The Theory of Good and Evil (1907)

Chapter 2. Psychological Hedonism


In the writings of Bentham[3] and his followers the ethical doctrine that actions are right or wrong according as they do or do not tend to produce maximum pleasure is founded upon the psychological theory that as a matter of fact nothing is or can be desired except pleasure. The most fundamental of all distinctions between ethical systems turns upon the attitude which they adopt towards this theory. It is of course possible for a Moral Philosopher to reject the hedonistic Psychology and still to remain a Hedonist. He may hold that it is, as a matter of psychological fact, possible to desire other things besides pleasure, but that pleasure is the only proper or rational object of desire. It is possible to contend that I may, as a matter of psychological fact, desire other things, but that, if I do so, I am a fool for my pains. On the other hand it is clear that if nothing but pleasure can be desired, it is useless, and indeed meaningless, to maintain that something other than pleasure ought to be desired. It will be well, therefore, to clear the ground by facing the psychological problem before we attack the ethical questions which depend, to a large extent, upon our answer to that problem.(Bk. 1 Ch. 2 § 1 ¶ 1)

The plausibility of the doctrine that nothing but pleasure can be the object of desire depends mainly upon a confusion between three different senses in which it may be understood. The proposition that the motive of every action is pleasure may mean:--(Bk. 1 Ch. 2 § 1 ¶ 2)

  1. That I always do that which it gives me most pleasure at the moment to do;(Bk. 1 Ch. 2 § 1 ¶ 3)

  2. That the motive of every action is some future pleasure, although that future pleasure is not necessarily the most intense (it being for instance possible to choose the nearer but smaller pleasure in preference to one greater but more remote);(Bk. 1 Ch. 2 § 1 ¶ 4)

  3. That the motive of every act is always to get the greatest quantum of pleasure upon the whole.(Bk. 1 Ch. 2 § 1 ¶ 5)

Now the doctrine explicitly maintained by psychological Hedonists is usually the last of these three positions: while its plausibility arises chiefly from its confusion with one or both of the former. The last proposition is, indeed, one of those which would hardly obtain a moment's acceptance but for the supposed consequences of denying it. Let us assume for the moment that nothing ever is desired except pleasure, and ask whether it is always the prospect of the greatest pleasure that moves us. That men do not always do that which will as a matter of fact bring them most pleasure will readily be admitted: need we hesitate to assert that the world would be a much better place if they did[4]? Nor will it be denied that people often do actions which, before the time of acting, they know very well to be contrary to their real interest, understood in the most purely hedonistic sense. The drunkard--the poor drunkard at all events, who suffers from his vices in other than purely physiological ways--knows very well in the morning that he gets more pain than pleasure from his drink: he craves to get rid of the habit, and yet, as a matter of fact, he drinks on. That will be acknowledged, but it may be urged perhaps that at the moment of action such a man has always persuaded himself that the drink will produce a balance of pleasure on the whole. Admit, if you like, that he has. The question remains: how, on the assumptions of psychological Hedonism, is it possible to account for such a persuasion? Granted that at the time he acts he does not know that the thing is bad for him, how can a man who once knew that a thing was bad for himself come, however momentarily, to believe the contrary? Such conduct as that of the drunkard will hardly be accounted for by mere intellectual error, mere involuntary lapse of memory. If a man who in the morning knew that to drink a whole bottle of gin was not for his good, comes in the evening to believe the contrary, his ignorance must be to some extent voluntary: he must, as we say, have persuaded himself that it will do him no harm. And this voluntary ignorance, this bias in his judgment, has to be accounted for: and on the hedonistic theory (in the form in which it is now before us), it can be accounted for only in one way. On that theory there is only one desire or emotion that can ever affect the will, and so exercise a distorting influence upon the judgment, viz. desire for one's greatest pleasure on the whole. In the case supposed then desire for his greatest pleasure on the whole, steadily operating throughout the day, must somehow have changed the conviction that the man's greatest pleasure lies in abstinence or moderation into a conviction that his greatest pleasure lies in drunkenness. Is this an intelligible piece of Psychology?(Bk. 1 Ch. 2 § 1 ¶ 6)

