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has chosen and attained his object, he is often disappointed, and finds that he chose what was not for his good. And when he has found enjoyment in what he has sought and attained, he sometimes feels ashamed that he has sought it and even that he is capable of deriving his happiness from such a source.
IV. Two answers to the question, “What is the good and by what criterion is it discerned,” demand consideration.
1. The first answer is, The good is primarily and essentially happiness, that is, enjoyment or pleasure. The criterion is that of quantity only, measuring the intensity, continuity and duration of the enjoyment. The good or well-being is the happiness which has the highest degree of intensity, continuity and duration. Its maxim is well expressed by Lucretius : “Dux vitæ dia voluptas.”*
This theory of the good is called Hedonism, from the Greek vôový. The name was originally given to the doctrine that the good consists in the pleasures of sense, taught by Aristippus and the Cyrenaic school. It is now more widely applied to denote the doctrine that the good consists in enjoyment. This theory and the ethical theories founded on it have also been denoted by the name Eudæmonism, from čuò aeglovir, meaning happiness.
2. The second and true answer is: what good or well-being is must be determined by a standard or criterion of reason. This standard or criterion is found in the truths, laws and ideals of reason. The good is whatever, in accordance with this standard, reason adjudges worthy of pursuit by a rational being, or worthy to be the source of enjoyment to a rational being. Or, it is whatever has worth as estimated by the standard of reason. Here is a new reality, the knowledge of which is dependent on rational intuition. It is the norm by which reason estimates all objects of pursuit and acquisition, and all sources of enjoyment.
V. The true good comprises both an empirical element, enjoyment, which is known in experience; and a rational element, worth or the worthy, as estimated by the standard of reason. It is this last which is distinctively the fundamental idea of reason in reference to the good, and which is the subject of this chapter. The empirical element is, however, inseparable from the rational in the true good, and must not be overlooked in the discussion. Such an oversight would lead to onesided views which would involve fundamental error.
VI. In Hedonism there can be no question, as to pleasures and their sources, which is the true good; for all pleasures are held to be true good, differing only in quantity. In Hedonism the first and only ques
ticn is, “ What is the highest good, or summum bonum ?” But when we recognize pleasures and their sources as themselves adjudged by reason to be worthy or unworthy, to have worth or to be worthless, the question necessarily arises as to them, “What is the true good ?” or, more properly, “What is the good ?” Ethical philosophy has been vitiated by beginning its investigations with the question, “ What is the summum bonum ?” and pursuing its investigations as if the answer to that question would give the fundamental principle and law of ethics. But it is a false method, characteristic of Hedonism, and must issue in falsity. Before we ask the question, "What is the highest good ?" we must answer the question, “ What is the good ?” We must ascertain what the good is before we can measure its quantity and compare its degrees. This we can ascertain only by going back of all questions of pleasure, and judging of the worthiness of pleasures themselves and their sources by the standard of the truths, laws and ideals of reason. And when thus we know what the true good is, we know that it must be also, to every rational being, the highest good.
& 48. Hedonism a False Theory. Before discussing what the good truly is, it is necessary to expose the inadequacy and falsity of Hedonism. And preliminary to this it should be said that various theories of ethics have been founded on Hedonism or have to some extent accepted it as true. These theories are worthy of more or less disapproval according as they rest more or less entirely on the Hedonistic error and apply it with more or less consistency. These ethical theories are not to be considered here, but simply the Hedonistic conception of what the Good is.
I. Hedonism is the legitimate and necessary outcome of sensational theories of knowledge; it is incompatible with the recognition of Reason as a source of knowledge. It is thus partial and one-sided, not recognizing all the facts in the constitution and life of man. It constructs a science of man as if he were a creature of sense, feeling and impulse only. It does not acknowledge the existence of reason in man or of any standard of rational discrimination between his impulses. The only intellectual act recognized is the notation in experience of the quantity or degree of pleasure. It is consistent with positivism and with every theory which restricts knowledge to the phenomena of sense. It is the legitimate and necessary issue of such theories of knowledge, which, excluding all knowledge of principles, laws and ideals originating in the reason, have nothing left for the idea of good or well-being except enjoyments, and no criterion for discrimination between them except their quantity or degree. Accordingly the advocates of Hedonism have commonly held to some form of the sensational philosophy, from Aris
tippus and Epicurus, its representatives in ancient times, until now. But it is in irreconcilable contradiction to the philosophy which recognizes knowledge of truths, laws and ideals originating in the reason. If we believe in God, we shall not begin with seeking enjoyment at random wherever it may be found, with no thought but of the intensity and duration of the enjoyment. On the contrary, we shall begin with the thought that the universe is dependent on God; that its constitution is nothing else but the truths, laws, ideals and ends eternal in God, the absolute Reason, and expressed and realized in the universe; and that man is so constituted in the image of God that his reason attests the supremacy of the same truths and laws. The good which is possible in such a universe for such a being must be determined by rational standards and can be found only in accordance with the eternal truth and law of God; it cannot be the mere quantity of enjoyment from whatever source derived. Even if we say God requires us to seek the good of all beings, yet the good which God requires us to seek must be determined in accordance with the truths, laws, ideals and ends which are eternal in God and expressed and realized in the constitution of the universe. It is practical atheism to insist that the good is the aggregate of enjoyment from all sources, measured only by quantity, with no reference to the truth and law of God. In fact if a man try to measure the good by the quantity of enjoyment, he may find himself incapable of enjoyment in the service of God; and the religious life, with its humble trust in God, its self-renouncing and self-sacrificing love, may seem only gloomy and repulsive to him. He may see enjoyment only in self-sufficiency, self-will, self-seeking, self-indulgence, self-serving and self-glorying. In this character and state of mind, if he estimates the good only by the quantity of enjoyment, he will be led entirely away from the good. He not only will not choose it, but he will not see it as good. He must make a new supreme choice and form a new character in order to appreciate the blessedness of a life of self-renouncing faith and love. - If our Lord should speak to him, he would say as to Nicodemus, “ Except a man be born anew, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” If an old Hebrew prophet should speak to him, he would say, “Wo unto them who call evil good, and good evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness ; who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter."
