Chapter VI: The Ideal.

§ 113.

If, now, we use this method of absolute isolation, and guard against these errors, it appears that the question we have to answer is far less difficult than the controversies of Ethics might have led us to expect. Indeed, once the meaning of the question is clearly understood, the answer to it, in its main outlines, appears to be so obvious, that it runs the risk of seeming to be a platitude. By far the most valuable things, which we know or can imagine, are certain states of consciousness, which may be roughly described as the pleasures of human intercourse and the enjoyment of beautiful objects. No one, probably, who has asked himself the question, has ever doubted that personal affection and the appreciation of what is beautiful in Art or Nature, are good in themselves; nor, if we consider strictly what things are worth having purely for their own sakes, does it appear probable that any one will think that anything else has nearly so great a value as the things which are included under these two heads. I have myself urged in Chap. III. (§ 50) that the mere existence of what is beautiful does appear to have some intrinsic value; but I regard it as indubitable that Prof. Sidgwick was so far right, in the view there discussed, that such mere existence of what is beautiful has value, so small as to be negligible, in comparison with that which attaches to the consciousness of beauty. This simple truth may, indeed, be said to be universally recognised. What has not been recognised is that it is the ultimate and fundamental truth of Moral Philosophy. That it is only for the sake of these things—in order that as much of them as possible may at some time exist—that any one can be justified in performing any public or private duty; that they are the raison d’être of virtue; that it is they—these complex wholes themselves, and not any constituent or characteristic of them—that form the rational ultimate end of human action and the sole criterion of social progress: these appear to be truths which have been generally overlooked. (§ 113 ¶ 1)

That they are truths—that personal affections and aesthetic enjoyments include all the greatest, and by far the greatest, goods we can imagine, will, I hope, appear more plainly in the course of that analysis of them, to which I shall now proceed. All the things, which I have meant to include under the above descriptions, are highly complex organic unities; and in discussing the consequences, which follow from this fact, and the elements of which they are composed, I may hope at the same time both to confirm and to define my position. (§ 113 ¶ 2)

§ 114.

I. I propose to begin by examining what I have called aesthetic enjoyments, since the case of personal affections presents some additional complications. It is, I think, universally admitted that the proper appreciation of a beautiful object is a good thing in itself; and my question is: What are the main elements included in such an appreciation? (§ 114 ¶ 1)

(1) It is plain that in those instances of aesthetic appreciation, which we think most valuable, there is included, not merely a bare cognition of what is beautiful in the object, but also some kind of feeling or emotion. It is not sufficient that a man should merely see the beautiful qualities in a picture and know that they are beautiful, in order that we may give his state of mind the highest praise. We require that he should also appreciation the beauty of that which he sees and which he knows to be beautiful—that he should feel and see its beauty. And by these expressions we certainly mean that he should have an appropriate emotion towards the beautiful qualities which he cognises. It is perhaps the case that all aesthetic emotions have some common quality; but it is certain that differences in the emotion seem to be appropriate to differences in the kind of beauty perceived: and by saying that different emotions are appropriate to different kinds of beauty, we mean that the whole which is formed by the consciousness of that kind of beauty together with the emotion appropriate to it, is better than if any other emotion had been felt in contemplating that particular beautiful object. Accordingly we have a large variety of different emotions, each of which is a necessary constituent in some state of consciousness which we judge to be good. All of these emotions are essential elements in great positive goods; they are parts of organic wholes, which have great intrinsic value. But it is important to observe that these wholes are organic, and that, hence, it does not follow that the emotion, by itself, would have any value whatsoever, nor yet that, if it were directed to a different object, the whole thus formed might not be positively bad. And, in fact, it seems to be the case that if we distinguish the emotional element, in any aesthetic appreciation, from the cognitive element, which accompanies it and is, in fact, commonly thought of as a part of the emotion; and if we consider what value this emotional element would have, existing by itself, we can hardly think that it has any great value, even if it has any at all. Whereas, if the same emotion be directed to a different object, if, for instance, it is felt towards an object that is positively ugly, the whole state of consciousness is certainly often positively bad in a high degree. (§ 114 ¶ 2)

§ 115.

