Fred Feldman's fascinating new book sets out to defend hedonism as a theory about the Good Life. He tries to show that, when carefully and charitably interpreted, certain forms of hedonism yield plausible evaluations of human lives. Feldman begins by explaining the question about the Good Life. As he understands it, the question is not about the morally good life or about the beneficial life. Rather, the question concerns the general features of the life that is good in itself for (...) the one who lives it. Hedonism says (roughly) that the Good Life is the pleasant life. After showing that received formulations of hedonism are often confused or incoherent, Feldman presents a simple, clear, coherent form of sensory hedonism that provides a starting point for discussion. He then presents a catalogue of classic objections to hedonism, coming from sources as diverse as Plato, Aristotle, Brentano, Ross, Moore, Rawls, Kagan, Nozick, Brandt, and others. One of Feldman's central themes is that there is an important distinction between the forms of hedonism that emphasize sensory pleasure and those that emphasize attitudinal pleasure. Feldman formulates several kinds of hedonism based on the idea that attitudinal pleasure is the Good. He claims that attitudinal forms of hedonism - which have often been ignored in the literature -- are worthy of more careful attention. Another main theme of the book is the plasticity of hedonism. Hedonism comes in many forms. Attitudinal hedonism is especially receptive to variations and modifications. Feldman illustrates this plasticity by formulating several variants of attitudinal hedonism and showing how they evade some of the objections. He also shows how it is possible to develop forms of hedonism that are equivalent to the allegedly anti-hedonistic theory of G. E. Moore and the Aristotelian theory according to which the Good Life is the life of virtue, or flourishing. He also formulates hedonisms relevantly like the ones defended by Aristippus and Mill. Feldman argues that a carefully developed form of attitudinal hedonism is not refuted by objections concerning 'the shape of a life'. He also defends the claim that all of the alleged forms of hedonism discussed in the book genuinely deserve to be called 'hedonism'. Finally, after dealing with the last of the objections, he gives a sketch of his hedonistic vision of the Good Life. (shrink)
[This is the penultimate version, please send me an email for the final version]. Some sensations are pleasant, some unpleasant, and some are neither. Furthermore, those that are pleasant or unpleasant are so to different degrees. In this essay, I want to explore what kind of a difference is the difference between these three kinds of sensations. I will develop a comprehensive three-level account of sensory pleasure that is simultaneously adverbialist, functionalist and is also a version of a satisfied (...) experiential-desire account. (shrink)
The main claim of the paper is that, on Kant's account, aesthetic pleasure is an exercise of rational agency insofar as, when proper, it has the following two features: (1) It is an affective responsiveness to the question: “what is to be felt disinterestedly”? As such, it involves consciousness of its ground (the reasons for having it) and thus of itself as properly responsive to its object. (2) Its actuality depends on endorsement: actually feeling it involves its endorsement as (...) an attitude to have. I claim that seeing that nature of aesthetic pleasure requires that we divest ourselves of the following dilemma: either feelings are the non-cognitive, passive ways through which we are affected by objects; or they are cognitive states by virtue of the theoretical beliefs they necessarily involve. On my reading of Kant, this dilemma is false. Aesthetic pleasure is neither passive, nor theoretically cognitive, and yet, it is an exercise of rational agency by virtue of belonging to a domain of rationality that is largely overlooked in the history of philosophy, but that deserves, I argue following Kant, our close attention: aesthetic rationality. In the first section, I explain this nature of aesthetic pleasure, and in the second section, I respond to a charge of “over-intellectualism.". (shrink)
In this article, I attempt to resuscitate the perennially unfashionable distinctive feeling theory of pleasure (and pain), according to which for an experience to be pleasant (or unpleasant) is just for it to involve or contain a distinctive kind of feeling. I do this in two ways. First, by offering powerful new arguments against its two chief rivals: attitude theories, on the one hand, and the phenomenological theories of Roger Crisp, Shelly Kagan, and Aaron Smuts, on the other. Second, (...) by showing how it can answer two important objections that have been made to it. First, the famous worry that there is no felt similarity to all pleasant (or unpleasant) experiences (sometimes called ‘the heterogeneity objection’). Second, what I call ‘Findlay’s objection’, the claim that it cannot explain the nature of our attraction to pleasure and aversion to pain. (shrink)
