Chap. 1: The Extensive Influence of the Beauty From Utilitty

Chap 1: The beauty From Utility and Its influence

4.1.1. Utility is one of the principal sources of beauty.

  • A house’s convenience gives regular pleasure to the spectator.
    • He is as much hurt when he sees its inconvenience, such as:
      • windows of different shapes, or
      • the door in a wrong place.
  • The fitness of any system or machine for its intended purpose gives a certain propriety and beauty on the whole.
    • It renders its very thought agreeable.

4.1.2.  David Hume has recently answered most deeply, clearly, eloquently, and elegantly why utility pleases.

  • According to him, any object’s utility pleases the master by perpetually suggesting the pleasure or convenience it aims to promote.
    • Every time he looks at it, he remembers this pleasure.
      • The object becomes a source of perpetual satisfaction and enjoyment.
    • The spectator:
      • enters into his master’s sentiments through sympathy, and
      • views the object under the same agreeable aspect.
  • When we visit the palaces of the great, we cannot help conceiving the satisfaction we should enjoy if we:
    • ourselves were the masters, and
    • possessed such accommodations.
  • In the same way, the appearance of inconvenience renders any object disagreeable to the owner and the spectator.


4.1.3. But no one has noticed that this fitness should often be more valued than its intended purpose.

  • The exact adjustment of the means for attaining any convenience or pleasure is frequently more regarded than that very convenience or pleasure itself.
    • The attainment of such pleasure seems the whole merit for such means.
  • However, this is very frequently the case in the most frivolous and most important concerns of human life.

4.1.4. When a person finds the chairs all standing in the middle of his bedroom, he is angry with his servant.

  • Rather than see them in disorder, he takes the trouble to set them all in their proper places.
  • The whole propriety of this new situation arises from the superior convenience of having the floor clear.
    • To attain this convenience, he voluntarily puts himself to more trouble than all he could have suffered from its inconvenience.
      • It is easier to sit down on the misplaced chairs.
      • He will probably sit down on them after he arranges them anyway.
    • Therefore, he wanted more of the arrangement of things which promotes the convenience, than the convenience itself.
      • Yet it is this convenience which:
        • ultimately recommends that arrangement, and
        • gives it propriety and beauty.

4.1.5. In the same way, a watch that falls behind more than two minutes in a day, is despised by one curious in watches.

  • He sells it perhaps for two guineas and purchases another at 50 which will not lose more than a minute in a fortnight.
  • However, the sole use of watches is to tell us the time to:
    • prevent us from breaking any engagement or
    • suffering any other inconvenience by our ignorance
  • But the person curious with watches will not be more punctual or more anxiously concerned by the time, than other men.
    • What interests him is not so much the attainment of knowing the time, as the perfection of the machine created to attain it.

4.1.6. How many people ruin themselves by spending money on trinkets of frivolous utility?

  • What pleases these toy lovers is not so much the utility, as the aptness of the machines fitted to promote utility.
    • All their pockets are stuffed with little conveniences.
    • They make new pockets to carry more.
    • They walk loaded with many baubles.
      • In weight, and sometimes in value, they are not inferior to an ordinary Jew’s-box.
      • Some may sometimes be of some use.
      • But all might at be very well spared.
        • Their whole utility is certainly not worth the fatigue of bearing their burden.
Jew's-box or Tefillin on the head

Jew’s-box or Tefillin on the head

4.1.7. This influence on our conduct is not confined to such frivolous objects.

  • It is often the secret motive of the most serious and important pursuits of private and public life.

