Wilfrid Richmond.

An essay on personality as a philosophical principle online

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and intelligence — that while the will is ever striving
after what is not, and the mind is engaged in the
contemplation of that which is apart, emotion is
the faculty of achievement, of the intimate union
with that which is other than ourselves, and alone
among the faculties of man does not look beyond

Pleasure, beauty, love, represent the recognised
aspects of life and experience where emotion appears as

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Emotion 129

the cardinal element in the experience. What can here
Pieasnre, beanty, be said to exhibit emotion as the
fSlTfSw* crowning energy of personal life, will
emotion. best be said in a consideration of these

familiar forms of emotion.

Pleasure * is the name of an emotion, even if it is
also the name of a feeling, unself-conscious, instinctive,
I. Pleasure is the evanescent. Pleasurable feeling, in the

name of an emotion, ^^^^^^ g^^^^ ^f ^j^^ ^^^^ "feeling," is

an element in experience ; feeling, that is, which as it
passes is caught as a phase of consciousness, fixed as an
object, described and truly described by the character
of the emotion into which it passes — described, i.e.^ as
pleasure. But by the name pleasure we undeniably
also describe emotions that are self-conscious, deliberate,
distinct, carrying with them the consciousness of an
object separate from ourselves, which qualifies our
feeling and is itself qualified and defined as thus
afiecting us.

We should, perhaps, be inclined prima fade to call
pleasure a merely selfish feeling, beginning in ourselves,
carrying us oat of concerned merely with ourselves, and
ourselves. ^^j^ ^j^^ object only indirectly and in

so far as it necessarily comes into view as the cause of
pleasure. But, on the other hand, we speak of pleasure
as carrying us out of ourselves, and the self with which
we are concerned in pleasure is a self for the moment
absorbed and possessed by something other than itself,

* Pain, often only the other side of pleasure, is not very naturally omitted,
together with the rest of the negative side of the emotional life. It would
assist the illustration of the principle, but it would introduce complications
which would be out of place in a preliminary sketch of .^Ssthetic only intended
to serve the purpose of illustration.


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130 An Essay on Personality

the consciousness of which, as an object distinct from
the self, is present in the pleasure, contributes to it, and
is essential to it, so that, even when the self as qualified
by the pleasant object is in the foreground of conscious-
ness rather than the pleasant object itself, it is still true
to say that, if the consciousness of the pleasant object
were away, the pleasure would lose its character as
pleasure. Of the common bodily pleasures, such as the
pleasures of eating and drinking, this is obviously true.
It is more and more true as we rise to higher levels of
pleasure and approach, say, the pleasures of contempla-
tion, or, if they are still to bear the name, the pleasures

^,.^ of self-sacrifice. Perhaps the pleasures
E,g« mesumra of life at«i» it it

of which it would seem to be least

obviously true are those which might be generally de-
scribed as the pleasures of life — say, to take a particular
example, the pleasure of warmth. Yet here it may be
said generally that in the pleasures of life the pleasure
is in the consciousness of give and take between the
self and its surroundings. And the fact that there are
surroundings, that there is give and take, is essential to
the pleasures of life. And in the particular case the
pleasure of warmth is a pleasure of contrast ; the object
is the modified self as contrasted with the self unmodi-
fied or diflferently modified, and the sense of an influence
stealing in from without and afiecting the self is essential
to the pleasure. And, in fact, pleasures range from
those which we more naturally describe by some such
phrase as " I like," " I enjoy," describing the affection
of the subject, to those which we more naturally describe
by qualifying the object as pleasant because it produces
the affection in the subject Perhaps most pleasures

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Emotion 131

might be almost indiflferently described jby indicating
pleasantness in the object or pleasure in the subject of
emotion, and in those which lend themselves to descrip-
tion in the one way rather than in the other, both
elements in the nature of emotion are none the less

Pleasure covers the whole field of emotion. The
consideration of pleasantness in the object of emotion
AU Uves an pleasure- points on to the consideration of beauty
^<*^& as the quality in the object which gives

us pleasure in perceiving. Nor is love itself, in any of
its forms, or in any of the energies of self-sacrifice and
self-devotion that belong to it, excluded from the range
of the principle which makes all lives pleasure-loving.

