Foundation of Delight in the Numbers, Measures, Metaphors, Similitudes. But as the Contemplation of moral Objects, either of Vice or Virtue, affects us more strongly, and moves our Passions in a quite different and ∥ more∥ powerful manner, than natural Beauty, or (what we commonly call) Deformity; so the most moving Beautys bear a Relation to our moral Sense, and affect us more vehemently, than the ∥ Representation∥ of natural Objects in the liveliest Descriptions. Dramatic, and Epic Poetry, are entirely address’d to this Sense, and raise our Passions by the Fortunes of Characters, distinctly represented as morally good, or evil; as might be seen more fully, were we to consider the Passions separately.
Where we are studying to raise any Desire, or Admiration of an Object really beautiful, we are not content with a bare Narration, but endeavour, if we can, to present the Object it self, or the most lively Image of it. And ∥ hence∥ the Epic Poem, or Tragedy, ∥ gives∥ a ∥ vastly∥ greater Pleasure than the Writings of Philosophers, tho both aim at recommending Virtue. The representing the Actions themselves, if the Representation be judicious, natural, and lively, will make us admire the Good, and detest the Vitious, the Inhuman, the Treacherous and Cruel, by means of our moral Sense, without any Reflections of the Poet to guide our Sentiments. It is for this Reason that Horace has justly made Knowledge in Morals so necessary to a good Poet:
Scribendi recte Sapere est & principium & fons.
Imagery in Poetry founded on the Moral Sense.Upon this same Sense is founded the Power of that great Beauty in Poetry, the Prosopopoeia, by which every Affection is made a Person; every natural Event, Cause, Object, is animated by moral Epithets. For we join the Contemplation of moral Circumstances and Qualitys, along with natural Objects, to increase ∥ their∥ Beauty or Deformity; and ∥ we∥ affect the Hearer in a more lively manner with the Affections describ’d, by representing them as Persons. Thus a shady Wood must have its solemn venerable Genius, and proper rural Gods; every clear Fountain, its sacred chaste Nymph; and River, its bountiful God, with his Urn, and perhaps a Cornu-copia diffusing Plenty and Fruitfulness along ∥ its∥ Banks. The Day-light is holy, benign, and powerful to banish the pernicious Spirits of the Night. The Morning is a kind, officious Goddess, tripping over the dewy Mountains, and ushering in Light to Gods and Men. War is an impetuous, cruel, undistinguishing Monster, whom no Virtue, no Circumstance of Compassion, can move from his bloody Purposes. The Steel is unrelenting; the Arrow and Spear are impatient to destroy, and carry Death on their Points. Our modern Engines of War are also frightful Personages, ∥ counterfeiting with their rude Throats∥ the Thunder of Jove. The moral Imagery of Death is every where known, viz. his Insensibility to Pity, his Inflexibility, and universal impartial Empire. Fortune is inimitably drawn by Horace, with all her Retinue and Votaries, and with her rigid severe Minister, Necessity. The Qualitys of Mind too become Persons. Love becomes a Venus, or a Cupid; Courage, or Conduct, a Mars, or a Pallas protecting and assisting the Hero; before them march Terror and Dread, Flight and Pursuit, Shouts and Amazement. Nay, the most sacred Poets are often led into this Imagery, and represent Justice and Judgment as supporting the Almighty’s Throne, and Mercy and Truth going before his Face: They shew us Peace as springing up from the Earth, and Mercy looking down from Heaven.
Every one perceives a greater Beauty in this manner of Representation, this Imagery, this Conjunction of moral Ideas, than in the fullest Narration, or the most lively natural Description. When one reads the fourth Book of Homer, and is prepar’d, from the Council of the Gods, to imagine the bloody Sequel, and amidst the most beautiful Description which ever was imagin’d of shooting an Arrow, meets with its moral Epithet,
he will find himself more mov’d by this Circumstance, than by all the Profusion of natural Description which Man could imagine.
History.VIII. History derives its chief Excellence from the representing the Manners and Characters; the Contemplation of which in Nature being very affecting, they must necessarily give Pleasure when well related.
Painting.IX. It is well known too, that a Collection of the best Pieces of Face-painting is but a poor Entertainment, when compar’d with those Pieces which represent moral Actions, Passions, and Characters.
Copies used for editing A1: (a) University of Aberdeen, Queen Mother Library, shelf mark pi 1929 Hut i; (b) British Library, shelf mark 526.k.22 (reprinted in facsimile as volume 1 of Collected Works of Francis Hutcheson, edited by Bernard Fabian, 7 vols., Hildesheim, 1969, 1971; also available as a digital facsimile from Eighteenth Century Collections Online, http://www.gale.com/EighteenthCentury/); (c) University of Oxford, Bodleian Library, shelf mark 80 Z 80 Jur.; (d) Cambridge University Library, Rare Books Department, shelf mark Hh.15.63. Other copies (not seen except for the photocopied title page): (e) University of Birmingham, Main Library, Special Collections, shelf mark Wigan B 1501.I7; (f) University of Glasgow, Special Collection, shelf mark Sp. Coll. 986.
Copies used for editing B: (a) British Library, shelf mark 8413.b.6 (also available as a digital facsimile from Eighteenth Century Collections Online); (b) Yale University, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, shelf mark BJ1005 H88 (reprinted by Garland Publishers, New York, 1971).
I. To conclude this Subject, we may, from what has been said, see the true Original of moral Ideas, viz. This moral Sense of Excellence in every Appearance, or Evidence of Benevolence∥ . It remains to be explain’d, how we acquire more particular Ideas of Virtue and Vice, abstracting∥ from any Law, Human, or Divine.
