Page:Reason in Common Sense (1920).djvu/254

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maintain it. For if a man cares nothing for fame, what value has it?

This projection of interest into excellence takes place mechanically and is in the first instance irrational. Did all glow die out from memory and expectation, the events represented remaining unchanged, we should be incapable of assigning any value to those events, just as, if eyes were lacking, we should be incapable of assigning colour to the world, which would, notwithstanding, remain as it is at present. So fame could never be regarded as a good if the idea of fame gave no pleasure; yet now, because the idea pleases, the reality is regarded as a good, absolute and intrinsic. This moral hypostasis involved in the love of fame could never be rationalised, but would subsist unmitigated or die out unobserved, were it not associated with other conceptions and other habits of estimating values. For the passions are humanised only by being juxtaposed and forced to live together. As fame is not man’s only goal and the realisation of it comes into manifold relations with other interests no less vivid, we are able to criticise the impulse to pursue it.

Fame may be the consequence of benefits conferred upon mankind. In that case the abstract desire for fame would be reinforced and, as it were, justified by its congruity with the more voluminous and stable desire to benefit our fellow-men. Or, again, the achievements which