Is Life Worth Living?

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Published: 1879
Language: English
Wordcount: 88,912 / 253 pg
Flesch-Kincaid Reading Ease: 65.2
LoC Category: BL
Downloads: 2,222
Added to site: 2005.12.03
mnybks.net#: 12051
Excerpt

of sense is but a small part of the pleasure he actually experiences. That pleasure, as a whole, is a highly complex thing, and rests mainly on a basis that, by a little knowledge, could be annihilated in a moment. Tell the boy what the champagne really is, he has been praising; and the state of his mind and face will undergo a curious transformation. Our sense of the worth of life is similar in its complexity to the boy's sense of the worth of his wine. Beliefs and associations play exactly the same part in it. The beliefs in this last case may of course be truer. The question that I have to ask is, are they? In some individual cases certainly, they have not been. Miss Harriet Martineau, for instance, judging life from her own experience of it, was quite persuaded that it was a most solemn and satisfactory thing, and she has told the world as much, in no hesitating manner. But a part at least of the solemn satisfaction she felt in it was due to a grotesque over-estimate of her own social and intellectual importance. Here, then, was a worth in life, real enough to the person who found it, but which a little knowledge of the world would have at once taken away from her. Does the general reverence with which life is at present regarded rest in any degree upon any similar misconception? And if so, to what extent does it? Will it fall to pieces before the breath of a larger knowledge? or has it that firm foundation in fact that will enable it to survive in spite of all enlightenment, and perhaps even to increase in consequence of it?

Such is the outline of the question I propose to deal with.

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