Obligation.If any one ask, Can we have any Sense of Obligation, ∥ abstracting∥ from the Laws of a Superior? We must answer according to the various Senses of the word Obligation. If by Obligation we understand a Determination, without regard to our own Interest, to approve Actions, and to perform them; which Determination shall also make us displeas’d with our selves, and uneasy upon having acted contrary to ∥ it∥; in this meaning of the word Obligation, there is naturally an Obligation upon all Men to Benevolence; and they are still under its Influence, even when by false, or partial Opinions of the natural Tendency of ∥ their∥ Actions, this moral Sense leads them to Evil; unless by long inveterate Habits it be exceedingly weaken’d. For it scarce seems possible wholly to extinguish it. Or, which is to the same purpose, this internal Sense, and Instinct ∥ toward∥ Benevolence, will either influence our Actions, or ∥ else∥ make us very uneasy and dissatisfy’d; and we shall be conscious that we are in a base unhappy State, even without considering any Law whatsoever, or any external Advantages lost, or Disadvantages impending from its Sanctions. And further, there are still such Indications given us of what is in the whole ∥ benevolent∥, and what not; as may probably discover to us the true Tendency of every Action, and let us see, some time or other, the evil Tendency of what upon a partial View appear’d ∥ benevolent∥: ∥ or if we have no Friends so faithful as to admonish us, the Persons injur’d will not fail to upbraid us.∥ So that no Mortal can secure to himself a perpetual Serenity, Satisfaction, and Self-approbation, but by a serious Inquiry into the Tendency of his Actions, and a perpetual Study of universal Good∥ , according to the justest Notions of it∥.
But if by Obligation, we understand a Motive from Self-interest, sufficient to determine all those who duly consider it, and pursue their own Advantage wisely, to a certain Course of Actions; we may have a Sense of such ∥ an∥ Obligation, by reflecting on this Determination of our Nature to approve Virtue, to be pleas’d and happy when we reflect upon our having done virtuous Actions, and to be uneasy when we are conscious of having acted otherwise; and also by considering how much superior we esteem the Happiness of Virtue to any other Enjoyment. We may likewise have a Sense of this sort of Obligation, by considering those Reasons which prove a constant Course of benevolent and social Actions, to be the most probable means of promoting the natural Good of every Individual; as Cumberland and Puffendorf have prov’d: And all this without Relation to a Law.
But further, if our moral Sense be suppos’d exceedingly weaken’d, and the selfish Passions grown strong, either thro some general Corruption of Nature, or inveterate Habits; if our Understanding be weak, and we be often in danger of being hurry’d by our Passions into precipitate and rash Judgments, that malicious Actions shall ∥ promote our Advantage more∥ than Beneficence; in such a Case, if it be inquir’d what is necessary to engage Men to beneficent Actions, or induce a steady Sense of an Obligation to act for the publick Good; then, no doubt, “A Law with Sanctions, given by a superior Being, of sufficient Power to make us happy or miserable, must be necessary to counter-ballance those apparent Motives of Interest, to calm our Passions, and give room for the recovery of our moral Sense, or at least for a just View of our Interest.”
How far Virtue can be taught.II. Now the principal Business of the moral Philosopher is to shew, from solid Reasons, “That universal Benevolence tends to the Happiness of the Benevolent, either from the Pleasures of Reflection, Honour, natural Tendency to engage the good Offices of Men, upon whose Aid we must depend for our Happiness in this World; or from the Sanctions of divine Laws discover’d to us by the Constitution of the Universe;” that so no apparent Views of Interest may counteract this natural Inclination: but not to attempt proving, “That Prospects of our own Advantage of any kind, can raise in us ∥ real Love to∥ others.” Let the Obstacles from Self-love be only remov’d, and Nature it self will incline us to Be-nevolence. Let the Misery of excessive Selfishness, and all its Passions, be but once explain’d, that so Self-love may cease to counteract our natural Propensity to Benevolence, and when this noble Disposition gets loose from these Bonds of Ignorance, and false Views of Interest, it shall be assisted even by Self-love, and grow strong enough to make a noble virtuous Character. Then he is to enquire, by Reflection upon human Affairs, what Course of Action does most effectually promote the universal Good, what universal Rules or Maxims are to be observ’d, and in what Circumstances the Reason of them alters, so as to admit Exceptions; that so our good Inclinations may be directed by Reason, and a just Knowledge of the Interests of Mankind. But Virtue it self, or good Dispositions of Mind, are not directly taught, or produc’d by Instruction; ∥ they must be originally implanted in our Nature, by its great Author; and afterwards strengthen’d and confirm’d by our own Cultivation.∥
Objection.∥aIII. We are often told, “That there is no need of supposing such a Sense of Morality given to Men, since Reflection, and Instruction would recommend the same Actions from Arguments of Self-Interest, and engage us, from the acknowledg’d Principle of Self-love, to the Practice of them, without this unintelligible Determination to Benevolence, or the occult Quality of a moral Sense.”
Moral Sense, not from Reflection.It is perhaps true, that Reflection and Reason might lead us to approve the same Actions as advantageous. But would not the same Reflection and Reason likewise, generally recommend the same Meats to us which our Taste represents as pleasant? And shall we thence conclude that we have no Sense of Tasting? Or that such a Sense is useless? No: The use is plain in both Cases. Notwithstanding the mighty Reason we boast of above other Animals, its Processes are too slow, too full of doubt and hesitation, to serve us in every Exigency, either for our own Preservation, without the external Senses, or to ∥bdirectb∥ our Actions for the Good of the Whole, without this moral Sense. Nor could we be so strongly determin’d at all times to what ∥cisc∥ most conducive to either of these Ends, without these expeditious Monitors, and importunate Sollicitors; nor so nobly rewarded, when we act vigorously in pursuit of these Ends, by the calm dull Reflections of Self-Interest, as by those delightful Sensations.
