Chapter VI: The Ideal.

§ 125.

(1) The first class consists of those evils, which seem always to include an enjoyment or admiring contemplation of things which are themselves either evil or ugly. That is to say these evils are characterised by the fact that they include precisely the same emotion, which is also essential to the greatest unmixed goods, from which they are differentiated by the fact that this emotion is directed towards an inappropriate object. In so far as this emotion is either a slight good in itself or a slightly beautiful object, these evils would therefore be cases of what I have called mixed evils; but, as I have already said, it seems very doubtful whether an emotion, completely isolated from its object, has either value or beauty: it certainly has not much of either. It is, however, important to observe that the very same emotions, which are often loosely talked of as the greatest or the only goods, may be essential constituents of the very worst wholes: that, according to the nature of the cognition which accompanies them, they may be conditions either of the greatest good, or of the greatest evil. (§ 125 ¶ 1)

In order to illustrate the nature of evils of this class, I may take two instances—cruelty and lasciviousness. That these are great intrinsic evils, we may, I think, easily assure ourselves, by imagining the state of a man, whose mind is solely occupied by either of these passions, in their worst form. If we then consider what judgment we should pass upon a universe which consisted solely of minds thus occupied, without the smallest hope that there would ever exist in it the smallest consciousness of any object other than those proper to these passions, or any feeling directed to any such object, I think we cannot avoid the conclusion that the existence of such a universe would be a far worse evil than the existence of none at all. But, if this be so, it follows that these two vicious states are not only, as is commonly admitted, bad as means, but also bad in themselves.—And that they involve in their nature that complication of elements, which I have called a love of what is evil or ugly, is, I think, no less plain. With regard to the pleasures of lust, the nature of the cognition, by the presence of which they are to be defined, is somewhat difficult to analyse. But it appears to include both cognitions of organic sensations and perceptions of states of the body, of which the enjoyment is certainly an evil in itself. So far as these are concerned, lasciviousness would, then, include in its essence an admiring contemplation of what is ugly. But certainly one of its commonest ingredients, in its worst forms, is an enjoyment of the same state of mind in other people: and in this case it would therefore also include a love of what is evil. With regard to cruelty, it is easy to see an enjoyment of pain in other people as essential to it; and, as we shall see, when we come to consider pain, this is certainly a love of evil: while, in so far as it also includes a delight in the bodily signs of agony, it would also comprehend a love of what is ugly. In both cases, it should be observed, the evil of the state is heightened not only by an increase in the evil or ugliness of the object, but also by an increase in the enjoyment. (§ 125 ¶ 2)

It might be objected, in the case of cruelty, that our disapproval of it, even in the isolated case supposed, where no considerations of its badness as a means could influence us, may yet be really directed to the pain of the persons, which it takes delight in contemplating. This objection may be met, in the first place, by the remark that it entirely fails to explain the judgment, which yet, I think, no one, on reflection, will be able to avoid making, that even though the amount of pain contemplated be the same, yet the greater the delight in its contemplation, the worse the state of things. But it may also, I think, be met by notice of a fact, which we were unable to urge in considering the similar possibility with regard to goods—namely the possibility that the reason why we attribute greater value to a worthy affection for a real person, is that we take into account the additional good consisting in the existence of that person. We may I think urge, in the case of cruelty, that its intrinsic odiousness is equally great, whether the pain contemplated really exists or is purely imaginary. I, at least, am unable to distinguish that, in this case, the presence of true belief makes any difference to the intrinsic value of the whole considered, although it undoubtedly may make a great difference to its value as a means. And so also with regard to other evils of this class: I am unable to see that a true belief in the existence of their objects makes any difference in the degree of their positive demerits. On the other hand, the presence of another class of beliefs seems to make a considerable difference. When we enjoy what is evil or ugly, in spite of our knowledge that it is so, the state of things seems considerably worse than if we made no judgment at all as to the object’s value. And the same seems also, strangely enough, to be the case when we make a false judgment of value. When we admire what is ugly or evil, believing that it is beautiful and good, this belief seems also to enhance the intrinsic vileness of our condition. It must, of course, be understood that, in both these cases, the judgment in question is merely what I have called a judgment of taste: that is to say, it is concerned with the worth of the qualities actually cognised and not with the worth of object, to which those qualities may be rightly or wrongly attributed. (§ 125 ¶ 3)

Finally it should be mentioned that evils of this class, beside that emotional element (namely enjoyment and admiration) which they share with great unmixed goods, appear always also to include some specific emotion, which does not enter in the same way into the constitution of any good. The presence of this specific emotion seems certainly to enhance the badness of the whole, though it is not plain that, by itself, it would be either evil or ugly. (§ 125 ¶ 4)