ESSAY III PLEASURE FOR PLEASURE'S SAKE

IT is an old story, a theme too worn for the turning of sentences, and yet too living a moral not to find every day a new point and to break a fresh heart, that our lives are wasted in the pursuit of the impalpable, the search for the impossible and the unmeaning. Neither to-day nor yesterday, but throughout the whole life of the race, the complaint has gone forth that all is vanity; that the ends for which we live and we die are 'mere ideas', illusions begotten on the brain by the wish of the heart--poor phrases that stir the blood, until experience or reflection for a little, and death for all time, bring with it disenchantment and quiet. Duty for duty's sake, life for an end beyond sense, honour, and beauty, and love for the invisible--all these are first felt and then seen to be dream and shadow and unreal vision. And our cry and our desire is for something that will satisfy us, something that we know and do not only think, something that is real and solid, that we can lay hold of and be sure of, and that will not change in our hands. We have said good-bye to our transcendent longings, we have bidden a sad but an eternal farewell to the hopes of our own and of the world's too credulous youth; we have parted for ever from our early loves, from our fancies and aspirations beyond the human. We seek for the tangible, and we find it in this world; for the knowledge which can never deceive, and that is the certainty of our own well-being; we seek for the palpable, and we feel it; for the end which will satisfy us as men, and we find it, in a word, in happiness.

Happiness! Is that climax, or bathos, or cruel irony? Happiness is the end? Yes, happiness is the end which indeed we all reach after; for what more can we wish than that all should be well with us--that our wants should be filled, and the desire of our hearts be gratified? And happi-

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Ethical Studies
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface to the Second Edition v
  • Author's Preface to the First Edition viii
  • Contents xi
  • Introduction xiii
  • Essay II Why Should I Be Moral? 58
  • Essay III Pleasure for Pleasure's Sake 85
  • Essay IV Duty for Duty's Sake 142
  • Essay V My Station and Its Duties 160
  • Essay VI Ideal Morality 214
  • Essay VII Selfishness and Self-Sacrifice 251
  • Concluding Remarks 313
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