This natural Determination to approve and admire, or hate and dislike Actions, is no doubt an occult Quality. But is it any way more mysterious that the Idea of an Action should raise Esteem, or Contempt, than that the motion, or tearing of Flesh should give Pleasure, or Pain; or the Act of Volition should move Flesh and Bones? In the latter Case, we have got the Brain, and elastic Fibres, and animal Spirits, and elastic Fluids, like the Indian’s Elephant, and Tortoise, to bear the Burden of the Difficulty: but go one step further, and you find the whole as difficult as at first, and equally a Mystery with this Determination to love and approve, or ∥dhated∥ and despise Actions and Agents, without any Views of Interest, as they appear benevolent, or the ∥econtrary.e∥
When they offer it as a Presumption that there can be no such Sense, antecedent to all Prospect of Interest, “That these Actions for the most part are really advantageous, one way or other, to the Actor, the Approver, or Mankind in general, by whose Happiness our own State may be some way made better;” may we not ask, supposing the Deity intended to impress such a Sense of something amiable in Actions, (which is no impossible Supposition) what sort of Actions would a good God determine ∥fusf∥ to approve? Must we deny the possibility of such a Determination, if it did not lead us to admire Actions of no Advantage to Man-kind, or to love Agents for their being eminent Triflers? If then the Actions which a wise and good God must determine us to approve, if he give us any such Sense at all, must be Actions useful to the Publick, this Advantage can never be a Reason against the Sense it self. After the same manner, we should deny all Revelation which taught us good Sense, Humanity, Justice, and a rational Worship, because Reason and ∥gInterestg∥ confirm and recommend such Principles, and Services; and should greedily embrace every Contradiction, Foppery, and Pageantry, as a truly divine Institution, without any thing humane, or useful to Mankind.
Moral Sense judges of Laws.IV. The Writers upon opposite Schemes, who deduce all Ideas of Good and Evil from the private Advantage of the Actor, or from Relation to a Law and its Sanctions, either known from Reason, or Revelation, are perpetually recurring to this moral Sense which they deny; not only in calling the Laws of the Deity just and good, and alledging Justice and Right in the Deity to govern us; but by using a set of Words which import something different from what they will allow to be their only meaning. Obligation, with them, is ∥honlyh∥ such a Constitution, either of Nature, or some governing Power, as makes it advantageous for the Agent to act in a certain manner. Let this Definition be substituted, wherever we meet with the words, ought, should, must, in a moral Sense, and many of their Sentences would seem very strange; as that the Deity must act rationally, must not, or ought not to punish the Innocent, must make the state of the Virtuous better than that of the Wicked, must observe Promises; substituting the Definition of the Words, must, ought, should, would make these Sentences either ridiculous, or very disputable.a∥
V. But that our first Ideas of moral Good depend not on Laws, may plainly appear from our constant Inquirys into the Justice of Laws themselves; and that not only of human Laws, but of the divine. What else can be the meaning of that universal Opinion, “That the Laws of God are just, and holy, and good?” Human Laws may be call’d good, because of their Conformity to the Divine. But to call the Laws of the supreme Deity good, or holy, or just, if all ∥ Goodness, Holiness∥, and Justice be constituted by Laws, or the Will of a Superior any way reveal’d, must be an insignificant Tautology, amounting to no more than this, “That God wills what he wills.”
It must then first be suppos’d, that there is something in Actions which is apprehend-ed absolutely good; and this is Benevolence, or ∥ a Tendency to∥ the publick natural happiness of rational Agents; and that our moral Sense perceives this Excellence. And then we call the Laws of the Deity good, when we imagine that they are contriv’d to promote the publick Good in the most effectual and impartial manner. And the Deity is call’d ∥ good∥, in a moral Sense, when we apprehend that his whole Providence tends to the universal Happiness of his Creatures; whence we conclude his Benevolence, and ∥ Delight∥ in their Happiness.
Some tell us, “That the Goodness of the divine Laws, consists in their Conformity to some essential Rectitude of his Nature.” But they must excuse us from assenting to this, till they make us understand the meaning of this Metaphor, essential Rectitude, and till we discern whether any thing more is meant by it than a perfectly wise, uniform, impartial Benevolence.
Difference between Constraint, and Obligation.Hence we may see the Difference between Constraint, and Obligation. There is indeed no Difference between Constraint, and the second Sense of the word Obligation, viz. a Constitution which makes an Action eligible from Self-Interest, if we only mean external Interest, distinct from the delightful Consciousness which arises from the moral Sense. The Reader need scarcely be told, that by Constraint, we do not understand ∥ an∥ external Force moving our Limbs without our Consent, for in that Case we are not Agents at all; but that Constraint which arises from the threatening and presenting some Evil, in order to make us act in a certain manner. And yet there seems a universally acknowledg’d Difference between even this sort of Constraint, and Obligation. We never say we are oblig’d to do an Action which we count base, but we may be constrain’d to it; we never say that the divine Laws, by their Sanctions, constrain us, but oblige us; nor do we call Obedience to the Deity Constraint, unless by a Metaphor, ∥ tho∥ many own they are influenc’d by fear of Punishments. And yet supposing an almighty evil Being should require, under grievous Penaltys, Treachery, Cruelty, Ingratitude, we would call this Constraint. The difference is plainly this. When any ∥ Sanctions co-operate∥ with our moral Sense, in exciting us to Actions which we count morally good, we say we are oblig’d; but when Sanctions of Rewards or ∥ Punishments∥ oppose our moral Sense, then we say we are brib’d or constrain’d. In the former Case we call the Lawgiver good, as designing the publick Happiness; in the latter we call him evil, or unjust, for the suppos’d contrary Intention. But were all our Ideas of moral Good or Evil, deriv’d solely from opinions of private Advantage or Loss in Actions, I see no possible difference which could be made in the meaning of these words.
Rights.VI. From this Sense too we derive our Ideas of Rights. Whenever it appears to us, that a Faculty of doing, demanding, or possessing any thing, universally allow’d in certain Circumstances, would in the whole tend to the general Good, we say that ∥ any Person∥ in such Circumstances, has a Right to do, possess, or demand that Thing. And according as this Tendency to the publick Good is greater or less, the Right is greater or less.