(2) In the last paragraph I have pointed out the two facts, that the presence of some emotion is necessary to give any very high value to a state of aesthetic appreciation, and that, on the other hand, this same emotion, in itself, may have little or no value: it follows that these emotions give to the wholes of which they form a part a value far greater than that which they themselves possess. The same is obviously true of the cognitive element which must be combined with these emotions in order to form these highly valuable wholes; and the present paragraph will attempt to define what is meant by this cognitive element, so far as to guard against a possible misunderstanding. When we talk of seeing a beautiful object, or, more generally, of the cognition or consciousness of a beautiful object, we may mean by these expressions something which forms no part of any valuable whole. There is an ambiguity in the use of the term object, which has probably been responsible for as many enormous errors in philosophy and psychology as any other single cause. This ambiguity may easily be detected by considering the proposition, which, though a contradiction in terms, is obviously true: That when a man sees a beautiful picture, he may see nothing beautiful whatever. The ambiguity consists in the fact that, by the object of vision (or cognition), may be meant either the qualities actually seen or all the qualities possessed by the thing seen. Thus in our case: when it is said that the picture is beautiful, it is meant that it contains qualities which are beautiful; when it is said that the man sees the picture, it is meant that he sees a great number of the qualities contained in the picture; and when it is said that, nevertheless, he sees nothing beautiful, it is meant that he does not see those qualities of the picture which are beautiful. When, therefore, I speak of the cognition of a beautiful object, as an essential element in a valuable aesthetic appreciation, I must be understood to mean only the cognition of the beautiful qualities possessed by that object, and not the cognition of other qualities of the object possessing them. And this distinction must itself be carefully distinguished from the other distinction expressed above by the distinct terms seeing the beauty of a thing and seeing its beautiful qualities. By seeing the beauty of a thing we commonly mean the having an emotion towards its beautiful qualities; whereas in the seeing of its beautiful qualities we do not include any emotion. By the cognitive element, which is equally necessary with emotions to the existence of a valuable appreciation, I mean merely the actual cognition or consciousness of any or all of an object’s beautiful qualities—that is to say, any or all of those elements in the object which possess any positive beauty. That such a cognitive element is essential to a valuable whole may be easily seen, by asking: What value should we attribute to the proper emotion excited by hearing Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, if that emotion were entirely unaccompanied by any consciousness, either of the notes, or of the melodic and harmonic relations between them? And that the mere hearing of the Symphony, even accompanied by the appropriate emotion, is not sufficient, may be easily seen, if we consider what would be the state of a man, who should hear all the notes, but should not be aware of any of those melodic and harmonic relations, which are necessary to constitute the smallest beautiful elements in the Symphony. (§ 115 ¶ 1)

§ 116.

(3) Connected with the distinction just made between object in the sense of the qualities actually before the mind and object in the sense of the whole thing which possesses the qualities actually before the mind, is another distinction of the utmost importance for a correct analysis of the constituents necessary to a valuable whole. It is commonly and rightly thought that to see beauty in a thing which has no beauty is in some way inferior to seeing beauty in that which really has it. But under this single description of seeing beauty in that which has no beauty, two very different facts, and facts of very different value, may be included. We may mean either the attribution to an object of really beautiful qualities which it does not possess or the feeling towards qualities, which the object does possess but which are in reality not beautiful, an emotion which is appropriate only to qualities really beautiful. Both these facts are of very frequent occurrence; and in most instances of emotion both no doubt occur together: but they are obviously quite distinct, and the distinction is of the utmost importance for a correct estimate of values. The former may be called an error of judgment, and the latter an error of taste; but it is important to observe that the error of taste commonly involves a false judgment of value; whereas the error of judgment is merely a false judgment of fact. (§ 116 ¶ 1)

