The Elements of Law/Part I/Chapter 7

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Chapter 7: Of Delight and Pain; Good and Evil[edit]

1. In the eighth section of the second chapter is shewed, how conceptions or apparitions are nothing really, but motion in some internal substance of the head; which motion not stopping there, but proceeding to the heart, of necessity must there either help or hinder that motion which is called vital; when it helpeth, it is called DELIGHT, contentment, or pleasure, which is nothing really but motion about the heart, as conception is nothing but motion within the head; and the objects that cause it are called pleasant or delightful, or by some name equivalent; the Latins have jucunda, a juvando, from helping; and the same delight, with reference to the object, is called LOVE: but when such motion weakeneth or hindereth the vital motion, then it is called PAIN; and in relation to that which causeth it, HATRED, which the Latin expresseth sometimes by odium, and sometimes by taedium.

2. This motion, in which consisteth pleasure or pain, is also a solicitation or provocation either to draw near to the thing that pleaseth, or to retire from the thing that displeaseth. And this solicitation is the endeavour or internal beginning of animal motion, which when the object delighteth, is called APPETITE; when it displeaseth, it is called AVERSION, in respect of the displeasure present; but in respect of the displeasure expected, FEAR. So that pleasure, love, and appetite, which is also called desire, are divers names for divers considerations of the same thing.

3. Every man, for his own part, calleth that which pleaseth, and is delightful to himself, GOOD; and that EVIL which displeaseth him: insomuch that while every man differeth from other in constitution, they differ also one from another concerning the common distinction of good and evil. Nor is there any such thing as agathon aplox, that is to say, simply good. For even the goodness which we attribute to God Almighty, is his goodness to us. And as we call good and evil the things that please and displease; so call we goodness and badness, the qualities or powers whereby they do it. And the signs of that goodness are called by the Latins in one word PULCHRITUDO, and the signs of evil, TURPITUDO; to which we have no words precisely answerable.

4. As all conceptions we have immediately by the sense, are delight, or pain, or appetite, or fear; so are also the imaginations after sense. But as they are weaker imaginations, so are they also weaker pleasures, or weaker pain.

5. As appetite is the beginning of animal motion toward something which pleaseth us; so is the attaining thereof, the END of that motion, which we also call the scope, and aim, and final cause of the same: and when we attain that end, the delight we have thereby is called FRUITION: so that bonum and finis are different games, but for different considerations of the same thing.

6. And of ends, some are called propinqui, that is, near at hand; others remoti, farther off. But when the ends that be nearer attaining, be compared with those that be farther off, they are not called ends, but means, and the way to those. But for an utmost end, in which the ancient philosophers have placed felicity, and have disputed much concerning the way thereto, there is no such thing in this world, nor way to it, more than to Utopia: for while we live, we have desires, and desire presupposeth a farther end. Those things which please us, as the way or means to a farther end, we call PROFITABLE; and the fruition of them, USE; and those things that profit not, VAIN.

7. Seeing all delight is appetite, and appetite presupposeth a farther end, there can be no contentment but in proceeding: and therefore we are not to marvel, when we see, that as men attain to more riches, honours, or other power; so their appetite continually groweth more and more; and when they are come to the utmost degree of one kind of power, they pursue some other, as long as in any kind they think themselves behind any other. Of those therefore that have attained to the highest degree of honour and riches, some have affected mastery in some art; as Nero in music and poetry, Commodus in the art of a gladiator. And such as affect not some such thing, must find diversion and recreation of their thoughts in the contention either of play, or business. And men justly complain as of a great grief, that they know not what to do. FELICITY, therefore (by which we mean continual delight), consisteth not in having prospered, but in prospering.

8. There are few things in this world, but either have a mixture of good and evil, or there is a chain of them so necessarily linked together, that the one cannot be taken without the other, as for example: the pleasures of sin, and the bitterness of punishment, are inseparable; as are also labour and honour, for the most part. Now when in the whole chain, the greater part is good, the whole is called good; and when the evil over-weigheth, the whole is called evil.

9. There are two sorts of pleasure, whereof the one seemeth to affect the corporeal organ of sense, and that I call SENSUAL; the greatest whereof is that, by which we are invited to give continuance to our species; and the next, by which a man is invited to meat, for the preservation of his individual person. The other sort of delight is not particular to any part of the body, and is called the delight of the mind, and is that which we call JOY. Likewise of pains, some affect the body, and are therefore called the pains of the body, and some not, and those are called GRIEF.