Social Statics, Abridged and Revised: Together with the Man Versus the State

By Herbert Spencer | Go to book overview

HAPPINESS AS AN IMMEDIATE AIM.

ASSUMING it to be in other respects satisfactory, a rule, principle, or axiom, is valuable only in so far as the words in which it is expressed have definite meanings. We must therefore take it for granted that when he announced "the greatest happiness of the greatest number," or otherwise "the greatest happiness," as the canon of social morality, its originator supposed mankind to be unanimous in their conception of "greatest happiness."

This was an unfortunate assumption, for the standard of happiness is infinitely variable. In all ages -- amongst every people -- by each class -- do we find different notions of it entertained. To the wandering gipsy a home is tiresome; whilst a Swiss is miserable without one. The heaven of the Hebrew is "a city of gold and precious stones, with a supernatural abundance of corn and wine;" that of the Turk -- a harem peopled by bouris; that of the American Indian -- a "happy hunting-ground." In the. Norse paradise there were to be daily battles, with magical healing of wounds; while the Australian hopes that after death he shall "jump up a white fellow, and have plenty of sixpences." Descendning to individual instances, we find Louis XVI. interpreting "greatest happiness" to mean -- makiiig locks; instead of which his successor read -- making empires. To a miserly Elwes the hoarding of money was the only enjoyment of life; but Day, the philanthropic author of "Sandford and Merton", could find no pleasurable employment save in its distribution. The

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Social Statics, Abridged and Revised: Together with the Man Versus the State
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Preface. 3
  • Contents 5
  • Happiness as an Immediate Aim. 7
  • The Man Versus the State. 275
  • Preface. 277
  • Contents 279
  • The Man Versus the State. 281
  • Subject-Index to Social Statics and Man Versus State. 421
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