Perfect Rights.The Rights call’d perfect, are of such necessity to the publick Good, that the universal Violation of them would make human Life intolerable; and it actually makes those miserable, whose Rights are thus ∥ violated. On∥ the contrary, to fulfil these Rights in every Instance, tends to the publick Good, either directly, or by promoting the innocent Advantage of a Part. Hence it plainly follows, “That ∥ to allow∥ a violent Defence, or Prosecution of such Rights, before Civil Government be constituted, cannot in any particular Case be more detrimental to the Publick, than the Violation of them with Impunity.” And as to the general Consequences, the universal use of Force in a ∥ State of Nature∥, in pursuance of perfect Rights, seems exceedingly advantageous to the Whole, by making every one dread any Attempts against the perfect Rights of others.
Right of War, and Punishment. This is the moral Effect which attends proper Injury, or a Violation of the perfect Rights of others, viz. A Right to War, and all Violence which is necessary to oblige the Injurious to repair the Damage, and give Security against such Offences for the future. ∥aThis is the sole Foundation of the Rights of punishing Criminals, and of violent Prosecutions of our Rights, in a ∥bState of Natureb∥. And these Rights, ∥cbelonging originally to the Persons injur’d, or their voluntary, or invited Assistants,c∥ according to the Judgment of indifferent Arbitrators, ∥din a State of Nature,d∥ being by ∥ethee∥ Consent of the ∥fPersons injur’df∥, transferr’d to the Magistrate in a Civil State, are the true Foundation of his Right of Punishment.a∥ Instances of perfect Rights are those to our Lives; to the Fruits of our Labours; to demand Performance of Contracts upon valuable Considerations, from Men capable of performing them; to direct our own Actions either for publick, or innocent private Good, before we have submitted them to the Direction of others in any measure: and many others of like nature.
Imperfect Rights.Imperfect Rights are such as, when universally violated, would not necessarily make Men miserable. These Rights tend to the improvement and increase of positive Good in any Society, but are not absolutely necessary to prevent universal Misery. The Violation of them, only disappoints Men of the Happiness expected from the Humanity or Gratitude of others; but does not deprive Men of any Good which they had before. From this Description it appears, “That a violent Prosecution of such Rights, would generally occasion greater Evil than the Violation of them.” Besides, the allowing of Force in such Cases, would deprive Men of the greatest Pleasure in Actions of Kindness, Humanity, Gratitude; which would cease to appear amiable, when Men could be constrain’d to perform them. Instances of imperfect Rights are those which the poor have to the Charity of the Wealthy; which all Men have to Offices of no trouble or expence to the Performer; which Benefactors have to returns of Gratitude, and such like.
The Violation of imperfect Rights, only argues a Man to have such weak Benevolence, as not to study advancing the positive Good of others, when in the least opposite to his own: but the Violation of per-fect Rights, argues the injurious Person to be positively evil or cruel; or at least so immoderately selfish, as to be indifferent about the positive Misery and Ruin of others, when he imagines he can find his Interest in it. In violating the former, we shew a weak Desire of publick Happiness, which every small View of private Interest over-ballances; but in violating the latter, we shew our selves so entirely negligent of the Misery of others, that Views of increasing our own Good, overcome all our Compassion toward their Sufferings. Now as the absence of Good, is more easily born than the presence of Misery; ∥ so∥ our good Wishes toward the positive Good of others, ∥ are∥ weaker than our Compassion toward their Misery. He then who violates imperfect Rights, shews that his Self-love overcomes only the Desire of positive good to others; but he who violates perfect Rights, betrays such a selfish Desire of advancing his own positive Good, as overcomes all ∥ Compassion∥ toward the Misery of others.
External Rights.Beside these two sorts of Rights, there is a third call’d External; as when the doing, possessing, or demanding of any thing is really detrimental to the Publick in any particular Instance, as being contrary to the imperfect Right of another; but yet the ∥ universally∥ denying Men this Faculty of doing, possessing, or demanding that Thing, or of using Force in pursuance of it, would do more mischief than all the Evils to be fear’d from the Use of this Faculty. And hence it appears, “That there can be no Right to use Force in opposition even to external Rights, since it tends to the universal Good to allow Force in pursuance of them.”
Civil Societys substitute Actions in Law, instead of the Force allow’d in the State of Nature.
Instances of external Rights are these; that of a wealthy Miser to recal his Loan from the most industrious poor Tradesman at any time; that of demanding the Performance of a Covenant too burdensome on one side; the Right of a wealthy Heir to refuse Payment of any Debts which were contracted by him under Age, without Fraud in the Lender; the Right of taking advantage of a positive Law, contrary to what was Equity antecedent to that Law; as when a register’d Deed takes place of one not register’d, altho prior to it, and known to be so before the second Contract.
What Rights, can be opposite.Now whereas no action, Demand, or Possession, can at once be either necessary to the publick Good, or conducive to it, and at the same time its contrary be either necessary or conducive to the same end; it follows, “That there can be no Opposition of perfect Rights among themselves, of imperfect among themselves, or between perfect and imperfect Rights.” But it may often tend to the publick Good, to allow a Right of doing, possessing, or demanding, and of using Force in pursuance of it, while perhaps it would have been more humane and kind in any Person to have acted otherwise, and not have claim’d his Right. But yet a violent Opposition to these Rights, would have been vastly more pernicious than all the Inhumanity in the use of them. And therefore, ∥ tho∥ external Rights cannot be opposite among themselves; yet they may be opposite to imperfect Rights, but imperfect Rights, tho violated, give no Right to ∥ Force. Hence∥ it appears, “That there can never be a Right to Force on both Sides, or a ∥ just War on both Sides∥ at the same time.”
Rights alienable, and unalienable.VII. There is another important Difference of Rights, according as they are Alienable, or Unalienable. To determine what Rights are alienable, and what not, we must take these two Marks:
1st. If the Alienation be within our natural Power, so that it be possible for us in Fact to transfer our Right; and if it be so, then,
2dly. It must appear, that ∥ to transfer∥ such Rights may serve some valuable Purpose.