4.1.8. The poor man’s son, whom heaven’s anger has imbued with ambition, admires the condition of the rich.

  • He finds his father’s cottage to be too small.
    • He fancies that he should live with more ease in a palace.
  • He is displeased by walking on foot or by riding on horseback.
    • He sees his superiors carried about in machines.
    • He imagines that he could travel with less inconvenience in them.
  • He feels himself naturally indolent.
    • He is willing to serve himself with his own hands as little as possible.
    • He judges that having many servants would save him from a great deal of trouble.
  • He thinks that if he had attained all these, he would:
    • sit still contentedly, and
    • be quiet, enjoying himself in his situation’s happiness and tranquility.
  • He is enchanted with the distant idea of this felicity.
    • It appears in his fancy like the life of some superior rank of beings.
    • To arrive at it, he devotes himself to the pursuit of wealth and greatness forever.
  • To obtain it, he submits himself to more physical fatigue and more mental uneasiness in his first month, than he could have suffered through his whole life if he did not aim for it.
    • He studies to distinguish himself in some laborious profession.
      • He labours night and day to acquire talents superior to all his competitors.
    • He then tries to bring those talents into public view.
    • With equal attentiveness, he solicits every employment opportunity.
      • He makes his court to all mankind.
      • He serves those whom he hates.
      • He is submissive to those whom he despises.
  • Throughout his life, he pursues a certain artificial and elegant repose which he might never have.
    • He sacrifices a real tranquility that is always in his power.
    • If he attains this repose in old age, he will find it was not at all preferable to that humble security and contentment which he abandoned for it.
      • It is then, in the last dregs of life, when:
        • his body wasted with toil and diseases,
        • his mind annoyed by the memory of a thousand injuries and disappointments he imagines from:
          • his enemies’ injustice,
          • his friends’ ingratitude,
        • he finally finds that wealth and greatness are mere trinkets of frivolous utility.
          • They provide ease for the body or peace for the mind just as the tweezer-cases of toy lovers do.
          • Like tweezer-cases, wealth and greatness are more troublesome to the person who carries them, than all the convenience they can afford.
          • The only real difference between them is that the conveniences of wealth are more observable than those of trinkets.
  • The palaces, gardens, equipage, and the retinue of the great have the obvious convenience which strikes everybody.
    • Their masters do not need to tell us where their utility is.
      • We readily enter into it by ourselves.
    • By sympathy, we enjoy and applaud the satisfaction they bring their master.
  • But the curiosity of a toothpick, ear-picker, nail-cutter, or any other trinket, is not so obvious.
    • Their convenience may perhaps be equally great.
      • But it is not so striking.
      • We do not so readily enter into the satisfaction of the man who has them.
    • They are therefore less reasonable subjects of vanity than the magnificence of wealth and greatness.
    • This is the sole advantage of wealth and greatness.
      • They more effectively gratify that love of distinction so natural to man.
  • A person living alone in a desolate island might be unsure whether a palace or a collection trinkets would contribute most to his happiness and enjoyment.
    • But if he lives in society, there can be no comparison.
    • Because in this, as in all other cases, we constantly pay more regard to the spectator’s sentiments than to those of the person experiencing the sentiment.
      • We consider more how his situation will appear to other people than how it will appear to himself.
  • The spectator admires the rich and the great not so much because of:
    • the superior ease or pleasure they enjoy, nor
    • the many artificial and elegant contrivances for promoting this ease or pleasure.
  • He does not even imagine that the rich are really happier than other people.
    • But he imagines that they possess more means of happiness.
    • The principal source of his admiration is the ingenious and artful adjustment of those means.
  • But in the languor of disease and the weariness of old age, the pleasures of the vain and the empty distinctions of greatness disappear.
    • To one in this situation, they are no longer capable of recommending those toilsome pursuits as before.
    • In his heart, he curses ambition.
    • He vainly regrets the ease and the indolence of youth.
      • These are pleasures gone forever.
      • He foolishly sacrificed them for something that can afford him no real satisfaction.
  • When reduced by spleen or disease, a man starts to observe greatness with attention.
    • He considers what is missing from his happiness.
    • Power and riches appear then to be, what they are: enormous and operose machines contrived to produce a few trifling conveniencies to the body
      • These conveniences consist of delicate springs which must be kept in order with the most anxious attention.
      • Despite of all our care, they are ready at any moment to:
        • burst into pieces, and
        • crush their unfortunate possessor in their ruins.
      • They are immense fabrics which require a lifelong labour to raise.
        • Every moment, they threaten to overwhelm the person that dwells in them.
        • They may save him from some smaller inconveniences.
        • But they cannot protect him from the more severe inclemencies of the season.
        • They keep off the summer shower, not the winter storm.
        • They leave him always as much exposed than before, sometimes even more, to:
          • anxiety and fear, and
          • sorrow to diseases, danger, and death.