Beyond the Pleasure Principle is Freud's most philosophical and speculative work, exploring profound questions of life and death, pleasure and pain. In it Freud introduces the fundamental concepts of the "repetition compulsion" and the "death drive," according to which a perverse, repetitive, self-destructive impulse opposes and even trumps the creative drive, or Eros. The work is one of Freud's most intensely debated, and raises important questions that have been discussed by philosophers and psychoanalysts since its first publication in (...) 1920. The text is presented here in a contemporary new translation by Gregory C. Richter. Appendices trace the work's antecedents and the many responses to it, including texts by Plato, Friedrich Nietzsche, Melanie Klein, Herbert Marcuse, Jacques Derrida, and Judith Butler, among many others. (shrink)
That all pleasure is good and all pain bad in itself is an eternally true ethical principle. The common claim that some pleasure is not good, or some pain not bad, is mistaken. Strict particularism (ethical decisions must be made case by case; there are no sound universal normative principles) and relativism (all good and bad are relative to society) are among the ethical theories we may refute through an appeal to pleasure and pain. Daniel Dennett, Philippa (...) Foot, R M Hare, Gilbert Harman, Immanuel Kant, J. L. Mackie, and Jean-Paul Sartre are among the many philosophers addressed. (shrink)
Most philosophers since Sidgwick have thought that the various forms of pleasure differ so radically that one cannot find a common, distinctive feeling among them. This is known as the heterogeneity problem. To get around this problem, the motivational theory of pleasure suggests that what makes an experience one of pleasure is our reaction to it, not something internal to the experience. I argue that the motivational theory is wrong, and not only wrong, but backwards. The heterogeneity (...) problem is the principal source of motivation for this, otherwise, highly counterintuitive theory. I intend to show that the heterogeneity problem is not a genuine problem and that a more straightforward theory of pleasure is forthcoming. I argue that the various experiences that we call pleasures all feel good. (shrink)
This paper argues that pleasure and pains are not qualia and they are not to be analyzed in terms of supposedly antecedently intelligible mental states like bodily sensation or desire. Rather, pleasure and pain are char- acteristic of a distinctive kind of evaluation that is common to emotions, desires, and (some) bodily sensations. These are felt evaluations: pas- sive responses to attend to and be motivated by the import of something impressing itself on us, responses that are nonetheless (...) simultaneously con- stitutive of that import by virtue of the broader rational patterns of which they are a part and that they serve to de?ne. This account of felt eval- uations makes sense of the way in which pleasures and pains grab our attention and motivate us to act and of the peculiar dual objectivity and subjectivity of their implicit evaluations, while o?ering a phenomenology adequate to both emotional and bodily pleasures and pains. (shrink)
The aim of this article is to explore nuances within the field of bodily self-awareness. My starting-point is phenomenological. I focus on how the subject experiences her or his body, i.e. how the body stands forth to the subject. I build on the phenomenologist Drew Leder’s distinction between bodily dis-appearance and dys-appearance. In bodily dis-appearance, I am only prereflectively aware of my body. My body is not a thematic object of my experience. Bodily dys-appearance takes place when the body appears (...) to me as “ill” or “bad.” This is often the case when I experience pain or illness. Here, I will examine three versions of bodily dys-appearance. Whereas many phenomenological studies have explored cases of bodily dys-appearance, few studies have focused on the opposite of bodily dys-appearance, i.e. on bodily modes of being where the body appears to the subject as something good, easy or well. This is done in this article. When the body stands forth as good, easy or well to the subject, I suggest that the body eu-appears to this person. The analysis of eu-appearance shows that the subject can attend to her or his body as something positive and that this attention need not result in discomfort or alienation. Eu-appearance can take place in physical exercise, in sexual pleasure and in some cases of wanted pregnancies. I also discuss, briefly, the case of masochism. (shrink)
This paper argues against hedonistic theories of happiness. First, hedonism is too inclusive: many pleasures cannot plausibly be construed as constitutive of happiness. Second, any credible theory must count either attitudes of life satisfaction, affective states such as mood, or both as constituents of happiness; yet neither sort of state reduces to pleasure. Hedonism errs in its attempt to reduce happiness, which is at least partly dispositional, to purely episodic experiential states. The dispositionality of happiness also undermines weakened nonreductive (...) forms of hedonism, as some happiness-constitutive states are not pleasures in any sense. Moreover, these states can apparently fail to exhibit the usual hedonic properties; sadness, for instance, can sometimes be pleasant. Finally, the nonhedonistic accounts are adequate if not superior on grounds of practical and theoretical utility, quite apart from their superior conformity to the folk notion of happiness. (shrink)