Now the case which I have called an error of taste, namely, where the actual qualities we admire (whether possessed by the object or not) are ugly, can in any case have no value, except such as may belong to the emotion by itself; and in most, if not in all, cases it is a considerable positive evil. In this sense, then, it is undoubtedly right to think that seeing beauty in a thing which has no beauty is inferior in value to seeing beauty where beauty really is. But the other case is much more difficult. In this case there is present all that I have hitherto mentioned as necessary to constitute a great positive good: there is a cognition of qualities really beautiful, together with an appropriate emotion towards these qualities. There can, therefore, be no doubt that we have here a great positive good. But there is present also something else; namely, a belief that these beautiful qualities exist, and that they exist in a certain relation to other things—namely, to some properties of the object to which we attribute these qualities: and further the object of this belief is false. And we may ask, with regard to the whole thus constituted, whether the presence of the belief, and the fact that what is believed is false, make any difference to its value? We thus get three different cases of which it is very important to determine the relative values. Where both the cognition of beautiful qualities and the appropriate emotion are present we may also have either (1) a belief in the existence of these qualities, of which the object, i.e. that they exist, is true: or (2) a mere cognition, without belief, when it is (a) true, (b) false, that the object of the cognition, i.e. the beautiful qualities, exists: or (3) a belief in the existence of the beautiful qualities, when they do not exist. The importance of these cases arises from the fact that the second defines the pleasures of imagination, including a great part of the appreciation of those works of art which are representative; whereas the first contrasts with these the appreciation of what is beautiful in Nature, and the human affections. The third, on the other hand, is contrasted with both, in that it is chiefly exemplified in what is called misdirected affection; and it is possible also that the love of God, in the case of a believer, should fall under this head. (§ 116 ¶ 2)

§ 117.

Now all these three cases, as I have said, have something in common, namely, that, in them all, we have a cognition of really beautiful qualities together with an appropriate emotion towards those qualities. I think, therefore, it cannot be doubted (nor is it commonly doubted) that all three include great positive goods; they are all things of which we feel convinced that they are worth having for their own sakes. And I think that the value of the second, in either of its two subdivisions, is precisely the same as the value of the element common to all three. In other words, in the case of purely imaginative appreciations we have merely the cognition of really beautiful qualities together with the appropriate emotion; and the question, whether the object cognised exists or not, seems here, where there is no belief either in its existence or in its non-existence, to make absolutely no difference to the value of the total state. But it seems to me that the two other cases do differ in intrinsic value both from the one and from one another, even though the object cognised and the appropriate emotion should be identical in all three cases. I think that the additional presence of a belief in the reality of the object makes the total state much better, if the belief is true; and worse, if the belief is false. In short, where there is belief, in the sense in which we do believe in the existence of Nature and horses, and do not believe in the existence of an ideal landscape and unicorns, the truth of what is believed does make a great difference to the value of the organic whole. If this be the case, we shall have vindicated the belief that knowledge, in the ordinary sense, as distinguished on the one hand from belief in what is false and on the other from the mere awareness of what is true, does contribute towards intrinsic value—that, at least in some cases, its presence as a part makes a whole more valuable than it could have been without. (§ 117 ¶ 1)

Now I think there can be no doubt that we do judge that there is a difference of value, such as I have indicated, between the three cases in question. We do think that the emotional contemplation of a natural scene, supposing its qualities equally beautiful, is in some way a better state of things than that of a painted landscape: we think that the world would be improved if we could substitute for the best works of representative art real objects equally beautiful. And similarly we regard a misdirected affection or admiration, even where the error involved is a mere error of judgment and not an error of taste, as in some way unfortunate. And further, those, at least, who have a strong respect for truth, are inclined to think that a merely poetical contemplation of the Kingdom of Heaven would be superior to that of the religious believer, if it were the case that the Kingdom of Heaven does not and will not really exist. Most persons, on a sober, reflective judgment, would feel some hesitation even in preferring the felicity of a madman, convinced that the world was ideal, to the condition either of a poet imagining an ideal world, or of themselves enjoying and appreciating the lesser goods which do and will exist. But, in order to assure ourselves that these judgments are really judgments of intrinsic value upon the question before us, and to satisfy ourselves that they are correct, it is necessary clearly to distinguish our question from two others which have a very important bearing upon our total judgment of the cases in question. (§ 117 ¶ 2)

§ 118.

