The Place of Pleasure in the Good Life

Ashwin Castellino

2neodymiumYear Doctrine

Philosophic Ethical motives

The Topographic point of Pleasure in the Good Life


In our mundane life, we frequently come across people who perform activities because they experience the joy and pleasance from what they love making. In my sentiment, there are ethicians who sometimes say that pleasance is bad or immoral particularly if it leads to serious or unsafe effects.

In this assignment I wish to analyse the significance of pleasance and its close connexion with our twenty-four hours to twenty-four hours life. The inquiries that are problematic and which I would wish to analyze are: are pleasures merely esthesiss or is pleasure an attitude which is attributed to its objects? Is pleasure necessary for felicity and the function of pleasance in the good life? Besides, I besides wish to lucubrate on some of import positions on pleasance like Hedonism, Utilitarianism, etc. and besides the Christian apprehension of pleasance. Through this survey I wish to accomplish a comprehensive apprehension of pleasance and the topographic point it has in the good life.

1. What is Pleasure?

Pleasure is the enjoyment that comes when making certain activities, like feeding, imbibing, sex and other activities. It is experienced by the five senses and besides the mind. It is the activities we do that keep our attending, which we do non happen deadening and most significantly that gives us a sense of satisfaction. “The thought that one’s life can be better and happier if one has more of the things one finds satisfying, or if the things that one does are more hearty in themselves, is an of import idea.” [ 1 ] Therefore we can state that even though pleasance can be desired for its ain interest, we must understand that pleasance is ever related to an object. “Objects of pleasance can be divided into those that are necessary and those that are desirable. Those which are desirable concern such things as award, wealth and victory.” [ 2 ] They are non precisely enjoyable objects in themselves, but they become enjoyable every bit long as they are objects of desire. To talk of pleasance in the good life, is it possible to achieve pleasance from all the objects that we want? For Epictetus, a Grecian philosopher, it is of import that we avoid certain things that would take to defeat and letdown “If we have an accurate apprehension of the manner the universe is, we besides know which desires and antipathies are likely to take to frustration.” [ 3 ] This is the ground why Epicurus brought about a differentiation between lower pleasances and higher pleasances. Lower pleasances would be those pleasances refering the flesh, senses or appetite, while higher pleasances, the rational and mind. However it is of import to observe, that all do non experience the same sum of pleasance that is derived from an object. Pleasure is comparative and therefore it can non be assumed that mental pleasances are more hearty than bodily pleasances.

Some of the factors which are propagated by Stuart Mill, when discoursing about pleasance, are that some pleasances are more intense than the others. At the same clip strength is non all that affairs. The more peaceable pleasance may last thirster. Furthermore, the fruitful consequence of that pleasance makes it even more exciting. Besides earlier trying to move we compare with other activities and so make up one’s mind which enjoyable activities to set about based on the effects. Thus strength, continuance, fecundity and likeliness play an of import function in most enjoyable activities. [ 4 ]

2. The Relationship between Happiness and Pleasure

“In classical utilitarianism, there is no difference between pleasance and felicity. Both footings refer to a sort of psychic province of satisfaction. However there are different sorts or types of pleasance of which worlds are capable.” [ 5 ] No affair what types of pleasance we derive based on strength or fecundity, it is deserving adverting that the intent of pleasance is cosmopolitan.

“Happiness is the basic motivation in everything we do. Our every act is motivated by some desire, satisfaction of which is intended as at least a partial ingredient in the sum sum of happiness.” [ 6 ] Very frequently we sacrifice some goods for the interest of something better ; at times we mistakenly choose an evident good alternatively of a echt good. There are some who prefer a short term enjoyment and are ready to predate enduring felicity in a better universe. The implicit in motivation for all we do is for felicity. We want felicity so much that we grab its impermanent signifiers that appeal to us and can non wait to see existent felicity.

Harmonizing to Aristotle, felicity is the terminal or end of all human existences. “It is non inactivity but action, or else one could be happy while asleep. It must be the highest sort of action, non done for something else but desirable for its ain sake.” [ 7 ] Happiness is non some sort of much needed relaxation after a difficult day’s work. “It is non action of the organic structure or senses but of the noblest and best in us, our ground. It is non the activity of the practical ground, for this is full of attention and problem, but of the bad or theoretical ground, which acts in quiet and leisure, for we work to hold leisure.” [ 8 ] Thus the life of contemplation is most abiding, enjoyable and this is the life of God, and it is the best. God is required to fulfill all our desires, because our intelligence is inclined to all Truth and Good. Since God is infinite and is found to be all perfect, therefore we can state that God is sufficient and therefore is the best. I shall lucubrate on it in item in the Christian position of pleasance.

