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Sect. II. The author's hypothesis on this subject.
"as lambs." Is this extravagant? Compared, I pray you, with the preceding explication of compassion, to which it is a perfect counterpart. Consider seriously, and you will find that it is not in the smallest degree more manifest, that another and not ourselves is the object of our resentment when we are angry, than it is that another and not ourselves is the object of our compassion, when we are moved with pity. Both indeed have a self-evidence in them, which, whilst our minds remain unsophisticated by the dogmatism of system, extorts from us an unlimited assent. #
SECT. II....The Author's hypothesis on this Subject.
Where So many have failed of success, it may be thought presumptuous to attempt a decision. But despondency, in regard to a question which seems to fall within the reach of our faculties, and is entirely subjected to our observation and experience, must appear to the inquisitive and philosophic mind, a still greater fault than even presumption. The latter may occasion the introduction of a false theory, which must necessarily come under the review and correction of succeeding philosophers. And the detection of error proves often instrumental to the discovery of truth. Whereas the former quashes curiosity altogether, and influences one implicitly to abandon an inquiry as utterly undeterminable. I shall therefore now offer a Of the cause of that pleasure we receive from affecting objects or representations.
few observations concerning the passions, which, if rightly apprehended and weighed, will, I hope, contribute to the solution of the present question.
My first observation shall be, that almost all the simple passions of which the mind is susceptible, may be divided into two classes; the pleasant and the painful. It is at the same time acknowledged, that the pleasures and the pains created by the different passions, differ considerably from one another, both in k^id and degree. Of the former class are love, joy, hope, pride, gratitude; of the latter, hatred, grief, fear, shame, anger. Let it be remarked, that by the name pride in the first class, (which I own admits a variety of acceptations) no more is meant here than the feeling which we have on obtaining the merited approbation of other men, in which sense it stands in direct opposition to shame in the second class, or the feeling which we have when conscious of incurring the deserved blame of others. In like manner, gratitude, or the resentment of favour, is opposed to anger, or the resentment of injury. To the second class I might have added desire and aversion, which give the mind some uneasiness or dissatisfaction with its present state; but these are often the occasion of pleasure, as they are the principal spurs to action, ;ind perhaps more than any other passion, relieve the mind from that languor, which, according to the just remark of Abbe du Bos, is perfectly oppressive. Betides, as they are perpetually accompanied with either Sect. II, The author's hypothesis on this subject.
hope or fear, generally with both, they are either pleasant or painful, as the one or the other preponderates. For these reasons, they may be considered as in themselves of an indifferent or intermediate kind.
The second observation is, that there is an attraction or association among the passions, as well as among the ideas of the mind. Rarely any passion comes alone. To investigate the laws of this at- * traction, would be indeed a matter of curious enquiry, but it doth not fall within the limits of the present question. Almost all the other affections attract or excite desire or aversion of some sort or other. The passions which seem to have the least influence on these, are joy and grief; and of the two, joy, I believe, will be acknowledged to have less of the attractive power than grief. Joy is the end of desire, and the completion of hope: therefore when attained, it not only excludes occasion for the others, but seems, for a while at least, to repel them, as what would give an impertinent interruption to the pleasure resulting from the contemplation of present felicity, with which the mind, under the influence of joy, is engrossed. Grief hath a like tendency. When the mind is overwhelmed by this gloomy passion, it resists the instigations of desire, as what would again, to no purpose, rouse its activity; it disdains hope, it even loathes it as a vain and delusive dream. The first suggestions of these passions seem but as harbingers to the cutting recollection of former flattering prospects,
Of the cause of that pleasure we receive from affecting objects or representations.
once too fondly entertained, now utterly extinct, and succeeded by an insupportable and irremediable disappointment, which every recollection serves but to aggravate. Nay, how unaccountable soever it may appear, the mind seems to have a mournful satisfaction in being allowed to indulge its anguish, and to immerse itself wholly in its own afflictions. But this can be affirmed of sorrow only in the extreme. When it begins to subside, or when originally, but in a weak degree, it leads the mind to seek relief from desire, and hope, and other passions. Love naturally associates to it benevolence, which is one species of desire, for here no more is meant by it than a desire of the happiness of the person loved. Hatred as naturally associates malevolence or malice, which is the desire of evil to the person hated *.
* The ambiguity and even penury of all languages in relation to our internal feelings, make it very difficult, in treating of them^ to preserve at once perspicuity and accuracy. Benevolence is sometimes used, perhaps with little variation from its most common import, for charity or universal love: and love itself will be thought by some to be properly defined by the desire or wish of the happiness of its object. As to the first, it is enough that I have assigned the precise meaning in which I use the term; and in regard to the second, those who are duly attentive to what passes within their own breasts, will be sensible, that by love, in the strictest acceptation, is meant a certain pleasureable emotion excited in the mind by a suitable object, to which the desire of the happiness of the object is generally consequent. The felicity of the object may however be such, as to leave no room for any desire or wish of our* Sect' II. Teh author's hypothesis on this subject.
My third observation is, that pain of every kind generally makes a deeper impression on the imagination than pleasure does, and is longer retained by the memory. It is a common remark of every people and uf every age, and consequently hath some foundation in human nature, that benefits are sooner forgotten than injuries, and favours than affronts. Those who are accustomed to attend the theatre will be sensible, that the plots of the best tragedies which they have witnessed, are better remembered by them, than those of the most celebrated comedies. And indeed every body that reflects may be satisfied, that no story takes a firmer hold of the memory than a tale of woe. In civil history, as well as in biography, it is the disastrous and not the joyous events, which are oftenest recollected and retailed.
The fourth observation is, that from a groupe of passions (if I may so express myself) associated toge
in regard to it. This holds particularly in our love to God. Be sides, there may be a desire of the happiness of others, arising from very different causes, where there is* nothing of that sentiment or feeling which is strictly called love. I own, at the same time, that the term love is also often used to denote simply benevolence or good will j as, when we are commanded to love all men, known and unknown, good and bad, friendly and injurious. To that tender emotion which qualities supposed amiable alone can excite, the. precept surely doth not extend. These things I thought it necessary to observe, in order to prevent mistakes in a case which requires so much precision.