Pleasure and Desire

  • Henry Sidgwick


§ 1. In the preceding chapter I have left undetermined the emotional characteristics of the impulse that prompts us to obey the dictates of Reason. I have done so because these seem to be very different in different minds, and even to vary much and rapidly in the same mind, without any corresponding variation in the volitional direction of the impulse. For instance, in the mind of a rational Egoist the ruling impulse is generally what Butler and Hutcheson call a “calm” or “cool” self-love: whereas in the man who takes universal happiness as the end and standard of right conduct, the desire to do what is judged to be reasonable as such is commonly blended in varying degrees with sympathy and philanthropic enthusiasm. Again, if one conceives the dictating Reason—whatever its dictates may be—as external to oneself, the cognition of rightness is accompanied by a sentiment of Reverence for Authority; which may by some be conceived impersonally, but is more commonly regarded as the authority of a supreme Person, so that the sentiment blends with the affections normally excited by persons in different relations, and becomes Religious.


Rational Egoist Preceding Chapter Word Pleasure Psychological Hedonism Eager Activity 
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Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1962

Authors and Affiliations

  • Henry Sidgwick
    • 1
  1. 1.University of CambridgeUK

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