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Addison’s Principle of Humanity

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Man is subject to innumerable pains and sorrows by the very condition of humanity, enough in life, we are continually adding grief to grief, and aggravating the common calamity by our cruel treatment of one another. Every man’s natural weight of afflictions is still made more heavy by the envy, malice, treachery, or injustice of his neighbour. At the same time that the storm beats upon the whole species, we are falling foul upon one another.

Half the misery of human life might be extinguished, would men alleviate the general curse they lie under, by mutual offices of compassion, benevolence and humanity. There is nothing therefore which we ought more to encourage in ourselves and others, than that disposition of mind which in our language goes under the title of good-nature.

Joseph Addison, The Spectator, Sept. 13, 1711 in: The Works of Joseph Addison vol. 1, p. 251 (Harper’s ed. 1850).

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