An analysis of pleasure vis-a-vis pain

I take up the issue of whether pleasure is a kind of sensation or not. This issue was much discussed by philosophers of the 1950’s and 1960’s, and apparently no resolution was reached. There were mainly two camps in the discussion: those who argued for a dispositional account, and those who favored an episodic feeling view of pleasure. Here, relying on some recent scientific research I offer an account of pleasure which neither dispositionalizes nor sensationalizes pleasure. As is usual in the tradition, I compare pleasure with pain, and try to see its similarities and differences. I argue that pain and pleasure experiences have typically a complex phenomenology normally not so obvious in introspection. After distinguishing between affective and sensory components of these experiences, I argue that although pain experiences normally consist of both components proper to them, pleasure, in contradistinction to pain, is only the affective component of a total experience that may involve many sensations proper and cognitions. Moreover, I hold that although the so-called “physical” pleasure is itself not a sensation proper, it is nevertheless an episodic affective reaction to sensations proper
Keywords Epistemology  Ethics  Pain  Pleasure  Ryle, G
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DOI 10.2307/2653612
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