Perhaps the matter may be made plainer by a slightly different illustration. If there is a certain piece of hedonistic calculus in the world, it is that the pleasure of eating something very bad for one is not worth the indigestion which it causes. The pleasure, unlike that of quantitative or qualitative errors in drinking, is slight and almost momentary: the pain may be continuous and severe. Ask a man with a delicate digestion whether the wise dyspeptic Hedonist will eat lobster salad. Ask him in the morning, ask him the moment before dinner, ask him while he is actually tasting his soup, and he will say emphatically No. It has almost always disagreed with me; it certainly is not worth the risk of temporary indigestion and the danger of bringing back that chronic indigestion which it took me so long to get over a year ago. Yet it may be that, as the dinner proceeds and conversation flows and spirits rise, the lobster salad comes round, and he eats. Now I admit that in cases like that it is scarcely possible to account for the man's action without supposing at least a momentary intellectual vacillation. Very likely he does say to himself, After all the consequences are not certain: I have upon occasion taken lobster salad without suffering much. I am better now than when I ate it last, and so on. But the question remains, Why should he seek in this way to deceive himself? Do not these efforts at self-deception imply that the man is not, as the theory supposes him to be, an absolutely impartial judge between the pleasure of the next moment and the pleasure of the next morning or the next week? Were he unbiased by desire of lobster salad, or of the pleasure attending its consumption, he would unquestionably have retained his well-grounded conviction as to the inadvisability of eating it. Supposing, at the very moment before he took the fatal resolution, he were to be consulted by a no less dyspeptic neighbour, he would have no hesitation whatever about the matter. By no means eat lobster salad, he would have said. And when in his own case he acts differently, it is evident that at that moment he cares more for present pleasure (in so far as his desire is really a desire for pleasure at all) than for his pleasure on the whole. There is a bias in his judgment--a bias derived from desire--which prevents him from correctly balancing present against future pains. He has, in short, other desires besides a desire for the greatest quantum of pleasure, though it may be (for anything we have seen so far) that he still cares about nothing but pleasure. At all events, the nearer pleasure exercises more attractive power than the more remote.(Bk. 1 Ch. 2 § 1 ¶ 7)

We have seen reason to reject the third interpretation of the hedonistic formula; now let us look at the first. It undoubtedly sounds plausible to say that, if I do a thing, I do it because it pleases me to do it; and from this it does not seem a large step to the admission that, if I prefer one alternative to another, it is because it pleases me more, and from that to the admission that I always do that which pleases me most. It might be enough to point out that we are really misled by an ambiguity of language. It pleases me to do it, it is my pleasure (placet) that it shall be done, means merely I will that it should be done; as to why I will it, the phrase tells us nothing. But let us admit that we are justified in interpreting this placet by It gives me at this moment more pleasure to do this than to do anything else[5]. The question still remains Why does this course of action give me so much momentary pleasure as to determine my will to adopt it? It certainly cannot always be the pleasure resulting at the moment of action that moves me t odo it. For the most selfish people clearly do many things which are painful at the time for the sake of some future end. Granted that it always gives me most pleasure to do what I have made up my mind to do, the question remains, What leads me to make up my mind? And this certainly cannot be the mere momentary pleasure involved in the act itself. If I thought only of my own momentary sensations while preparing for a bath on a very cold morning, I certainly should not take it. Still less, should I go to the dentist when my tooth is not actually aching. If I do these unpleasant things, it must be for the sake of something--a feeling of my own or otherwise--which lies beyond that moment. That brings us to the second possible sense of the psychological-hedonist doctrine--that I always act for the sake of some future pleasure[6], though not necessarily for the sake of the greatest quantum of pleasure on the whole.(Bk. 1 Ch. 2 § 1 ¶ 8)

Why then should one pleasure or sum of pleasures attract me more than another, apart from its being greater in amount? It may be said that I am more attracted by the nearer than by the remoter pleasure. That is intelligible, and it was admitted by Bentham, who did not see that the admission was fatal to the doctrine, implied if not expressed in the writings of himself and his followers, that what is desired is always the greatest prospective sum of pleasures. Of course in so far as remoteness involves uncertainty, that may logically be taken into account by the hedonistic calculus. But in so far as a remote pleasure is practically just as certain as a nearer one, it ought on Benthamite principles to prove equally attractive. And yet it is matter of experience that it very often does not. And this involves the admission that what I desire in such cases is not pleasure, but immediate pleasure. The pleasure in the hand as treated as if it were worth two in the bush, even when the pleasure in the bush is as certain as that in the hand.(Bk. 1 Ch. 2 § 1 ¶ 9)