By the first Mark it appears, “That the Right of private Judgment, or of our inward Sentiments, is unalienable;” since we cannot command ourselves to think what either we our selves, or any other Person ∥ pleases. So∥ are also our internal Affections, which necessarily arise according to our Opinions of their Objects. By the second Mark it appears, “That our Right of serving God, in the manner which we think acceptable, is not alienable;” because it can never serve any valuable purpose, to make Men ∥ worship∥ him in a way which seems to them displeasing to him. The same way, a direct Right over our Lives or Limbs, is not alienable to any Person; so that he might at Pleasure put us to death, or maim us. We have indeed a Right to hazard our Lives in any good Action which is of importance to the Publick; and it may often serve a most valuable end, to subject the direction of such perilous Actions to the Prudence of others in pursuing a publick Good; as Soldiers do to their General, or to a Council of War: and so far this Right is alienable. These may serve as Instances to shew the use of the two Marks of alienable Rights, which must both concur to make them so, and will explain the manner of applying them in other Cases.
The Foundation of Property.VIII. That we may see the Foundation of some of the more important Rights of Mankind, let us observe, that probably nine Tenths, at least, of the things which are useful to Mankind, are owing to their Labour and Industry; and consequently, ∥ when once Men become so numerous, that the natural Product of the Earth is not sufficient for their Support, or Ease, or innocent Pleasure; a necessity arises, for the support of the increasing System, that such a Tenour of Conduct be observ’d, as shall most effectually promote Industry; and that Men∥ abstain from all Actions which would have the contrary effect. It is well known, that general Benevolence alone, is not a Motive strong enough to Industry, to bear Labour and Toil, and many other Difficultys which we are averse to from Self-love. For the strengthning therefore our Motives to Industry, we have the strongest Attractions of Blood, of Friendship, of Gratitude, and the additional Motives of Honour, and even of external Interest. Self-love is really as necessary to the Good of the Whole, as Benevolence; as that Attraction which causes the Cohesion of the Parts, is as necessary to the regular State of the Whole, as Gravitation. Without these additional Motives, Self-love would generally oppose the Motions of Benevolence, and concur with Malice, or influence us to the same Actions which Malice would. “∥ That∥ Tenour of Action then, ∥ which∥ would take away the stronger Ties of Benevolence, or the additional Motives of Honour and Advantage, from our Minds, and so hinder us from pursuing industriously that Course which really increases the Good of the Whole, is evil; and we are oblig’d to shun it.”
First then, the depriving any Person of the Fruits of his own innocent Labour, takes away all Motives ∥ to Industry from Self-love, or the nearer Ties; and leaves us no other Motive than general Benevolence:∥ nay, it exposes the Industrious as a constant Prey to the Slothful, and sets Self-love against Industry. This is the Ground of our Right of Dominion and Property in the Fruits of our Labours; without which Right, we could scarce hope for any Industry, or any thing beyond the Product of uncultivated Nature. Industry will be confin’d to our present Necessitys, and cease when they are provided for; at least it will only continue from the weak Motive of general Benevolence, if we are not allow’d to store up beyond present Necessity, and to dispose of what is above our Necessitys, either in Barter for other kinds of Necessarys, or for the Service of our Friends or Familys. And hence appears the Right which Men have to lay up for the future, the Goods which will not be spoil’d by it; of alienating them in Trade; of Donation to Friends, Children, Relations: otherwise we deprive Industry of all the Motives of Self-love, Friendship, Gratitude, ∥ and∥ natural Affection. The same Foundation there is for the Right of Disposition by Testament. The Presumption of ∥ this∥ Disposition, is the Ground of the Right of Succession to the Intestate.
The external Right of the Miser to his useless Hoards, is founded also on this, that allowing Persons by Violence, or without Consent of the Acquirer, to take the Use of his Acquisitions, would discourage Industry, and take away all the Pleasures of Generosity, Honour, Charity, which cease when Men can be forc’d ∥ to∥ these Actions. Besides, there is no determining in many Cases, who is a Miser, and who is not.
Right of Marriage.Marriage must be so constituted as to ascertain the Offspring; otherwise we take away from the Males one of the strongest Motives to publick Good, viz. natural Affection; and discourage Industry, as has been shewn above.
Commerce.The Labour of each Man cannot furnish him with all Necessarys, tho it may furnish him with a needless Plenty of one sort: Hence the Right of Commerce, and alienating our Goods; and also the Rights from Contracts and Promises, either to the Goods acquir’d by others, or to their Labours.
Right of Civil Government.∥aThe great Advantages which accrue to Mankind from unprejudic’d Arbitrators, impower’d to decide the Controversys which ordinarily arise, thro the partiality of Self-love, among Neighbours; as also from prudent Directors, who should not only instruct the Multitude in the best Methods of promoting the publick Good, and of defending themselves against mutual or foreign Injurys; but also be arm’d with Force sufficient to make their Decrees or Orders effectual at home, and the Society formidable abroad: these Advantages, I say, sufficiently shew the Right Men have to constitute Civil Government, and to subject their alienable Rights to the Disposal of their Governours, under such Limitations as their Prudence suggests. And as far as the People have subjected their Rights, so far their Governours have an external Right at least, to dispose of them, ∥bas their Prudence shall directb∥, for attaining the Ends of their Institution; and no further.a∥
Corollarys for comparing the degrees of Virtue and Vice in Actions.IX. These Instances may shew how our moral Sense, by a little Reflection upon the tendencys of actions, may adjust the Rights of Mankind. Let us now apply the general ∥ Canon∥ laid down above, for comparing the Degrees of Virtue and Vice in Actions, in a few Corollarys besides that one already deduc’d.
From Ability.1. The Disappointment, in whole or in part, of any Attempt, Good or Evil, if it be occasion’d only by external Force, or any unforeseen Accident, does not vary the moral Good, or Evil; for as in good Attempts, the Moment of Good, ∥ or [M]∥ is diminish’d, or vanishes in such a case, so does the Ability, ∥ or [A]∥ likewise: The Quotient then may still be the same. ∥ This holds equally∥ in evil Attempts. So that Actions are not to be judg’d good or evil by the Events, any ∥ further∥ than they might have been foreseen by the Agent in evil Attempts; or were actually intended, if they were good, in good Actions; for then only they argue either Love or Hatred in the Agent.
