Gambar halaman
PDF
ePub

Animal love when carried into action by natural impulse fingly, is neither social nor selfifh: when exerted with a view to gratification, and in order to make me happy, it is selfish : when the motive of giving pleasure to its object is fuperadded, it is partly social, partly selfish. A just action when prompted by the principle of duty solely, is neither social nor selfish. When I perform an act of justice with a view to the pleasure of gratification, the action is selfish : I pay my debt for my own fake, not with a view to benefit my creditor. But let me suppose the money has been advanced by a friend without interest, purely to oblige me: in this case, together with the motive of gratification, there arises a motive of gratitude, which respects the creditor solely, and prompts me to act in order to do him good; and the action is partly focial, partly selfish. Suppose again I meet with a surprising and unexpected act of generosity, that inspires me with love to my benefactor, and the utmost gratitude: I burn to do him good: he is the sole object of my desire; and my own pleasure in gratifying the desire, vanisheth out of sight: in this case, the action I perform is purely focial. Thus it happens, that when a social motive becomes strong, the action is exerted with a view singly to the object of the passion; and the selfish pleasure arising from gratification is never once considered. The same effect of stilling felfish motives, is equally remarkable in other passions that are in no view focial.

[ocr errors]

An action, for example, prompted by ambition considered as a means to make me happy, is felfith : but if the desire of exaltation wax strong, and inflame my mind, the selfish motive is no longer felt, and the action is neither selfish nor focial. A slight degree of resentment, where my chief view in acting is the pleasure arising to myfelf from gratifying the passion, is justly denominated selfish: where revenge flames so high as to have no other aim but the destruction of its object, it is no longer felfish; but, in opposition to a social passion, may be termed diffocial *.

When this analysis of human nature is considered, not one article of which can with any shadow of truth be controverted, there is reason to be surprised at the blindness of some philosophers, who, by dark and confused notions, are led to deny all motives to action but what arise from felf-love. Man, for aught appears, might pofsibly have been so framed, as to be susceptible of no passions but what have self for their object : but man thus framed, would be ill fitted for fociety. Much better is the matter ordered, by enduing him with passions directed entirely to the good of others, as well as with passions directed entirely to his own good. Of self, every one hath a direct perception;

* This word, hitherto not in use, seems to fulfill all that is required by Demetrius Phalereus [Of Elocution, sečt. 96.] in coin. ing a new word: first, that it be perspicuous; and next, that it be in the tone of the language ; that we may not, says our author, introduce among the Grecian vocables words that sound like those of Phrygia or Scythia.

good

4. of other things, we have no knowledge but by means of their attributes: and hence it is, that of self, the perception is more lively than of any other thing. Self is an agreeable object; and, for the reason now given, must be more agreeable than any other object. Is not this sufficient to account for the prevalence of self-love?

In the foregoing part of this chapter, it is suggested, that some circumstances make beings or things fit objects for desire, others not. This hint must be pursued. It is a truth ascertained by universal experience, that a thing which in our apprehension is beyond reach, never is the object of desire: no man, in his right fenses, defires to walk on the clouds, or to descend to the centre of the earth: we may amuse ourselves in a reverie, with building castles in the air, and wishing for what can never happen; but such things never move desire. And indeed a desire to do what we are conscious is beyond our power, would be altogether absurd. In the next place, though the difficulty of attainment with respect to things within reach, often inflames desire; yet where the prospect of attainment is faint, and the event extremely uncertain, the object, however agreeable, seldom raiseth any strong desire: thus beauty or other good qualities in a woman of rank, feldom raise love in a

ny

ny man greatly her inferior. In the third place, different objects, equally within reach, raise emotions in different degrees; and when desire accompanies any of these emotions, its strength, as is natural, is proportioned to that of its cause. Hence the remarkable difference

among

desires directed to beings inanimate, animate, and rational : the emotion caused by a rational being, is out of measure stronger than any caused by an animal without reason; and an emotion raised by such an animal, is stronger than what is caused by any thing inanimate. There is a separate reason why desire of which a rational being is the object should be the strongest : it has means without end of gratification, by benefiting its object, or by harming it ; and it is a wellknown truth, that our desires naturally fwell by exercise : desire directed to an inanimate being, susceptible neither of pleasure nor pain, is not capable of a higher gratification than that of acquiring the property. Hence it is, that though every emotion accompanied with desire, is strictly speaking a passion ; yet commonly none of these are denominated passions, but where a fensible being capable of pleasure and pain is the object.

VOL. I.

D

SECT.

[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

His subject was purposely reserved for a fe

parate section, because it could not, with perspicuity, be handled under the general head. An emotion accompanied with desire is termed a pasion; and when the desire is fulfilled, the paflion is faid to be gratified. Now, the gra- : tification of every passion must be pleasant, or in other words produce a pleasant emotion; for nothing can be more natural, than that the ac complishment of any wish or desire should affect us with joy; I cannot even except the case, where a man, through remorse, is desirous to chalțife and punish himself. The joy of gratification is properly called an emotion; because it makes us happy in our present situation, and is ultimate in its nature, not having a tendency to any thing beyond. On the other hand, forrow must be the result of an event contrary to what we desire; for if the accomplishment of desire

; produce joy, it is equally natural that disappointment should produce forrow.

An event, fortunate or unfortunate, that falls out by accident without being foreseen or thought of, and which therefore coulů not be the object

« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »