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Full text of "Authority and the individual"

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nature. On the one hand, we have impulses to hold
what we possess, and (too often) to acquire what
others possess. On the other hand, we have creative
impulses, impulses to put something into the world
which is not taken away from anybody else. These
may take humble forms, such as cottage gardens, or
may represent the summit of human achievement, as
in Shakespeare and Newton. Broadly speaking, the
, regularizing of possessive impulses and their control
by the law belong to the essential functions of govern-
ment, while the creative impulses, though govern-
ments may encourage them, should derive their
main influence from individual or group autonomy.
Material goods are more a matter of possession
than goods that are mental, A man who eats a piece
of food prevents everyone else from eating it, but a
man who writes or enjoys a poem does not prevent
another man from writing or enjoying one just as
good or better. That is why, in regard to material
goods, justice is important, but in regard to mental
goods the thing that is needed is opportunity and an
environment that makes hope of achievement seem
rational. It is not great material rewards that stimu-
late men capable of creative work; few poets or
men of science have made fortunes or wished to do
so. Socrates was put to death by Authority, but he
remained completely placid in his last moments
because he had done his work. If he had been loaded
with honours but prevented from doing his .work,
he would have felt that he had suffered a far severer