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tasting, he may be miserable; and which, when he cannot taste, he is necessarily so? Can that be our good, which costs us a great deal of pains to obtain, which cloys in possessing, for which we cannot wait the return of appetite before we can enjoy again ? Or is that our good which we can come at without dif. ficulty, which is heightened by possession, which never ends in weariness and disappointment, and which the more we enjoy, the better qualified we are to enjoy on.
Hor. The latter, I think; but why do you torment me thus ? Philocles, show me this good immediately.
Phil. I have showed you what it is not : it is not sensual, but it is rational and moral good. It is doing all the good we can to others, by acts of hu. manity, friendship, generosity, and benevolence: this is that constant and durable good, which will afford contentment and satisfaction always alike, without variation or diminution. I speak to your experience now, Horatio : did you ever find yourself weary of relieving the miserable? or of raising the distressed into life or happiness ? or rather, do not you find the pleasure grow upon you by repetition, and that it is greater in the reflection than in the act itself? Is there a pleasure upon earth to be compared with that which arises from the sense of making others happy ? Can this pleasure ever be absent, or ever end but with your being? Does it not always accompany you? Doth not it lie down and rise with you, live as long as you live, give you consolation in the hour of death, and remain with you when all other things are going to forsake you, or you them ?
Hor. How glowingly you paint, Philocles ! me. thinks Horatio is amongst the enthusiasts. I feel the passion : I am enchantingly convinced ; but I do not
know why: overborne by something stronger than reason. Sure some divinity speaks within me: but prithee, Philocles, give me the cause, why this rational and moral good so infinitely excels the mere natural or sensual.
Phil. I think, Horatio, that I have clearly shown you the difference between merely natural or sensual good, and rational or moral good. Natural or sensual pleasure continues no longer than the action itself ; but this divine or moral pleasure continues when the action is over, and swells and grows upon your hand by reflection : the one is inconstant, unsatisfying, of short duration, and attended with numberless ills; the other is constant, yields full satisfaction, is durable, and has no evils preceding, accompanying, or following it. Butif you inquire farther into the cause of this difference, and would know why the moral pleasures are greater than the sensual, perhaps the reason is the same as in all other creatures, that their happiness or chief good consists in acting up to their chief faculty, or that faculty which distinguishes them from all creatures of a different species. The chief faculty in man is his reason, and consequently his chief good; or, that which may be justly called his good consists not merely in action, but in reasonable action. By reasonable actions we understand those actions which are preservative of the human kind, and naturally tend to produce real and unmixed happiness ; and these actions, by way of distinction, we call actions morally good,
Hor. You speak very clearly, Philocles; but, that no difficulty may remain on my mind, pray tell me what is the real difference between natural good and evil, and moral good and evil ? for I know several people who use the terms without ideas.
Phil. That may be: the difference lies only in this; that natural good and evil are pleasure and pain; moral good and evil are pleasure or pain produced with intention and design : for it is the intention only that makes the agent morally good or bad.
Hor. But may not a man with a very good intention do an evil action ?
Phil. Yes; but then he errs in his judgment, though his design be good : if his error is inevitable, or such as, all things considered, he could not help, he is inculpable; but if it arose through want of diligence in forming his judgment about the nature of human actions, he is immoral and culpable.
Hor. I find, then, that in order to please ourselves rightly, or do good to others morally, we should take care of our opinions.
Phil. Nothing concerns you more; for, as the happiness or real good men consists in right action, and right action cannot be produced without right opinion, it behoves us, above all things in this world, to take care that our own opinion of things be according to the nature of things. The foundation of all virtue and happiness is thinking rightly. He who sees an action is right, that is naturally tending to good, and does it because of that tendency, he only is a moral man; and he only is capable of that constant, durable, and invariable good, which has been the subject of this conversation.
Hor. How, my dear philosophical guide, shall I be able to know and determine certainly what is right and wrong in life?
Phil. As easily as you distinguish a circle from a square, or light from darkness. Look, Horatio, into the sacred book of nature; read your own nature, and
view the relation which other men stand in to you, and you to them, and you will immediately see what constitutes human happiness, and consequently what is right.
Hor. We are just coming into town, and can say no more at present. You are my good genius, Phi. locles ; you have showed me what is good ; you have redeemed me from the slavery and misery of folly and vice, and made me a free and happy being.
Phil. Then I am the happiest man in the world : be you steady, Horatio : never depart from reason and virtue.
Hor. Sooner will I lose my existence. Good night, Philocles.
Phil. Adieu, dear Horatio !
DOGMATISM. I continued this method (the Socratic) for some years; but gradually left it, retaining only the habit of expressing myself in terms of modest diffidence, never using, when I advance any thing that may possibly be disputed, the words certainly, undoubtedly, or any others that give the air of positiveness to an opinion; but rather say, I conceive, or apprehend a thing to be so and so; it appears to me, or, I should think it so and so, for such and such reasons ; or, I imagine it to be so and so; or, it is so if I am not mistaken. This habit, I believe, has been of great advantage to me, when I have had occasion to inculcate my opinions, and persuade men into measures that I have from time to time been engaged in promoting. And as the chief ends of converse are to inform, or to be informed ; to please, or to persuade; I wish well meaning and sen. sible men would not lessen their power of doing good by a positive assuming manner, that seldom fails to disgust, tends to create opposition, and to defeat most of those purposes, for which speech was given to us. In fact, if you wish to instruct others, a positive dogmatical manner in advancing your sentiments may occasion opposition, and prevent a candid attention. If you desire instruction and enjoyment from others, you should not at the same time express yourself fixed in your present opinions ; modest and sensible men, who do not love disputation, will leave you undisturbed in the possession of your errors.
In adopting such a manner, you can seldom expect to please your hearers, or obtain the concurrence you desire.*** The modest way in which I proposed my opinions procured them a readier reception and less contradic
I had less mortification when I was found to be in the wrong, and I more easily prevailed with others to give up their mistakes, and join with me when I happened to be in the right. And this mode, which I at first put on with some violence to natural incli. nation, became at length easy, and so habitual to me, that perhaps for the last fifty years no one has ever heard a dogmatical expression escape me. And to this habit (after my character of integrity) I think it prin. cipally owing that I had early so much weight with my fellow citizens, when I proposed new institutions, or alterations in the old ; and so much influence in public councils, when I became a member : for I was but a bad speaker, never eloquent, subject to much, hesitation in my choice of words, hardly correct in language, and yet I generally carried my point.