4.1.9. In time of sickness or low spirits, this spiteful philosophy is familiar to every man.

  • It entirely depreciates those great objects of human desire.
    • We always regard these as agreeable when we are in better health and humour.
  • In pain and sorrow, our imagination seems confined and cooped up within our own persons.
    • In times of ease and prosperity, it expands itself to everything around us.
  • We are then charmed with the beauty which reigns in the palaces and the economy of the great.
    • We admire how everything is adapted to:
      • promote their ease,
      • prevent their lack,
      • gratify their wishes, and
      • amuse and entertain their most frivolous desires.
    • If we consider the real satisfaction which all these things can bring by itself, separated from the beauty of its arrangement, it will always appear most contemptible and trifling.
      • But we rarely view it in this abstract and philosophical light.
    • We naturally confound it in our imagination with the order and the regular and harmonious movement of the system, machine, or economy, which produces it.
  • When considered in this complex view, the pleasures of wealth and greatness  strike the imagination as something grand, beautiful, and noble.
    • Their attainment is well worth all the toil and anxiety we are so apt to bestow on it.

4.1.10. It is good that nature imposes on us in this manner.

  • The proud and unfeeling landlord views his extensive fields and, through his imagination, consumes the whole harvest that grows on them, without:
    • purpose, nor
    • thought for the wants of his brethren.
  • By these labours, the earth has been obliged to:
    • redouble her natural fertility, and
    • maintain more people.
  • This first prompted them to:
    • cultivate the ground,
    • build houses,
    • found cities and commonwealths, and
    • invent and improve all the sciences and arts, which ennoble and embellish human life
      • These have:
        • entirely changed the world,
        • turned the rude forests into fertile plains,
        • made the barren ocean a new fund of subsistence,
        • made the great communication highways to the different nations.
  • It is this deception which rouses mankind’s industry and keeps it in continual motion.
  • His act verifies the homely and vulgar proverb, that the eye is larger than the belly.
  • His stomach’s capacity bears no proportion to the immensity of his desires.
    • It will receive no more than that of the meanest peasant.
  • The rest he is obliged to distribute among:
    • those who nicely prepare that little which he himself uses,
    • those who fit up the palace where this little is consumed, and
    • those who provide and keep in order all the baubles and trinkets employed in the economy of greatness.
  • Thus, all of them derive a share of life’s necessities from his luxury and caprice.
    • They would have expected these in vain from his humanity or justice.
  • The produce of the soil always maintains nearly as many people as it can maintain.
    • The rich only select from the heap what is most precious and agreeable.
      • They consume little more than the poor.
      • They divide with the poor the produce of all their improvements despite:
        • their natural selfishness and rapacity,
        • them wanting only their own conveniency, and
        • them employing thousands to gratify their own vain and insatiable desires.
      • They are led by an invisible hand to make nearly the same distribution of life’s necessities which would have been made, had the earth been divided equally among all its inhabitants.
      • Thus, without intending or knowing it, they:
        • advance the interest of the society, and
        • afford the means to multiply the species.
  • When Providence divided the earth among a few lordly masters, it neither forgot nor abandoned those who were left out in the partition.
    • These last too enjoy their share of all that it produces.
      • In the real happiness of human life, they are not inferior to those who seem so much above them.
      • In ease of body and peace of mind, all the different ranks of life are nearly on a level.
        • The beggar, who suns himself by the highway, possesses that security which kings are fighting for.