This admission by itself makes a very large inroad into the apparently logical and coherent system of the hedonistic Psychology. Ethically it is of little importance, so long as the only characteristic which can give to one foreseen pleasure an increased attractiveness as compared with some other foreseen pleasure is supposed to be its greater proximity. But the admission may perhaps prepare the way for the recognition of the fact that there are other sources of (so to speak) differential attractiveness in pleasure besides (1) expected intensity and (2) proximity. Let us emphasize the admission that has so far been made. It is admitted, we may assume, that foreseen greater intensity of pleasure does not always carry with it greater constraining power over the will. The human mind is not the mere impartial calculating machine which it is represented to be by the hedonistic Psychology in its most logical form. We have in fact recognized the existence of passion in the human soul, though at present we may be disposed to interrupt passion as a mere liability to be more affected by a nearer than by a remoter pleasure. but is that a possible explanation of the extraordinary motive power possessed at certain moments by one pleasure as compared with another which, upon a calm review, would be recognized as being of far greater intensity? Take the case of an angry man. On a calm review of the pleasure of avenging some trifling or imagined slight (at the cost perhaps of some serious and forseen penalty), the man himself would usually be disposed to admit that the game was not worth the candle. The pleasure, he would admit, would not be worth the sacrifice of even a week's freedom and ordinary enjoyment of life. Yes, it will be said, but then the prospect of the pleasure is near, its more clearly perceived intensity triumphs over a chaos of remote, indefinite, and indistinctly envisaged enjoyments such as might be purchased by self-restraint. Well, at that rate, the offer of some other pleasure more intense and equally near should at once hold back the uplifted hand, and transform the angry countenance. Once assume that the attraction lies wholly in pleasure--that the man is indifferent to the kind of pleasure, except so far as kind of pleasure implies to him a difference of intensity--and this consequence must follow. But does it? The average wife-beating ruffian would probably admit on reflection that the pleasure of beating his wife on one particular occasion was not worth a pot of beer. But tender him the pot of beer when he is angry, and will the uplifted hand inevitably be lowered to grasp it? No, it will be said, this is what he would do if he calmly reflected; but at such a moment he does not reflect; his mind is so concentrated upon that one imagined pleasure that the other fails to obtain an entrance. But why does he not reflect? The determination to reflect or not to reflect is just as much a voluntary action as the determination to strike or not to strike. And, if the hedonistic Psychology is right, this action must be itself determined by a calculation as to the greater pleasantness of reflection or non-reflection. If then a man gets angry and so fails to reflect upon the consequences of what he is doing, that must be, it would seem, because he has come to the conclusion that (in this particular case) non-reflection will be the pleasanter course. But what should lead him to such a conclusion? Experience? Are we then really prepared to say that a hot-tempered man is one who has been taught by experience to believe that at certain moments non-reflection upon the relative value of pleasures, necessarily involving the choice of pleasures which calm reflection would show to be of less intensity, is itself conducive to obtaining the greatest amount of pleasure or at least of immediate pleasure? If any one is really prepared to admit this analysis of passion, there is no more to be said. If he is not, he must concede that, even if we allow the object of choice to be always a pleasure, there is something which causes a man at times to prefer one pleasure rather than another, irrespective of its greater nearness or greater intensity. What is this something? I know of no better way of expressing it than to say that the man desires one pleasure (assuming for the moment that it really is pleasure which is desired) rather than another[7]. It is an ultimate fact that one desire is stronger than another[8]. The strength of the desire does not depend wholly upon the intensity of the imagined pleasure. And in so far as it does not depend upon such imagined intensity, it is not really a desire for pleasure qua pleasure. If all that is desired is pleasure--as much of it as possible, and for as long as possible--it must be a matter of indifference to the man in what form (so to speak) his pleasure is served up to him, so long as he gets enough of it. But the existence of such passions as we have alluded to is by itself a sufficient proof that it is not pleasure in general but some particular kind of pleasure that is desired in such cases. Now it seems clear that desire for a particular kind of pleasure is not really desire for pleasure and nothing else. Even if we supposed that pleasure was always part of his object, we should have to admit that the man desires not only pleasure but also a particular sort of pleasure, not necessarily thought of as more intense than other pleasures. Desire of pleasure then is not the only motive which is capable of inspiring action.(Bk. 1 Ch. 2 § 1 ¶ 10)

And having got so far, we may be prepared to go a step further and admit that the desire of pleasure need not really be present at all. At least there need be no desire for anything which would be a pleasure apart from the fact that it is desired. The fact that a thing is desired no doubt implies that the satisfaction of the desire will necessarily bring pleasure. There is undoubtedly pleasure in the satisfaction of all desire. But that is a very different thing from asserting that the object is desired because it is thought of as pleasant, and in proportion as it is thought of as pleasant. The hedonistic Psychology involves, according to the stock phrase, a hysteron-proteron; it puts the cart before the horse. In reality, the imagined pleasantness is created by the desire, not the desire by the imagined pleasantness.(Bk. 1 Ch. 2 § 1 ¶ 11)