Interest.2. Secular rewards annex’d to Virtue, and actually influencing the Agent fur-ther than his Benevolence would, diminish the moral Good ∥ as far∥ as they were necessary to move the Agent to the action, or to make him do more Good than otherwise he would have done; for by increasing the Interest, ∥ or [I] positive,∥ to be subtracted, they diminish the Benevolence. But additional Interests which were not necessary to have mov’d the Agent, such as the Rewards of a good Being for Actions which he would have undertaken without a Reward, do not diminish the Virtue. In this however no Mortal is capable of judging another. Nor do the Prospects of grateful Returns for Benefits which we would have conferr’d gratuitously, diminish the Generosity. This Corollary may be apply’d to the Rewards of a future State, if any Person conceives them distinct from the Pleasures of virtue itself: If they be not conceiv’d as something distinct from those Pleasures, then the very Desire of them is a strong Evidence of a virtuous Disposition.
3. External Advantage exciting us to Actions of evil tendency to others, if without this Prospect of Advantage we would not have undertaken them, diminishes the Evil of the Action; such as the Prospects of great Rewards, of avoiding Tortures, or even the uneasy Sollicitations of violent selfish ∥ Passions. This∥ is com-monly call’d the greatness of Temptation. The reason of this is the same with that in the former Case∥ , since H = ∥. We may here also remember again, that we are more uneasy upon the presence of Pain, than upon the absence of Good; and hence Torture is a more extenuating Circumstance than Bribes, engaging us to Evil, because ∥ [I] is greater.∥
Detriment.4. The surmounting the uneasy Sollicitations of the selfish Passions, increases the Virtue of a benevolent Action, and much more worldly Losses, Toil, &c. for now the Interest becomes negative; the Subtraction of which increases the Quantity.
5. A malicious Action is made the more odious by all its foreseen Disadvantages to the Agent, for the same reason: particularly,
Knowledge of Laws, how it affects Actions.6. The Knowledge of a Law prohibiting an evil Action, increases the Evil by increasing the negative Interest to be subtracted; for then the ill-natur’d Inclination must be so strong as to surmount all the ∥ Motives of Self-love, to avoid∥ the Penaltys, and all the Motives of Gratitude toward the Law-giver. This is commonly call’d sinning against Conscience.
7. Offices of no Toil or Expence, have little Virtue generally, because the ability is very great, and there is no contrary Interest surmounted.
8. But the refusing of them may be very vitious, as it argues an absence of good Affection, and ∥ often produces∥ a great enough Moment of natural Evil. And,
Degree of Right.9. In general, the fulfilling the perfect Rights of others has little Virtue in it; for thereby ∥ no∥ Moment of Good is produc’d ∥ more than there was before∥; and the Interest engaging to the Action is very great, even the avoiding all the Evils of War in a State of ∥ Nature.∥
10. But the violating ∥ perfect, or even external Rights,∥ is always exceedingly evil, either in the immediate, or more remote Consequences of the Action; and the selfish Motives surmounted by this vitious Inclination, are the same with those in the former Case.
11. The truest Matter of Praise are those Actions or Offices which others claim from us by an imperfect Right; and generally, the stronger their Right is, there is the less Virtue in fulfilling it, but the greater Vice in violating it.
Strength of Ties.∥ Lemma. The stronger Ties of Benevolence, in equal Abilitys, must produce a greater Moment of Good, in equally good Characters, than the weaker Ties. Thus, natural Affection, Gratitude, Friendship, have greater Effects than general Benevolence. Hence,∥
12. In equal Moments of Good produc’d by two Agents, when one acts from general ∥ Benevolence∥, and the other from a nearer Tie; there is greater Virtue in the Agent, who produces equal Good from the ∥ weaker∥ Attachment, and less Virtue, where there is the ∥ stronger∥ Attachment, which yet produces no ∥ more∥.
13. But the Omission of the good Offices of the stronger Ties, or Actions contrary to them, have greater Vice in them, than the like Omissions or Actions contrary to the weaker Ties; since our Selfish-ness or Malice must appear the greater, by the strength of the contrary Attachment which it surmounts. Thus, in co-operating with Gratitude, natural Affection, or Friendship, we evidence less Virtue in any given Moment of Good produc’d, than in equally important Actions of general Benevolence: But Ingratitude to a Benefactor, Negligence of the Interests of a Friend, or Relation; or Returns of evil Offices, are vastly more odious, than equal negligence, or evil Offices toward Strangers.
What Offices to be prefer’d, when there appears any Opposition.14. When we cannot at once follow two different Inclinations of Benevolence, we are to prefer gratifying the stronger Inclination; according to the wise Order of Nature, ∥ who∥ has constituted these Attachments. Thus, we are rather to be Grateful than Liberal, rather serve a Friend, or Kinsman, than a Stranger of only equal Virtue, when we cannot do both.
