Page:Yale Law Journal - Volume 27.pdf/40

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YALE LAW JOURNAL not only can, but is accustomed to, form opinions of his own as to the things he should do and as to how he should do them to promote his well-being and that of the community. It is as natural for men to form such opinions as it is to breathe, and all normal human beings at some time in their lives form more or less definite opinions in respect to such matters. In fact, so far as familiar situations are concerned, most men form very definite opinions as to what they should do or omit if they are to prosper. Most persons not only have their own opinions as to such matters, but also impose such limitations on themselves as they think are necessary to make their lives square with their ideals. The term ideals, as commonly used, includes a part only of the opinions a person forms as to what he should do or omit to promote his welfare and that of the community; but as I use that term, it includes all the opinions he forms as to such matters; that is, the opinions he forms as to economic and political as well as ethical questions. It follows that moral law, as 'I use the term, includes all the limitations an individual imposes on himself; that is, rules to determine how to vote and what to eat, as well as ethical rules. To understand how ideals are evolved, we must remember that the mind of an individual is so constituted that any want, either physical or psychical, that he may feel excites in him a desire to satisfy it; it follows that a person's desires increase as his wants increase. In other words, every normal human being possesses or is possessed by a constantly changing number of wants, some physical, others psychical; some selfish, others altruistic; each with the power to excite a desire to satisfy it. Such a desire is said to be a natural force, or a force that acts on mind in something the same way gravity acts on matter. In fact, it is said that such a desire is the only force that can produce mental activity, or the only force that can induce a man to give the command necessary to put his muscles in motion.

Since it is impossible for a man to satisfy all his wants at the same time, each of them is continually struggling to control his mind, and the opinions he forms as the net result of this struggle are what I have called individual ideals.

It is common knowledge that a person's ideals change not only with a change in his environment, but from various other causes, the trend of this change, so far as any particular ideal is concerned, depending largely on the relative strength of his desires. As no two persons have exactly the same environment,