For pleasure is in fact the result of every action
and operation of the will, when the mind surveys and
for leasure attends ^PP^^^Gi^*^^ the achievement of purpose,
the perceived attain- the attainment of desire. In volition
«Iw actimiofthe '^^'^ ^'^ spiritual act of volition is
will, anticipated or completed by the anticipated satisfac-
' tion of the fulfilment of the impulse,

and in any action which is more than momentary the
sustained operation of the will is fed by repeated
emotions, as the mind in part perceives tJbe gradual
attainment of the end, in part revives the anticipation
of its complete achievement. This constant and instan-
taneous transformation of pleasure into volition is the
secret of the dominant influence of pleasure upon life.
That the will is present as a factor in emotion is already
implied in saying that emotion is deliberate. It is
present in the way which again has already been implied
in saying that emotion is an end in itself. It is the

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132 An Essay on Personality

emotion itself which is the motive of the will to main-
tain emotion ; and the presence of the will, energising
and aUvoUtion takes '^ ©motion, Sustaining and prolonging
its rise in the iwiii to it, is most readily obvious in pleasure,
^^onaTtitecon- ^^^^e the endeavouT to sustain and
sdoiis relation to onr prolong the pleasure, as a continuous
energy of the will, passes by imper-
ceptible stages into the endeavour to revive the remem-
bered emotion, or to reproduce the conditions that gave
rise to it. It is commonly said that the instinct of self-
assertion and self-preservation is the nature of the will ;
rather it would be true to say that the maintenance of
the relation to the environment of reality, in which the
being of the self consists, is the root principle of volition,
and that this takes its rise in emotion as the full con-
sciousness of this relation to reality. This, again, is
another way of describing the familiar fact that pleasure
in one form or another is the invariable motive of the will,
and this close association between pleasure and the will
is a main general fact to be noted in regard to the whole
field of emotion, and especially in regard to emotion, in
so far as it is covered by the various uses of the word
" pleasure,"

Pleasure is, on the face of it, a simple and direct
emotion. In a survey of the field it covers we should
L Pleasures simple i^aturally light first on those pleasures
and direct— which are most simple and direct, the

easure m things, pi^^^g^j.^ which attend on the satis-
faction of the bodily desires. Of these desires we have
remarked that it is not true to fact to describe them as
desires for an object.* Of the whole mass of such

• Part n. ch. in. p. 68.

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Emotion 133

desires it is rather true to say that they are desires of
life, desires, i.e., for a certain relation of communion
with our surroundings And the same is true of each
individual bodily desire. The desire for food is the
desire to have, to consume, to absorb, to take into our-
selves. That! we live by this bodily communion with
our world, and that desire accordingly begins in uneasi-
ness and want, does not alter the fact that it is towards
this bodily communion that desire is directed. And
accordingly it is the achievement of this bodily com-
munion in which the bodily pleasure consists, not only
in the pleasures of eating and drinking, but in the
pleasure in the air we breathe, the light without which
we feel alone, and all the sights and sounds and smells
by which the world in which we live enters into our
bodily being and self.

There is another kind of pleasures of life of which
bodily pleasures are also the most obvious example — the
(&) pleasures of pleasures of energy, pleasures in the

^"^^^ exercise of any faculty by which we

put forth our power upon the world about us. We take
pleasure in asserting our bodily selves, our powers of
movement and of mastery, our powers' of manifesting
ourselves and giving expression to the force that is
within us. And this is the pleasure of mere exercise, of
the use of bodily strength, a pleasure felt even in the
very vigour of living ; but this pleasure plainly extends
beyond the range of energies which we commonly think
of as bodily, and pursues us through every form of
moral eflfort and in every exercise of the will, nor is it
lost even when we rise to the highest energies of love and
the strenuous eflfort of self-sacrifice and self -surrender.

