Chap. 2: The Love of Praise and Dread of Blame

Chap. 2: The Love of Praise and Praise-worthiness, and the Dread of Blame and Blame-worthiness

 

3.1.8. Man naturally desires to be loved and to be lovely, or to be the natural and proper object of love.

  • He naturally dreads to:
    • be hated, and
    • be hateful, or to be the natural and proper object of hatred.
  • He desires:
    • praise, and
    • praiseworthiness, or to be the natural and proper object of praise, even if he should be praised by nobody.
  • He dreads:
    • blame, and
    • blame-worthiness, or being the natural and proper object of blame, even if he should be blamed by nobody.

3.1.9. The love of praise-worthiness is not derived altogether from the love of praise.

  • Those two principles resemble and are connected and often blended with one another.
    • Yet they are distinct and independent of one another in many respects.

3.1.10. We have a natural love and admiration for people with the character and conduct we approve of.

  • This natural love necessarily make us want:
    • to be as amiable and admirable as them, and
    • to become the objects of similar agreeable sentiments.

Emulation is the anxious desire that we ourselves should excel.

  • It is originally founded in our admiration of the excellence of others.
  • We cannot be satisfied with being merely admired for what other people are admired.
  • We must at least believe ourselves to be admirable for what they are admirable.
    • To attain this satisfaction, we must:
      • become the impartial spectators of our own character and conduct, and
      • try to view it as other people would view them.

We are happy and contented if our character and conduct appears as we would wish them to appear.

  • Our happiness and contentment is confirmed when we find that other people see our character and conduct as we had seen them.
    • Their approbation necessarily confirms our own self-approbation.
    • Their praise necessarily strengthens our own sense of our own praiseworthiness.
  • In this case, the love of praise-worthiness is not derived from the love of praise.
  • The love of praise thus seems to be derived from the love of praise-worthiness.

 

3.1.11. The most sincere praise can give little pleasure when it cannot be considered as proof of praiseworthiness.

  • It is not enough that esteem and admiration should be bestowed on us from ignorance or mistake.
    • Our satisfaction is incomplete if we know that:
      • we do not deserve that esteem and admiration, and
      • we should really be regarded with very different sentiments.
    • The man who applauds us for:
      • actions we did not perform, or
      • motives which influenced our conduct, applauds another person, not us.
        • We can derive no satisfaction from his praises.
        • To us, they would:
          • be more mortifying than any censure, and
          • perpetually remind us the reflection of what we should be, but are not.

One would imagine that a woman who wears makeup derives little vanity from the compliments paid to her complexion.

  • We expect that these compliments to mortify her instead, by the contrast between her makeup and her real complexion.
  • Being pleased with such groundless applause is a proof of the most superficial levity and weakness.
  • It is vanity.
  • It is the foundation of the most ridiculous and contemptible vices:
    • the vices of affectation and common lying, and
    • follies from which we could be saved through the least spark of common sense, if experience did not teach us how common they are.
  • The following are pleased with the applause which they fancy they meet:
    • the foolish liar who tries to excite people’s admiration by the relation of adventures which never existed,
    • the vain man who gives himself airs of rank and distinction which he knows he has no just pretensions to.
  • But their vanity arises from so gross an illusion of the imagination.
    • It is difficult to conceive how any rational creature could be imposed on by it.
    • When they place themselves in the situation of those whom they fancy they have deceived, they are struck with the highest admiration for themselves.
    • They look on themselves as how they think their companions actually look at them, not as how they know they should appear.
    • Their superficial weakness and trivial folly hinder them:
      • from ever looking inwards, or
      • from seeing themselves in a despicable point of view.
        • Their own consciences would tell them that they would appear in this view to everybody, if everybody knew the truth.

 

