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to be furnished? Whence comes it by that vast store which the busy and boundless fancy of man has painted on it, with an almost endless variety? Whence has it all the materials of reason and knowledge? To this I answer in one word, from experience; in that all our knowledge is founded; and from that it ultimately derives itself."

Is it foolish to ask the question, What is experience ? To enquire the manner in which impressions are derived, notions formed, ideas acquired? I think not. To the thoughtful, effect is the isolated fact; cause the fruitful source, the fountain head.

Man is a sentient being. Through one or more of the organs of sight, touch, hearing, smell, and taste, he is brought into contact with external objects, and thus acquires the notions he possesses concerning them. He has the power of remembering, or retaining in his recollection, the notions or ideas thus formed; he can recall them, more or less perfectly, at will; he can compare one with another, and by comparing and combining he can create new forms of mental imagery.

But as each idea depends upon the sense that is affected by the external object, whatever that may be, it is obvious that, if the sense is defective, the impression must be imperfect, and the idea consequently erroneous. Universal experience teaches us that no two individuals are exactly alike, and that in no individual are all the senses equal or uniformly developed. From which we infer that no two individuals have, or can have, precisely the same ideas concerning the same thing; hence the diversity of opinion, and desire; hence the possibility of human society, which, it may be presumed, would be impossible, had all men the same ideas 1 Human Understanding, Bk. ii. ch. 1, § 2.

and the same desires; hence also the impossibility of so organizing society as to give in all respects perfect satisfaction to any individual; and hence, finally, the problem that has to be solved by the legislator and the jurist.

If the same thing produces upon different individuals different impressions—and that such is the the case, cannot be doubted-we at once see the importance and the imperfection of language; the extreme difficulty, first, of expressing in words, to our own satisfaction, our thoughts or ideas; and, secondly, of so expressing them as to convey to the mind of the listener that which we intend. Without further elaborating this observation, we may deduce from it the following proposition,―That unless we agree beforehand upon the import and precise limits of the terms we employ, discussion is futile, and a common understanding impossible.

'That which has most contributed to hinder the due tracing of our ideas, and the finding out of their relations, and agreements or disagreements one with another, has been, I suppose,' says Locke, 'the ill use of words..... Had men, in the discoveries of the material, done as they have in those of the intellectual, world, involved all in the obscurity of uncertain and doubtful ways of talking, volumes writ of navigation and voyages, theories and stories of zones and tides, multiplied and disputed; nay, ships built, and fleets sent out, would never have taught us the way beyond the line; and the Antipodes would be still as much unknown, as when it was declared heresy to hold there were any." Speaking in a familiar manner, we may say, that Human Understanding, Bk. iv. ch. 3, § 30.


man cannot live alone. A powerful instinct of his nature calls for the society of his fellow-man; but this companionship cannot exist except upon a certain understanding. Each has desires inimical to the interests of the rest, at the same time that his interests depend upon association with them. To be absolutely free, man must sever himself from all others. To be absolutely happy, he must have some companionship. He elects to resign a portion of his freedom. He accepts restraint with the advantage attending it. The rule which defines the limit of his freedom is his first social law; its object and aim being happiness. As to what constitutes happiness, the manner in which it is to be achieved, or the means by which it may be made secure, we find the greatest diversity of opinion. We say that the living together of several individuals necessitates some agreement as to the terms and conditions of the union; these terms must be expressed in the form of rules, and the rules must be general.

You cannot permit one action and forbid another, without showing a difference between them. Consequently, the same sort of actions must be generally permitted or generally forbidden. Where, therefore, the general permission of them would be pernicious, it becomes necessary to lay down and support the rule which generally forbids them. The assassin knocks the rich villain on the head, because he thinks him better out of the way than in it ;' and, in the particular case, such may be the fact. If, however, you allow that excuse in the one instance, you must allow it to all who act in the same manner and from the same motive

1 As this chapter professedly treats the subjects it touches upon in a popular manner, the terms employed are here used in their popular sense.


that is, you must allow every man to kill any one he meets, whom he thinks obnoxious or useless; which, in the event, would be to commit every man's life and safety to the spleen, fury, and fanaticism, of his neighbour;—a disposition of affairs which would soon fill the world with misery and confusion; and ere long put an end to human society, if not to the human species." 'In the distribution of rights and obligations,' says Bentham, the legislator should have for his end the happiness of society. Investigating more distinctly in what that happiness consists, we shall find four subordinate ends-Subsistence, Abundance, Equality, Security.

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"The more perfect enjoyment there is in all these respects, the greater is the sum of social happiness and especially of that happiness which depends upon the laws.

'We may hence conclude that all the functions of law may be referred to these four heads:-To provide subsistence; to produce abundance; to favour equality; to maintain security.

"This division has not all the exactness which might be desired. The limits which separate these objects are not always easy to be determined. They approach each other at different points, and mingle together. But it is enough to justify this division, that it is the most complete we can make; and that, in fact, we are generally called to consider each of the objects which it contains, separately and distinct from all the others. . . .

'Some persons may be astonished to find that liberty is not ranked among the principal objects of law. But a clear idea of liberty will lead us to regard it as a 1 Paley, Moral and Political Philosophy, Bk. ii. ch. 7.

branch of security. Personal liberty is security against a certain kind of injuries which affect the person. As to what is called political liberty, it is another branch of security, security against injustice from the ministers of government. What concerns this object belongs not to civil, but to constitutional law."

Happiness in its full extent, is the utmost pleasure we are capable of; and misery the utmost pain: and the lowest degree of what can be called happiness, is so much ease from all pain, and so much present pleasure, as without which, any one cannot be content.2

Happiness is a state of the mind; it is the consciousness of pleasure. Happiness being a condition of the mind, and the mind being dependent upon the body, the degree of happiness must, under ordinary circumstances, depend upon the condition of the mind, and the condition of the mind upon that of the body. The condition of the mind and that of the body is in all cases almost entirely the result of circumstances, education, and habit; therefore, though happiness is absolute, the cause of happiness is relative, or, in other words, the same thing will produce in different individuals, or in the same individual at different times, happiness or misery. We have said that perfect freedom and consort with others are incompatible; and that man, in making his election, gives the preference to society, and thus voluntarily relinquishes a portion of his free will. This abandonment of a portion of the natural rights of each member of a community, which we may term the inimical will, is a concession made

1 Theory of Legislation. Principles of the Civil Code, part i. ch. 2. 2 Human Understanding, Bk. ii. ch. 21, § 42.

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