In the first place (a) it is plain that, where we believe, the question whether what we believe is true or false, will generally have a most important bearing upon the value of our belief as a means. Where we believe, we are apt to act upon our belief, in a way in which we do not act upon our cognition of the events in a novel. The truth of what we believe is, therefore, very important as preventing the pains of disappointment and still more serious consequences. And it might be thought that a misdirected attachment was unfortunate solely for this reason: that it leads us to count upon results, which the real nature of its object is not of a kind to ensure. So too the Love of God, where, as usual, it includes the belief that he will annex to certain actions consequences, either in this life or the next, which the course of nature gives no reason to expect, may lead the believer to perform actions of which the actual consequences, supposing no such God to exist, may be much worse than he might otherwise have effected: and it might be thought that this was the sole reason (as it is a sufficient one) why we should hesitate to encourage the Love of God, in the absence of any proof that he exists. And similarly it may be thought that the only reason why beauty in Nature should be held superior to an equally beautiful landscape or imagination, is that its existence would ensure greater permanence and frequency in our emotional contemplation of that beauty. It is, indeed, certain that the chief importance of most knowledge—of the truth of most of the things which we believe—does, in this world, consist in its extrinsic advantages: it is immediately valuable as a means. (§ 118 ¶ 1)

And secondly, (b) it may be the case that the existence of that which we contemplate is itself a great positive good, so that, for this reason alone, the state of things described by saying, that the object of our emotion really exists, would be intrinsically superior to that in which it did not. This reason for superiority to that in which it did not. This reason for superiority is undoubtedly of great importance in the case of human affections, where the object of our admiration is the mental qualities of an admirable person; for that two such admirable persons should exist is greatly better than that there should be only one: and it would also discriminate the admiration of inanimate nature from that of its representations in art, in so far as we may allow a small intrinsic value to the existence of a beautiful object, apart from any contemplation of it. But it is to be noticed that this reason would not account for any difference in value between the cases where the truth was believed and that in which it was merely cognised, without either belief or disbelief. In other words, so far as this reason goes, the difference between the two subdivisions of our second class (that of imaginative contemplation) would be as great as between our first class and the second subdivision of our second. The superiority of the mere cognition of a beautiful object, when that object also happened to exist, over the same cognition when the object did not exist, would, on this account, be as great as that of the knowledge of a beautiful object over the mere imagination of it. (§ 118 ¶ 2)

§ 119.

These two reasons for discriminating between the value of the three cases we are considering, must, I say, be carefully distinguished from that, of which I am now questioning the validity, if we are to obtain a correct answer concerning this latter. The question I am putting is this: Whether the whole constituted by the fact that there is an emotional contemplation of a beautiful object, which is both believed to be and is real, does not derive some of its value from the fact that the object is real? I am asking whether the value of this whole, as a whole, is not greater than that of those which differ from it, either by the absence of belief, with or without truth, or, belief being present, by the mere absence of truth? I am not asking either whether it is not superior to them as a means (which it certainly is), nor whether it may contain a more valuable part, namely, the existence of the object in question. My question is solely whether the existence of its object does not constitute an addition to the value of the whole, quite distinct from the addition constituted by the fact that this whole does contain a valuable part. (§ 119 ¶ 1)

