Page:Ethical Studies (reprint 1911).djvu/281

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refusal to accept one’s badness as anything more than a fact which has no business to be a fact, as anything other than a standing self-contradiction and lie. A purely evil being is a sheer impossibility.

The bad self can not be desired for its own sake. Facts, in spite of certain appearances, proclaim that it never is so, that the ἀκόλαστος is a creature of theory, that no one chooses evil simply on the ground that it is evil, and for its own sake as evil. And we see now the theoretical explanation. But let us guard against error. It is false to say that evil is not done as evil; this or that evil act, when done, is desired for itself, and its content is known to be evil, and under the general head of evil it is committed. But the justification of the mistake is this, that only particular evils are desired; there is no identity in them which is made an end, because there is none to make an end out of. When we are bad, it is because we pursue evils known and done under the head of evil: but the head of evil, though it seems to be more, is merely a head; it is an abstraction, it is not a system in which the particulars subsist, and there is nothing positive about it which can be taken as an end. Simply to desire evil as such would be simply to hate good as such; but hate and aversion must rest on and start from a positive centre. You can not have a being which is nothing but mere negation; hate must start from a positive internal content, and that would be the positive core of the self, desired for itself as positive, and therefore good; not desired as mere evil, i.e. as negative of something else.[1] And what is even of more import-

  1. This is a matter which perhaps calls for a remark. We must be careful to remember that the question is, Can I desire evil and hate good in their character as such, and because they are such? Then further, there being nothing whatever in evil as such to desire, desire for evil as such reduces itself to hatred of good. The whole question is then, Can I hate good as such? Certainly in one way I may hate good. I may loathe it, because, though I desire it, it brings me perpetual pain and weariness. I may wish to be rid of it; but this is because I want to sink myself peaceably in such or such lusts. Desiring these I may wish the good away, or, tired of everything, may want simply to be at rest. But in neither case do I hate good simply; what I hate are its accompaniments: remove the annoyances of the good, and I always wish to have it. At the bottom even of the wish for the peace of death lies the positive desire for self-assertion and nothing but self-assertion. And this positive desire can be directed against the good only per accidens. The abstract negation of the good we can not really aim at; but, having this or that desire, we negate what opposes it, because and so far as it opposes it, in order to assert ourselves positively. To hate one’s life is possible only so far as one abstracts from it; and here it is self-affirmation, however abstract, which is our positive end.
      There is only one class of facts where evil seems done for its own sake, i.e. to negate the good; and in these we find a psychological illusion. The illusion is that the good is a foreign will, which represses us from the outside. Breaches of discipline seem done for their own sake; but they really are done not because evil, but because the self asserts itself in them against what it mistakes for another finite will. Removal of discipline soon destroys the zest of illicit pleasure; then the subject finds out it does not care for the evil as such, a knowledge bought dear. If the subject goes on to say, ‘I wish I could think it wrong, because, since I ceased to do so, the pleasure has gone,’ we have the nearest approach to ἀκολασία. But this rests on the illusion as to a foreign will. Other phenomena of the sort can be reduced to the head of the wish ‘to spite oneself,’ a curious state of mind which involves the taking of oneself, in this or that character or quality, to be a self foreign and external to one’s present self.