3.1.12. Ignorant and groundless praise can give no solid joy.

  • On the contrary, it often gives real comfort to reflect that even if no praise is bestowed on us, our conduct:
    • was deserving of it, and
    • has been suitable to those rules by which praise and approbation are naturally bestowed.
  • It can give no satisfaction that will bear any serious examination.
  • We are pleased with praise and with doing what is praise-worthy.
  • We are pleased to think that we have rendered ourselves as the natural objects of approbation, even though no approbation should ever actually be bestowed on us.
    • We are mortified to reflect that we have justly merited the blame of those we live with, though that sentiment should never actually be exerted against us.
  • The man who is conscious that he has exactly observed agreeable measures of conduct, reflects with satisfaction on the propriety of his own behaviour.
    • When he views it in the light viewed by the impartial spectator, he thoroughly enters into all the motives which influenced it.
    • He looks back on every part of it with pleasure and approbation.
    • Though mankind never knew what he has done, he regards himself more to how people regard him if they knew, and not not so much according to how they actually regard him.
    • He anticipates the applause and admiration which would be bestowed on him.
    • He applauds and admires himself through the sympathy with sentiments hindered alone by the public’s ignorance.
      • He knows those sentiments are the natural and ordinary effects of such conduct.
      • His imagination strongly connects with it.
      • He has conceived it as something that naturally and in propriety should follow from his conduct.

Men have voluntarily thrown away life to acquire a renown which they could no longer enjoy after death.

  • Their imagination anticipated:
    • that fame to be bestowed on them,
    • those applauses which they would never hear,
    • the thoughts of that admiration, whose effects they were never to feel.
  • These:
    • played about their hearts,
    • banished the strongest of all natural fears, and
    • led them to perform actions almost beyond the reach of human nature.
  • But in reality, there is no great difference between:
    • that approbation which would not be bestowed until we can no longer enjoy it, and
    • that approbation which would only be bestowed if the world understood the real circumstances of our behaviour.
  • If the one often produces such violent effects, we cannot wonder that the other should always be highly regarded.

 

3.1.13. When Nature formed man for society, she endowed him with:

  • an original desire to please, and
  • an original aversion to offend his brethren.

She taught him to feel:

  • pleasure in their favourable regard, and
  • pain in their unfavourable regard.

She rendered:

  • their approbation most flattering and most agreeable to him for its own sake, and
  • their disapprobation most mortifying and most offensive.

 

3.1.14. But this desire of approbation and aversion to disapprobation could not alone have rendered him fit for society.

  • Accordingly, Nature has endowed him with:
    • a desire of being approved of, and
      • This desire could only have made him wish to appear to be fit for society.
      • This could only have prompted him to:
        • the affectation of virtue, and
        • the concealment of vice.
    • a desire of being what should be approved of; or of being what he himself approves of in other men.
      • This desire was necessary to:
        • render him anxious to be really fit, and
        • inspire him with:
          • the real love of virtue, and
          • the real abhorrence of vice.
      • In every well-formed mind, this second desire seems to be the strongest of the two.
  • It is only the weakest and most superficial who can be much delighted with that praise which they know they do not deserve.
    • A weak man may sometimes be pleased with it, but a wise man always rejects it.
    • A wise man feels little pleasure from praise where he knows there is no praise-worthiness.
      • But he often feels the highest pleasure in doing what he knows to be praise-worthy, though he knows that no praise is ever to be bestowed on it.
  • To obtain mankind’s approbation where no approbation is due, can never be important to him.
    • To obtain that approbation where it is really due, may sometimes be not important to him.
    • But to be that thing which deserves approbation, must always be the most important.

 

3.1.15. To desire, or even to accept of praise, where no praise is due, can be the effect only of the most contemptible vanity.

  • To desire it where it is really due, is to desire justice to be done to us.
  • Even a wise man is worthy of the love of just fame, true glory, even for its own sake, independent of any advantage from it.
    • However, he sometimes neglects and even despises it.
    • He does not neglect it only when he is perfectly sure of the perfect propriety of his own conduct.
      • In this case, his self-approbation does not need any confirmation from the approbation of other men.
      • It is sufficient alone, and he is contented with it.
  • This self-approbation, if not the only, is at least the principal object which he can or should be anxious about.
    • The love of it, is the love of virtue.

 

3.1.16. Our natural love and admiration for some characters dispose us to wish to become the proper objects of love and admiration ourselves.

