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greatest sum of pleasure attainable in the probable duration of his life. But on reflection, this may turn out to follow if we postulate that conduct can be rationalised. What is meant by this egoistic “ought” may be said to be simply that to the eye of reason the pleasure of any one moment cannot be regarded as more valuable than the equal pleasure of any other moment, if it is equally certain; and that therefore to act as if it were is to act unreasonably. Man fails in acting up to reason in this sense, because his action is not motived by reason, but directly by pleasure and pain; and not by a mere estimate of pleasure and pain, but by pleasure and pain themselves. The psychological hedonist must maintain that the estimates of future pleasure and pain only become motives by being not merely recognised (intellectually) but felt (emotionally)—that is, by themselves becoming pleasurable or painful. If the Egoist calls any action irrational, it cannot be because the motive which produced it was not the greatest pleasure in consciousness at the time. It can only be on the ground that the greatest pleasure in consciousness at the time is likely to lead to a sacrifice of greater pleasure in the future; and this must be due either to intellectual misapprehension or to the imagined fruition of future pleasure not being strong enough to outweigh the pleasure which comes from a present stimulus, and to the imagined fruition of the more distant being weaker than that of the less distant pleasure. It is owing to a defect of the imagination on a man's part that even with complete information he does not act "up to his lights”—irrational action being partly a consequence of insufficient acquaintance with the normal results of conduct, partly due to defective imagination. Were a man's imagination of future pleasure and pain as strong as his experience of present pleasure and pain, and did he correctly appreciate the results of his conduct, then his action would, of psychological necessity, harmonise with the precepts of egoistic hedonism.
Egoistic hedonism may therefore, in a certain sense, be said to be a “reasonable" end of conduct on the theory of psychological hedonism ; it is the end which will be made his own by that ideally perfect man whose intellect can clearly see the issues of conduct, and whose imagination of the future causes of sensibility is so vivid that the pleasure or pain got from anticipating them is as great as if they were present, or only less lively in proportion as there is a risk of their not being realised. Conversely it would seem that only that man can act "reasonably” in whom imagination of the latter of pleasure (or of pain) is already of equal strength with the actual experience of it. But, if the “ pleasures of the imagination ” are as strong as those of sense or of reality, the latter obviously become
superfluous; and it follows that the ideally perfect man is left without any motive to aim at the real thing, since he can obtain as much pleasure by imagining it. The cultured hedonist must, it would seem, be able to
“Hold a fire in his hand
of voluntary action.
is inconsist- So far as feeling or motive to action goes, no differthe nature ence must exist for him between reality and ima
gination. And thus, although we may admit that, on this psychological basis, conduct when rationalised agrees with that prescribed by egoistic hedonism, yet it can only be rationalised by a development of the strength of the imagination, which would make the feeling which it brings with it as strong as that which accompanies a real object, and hence take away the motive for the pursuit of the latter. The discrepancy between representation and presentation which is necessary for the state of desire, is no longer present. Hedonism vindicates its rationality only on conditions which imply the futility of action altogether. It is not merely that the attainment of the hedonistic end in practical conduct implies a strength of imagination of which no one is capable, but the conditions of
1 Cf. Sully, Outlines of Psychology, p. 577.
acting both rationally and hedonistically, are conditions which would paralyse all activity.
The foregoing argument may perhaps be ob- 4. Possible jected to on two grounds. On the one hand, it may be said that it ignores the vast complexity of hu- argument: man motive, and treats action as if it were a simple and abstract thing. On the other hand, we may be reminded of the fact that, while all men act for pleasure, the moral quality of their conduct does not depend on this fact, but on the kind of things in which they take pleasure. So far as the first objection is concerned, it seems (a) complex
ity of moto me that the fault belongs to the psychological tive; but it
ennenunens of is psychotheory of human action, the ethical consequences of which are under investigation. It is this theory donism
which igwhich asserts that, however interwoven the threads nores this. of impulse, aversion, and habit may be, their most complex relations can be reduced to the formula, “ greatest pleasure, or least pain, prevails.” It is not necessary, indeed, that every action should be the conscious pursuit of a pleasurable object already before the mind in idea. But the theory, if consistently carried out, implies that the action which follows in the line of a previously formed habit, does so because the discomfort or pain of breaking through the habit would be sufficient to counterbalance any satisfaction that might result. The objection, therefore, of excessive simplicity or “abstractness," is one which cannot have greater force
(6) difference in kind
than when urged against the theory of psychological hedonism.
Further—and this is the second objection—the of pleasur-above analysis may be considered by some not to able objects; have taken sufficient account of the difference in
the objects in which a human being can take pleas-
tal than the pleasurable or painful feeling attendbut this in. ant on them. If the principles on which the objec
ref- tion is founded were consistently adhered to and
followed out, they would make not pleasure, but something else—that, namely, by which pleasures differ from one another in kind—the ethical standard. But if, in ultimate analysis, it is the pleasure felt or expected that moves to action, it would seem that there is no way in which the conclusion of the preceding argument can be avoided. If pleasure is
volves a ref. erence to something else than pleasure,