Thursday, May 10, 2007

Pleasure - the Greatest Driver Of All

I am a hedonist - and don't feel guilty about it and don't see why I should. But somehow it seems that most of us think that seeking pleasure is wrong and somehow feel guilty about it. 'Hedonism' is seen as being selfish - but why? What if someone got the maximum pleasure in helping others. Would we still think that was being selfish?

I am not saying anything that some philosopher hasn't said before, of course it goes without saying that I would not be able to express it with even one hundredth of the finesse. But somehow something strikes you whilst doing the simplest of things - in this case eating Haagan Daz' Belgian Chocolate ice cream ... my favorite.

Enjoying my ice cream and thinking that I had better start going to the gym again, I reflected upon the nature of pleasure...it seemed fitting and most appropriate to think of pleasure with the ice cream cup in my hand

We do so much for pleasure we endure pain to get to pleasure - think about those long hard hours at the gym, or studying for an exam to get an A+... the ultimate act of creation, a baby. Immense pleasure for which we are ready to go through maximum pain. Although here would be a contradiction of the hedonistic theory of maximizing pleasure and minimizing pain - the pleasure far outweighs the pain - in both intensity and duration

Is it in our DNA to desire pleasure? A child is very very clear in his/her mind about this - laugh at things that feel good and cry the house down when feeling bad.

Is pleasure what makes us 'moral'?

When we feel that we have done something to harm someone unnecessarily, and if we start to feel bad about it, we want to repent and try to mend our ways. Why? Because we want the feeling of guilt niggling away at us to go away, we want to feel better about ourselves.

When men cheat on their wives or vice versa why do they confess? Because they 'respect' their partners? They wouldn't have bloody cheated on them if they did.
No because their guilt makes them feel rotten and the only way to make the feeling go away is to confess. Getting the burden of the shoulders so to speak.

Why do we love someone? Is it possible that the reason lies in the fact that they make us feel that we are special and better than others - they picked us over others so we must be better. And of course this realization leads to... guess what... pleasure .

Do we do 'good' deeds for the same reason? Think about it... the rush of happiness when we help someone or when we feel that we have made a difference to someone's life.

Doesn't that make the quest for pleasure a 'good' in itself?

And if we take it further couldn't it be possible, that we are afraid to go to hell [for those of us who believe in hell] because we know hell will be a darned painful place - very very far away from pleasure indeed!

7 comments:

Titania Starlight said...

What an awesome post. I think because we are Libra's we especially desire the finer things in life. I too enjoy gourmet foods. Especially desserts. I can stay in a musuem all day admiring the fabulous art pieces.

Yes it is human to want to enjoy life and to be happy. It becomes wrong when our pleasures cause others pain. Example a husband or wife cheating.

Gregory A. Becerra said...

In philosophy hedonism is an ethical doctrine that defines good by what brings pleasure.

In psychology hedonism is the principle that one's motivation is derived from the attraction to pleasure and the avoidance of pain.

Do you think everyone will agree on what is pleasurable or painful? Do we all behave in the same manner when in similar situations?

For me, sex is the greatest pleasure I experience based on intensity. Can you judge that statement on some moral basis? Or do you have to wait until I write about specific behaviors?

Does acquiring pleasure actually matter? You mention eating ice cream along with hedonism, what if I also eat ice cream, but I don't enjoy it? What if I hate ice cream yet still eat it for some unknown reason? Am I also hedonistic?

tofubaby said...

There's nothing wrong in wanting pleasure for self. I agree that its ok as long you are not hurting anuybody in the process.

I'm guilty of wanting to see beautiful things everyday.

Random Magus said...

Greg: This post wasn't really concerned with morality that was one of the sub texts.
All I am stating that one of the most powerful motivators for our actions is the attainment of pleasuer whether we get it through sex like you said or we get it from reading or seeing beautiful things.
If you don't like ice cream yet you still eat it won't be hedonistic it would be silly - pointless, why put on the extra pounds for nothing. It would be illogical. Maybe doing things tat are contrary or just for the heck of it give you pleasure.

Titania: I totally agree with you -- my point was that most of our actions are driven by the need for pleasure. Some might argue that most of our actions are based on self preservation but I think its to avoid feeling bad.

Tofubaby: I guess long as someone's pleasure doesn't become my pain - it's okay

Gregory A. Becerra said...

Pleasure may not be the motivating factor (and I don't believe it is). People do things more to avoid pain than to seek pleasure. To put this into more perspective think of pleasure not as a stimulant but as a relief. Ice cream or sex relieves the pain of ennui.

If pleasure were truly the motivating factor then people would risk more, they would do more. Most don't and it isn't. It is only when one rationalizes the greater relief that can be obtained by tolerating some immediate pain that a person grows or expands or changes behavior.

Random Magus said...

Sometime minimizing pain can be as pleasurable.
Trust someone who got hit by a car and broke 5 bones the minute after days and days of constant pain, the pain stops - is pleasure in its truest form [totally subjective of course Greg!]...

I-Banking dreamer said...

that was an amazin post...great read.

Cheers.