  • Our natural hatred and contempt for others dispose us perhaps more strongly, to dread being hated ourselves.
  • We are not so much afraid of being hated and despised, as that of being hateful and despicable.
  • We dread doing anything which can render us the just and proper objects of the hatred and contempt of our fellow-creatures, even if we are perfectly secure that that hatred would never be exerted against us.
    • The man who has broken through all agreeable measures of conduct, though he were perfectly sure that what he had done was forever concealed from others, It is all useless.
      • When he looks back on it and views it how the impartial spectator would view it, he finds that he can enter into none of the motives which influenced it.
      • He is abashed and confounded at the thoughts of it.
      • He feels that shame which he would feel if his actions were known.
      • His imagination anticipates the contempt and derision.
        • Only the ignorance of those he lives with saves him from these.
      • He still feels that he is the natural object of hatred.
      • He still trembles at what he would suffer if they were ever actually exerted against him.
      • If he had been guilty of those enormous crimes which excite detestation and resentment, he could never think of them without feeling the agony of horror and remorse.
      • He would still feel both these sentiments to embitter the whole of his life, even if:
        • he could be assured that no man was ever to know it, and
        • he could even bring himself to believe that there was no God to revenge it.
      • He would still regard himself as the natural object of everyone’s hatred and indignation.
      • If his heart has not grown callous by the habit of crimes, he could not think without terror and astonishment even of:
        • how mankind would look on him
        • what would be the expression of their eyes and faces if the dreadful truth were known.

These natural pangs of an fearful conscience:

  • are the demons, the avenging furies which haunt the guilty in this life,
  • allow them neither quiet nor repose,
  • often drive them to despair and distraction from which:
    • no assurance of secrecy can protect them,
    • no principles of irreligion can entirely deliver them, and
    • nothing can free them but the vilest and most abject of all states: a complete insensibility to honour and infamy, vice and virtue.

The most detestable men have taken their measures so coolly as to avoid the suspicion of guilt in executing the most dreadful crimes.

  • Sometimes, they have been driven to discover their guilt by themselves through their situation’s horror.
    • No human sagacity could ever have investigated their guilt.
  • By:
    • acknowledging their guilt,
    • submitting themselves to the resentment of their offended fellow-citizens,
    • satiating that vengeance which they knew were meant for them,
    • their death, they hoped:
      • to reconcile themselves to mankind’s natural sentiments,
      • to be less worthy of hatred and resentment,
      • to atone for their crimes, and
      • to die in peace, with the forgiveness of all, by becoming the objects of compassion instead of horror.
        • Compared to what they felt before the discovery of their guilt, even the thought of this was happiness.

 

3.1.17. In such cases, the horror of blame-worthiness seems to conquer completely the dread of blame, even in persons who have no extraordinary delicacy or sensibility of character.

  • To allay that horror and pacify the remorse of their own consciences, they voluntarily submitted themselves to the reproach and punishment which they might easily have avoided.

 

3.1.18. Only the most frivolous and superficial people can be much delighted with unmerited praise.

  • However, unmerited reproach can frequently very severely mortify even men of more than ordinary constancy.
  • Men of the most ordinary constancy easily learn to despise those foolish tales frequently circulated in society.
    • Those tales always die away after a few weeks or days, from their own absurdity and falsehood.

But an innocent man is often shocked and severely mortified by the serious, but false, imputation of a crime, especially when that imputation is supported by some circumstances.

  • He is humbled to find that anybody should think so meanly of his character as to suppose him capable of being guilty of it.
  • He is perfectly conscious of his own innocence.
  • But the very imputation seems often to throw a shadow of disgrace and dishonour on his character.
  • His just indignation at so gross an injury might frequently be improper and sometimes even impossible to revenge.
    • But it itself is a very painful sensation.
  • There is no greater tormentor of the human breast than violent resentment which cannot be gratified.
    • An innocent man, brought to the scaffold by the false imputation of an infamous or odious crime, suffers the most cruel misfortune possible for innocence to suffer.
    • The agony of his mind might frequently be greater than that of those who also suffer, but are guilty for the like crimes.
  • Profligate criminals, such as common thieves and highwaymen, frequently have little sense of their own conduct’s baseness.
    • Consequently, they have no remorse.
    • They do not trouble themselves on the punishment’s justice or injustice.
    • They always expected the gibbet to fall to them.
    • When it does fall, they:
      • consider themselves only as less lucky than their companions,
      • submit to their fortune with only the uneasiness from the fear of death.
        • Such worthless wretches, frequently see such fear and can easily conquer them completely.

On the contrary, the innocent man is tormented by the injustice done to him, over and above his uneasiness from this fear of death.

  • He is horrified at the thoughts of the infamy which the punishment may shed on his memory.
  • He foresees, with the most exquisite anguish, that he will be remembered by his dearest friends and relations with shame and horror for his supposed disgraceful conduct, instead of with regret and affection.
  • The shades of death bring him a darker and more melancholy gloom than natural.

It is hoped that such fatal accidents happen very rarely in any country, for mankind’s tranquility.