3. Some Important Positions on Pleasure


Hedonists categorize felicity with pleasance. Anything is good so long as it gives pleasance, and that is best that gives the most intense pleasance. Epicurus, a Grecian philosopher was a Hedonist. Hedonism is a portion of moralss which is most consistent with philistinism. For Epicurus “the terminal of life is intense pleasance, an staying peace of head and a province of cheerful tranquility.” [ 9 ] He was able to separate between physical pleasance and mental pleasance. Harmonizing to him physical pleasances like smoke, imbibing, binges can take to more negative effects than really conveying permanent pleasance. Whereas mental pleasances like listening to music, rational treatment, etc, can convey greater pleasance and value than merely physical pleasance. Mental pleasances are superior because they are more abiding, but at the same clip we can non be devoid of sense pleasances. The wise adult male is able to command his life as to accomplish the maximal sum of pleasance and the smallest sum of hurting. Moderation is recommended to do possible for one to bask future pleasance. Thus virtuousness is good and utile since it helps keep us from inordinate passion and over indulgence “Whatever will increase our pleasance or our general peace of head is good, and anything that decreases it is bad ” . [ 10 ]

“We acknowledge pleasance as the first good innate in us, and from pleasance we begin every act of pick and turning away, and to pleasure we return once more, utilizing the feeling as the criterion by which we judge every good” . [ 11 ]

Thomas Hobbes besides subscribes to a hedonic position with a strong accent on egoism. “He thinks that nil is by itself good or evil, but that these are names we give to what we desire or detest.” [ 12 ] We yearn for those things that give us pleasance, either mental or physical, and we despise those things that give us displeasure. He points out that the creative activity of a political province is our lone agencies of conveying into order the battle and doing life manageable. “Society is formed non for the benefit of other people or of world as such but for the peace and safety of each peculiar individual looking out chiefly for himself or herself” . [ 13 ]

The willingness to command our appetencies and desires for the widespread good of society is justified by the world that we are portion of society and contribute to this common good. Thus we can state that is besides an component of opportunism in all that we do, even what may look to be the most selfless sort of behaviour. “Even love has its self-regarding facet and is unrealized unless it is returned.” [ 14 ] Those who besides seek the wages of ageless life are inspired by hedonism. They are willing to digest the agony of this universe with a hope and outlook of future felicity and peace.

3.2 Utilitarianism

The enlargement of hedonism which seeks the pleasance of the group or society and is beyond the pleasance of the person is known as utilitarianism.

“Utilitarianism seeks a felicity in which all will be happy instead than merely the fortunate few.” [ 15 ] Individual pleasance tends to restrict itself, which would connote non believing about the demand of the other individual. It could besides intend that one is deducing his felicity which is got from another person’s wretchedness.

“As a wise combination of egoism and selflessness, utilitarianism is an look of the sort of life most of us lead.” [ 16 ] It is understood that all worlds are societal existences and we are together in this enterprise of life. The analogy that is used is that we are all riders in a boat, and the safety of each one is linked to the safety of all. Therefore if the rule of utilitarianism is applied, it can convey about societal betterment, where people do non tackle egocentric dispositions but sees each 1s happiness as incorporated in that of society.

“Utilitarianism eliminates the coarseness of egocentric hedonism by a qualitative favoritism of pleasances, and therefore makes topographic point for civilization, gustatory sensation, and beauty in human life.” [ 17 ]

Therefore we can state that Utilitarianism does non oppose virtuousness or faith. It stresses on the societal virtuousnesss required for the public assistance and common good of society. It is really much against those who misinterpret the virtuousness of common good which lead to antisocial Acts of the Apostless. For these and other grounds we see that there are elements of truth in utilitarianism. This ethical system considers that the societal effects are more of import.

3.3 Aristotle’s position of pleasance

“There are ends and goods that we desire in position of farther ends and goods and that therefore are comparative ends and goods ; but since it is impossible that a procedure go on eternity from end to end and goods to goods, we must admit that all ends and goods to which adult male tends are in map of some ultimate end and highest good.” [ 18 ] (Plato and Aristotle: 318 )

The inquiry is what is this ultimate good? Aristotle does non hold any scruples, for him everyone holds that such a good is eudaimonia ; viz. , felicity. Therefore felicity is the purpose to which all human existences are consciously inclined. Most human existences believe that felicity consists in enjoyment and pleasance. But a life committed to pleasure is a life made “like a slave’s” and an “existence worthy of beasts” [ 19 ]

