Page:Reason in Common Sense (1920).djvu/63

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is a grotesque affectation: it amounts to giving “good” and “evil” artificial definitions and thereby reducing ethics to arbitrary verbiage. Not only is good that adherence of the will to experience of which pleasure is the basal example, and evil the corresponding rejection which is the very essence of pain, but when we pass from good and evil in sense to their highest embodiments, pleasure remains eligible and pain something which it is a duty to prevent. A man who without necessity deprived any person of a pleasure or imposed on him a pain, would be a contemptible knave, and the person so injured would be the first to declare it, nor could the highest celestial tribunal, if it was just, reverse that sentence. For it suffices that one being, however weak, loves or abhors anything, no matter how slightly, for that thing to acquire a proportionate value which no chorus of contradiction ringing through all the spheres can ever wholly abolish. An experience good or bad in itself remains so for ever, and its inclusion in a more general order of things can only change that totality proportionately to the ingredient absorbed, which will infect the mass, so far as it goes, with its own colour. The more pleasure a universe can yield, other things being equal, the more beneficent and generous is its general nature; the more pains its constitution involves, the darker and more malign is its total temper. To deny this would seem impossible, yet it is done daily; for there is nothing