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134 -^^ Essay on Personality

And among the energies of the will, the mere activi-
ties of the soul, which are the field of this pleasure of
(c) pleasure in lif®> ^^e included the pleasures of in-

P*""*®°* tellectual activity, the pleasure in the

mere energy of seeing and understanding, of reasoning
and knowing. But here the pleasure in the activity
shades off into the pleasure in the result. For there is
a pleasure in life which may be called simple and direct,
a pleasure not in the act and energy of knowledge, but
in the thing that is known, in the existence, there over
against us, of the world with which we may carry on
the interchange of life, in which we may exercise the
capacities of communion, and which, indeed, exists to
us as material for the fellowship of life, as the complex
of the conditions of fellowship. For the form of this
pleasure, which is the most obvious and familiar element
in the life of man, is the pleasure in the mere knowledge
of persons, in the mere existence of our own kind, in
the presence of those who come within our range, as so
many possibilities of fellowship. It is the absence of
this pleasure which makes solitude a pain, and which,
after solitude, makes any company an unspeakable
relief. It is a pleasure in itself, though prejudice and
dislike, on the one hand, may intervene to obliterate
the pleasure or to convert it into a pain, and though,
on the other hand, it may pale and vanish, lost in the
more vivid affections and emotions of any grade of love.

But besides pleasures simple and direct, our expe-
ii Compiez pleasures, rience certainly includes pleasures that
"S^^^^ suggest and transfuse one another;
themselves, and as in the world of thought many

perceptions which present themselves first as simple

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Emotion 135

turn out on a nearer view to involve inference or
mediate apprehension, so in the world of emotion there
are many pleasures which may be viewed in their
primary aspect, in their general result, as simple and
direct, which in another view will appear to be complex.
The pleasure of a child in the presence of its mother
seems at first sight simple and direct enough, a typical
case of the pleasure in the knowledge of a person, and
not the less so because the mother is to the child not
merely a person but a world, the one all-embracing
reality of life. And yet the pleasure of the child in
its mother's presence is by no means simple. It is
composed of simple elements. It may, in any instance
of the emotion, take its rise from some almost physical
pleasure — the sound of the voice, the soothing touch of
the hand — but in a moment this simple pleasure, if
it be so, has recalled a thousand half-remembered
pleasures through which the same presence has made
itself felt, and this present pleasure and all of them
are pleasant, as it stands, not merely because they are
pleasant in themselves, or because one such physical
pleasure suggests a thousand more, but because the
physical pleasure suggests and is transfused by the
spiritual pleasure of love. And this transfusion of
the physical by the spiritual pleasure is not simply an
isolated act ; it is an habitual act, and the force of past
pleasures remembered and revived is communicated to
the present pleasure and contributes to it. The child's
pleasure in the tender touch would not be the pleasure
it is, not only if it did not rise &om the level of the
cat that purrs when it is stroked to the spiritual level
of love, but it would not be the pleasure it is if the

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136 An Essay on Personality

spiritual pleasure of love did not bring with it the
remembrance of a thousand verifications in the pleasures
in which it has been embodied.

But throughout all the complexity into which the
simple pleasure resolves itself, it is to be observed that

gmngritetoadis- ^® "^ ^^* merely dealing with
tinctive pieamre, pleasures each complete in itself and
associated with one another ; there is,
to use the logical term, a mediation of pleasure by
pleasure. One pleasure is felt by means of another,
and we must go further and say that this complexity
and interdependence of pleasures, this sense of a wealth
and world of emotion, as when the spiritual pleasure,
single, simple, and supreme, is embodied in a number
of emotional experiences, — this is an intensification of
pleasure, and is the source of what is itself a distinctive
pleasure, a pleasure in the very complexity of emotion,
in the passage and transition from pleasure to pleasure.

nuuntainedbyadis- ^^ *^^ presence of the will in tiie
tmctiTe form of maintenance of emotion in this special

^^**^ pleasure, the pleasure in the play of

emotion, is seen in a special form of volition, maintain-
ing this movement and life of emotion, as we pass from
one to another of the emotional elements which con-
tribute to the making of a pleasurable moment or a
pleasurable life.