For Aristotle, pleasance goes along with every activity whether it is practical or theoretical and brings it to excellence. “The aspiration of pleasance, hence, for Aristotle is entirely natural because it of course accompanies life and all activities that belong to life, exactly as a status of “perfection, ” or excellence of these activities.” [ 20 ] Every activity, hence, has its pleasance ; hence every pleasance is a true pleasance. However for Aristotle, “as there are becoming activities that are good, and indecent activities that are bad, merely so are at that place becoming pleasances that are good, and indecent pleasances that are bad.” [ 21 ]

For the wise adult male, pleasances may look good or immoralities based on some grounds. “In fact, an ontological standard exists for know aparting between higher pleasances and lower pleasances. The former are those bound to theoretical-contemplative activities of adult male, the latter are alternatively those bound to the vegetative and animate life of man.” [ 22 ] The vegetative and the animate life of adult male would include the biological demands, desires, passions and emotions. The theoretical- brooding portion include accomplishment, wisdom and scientific cognition.

4. Christian View of Pleasure

Christian religion stresses that pleasance is good in a manner that it motivates us to make the coveted good i.e. God. However if we shift our focal point from the good and concentrate merely on the pleasances of our making, this can take to overindulgence and finally serious effects. St Augustine references that “Some of those things which we like, such as nutrient, drink, and sunshine, when immoderately and foolishly used are seen to be harmful.” [ 23 ]We need to be given to the demands of our organic structure, being cognizant of our inherent aptitudes and fulfill our demands in a controlled mode, to such an extent that we do non go slaves to our passion. Christianity speaks of a holistic manner of life, where we do non gorge and acquire carried off by the pleasance facet, at the same clip we do non strip ourselves of our basic demands. “The peace of the organic structure lies in the ordered equilibrium of all its parts ; the peace of the irrational psyche, in the balanced accommodations of its appetencies ; the peace of the concluding psyche, in the harmonious correspondence of behavior and strong belief ; the peace of the organic structure and psyche taken together, in the well-ordered life and wellness of the life whole.” [ 24 ]

Plato mentioned that “Pleasure is nonthegood, the exclusive good or even the head good, but that it is nonagood” [ 25 ] However Christianity would non hold with Plato to this extreme. It would construe Plato’s statement that no pleasance can of all time fit the terminal, or the amount of any pleasance can be to the terminal. Christianity focuses on the terminal, pleasance is considered to be a agency to our terminal, our terminal being entire felicity with God. Aquinas puts it across really sagely that “in the order of nature pleasance depends on operation, and non the converse. So, if operations are non the ultimate terminal, the pleasances that result from them are non the ultimate terminal, either ; nor are they concomitant with the ultimate end.” [ 26 ]Augustine is besides of the same position, he emphasizes that “the households which live harmonizing to faith expression in front to the good things of heaven promised as imperishable, and utilize stuff and temporal goods in the spirit of pilgrims, non as traps or obstructors to barricade their manner to God.” [ 27 ]

Therefore we can gestate that Christianity has a really balanced attack towards pleasance. It does non contemn it wholly, but considers pleasure as a vehicle to make the ultimate terminal. Pleasure is required, to the extent that it prompts us to travel in front. However pleasance is non everything, there are times we have to give things which give us pleasance so as to make our end.


From this survey, we can reason that enjoyment or pleasance is ever got from traveling something or sing something. We eat chiefly to maintain ourselves alive, though feeding is besides a enjoyable experience. Sexual activity is the natural agencies for reproduction, though we besides derive pleasance from it. Intellect enables us to populate a sophisticated life, and we besides get pleasance by work outing complex jobs. Therefore pleasance becomes a agency to a coveted terminal. We would happen it hard to eat if did non experience hungry and if nutrient did non hold any gustatory sensation.

I would non hold to the sentiment of pleasance being a agency to an terminal. This is what one could believe of it objectively, where people can utilize pleasance as an temptation or as an inducement. But when pleasance is looked at subjectively, it is a personal experience of the individual. The Christian apprehension of pleasance throws much light on this facet. Pleasure is considered bad, because of the object that it is attached to, is harmful, unworthy or even unsafe. Example, a individual deducing pleasance by smoking a coffin nail, in this instance the coffin nail is considered harmful for the person’s wellness but the individual can still deduce pleasance from it, though merely impermanent pleasance. Though pleasance can be considered as a good, we must non bury the limited nature of pleasance as compared to the cosmopolitan nature of felicity mentioned by Aristotle. One can non achieve all the pleasances of this life at one clip. Pleasures can ne’er be lasting, since we know that excessively much indulgence comes along with serious effects. Pleasure does hold a topographic point in the good life. It can attach to the activities we like making, nevertheless it should be sought in the right mode, bearing in head the object of pleasance and besides its effects on oneself and society. Pleasure one time formed and guided by wisdom signifiers an of import portion of a righteous personality as a whole.


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