If, now, we put this question, I cannot avoid thinking that it should receive an affirmative answer. We can put it clearly by the method of isolation; and the sole decision must rest with our reflective judgment upon it, as thus clearly put. We can guard against the bias produced by a consideration of value as a means by supposing the case of an illusion as complete and permanent as illusions in this world never can be. We can imagine the case of a single person, enjoying throughout eternity the contemplation of scenery as beautiful, and intercourse with persons as admirable, as can be imagined; while yet the whole of the objects of his cognition are absolutely unreal. I think we should definitely pronounce the existence of a universe, which consisted solely of such a person, to be greatly inferior in value to one in which the objects, in the existence of which he believes, did really exist just as he believes them to do; and that it would be thus inferior not only because it would lack the goods which consist in the existence of the objects in question, but also merely because his belief would be false. That it would be inferior for this reason alone follows if we admit, what also appears to me certain, that the case of a person, merely imagining, without believing, the beautiful objects in question, would, although these objects really existed, be yet inferior to that of the person who also believed in their existence. For here all the additional good, which consists in the existence of the objects, is present, and yet there still seems to be a great difference in value between this case and that in which their existence is believed. But I think that my conclusion may perhaps be exhibited in a more convincing light by the following considerations. (1) It does not seem to me that the small degree of value which we may allow to the existence of beautiful inanimate objects is nearly equal in amount to the difference which I feel that there is between the appreciation (accompanied by belief) of such objects, when they really exist, and the purely imaginative appreciation of them when they do not exist. This inequality is more difficult to verify where the object is an admirable person, since a great value must be allowed to his existence. But yet I think it is not paradoxical to maintain that the superiority of reciprocal affection, where both objects are worthy and both exist, over an unreciprocated affection, where both are worthy but one does not exist, does not lie solely in the fact that, in the former case, we have two good things instead of one, but also in the fact that each is such as the other believes him to be. (2) It seems to me that the important contribution to value made by true belief may be very plainly seen in the following case. Suppose that a worthy object of affection does really exist and is believed to do so, but that there enters into the case this error of fact, that the qualities loved, though exactly like, are yet not the same which really do exist. This state of things is easily imagined, and I think we cannot avoid pronouncing that, although both persons here exist, it is yet not so satisfactory as where the very person loved and believed to exist is also the one which actually does exist. (§ 119 ¶ 2)

§ 120.

If all this be so, we have, in this third section, added to our two former results the third result that a true belief in the reality of an object greatly increases the value of many valuable wholes. Just as in sections (1) and (2) it was maintained that aesthetic and affectionate emotions had little or no value apart from the cognition of appropriate objects, and that the cognition of these objects had little or no value apart from the appropriate emotion, so that the whole, in which both were combined, had a value greatly in excess of the sum of the values of its parts; so, according to this section, if there be added to these wholes a true belief in the reality of the object, the new whole thus formed has a value greatly in excess of the sum obtained by adding the value of the true belief, considered in itself, to that of our original wholes. This new case only differs from the former in this, that, whereas the true belief, by itself, has quite as little value as either of the two other constituents taken singly, yet they, taken together, seem to form a whole of very great value, whereas this is not the case with the two wholes which might be formed by adding the true belief to either of the others. (§ 120 ¶ 1)

The importance of the result of this section seems to lie mainly in two of its consequences. (1) That it affords some justification for the immense intrinsic value, which seems to be commonly attributed to the mere knowledge of some truths, and which was expressly attributed to some kinds of knowledge by Plato and Aristotle. Perfect knowledge has indeed competed with perfect love for the position of Ideal. If the results of this section are correct, it appears that knowledge, though having little or no value by itself, is an absolutely essential constituent in the highest goods, and contributes immensely to their value. And it appears that this function may be performed not only by that case of knowledge, which we have chiefly considered, namely knowledge of the reality of the beautiful object cognised, but also by knowledge of the numerical identity of this object with that which really exists, and by the knowledge that the existence of that object is truly good. Indeed all knowledge, which is directly concerned with the nature of the constituents of a beautiful object, would seem capable of adding greatly to the value of the contemplation of that object, although, by itself, such knowledge would have no value at all.—And (2) The second important consequence, which follows from this section, is that the presence of true belief may, in spite of a great inferiority in the value of the emotion and the beauty of its objects, constitute with them a whole equal or superior in value to wholes, in which the emotion and beauty are superior, but in which a true belief is wanting or a false belief present. In this way may justify the attribution of equal or superior value to an appreciation of an inferior real object, as compared with the appreciation of a greatly superior object which is a mere creature of the imagination. Thus a just appreciation of nature and of real persons may maintain its equality with an equally just appreciation of the products of artistic imagination, in spite of much greater beauty in the latter. And similarly though God may be admitted to be a more perfect object than any actual human being, the love of God may yet be inferior to human love, if God does not exist. (§ 120 ¶ 2)

§ 121.