The truth is that to deny the existence of disinterested desires, i.e. desires for objects other than greatest anticipated pleasure[9], destroys the possibility of acocunting for nearly all our interests except those of a purely sensual character[10]. It is admitted on all hands that different people get different amounts of pleasure from the same external sources. Why so? In the case of mere physical sensation we can account for the difference between man and man by differences of physical constitution. Whether a man likes port or champagne depends upon the constitution, as modified by education, of his palate and nervous system. It has nothing to do with the strength of any pre-existing impulse towards the one or the other. His preference is not, in any direct and immediate way, determined by his character. Apart from the anticipated pleasure, he is perfectly impartial or unbiased in his decision between the two wines. Nothing but experience of their comparative pleasantness determines his judgment as to which of them he will take, so far as no considerations of health, or economy, or the like may dictate the choice of one rather than the other[11]. Suppose a glass of champagne to be administered to a life-long teetotaller and called a glass of lemonade. He may have been wholly innocent of a desire for champagne; he may have habitually denounced it as liquid poison; all his anticipations may have been confined to the unexhilarating lemonade. And yet, given the requisite nervous organization, he will probably exclaim, Why, this is the very best lemonade that I have ever tasted in the whole course of my life! On the other hand, when we turn to moral, intellectual, or other ideal pleasures[12], we find that their attractiveness depends entirely upon their appealing to some pre-existing desire, though no doubt some accidental and undesired experience may sometimes awaken a desire not previously felt. To the mind that does not desire knowledge, knowledge is not pleasant; knowledge compulsorily admitted is often found to be productive of anything but pleasure. Benevolence does not give pleasure to people who are not benevolent. The psychological Hedonist analyses Benevolence into a liking for benevolent pleasure. No doubt to the benevolent man Benevolence does give pleasure, but it gives him pleasure only because he has previously desired the good of this or that person, or of mankind at large. Where there is no such desire, benevolent conduct is not found to give pleasure. and so with many bad pleasures: for it is extremely important to insist that disinterested desires are not necessarily good pleasures[13] If I have set my heart upon the death of an enemy, it will give me pleasure to kill him. Apart from such a desire, there is nothing in the mere physical process which could possibly account for the pleasure. It would be no pleasure at all to kill some other person by precisely the same means, unless indeed my desire is not a desire for vengeance, but a disinterested malevolence towards humanity in general[14]. In all such cases it is a certain idea which is pleasant, the idea of an object which is or may be something quite different from my own sensations, whether of a purely physical character or of any more exalted kind which a hedonistic Psychology may be able to recognize. It is not the representation of my being pleased in the future which makes the idea of the sick man relieved or of the wrong avenged pleasant to me, and so moves my will; my desire is that the actual objective result shall be achieved. Of course if I am to be influenced by such a desire, I must, as we say, take an interest in the desired object. So far every desire might no doubt be called an interested desire. But the question at issue is just this--whether I am capable of taking an interest in other things besides my own sensations, actual in the present or imagined as being enjoyed by me in the future. To deny that I am capable of taking such an interest would make it scarcely possible to explain how anything could please me except purely physical sensations, an interest in which is, so to speak, compulsory. The pleasantness may no doubt be stimulated by an effort of voluntary attention, or diminished by a voluntary effort of abstraction, which will usually take the form of voluntary attention to something else. But it does not rest with us--it does not depend upon our will, or our character, or our desires--whether we shall or shall not feel the sensations and feel them to be pleasant.(Bk. 1 Ch. 2 § 1 ¶ 12)

It is extremely important to insist upon the full extent of ground covered by this class of disinterested desires. A prejudice is sometimes created against the doctrine of disinterested desires just on account of its ethical import. The greater part of our desires are assumed to be interested, and in asserting some few of them to be disinterested, we are suspected of trying to introduce questionable exceptions in the interests of edification. It is, therefore, desirable to insist that the possibility of being interested in something besides our own sensations is as distinctly implied by the momentary absorption in the plot of a novel, or the most evanescent and morally indifferent sympathy with its characters, as by the most sublime heroism or the most systematic philanthropy. The spectator of a tragedy who had no disinterested desires would simply exclaim, What is Hebuca to me, or I to Hecuba, that I should weep for her? Prove to me that my own future pleasures are somehow involved in the fate of Hecuba, and then I shall begin to be interested in her story, but not till then. No pleasures in short are explicable on the hypothesis of psychological Hedonism except those of a purely sensual character, and I may add, aesthetic pleasures, which after all have a purely sensuous basis, however many higher intellectual activities and sympathies may be involved in them. When a beautiful landscape bursts upon us unexpectedly, the enjoyment of it is not dimmed by the fact that we were not craving for it beforehand. Nor does it appear that a craving for beauty in general precedes or is implied in the first development of the aesthetic faculties; it is rather experience of their pleasantness which begets the love of beauty. For, although beauty is not merely a particular kind of pleasure, the pleasure is certainly an inseparable element of the beauty, and this pleasure does not seem to imply any previous desire[15]. But directly Art begins to involve anything more than contemplation of immediately beautiful form and colour and sound[16], it interests us only by appealing to desires or interests which are not merely desires for pleasure. A man who cared about nothing but his own sensations might derive pleasure from a beautiful sunset, but he could hardly appreciate a beautiful character or a beautiful plot, and even the appreciation of physical beauty probably has its roots to some extent in a kind of sympathy, however strongly we may repudiate Hume's attempt to analyse away our appreciation of the elegance of a swan's long neck into sympathy with its utility to the swan. Any further analysis of aesthetic pleasure would here be out of place. I merely note that the aesthetic pleasures, or an element in them, seem to be the most prominent case of pleasure, not in the ordinary sense purely sensual, which does not necessarily imply desire for anything besides the pleasure itself[17].(Bk. 1 Ch. 2 § 1 ¶ 13)