This paper presents a new account of pleasure. Aesthetic engagement for pleasure is a distinct psychological structure, marked by a characteristic self-reinforcing motivation. Pleasure figures in this structure in two ways: In the short run, when we are in contact with particular artefacts on particular occasions, pleasure keeps aesthetic engagement running smoothly. Over longer periods, it plays a critical role in shaping how we engage with objects to get this kind of pleasure from them. This (...) account is yoked to a broadly functional understanding of art: it is not the nature of the object that makes it art, but the nature of the response that it is designed to elicit. The view does not, however, rest on individual psychology alone, as some other functional accounts do. Crucially, it is argued that shared cultural context is a key determinant of the pleasure we derive from aesthetic artefacts. The pleasure of art is always communal and communicative. (shrink)
One of the leading approaches to the nature of sensory pleasure reduces it to desire: roughly, a sensation qualifies as a sensation of pleasure just in case its subject wants to be feeling it. This approach is, in my view, correct, but it has never been formulated quite right; and it needs to be defended against some compelling arguments. Thus the purpose of this paper is to discover the most defensible formulation of this rough idea, and to defend (...) it against the most interesting objections. (shrink)
This paper responds to a new objection, due to Ben Bramble, against attitudinal theories of sensory pleasure and pain: the objection from unconscious pleasures and pains. According to the objection, attitudinal theories are unable to accommodate the fact that sometimes we experience pleasures and pains of which we are, at the time, unaware. In response, I distinguish two kinds of unawareness and argue that the subjects in the examples that support the objection are unaware of their sensations in only (...) a weak sense, and this weak sort of unawareness of a sensation does not preclude its being an object of one’s attitudes. (shrink)
Recent results from the neurosciences demonstrate that pleasure and pain are not two symmetrical poles of a single scale of experience but in fact two different types of experiences altogether, with dramatically different contributions to well-being. These differences between pleasure and pain and the general finding that “the bad is stronger than the good” have important implications for our treatment of nonhuman animals. In particular, whereas animal experimentation that causes suffering might be justified if it leads to the (...) prevention of more suffering, it can never by justified merely by leading to increased levels of happiness. (shrink)
What is the role of pleasure in determining a person’s well-being? I start by considering the nature of pleasure (i.e., what pleasure is). I then consider what factors, if any, can affect how much a given pleasure adds to a person’s lifetime well-being other than its degree of pleasurableness (i.e., how pleasurable it is). Finally, I consider whether it is plausible that there is any other way to add to somebody’s lifetime well-being than by giving him (...) some pleasure or helping him to avoid some pain. (shrink)
Stephen Davies’ book The Artful Species is a nuanced and learned attempt to show how evolution does, and does not, account for the human capacity to produce and appreciate beautiful things. In this critical note, his approach to aesthetic pleasure is examined. Aesthetic pleasure, it is argued, is a state that encourages us to continue with our perceptual or intellectual engagement with something. Such pleasure displays a different profile from states that urge us to use an object (...) to satisfy a need, and which terminate when that need has been met. Davies subsumes aesthetic pleasure to the latter kind of state. This is a mistake. (shrink)
The history of the political thought on pleasure is not a cloistered affair in which scholars only engage one another. In political thought, one commonly finds a critical engagement with the wider public and the ruling classes, which are both perceived to be dangerously hedonistic. The effort of many political thinkers is directed towards showing that other political ends are more worthy than pleasure: Plato battles vigorously against Calicles' pleasure seeking in the Gorgias, Augustine argues in The (...) City of God against the human tendency to hedonism in favor of a profound distrust of pleasure, and even Machiavelli claims in The Prince that it is in the prince's best interest to separate his pursuit of pleasure from his pursuit of political power. The thrust of the majority of