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GREATEST HAPPINESS MUST BE SOUGHT
It is for us to ascertain the conditions by conforming to which greatest happiness may be attained. Unquestionably there must be in the nature of things some definite and fixed pre-requisites to success. Man is a visible, tangible entity, having properties. In the circumstances which surround him there are unchanging necessities. Life depends on the fulfilment of certain functions; and happiness is a particular kind of life. Surely, then, if we would know how, in the midst of these circumstances, the being Man must live so as to achieve greatest happiness, we ought first to determine what the essential conditions are. To suppose that we may, in ignorance or disregard of them, succeed by some haphazard speculation, is folly. Only in one way can the desideratum be reached. What that one way is must depend on the fundamental necessities of our position. And if we would discover it, our first step must be to ascertain those necessities,
At the head of them stands this unalterable fact the social state. Men have multiplied until they are constrained to live more or less in presence of one another. That, as being needful for the support of the greatest sum of life, such a condition is preliminary to the production of the greatest sum of happiness, seems highly probable. Be that as it may, however, we find this state established ; are henceforth to continue in it; and must therefore set it down as one of those necessities which our rules for the achievement of the greatest happiness must recognize and conform to.
In this social state the sphere of activity of each individual being limited by the spheres of activity of other individuals, it follows that the men who are to realize this greatest sum of happiness, must be men of whom each can obtain complete happiness within his own sphere of activity, without diminishing the spheres of activity required for the acquisition of happiness by others. For, manifestly, if each or any of them cannot receive complete happiness without lessening the spheres of activity of one or more of the rest, he must either himself come short of complete happiness, or must make one or more do so; and hence, under such circumstances, the sum total of happiness cannot be as great as is conceivable, or cannot be greatest happiness. Here, then, is the first of those fixed conditions to the obtainment of greatest happiness, necessitated by the social state. It is the fulfilment of this condition which we express by the word justice.
To this all-essential pre-requisite there is a supplementary one of kindred nature. We find that withont trenching upon one another's spheres of activity, men may yet behave to one another in such ways as to produce painful emotions. And if any have feelings which lead them to do this, it is clear that the total amount of happiness is not so great as it would be were they devoid of those feelings. Hence, to compass greatest happiness, the human constitution must be such that each man may fulfil his own nature, not only without diminishing other men's spheres of activity, but without inflicting unhappiness on other men in any direct or indirect way. This condition, as we shall by-and-by see, needs to be kept quite distinct from the foregoing one. The observance of it may be called negative beneficence.
Yet another requirement there is by fulfilment of which the happiness flowing from compliance with the foregoing ones is indefinitely increased. Let a race of beings be so constituted that each may be able to obtain full satisfaction
GREATEST HAPPINESS MUST BE SOUGHT INDIRECTLY. 35
for all his desires, without deducting from the satisfactions obtainable by others, and we have a state of things in which the amount of isolated happiness is the greatest conceivable. But let these beings be so constituted that each, in addition to the pleasurable emotions personally received by him, can sympathetically participate in the pleasurable emotions of others, and the sum-total of happiness becomes largely augmented. Hence, to the primary requisite that each shall be able to get complete happiness without diminishing the happiness of the rest, we must now add the secondary one that each shall be capable of receiving happiness from the happiness of the rest. Compliance with this requisite implies positive beneficence.
Lastly, there must go to the production of the greatest happiness the further condition, that, whilst duly regardful of the preceding limitations, each individual shall perform all those acts required to fill up the measure of his own private happiness.
These then are necessities. They are not matters of opinion, but matters of fact. Denial of them is impossible, for nothing else can be stated but what is self-contradictory. Schemes of government and culture which ignore them, cannot but be essentially absurd. Everything must be good or bad, right or wrong, in virtue of its accordance or discord ance with them. Our whole code of duty is comprehended in the endeavour to live up to these necessities. If we find pleasure in doing this it is well ; if not, our aim must be to acquire that pleasure. Greatest happiness is obtained only when conformity to them is spontaneous; seeing that the restraint of desires inciting to trespass implies pain, or deduction from greatest happiness. Hence it is for us to habituate ourselves to fulfil these requirements as fast as we can. The social state is a necessity. The conditions to greatest happiness under that state are fixed. Our characters are the only things not fixed. They, then, must be moulded into fitness for the conditions. And all moral teaching and discipline must have for its object to hasten this process.
DERIVATION OF A FIRST PRINCIPLE.
If men have like claims to that freedom which is needful for the exercise of their faculties, then inust the freedom of each be bounded by the similar freedoms of all. When, in the pursuit of their respective ends, two individuals clash, the movements of the one remain free only in so far as they do not interfere with the like movements of the other. This sphere of existence into which we are thrown, not affording room for the unrestrained activity of all, and yet all possessing in virtue of their constitutions similar claims to such unrestrained activity, there is no course but to apportion the unavoidable restraint equally. Wherefore we arrive at the general proposition, that every man may claim the fullest liberty to exercise his faculties compatible with the possession of like liberty by every other man.
Upon a partial consideration this statement of the law will perhaps seem open to criticism. It may be thought better to limit the right of each to exercise his faculties, by the proviso that he shall not hurt any one else—shall not inflict pain on any one else. But although at first sight satisfactory, this expression of the law allows of erroneous deductions. It is true that men, who fulfil those conditions to greatest happiness set forth in the foregoing chapter, cannot exercise their faculties to the aggrieving of one another. It is not, however, that each avoids giving pain by refraining from the full exercise of his faculties; but it is that the faculties of each are such that the full exercise of them offends no one. And herein lies the difference. The giving of pain may have two causes. Either the abnormally-constituted man may do something displeasing to the normal feelings of his neighbours, in which case he acts wrongly; or the behaviour of the normally-constituted man may irritate the abnormal feelings of his neighbours, in which case it is not his behaviour that is wrong, but their characters that are so. Under such circumstances the due exercise of his faculties is right, although it gives pain; and the remedy for the evil lies in the modification of those abnormal feelings to which pain is given.
To elucidate this distinction let us take a few illustrations. An honest man discovers some friend, of whom he had previously thought well, to be a rogue He has certain high instincts to which roguery is repugnant; and, allowing free play to these, he drops the acquaintanceship of this unworthy one. Now, though in doing so he gives pain, it does not follow that he transgresses the law. The evil must be ascribed, not to an undue exercise of faculties by him, but to the immorality of the man who suffers. Again, a Protestant in a Roman Catholic country refuses to uncover his head on the passing of the host. In so obeying the promptings of certain sentiments, he annoys the spectators; and were the above modified expression of the law correct, would be blameable. The fault, however, is not with him, but with those who are offended. It is not that he is culpable in thus testifying to his belief, but it is that they ought not to have so tyrannical an intolerance of other opinions than their own. Or again, a son, to the great displeasure of his father and family, marries one who, though in all respects admirable, is dowerless. In thus obeying the dictates of his nature, he may
. entail considerable distress of mind on his relatives; but it does not follow that his conduct is bad ; it follows, rather, that the feelings which his conduct has wounded are bad.
Hence we see that in hourly-occurring cases like these, to