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THE SOURCES OF HUMAN HAPPINESS, AND THE CONDITIONS
REQUISITE FOR MAINTAINING IT.
1. The first and most obvious circumstance which attracts attention is, that all enjoyment must necessarily arise from activity of the various systems of which the human constitution is composed. The bones, muscles, nerves, and digestive and respiratory organs furnish pleasing sensations, directly or indirectly, when exercised in conformity with their nature; and the external senses and internal faculties, when excited, supply the whole remaining perceptions and emotions, which, when combined, constitute life and rational existence. If these were habitually buried in sleep, or constitutionally inactive, life, to all purposes of enjoyment, might as well be extinct. Existence would be reduced to mere vegetation, without consciousness.
2. If, then, wisdom and benevolence have been employed in constituting man, we may expect the arrangements of creation, in regard to him, to be calculated as a leading object to excite his various powers, corporeal and mental, to activity. This, accordingly, appears to me to be the case, and the fact may be illustrated by a few examples. A certain portion of nervous and muscular energy is infused by nature into the human body every twenty-four hours, which it is delightful to expend.
3. To provide for its expenditure, the stomach has been constituted so as to require regular supplies of food, which can be obtained only by nervous and muscular exertion; the body has been created destitute of covering, yet standing in need of protection from the elements of heaven; and nature has been so constituted, that raiment can be easily provided by moderate exercise of the mental and corporeal powers.
1. What is the primary cause of human enjoyinent? What organs and fa. ulties can we exercise ?
2. With respect to man, what is the great object of creation! Give a few ex. amples illustrative of this.
4. It is delightful to repair exhausted nervous and muscular energy by wholesome aliment; and the digestive organs have been so constituted as to afford us frequent opportunities of enjoying the pleasures of eating. In these arrangements, the design of supporting the various systems of the body in activity, for the enjoyment of the individual, is abundantly obvious.
5. Directing our attention to the Mind, we discover that the Perceptive Faculties desire, as their means of enjoyment, to become acquainted with external objects ; while the Reflecting Faculties long to know the dependencies and relations of all objects and beings. * There is something,” says an eloquent writer, “positively agreeable to all men, to all at least whose nature is not most groveling and base, in gaining knowledge for its own sake.
6. " · When you see any thing for the first time, you at once derive some gratification from the sight being new; your attention is awakened, and you desire to know more about it. If it is a piece of workmanship, as an instrument, a machine of any kind, you wish to know how it is made, how it works, and what use it is of. If it is an animal, you desire to know where it comes from, how it lives, what are its dispositions, and, generally, its nature and habits.
7. “ This desire is felt, too, without at al considering that the machine or the animal may ever be of the least use to yourself practically; for, in all probability, you may never see them again. But you feel a curiosity to learn all about them, because they are new and unknown to you. You accordingly make inquiries ; you feel a gratification in getting answers to your questions; that is, in receiving information, and in knowing more-in being better informed than you were before.
8. “If you ever happen again to see the same instrument or animal, you find it agreeable to recollect having seen it before, and to think that you know something about it. If you see another instrument or animal, in some respects like, but differing in other particulars, you find it pleasing to compare them together, and to note in what they agree, and in what they differ.
4. What is said of the effects of taking food ?
5. What do the Perceptive Faculties desire? What do the Rcflecting Facul. ties long to know?
6. What effect has the sight of a new object?
7. Why do you feel such a curiosity to learn all about them? What effect do answers to our inquiries have on us ?
8. What feelings and mental operations dues seeing the same object again produce ?
9. “Now all this kind of gratification is of a pure and disinterested nature, and has no reference to any of the common purposes of life ; yet it is a pleasure, an enjoyment. You are nothing the richer for it; you do not gratify your palate, or any other bodily appetite ; and yet it is so pleasing that you would give something out of your pocket to obtain it, and would forego some bodily enjoyment for its sake. The pleasure derived from science is exactly of the like nature, or rather, it is the very same.” This is correct and forcible exposition of the pleasures attending the active exercise of our intellectual faculties.
