Book III: The Moral Ideal and Moral Progress.

Chapter I: Good and Moral Good.


When the idea of which the realisation is sought is not that of enjoying any pleasure, the fact that self-satisfaction is sought in the effort to realise the idea of the desired object does not make pleasure the object of the desire. It may very well be that a man pursues an object in which he seeks self-satisfaction with the clear consciousness that no enjoyment of pleasure can yield him satisfaction, and that there must be such pain in the realisation of the idea to which he devotes himself as cannot be compensated, in any scale where pleasure and pain alone are weighed, by any enjoyment of an end achieved. So it is in the more heroic forms of self-sacrifice. Self-satisfaction is doubtless sought in such sacrifice. The man who calmly faces a life of suffering in the fulfilment of what he conceives to be his mission could not bear to do otherwise. So to live is his good. If he could attain the consciousness of having accomplished his work, if he could count himself to have apprehended—and probably just in proportion to the elevation of his character he is unable to do so—he would find satisfaction in the consciousness, and with it a certain pleasure. But supposing this pleasure to be attained, only the exigencies of a theory could suggest the notion that, as so much pleasure, it makes up for the pleasures forgone and the pains endured in the life through which it has been reached. Such a notion can only be founded on the see-saw process which first assumes that preference in every case is determined by amount of anticipated pleasure, and then professes to ascertain the relative amount of pleasure which a given line of action affords a man by the fact that he prefers to act. (§159 ¶1)

§159, n. 1: Cf. Arist. Eth. Nic. III. ix. 5. Οὐ δὲ ἐν ἁπάσαις ταῖς ἀρεταῖς τὸ ἡδέως ἐνεργεῖν ὑπάρχει, πλὴν ἐφ’ ὄσον τοῦ τέλους ἐφάπτεται. Thus the rule that the exercise of virtue is pleasant does not hold of all the virtues, except in so far as the end is attained.