Bk. 1 Ch. 2 § 1 n. 1. And earlier of Hobbes, with this difference--that Hobbes defines pleasure in terms of desire (Whatsoever is the object of any man's appetite or desire, that is it which he for his part calleth good, Leviathan, ch. vi), and then proceeds to define pleasure as the appearance or sense of good. Bentham assumes that we already know what pleasure is, and then proceeds to argue that we desire that and nothing else. The difference might be more important than it is if Hobbes had always remembered it himself. when he identifies the iucundum with good in effect, as the end desired, he practically adopts the position of Bentham.

Bk. 1 Ch. 2 § 1 n. 2. The thing to be lamented is, not that men have so great regard to their own good or interest in the present world, for they have not enough; but that they have so little to the good of others. Bp. Butler, Preface to Fifteen Sermons.

Bk. 1 Ch. 2 § 1 n. 3. This seems to be very much the position of Sigwart: Each end must, if I am on the whole to will it and to be able to devote my powers to its attainment, be such a one that the attainment of it promises some kind or other of satisfaction (Befriedigung) for me, the thought of which so affects my feeling, that the expectation of its attainment affords me joy, the fear of the opposite causes me pain (Sigwart, Vorfragen der Ethik, p. 5). This statement (with others in this remarkably clear and able little work) seems to me to be not actually erroneous, but to suggest the fallacies of psychological Hedonism, inasmuch as it is not made clear whether the thought of the action is now pleasant because it will produce in the agent the greatest possible maximum of pleasant feeling, or because he desires the end and consequently will find satisfaction in its future accomplishment and in working for its accomplishment in the present. The word Gefühl seems to be used by Sigwart sometimes in the sense of desire, sometimes of anticipated pleasure.

Bk. 1 Ch. 2 § 1 n. 4. Not of course excluding the pleasure of the immediate act which in some cases is obviously the prominent element.

Bk. 1 Ch. 2 § 1 n. 5. In so far, that is, as his impulses are sufficiently reflected upon to become desires. A large part of our habitual bodily movements are of course due to impulses which cannot be so described. The actions are voluntary only because they can at once be inhibited when any conflicting desire presents itself. Movements which are not voluntary even to this extent are not acts.

Bk. 1 Ch. 2 § 1 n. 6. Of course the cause may lie in the man's physical constitution or in external influences; but, as ex hypothesi we are dealing with voluntary actions, these causes lying outside consciousness can only influence him by producing an impulse to act within consciousness, i.e. a desire.

Bk. 1 Ch. 2 § 1 n. 7. The phrase may also be used to mean desires for objects other than one's own good, however understood, but I am here arguing with those who would identify good and pleasure. It will be seen below that I regard the Psychology that is egoistic without being hedonistic as open to the same objections as the latter.

Bk. 1 Ch. 2 § 1 n. 8. Many even of these, as pointed out below, are not originally desires for pleasure, but they may be treated as such for ethical purposes in so far as the impulses or appetites are deliberately acted upon from a conviction of the pleasantness of indulgence.

Bk. 1 Ch. 2 § 1 n. 9. Of course he might be moved by curiosity to desire a wine which he has never tasted; but the pleasure which he got from gratifying his curiosity would be distinguishable from the physical pleasure of drinking. The former would be undiminished should the wine fail to commend itself to his palate.

Bk. l Ch. 2 § 1 n. 10. I am of course far from attempting to draw an absolute line of demarcation between the two classes of pleasure. Pursuits involving a high degree of intellectual activity may often owe some of their pleasantness to some suggestion of sensuous gratification: the desire for power may become fused with the desire for the sensual gratifications secured by power, &c., &c. And on the other hand the sensuous pleasure may be a condition of many others which are not sensuous. Coleridge, for instance, pronounced tea-drinking to be the most intellectual of sensual pleasures.

Bk. 1 Ch. 2 § 1 n. 11. The observation of this fact was Bishop Butler's most original contribution to moral Psychology. Aristotle admits that there are desires for objects other than pleasure, but he assumes that these objects are always good objects--Knowledge, Beauty, Virtue, and the like, and thus ultimately admits only two motives, desire of τὸ καλὸν and of τὸ ἡδύ.

