pleasure
A surprisingly complex concept, although central to any account of human and animal motivation. Perhaps the simplest theory of pleasure treats it as being on the same dimension as pain: a bodily sensation, but of a positive kind, where pain is of a negative kind. This, however, fails to account for cases where we take pleasure in an activity or from receiving a piece of news, when nothing like a pleasurable taste or other sensation is apparent. As Aristotle pointed out, we cannot say that the pleasure we take in an activity is a kind of sensation that could in principle have been obtained by some other activity: rather, the pleasure forms a complement of the activity ‘as bloom in the case of youth’ (Nicomachean Ethics, x. 4). Furthermore, it seems contingent whether any sensation is pleasurable or otherwise, depending upon other desires and concerns. Pleasure seems more to be a quality of consciousness, intimately connected to contentment or happiness, rather than another element within conscious experience. Pleasure has often been proposed as the end of all action, either because this is what actually motivates us, or because there is a concealed contradiction in the idea of action that is not so motivated (see hedonism ). The ideal of much economic and social philosophy would be to measure pleasures, with the object of constructing a felicific calculus for use in social choice theory. But pleasure proves remarkably unamenable to such a treatment. Whilst we can make crude comparative judgements (this year's holiday gave us more pleasure than last year's, when it rained), the subject seems inherently resistant to quantitative treatments. Questions such as whether one gets more pleasure from art or music, leisure or work, seem to become rapidly meaningless. See also Epicureanism, hedonism, measurement, utility.

Philosophy dictionary. . 2011.

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  • Pleasure — Pleas ure, n. [F. plaisir, originally an infinitive. See {Please}.] 1. The gratification of the senses or of the mind; agreeable sensations or emotions; the excitement, relish, or happiness produced by the expectation or the enjoyment of… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • pleasure — pleasure, delight, joy, delectation, enjoyment, fruition denote the agreeable emotion which accompanies the possession, acquisition, or expectation of something good or greatly desired. Pleasure so strongly implies a feeling of satisfaction or… …   New Dictionary of Synonyms

  • pleasure — [plezh′ər] n. [ME, altered < plesir < MFr plaiser, orig. inf.: see PLEASE] 1. a pleased feeling; enjoyment; delight; satisfaction 2. one s wish, will, or choice [what is your pleasure?] 3. a thing that gives delight or satisfaction 4.… …   English World dictionary

  • pleasure — ► NOUN 1) a feeling of happy satisfaction and enjoyment. 2) an event or activity from which one derives enjoyment. 3) (before another noun ) intended for entertainment rather than business: pleasure boats. 4) sensual gratification. ► VERB ▪ give… …   English terms dictionary

  • Pleasure — Pleas ure, v. t. [imp. & p. p. {Pleasured}; p. pr. & vb. n. {Pleasuring}.] To give or afford pleasure to; to please; to gratify. Shak. [1913 Webster] [Rolled] his hoop to pleasure Edith. Tennyson. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Pleasure — Pleas ure, v. i. To take pleasure; to seek pursue pleasure; as, to go pleasuring. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • pleasure — [n1] delight, happiness amusement, bliss, buzz*, comfort, contentment, delectation, diversion, ease, enjoyment, entertainment, felicity, flash*, fruition, game, gladness, gluttony, gratification, gusto, hobby, indulgence, joie de vivre, joy,… …   New thesaurus

  • pleasure — index benefit (betterment), satisfaction (fulfilment), treat, will (desire) Burton s Legal Thesaurus. William C. Burton …   Law dictionary

  • pleasure — noun 1 enjoyment ADJECTIVE ▪ considerable, deep, enormous, great, intense ▪ It gives me enormous pleasure to welcome my next guest. ▪ genuine …   Collocations dictionary

  • pleasure — n. 1) to afford, give pleasure (it gives me great pleasure to present the next speaker) 2) to feel; find, take pleasure in 3) to derive pleasure from 4) to forgo a pleasure 5) a genuine, real; rare pleasure 6) a pleasure to + inf. (it s a… …   Combinatory dictionary

  • pleasure — noun 1 ENJOYMENT (U) the feeling of happiness or satisfaction that you get from an experience you enjoy: The children used to get a lot of pleasure out of that game when they were young. | give/bring pleasure: Small gifts give pleasure and don t… …   Longman dictionary of contemporary English

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