  • But they happen sometimes in all countries, even in those where justice is generally very well administered.
  • Galas was an unfortunate man of much more than ordinary constancy.
    • He broke upon the wheel and burnt at Tholouse for the supposed murder of his own son, of which he was perfectly innocent.
    • He seemed to deprecate, not so much the cruelty of the punishment, as the disgrace which the imputation might bring on his memory.
    • After he had been broken and before going into the fire, a monk who attended the execution, exhorted him to confess his crime.
    • Galas said, “My Father, can you bring yourself to believe that I am guilty?”

 

3.1.19. To persons in such unfortunate circumstances, that humble philosophy which confines its views to this life, perhaps can afford little consolation.

  • Everything that could render life or death respectable is taken from them.
  • They are condemned to death and everlasting infamy.
  • Only religion can afford them any effectual comfort.
    • She alone can tell them, that it is of little importance what man may think of their conduct, while the all-seeing Judge of the world approves of it.
    • She alone can present to them the view of another world.
    • It is a world of more candour, humanity, and justice, than the present.
      • It is where:
        • their innocence in due time will be declared, and
        • their virtue to be finally rewarded.
    • The same great principle which can alone strike terror into triumphant vice, affords the only effectual consolation to disgraced and insulted innocence.

3.1.20. In smaller offences and greater crimes, a person of sensibility is frequently much more hurt by the unjust imputation, than the real criminal is by the actual guilt.

  • A woman of gallantry laughs even at the well-founded surmises circulated about her conduct.
  • The worst founded surmise of the same kind is a mortal stab to an innocent virgin.
  • We may lay as a general rule, that the person who is deliberately guilty of a disgraceful action can seldom have much sense of the disgrace.
    • The person who is habitually guilty of it, can scarce ever have any sense of disgrace.

3.1.21. When every man, even of middling understanding, readily despises unmerited applause.

  • How that unmerited reproach is often capable of so severely mortifying men of the soundest and best judgment, might deserve some consideration.

3.1.22. In almost all cases, pain is a more pungent sensation than the opposite and correspondent pleasure.

  • Pain almost always depresses us much more below the ordinary or the natural state of our happiness than pleasure ever raises us above it.
  • A man of sensibility is more humiliated by just censure than he is ever elevated by just applause.
  • A wise man always rejects unmerited applause with contempt.
    • But he often feels the injustice of unmerited censure very severely.
    • He feels that he is guilty of a mean falsehood by:
      • suffering himself to be applauded for what he has not performed,
      • assuming a merit which does not belong to him, and
      • deserving the contempt of those very persons who, by mistake, had been led to admire him.
    • It might give him some well-founded pleasure to find that he has been thought capable by many people of performing what he did not perform.
    • But though he may be obliged to his friends for their good opinion, he would think himself guilty of the greatest baseness if he did not immediately undeceive them.
    • It gives him little pleasure to look on himself as how others would actually look on him.
    • When he is conscious that, if they knew the truth, they would see him in a very different light.
  • A weak man, however, is often much delighted with viewing himself in this false and delusive light.
    • He assumes the merit of every laudable action that is ascribed to him.
    • He pretends to the merit of many actions which nobody ever thought of ascribing to him.
    • He pretends to:
      • have done what he never did,
      • have written what another wrote,
      • have invented what another discovered.
    • He is led into all the miserable vices of plagiarism and common lying.
  • No man of middling good sense can derive much pleasure from the imputation of a laudable action which he never performed.
    • Yet a wise man may suffer great pain from the serious imputation of a crime which he never committed.
    • In this case, Nature has rendered the pain more pungent than the opposite and correspondent pleasure.
      • She has rendered it so in a much greater than the ordinary degree.
  • A denial rids a man at once of the foolish and ridiculous pleasure.
    • But it will not always rid him of the pain.
    • When he refuses the merit ascribed to him, nobody doubts his veracity.
    • It may be doubted when he denies the crime which he is accused of.
    • He is at once enraged at the falsehood of the imputation.
    • He is mortified to find that any credit should be given to it.
    • He feels that his character is insufficient to protect him.
    • He feels that his brethren, far from looking on him in that light in which he anxiously desires to be viewed by them, think him capable of being guilty of what he is accused of.
    • He knows perfectly:
      • that he has not been guilty
      • what he has done but perhaps scarce any man can know perfectly what he himself is capable of
  • What the peculiar constitution of his own mind may or may not admit of, is, perhaps a matter of doubt to every man.
  • The trust and good opinion of his friends and neighbours, tends more than any thing to relieve him from this most disagreeable doubt; their distrust and unfavourable opinion to increase it.
  • He may think himself very confident that their unfavourable judgment is wrong: but this confidence can seldom be so great as to hinder that judgment from making some impression upon him.
  • This impression will likely be greater the greater his:
    • The greater his sensibility, the greater his delicacy, the greater his worth in short