Bk. 1 Ch. 2 § 1 n. 12. The pleasure of sheer cruelty is no doubt less purely ideal than that of vengeance, and may be more correctly represented as a mere desire for a particular kind of physical excitement, which gives pleasure just like any other sensation. It may best be treated as a primitive instinct, just like the impulses commonly described as appetites--a survival in human nature of the brute, in which such an instinct was conducive to survival. But, like these appetites, cruelty of course becomes something different in a man who deliberately makes the satisfaction of the impulse his end. A beast is not capable (strictly speaking) of cruelty any more than it is capable of licentiousness. When deliberately indulged, the impulse or appetite becomes a desire.

Bk. 1 Ch. 2 § 1 n. 13. There is much truth in Schopenhauer's doctrine that the satisfaction afforded by Art is due (I should say, partly due) to the absorption in mere contemplation which it involves, and so in the temporary suspension of desires.

Bk. 1 Ch. 2 § 1 n. 14. And even these could not be desired unless they had previously been experienced. There would indeed be a shorter way with psychological Hedonism if we could assume with Prof. A. E. Taylor that an appeal to introspection will show ... that it is impossible to have a representative image or idea of pleasure or pain (Problem of Conduct, p. 113). So far as I have been able to ascertain, Prof. Taylor appears to be alone in this peculiar incapacity for imaging past pleasures and pains. The theory implies so extreme an abstraction of the content of the pleasant consciousness from its pleasantness that it hardly requires explicit experience to refute it. If Prof. Taylor cannot remember what the displeasure was like which it gave him to look upon his neighbour's ugly wall-paper, how can he remember even what the paper itself was like? How can he have an idea of the colour and pattern without an idea of its ugliness, and what is an idea of ugliness which does not include unpleasantness? The reason why the more acute physical pains are (fortunately) less capable of being represented with distinctness in the imagination seems to be that, though assuredly not without content, they have (so to speak) very little content. There are comparatively few distinct kinds and qualities of pain, and still fewer have names; so that the distinction of intensity plays the chief part in our idea of them, and intesnity is just the element in which imagination most fails, accurately or fully, to reproduce past sensations, though it reproduces them quite sufficiently to enable a boy to pronounce (when the difference was considerable) which of two floggings hurt most. This is of course quite a different thing from supposing (with Hume) that an idea differs from an impression only in liveliness.

Bk. 1 Ch. 2 § 1 n. 15. I do not mean to imply that the value of aesthetic pleasures is to be estimated merely by their intensity, or that the desire for aesthetic pleasures (when once aroused) is merely a desire for pleasure as such.

Bk. 1 Ch. 2 § 2 n. 1. The assumption is nowhere distinctly formulated, but it seems to underlie the argument of Mr. Herbert Spencer's Psychology, Pt. II, ch. ix, and Data of Ethics, ch. v. sq.

Bk. 1 Ch. 2 § 2 n. 2. For a fuller refutation of the theory that the lower animals or primitive men or human infants act or behave on egoistic Hedonist principles the reader may be referred to the whole later part of Wundt's Ethics and to Professor James's chapter on Instinct in his Principles of Psychology (ch. xxiv.).

Bk. 1 Ch. 2 § 2 n. 3. Some Psychologists would say more primitive. But I see no advantage in attempting to identify conscious impulses with unconscious tendencies towards an end such as may exist in plants, however decidedly these may differ from merely mechanical processes. Even Mr. Spencer does recognize that race-preserving actions not conducive to the pleasure of the individual are as primitive as individual-preserving actions. That admission cuts away the ground of his assumption that individual-preserving actions are always prompted by a desire of pleasure. To identify cravings with discomforts which inspire a desire for their removal (Principles of Psychology, § 123) tends to disguise the hysteron-proteron of the Pleasure-psychology.

Bk. 1 Ch. 2 § 2 n. 4. Sidgwick follows him in this view (Methods of Ethics, 6th Ed., p. 45). Prof. Mackenzie seems to me right in distinguishing appetites from desires (Manual of Ethics, 4th Ed., p. 46). See also the chapter in James's Psychology already referred to (above, p. 21, note).

Bk. 1 Ch. 2 § 4 n. 1. In such cases we may ignore the belief in Immortality. Even where such a belief is strong and influential, it probably does not occur to a man to think of himself as hereafter enjoying the contemplation of his great-grandchildren seated on the red benches of the House of Lords, or smiling down upon his own statue in the market-place of his native town.

Bk. 1 Ch. 2 § 4 n. 2. Since this sense of triumph really implies that he is capable of looking forward with satisfaction to a result other than his own pleasure.

Bk. 1 Ch. 2 § 4 n. 3. Of course, when any ulterior consequence of social approbation is to be feared, we should not speak of the person as acting from purely conscientious motives at all.

