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fore they have chosen what is most eligible upon the whole ?It is not, said I, improbable, that they act by some such motive.
Do you not see, then, continued he, two or three more preconceptions of the sovereign good, which are sought for by all, as essential to constitute it? — And what, said I, are these?That it should not be transient, nor derived from the will of others, nor in their power to take away; but be durable, self«lerived, and (and if I may use the expression) indeprivable. I confess, said I, it appears so.-But we have already found it to be considered as something agreeable to our nature; conducive, not to mere being, but to well-being; and what we aim to have accommodate to all places and times.—We have.
There may be other characteristics, said he, but these I think sufficient. See then its idea; behold it, as collected from the original, natural, and universal preconceptions of all mankind. The sovereign good,' they have taught us, ought to be something, “ agreeable to our nature ; conducive to well-being; accommodate to all places and times; durable, self-derived, and indeprivable.”—Your account, said I, appears just.
| The original preconceptions of the so- completur, si id possit amitti? Nihil enim rereign good here recited, may be justified interarescere, nihil exstingui, &c. Kal tis by the following authorities, from among αύτη ή εύροια, ήν ο τυχών εμποδίσαι many which are omitted.
δύναται, ου λέγω Καίσαρ ή Καίσαρος Agreeable to nature.--Neque ulla alia in φίλος, αλλά κόραξ, αυλητής, πυρετός, άλλα re, nisi in natura, quaerendum esse illud τρισμύρια ; ή δ' εύροια ουδέν ούτως έχει summum bonum, quo omnia referrentur. 's To Oinvekės kal'àveuTÓSISTOV: “ And Cic. Acad. I. i. c. 5. p. 27. edit. Davis. what sort of happiness is this, which any
Conducire to uell-being.—Epictetus calls thing intervening may embarrass ; I say that “truth or knowledge, which respects not Cæsar, or Cæsar's friend, but a crow, a our real happiness,” (Thy århdelay the piper, a fever, a thousand things beside ? Tepi Tis eudaijlovias); the truth or know- Happiness, surely, implies nothing so much ledge which regards not mere living, but as perpetuity, and being superior to hinwhich conduces to living well,” (où Thy derance or impediment.” Arrian. Epict. l. iv. Tepi Toù Gv, åand thv apos id eu sav.) c. 4. p. 585. edit. Upt. See also l. ii. c. 11. Arrian. Epict. 1. i. c. 4. p. 28. edit. Upt. p. 227. Αι κoιναι περί ευδαιμονίας έννοιαι, το ζην Self-derived. — Atque hoc dabitis, ut κατά φύσιν, και τον κατά φύσιν βίον, opinor, si modo sit aliquid esse bentum, id ευδαιμονίαν λέγουσι προς δε τούτοις, το oportere totum poni in potestate sapientis: Ed Cov, kal Td Bloûv, kal Tv eufwtav, nam, si amitti vita beata potest, beata esse ευδαιμονίαν φασίν είναι : « Our common non potest. Cic. de Fin. 1. ii. c. 27. p. 163. preconceptions concerning happiness call it, Και τοις μεν κατ' αλήθειαν κακοίς ίνα μη the living according to nature ; further περιπίπτη ο άνθρωπος, επ' αυτώ [οι θεοί) than this, they say it is living or existing To Tây đOevto: “That man might not fall well, the life of well-being. Alex. Aphrod. into real evils, the gods have put the whole nepi yux. p. 157. edit. Ald.
in his own power.” M. Ant. 1. ii. s. 1]. Accommodate to all places and times.- Τί γάρ έστιν, και ζητεί πας άνθρωπος; Antoninus, speaking of that happiness which ευσταθήναι, ευδαιμονήσαι, πάντα ως θέλει he deemed our sovereign good, calls it some- ποιείν, μή κωλύεσθαι, μηδ' αναγκάζεσθαι : thing which was in our power, Taytaxoû “ For what is it that every man seeks? και διηνεκώς, , everywhere and perpe- To be securely fixed, to be happy, to do all tually," I. vii. s. 54.
things according to his own will, not to be Durable, and indeprivable.-Nisi stabili hindered, not to be compelled.” Arrian. et fixo et permanente bono, beatus esse Epict. 1. iv. c. 1. p. 539, 540. Aristotle nemo potest. Tusc. Disp. I. v. c. 14. p. 372. joins self-derived and indeprivable in his edit. Davis. So, immediately after, in the idea of good : Tayabdy dè oikeiov ti kal same page: An dubium est, quin nihil sit duoapalpetov elvai pavtevómeda. Eth. Nic. habendum in co genere, quo vita beata l. i. c. 5.
