Tagged: pleasure

My Morality

Everything that makes life worth living is something we do not have. That is how it makes life worth living. If we had it, there would be no reason to continue. This means that desire is the evidence of everything meaningful in our lives. The voices of the modern world tell us every day that we should “live for our desires,” but they really...

The Invisible Hand, Without Shame

That cynical men will exploit a human problem for their own petty advantage, without concern for ultimate outcomes beyond their own immediate gain, is obvious. This cynicism explains most of what is called “foreign policy,” most of what is called “medicine,” most of what is called “education,” most of what is called “entertainment,” and most of what is called “lawmaking.” But none of...

Belonging and Hedonism

For most people, belonging to a group or tribe brings comfort. Comfort is pleasure. Therefore, if pleasure is happiness, then belonging brings happiness. If, however, pleasure is not happiness, then what does the comfort of belonging to a tribe bring you? An escape from the reality of unhappiness, perhaps? The same may be said of all other pleasures which, like belonging, entail a...

Pleasure and the Status Quo

We can gain more from one painful confusion than from a hundred satisfying pleasures. This formula is most true — is amplified — in those times when recourse to easy pleasure might seem most comforting, or even essential. For pleasure, by its nature, reinforces certainties and reassures us against doubts, thereby softening precisely those hard edges of the practical and psychological status quo...

The Pleasure Principle

Pleasure ameliorates pain. Pain is a condition of growth. Therefore, pleasure either interrupts or thwarts growth. The only possible exception to this conclusion would be a pleasure that was specific to the process or achievement of growth itself. This latter pleasure — the pleasure that accompanies or rewards growth as such — would thus be the only pleasure consistent with the life impulse....

Random Thoughts on The End of Man

Plato’s Republic belongs to a world without smartphones. Smartphones belong to a world without Plato’s Republic. The difference is that Plato’s Republic can explain smartphones, whereas smartphones cannot explain Plato’s Republic.

Every time I notice something interesting, beautiful, or fascinating, my attention is almost immediately distracted by humans interfering with my point of view.

Life Among the Slaves

We sing and dance. We tell easygoing jokes and eat delicious food. Our owners tighten the yoke sometimes to keep us humble. We watch our strongest boys play games and cheer for “our side,” just to imagine what it would be like if we were the owners, rather than the owned. The master jerks the chain, ever so judiciously, to remind us that...

Plato’s Gorgias in 200 words

It takes more than an hour to make stuffed peppers. At best, that hour’s effort will give me, or perhaps one or two other people, five minutes of vanishing sensory pleasure. A student sends me a message asking how to handle her anger with a rude coworker. I reply that being spoken to rudely is annoying, but causes you no essential harm, whereas...

On the Desire for Recognition

A student recently sent me a short e-mail consisting almost entirely of this thought: “Desire for recognition from others, including co-workers, family, friends…I really hate this.” The topic is worthy of serious consideration. Let us take a moment to examine this strange but all-too-common tendency in humans, the “desire for recognition.” It is unlikely that human beings could ever completely numb themselves to...

The Body

A Musing on Pleasure.— Imagine a door so rare and enticing in its loveliness that passing through its frame engenders an immediate obsession with the act of passing through as such, and thus an overwhelming desire to open that door again, and then again, until one can hardly stand the thought of ever walking away from it, for fear of losing contact with...