Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Some Nobler Species of Good

Suppose a man, existing by himself, and quite cut off from the knowledge or perception of all other beings, and every part of nature, how compleatly miserable must he be? In such a solitary, dark, and gloomy state, suppose the beauty lighted up in the natural world to break in upon his mind, what joy and delight must thence be communicated to his senses and imagination? He must still desire a more noble and permanent satisfaction from the mental pleasures of wisdom and truth, and from the moral exercise of goodness, of friendship, and kind affection which give the sweetest and most exalted relish to the pleasing intercourses of society. But all this is far from being sufficient to complete the happiness of man. He still feels abundance of wants and weaknesses within himself. He needs a proper security for the permanency and stability of what he possesses. And his mind, ever improving in its faculties, enlarges its prospect of happiness, both as to degree and duration; and dissatisfied with its present acquisitions, still pursues some nobler species of good, without being able to assign any bounds to the increasing influence of these natural desires.

James Balfour, A Delineation of the Nature and Obligation of Morality, 2nd ed. (1763), pp. 160-161.

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