It may be objected, that many who are capable of the higher pleasures, occasionally, under the influence of temptation, postpone them to the lower. But this is quite compatible with a full appreciation of the intrinsic superiority of the higher. Men often, from infirmity of character, make their election for the nearer good, though they know it to be the less valuable; and this no less when the choice is between two bodily pleasures, than when it is between bodily and mental. They pursue sensual indulgences to the injury of health, though perfectly aware that health is the greater good.
Source: http://www.utilitarianism.com/mill2.htm (paragraph 7)
IN YOUR OWN WORDS:
I believe that this paragraph is saying that people will sometimes choose the lower pleasure over a higher pleasure in certain situations due to temptation. The definition of temptation is the desire to do something, especially something wrong or unwise. Sometimes people make the choice for the nearer good, even though it is less valuable than the higher good and that is because it is the easiest way to experience pleasure. Even though a person knows there is a greater good, they will still choose what brings them the quickest and most pleasure in a small period of time.
OPINION and INTERPRETATION:
I selected this paragraph because it is something that truly applies to every single person. At some point in their lives, people postpone higher pleasures for the lower pleasures due to temptation. When Mill states that people “pursue sensual indulgences to the injury of health, though perfectly aware that health is the greater good,” I think of temptations such as drinking, smoking, eating junk food, tanning, ect., which all have an effect on our health. Even though people know those things are bad for their health in the long run, they still choose to do it because it brings them pleasure for a short period of time each time they indulge in those lower pleasures. Clearly, being healthy is one of the higher pleasures in life because when we are healthy, we feel our best.
VIEWS on PLEASURE:
J.S. Mill defines happiness in terms of pleasure. What does he mean by the quality of pleasure? Do you agree with his notion of morality? Does it exclude or discriminate against any group or culture? Why or why not?
I believe Mill means that the quality of a pleasure is the difference between a high a low pleasure. Mill states that if we value one pleasure over another it is because the one we value brings more numerous and intense pleasure than the other. He also says that the higher pleasures produce a larger quantity of pleasure and are more valuable than lower pleasures. Everyone has different pleasures that make them happy. Mill believes that duty and the right actions, which is morality, are to be defined in terms of the promotion of happiness. I agree with his notion of morality and I don’t think it excludes or discriminates any group or culture because everyone is motivated by happiness and pleasures.
How do you understand higher and lower pleasures and their role in morality? Do you agree with Mill that higher pleasure has intrinsically greater value than lower pleasure? Why or why not? Use an example from real life to support your viewpoint.
Higher pleasures are those pleasures that have more of an effect on us in the long-run and lower pleasures are short-term and quickly received. High pleasures are those that bring us knowledge and intellect. Low pleasures aren’t necessarily considered immoral but they have less value than higher pleasures. I agree with Mill that higher pleasure has intrinsically greater value than lower pleasures only because higher pleasures last longer than lower pleasures. Higher pleasures benefit us more, even though we believe lower pleasures are easier to obtain. An example from real life is that I used to go tanning in the winter. Even though tanning is horrible, I still did it because being tan brought me pleasure. I am trying my best not to do it anymore because in the long-run, I want to have healthy skin.
One critique of utilitarianism is that it demands too much of people? Do you think this is justified?
I agree that in certain situations it demands too much of people. Acting to promote the greatest happiness and the least suffering for the greatest amount of people can be difficult sometimes. It can put too much pressure on a person when it comes to deciding what to do. You can never make everyone happy because everyone has their own opinions on what gives them the most pleasure/ happiness.
I chose this picture because this was one of my lower pleasures. Tanning is becoming a bigger issue because more and more people are getting skin cancer. People know the risks of tanning but still choose to do it because being tan brings them pleasure. Young people don’t think about what their skin is going to look like when their older or about getting skin cancer, so they continue to go tanning. I recently decided to stop tanning because I want to have healthy looking skin through out my whole life, not just when I’m young. Having healthy skin is the higher pleasure.