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professes that man's sole object, in the practice of all the various moralities, is his own individual advantage.* Now, in most cases of a special, and more particularly of a virtuous affection, it can be demonstrated, that the object is a something out of himself and distinct from himself. Take compassion for one instance out of the many. The object of this affection is the relief of another's misery, and, in the fulfilment of this, does the affection meet with its full solace and gratification; that is, in a something altogether external from himself. It is true, that there is an appropriate pleasure in the indulgence of this affection, even as there is in the indulgence of every other; and in proportion, too, to the strength of the affection, will be the greatness of the pleasure. The man who is doubly more compassionate than his fellow, will have doubly a greater enjoyment in the relief of misery; yet that, most assuredly, not because he of the two is the more intently set on his own gratification, but because he of the two is the more intently set on an outward accomplishment, the relief of another's wretchedness. The truth is, that, just because more compassionate than his fellow, the more intent is he than the other on the object of this affection, and the less intent is he than the other on himself the subject of this affection. His thoughts and feelings are more drawn away to the sufferer, and therefore more drawn away from himself. He is
* How is it that the utilitarians of our day 'make so little account of Butler, whom nevertheless some of them profess to idolize? The truth is, that the distinction which he has estaben lished between the object of an affection and its accompanying pleasure, strikes at the foundation of their system?
the most occupied with the object of this affection; and, on that very account, the least occupied with the pleasure of its indulgence. And it is precisely the objective quality of these regards, which stamps upon compassion the character of a disinterested affection. He surely is the most compassionate whose thoughts and feelings are most drawn away to the sufferer, and most drawn away from self; or, in other words, most taken up with the direct consideration of him who is the object of this affection, and least taken up with the reflex consideration of the pleasure that he himself has in the indulgence of it. Yet this prevents not the pleasure from being actually felt; and felt, too, in very proportion to the intensity of the compassion; or, in other words, more felt the less it has been thought of at the time, or the less it has been pursued for its own sake. It seems unavoidable in every affection, that, the more a thing is loved, the greater must be the pleasure of indulging the love of it: yet it is equally unavoidable, that the greater in that case will be our aim towards the object of the affection, and the less will be our aim towards the pleasure which accompanies its gratification. And thus, to one who reflects profoundly and carefully on these things, it is no paradox that he who has had doubly greater enjoyment than another in the exercise of compassion, is doubly the more disinterested of the two; that he has had the most pleasure in this affection who has been the least careful to please himself with the indulgence of it; that he whose virtuous desires, as being the strongest, have in their gratification ministered to self the greatest satisfaction, has been the least actuated of all his fellows by the wishes, and stood at the greatest distance from the aims of selfishness.* . . .
7. And moreover, there is a just and philosophical sense, in which many of our special affections, besides the virtuous, are alike disinterested with these; even though they have been commonly ranked among the selfish affections of our nature. The proper object of self-love is the good of self; and this calm general regard to our own happiness may be considered, in fact, as the only interested affection to which our nature is competent. The special affections are, one and all of them, distinct from self-love, both in their objects, and in the real psychological character of the affections themselves. The object of the avaricious affection is the acquirement of wealth ; of the resentful, the chastisement of an offender; of the sensual, something appropriate or suited to that corporeal affection which forms the reigning appetite at the time. In many of these, is the good of self the proper discriminative object of the affection; and the mind of him who is under their power, and engaged in their prosecution, is differently employed from the mind of him, who, at the time, is either devising or doing. aught for the general or abstract end of his own happiness. None of these special affections is identical with the affection which has happiness for its object. So far from this, the avaricious man often, conscious of the strength of his propensity, and at the moment of being urged forward by it to new speculations, acknowledges in his heart, that he would be happier far, could he but moderate its violence, and be satisfied with an humbler fortune than that to which his aspirations would carry him. And the resentful man, in the very act of being tempest-driven to some furious onset against the person who has affronted or betrayed him, may yet be sensible that, instead of seeking for any benefit to himself, he is rushing on the destruction of his character, or fortune, or even life. And many is the drunkard who under the goadings of an appetite which he cannot withstand, in place of self-love being the principle, and his own greatest happiness the object, knows himself to be on the road to inevitable ruin. There is an affection which has happiness for its object; but this is not the affection which rules and has the ascendancy in any of these instances. These are all special affections, grounded on the affinities which obtain between certain objects and certain parts of human nature; and which cannot be indulged beyond a given extent, without distemper and discomfort to the whole nature; so that, in spite of all the particular gratifications which follow in their train, the man over whom they tyrannise may be unhappy upon the whole. The very distinction between the affection of self-love and the special affections proves that there is a corresponding distinction in their objects; and this again, that many of the latter may be gratified, while the former is disappointed, or, in other words, that, along with many particular enjoyments, the general state of
* The purely disinterested character of a right religious affection might be proved by these considerations..
man may be that of utter and extreme wretchedness. It is therefore a competent question, what those special affections are, which most consist with the general happiness of the mind; and this, notwithstanding that they all possess one circumstance in common--the unavoidable pleasure appendant to the gratification of each of them.* .
8. This explanation will help us to understand wherein it is that the distinction in point of enjoyment, between a good and an evil affection of our nature, properly lies. For there is a certain species
* The following are the clear and judicious observations of Sir James Macintosh on this subject :
“In contending, therefore, that the benevolent affections are disinterested, no more is claimed for them than must be granted to mere animal appetites and to malevolent passions. Each of these principles alike seeks its own object, for the sake simply of obtaining it. Pleasure is the result of the attainment, but no separate part of the aim of the agent. The desire that another person may be yratified, seeks that outward object alone, according to the general course of human desire. Resentment is as disinterested as gratitude or pity, but not more so. Hunger or thirst may be as much as the purest benevolence, at variance with selflove. A regard to our own general happiness is not a vice, but in itself an excellent quality. It were well if it prevailed more generally over craving and short-sighted appetites. The weakness of the social affections, and the strength of the private desires, properly constitute selfishness; a vice utterly at variance with the happiness of him who harbours it, and as such, condemned by self-love. There are as few who attain the greatest satisfaction to themselves, as who do the greatest good to others. It is absurd to say with some, that the pleasure of benevolence is selfish, because it is felt by self. Understanding and reasoning are acts of self, for no man can think by proxy; but no man ever called them selfish, why? Evidently because they do not regard self. Precisely the same reason applies to benevolence. Such an argument is a gross confusion of self, as it is a subject of feeling or thought, with self considered as the object of either. It is no more just to refer the private appetites to self-love because they commonly promote happiness, than it would be to refer them to self-hatred, in those frequent cases where their gratification obstructs it."