political thought is to interrupt the popular equation that links pleasure with the good. Instead, political thought has largely followed Plato's lead and has worked to contain hedonism on two fronts. First, pleasure is rigorously separated from ethical and political good: what is good is not identical with what is pleasurable even if the two sometimes overlap. Second, even where the pursuit of pleasure is judged to be coincident with the good, pleasure should only be pursued to the degree it is rational to do so and pursued in the most rational way. Of course, it is not true that all thinkers hold to these two positions on pleasure. Epicureanism and utilitarianism are two major schools of thought that challenge the first precept equating pleasure with the good. Both Epicureanism and utilitarianism argue that the only good is pleasure. However, it is much less frequently that one finds a thinker challenging the second Platonic position that reason must master and guide our pursuit of pleasure—even the Epicureans and utilitarians believe that pleasure is best pursued rationally. However, Foucault has attracted recent attention by challenging the idea that reason should dominate the pursuit of pleasure. (shrink)
In this paper, I present my solutions to two closely related questions about pleasure. One of these questions is fairly well known. The second question seems to me to be at least as interesting as the first, but it apparently hasn't interested quite so many philosophers.
Jonathan Lear argues that the established purgation, purification, and cognitive stimulation interpretations of Aristotle’s concepts of catharsis and tragic pleasure are off the mark. In response, Lear defends an anti-cognitivist account, arguing that it is the pleasure associated with imaginatively “living life to the full” and yet hazarding nothing of importance that captures Aristotle’s understanding of catharsis and tragic pleasure. This analysis reveals that Aristotle’s account of imagination in conjunction with his understanding of both specific intellectual virtues (...) and rational emotions of an educated citizen not only tells against Lear’s anti-cognitivist construal, but also divulges an alternative cognitive stimulation reading. (shrink)
A lot of qualitatively very different sensations can be pleasant or unpleasant. The Felt-Quality Views that conceive of sensory affect as having an introspectively available common phenomenology or qualitative character face the “heterogeneity problem” of specifying what that qualitative common phenomenology is. In contrast, according to the Attitudinal Views, what is common to all pleasant or unpleasant sensations is that they are all “wanted” or “unwanted” in a certain sort of way. The commonality is explained not on the basis of (...) phenomenology but by a common mental, usually some sort of conative, attitude toward the sensation. Here I criticize both views and offer an alternative framework that combines what is right in both while avoiding their unintuitive commitments. The result is the reductive (psychofunctionalist) adverbial sensory modification view of pleasure and displeasure. (shrink)
Against Hume and Epicurus I argue that our selection of pleasure, pain and other objects as our ultimate ends is guided by reason. There are two parts to the explanation of our attraction to pleasure, our aversion to pain, and our consequent preference of pleasure to pain: 1. Pleasure presents us with reason to seek it, pain presents us reason to avoid it, and 2. Being intelligent, human beings (and to a degree, many animals) are disposed (...) to be guided by reason, and hence by what there is reason to choose, seek, and prefer, when they act. (shrink)
One of the most important disputes in the foundations of ethics concerns the source of practical reasons. On the desire-based view, only one’s desires provide one with reasons to act. On the value-based view, reasons are instead provided by the objective evaluative facts, and never by our desires. Similarly, there are desire-based and non-desired-based theories about two other phenomena: pleasure and welfare. It has been argued, and is natural to think, that holding a desire-based theory about either pleasure (...) or welfare commits one to recognizing that desires do provide reasons for action – i.e., commits one to abandoning the value-based theory of reasons. The purpose of this paper is to show that this is not so. All of the following can be true: pleasure and welfare provide reasons; pleasure and welfare are to be understood in terms of desire; desires never provide reasons, in the relevant way. (shrink)
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. (shrink)
I defend these claims: (1) 'Pleasure' has exactly one English antonym: 'unpleasure.' (2) Pleasure is the most convincing example of an organic unity. (3) The hedonic calculus is a joke. (4) An important type of pleasure is background pleasure. (5) Pleasures in bad company are still good. (6) Higher pleasures aren't pleasures (and if they were, they wouldn't be higher). Thesis (1) merely concerns terminology, but theses (2)-(6) are substantive, evaluative claims.
