Chapter VI: The Ideal.

§ 124.

In order to complete this discussion of the main principles involved in the determination of intrinsic value, the chief remaining topics, necessary to be treated, appear to be two. The first of these is the nature of great intrinsic evils, including what I may call mixed evils; that is to say, those evil wholes, which nevertheless contain, as essential elements, something positively good or beautiful. And the second is the nature of what I may similarly call mixed goods; that is to say, those wholes, which, though intrinsically good as wholes, nevertheless contain, as essential elements, something positively evil or ugly. It will greatly facilitate this discussion, if I may be understood throughout to use the terms beautiful and ugly, not necessarily with reference to things of the kind which most naturally occur to us as instances of what is beautiful and ugly, but in accordance with my own proposed definition of beauty. Thus I shall use the word beautiful to denote that of which the admiring contemplation is good in itself; and ugly to denote that of which the admiring contemplation is evil in itself. (§ 124 ¶ 1)

I. With regard, then, to great positive evils, I think it is evident that, if we take all due precautions to discover precisely what those things are, of which, if they existed absolutely by themselves, we should judge the existence to be a great evil, we shall find most of them to be organic unities of exactly the same nature as those which are the greatest positive goods. That is to say, they are cognitions of some object, accompanied by some emotion. Just as neither a cognition nor an emotion, by itself, appeared capable of being greatly good, so (with one exception), neither a cognition nor an emotion, by itself, appears capable of being greatly evil. And just as a whole formed of both, even without the addition of any other element, appeared undoubtedly capable of being a great good, so such a whole, by itself, appears capable of being a great evil. With regard to the third element, which was discussed as capable of adding greatly to the value of a good, namely, true belief, it will appear that it has different relations towards different kinds of evils. In some cases the addition of true belief to a positive evil seems to constitute a far worse evil; but in other cases it is not apparent that it makes any difference. (§ 124 ¶ 2)

The greatest positive evils may be divided into the following three classes. (§ 124 ¶ 3)

§ 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)

§ 126.

(2) The second class of great evils are undoubtedly mixed evils; but I treat them next, because, in a certain respect, they appear to be the converse of the class last considered. Just as it is essential to this last class that they should include an emotion, appropriate to the cognition of what is good or beautiful, but directed to an inappropriate object; so to this second class it is essential that they should include a cognition of what is good or beautiful, but accompanied by an inappropriate emotion. In short, just as the last class may be described as cases of the love of what is evil or ugly, so this class may be described as cases of the hatred of what is good or beautiful. (§ 126 ¶ 1)

With regard to these evils it should be remarked: First, that the vices of hatred, envy and contempt, where these vices are evil in themselves, appear to be instances of them; and that they are frequently accompanied by evils of the first class, for example, where a delight is felt in the pain of a good person. Where they are thus accompanied, the whole thus formed is undoubtedly worse than if either existed singly. (§ 126 ¶ 2)

And secondly: That in their case a true belief in the existence of the good or beautiful object, which is hated, does appear to enhance the badness of the whole, in which it is present. Undoubtedly also, as in our first class, the presence of a true belief as to the value of the objects contemplated, increases the evil. But, contrary to what was the case in our first class, a false judgment of value appears to lessen it. (§ 126 ¶ 3)

§ 127.

(3) The third class of great positive evils appears to be the class of pains. (§ 127 ¶ 1)

With regard to these it should first be remarked that, as in the case of pleasure, it is not pain itself, but only the consciousness of pain, towards which our judgments of value are directed. Just as in Chap. III., it was said that pleasure, however intense, which no one felt, would be no good at all; so it appears that pain, however intense, of which there was no consciousness, would be no evil at all. (§ 127 ¶ 2)

It is, therefore, only the consciousness of intense pain, which can be maintained to be a great evil. But that this, by itself, may be a great evil, I cannot avoid thinking. The case of pain thus seems to differ from that of pleasure: for the mere consciousness of pleasure, however intense, does not, by itself, appear to be a great good, even if it has some slight intrinsic value. In short, pain (if we understand by this expression, the consciousness of pain) appears to be a far worse evil than pleasure is a good. But, if this be so, then pain must be admitted to be an exception from the rule which seems to hold both of all other great evils and of all great goods: namely that they are all organic unities to which both a cognition of an object and an emotion directed towards that object are essential. In the case of pain and of pain alone, it seems to be true that a mere cognition, by itself, may be a great evil. It is, indeed, an organic unity, since it involves both the cognition and the object, neither of which, by themselves, has either merit or demerit. But it is a less complex organic unity than any other great evil and than any great good, both in respect of the fact that it does not involve, beside the cognition, an emotion directed towards its object, and also in respect of the fact that the object may here be absolutely simple, whereas in most, if not all, other cases, the object itself is highly complex. (§ 127 ¶ 3)

This want of analogy between the relation of pain to intrinsic evil and of pleasure to intrinsic good, seems also to be exhibited in a second respect. Not only is it the case that consciousness of intense pain is, by itself, a great evil, whereas consciousness of intense pleasure is, by itself, no great good; but also the converse difference appears to hold of the contribution which they make to the value of the whole, when they are combined respectively with another great evil or with a great good. That is to say, the presence of pleasure (though not in proportion to its intensity) does appear to enhance the value of a whole, in which it is combined with any of the great unmixed goods which we have considered: it might even be maintained that it is only wholes, in which some pleasure is included, that possess any great value: it is certain, at all events, that the presence of pleasure makes a contribution to the value of good wholes greatly in excess of its own intrinsic value. On the contrary, if a feeling of pain be combined with any of the evil states of mind which we have been considering, the difference which its presence makes to the value of the whole, as a whole, seems to be rather for the better than the worse: in any case, the only additional evil which it introduces, is that which it, by itself, intrinsically constitutes. Thus, whereas pain is in itself a great evil, but makes no addition to the badness of a whole, in which it is combined with some other bad thing, except that which consists in its own intrinsic badness; pleasure, conversely, is not in itself a great good, but does make a great addition to the goodness of a whole in which it is combined with a good thing, quite apart from its own intrinsic value. (§ 127 ¶ 4)

§ 128.

But finally, it must be insisted that pleasure and pain are completely analogous in this: that we cannot assume either that the presence of pleasure always makes a state of things better on the whole, or that the presence of pain always makes it worse. This is the truth which is most liable to be overlooked with regard to them; and it is because this is true, that the common theory, that pleasure is the only good and pain the only evil, has its grossest consequences in misjudgments of value. Not only is the pleasantness of a state not in proportion to its intrinsic worth; it may even add positively to its vileness. We do not think the successful hatred of a villain the less vile and odious, because he takes the keenest delight in it; nor is there the least need, in logic, why we should think so, apart from an unintelligent prejudice in favour of pleasure. In fact it seems to be the case that wherever pleasure is added to an evil state of either of our first two classes, the whole thus formed is always worse than if no pleasure had been there. And similarly with regard to pain. If pain be added to an evil state of either of our first two classes, the whole thus formed is always better, as a whole, than if no pain had been there; though here, if the pain be too intense, since that is a great evil, the state may not be better on the whole. It is in this way that the theory of vindictive punishment may be vindicated. The infliction of pain on a person whose state of mind is bad may, if the pain be not too intense, create a state of things that is better on the whole than if the evil state of mind had existed unpunished. Whether such a state of things can ever constitute a positive good, is another question. (§ 128 ¶ 1)