Book III: The Moral Ideal and Moral Progress.

Chapter I: Good and Moral Good.


Even if it were the case, however, that self-satisfaction was more attainable than it is, and that the pleasure of success to the man who has spurned delights and lived laborious days really admitted of being set against the pleasure missed in the process, it would none the less be a mere confusion to treat this pleasure of success as the desired object, in the realisation of which the man seeks to satisfy himself. A man may seek to satisfy himself with pleasure, but the pleasure of self-satisfaction can never be that with which he seeks to satisfy himself. This is equally true of the voluptuary and of the saint. The voluptuary must have his ideas of pleasures, unconnected with self-satisfaction, before he can seek self-satisfaction (where it is not to be found) in the realisation of those ideas; just as much as the saint must have ideas, not of pleasures but of services due to God and man, before he can seek self-satisfaction in their fulfilment. Most men, however, at least in their ordinary conduct, are neither voluptuaries nor saints; and we are falling into a false antithesis if, having admitted (as is true) that the question of self-satisfaction is the form of all moral activity, we allow no alternative (as Kant in effect seems to allow none) between the quest for self-satisfaction in the enjoyment of pleasure, and the quest for it in the fulfilment of a universal practical law. Ordinary motives fall neither under the one head nor the other. They are interests in the attainment of objects, without which it seems to the man in his actual state that he cannot satisfy himself, and in attaining which, because he has desired them, he will find a certain pleasure, but only because he has previously desired them, not because pleasures are the objects desired. (§160 ¶1)