Pleasure is one of the strongest candidates for an occurrence that might be good, in some respect, unconditionally. Malicious pleasure is one of the most often cited alleged counter-examples to pleasure’s being an unconditional good. Correctly evaluating malicious pleasure is more complex than people realize. I defend pleasure’s unconditionally good status from critics of malicious pleasure.
What is the contrary of pleasure? “Pain” is one common answer. This paper argues that pleasure instead has two natural contraries: unpleasure and hedonic indifference. This view is defended by drawing attention to two often-neglected concepts: the formal relation of polar opposition and the psychological state of hedonic indifference. The existence of mixed feelings, it is argued, does not threaten the contrariety of pleasure and unpleasure.
The author comments on the article “The neurobiology of addiction: Implications for voluntary control of behavior,‘ by S. E. Hyman. Hyman presents that addiction is a brain disease or a moral condition. The authors present that addiction is a strong preference, similar to appetitive preferences. They state that addiction is merely a form of pleasure-seeking. The authors conclude that the problem of addiction is the problem of the management of pleasure, not treatment of a disease. Accession Number: 24077914; (...) Authors: Foddy, Bennett 1; Email Address: firstname.lastname@example.org Savulescu, Julian 2; Affiliations: 1: University of Melbourne, Monash University, Australia; 2: University of Oxford; Subject: EDITORIALS; Subject: ADDICTIONS; Subject: HYMAN, S. E.; Subject: BRAIN -- Diseases; Subject: PLEASURE; Subject: NEUROBIOLOGY; Subject: BEHAVIOR; Number of Pages: 4p. (shrink)
This paper uses readings of two classic autobiographies, Edmund Gosse's Father & Son and John Stuart Mill's Autobiography, to develop a distinctive answer to an old and central question in value theory: What role is played by pleasure in the most successful human life? A first section defends my method. The main body of the paper then defines and rejects voluntarist, stoic, and developmental hedonist lessons to be taken from central crises in my two subjects' autobiographies, and argues for (...) a fourth, diagnostic lesson: Gosse and Mill perceive their individual good through the medium of pleasure. Finally, I offer some speculative moral psychology of human development, as involving the waking, perception, management, and flowering of generic and individual capacities, which I suggest underlies Gosse and Mill's experiences. The acceptance of one's own unchosen nature, discovered by self-perceptive pleasure in the operation of one's nascent capacities, is the beginning of a flourishing adulthood in which that nature is fully developed and expressed. (shrink)
The article starts with a brief overview of the kinds of approaches that have been attempted for the presentation of Phenomenology’s view on the emotions. I then pass to Husserl’s unsatisfactory efforts to disclose the intentionality of emotions and their intentional correlation with values. Next, I outline the idea of a new, “normalized phenomenological” approach of emotions and values. Pleasure and pain, then, are first explored as affective feelings . In the cases examined, it is shown that, primordially, (...) class='Hi'>pleasure and pain are recordings for our bodily and spiritual states resulting from our confrontation with beings and situations in the world. Delight and distress are, subsequently, approached as the first full-fledged emotive acts that animate or intentionally interpret pleasure and pain in specific ways. The elementary values of agreeableness and disagreeableness appear correspondingly to the latter in relation to the very pleasure or pain and to what has caused them. In other words, agreeable and disagreeable show how what we confront in the world weighs for us, what value it has for the embodied intentional consciousness, for its state and functioning as well as for its existentio-praxial possibilities in the lifeworld. (shrink)
This paper discusses the structural relationship between ideals on pleasure and pleasure as a human psychological phenomenon in Chinese thought. It describes the psychological phenomenon of pleasure, and compares different approaches by pre-Qin Confucian and Daoist scholars. It also analyzes its development in Song and Ming Confucianism. Finally, in the conclusion, the issue is transferred to a general understanding of happiness, so as to demonstrate the modern value of the classical ideological experience.