∥a15. Or more generally, since there can be no Right, Claim, or Obligation to Impossibilitys; when two Actions to be done by any Agent, would both tend to the good of Mankind, but they cannot be perform’d both at once; that which occasions most Good is to be done, if the Omission of the other occasions no prepollent Evil. If the omission of either, will occasion some new natural Evil, that is to be omitted, whose Omission will occasion the least Evil. Thus, if two Persons of unequal Dignity be in Danger, we are to relieve the more valuable, when we cannot relieve both. Ingratitude, as it evidences a worse Temper than neglect of Beneficence; so it raises worse Sentiments in the Benefactor, and greater Diffidence, and Suspicion of his Fellow-Creatures, than an Omission of an act of Beneficence: we ought therefore to be Grateful, rather than Beneficent, when we cannot (in any particular Case) evidence both Dispositions. If omitting of one Action will occasion new positive Evil, or continuance in a State of Pain, whereas the Omission of another would only prevent some new positive Good; since a State of Pain is a greater Evil, than the absence of Good, we ∥bareb∥ to follow Compassion, rather than Kindness; and relieve the Distressed, rather than increase the Pleasures of the Easy; when we cannot do both at once, and other Circumstances of the Objects are equal. In such Cases, we should not suppose contrary Obligations, or Dutys; the more important Office is our present Duty, and the Omission of the less important inconsistent Office at present, is no moral Evil.a∥
The Original of Government.∥aX. From Art. vii.b it follows, “That all human Power, or Authority, must consist in a Right transferr’d to any Person or Council, to dispose of the alienable Rights of others; and that consequently, there can be no Government so absolute, as to have even an external Right to do or command every thing.” For wherever any Invasion is made upon unalienable Rights, there must arise either a perfect, or external Right to Resistance. The only Restraints of a moral Kind upon Subjects in such cases, are, when they foresee that, thro their want of Force, they shall probably by Resistance occasion greater Evils to the Publick, than those they attempt to remove; or when they find that Governours, in the main very useful to the Publick, have ∥cbyc∥ some unadvised Passion, done an Injury too small to overbalance the Advantages of their Administration, or the Evils which Resistance would in all likelihood occasion; especially when the Injury is of a private Nature, and not likely to be made a Precedent to the ruin of others. Unalienable Rights are essential Limitations in all Governments.
Absolute Government.But by absolute Government, either in Prince, or Council, or in both jointly, we understand a Right to dispose of the natural Force, and Goods of a whole People, as far as they are naturally alienable, according to the Prudence of the Prince, Council, or of both jointly, for the publick Good of the State∥d, or whole Peopled∥; without any Reservation as to the Quantity of ∥ethee∥ Goods, manner of Levying, or the proportion of the Labours of the Subject, which they shall demand. But in all States this tacit Trust is presuppos’d, “that the Power ∥fconferr’df∥ shall be employ’d according to the best Judgment of the Rulers for the publick Good.” So that whenever the Governours openly profess a Design of ∥gdistroyingg∥ the State, or act in such a manner as will necessarily do it; the essential Trust suppos’d in all ∥hconveyance of Civil Powerh∥, is violated, and the Grant thereby made void.
Limited Government.A Prince, or Council, or both jointly, may be variously Limited; either when the consent of the one may be necessary to the validity of the Acts of the other; or when, in the very Constitution of this supreme Power, certain Affairs are expresly exempted from the Jurisdiction of the Prince, or Council, ∥ior bothi∥ jointly: as when several independent States uniting, form a general Council, from whose Cognizance they expresly reserve certain Privileges, in the very Formation of this Council; or when in the very Constitution of any State, a certain Method of Election of the Person of the Prince, or of the Members of the supreme Council is determin’d, and the Intention of their Assembling declar’d. In all such cases, it is not in the Power of such Prince, Council, or both jointly, to alter the very Form of Government, or to take away that Right which the People have to be govern’d in such a manner, by a Prince, or Council thus elected, without the universal Consent of the very People who have subjected themselves to this Form of Government. So that there may be a very regular State, where there is no universal absolute Power, lodg’d either in one Person, or Council, or in any other Assembly beside that of the whole People associated into that State. To say, that upon a Change attempted in the very Form of ∥jthej∥ Government, by the supreme Power, the People have no Remedy according to the Constitution itself, will not prove that the supreme Power has such a Right; unless we confound all Ideas of Right with those of external Force. The only Remedy indeed in that Case, is an universal Insurrection against such perfidious Trustees.
The nature of despotick Power.Despotick Power, is that which Persons injur’d may acquire over those Criminals, whose Lives, consistently with the publick Safety, they may prolong, that by their Labours they may repair the Damages they have done; or over those who stand oblig’d to a greater Value, than all their Goods and Labours can possibly amount to. This Power itself, is limited to the Goods and Labours only of the Criminals or Debtors; and includes no Right to Tortures, Prostitution, or any Rights of the Governed which are naturally Unalienable; or to any thing which is not of some Moment ∥ktoward Repairk∥ of Damage, Payment of Debt, or Security against future Offences. The Characteristick of de-spotick Power, is this, “that it is solely intended for the good of the Governours, without any tacit Trust of consulting the good of the Governed.” Despotick Government, in this Sense, is ∥ldirectlyl∥ inconsistent with the Notion of Civil Government.
From the Idea of Right, as above explain’d, we must necessarily conclude, “that there can be no Right, or Limitation of Right, inconsistent with, or opposite to the greatest publick Good.” And therefore in Cases of extreme Necessity, when the State cannot otherwise be preserv’d from Ruin, it must certainly be Just and Good in limited Governours, or in any other Persons who can do it, to use the Force of the State for its own preservation, beyond the Limits fix’d by the Constitution, in some transitory acts, which are not to be made Precedents. And on the other hand, when an equal Necessity to avoid Ruin requires it, the Subjects may justly resume the Powers ordinarily lodg’d in their Governours, or may counteract them. This Privilege of flagrant Necessity, we all allow in defence of the most perfect private Rights: And if publick Rights are of more extensive Importance, so are also publick Necessitys. These Necessitys must be very grievous and flagrant, otherwise they can never over-ballance the Evils of vio-lating a tolerable Constitution, by an arbitrary act of Power, on the one hand; or by an Insurrection, or Civil War, on the other. No Person, or State can be happy, where they do not think their important Rights are ∥msecur’dm∥ from the Cruelty, Avarice, Ambition, or Caprice of their Governours. Nor can any Magistracy be safe, or effectual for the ends of its Institution, where there are frequent Terrors of Insurrections. Whatever temporary acts therefore may be allow’d in extraordinary Cases; whatever may be lawful in the transitory act of a bold Legislator, who without previous Consent should rescue a slavish Nation, and place their Affairs so in the Hands of a Person, or Council, elected, or limited by themselves, that they should soon have confidence in their own Safety, and in the Wisdom of the Administration; yet, as to the fixed State which should ordinarily obtain in all Communitys, since no ∥nAssumern∥ of Government, can so demonstrate his superior Wisdom or Goodness to the satisfaction and security of the Governed, as is necessary to their Happiness; this must follow,a∥ “That except when Men, for their own Interest, or out of ∥ publick Love∥, have by Consent subjected their Actions, or their Goods within certain Limits to the ∥ Disposal∥ of others; no Mortal can have a Right from his superior Wisdom, or Goodness, or any other Quality, to give Laws to others without their Consent, express or tacit; or to dispose of the Fruits of their Labours, or of any other Right whatsoever.” ∥ And therefore superior Wisdom, or Goodness, gives no Right to Men to govern others.b∥
Divine Government founded on Wisdom and Goodness.But then with relation to the Deity, suppos’d omniscient and benevolent, and secure from Indigence, the ordinary Cause of Injurys toward others; it must be amiable in such a Being, to assume the Government of weak, inconstant Creatures, often misled by Selfishness; and to give them Laws. To these Laws every Mortal should submit from publick Love, as being contriv’d for the Good of the Whole, and for the greatest private Good consistent with it; and ∥ every one may be sure, that he shall be better directed how to attain these Ends by the Divine Laws, than by his own greatest Prudence and∥ Circumspection. Hence we imagine, “That a good and wise God must have a perfect Right to govern the Universe; and that all Mortals are oblig’d to universal Obedience.”
