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limit the exercise of faculties by the necessity of not giving pain to others, would be to stop the proper exercise of facul. ties in some persons, for the purpose of allowing the improper exercise of faculties in the rest. Moreover, the observance of such a rule does not, in reality, prevent pain. For though he who is restrained by it avoids inflicting suffering on his fellows, he does so at the expense of suffering to himself. The evil must be borne by some one, and the question is by whom. Shall the Protestant, by showing reverence for what he does not revere, tell a virtual lie, and thus do violence to his conscientious feeling that he may avoid vexing the intolerant spirit of his Catholic neighbours? or shall he give the rein to his own healthy sincerity and independence, and offend their unhealthy bigotry? Shall the honest man repress those sentiments that make him honest, lest the exhibition of them should give pain to a rogue ? or shall he respect his own nobler feelings, and hurt the other's baser ones? Between these alternatives no one can well pause.
And here indeed we get down to the root of the matter. For be it remembered the universal law of life is, that the exercise or gratification of faculties strengthens them ; while, contrariwise, the curbing or inflicting pain on them, entails a diminution of their power. And hence it follows that when the action of a normal faculty is checked, to prevent pain being given to the abnormal faculties of others, those abnormal faculties remain as active as they were, and the normal one becomes weaker or abnormal. Whereas under converse circumstances the normal one remains strong, and the abnormal ones are weakened, or made more normal. In the one case the pain is detrimental, because it retards the approximation to that form of human nature under which the faculties of each may be fully exercised without displeasure to the like faculties of all. In the other case the pain is beneficial, because it aids the approximation to that form. Thus, that first expression of the law which arises immediately from the conditions to social existence, turns out to be the true one: any such modification of it as the above, necessitating conduct that is in many cases mischievous.
And yet, on the other hand, when to express the law by saying that every man has full liberty to exercise his faculues, provided always he does not trench upon the similar liberty of any other, we commit ourselves to an imperfection of an opposite character; and we find that there are many cases in which the above moditied expression answers better. Various ways exist in which the faculties may be exercised to the aggrieving of other persons, without the law of equal freedom being overstepped. A man may behave unamiably, may use harsh language, may annoy by disgusting habits; and whoso thus offends the normal feelings of his fellows, manifestly diminishes happiness. If we say that every one is free to exercise his faculties so long only as he does not inflict pain upon any one else, we forbid all such conduct. Whereas if we simply limit the liberty of each by the like liberties of all, we do not forbid it; seeing that he who exercises his faculties in this way, does not hinder others from exercising theirs in the same way, and to the same extent. How, then, are we to escape from this difficulty ? Neither statement of the law quite fulfils our requirement, and yet we must choose one of them. Which must it be, and why?
It must be the original one, and for a very good reason. Limiting the liberty of each by the like liberties of all, excludes a wide range of improper actions, but it does not exclude certain other improper ones. Limiting the liberty of each by the necessity of not giving pain to the rest, excludes the whole of these improper actions, but excludes along with them many others that are proper. The one does not cut off enough; the other cuts off too much. The one is negatively erroneous; the other is positively so. Evidently, then, we must adopt the negatively erroneous one, seeing that its shortcomings may be made good by a supplementary law. And here we find the need for that distinction lately drawn between justice and negative beneficence. Justice imposes upon the exercise of faculties a primary series of limitations, which is strictly true as far as it goes. Negative beneficence imposes a secondary series. It is no defect in the first of these that it does not include the last. The two are, in the main, distinct; and, as we have just seen, the attempt to unite them under one expression leads us into fatal errors.
Yet another objection will probably be started. By full liberty to exercise the faculties, is meant full liberty to do all that the faculties prompt, or, in other words, to do all that the individual wills; and it may be said that if the individual is free to do all that he wills, provided he does not trespass upon certain specified claims of others, then he is free to do things which are injurious to himself—is free to get drunk, for instance. To this it must in the first place be replied, as above, that while the law now laid down forbids a certain class of actions as immoral, it does not recognize all kinds of immorality—that the restriction it puts on the free exercise of faculties, though the chief, is not the sole restriction, and must be received without prejudice to further ones. Of the need for such further ones, the difficulty here raised furnishes a second instance.
