John Stuart Mill on Pleasure (Utilitarianism).
Draw five graphs below. On the x-axis, plot the amount of time you spend performing a particular activity, and on the y-axis, the amount of pleasure you derive from it. Then draw how the amount of pleasure you derive from the activity changes the more you have of it.
Eating Pizza Studying for an Exam
Attending a Party w/friends Sitting on the beach with a cold drink at sunset.
Your Favorite Hobby:
Pleasure Which pleasure would you prefer the most? Describe the quality of the pleasure that you experience from each activity. (What does the pleasure feel like? How long does it last? Is it intense/not intense?)
Studying for an Exam
Attending a Party with your friends
Sitting on the beach with a cold drink at sunset
Your Favorite Hobby
Based on your chart, are you able to make any claims about which pleasures are objectively better than others? Explain.
Mill says it is better to be Socrates dissatisfied than a pig satisfied. Explain how this is possible. You may want to make a chart or bar graph to illustrate your point.
Look at the example of the tender plant below. What is Mill saying about our capacity for “nobler feelings?”
“Many people who begin with youthful enthusiasm for everything noble, as they grow old sink into laziness and selﬁshness.’ Yes, this is a very common change; but I don’t think that those who undergo it voluntarily choose the lower kinds of pleasures in preference to the higher. I believe that before they devote themselves exclusively to the lower pleasures they have already become incapable of the higher ones. In most people a capacity for the nobler feelings is a very tender plant that is easily killed, not only by hostile inﬂuences but by mere lack of nourishment; and in the majority of young persons it quickly dies away if their jobs and their social lives aren’t favourable to keeping that higher capacity in use. Men lose their high aspirations as they lose their intellectual tastes, because they don’t have time or opportunity for indulging them; and they addict themselves to lower pleasures not because they deliberately prefer them but because they are either •the only pleasures they can get or •the only pleasures they can still enjoy. It may be questioned whether anyone who has remained equally capable of both kinds of pleasure has ever knowingly and calmly preferred the lower kind; though throughout the centuries many people have broken down in an ineffectual attempt to have both at once.”
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