In this study, George Rudebusch addresses whether Socrates was a hedonist--whether he believed pleasure to be the good. In attempting to locate Socrates' position on hedonism, Rudebusch examines the passages in Plato's early dialogues that are the most disputed on the topic. He maintains that Socrates identifies pleasant activity with virtuous activity, describing Socrates' hedonism as one of activity, not sensation. This analysis allows for Socrates to find both virtue and pleasure to be the good, thus solving the (...) textual puzzle and showing the power of Socratic argument in leading human beings toward the good. (shrink)
This is a response to invited and submitted commentary on "The Pleasure of Art," published in Australasian Philosophical Reviews 1, 1 (2017). In it, I expand on my view of aesthetic pleasure, particularly how the distinction between facilitating pleasure and relief pleasure works. In response to critics who discerned and were uncomfortable with the aesthetic hedonism that they found in the work, I develop that aspect of my view. My position is that the aesthetic value of (...) a work of art is its capacity to elicit from a suitably well-informed consumer a specific kind of pleasure. (shrink)
It is time to challenge the issue of pleasure associated with the core of medical practice. Its importance is made clear through its opposite: unhappiness—something which affects doctors in a rather worrying way. The paper aims to provide a discussion on pleasure on reliable grounds. Plato’s conception of techne is a convenient model that offers insights into the unique practice of medicine, which embraces in a single purposive action several heterogeneous dimensions. In Aristotle’s Ethics, pleasure appears to (...) play a central role for action’s assessment and intensification. Pleasure is also tightly associated with the Kantian faculty of reflective judgment, which operates at the heart of clinical reasoning. Indeed, practicing medicine means to deal with the particular and the manifold, requiring clinical judgment, but also relying on embodied habitus . With Bourdieu’s notion of habitus , pleasure is the mark of a happy practice, which presupposes a deep involvement in one’s field. Throughout our inquiry, the question of pleasure comes to offer a critical reappraisal of real medical practice and leads to consider ethics more as a component of techne than as a separate realm of concern. (shrink)
The paper begins with a well-known objection to the idea that reasons for action are provided by desires. The objection holds that since desires are based on reasons (first premise), which they transmit but to which they cannot add (second premise), they cannot themselves provide reasons for action. In the paper I investigate an attack that has recently been launched against the first premise of the argument by David Sobel. Sobel invokes a counterexample: hedonic desires, i.e. the likings and dislikings (...) of our present conscious states. The aim of the paper is to defend the premise by bringing the alleged counterexample under its scope. I first point out that reference to hedonic desires as a counterexample presupposes a particular understanding of pleasure, which we might call desire-based. In response, following Sobel, I draw up two alternative accounts, the phenomenological and the tracking views of pleasure. Although Sobel raises several objections to both accounts, I argue in detail that the phenomenological view is not as implausible as he claims it to be, whereas the tracking view, on its best version advocated by Thomas Scanlon, is an instance of the phenomenological view and is therefore also defensible. (shrink)
Provides a critical and analytical history of ancient Greek theories on the nature of pleasure, and of its value and rolein human lfie, from the ealriest times down to the period of Epicurus and the early Stoics.
