Oct 07, 2012 · Childhood Is a Time of Joy ..
§ 33. Good and evil, present and absent, it is true, work upon the mind; but that which immediately determines the will, from time to time, to every voluntary action, is the uneasiness of desire, fixed on some absent good: either negative, as indolence to one in pain; or positive, as enjoyment of pleasure. That it is this uneasiness that determines the will to the successive voluntary actions, whereof the greatest part of our lives is made up, and by which we are conducted through different courses to different ends: I shall endeavour to show, both from experience and the reason of the thing.
Childhood memories essay in English
§ 64. The cause of our judging amiss, when we compare our present pleasure or pain with future, seems to me to be the weak and narrow constitution of our minds. We cannot well enjoy two pleasures at once, much less any pleasure almost, whilst pain possesses us. The present pleasure, if it be not very languid, and almost none at all, fills our narrow souls, and so takes up the whole mind, that it scarce leaves any thought of things absent: or if among our pleasures, there are some which are not strong enough to exclude the consideration of things at a distance; yet we have so great an abhorrence of pain, that a little of it extinguishes all our pleasures: a little bitter mingled in our cup, leaves no relish of the sweet. Hence it comes, that at any rate we desire to be rid of the present evil, which we are apt to think nothing absent can equal; because, under the present pain, we find not ourselves capable of any the least degree of happiness. Men’s daily complaints are a loud proof of this: the pain that any one actually feels is still of all other the worst; and it is with anguish they cry out, “Any rather than this: nothing can be so intolerable as what I now suffer.” And therefore our whole endeavours and thoughts are intent to get rid of the present evil before all things, as the first necessary condition to our happiness, let what will follow. Nothing, as we passionately think, can exceed, or almost equal, the uneasiness that sits so heavy upon us. And because the abstinence from a present pleasure that offers itself, is a pain, nay oftentimes a very great one, the desire being inflamed by a near and tempting object; it is no wonder that that operates after the same manner pain does, and lessens in our thoughts what is future; and so forces, as it were, blindfold into its embraces.
§ 65. Add to this, that absent good, or, which is the same thing, future pleasure, especially if of a sort we are unacquainted with, seldom is able to counterbalance any uneasiness, either of pain or desire, which is present. For its greatness being no more than what shall be really tasted when enjoyed, men are apt enough to lessen that, to make it give place to any present desire; and conclude with themselves, that when it comes to trial, it may possibly not answer the report, or opinion that generally passes of it; they having often found, that not only what others have magnified, but even what they themselves have enjoyed with great pleasure and delight at one time, has proved insipid or nauseous at another; and therefore they see nothing in it for which they should forego a present enjoyment. But that this is a false way of judging, when applied to the happiness of another life, they must confess; unless they will say, “God cannot make those happy he designs to be so.” For that being intended for a state of happiness, it must certainly be agreeable to every one’s wish and desire: could we suppose their relishes as different there as they are here, yet the manna in heaven will suit every one’s palate. Thus much of the wrong judgment we make of present and future pleasure and pain, when they are compared together, and so the absent considered as future.