Bk. 1 Ch. 2 § 5 n. 1. We may here ignore the question of the nearness of the pleasure: for experience seems to show that, even if we grant the delightfulness of looking forward to being burned alive, the prospect does not at all gain in attractiveness when one comes closer to it.

Bk. 1 Ch. 2 § 5 n. 2. Ethic. Nicomach. III. ix. 3. (p. 1117) οὐ μὴν ἀλλὰ δόξειεν ἂν εἶναι τὸ κατὰ τὴν ἀνδρείαν τέλος ἡδύ, ὑπὸ τῶν κύκλῳ δ' ἀφανίζεσθαι, οἷον κἀν τοῖς γυμνικοῖς ἀγῶσι γίνεται: τοῖς γὰρ πύκταις τὸ μὲν τέλος ἡδύ, οὗ ἕνεκα, ὁ στέφανος καὶ αἱ τιμαί, τὸ δὲ τύπτεσθαι ἀλγεινόν, εἴπερ σάρκινοι, καὶ λυπηρόν, καὶ πᾶς ὁ πόνος: διὰ δὲ τὸ πολλὰ ταῦτ' εἶναι, μικρὸν ὂν τὸ οὗ ἕνεκα οὐδὲν ἡδὺ φαίνεται ἔχειν. This side of Aristotle's doctrine is constantly overlooked in stating his view that the virtuous man necessarily acts with pleasure.

Bk. 1 Ch. 2 § 5 n. 3. ἡ μὲν οἰκεία ἡδονὴ ἐξακριβοῖ τὰς ἐνεργείας καὶ χρονιωτέρας καὶ βελτίους ποιεῖ, αἱ δ' ἀλλότριαι λυμαίνονται. Ethic. Nicomach. X. v. 5 (p. 1175b).

Bk. 1 Ch. 2 § 5 n. 4. Simmel has devoted much space (Einleitung in die Moralwissenschaft, 1892, I, Kap. ii) to showing how impossible it is to form any clear conception of pure Egoism or pure Altruism: he shows how the instincts, desires, and emotions with the satisfaction of which a man identifies his own good or interest or pleasure, always include some which are of social origin and involve a moral element; whilst the most altruistic man is, after all, gratifying impulses in which he finds his own satisfaction. It seems to me true and important to say that altruistic and egoistic impulses fuse inextricably. Few desires and impulses are wholly altruistic or wholly egoistic: we can only speak of a more or less altruistic or egoistic character in them. The motives which prompt the average man to devote himself heartily to his profession can as little be represented as pure desires for the public good as they can be represented as merely a desire for his own enjoyment or advancement. His profession has become to him an end-in-itself, but it has become so because he has both interests which are mainly egoistic and impulses which are mainly altruistic. At the same time, I do not think we can deny the psychological possibility of the pure Egoist who deliberately gratifies his impulses just so far as he thinks they will yield him pleasure on the whole; this possibility is not affected by the social origin or the social tendency of some of those impulses. The pure Altruist who subordinates his own interest entirely to that of others is more difficult to conceive, because the man's very Altruism must produce such an identification of his own interest with that of others that they can hardly be kept absolutely apart in consciousness, except in those cases where there is some absolute and palpable contradiction between the interest of others and what would, but for his Altruism, be conceived of as his own interest. But where the sacrifice of life, or of all that makes life worth living, is deliberately made, the fact that on reflection the man may recognize the sacrifice as a good for him does not make it impossible to describe the desire as such as altruistic, whether conceived of as pleasure or something else. What is true in Simmel's contention is that the normal motives of most men are neither purely altruistic nor purely egoistic.

Bk. 1 Ch. 2 § 5 n. 5. Cf. Sidgwick, Methods of Ethics, 6th ed., p. 134.

Bk. 1 Ch. 2 § 5 n. 7. Even this could not be decided without taking into consideration the pleasure I should get. The hedonistic calculus is as necessary for duty as for pleasure. If the doctrine that pleasure cannto be obtained by contrivance were true, a Physician would have carefully to conceal from his overworked or overworried patient the fact that the tonic he was recommending was simply a dose of pleasure. This may possibly at times be desirable, but not in the case of persons who have no rooted antipathy to pleasure.

Bk. 1 Ch. 2 § 5 n. 8. Not only does not the calculation always diminish the pleasure, but a further pleasure may arise from the satisfaction of the desire for pleasurable life in general, as has been well pointed out by von Hartmann, who is assuredly no Hedonist (eine zweite reflektierte Lust aus der Befriedigung des eudämonistischen Wollens, Ethische Studien, p. 137). At the same time he seems to me mistaken, if not inconsistent, in maintaining that all pleasure arises from the satisfaction of some deisre (dass es keine Lust giebt, die nicht an die Befriedigung eines Begehrens geknüpft wäre,, l. c., p. 143), though he admits that the desire may sometimes be set up by the mere presence of the means to its satisfaction.