How do the arts give us pleasure? Covering a very wide range of artistic works, from Auden to David Lynch, Rembrandt to Edward Weston, and Richard Strauss to Keith Jarrett, Pleasure and the Arts offers us an explanation of our enjoyable emotional engagements with literature, music, and painting. The arts direct us to intimate and particularized relationships, with the people represented in the works, or with those we imagine produced them. When we listen to music, look at a (...) purely abstract painting, or drink a glass of wine, can we enjoy the experience without verbalizing our response? Do our interpretative assumptions, our awareness of technique, and our attitudes to fantasy, get in the way of our appreciation of art, or enhance it? Examining these questions and more, we discover how curiosity drives us to enjoy narratives, ordinary jokes, metaphors, and modernist epiphanies, and how narrative in all the arts can order and provoke intense enjoyment. Pleasurable in its own right, Pleasure and the Arts presents a sparkling explanation of the enduring interest of artistic expression. (shrink)
Explaining the "intentional object" some people assign pleasure, I argue that a person is pleased about something when his thoughts about that thing cause him to feel pleasure. Bernard Williams, Gilbert Ryle, and Irving Thalberg, who reject this analysis, are discussed. Being pleased (or distressed) about something is a compound of pleasure (pain) and some thought or belief. Pleasure in itself does not have an "intentional object".
The first third of John Pollock’s Thinking about Acting is on the topics of pleasure, desire, and preference, and these topics are the ones on which this paper focuses. I review Pollock’s position and argue that it has at least one substantial strength (it elegantly demonstrates that desires must be more fundamental than preferences, and embraces this conclusion wholeheartedly) and at least one substantial weakness (it holds to a form of psychological hedonism without convincingly answering the philosophical or empirical (...) objections that might be raised). (shrink)
At least since Burnyeat’s “Aristotle on Learning to Be Good,” one of the most popular ways of explaining moral development in Aristotle is by appealing to mechanisms of pleasure and pain. Aristotle himself suggests this kind of explanation when he says that “in educating the young we steer them by the rudders of pleasure and pain” (Nicomachean Ethics X.1, 1172a21). However, I argue that, contrary to the dominant view, Aristotle’s view on moral development in the Nicomachean Ethics is (...) not mainly about learning to feel pleasures and pains in relation to the right kinds of objects and activities. I show that given Aristotle’s account of the relationships between pleasure and virtuous actions, on the one hand, and between pleasure and virtuous dispositions, on the other, pleasure can only have a supporting role in our learning to be good, and not a guiding one. (shrink)
Hampton illumines the overall structure of the Philebus. Taking the interrelations of pleasure, knowledge, and being as the keys to understanding the unity of the dialogue, she focuses on the central point.
We are unlikely to stop seeking pleasure, as this would prejudice our health and well-being. Yet many psychoactive substances providing pleasure are outlawed as illicit recreational drugs, despite the fact that only some of them are addictive to some people. Efforts to redress their prohibition, or to reform legislation so that penalties are proportionate to harm have largely failed. Yet, if choices over seeking pleasure are ethical insofar as they avoid harm to oneself or others, public health (...) strategies should foster ethical choice by moving beyond current risk management practices embodied in the harm reduction movement. The neuroscience of pleasure has much to offer neuroethics and public health strategies. Distinguishing between ‘wanting’ and ‘liking’ fosters new understandings of addiction. These hold promise for directing the search for pharmacotherapies which prevent addiction and relapse or disrupt associated neuromechanisms. They could inform new research into creating lawful psychoactive substances which give us pleasure without provoking addiction. As the health and well being of human and other animals rests upon the experience of pleasure, this would be an ethical objective within public health strategy. Were ethical and neurobiological obstacles to ending addiction to be overcome, problems associated with excessive consumption, the lure of unlawful psychoactive substances and the paucity of lawful means to achieve pleasurable altered states would remain. Non-addictive designer drugs, which reliably provided lawful access to pleasures and altered states, would ameliorate these public health concerns insofar as they fostered citizens’ informed, ethical choices according to a neurobiological taxonomy of pleasures. (shrink)
Daniel Russell develops a fresh and original view of pleasure and its pivotal role in Plato's treatment of value, happiness, and human psychology. This is the first full-length discussion of the topic for fifty years, and Russell shows its relevance to contemporary debates in moral philosophy and philosophical psychology. Plato on Pleasure and the Good Life will make fascinating reading for ancient specialists and for a wide range of philosophers.