Divine Justice what.The Justice of the Deity is only a Conception of his universal impartial Benevolence, as it shall influence him, if he gives any Laws, to attemper them to the universal Good, and inforce them with the most effectual Sanctions of Rewards and Punishments.
Creation not the Ground of God’s Dominion.XI. Some imagine that the Property the Creator has in all his Works, must be the true Foundation of his Right to govern. Among Men indeed, we find it necessary for the publick Good, that none should arbitrarily dispose of the Goods, acquir’d by the Labour of another, which we call his Property; and hence we imagine that Creation is the only Foundation of God’s Dominion. But if the Reason∥ ∥ of establishing the Rights of Property does not hold against a perfectly wise and benevolent Being, I see no Reason why Property should be necessary to his Dominion. ∥ Now∥ the Reason does not hold: For an infinitely wise and good Being, could never ∥ employ his assumed Authority to∥ counteract the universal Good. The tie of Gratitude is stronger indeed than bare Benevolence; and therefore supposing two equally wise and good Beings, the one our Creator, and the other not, we ∥ should∥ think our selves more oblig’d to obey our Creator. But supposing our Creator malicious, and a good Being condescending to rescue us, or govern us better, with sufficient Power to accomplish his kind Intentions; his Right to govern would be perfectly good. But this is rather matter of curious Speculation than Use; since both Titles of Benevolence and Property concur in the one only true Deity, as far as we can know, join’d with infinite Wisdom and Power.
Our Moral Sense the Effect of the Divine Goodness.XII. If it be here enquir’d, “Could not the Deity have given us a different or contrary determination of Mind, viz. to approve Actions upon another Foundation than Benevolence?” ∥ It is certain, there is∥ nothing in this surpassing the natural Power of the Deity. But as in the first Treatise, we resolv’d the Constitution of our present Sense of Beauty into the divine Goodness, so with much more obvious Reason may we ascribe the present Constitution of our moral Sense to his Goodness. For if the Deity be really benevolent, ∥ or delights in∥ the Happiness of others, he could not rationally act otherwise, or give us a moral Sense upon another Foundation, without counteracting his own benevolent Intentions. For, ∥ even∥ upon the Supposition of a contrary Sense, every rational Being must ∥ still∥ have been solicitous in some degree about his own external Happiness: Reflection on the Circumstances of Mankind in this World would have suggested, ∥ that∥ universal Benevolence and a social Temper, ∥ or a certain Course of external∥ Actions, would most effectually promote the external Good of every one, according to the Reasonings of Cumberland and Puffendorf; while at the same time this perverted Sense of Morality would have made us uneasy in such a Course, and inclin’d us to the quite contrary, viz. Barbarity, Cruelty, and Fraud; and universal War, according to Mr. ∥ Hobbs∥, would really have been our natural State; so that in every Action we must have been distracted by two contrary Principles, and perpetually miserable, and dissatisfy’d when we follow’d the Directions of either.
Whence this universal Opinion of the Divine Goodness.XIII. It has ∥ often been∥ taken for granted in these Papers, “That the Deity is morally good;” tho the Reasoning is not at all built upon this Supposition. If we ∥ enquire into∥ the Reason of the great Agreement of Mankind in this Opinion, we shall perhaps find no demonstrative Arguments à priori, from the Idea of an Independent Being, to prove his Goodness. But there is abundant Probability, deduc’d from the whole Frame of Nature, which seems, as far as we know, plainly contriv’d for the Good of the Whole; and the casual Evils seem the necessary Concomitants of some Mechanism design’d for ∥ vastly∥ prepollent Good. ∥ Nay∥, this very moral Sense, implanted in rational Agents, to ∥ delight in∥, and admire whatever Actions flow from a Study of the Good of others, is one of the strongest Evidences of Goodness in the Author of Nature.
But these Reflections are ∥ no way∥ so universal as the Opinion, nor are they often inculcated ∥ by any one∥. What then more probably leads Mankind into that Opinion, is this. The obvious Frame of the World gives us Ideas of boundless Wisdom and Power in its Author. Such a Being we cannot conceive indigent, and must conclude happy, and in the best State possible, since he can still gratify himself. The best State of rational Agents, and their greatest and most worthy Happiness, we are necessarily led to imagine must consist in universal efficacious Benevolence: and hence we conclude the Deity benevolent in the most universal impartial manner. Nor can we well imagine what else deserves the Name of Perfection ∥ but∥ Benevolence, and those Capacitys or Abilitys which are necessary to make it effectual; such as Wisdom, and Power: at least we can have no ∥ other valuable∥ Conception of it.
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