Some who acknowledge self-evident intuitions transcending sense, yet remain so imperfectly cleared from Locke's sensationalism that they fall into the Hedonistic error. But they can neither make it consistent with their own principles nor purge it from the taint of its origin in sensationalism and of its essential tendency to materialism and atheism. They are like Milton's “tawny lion pawing to get free his hinder parts,” or as an earlier writer, using the same allusion to the fabled emergence of animals from the slime, more vigorously expressed it,“ their hinder parts are yet plain mud.”
Plato must not be classed with these. Although he does not treat Duty or the Right as a primary idea, and attempts to derive it from the idea of the good, yet it must be borne in mind that he regards the Good as including in itself the unity of the True and the Beautiful, and thus determines it by a rational standard. Hence with entire consistency he argues, as in the Philebus and the Gorgias, that enjoyment or pleasure does not constitute the Good. Plato's error is that he attempts to develop the idea of the Right from that of the Good instead of immediately recognizing truth as law to the will. This error has made his ethics indefinite, confused and vacillating.
In any correct idea of the good or well-being of man two elements must be recognized, enjoyment which we know by experience, and the standard of truth, right and perfection, which we know in the light of Reason.
II. The maxim of Hedonism that the one ultimate motive of all human action is the desire of happiness is contrary to fact. This is a sort of fundamental maxim with the advocates of this theory which they set forth as self-evident; “ Happiness our being's end and aim.” Bentham in the Deontology says: “No man ever had, can or could have a motive different from the pursuit of pleasure or the avoidance of pain.” But this extravagant assertion is in direct contradiction to the most common and obvious facts of human nature.
1. Every appetite, desire, affection or motive of whatever kind has its own specific object, and is not resolvable into the desire of happiness; this desire for the object is prerequisite to the possibility of finding enjoyment in the object. Hunger, for example, is the appetite for food, not the desire for happiness. When I have no appetite for food I have no pleasure in eating. My desire of happiness is as strong as ever. Why then do I not eat? What has changed ? Not my desire of happiness, but my appetite for food. The same is true of all the sensibilities which are motives to action. Each has its own peculiar object; that peculiar object alone and no other can satisfy it; when a child is hungry its hunger cannot be appeased with a rattle.
2. Hence the motives to human action are many, not one alone. They who believe that man's good or well-being consists only in enjoyments distinguishable only in degree, reduce human nature to a dreary monotony, moved always by one and the same impulse, the desire of happiness. On the contrary the motives of human action are of many kinds :—appetites, desires, affections, affinities, antipathies, preferences, instinctive and rational, constitutional and acquired, involuntary and
voluntary, and each kind including many particular mocives, each impelling to some peculiar object of its own. Herein consists the manysidedness of man, his susceptibility to a great variety of impressions and influences, and his capacity for a complex and many-sided development and a complex and many-sided civilization.
3. It should also be noticed that any one of these appetites, desires or affections, by transient excitement or confirmed habit, may gain ascendancy and lead to sacrifice the objects of every other desire. A drunkard sacrifices health, property and reputation for drink. A miser sacrifices every comfort of life that he may hoard. Louise Michell, tried for participation in the crimes of the commune in Paris, gloried before her judges in the atrocities which she had committed and challenged them to put her to death. “What I ask of you,” she cried, “ is a place on the field of Satory by the side of our dear condemned brother. If you do not shoot me you are a pack of cowards.” “In delivering these words," we are told in a narrative of the trial, “ her whole figure shook with passion, her voice rang forth like a trumpet, and she looked the very image of an inspired fury.” Louise was an atheist; she had no expectation of happiness after the fatal shot; she was ready to sacrifice life and all possibilities of pleasure in her fury against society. Her fury had wrapt her whole being in its blaze, licking up with its tongues of fire every other passion and interest as fuel. Similar are the stories of Charlotte Corday who murdered Marat, and of the Russian Nihilists. And yet we are asked to believe that all these devoted themselves to death in the commission of these crimes solely from the desire of happiness.
The desire of happiness is one among the many motives of human action. No man can prefer pain to pleasure, if pain and pleasure are the only objects compared. If he accepts pain in any case it is because he yields to some other motive. It is contrary to the most obvious and familiar facts of psychology to affirm that the desire of happiness is the one only ultimate motive of human action.
4. This reduction of all human action to one motive is incompatible with free-will. If man is constituted with susceptibility to only one motive, he has no power of free choice. He must follow that one impulse as necessarily as a brute follows the strongest impulse of his nature. Free choice is determination between different objects to which we are impelled by different motives.
5. The Hedonistic maxim is also incompatible with the fact that happiness has no fixed dependence on outward objects, but is relative to and dependent on the subjective state of the man himself. We do not desire any object because it imparts happiness; but the object imparts happiness because we desire it.