(4) In order to complete the discussion of this first class of goods—goods which have an essential reference to beautiful objects—it would be necessary to attempt a classification and comparative valuation of all the different forms of beauty, a task which properly belongs to the study called Aesthetics. I do not, however, propose to attempt any part of this task. It must only be understood that I intend to include among the essential constituents of the goods I have been discussing, every form and variety of beautiful object, if only it be truly beautiful; and, if this be understood, I think it may be seen that the consensus of opinion with regard to what is positively beautiful and what is positively ugly, and even with regard to great differences in degree of beauty, is quite sufficient to allow us a hope that we need not greatly err in our judgments of good and evil. In anything which is thought beautiful by any considerable number of persons, there is probably some beautiful quality; and differences of opinion seem to be far more often due to exclusive attention, on the part of different persons, to different qualities in the same object, than to the positive error of supposing a quality that is ugly to be really beautiful. When an object, which some think beautiful, is denied to be so by others, the truth is usually that it lacks some beautiful quality or is deformed by some ugly one, which engage the exclusive attention of the critics. (§ 121 ¶ 1)

I may, however, state two general principles, closely connected with the results of this chapter, the recognition of which would seem to be of great importance for the investigation of what things are truly beautiful. The first of these is (1) a definition of beauty, of what is meant by saying that a thing is truly beautiful. The naturalistic fallacy has been quite as commonly committed with regard to beauty as with regard to good: its use has introduced as many errors into Aesthetics as into Ethics. It has been even more commonly supposed that the beautiful may be defined as that which produces certain effects upon our feelings; and the conclusion which follows from this—namely, that judgments of taste are merely subjective—that precisely the same thing may, according to circumstances, be both beautiful and not beautiful—has very frequently been drawn. The conclusions of this chapter suggest a definition of beauty, which may partially explain and entirely remove the difficulties which have led to this error. It appears probable that the beautiful should be defined as that of which the admiring contemplation is good in itself. That is to say: To assert that a thing is beautiful is to assert that the cognition of it is an essential element in one of the intrinsically valuable wholes we have been discussing; so that the question, whether it is truly beautiful or not, depends upon the objective question whether the whole in question is or is not truly good, and does not depend upon the question whether it would or would not excite particular feelings in particular persons. This definition has the double recommendation that it accounts both for the apparent connection between goodness and beauty and for the no less apparent difference between these two conceptions. It appears, at first sight, to be a strange coincidence, that there should be two different objective predicates of value, good and beautiful, which are nevertheless so related to one another that whatever is beautiful is also good. But, if our definition be correct, the strangeness disappears; since it leaves only one unanalysable predicate of value, namely good, while beautiful, though not identical with, is to be defined by reference to this, being thus, at the same time, different from and necessarily connected with it. In short, on this view, to say that a thing is beautiful is to say, not indeed that it is itself good, but that it is a necessary element in something which is: to prove that a thing is truly beautiful is to prove that a whole, to which it bears a particular relation as a part, is truly good. And in this way we should explain the immense predominance, among objects commonly considered beautiful, of material objects—objects of the external senses; since these objects, though themselves having, as has been said, little or no intrinsic value, are yet essential constituents in the largest group of wholes which have intrinsic value. These wholes themselves may be, and are, also beautiful; but the comparative rarity, with which we regard them as themselves objects of contemplation, seems sufficient to explain the association of beauty with external objects. (§ 121 ¶ 2)

And secondly (2) it is to be observed that beautiful objects are themselves, for the most part, organic unities, in this sense, that they are wholes of great complexity, such that the contemplation of any part, by itself, may have no value, and yet that, unless the contemplation of the whole includes the contemplation of that part, it will lose in value. From this it follows that there can be no single criterion of beauty. It will never be true to say: This object owes its beauty solely to the presence of this characteristic; nor yet that: Wherever this characteristic is present, the object must be beautiful. All that can be true is that certain objects are beautiful, because they have certain characteristics, in the sense that they would not be beautiful unless they had them. And it may be possible to find that certain characteristics are more or less universally present in all beautiful objects, and are, in this sense, more or less important conditions of beauty. But it is important to observe that the very qualities, which differentiate one beautiful object from all others, are, if the object be truly beautiful, as essential to its beauty, as those which it has in common with ever so many others. The object would no more have the beauty it has, without its specific qualities, than without those that are generic; and the generic qualities, by themselves, would fail, as completely, to give beauty, as those which are specific. (§ 121 ¶ 3)

§ 122.

