BLTC Press Titles


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The Story of Doctor Dolittle

Hugh Lofting


Through the Looking Glass

Lewis Carroll


The Secret Doctrine, Volume I Cosmogenesis

H. P. Blavatsky


Mortal Coils

Aldous Huxley


An enquiry concerning the principles of morals

by David Hume

Excerpt:

9 i"*> HERE is a Principle, suppos'd to prevail a.*- mongst many, which is utterly incompatible, with all Virtue or moral Sentiment; and as it can proceed from nothing but the most deprav'd Dispo^ sition, soinitsTHrn it tends still farther to foster and . encourage that Depravity. This Principle is, that all Benevolence is mere Hypocrisy, Friendship a Cheat, Public Spirit a Farce, Fidelity a Snare to procure Trust and Considence; and while all of us, at the Bottom, pursue only our private Interest, we weac these fair Disguises, in order to put others oft" their Guard, and expose them the more to our Wiles and Machinations. What Heart one must be possess'j of, who professes such Principles, and who feels nointernal Sentiment to belye so pernicious a Theory, tis easy to imagine: And also, what Degree of Affection and Benevolence he can. bear to a Species, B 6 wibonfc. whom he represents under such odious Colours, an&: supposes so'little susceptible of Gratitude.or any Return of Asfection. Or if we will not ascribe these Principles altogether to a corrupted Heart, we must, at least, account for them from the most careless and precipitate Examination; Superficial" Reasoners, indeed, observing many false Pretences amongst Mankind, and feeling, perhaps, nov very strong Restraint in their own Disposition, might draw a general! and a hasty Conclusion, that all i& equally corrupted, and that Men, different from all other Animals, and indeed from all other Species of Existence, admit ;of no Degrees of Good or Bad, but are, in every Instance, the fame Creatures, under different Disguises and Appearanceis

There is another Principle, somewhat resembling the former ; which has been much insisted on by Philosophers, and has been the - Foundation of many a fair System; that whatever Affection one may feel, or imagine he feels for others, no Passion is, or can be disinterested; that the most generous Friendship,however sincere, is a Modification of Self-love; and that even unknown to Ourselves, we seek only our ^Gratification, while we appear the most deeply engag'd in Schemes for the Liberty and Happiness of Mankind. By a Turn of Imagination, by a Resinement of Reflection, by an Enthusiasm of Passioa,

we

we seem to take Part in the Interests of others, and imagine Ourselves divested of all selfish Views and Considerations : But at the Bottom, the most generous Patriot and. most niggardly Miser, the bravest Hero and most abject Coward, have, in every Action, an equal Regard to their own Happiness and Welfare.

Whoever concludes, from the seeming Tendency of this Opinion, that those, who make Profession of it, cannot possibly feel the true Sentiments of Benevolence, or have any Regard for genuine Virtue, will often findhimself, in Practice, very much mistaken. Probity and. Honour were no Strangers to Epicurus and' his Sect. Atticus and. Horace seem to have enjoy'd from Nature, and cultivated by Reflection, as generous and friendly Dispositions as any Disciple of the austerer Schools. And amongst the Moderns, Hobbes and Locke, who maintain'd the selfish System of Morals, liv'd most irreproachable Lives; tho' the former lay not under any Restraints of Religion, which might supply the Defects of his Philosophy.

An Epicurean or a HobbiJI readily allows^ that there is such a Thing as Friendship in the World, without Hypocrisy or Disguise; tho' he may attempt, by a philosophical Chymistry, to resolve the Elements of this Passion, if I may so speak, into those of another, and explain every Affection to be Self-love, twisted

and and moulded into a Variety of Shapes and Appearances. But as the fame Turn of Imagination prevails not in every Man, nor gives the fame Direction to the original Passion ; this is sussicient, even according to the selfish System, to make the widest Difference in human Characters, and denominate ona Man virtuous and humane, another vicious and meanly interested. I esteem the Man, whose Selflove, by whatever Means, is so directed as to give him a Concern for others, and render him serviceable to Society: As I hate or despise him, who has net Regard to any Thing beyond his own pitiful Gratifications and Enjoyments. In vain would you suggest, that these Characters, tho' seemingly opposite, are,at the Bottom, the same, and that a very inconsiderable Turn os Imagination forms the whole Difference betwixt them. Each Character, notwithstanding these inconsiderable Differences, appears to me, in Practice, pretty durable and untransmutable. And I find not, in this, more than in other Subjects, that the natural Sentiments, arising from the general Appearances of Things, are easily destroy'd by resin'd Reflections concerning the minute Origin of these Appearances. Does not the lively, cheerful Colour of a Countenance inspire me with Complacency and Pleasure; even tho' I learn from Philosophy, that all Difference of Complexion arises from the most mii nut;


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