3.1.23. In all cases, the agreement or disagreement of the sentiments and judgments of other people with our own is important to us, exactly in proportion as we ourselves are uncertain about:

  • the propriety of our own sentiments
  • the accuracy of our own judgments

 

3.1.24. A sensible man may sometimes feel great uneasiness lest he should have yielded too much even to an honourable passion.

  • to his just indignation, perhaps, at the injury which may have been done either to himself or to his friend.
  • He is anxiously afraid lest, meaning only to act with spirit, and to do justice, he may, from the too great vehemence of his emotion, have done a real injury to some other person;
  • who, though not innocent, may not have been so guilty as he at first apprehended.
    • Other people’s opinion becomes of the utmost importance to him.
    • Their approbation is the most healing balsam; their disapprobation, the bitterest and most tormenting poison that can be poured into his uneasy mind.
  • When he is perfectly satisfied with every part of his own conduct, the judgment of other people is often of less importance to him.

 

3.1.25. There are some very noble and beautiful arts, in which the degree of excellence can be determined only by a certain nicety of taste.

  • However, the decisions arising from this taste appear always uncertain.
  • There are others, in which the success admits,  of clear demonstration, or very satisfactory proof.
  • Among the candidates for excellence in those different arts, the anxiety about the public opinion is always much greater in the former than in the latter.

 

Poets vs Mathematicians vs Natural Philosophers

3.1.26. The beauty of poetry is of such nicety.

  • A young beginner can never be certain that he has attained it.
  • Therefore, favourable judgments of others delights him the most.
    • This establishes the good opinion which he is anxious to have in his own performances.
  • Their unfavourable judgements mortifies him most severely.
    • This shakes that good opinion.
  • In time, experience and success may give him a little more confidence in his own judgment.
    • However, he is always liable to be most severely mortified by the unfavourable judgments of the public.

The Phaedra was perhaps the finest tragedy in any language.

  • It was written by Jean Racine, who was so disgusted the Phaedra’s unremarkable success.
  • He resolved to stop writing for the stage even though he was at the height of his abilities.
  • He frequently used to tell his son that the most paltry and impertinent criticism had always given him more pain than the highest and justest eulogy had ever given him pleasure.

Voltaire’s extreme sensibility to the slightest censure of the same kind is well known.

  • Mr. Pope is the most correct, elegant and harmonious of all the English poets.
    • His Dunciad is an everlasting monument of how he was so much hurt by the criticisms of the lowest and most contemptible authors.
  • Thomas Gray joins Milton’s sublimity with Pope’s elegance and harmony.
    • He is perhaps the best English poet
    • He was so much hurt by a foolish and impertinent parody of two of his finest odes.
      • He afterwards never attempted any considerable work.
  • Those men of letters who value themselves on fine writing in prose, approach somewhat to the sensibility of poets.

 

3.1.27. On the contrary, mathematicians may have perfect assurance of the truth and importance of their discoveries.

  • They are frequently very indifferent about the public’s reception.
  • Dr. Robert Simpson of Glasgow and Dr. Matthew Stewart of Edinburgh are two of the greatest mathematicians that I have had the honour to be known to.
    • I believe they are the two greatest living in my time.
    • They never seemed to feel the slightest uneasiness from the public’s neglect and ignorance of their most valuable works.

Sir Isaac Newton was a great man.

  • His Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy was neglected by the public for several years.
  • His tranquility probably never suffered 15 minutes of interruption.

Natural philosophers are independent of the public opinion.

  • They approach nearly to mathematicians.
  • They enjoy the similar security and tranquility in their judgments on the merit of their own discoveries and observations.

 

3.1.28. The morals of those classes of men of letters are perhaps sometimes affected by this very great difference in their public situation.

