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Full text of "Authority and the individual"

INDIVIDUAL   AND   SOCIAL   ETHICS
for, if not, his painting will be worthless and his
discoveries unimportant.
The sphere of individual action is not to be re-
garded as ethically inferior to that of social duty. On
the contrary, some of the best of human activities
are, at least in feeling, rather personal than social.
As I said in Lecture III, prophets, mystics, poets,
scientific   discoverers,   are   men   whose   lives   are
dominated by a vision; they are essentially solitary
men. When their dominant impulse is strong, they
feel that they cannot obey authority if it runs counter
to what they profoundly believe to be good. Although,
on this account, they are often persecuted in their
own day, they are apt to be, of all men, those to
whom posterity pays the highest honour. It is such
men who put into the world the things that we most
value, not only in religion, in art, and in science,
but also in our way of feeling towards our neighbour,
for improvements in the sense of social obligation,
as  in  everything  else,  have  been largely  due  to
solitary men whose thoughts and emotions were not
subject to the dominion of the herd.
If human life is not to become dusty and un-
interesting, it is important to realize that there are
things that have a value which is quite independent
of utility. What is useful is useful because it is a
means to something else, and the something else,
if It is not in turn merely a means, must be valued
for its own sake, for otherwise the useWbess is
illusory.
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