Two seemingly contradictory aspects have marked art’s appreciation – and aesthetic appreciation in general. While an experience of pleasure seems to ground judgments of aesthetic value, some artworks seem to gain our praise by the very negative – unpleasant – experience they provoke. Known as the paradox of negative emotions, aestheticians have, at least since Aristotle, tried to deal with these cases and offer different explanations of the phenomenon. In this article, María José Alcaraz León does not directly offer (...) an alternative explanation; rather she focuses on the apparent tension between an understanding of aesthetic experience in terms of a certain kind of pleasure and the negative aspect that is necessarily involved in our appreciation of painful art. The purpose of her article is to show that cases of artistic appreciation that involve negative emotions do not need to give up on the idea that aesthetic value is ultimately grounded upon an experience of pleasure. (shrink)
This paper considers how Plato can account for the fact that pain features prominently in the intellectual pleasures of philosophers, given that in his view pleasures mixed with pain are ontologically deficient and inferior to ‘pure,’ painless pleasures. After ruling out the view that Plato does not believe intellectual pleasures are actually painful, I argue that he provides a coherent and overlooked account of pleasure in the Phaedrus, where purity does not factor into the philosopher’s judgment of pleasures at (...) all; what matters instead is the extent to which a given pleasure fosters the philosophical life. I show that to argue, as James Warren has recently done, that Plato thinks intellectual pleasures are not per se painful is less successful than the Phaedrus account at explaining philosophers’ lived experiences of pleasure, which often involve pain. (shrink)
This paper investigates Thomas Aquinas’s threefold division of pleasure into delectatio, gaudium, and fruitio, and its taxonomical basis in his threefold division of knowledge into tactility, the cogitative power, and the intellect.
A developing neurobiological/psychological theory of positive motivation gives a key causal role to reward events in the brain which can be directly activated by electrical stimulation (ESB). In its strongest form, this Reward Event Theory (RET) claims that all positive motivation, primary and learned, is functionally dependent on these reward events. Some of the empirical evidence is reviewed which either supports or challenges RET. The paper examines the implications of RET for the concepts of 'motivation', 'desire' and 'reward' or ' (...) class='Hi'>pleasure'. It is argued (1) that a 'causal base' as opposed to a functional' concept of motivation has theoretical advantages; (2) that a causal distinction between the focus' and the 'anchor' of desire suggests an ineliminable 'opacity' of desire; and (3) that some affective concept, such as 'pleasure', should play a key role in psychological explanation, distinct from that of motivational (or cognitive) concepts. A concept of 'reward' or 'pleasure' as intrinsically positive affect is defended, and contrasted with the more 'operational' definitions of 'reward' in some of the hypotheses of Roy Wise. (shrink)
I argue for an alternative interpretation of some of the examples Fred Feldman uses to establish his theory of happiness. According to Feldman, the examples show that certain utterances of the form S is pleased/glad that P and S is displeased/sad that P should be interpreted as expressions of extrinsic attitudinal pleasure and displeasure and hence must be excluded from the aggregative sum of attitudinal pleasure and displeasure that constitutes happiness. I develop a new interpretation of Feldman’s examples. (...) My interpretation is plausible in its own right. Moreover, it is significant within the context of the debate. It allows the attitudinal hedonist to preserve the initial understanding of happiness that Feldman believes is open to counterexample: that happiness is the sum of attitudinal pleasure minus attitudinal displeasure and that all attitudinal pleasure and displeasure counts equally in the aggregation that constitutes happiness. (shrink)