What Does Pleasure Want?

Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences:1-17 (forthcoming)
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Abstract

Some philosophers and psychologists share an assumption that pleasure is by nature such that when an experience is pleasurable, an agent is motivated to continue having that experience. In this paper, I dispute this assumption. First, I point out how it does not make sense of the wanting-liking distinction in motivational neuroscience. Second, I present as a counterexample what I call’dynamic pleasure’ which does not motivate retaining one’s focus on the object of original experience but motivates an exploration of other options instead. Third, as another counterexample, I bring out pleasures of relief which are bound to pass when one’s discomfort is removed and in which case it is reasonable to assume that there is no motivation to maintain them. Fourth, I appeal to phenomenology of pleasure and argue that many experiences have a temporal shape which is in conflict with the self-maintenance assumption. As an example, I use the pleasure in listening to a song. The conclusion of the paper is that we should reject the self-maintenance assumption and consider seriously pluralism about the motivational structure of pleasure.

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Uku Tooming
University of Tartu

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References found in this work

The Pleasure of Art.Mohan Matthen - 2017 - Australasian Philosophical Review 1 (1):6-28.
The reduction of sensory pleasure to desire.Chris Heathwood - 2007 - Philosophical Studies 133 (1):23-44.
A Contemporary Account of Sensory Pleasure.Murat Aydede - 2018 - In Lisa Shapiro (ed.), Pleasure: A History. New York, USA: Oxford University Press. pp. 239-266.
Aesthetic knowledge.Keren Gorodeisky & Eric Marcus - 2022 - Philosophical Studies 179 (8):2507-2535.

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