11/24/12

"If it does not make us happier"

“THE AIM of human polity is human happiness. For those holding certain beliefs it is conditioned by the hope of a larger happiness, which it must not imperil. But happiness, the making glad of the heart of man, is the secular test and the only realistic test. So far from this test, by the talisman of the heart, being merely sentimental, it is the only test that is in the least practical. There is no law of logic or nature or anything else forcing us to prefer anything else. There is no obligation on us to be richer, or busier, or more efficient, or more productive, or more progressive, or in any way worldlier or wealthier, if it does not make us happier. Mankind has as much right to scrap its machinery and live on the land, if it really likes it better, as any man has to sell his old bicycle and go for a walk; but he has no duty to be fast. And if it can be shown that machinery has come into the world as a curse, there is no reason whatever for our respecting it because it is a marvelous and practical and productive curse. There is no reason why we should not leave all its powers unused, if we really come to the conclusion that the powers do harm us. There mere fact that we shall be missing a number of interesting things would equally apply to any number of impossible things.”

~G.K. Chesterton: The Outline of Sanity.



A Husbandman with His Herd, by Paulus Potter; Oil on oak, 1648.
Staatliche Museen, Kassel.


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