Savoring time: Desire, pleasure and wholehearted activity [Book Review]

Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 6 (2):143-160 (2003)
There is considerable appeal to the Aristotelian idea that taking pleasure in an activity is sometimes simply a matter of attending to it in such a way as to render it wholehearted. However, the proponents of this idea have not made adequately clear what kind of attention it is that can perform the surprising feat of transforming otherwise indifferent activities into pleasurable ones. I build upon Gilbert Ryle's suggestion that taking pleasure in an activity is tantamount to engaging in the activity while fervently desiring to do it and it alone. More specifically, I draw upon insights into the sort of evaluative attention involved in having a desire to generate corollary insights into the sort of attention that makes activity pleasurable. My aim is to offer a compelling account of a certain class of pleasures, and to shed light on their relation to reasons. I argue that prospective pleasures in this class are not always reasons for action, and that even when they are reasons they have this status only derivatively, as vivid apprehensions of an independent realm of values. This does not mean that such pleasures are never good. They are good provided that they track real values, for then they constitute a proper savoring of one's activities and/or circumstances, and provide a valuable respite from the distractions and unwarranted doubts that so often leave us at odds with ourselves and alienated from our own doings.
Keywords Aristotle  attention  desire  hedonism  pleasure  reasons  Ryle (Gilbert)  Scanlon (Thomas M.)  wholeheartedness
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