Page:Reason in Common Sense (1920).djvu/244

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CHAPTER X


THE MEASURE OF VALUES IN REFLECTION

To put value in pleasure and pain, regarding a given quantity of pain as balancing a given quantity of pleasure, is to bring to practical ethics a worthy intention to be clear and, what is more precious, an undoubted honesty not always found in those moralists who maintain the opposite opinion and care more for edification than for truth. For in spite of all logical and psychological scruples, conduct that should not justify itself somehow by the satisfactions secured and the pains avoided would not justify itself at all. The most instinctive and unavoidable desire is forthwith chilled if you discover that its ultimate end is to be a preponderance of suffering; and what arrests this desire is not fear or weakness but conscience in its most categorical and sacred guise. Who would not be ashamed to acknowledge or to propose so inhuman an action?

By sad experience rooted impulses may be transformed or even obliterated. And quite intelligibly: for the idea of pain is already the sign and the beginning of a certain stoppage. To