But the pleasure of love, of which we have spoken
as an element in the complex experience of pleasure,
iiL Mutual pleasure, apart from its relation to lesser plea-
the character of the surcs which are elevated to its level
^ ' by its embodiment in them, is in itself
complex and more than complex. Even in the apparently

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Emotion 137

simple case of the love between mother and child the
pleasure of love obviously includes both the pleasure
of loving and the pleasure of being loved. In some
degree it is true of everything that deserves the name
of love at all, that the lover takes pleasure in the loved,
and that the loved not only in turn takes pleasure in
the lover, but takes pleasure in the fact of giving
pleasure to the lover. It is this that gives supreme
intensity among physical pleasures to the pleasure of
the passion of love, and gives to it also its supreme
rank among the spiritual pleasures of the natural life
of man. Mutual pleasure as here described is the
highest kind of pleasure. But some anticipation of this
mutual character is to be found in pleasures of less
intensity and elevation. In pleasures that are common,

anticipated in various ^^^^^^ ®^*^®^' *^® pleasure is inten-
defi:ree8 by lower sified by the fact that it is shared, and
grades of pleasure, ^j^ means that, e.g., where father and
mother take pleasure in watching their child, each takes
pleasure in the child and each takes pleasure in the
pleasure of the other. Here, though the pleasure is not
mutual, we take pleasure in the pleasure of others ; the
pleasure is intensified by the communion in pleasure.
Even where pleasure is not quickened by sympathy,
there is a feeling after communion such as is realised
in the higher and intenser pleasures. The language in
which we describe the beauty of natural and material
things abounds in traces of our tendency to personify
the various parts and aspects of the natural world, as
though its gladness, its glory, signified some response
of joy to the emotion it inspires ; as though it delighted
in its own life, in fulfilling its purpose, in its communion

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138 An Essay on Personality

with spiritual being in ourselves. An entirely fancLfoI
idea, let us for the moment without qualification allow,
but an idea, nevertheless, which represents a real
element in our experience of pleasure in nature, a
foreshadowing in fancy of what pleasure feels itself
foreordained to attain to in £ekct. But the fact that
we have already observed that the simplest and most
obvious pleasures in material things are pleasures not
in things but in life, not in things but in communion
with things, is the real anticipation of that character in
pleasure which is manifested in higher degree as we
mount to higher levels of pleasure, and gives their
distinctive quality to the highest pleasures, the plea-
sures of society, fellowship, communion between spirit

maintaiiied by a ^^ ^P^^*" ^ *^^®' *^® highest plea-

special form of sures, and in any pleasures which in

voUtiou. ^j^y degree anticipate or attain to the

character of mutual pleasure, the action of the will in
maintaining the pleasure is to be seen in its highest
form in the energy of self-surrender or of self-abandon-
ment to the communion of emotion. And, on the other
hand, what is in fact pleasure in its highest form,
though it be an emotion which is generally considered
to lie beyond the range of such a word as " pleasure,"
crowns the achievement of the purpose inspired by the
motive of love in the act of self-devotion, the highest
energy of will.

It is in the achieved self-surrender and self-abandon-
ment to the emotion of pleasure of whatever grade,

„ ^ that another form of emotion, the

II* Beauty,

emotion of beauty, takes its rise. In
the eflFort of the will to maintain pleasure comes the

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Emotion 139

pause of perception, of contemplation, itself an energy
of emotion though an energy of rest, in which the
mind feeds upon the object or cause of emotion. The
effort of self-surrender finds a new satisfaction in losing
itself in the object, dwelling no longer on the plea-
surable consciousness, except as it is reflected in the
emotion of beauty, regarded as a quality of the object

In passing from pleasure to beauty we pass from
interested to disinterested emotion, from emotion as
a diaittterested associated with will to emotion as

emotion, associated associated with reason and intelligence,
with mteUigciice. ^^^ ^j^^^ either contrast is absolute.

We have observed that pleasures range from those
which we describe in terms of our pleasant feeling to
those which we describe in terms of the pleasant quality
of the object. But the distinction between the self and
the object is always there, and this distinction is, as we
have said, a sign of the intellectual element in pleasure ;
and again, even in the most selfish pleasures the delight
in being taken out of ourselves, which is indeed the
principle of emotion, is still to be traced. On the other
hand, we shall find that the will is always present, and
the element of self-interest never wholly absent, in the
emotions which we describe in terms of the beauty of
things. But it is nevertheless true to say that in these
emotions the stress is on the consideration of the objects,
and that an intellectual character belongs to the emo-
tional perception of beauty.

