than a fool satisfied And if the fool or the pig is of a different opinion it

Than a fool satisfied and if the fool or the pig is

This preview shows page 29 - 32 out of 141 pages.

than a fool satisfied. And if the fool, or the pig, is of a different opinion, it is because they only know their own side of the question. The other party to the comparison knows both sides. It may be objected, that many who are capable of the higher pleasures, occasionally, under the influence of temptation, postpone them to the lower. But this is quite compatible with a full appreciation of the in trinsic superiority of the higher. Men often, from infirmity of character, make their election for the nearer good, though they know it to be the less valuable ; and this no less when the choice is between two bodily pleasures, than when it is between bodily and mental. They pursue sensual indulgences to the injury of health, though perfectly aware that health is the greater good. It may be further objected, that many who begin with youthful enthusiasm for every thing noble, as they advance in years sink into indo lence and selfishness. But I do not believe that those who undergo this very common change, voluntarily choose the lower description of pleasures in preference tQ the higher. I believe that before they devote themselves exclusively to the one, they have already
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ITS MEANING. 15 become incapable of the other. Capacity for the nobler feelings is in most natures a very tender plant, easily killed, not only by hostile influences, but by mere want of sustenance ; and in the majority of young persons it speedily dies away if the occupations to which their position in life has devoted them, and the society into which it has thrown them, are not favourable to keeping that higher capacity in exercise. Men lose their high aspirations as they lose their in tellectual tastes, because they have not time or oppor tunity for indulging them ; and they addict themselves to inferior pleasures, not because they deliberately prefer them, but because they are either the only ones to which they have access, or the only ones which they are any longer capable of enjoying. It may be questioned whether any one who has remained equally susceptible to both classes of pleasures, ever know ingly and calmly preferred the lower ; though many, in all ages, have broken down in an ineffectual attempt to combine both. From this verdict of the only competent judges, I apprehend there can be no appeal. On a question which is the best worth having of two pleasures, or which of two modes of existence is the most grateful to the feelings, apart from its moral attributes and from its consequences, the judgment of those who are qualified by knowledge of both, or, if they differ, that of the majority among them, must be admitted as final. And there needs be the less hesitation to accept this judgment respecting the quality of plea sures, since there is no other tribunal to be referred to even on the question of quantity. What means are there of determining which is the acutest of two
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16 UTILITARIANISM.
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