It matters, continued he, little, how they err in the application; if they covet that as agreeable to nature, which is in itself most contrary; if they would have that as durable, which is in itself most transient; that as independent, and their own, which is most precarious and servile. It is enough for us, if we know their aim; enough, if we can discover, what it is they propose; the means and method may be absurd, as it happens.-İ answered, their aim was sufficient to prove what he had asserted.
It is true, replied he, it is abundantly sufficient. And yet, perhaps, even though this were ever so certain, it would not be altogether foreign, were we to examine, how they act ; how they succeed in applying these universals to particular subjects. Should they be found just in the application, we need look no further: the true sovereign good would of course be plain and obvious; and we should have no more to do, than to follow the beaten road. It is granted, replied I: but what if they err?-Time enough for that, said he, when we are satisfied that they do. We ought first to inform ourselves, whether they may not possibly be in the right.—1 submitted, and begged him to proceed his own way.
III. Will you, then, said he, in this disquisition into human conduct, allow me this: That such, as is the species of life, which every one chooses ; such is his idea of happiness, such his conception of the sovereign good ?-I seem, said I, to comprehend you, but should be glad you would illustrate.-His meaning, he answered, was no more than this: if a man prefer a life of industry, it is because he has an idea of happiness in wealth ; if he prefers a life of gaiety, it is from a like idea concerning pleasure. And the same, we say, holds true in every other instance.- I told him, it must, certainly.
And can you recollect, said he, any life, but what is a life of business, or of leisure - I answered, none.-And is not the great end of business either power or wealth?- It is.—Must not every life therefore of business be either political or lucrative ? It must.–Again, are not intellect and sense the soul's leading powers ? — They are. — And in leisure, are we not ever seeking to gratify one or the other?—We are. Must not every life therefore of leisure be either pleasurable or contemplative ?—If you confine pleasure, said I, to sense, I think it necessarily must. -If it be not so confined, said he, we confound all inquiry.Allow it.
Mark, then, said he, the two grand genera, the lives of business and of leisure: mark also the subordinate species; the political and lucrative, the contemplative and pleasurable." Can you think of any other, which these will not include ?- I replied, I knew of none. It is possible, indeed, said he, that there may be other lives framed, by the blending of these, two or more
m This fourfold distinction of lives is mentioned in Aristotle's Ethics, I. i. c. 5.
of them together. But if we separate with accuracy, we shall find that here they all terminate.—I replied, so it seemed probable.
If, then, continued he, we would be exact in our inquiry, we must examine these four lives, and mark their consequences. It is thus only we shall learn, how far those, who embrace them, find that good and happiness, which we know they all pursue.I made answer, It seemed necessary, and I should willingly attend him.
IV. To begin then, said he, with the political life. see the good, usually sought after here. To a private man, it is the favour of some prince, or commonwealth ; the honours and emoluments derived from this favour; the court and homage of mankind; the power of commanding others. To a prince, it is the same thing nearly, only greater in degree; a larger command; a stricter and more servile homage; glory, conquest, and extended empire. Am I right in my description ?-I replied, I thought he was.-Whether, then, said he, all this deserves the name of good or not, I do not controvert. Be it one or the other, it affects not our inquiry. All that I would ask concerning it is this, do you not think it a good (if it really be one) derived from foreign and external causes !--Undoubtedly, replied 1.-It cannot come then from ourselves, or be self-derived -It cannot.-And what shall we say as to its duration and stability? Is it so firm and lasting, that we cannot be deprived of it ?-I should imagine, said I, quite otherwise.—You insist not, then, said he, on my appealing to history? You acknowledge the fate of favourites, of empires, and their owners I replied, I did.
If so, said he, it should seem that this political good, which they seek, corresponds not to the preconceptions of being durable and indeprivable.-Far from it.—But it appeared, just before, not to be self-derived.-It did.—You see, then, said he, that in three of our preconceptions it entirely fails.—So, indeed, said I, it appears.
But, further, said he, we are told of this good, that in the possession it is attended with anxiety; and that when lost, it is usually lost with ignominy and disgrace; nay, often with prosecutions and the bitterest resentments; with mulcts, with exile, and death itself. It is frequently, said I, the case.—How, then, said he, can it answer that other preconception, of contributing to our well-being? Can that contribute to well-being whose consequences lead to calamity, and whose presence implies anxiety? - This, it must be confessed, said I, appears not probable.
But, once more, said he, there are certain habits, or dispositions of mind, called sincerity, generosity, candour, plain-dealing, justice, honour, honesty, and the like. There are: and it has been generally believed, that these are agreeable to nature.— Assuredly.-But it has been as generally believed, that the political good we speak of, is often not to be acquired but by habits contrary to these ; and which, if these are natural, must of necessity be unnatural.—What habits, said I, do you mean? -Flattery, answered he, dissimulation, intrigue : upon occasion, perhaps iniquity, falsehood, and fraud. It is possible, indeed, said I, that these may sometimes be thought necessary. -How, then, said he, can that good be agreeable to nature, which cannot be acquired, but by habits contrary to nature? Your argument, said I, seems just.