Mark now, however, that these supplementary restrictions are of inferior authority to the original law. Instead of being, like it, capable of scientific development, they can be unfolded only into superior forms of expediency. The limit put to each man's freedom by the like freedom of every other man, is a limit almost always possible of ascertainment; for the respective amounts of freedom men assume can usually be compared, and the equality or inequality of those amounts recognized. But when we set about drawing practical deductions from the propositions that a man is not at liberty to do things injurious to himself, and that he is not at liberty (except in cases like those lately cited) to do what may give unhappiness to his neighbours, we find ourselves
involved in complicated estimates of pleasures and pains, to the obvious peril of our conclusions. For example, though it is manifest that to get drunk is an injurious exercise of faculties, it is by no means manifest how much work is proper for us, and when work becomes detrimental; it is by no means manifest where lies the line between due and undue intellectual activity; it is by no means manifest what amount of advantage will justify a man in submitting to unsuitable climate and mode of life; and yet in each of these cases happiness is at stake, and the wrong course is wrong for the same reason that drunkenness is so. Even were it possible to say of each private action whether the resulting gratification did or did not preponderate over the resulting suffering, there would still present itself this second difficulty, that we cannot in all cases distinguish suffering which is detrimental, from suffering which is beneficial. While we are as yet imperfectly adapted to our conditions, pain must inevitably arise from the repression of faculties that are too active, and from the overtasking of those that are not equal to their duties; and, as being needful to the development of the ultimate man, such pain cannot be held damnatory of the actions causing it. Thus, referring again to the instances just cited, it is evident that the ability to work is needful for the production of the greatest happiness; but the acquirement of this ability by the uncivilized man is so distressing, that only severe discipline will force him to it. The degree of intelligence which our existing mode of life necessitates, cannot be arrived at without ages of wearisome application, and perhaps cannot get organized in the race without a partial and temporary sacrifice of bodily health. Here, then, are cases in which men's liberties must not be limited by the necessity of not inflicting pain on themselves; seeing that it cannot be so limited without a suspension of our approach to greatest happiness. Similarly, we saw that there are cases in which, for the same reason, men's liberties must not be limited by the necessity of not inflicting pain on others. And the fact now to be
noticed is, that we possess no certain way of distinguishing the two groups of cases thus exemplified, from those cases in which the doing what diminishes happiness, either in ourselves or others, is both immediately and ultimately detrimental, and therefore wrong. As both of these supplementary limitations involve the term happiness, and as happiness is for the present capable only of a generic and not of a specific definition, they do not admit of scientific development.
And now we have arrived at an important truth touching this matter-the truth that only by exercise of this liberty of each, limited alone by the like liberties of all, can there arise a separation of those acts which, though incidentally and temporarily injurious to ourselves or others, are indirectly beneficial, from those acts which are necessarily and permanently injurious. For manifestly, all non-adaptation of faculties to their functions must consist either in excess or defect. Manifestly, too, in the wide range of cases we are now treating of, there exists no mode but a tentative one of distinguishing that exercise of faculties which produces suffering because it oversteps the conditions to normal existence, from that other exercise of faculties which produces suffering because it falls short of those conditions. And mani. festly, the due employment of this tentative mode requires that each man shall have the greatest freedom compatible with the like freedom of all others.
That, on this course being pursued, there will happen a gradual cessation of the detrimentally painful actions, while the beneficially painful ones will be continued until they have ceased to be painful, may be made clear by a few illustrations. Thus, the change from the impulsive nature of the savage to that nature which enables the civilized man to sacrifice a present gratification for a future greater one, involves much suffering; but the necessities of social life demanding such a change, and continually visiting the lack of self-restraining power with punishment, ensure a constant though