 

3.1.29. Mathematicians and natural philosophers are independent of the public opinion.

  • They have little temptation to form themselves into factions and cabals to:
    • support their own reputation or
    • depress their rivals’ reputation
  • They are almost always men of the most amiable simplicity of manners.
  • They live in harmony with one another.
  • They are the friends of one another’s reputation.
  • They enter into no intrigue to secure the public applause.
  • They are pleased when their works are approved of, without being much vexed or angry when they are neglected.

 

3.1.30. It is not always the same with poets or fine writers.

  • They are very apt to divide themselves into literary factions.
    • Each cabal is, often avowedly and almost always secretly:
      • the mortal enemy of the reputation of other cabals, and
      • employing all the intrigue and solicitation to preoccupy the public opinion in favour of their own works and against those of its rivals.

In France, Despreaux and Racine did not think it below them to head a literary cabal to depress the reputation:

  • first of Quinault and Perreault
  • afterwards of Fontenelle and La Motte

They even treated the good La Fontaine with a most disrespectful kindness.

  • In England, the amiable Mr. Addison did not think it unworthy of his gentle and modest character to head the same kind of little cabal to keep down Mr. Pope’s rising reputation.
  • The academy of sciences is a society of mathematicians and natural philosophers
    • Mr. Fontenelle wrote about the lives and characters of its members.
    • He frequently celebrated the amiable simplicity of their manners.
      • He observes it as a quality which was so universal among them as to be the characteristic of their group than of any individual.
  • The French academy is a society of poets and fine writers or people who are supposed to be such.
    • Mr. D’Alembert wrote about the lives and characters of its members.
    • He frequently did not have this same kind of remark.
    • He nowhere pretends to represent this amiable quality as characteristic of that society.

 

3.1.31. We naturally want to know other people’s opinion about our own merit because of:

  • our uncertainty about our own merit, and
  • our anxiety to think favourably of it:
    • We want to be:
      • more than ordinarily elevated when that opinion is favourable, and
      • more than ordinarily mortified when it is unfavourable.
  • But they should not make us desirous of obtaining the favourable or of avoiding the unfavourable opinion by intrigue and cabal.
  • When a man has bribed the judges, the most unanimous court decision may gain him his lawsuit.
    • However, it cannot give him any assurance that he was in the right.
    • He never would have bribed the judges if he merely wanted to satisfy himself that he was in the right.
    • He bribed the judges because he wished to:
      • find himself in the right and
      • gain his lawsuit.
  • If praise were only a proof of our own praiseworthiness and of no consequence to us, we would never try to obtain it unfairly.
    • Praise has some importance to wise men.
      • Therefore, men very much above the common level sometimes have attempted to obtain praise and avoid blame by very unfair means.

 

3.1.32. Praise and blame actually express praiseworthiness and blameworthiness.

  • They express what naturally should be the sentiments of other people with regard to our character and conduct.
  • The love of praise is the desire of obtaining our brethren’s favourable sentiments.
  • The love of praiseworthiness is the desire of rendering ourselves the proper objects of those sentiments.
  • So far those two principles resemble and are akin to one another.
  • The similar affinity and resemblance take place between the dread of blame and that of blame-worthiness.

 

3.1.33. The man who does a praise-worthy action may likewise desire the praise due to it.

  • Sometimes, he perhaps desires more than what is due to it.
  • In this case, the two principles are blended together.
  • Even himself may not know how far his conduct may have been influenced by the one and how far by the other.
    • It must almost always be so to other people.
      • They are disposed to:
        • lessen his conduct’s merit
        • impute it chiefly to the mere love of praise or mere vanity
    • Those who think more favourably of it, impute it chiefly to the love of praise-worthiness.
      • This is the love of:
        • what is really honourable and noble in human conduct
        • obtaining and deserving the approbation and applause of his brethren
  • The spectator’s imagination throws on it the one colour or the other, according to his habits of thinking or the favour or dislike he has for the person doing the action.

 

3.1.34. Some bad-tempered philosophers have judged human nature as peevish individuals judge one another’s conduct.

  • They have imputed actions which should be ascribed to the love of praise-worthiness, to the love of praise or vanity.
  • I shall hereafter give an account of some of their systems but not stop to examine them.

 

3.1.35. Very few men can be satisfied with knowing that they have attained qualities or performed actions which they admire in other people, unless they acknowledged that they:

  • have those praiseworthy qualities or
  • have performed those praiseworthy actions.

In other words, unless they have actually obtained that praise which they think due to the one and to the other.