II. It will be remembered that I began this survey of great unmixed goods, by dividing all the greatest goods we know into the two classes of aesthetic enjoyments, on the one hand, and the pleasures of human intercourse or of personal affection, on the other. I postponed the consideration of the latter on the ground that they presented additional complications. In what this additional complication consists, will now be evident; and I have already been obliged to take account of it, in discussing the contribution to value made by true belief. It consists in the fact that in the case of personal affection, the object itself is not merely beautiful, while possessed of little or no intrinsic value, but is itself, in part at least, of great intrinsic value. All the constituents which we have found to be necessary to the most valuable aesthetic enjoyments, namely, appropriate emotion, cognition of truly beautiful qualities, and true belief, are equally necessary here; but here we have the additional fact that the object must be not only truly beautiful, but also truly good in a high degree. (§ 122 ¶ 1)

It is evident that this additional complication only occurs in so far as there is included in the object of personal affection some of the mental qualities of the person towards whom the affection is felt. And I think it may be admitted that, wherever the affection is most valuable, the appreciation of mental qualities must form a large part of it, and that the presence of this part makes the whole far more valuable than it could have been without it. But it seems very doubtful whether this appreciation, by itself, can possess as much value as the whole in which it is combined with an appreciation of the appropriate corporeal expression of the mental qualities in question. It is certain that in all actual cases of valuable affection, the bodily expressions of character, whether by looks, by words, or by actions, do form a part of the object towards which the affection is felt, and that the fact of their inclusion appears to heighten the value of the whole state. It is, indeed, very difficult to imagine what the cognition of mental qualities alone, unaccompanied by any corporeal expression, would be like; and, in so far as we succeed in making this abstraction, the whole considered certainly appears to have less value. I therefore conclude that the importance of an admiration of admirable mental qualities lies chiefly in the immense superiority of a whole, in which it forms a part, to one in which it is absent, and not in any high degree of intrinsic value which it possesses by itself. It even appears to be doubtful, whether, in itself, it possesses so much value as the appreciation of mere corporeal beauty undoubtedly does possess; that is to say, whether the appreciation of what has great intrinsic value is so valuable as the appreciation of what is merely beautiful. (§ 122 ¶ 2)

But further if we consider the nature of admirable mental qualities, by themselves, it appears that a proper appreciation of them involves a reference to purely material beauty in yet another way. Admirable mental qualities do, if our previous conclusions are correct, consist very largely in an emotional contemplation of beautiful objects; and hence the appreciation of them will consist essentially in the contemplation of such contemplation. It is true that the most valuable appreciation of persons appears to be that which consists in the appreciation of their appreciation of other persons: but even here a reference to material beauty appears to be involved, both in respect of the fact that what is appreciated in the last instance may be the contemplation of what is merely beautiful, and in respect of the fact that the most valuable appreciation of a person appears to include an appreciation of his corporeal expression. Though, therefore, we may admit that the appreciation of a person’s attitude towards other persons, or, to take one instance, the love of love, is far the most valuable good we know, and far more valuable than the mere love of beauty, yet we can only admit this if the first be understood to include the latter, in various degrees of directness. (§ 122 ¶ 3)

With regard to the question what are the mental qualities of which the cognition is essential to the value of human intercourse, it is plain that they include, in the first place, all those varieties of aesthetic appreciation, which formed our first class of goods. They include, therefore, a great variety of different emotions, each of which is appropriate to some different kind of beauty. But we must now add to these the whole range of emotions, which are appropriate to persons, and which are different from those which are appropriate to mere corporeal beauty. It must also be remembered that just as these emotions have little value in themselves, and as the state of mind in which they exist may have its value greatly heightened, or may entirely lose it and become positively evil in a great degree, according as the cognitions accompanying the emotions are appropriate or inappropriate; so too the appreciation of these emotions, though it may have some value in itself, may yet form part of a whole which has far greater value or no value at all, according as it is or is not accompanied by a perception of the appropriateness of the emotions to their objects. It is obvious, therefore, that the study of what is valuable in human intercourse is a study of immense complexity; and that there may be much human intercourse which has little or no value, or is positively bad. Yet here too, as with the question what is beautiful, there seems no reason to doubt that a reflective judgment will in the main decide correctly both as to what are positive goods and even as to any great differences in value between these goods. In particular, it may be remarked that the emotions, of which the contemplation is essential to the greatest values, and which are also themselves appropriately excited by such contemplation, appear to be those which are commonly most highly prized under the name of affection. (§ 122 ¶ 4)

§ 123.