If, then, said he, we have reasoned rightly, and our conclusions may be depended on, it should seem that the supposed good, which the political life pursues, corresponds not, in any instance, to our preconceptions of the sovereign good.-I answered, so it appeared.
V. Let us quit, then, said he, the political life, and pass to the lucrative. The object of this is wealth.—Admit it.-And is it not too often, said he, the case, that, to acquire this, we are tempted to employ some of those habits which we have just condemned as unnatural? Such, I mean, as fraud, falsehood, injustice, and the like?—It must be owned, said I, too often.
Besides, continued he, what shall we say to the esteem, the friendship, and love of mankind? Are they worth having? Is it agreeable, think you, to nature, to endeavour to deserve them? --Agreeable, said I, to nature, beyond dispute.--If so, then to merit hatred and contempt, said he, must needs be contrary to nature.—Undoubtedly.—And is there any thing which so certainly merits hatred and contempt, as a mere lucrative life, spent in the uniform pursuit of wealth?—I replied, I believed there was nothing.—if so, said he, then, as to corresponding with our preconceptions, the lucrative good, in this respect, fares no better than the political.-It appears not.
And what shall we say as to anxiety? Is not both the possession and pursuit of wealth, to those who really love it, ever anxious ?-It seems so.-And why anxious, but from a certainty of its instability; from an experience, how obnoxious it is to every cross event; how easy to be lost and transferred to others, by the same fraud and rapine which acquired it to ourselves? This is, indeed, the tritest of all topics. The poets and orators have long ago exhausted it. It is true, said I, they have.—May we not venture, then, said he, upon the whole, to pass the same sentence on the lucrative life, as we have already on the political, that it proposes not a good, correspondent to those preconceptions, by which we would all be governed in the good, which we are all seeking ?-I answered, we might justly.
VI. If, then, neither the lucrative life, nor the political, said he, procure that good which we desire, shall we seek it from the pleasurable ? Shall we make pleasure our goddess ?
Alluding to Homer, Iliad. 2. 214.
So says the poet, and plausible his doctrine.--Plausible, said I, indeed.
Let it, then, continued he, be a pleasurable world ; a race of harmless, loving animals; an Elysian temperature of sunshine and shade. Let the earth, in every quarter, resemble our own dear country; where never was a frost, never a fog, never a day but was delicious and serene. I was a little embarrassed at this unexpected flight, until recollecting myself, I told him, (but still with some surprise,) that, in no degree to disparage either my country or my countrymen, I had never found either so exquisite as he now supposed them.—There are, then, it seems, said he, in the natural world, and even in our own beloved country, such things as storms and tempests, as pinching colds and scorching heats.- I replied, there were.—And consequent to these, disease, and famine, and infinite calamities. There are. And in the civil or human world, we have discord and contention; or, (as the poet better describes it,)
Cruel revenge, and rancorous despite,
Disloyal treason, and heart-burning hate. -We have.-Alas! then, poor pleasure ! where is that good, accommodate to every time; suited to every place; self-derived, not dependent on foreign external causes? Can it be pleasure, on such a changeable, such a turbulent spot as this ?-I replied, I thought not.
And what, indeed, were the world, said he, modelled to a temperature the most exact? Were the rigours of the seasons never more to be known; nor wars, devastations, famines, or diseases ? Admitting all this, (which we know to be impossible,) can we find still in pleasure that lengthened duration, which we consider as an essential, to constitute the sovereign good? Ask the glutton, the drinker, the man of gaiety and intrigue, whether they know any enjoyment not to be cancelled by satiety? which does not hastily pass away into the tedious intervals of indifference? Or yielding all this, too, (which we know cannot be yielded,) where are we to find our good, how possess it in age? in that eve of life, declining age, when the power of sense, on which all depends, like the setting sun, is gradually forsaking us?
I should imagine, said I, that pleasure was no mean adversary, since you employ, in attacking her, so much of your rhetoric. -Without heeding what I said, he pursued his subject.—Beside, if this be our good, our happiness, and our end, to what purpose powers, which bear no relation to it? Why memory? why reason? Mere sensation might have been as exquisite, had we been flies or earthworms. Or can it be proved otherwise ?-I replied, I could not say.—No animal, continued he, possesses its faculties in vain. And shall man derive no good from his best,
Spencer's Fairy Queen, book ii. cant. 7. stanz. 22.