  • In this respect, however, people differ considerably from one another.
    • Some seem indifferent about the praise when they are perfectly satisfied that they have attained the praiseworthiness.
    • Others appear much less anxious about the praiseworthiness than about the praise.

 

3.1.36. No man can be tolerably satisfied with having avoided everything blameworthy in his conduct, unless he has also avoided the blame.

  • A wise man may frequently neglect praise even when he has best deserved it.
    • In serious matters, he will most carefully regulate his conduct to avoid blame-worthiness and every probable imputation of blame.
    • He will never avoid blame by:
      • doing anything he judges blameworthy,
      • omitting any part of his duty, or
      • neglecting any opportunity of doing anything he judges to be praise-worthy.
    • But he will most anxiously and carefully avoid it.
  • To show much anxiety about praise, even for praiseworthy actions, is seldom a mark of great wisdom.
    • It is generally a mark of some weakness.
  • But there may be no weakness in being anxious to avoid blame or reproach.
    • There frequently is the most praise-worthy prudence in doing so.

 

3.1.37. Cicero says: ‘Many people inconsistently despise glory but are severely mortified by unjust reproach.’

  • However, this inconsistency is founded in the unalterable principles of human nature.

 

3.1.38. The all-wise Author of Nature has taught man to:

  • respect his brethren’s sentiments and judgments,
  • be pleased when they approve of his conduct, and
  • be hurt when they disapprove of it.

He has made man the immediate judge of mankind.

  • He created man after his own image.
  • He appointed man as his representative on earth to superintend his brethren’s behaviour.
    • They are taught by nature to:
      • acknowledge that power and jurisdiction conferred on him,
      • be humbled and mortified when they have incurred his censure, and
      • be elated when they have obtained his applause.

 

3.1.39. Man has become the immediate judge of mankind in this way, but only so in the first instance.

  • An appeal lies from his sentence to:
    • the tribunal of the impartial and well-informed spectator, and
    • the tribunal of their own consciences.
      • This tribunal is much higher.
      • It is the tribunal of the man within the breast, the great judge and arbiter of their conduct.

The jurisdictions of those two tribunals are founded on different principles, which resemble each other in some respects.

  • The jurisdiction of the man outside is founded in the:
    • desire of actual praise, and
    • aversion to actual blame.
  • The jurisdiction of the man within is founded in:
    • the desire of praise-worthiness, and
      • It is in the desire of the qualities and actions that we love in other people.
    • the aversion to blame-worthiness
      • It is in the dread of qualities or actions that we hate in others.

If the man outside applauds us for actions we did not perform or for motives which did not influence us, the man within can immediately humble that pride and elevation of mind from such groundless acclamations.

  • It would tell us that we would be despicable by accepting them because we know that we do not deserve them.
  • On the contrary, if the man outside reproaches us for actions which we never performed or for motives which did not influence our actions, the man within may immediately:
    • correct this false judgment, and
    • assure us that we are not the proper objects of that censure.
  • But the man within seems sometimes astonished and confounded by the vehemence and clamour of the man outside.
    • The violence and loudness of the blame poured on us, seems to stupify and benumb our natural sense of praise-worthiness and blame-worthiness.

The judgments of the man within might not be altered or perverted absolutely.

  • However, they are so much shaken in their steadiness and firmness.
    • Their natural effect in securing the mind’s tranquility is frequently much destroyed.
  • We do not dare to absolve ourselves:
    • when all our brethren loudly condemn us, and
    • when the opinion of the real spectators is unanimously and violently against us.
      • The supposed impartial spectator of our conduct gives his opinion in our favour fearfully and hesitantly.
        • He tries to consider our conduct from their view.
      • In such cases, this demigod within the breast appears like the demigods of the poets.
        • Though he is partly immortal, he is also partly mortal.
        • When his judgments are firmly directed by the sense of praiseworthiness and blame-worthiness, he acts suitably to his divine extraction.
          • But when he is astonished and confounded by the judgments of ignorant and weak man, he discovers his connection with mortality.
            • He then acts suitably to the human than to the divine part of his origin.

 

3.1.40. In such cases, a humbled and afflicted man’s only effective consolation lies in an appeal to a higher tribunal.

  • This higher tribunal is that of the all-seeing Judge of the world.
    • His eye can never be deceived.
    • His judgments can never be perverted.
  • During his mind’s weakness and despondency, only a firm confidence in this great tribunal’s unerring rectitude can support him.
    • In due time, this tribunal declares his innocence.
    • It finally rewards his virtue, under the perturbation and astonishment of the man within the breast.
      • Nature has set up the man within the breast in this life as the great guardian of his innocence and tranquility.