I have now completed my examination into the nature of those great positive goods, which do not appear to include among their constituents anything positively evil or ugly, though they include much which is in itself indifferent. And I wish to point out certain conclusions which appear to follow, with regard to the nature of the Summum Bonum, or that state of things which would be the most perfect we can conceive. Those idealistic philosophers, whose views agree most closely with those here advocated, in that they deny pleasure to be the sole good and regard what is completely good as having some complexity, have usually represented a purely spiritual state of existence as the Ideal. Regarding matter as essentially imperfect, if not positively evil, they have concluded that the total absence of all material properties is necessary to a state of perfection. Now, according to what has been said, this view would be correct so far as it asserts that any great good must be mental, and so far as it asserts that a purely material existence, by itself, can have little or no value. The superiority of the spiritual over the material has, in a sense, been amply vindicated. But it does not follow, from this superiority, that a perfect state of things must be one, from which all material properties are rigidly excluded: on the contrary, if our conclusions are correct, it would seem to be the case that a state of things, in which they are included, must be vastly better than any conceivable state in which they were absent. In order to see that this is so, the chief thing necessary to be considered is exactly what it is which we declare to be good when we declare that the appreciation of beauty in Art and Nature is so. That this appreciation is good, the philosophers in question do not for the most part deny. But, if we admit it, then we should remember Butler’s maxim that: Everything is what it is, and not another thing. I have tried to shew, and I think it is too evident to be disputed, that such appreciation is an organic unity, a complex whole; and that, in its most undoubted instances, part of what is included in this whole is a cognition of material qualities, and particularly of a vast variety of what are called secondary qualities. If, then, it is this whole, which we know to be good, and not another thing, then we know that material qualities, even though they be perfectly worthless in themselves, are yet essential constituents of what is far from worthless. What we know to be valuable is the apprehension of just these qualities, and not of any others; and, if we propose to subtract them from it, then what we have left is not that which we know to have value, but something else. And it must be noticed that this conclusion holds, even if my contention that a true belief in the existence of these qualities adds to the value of the whole in which it is included, be disputed. We should then, indeed, be entitled to assert that the existence of a material world was wholly immaterial to perfection; but the fact that what we knew to be good was a cognition of material qualities (though purely imaginary), would still remain. It must, then, be admitted on pain of self-contradiction—on pain of holding that things are not what they are, but something else—that a world, from which material qualities were wholly banished, would be a world which lacked many, if not all, of those things, which we know most certainly to be great goods. That it might nevertheless be a far better world than one which retained these goods, I have already admitted (§ 111 (1)). But in order to shew that any such world would be thus better, it would be necessary to shew that the retention of these things, though good in themselves, impaired, in a more than equal degree, the value of some whole, to which they might belong; and the task of shewing this has certainly never been attempted. Until it be performed, we are entitled to assert that material qualities are a necessary constituent of the Ideal; that, though something utterly unknown might be better than any world containing them or any other good we know, yet we have no reason to suppose that anything whatever would be better than a state of things in which they were included. To deny and exclude matter, is to deny and exclude the best we know. That a thing may retain its value, while losing some of its qualities, is utterly untrue. All that is true is that the changed thing may have more value than, or as much value as, that of which the qualities have been lost. What I contend is that nothing, which we know to be good, and which contains no material qualities, has such great value that we can declare it, by itself, to be superior to the whole which would be formed by the addition to it of an appreciation of material qualities. That a purely spiritual good may be the best of single things, I am not much concerned to dispute, although, in what has been said with regard to the nature of personal affection, I have given reasons for doubting it. But that by adding to it some appreciation of material qualities, which, though perhaps inferior by itself, is certainly a great positive good, we should obtain a greater sum of value, which no corresponding decrease in the value of the whole, as a whole, could counterbalance—this, I maintain, we have certainly no reason to doubt. (§ 123 ¶ 1)