Page:Ethical Studies (reprint 1911).djvu/91

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

and ‘utilitarian’ is complete and exhaustive, and that is a false assumption.[1]

At the cost of repetition, and perhaps of wearisomeness, I must dwell a little longer on the ordinary consciousness. There are times indeed, when we feel that increase of progress means increase of pleasure, and that it is hard to consider them apart. I do not mean those moments (if there are such) when the music-hall theory of life seems real to us, but the hours (and there must be such) when advance in goodness and knowledge, and in the pleasure of them, have been so intermingled together, and brought home as one to our minds (in our own case or in that of others), that we feel it impossible to choose one and not also choose the other. And there doubtless are hours again, when all that is called progress seems so futile and disappointing, that we bitterly feel ‘increase of knowledge’ is indeed ‘increase of sorrow,’ and that he who thinks least is happiest; when we envy the beasts their lives without a past or a future, their heedless joys and easily forgotten griefs; and when for ourselves, and if for ourselves then for others, we could wish to cease, or to be as they are ‘von allem Wissensqualm entladen.’ These are the extremes; but when in the season neither of our exaltation, nor of our depression, we soberly consider the matter, then we choose most certainly for ourselves (and so also for others) what we think the highest life, i.e. the life with the highest functions; and in that life we

  1. ‘Whoever would disprove the theory which makes utility our guide, must produce another principle that were a surer and better guide.’
      ‘Now if we reject utility as the index to God’s commands, we must assent to the theory or hypothesis which supposes a moral sense. One of the adverse theories which regard the nature of that index is certainly true.’—Austin’s Jurisprudence, i. 79.
      If we wished to cross an unknown bog, and two men came to us, of whom the one said, ‘Some one must know the way over this bog, for there must be a way, and you see there is no one here beside us two, and therefore one of us two must be able to guide you. And the other man does not know the way, as you can soon see; therefore I must’—should we answer, ‘Lead on, I follow’? Philosophy would indeed be the easiest of studies, if we might arrive at truth by assuming that one of two accounts must be true, and prove the one by disproving the other; but in philosophy this is just what can not be done.