The Theory of Good and Evil: A Treatise on Moral Philosophy - Vol. 2

The Theory of Good and Evil: A Treatise on Moral Philosophy - Vol. 2

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The Theory of Good and Evil: A Treatise on Moral Philosophy - Vol. 2

The Theory of Good and Evil: A Treatise on Moral Philosophy - Vol. 2

Read FREE!

Excerpt

In the last chapter I have endeavoured to defend the possibility of a hedonistic calculus. I maintained that it is psychologically possible to compare different lots of pleasure and to say which, on the whole, duration and intensity being both taken into account, is the greatest. If that be admitted, the fashioning of life in such a way as to attain either for oneself or for Society a greatest quantum of pleasure becomes a possible and intelligible ideal. It is possible to aim consistently at doing what will promote the greatest pleasure on the whole. But we have already seen reason to reject such a conception of the ethical end. The argument against Hedonism need not be repeated. Suffice it once more to remind the reader that, while I do regard pleasure as a good, I do not regard it as the good. It seems to me perfectly clear that the moral consciousness does pronounce some goods to be higher, or intrinsically more valuable than others; and that at the head of these goods comes Virtue, while many other things -- intellectual cultivation and intellectual activity, aesthetic cultivation, emotion of various kinds -- are also good and of more intrinsic value than mere pleasure. It is true that pleasure is an element in every state of consciousness to which we can assign ultimate value. I can attach no meaning whatever to the proposition, 'I find this picture supremely beautiful, and yet it gives me no pleasure to look at it.' Even with regard to Virtue, it is difficult to answer the question whether I should judge Virtue to possess value, if it gave me no sort of pleasure or satisfaction. The belief in a priori judgements of value must not be interpreted to mean that we can see what in detail is good for human beings . . .

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