Thus, our happiness in this life depends on the humble hope and expectation of a life to come.

  • It is a hope and expectation deeply rooted in human nature.
  • It alone can:
    • support its lofty ideas of its own dignity,
    • illuminate the dreary prospect of its continually approaching mortality, and
    • maintain its cheerfulness under all the calamities from life’s disorders.
  • The belief that there is a world to come is a very venerable doctrine.
    • It is so comfortable to the weakness of human nature.
    • It is so flattering to the grandeur of human nature.
  • This is a belief in a world where:
    • exact justice will be done to every man, and
    • every man will be ranked with those who are really his equals in moral and intellectual qualities.
      • The owner of those humble talents and virtues could not display them, because they were depressed by fortune.
        • Even the man within the breast could not afford him any distinct and clear testimony of them.
      • That modest, silent, and unknown merit will be placed on a level or above those with the highest reputation or those who could do the most splendid and dazzling actions from their advantageous situation.

The virtuous man who unluckily doubted this belief, must earnestly wish to believe it.

  • Its most zealous assertors have taught us that the distributions of rewards and punishments was to be made in that world to come.
    • This made this belief hated by the scoffers.
    • Because frequently, this is opposite to all our moral sentiments.

 

3.1.41. Many venerable but discontented old officers have complained:

  • that the assiduous courtier is often more favoured than the faithful and active servant,
  • that attendance and adulation are often shorter and surer roads to preferment than merit or service, and
  • that a campaign at Versailles or St. James’s is often worth two in Germany or Flanders.

But the greatest reproach, even to the weakness of earthly sovereigns, has been ascribed as an act of justice to divine perfection.

  • The sole virtues which can reward or exempt from punishment in the life to come were:
    • the duties of devotion, and
    • the worship of the Deity.
  • Perhaps, they were the virtues most suitable to their station in which they chiefly excelled.
    • We are all naturally disposed to overrate the excellencies of our own characters.

 

 

jean-baptiste_massillon

Jean Baptiste Massillon

  • Jean Baptiste Massillon was eloquent and philosophical.
    • He gave his benediction to the regimental standards of Catinat in a discourse addressed to the officers:
    • ‘What is most deplorable in your situation, Gentlemen, is that you always suffer in vain for the life to come and frequently even for this life.
      • Your life is hard and painful.
      • Your services and the duties sometimes go beyond the rigour and severity of the most austere cloisters.
    • Alas! The solitary monk, obliged to mortify his flesh and to subject it to the spirit, is supported by:
      • the hope of an assured recompence, and
      • the secret unction of that grace which softens the Lord’s yoke.
    • But on your deathbed, can you dare to tell Him your fatigues and daily hardships of your employment?
      • Can you dare to solicit Him for any recompence?
    • What is there that He should place to His own account in all :
      • your exertions, and
      • the violences that you have done to yourselves?
    • The best days of your life have been sacrificed to your profession.
      • Ten years service has worn out your body more than perhaps a whole life of repentance and mortification.
      • Alas! my brother, one single day of those sufferings, consecrated to the Lord would perhaps have obtained you an eternal happiness.
      • One single action, painful to nature, and offered up to Him, would perhaps have secured to you the inheritance of the Saints.
    • And you have done all this in vain for this world.’

 

3.1.42. It is surely contrary to all our moral sentiments to:

  • compare a monastery’s futile mortifications with a war’s ennobling hardships and hazards, and
  • suppose that one day employed in the monastery should have more merit than a whole life spent honourably in war, in the eye of:
    • the great Judge of the world, and
    • all the principles by which nature has taught us to regulate our contempt or admiration.

This spirit has reserved the celestial regions for monks and friars.

  • However, it has condemned the following to the infernal:
    • heroes
    • statesmen and lawgivers
    • poets and philosophers of the past
    • people who have invented, improved, or excelled in the arts which contribute to human life’s subsistence, convenience or ornament
    • mankind’s great protectors, instructors, and benefactors
    • people to whom our natural sense of praise-worthiness forces us to ascribe the highest merit and most exalted virtue
  • Can we wonder that those who perhaps did not have devout and contemplative virtues hated the strange application of this most respectable doctrine?*6

Words: 6,870

For corrections or comments, please email jddalisay@gmail.com

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