ADVERTISEMENTS:

Why Psychological Hedonism is Not Sound?

(i) This view is unpsychological in character. Pleasure is the result of the satisfaction of a desire which is directed to. an object. Normally, we desire some object and when the object is attained, pleasure follows as a consequence. But this feeling of pleasure is not sought before. The psychological order of the mental process is as follows : (a) want, (b) desire of an object, (c) attainment of the object, (d) the feeling of pleasure or satisfaction. First, we have a feeling of want, e.g., hunger; when hungry, we have the desire for food (object); when the food is taken, we have the feeling of pleasure. Thus when we are hungry, we naturally desire food and not the feeling of pleasure.

(ii) Rashdall rightly observes that psychological hedonism involves a hysteron portion. It puts the cart before the horse. The satisfactions of a desire undoubtedly brings pleasure. But this does not prove that the object is desired because it is thought of as pleasant. In fact, the pleasantness of the object is created by the desire, and not the desire by the pleasantness. The . attainment of an object of desire brings pleasure because the object was desired.

Hedonists Research Papers on the Belief that Pleasure is the only ...

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(iii) This will be more clear from the fact that wants are always prior to satisfaction. Butler truly pointed out that many kinds of pleasures would not exist at all if they were not preceded by certain desires for objects. No one could possibly feel pleasure of benevolence unless he first had benevolence or a desire for the welfare of others. Thus desire is directed towards something other than pleasure, e.g., the welfare of others. Thus at least there are some desires which are not desires for pleasure.

ADVERTISEMENTS:

(iv) The word ‘pleasure’ is ambiguous. It may mean (a) agreeable feeling or the feeling of satisfaction after the attainment of an object, or (b) the object that gives pleasure or satisfaction. In the latter sense we speak of ‘pleasures’ in the concrete. When we speak of ‘pleasures of the English Prose’, we mean objects which give us pleasure. But when we speak of pleasure in the abstract we generally mean by it the feeling of pleasure or satisfaction which these objects bring with them. Thus, when it is said that what we desire is always a pleasure, it means that what we desire is always some object, the attainment of which is accompained by an aggreable feeling. We desire objects, te attainment of which gives us pleasure. It is true that we desire objects but it is not true that we desire pleasure.

(v) Psychological Headonism is Vitiated by a serious defects which has been pointed out by Sidgwick. He says, ‘The impulse towards pleasure, if too predominant, defeats its own aim. The more we seek pleasure, the less we get it. The best way to get pleasure is to forget it for the time being. When we direct our attention to the object of desire. Pleasure comes of itself when it is attained. But if we direct our attention to pleasure, we are almost sure to miss it. This is the fundamental paradox of Hedonism. This is not true of all pleasures. It is true chiefly of the pleasures of pursuit. We require a certain degree of disinterestedness in order to obtain full enjoyment. When we witness a drama, we should fix our mind on the drama, and not on the pleasure that we derive from it. If we consciously aim at pleasure, we are sure to miss it.

(vi) Psychological hedonists cannot distinguish between ‘pleasure in idea’ and ‘the idea of pleasure’. A mother takes pleasure in self-sacrifice for her child’s good. But the idea of her pleasure in self-sacrifice is not the motive of her act. A martyr courts death for a noble cause, and may be said to take pleasure in the idea of his self-immolation. But certainly the idea of his pleasure is hot the motive of his act.

(vii) There is no necessary connection between Psychological Hedonism and Ethical Hedonism. Even if we suppose that Psychological Hedonism is a sound doctrine, there is no necessary connection between it and Ethical Hedonism. It is possible to maintain the one without maintaining the other. Ethical Hedonism is hardly compatible with Psychological Hedonism, at least in its most extreme form. If we naturally and always do seek our own pleasure, the precept that we ought to do so is meaningless.

ADVERTISEMENTS:

Psychological Hedonism may be reconciled with Ethical Egoistic Hedonism in this way. Psychological Hedonism should mean that we do seek our own pleasure of some sort and Ethical Egoistic Hedonism should mean that we ought to seek our own greatest pleasure. Psychological Hedonism may be reconciled with ethical Altruistic Hedonismonly under the condition that in seeking the pleasure of others we get our own pleasure.

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