— 276 —
Causes of this.       §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 our selves capable of any the
least degree of Happiness. Mens daily complaints are a loud proof
— 277 —
of this: The Pain that any one actually feels, is still of all other the
worst; and ’tis 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
it self, is a Pain, nay, oftentimes a very great one, the desire being
inflamed by a near and tempting Object; ’tis no wonder that that
operates after the same manner Pain does, and lessens in our
Thoughts, what is future; and so forces us, as it were, blindfold
into its embraces.
Locke Hum II, 21, §64, pp. 276-277