Bk. 1 Ch. 2 § 6 n. 2. The same analysis which shows me that I do not always aim at my own pleasure, shows me equally that I do not always aim at my own satisfaction. I reject, in the one case as in the other, the conscious egoism of the form in which human choice is conceived--except in the insignificant sense that I am conscious that what I desire and aim at is desired and aimed at by me--a tautological proposition (Sidgwick, Ethics of T. H. Green, Mr. Herbert Spencer, and J. Martineau, p. 103.

Bk. 1 Ch. 2 § 6 n. 3. Of course, if such an event is to have real value, it must ultimately have some effect on some consciousness or other, but this need not be distinctly contemplated by the agent. A Samson might well desire the destruction of his enemies and their temple, even at the cost of his own life, without distinctly thinking of the satisfaction to be given to his surviving countrymen.

Bk. 1 Ch. 2 § 6 n. 4. Essay, Book II, ch. xxi, § 40. In so far as Locke actually identifies (as he shows a tendency to do) the desire and the uneasiness he is not open to this criticism, and in fact no one shows more convincingly that it is not the greater good, though appreheneded to be so (ib., § 35), which always determines the will; but in so far as he makes the motive to be the removing of pain ... as the first and necessary step towards happiness--that happiness which we all aim at in all our actions (ib., § 36)--he is virtually under the influence of the hedonistic Psychology.

Bk. 1 Ch. 2 § 6 n. 5. A few expressions of the doctrine here criticized may be given. Mr. Fairbrother is qutie justified in making Green hold (The Philosophy of T. H. Green, p. 67) that the end is always a personal good in some form .... Man always is actuated by this conception of himself as satisfied; but he ignores all the passages that have an opposite tendency. The Bishop of Clogher (Dr. d'Arcy) introduces another feature into the doctrine--that the end of a desire is not an external thing, but the corresponding activity (Short Study of Ethics, 2nd ed., p. 158). Somewhat similar, though mroe vague, is Mr. Bradley's earlier doctrine that nothing is desired except that which is identified with ourselves, and we can aim at nothing, except in so far as we aim at ourselves in it (Ethical Studies, p. 62). Professor Muirhead likewise contends that It is only as involved in one's own that one can desire one's neighbour's good: it is only as his good enters into my conception of my good that I can make it an object of desire and of volition (The Elements of Ethics, p. 154). And again, The essential point to note is that all desire, and therefore all will (inasmuch as will depends upon desire), carry with them a reference to self. Their object is a form of self-satisfaction (ib., p. 50). Reference to self is vague, but appears to be explained by the previous sentence: They [the objects of desire] are related to the self, in that it is the realization of them for a self that is desired. Still there is a vagueness which I should like to see cleared up. Does for a self mean (1) that the desire is mine, or (2) that it is my interest in some future state of myself that makes me care to pull my neighbour's child out of the fire? The first doctrine seems to be as unquestionable as it is unquestioned; the latter false. On p. 47 we seem to get an explicit statement that it is always a future state of the self that is desired in the words: Desire is a state of tension created by the contrast between the present state of the self and the idea of a future state not yet realised. Is not this tension very much like Locke's greatest present uneasiness, with the disadvantage of introducing a not very intelligible physical metaphor? I should say that in the case of the anonymous railway reformer contemplated in the text the tension is caused solely by the contrast between the present state of the time-table and the ideal which his reason unfolds to him. If so, the object of his desire, the object for which he cares, is not self-satisfaction. Whatever be the meaning of his earlier and vaguer utterances, I rejoice to find that Mr. Bradley does now repudiate the doctrine which I am attacking. It is not true that in volition the idea is always the idea that I am about to do something. I cannot admit that the qualification of the change as my act must always in volition form a part of the idea's original content (Mind, N. S., No. 44, 1902, p. 456). It is true that Mr. Bradley is speaking of Will, and in his view desire is most certainly not necessary for will (ib., p. 457), but he elsewhere declares still more clearly that we can desire an event outside and quite apart from our psychical existence (Mind, N. S., No. 41, 1902, p. 18). That is exactly the point on which I wish to insist, but it seems to me quite inconsistent with Mr. Bradley's doctrine that the bad man acting (as ordinary people would put it) against knowledge is pursuing still and he always must pursue his own good (Mind, N. S., No. 43, 1902, p. 307), and with the whole tendency of that article. Surely my good is not an event outside and quite apart from our psychical existence. Mr. Bradley might reply that to desire and to will are not the same thing, but if a desire (not opposed by some other desire of sufficient strength) does not pass into action, have we not the freak of unmotived willing against which Mr. Bradley very properly protests?