Beauty, in fact, is primarily the word by which we
describe things that give us pleasure in perceiving.
Our simplest experiences of beauty are emotions of

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140 An Essay on Personality

perception, a consciousness of some quality in the thing
that gives us pleasure not in possessing the thing, but

L Simpie-that which ^^^^^7 '^ perceiving it. The pure and
gives 11a pleasure in mere emotion of beauty has given place
^^*'^^*^' to another, as soon as we are engaged

with the pleasures of fruition — the pleasure of possessing
that which we admire, or asserting ourselves and our
own mind and power upon it. Beauty is that whose
perception, that is to say, whose mere existence, is to
be desired, for perception is of existence, and the
motive of perception is, as we have seen, the desire of

This is the essential element in beauty, that it is
that which gives us pleasure in perception, and beauty
in this sense indicates a far wider field of emotion than
is commonly covered by the use of the word. " Truly
the light is sweet, and a pleasant thing it is to behold
the sun." It may be only rarely that the perpetual
pleasure in the beauty of the world rises to the intensity
which demands expression, but it is a constant element in
life, as constant as the pleasure which is its correlative,
an emotional appre- Our emotional appreciation of things
^^dOT«rt in * ^» indeed, the most vital element in
knowledge. our knowledge of our surroundings.

Knowledge reaches back always after some underlying
force, some centre of the activity which manifests itself
in the qualities and attributes by which we describe
the thing. But as this, the thing in itself of philo-
sophical theory, is known and can be known only in
the attributes and qualities by which we describe it, so
they in their turn and all that we can predicate of it

• Part IL ch. iv. p. 90.

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Emotion 141

are " qualities " only as describing the thing in relation
to ourself, the general and collective self, as aflFected by-
it ; and the reality of conviction, assertion, predication,
varies with the presence in our apprehension of the
terms of a vivid appreciation of the thing as it afiFects
the self — that appreciation which in its more pressing
and obvious form we describe by the use of such words
as pleasure and pain, beauty and ugliness, and the

That there is an intellectual element in the emotion
which we describe in such terms as " This is beautiful,"
inteUectuai and '^ V^^ enough. Apart from the judg-

▼oUtionai dements in ment of perception which gives rise to
the emotion of beauty, ^j^^ emotion, there is in tlds case evi-
dently an emotional judgment which aims at expressing
the emotion itself. And the will is present in the
emotion of beauty as in the emotion of pleasure, in-
sisting on the emotion and maintaining it.

But the action of the will as maintaining the
emotion takes a special form in the case of the emotion
iL Complex. of beauty, carrying us on, in the efiFort

The win is especially ^ ^^gH ^p^j^ ^^^^ prolong the emotion,

obnous m developmg ^ • i \

simple into complex beyond the mere smiple perception of
perceptions of beauty, i^^^^^y^ For perceptions of beauty

which appeared to be simple turn out as we dwell upon
them to be complex. In the eflfort to prolong them we
unfold them into other perceptions of beauty, which
appear to be involved in them, and for our first simple
judgment of beauty we have a series of judgments, the
beauty of one thing carrying us on to and resolving
itself into the beauty of others. The beauty of a spring
morning as we first wake to the sunlight, or step out

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142 An Essay on Personality

into the air, is compounded of a thousand beauties and
pleasures. We do not suppose it to be simple, even
when we sum up its beauty in words whose simplicity
of form often conceals the fulness of their meaning. But
if we dwell upon the beauty of the day to prolong our
enjoyment of the moment, we instinctively note point
after point, and make judgment after judgment of
beauty, and as we speak of the beauty of pure air and
bright sun, of the refreshed and lovely life of the world,
we are not merely noting intellectually a number of
facts, each of which played its part in giving us the
moment of emotion. We are unfolding the emotion
itself into separate emotions, and it is the instinctive
desire to prolong the emotion which leads us to do so.
The simplest percep- ^he beauty of one note in the song of
tions often involve a bird, of the scent of a flower, of a
® ^^ touch of colour in the hedge, might

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Online LibraryWilfrid RichmondAn essay on personality as a philosophical principle → online text (page 11 of 19)