4.1.11. Those institutions which promote the public welfare are frequently recommended by:

  • the same principle,
  • the same love of system, and
  • the same regard to the beauty of order, art, and contrivance

When a patriot exerts to improve the public police, his conduct does not always arise from pure sympathy with the happiness of those who will benefit of it.

  • A public-spirited man encourages the mending of high roads not commonly from a fellow-feeling with carriers and wagoners.
  • When the legislature establishes premiums and other encouragements to advance the linen or woollen manufactures, its conduct seldom proceeds:
    • from pure sympathy with the wearer of cloth,
    • much less from sympathy with the manufacturer or merchant.
  • The perfection of police, the extension of trade and manufactures, are noble and magnificent objects.
    • Their contemplation pleases us.
    • We are interested in whatever advances them.
    • They are part of the great system of government.
      • It makes the wheels of the political machine seem to move with more harmony and ease
      • We take pleasure in beholding the perfection of so beautiful and grand a system.
      • We are uneasy until we remove any obstruction that can disturb or encumber the regularity of its motions.
  • However, all constitutions of government are valued only in proportion as they tend to promote the happiness of those who live under them.
    • This is their sole use and end.
  • We sometimes value the means more than the end because of a certain:
    • spirit of system,
    • love of art and contrivance.
  • We are eager to promote the happiness of others more from our desire to perfect and improve a beautiful and orderly system, than from any immediate feeling of what they feel.
    • On the contrary, there have been men of the greatest humanity, who entirely lacked public spirit.
  • There have been men of the greatest public spirit, who were not very sensible to the feelings of humanity.
  • Every man may find both kinds of people within his circle of acquaintances.
    • Who had ever less humanity, or more public spirit, than Peter the Great?
    • On the contrary, the social and well-natured James I of Great Britain seems to have had no passion for his country’s glory or interest.
  • Would you awaken the industry of the man who is dead to ambition?
    • It would be useless to tell him of the happiness of the rich and the great, that they are:
      • sheltered from the sun and the rain,
      • seldom hungry and cold, and
      • rarely exposed to weariness or any kind of lack.
    • The most eloquent exhortation of this kind will have little effect on him.
    • If you hope to succeed, you must:
      • describe to him the convenience and arrangement of the rooms in their palaces,
      • explain to him the propriety of their equipages, and
      • point out to him the number, order, and offices of all their attendants.
    • These can make an impression on him.
    • Yet all these things only:
      • keep off the sun and the rain, and
      • save them from:
        • hunger and cold,
        • want and weariness.
  • In the same way, it will often be useless to tell a person, who lacks interest in his country, the superior advantages enjoyed by the subjects of a well-governed state.
    • Such subjects are better lodged, clothed, and fed.
      • These considerations will commonly make no great impression.
    • You will be more likely to persuade him if you:
      • describe the great system of public police which procures these advantages, and
      • explain the connections and dependencies of its several parts:
        • their mutual subordination to one another, and
        • their general subserviency to the society’s happiness.
    • It is impossible that a man would not feel animated with public spirit if you show:
      • how this system might be introduced into his own country,
      • what hinders it from taking place there at present,
      • how those obstructions might be removed,
      • how the wheels of the machine of government can be made to move with more harmony and smoothness, without:
        • grating on one another, or
        • mutually retarding one another’s motions.
    • For the moment, he will feel some desire to:
      • remove those obstructions, and
      • mobilise such a beautiful and orderly a machine.
  • The study of politics best promotes public spirit.
    • It is the study of:
      • the systems of civil government with their advantages and disadvantages,
      • the constitution, situation, commerce, defence, and the interest of our own country with regard to foreign nations, and
      • how to remove its disadvantages and guard against its dangers.
  • Upon this account, political essays which are just, reasonable, and realistic, are the most useful of all the works of speculation.
    • Even the weakest and the worst of them are useful.
    • They serve to:
      • animate the public passions of men, and
      • rouse them to seek ways to promote the society’s happiness.

Words: 3,049

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