10. Supposing the human faculties to have received their present constitution, two arrangements for their gratification may be fancied : first, infusing into the intellectual powers at birth intuitive knowledge of every object which they are fitted ever to comprehend; and directing every propensity and sentiment by an infallible instinct to its best mode and degree of gratification;
11. Or, secondly, constituting the intellectual faculties only as capacities for gaining knowledge by exercise and application, and surrounding them with objects bearing such relations toward them, that, when these objects and relations are observed and attended to, high gratification shall be obtained, and, when they are unobserved and neglected, the result shall be uneasiness and pain; giving, at the same time, to each propensity and sentiment, a wide field of action, comprehending both use and abuse, and leaving the intellect to direct each to its proper objects, and to regulate its degrees of indulgence. And
9. What is the nature of this gratification !
11. What is the second way? Which of these modes affords the most enjoy. ment?
the question occurs, which of these modes would be made conducive to enjoyment ?
12. The general opinion will be in favor of the first; but the second appears to me to be preferable. If the first meal we had eaten had forever prevented the recurrence of hunger, it is obvious that all the pleasures of satisfying a healthy appetite would then have been at an end; so that this appurent bounty would have greatly abridged our enjoyment.
13. In like manner, if (our faculties being constituted as at present) unerring desire had been impressed on the propensities and sentiments, and intuitive knowledge had been communicated to the understanding, so that, when an hour old, we should have been, morally, as wise and virtuous, and, intellectually, as thoroughly instructed as we could ever become, all provision for the sustained activity of our faculties would have been done away with. When wealth is acquired, the miser's pleasure in it is diminished. He grasps after more with increasing avidity. He is supposed irrational in doing so; but he obeys the instinct of his nature. What he possesses no longer satisfies Acquisitiveness.
14. The miser's pleasure arises from the active state of this faculty, and only the pursuit and obtaining of new treasures can maintain that stale. The same law is exemplified in the case of Love of Approbation. The enjoyment which it affords depends on its active state ; and hence the necessity for new incense, and for mounting higher in the scale of ambition, is constantly felt by its victims. Napoleon, in exile, said, “Let us live upon the past ;" but he found this impossible. His predominant desires originated in Love of Approbation and SelfEsteem, and the past did not stimulate them, or maintain them in constant activity.
15. In like manner, no musician, artist, poet, or philosopher would reckon himself happy, however extensive his attainments, if informed, “Now you must stop and live upon the past;" and the reason is still the same : the pursuit of new acquirements, and the discovery of new fields of investigation, excite and maintain the faculties in activity, and activity is enjoyment.
12. Which does the author prefer?
14. What is the source of the miser's pleasure? What do ambitious men require ?
15. What is said of living upon the past ?
16. If these views be correct, the consequences of imbuing the mind, as at present constituted, with intuitive knowledge, and instinctive direction as to conduct, would not have been unquestionably beneficial. The limits of our experience and acquirements would have been speedily reached; our first step would have been our last; every object would have become old and familiar; Hope would have had no object of expectation, Cautiousness no object of fear, Wonder no gratification in novelty; and monotony, insipidity, and mental satiety would apparently have been the lot of man.
17. According to the view now advanced, creation, in its present form, is more wisely and benevolently adapted to our constitution than if instinctive direction and intuitive instruction had been given to the mind at birth. By the actual arrangement, numerous noble faculties are bestowed, and their objects are presented; these objects are endowed with qualities fitted to benefit and delight us, when properly used, and to injure and punish us when misunderstood or misapplied; but we are left to find out their qualities by the exercise of our own powers.
18. Provision is thus made for ceaseless activity of the mental faculties, and this constitutes delight. Wheat is produced by the earth, and adapted to the nutrition of the body; but it may
be rendered more grateful to taste, more salubrious to the stomach, and more stimulating to the nervous and muscular systems by being stripped of its external skin, ground into flour, and baked. Now, when the Creator endowed wheat with its properties, and the human body with its qualities and functions, He prearranged all these relations.
16. What would be the result if mind, created as it is, was all-knowing ? 17. How is wisdom shown in adapting external nature to the faculties of man?
18. How is provision made for the ceaseless activity of our energies and faculties?