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Challenges to Perfectionism.doc

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Joseph Boyle

Challenges to Perfectionism: Monday, July 21, 2008. Epicurus: 615-621 The Good Life Letter to Menoeceus • good = pleasant • primary position is the avoidance of pain • minimal life of pleasures • concerned with happiness • all good and evil exist in sensation • death is nothing to us • it is the deprivation of sensation • this makes the mortality of life enjoyable • desires the most pleasurable goods, not the longest period of time • natural desires, desires of vain • natural: necessary + purely natural • necessary: for happiness/repose of body/life • we act to avoid pain and fear • we need pleasure only in its absence, when we have pain • we don’t need pleasure when we have it • pleasure is thus the beginning and end of the blessed life • we recognize pleasure as the first good innate within us and from there we begin every act of choice and avoidance and return again, using that feeling as the standard by which we judge every good • sometimes we pass up many pleasures when greater discomfort arises from them • independence of desire is something we also want • when we have less, we enjoy more the pleasure of the few things we have • pleasure is not restricted to sensuality, but is freedom of pain from the body • thus: sober reasonings, greatest good is prudence • cannot live pleasantly without living prudently • cannot live prudently without living pleasantly Principle Doctrines • wherever there is pleasure there is not pain of body or mind • anything is a natural good in which one is able to seek the end of pleasure • no pleasure is a bad thing in iself: the means which produce some pleasures bring with them disturbances greater than the pleasures • because they are temporary, we are able to experience them with difference, if they all lasted and influenced the whole organism, the pleasures would never differ from one another • we cannot blame pleasures because they cannot teach us the limits of desire and pains, dispel the fears of the mind • infinite time contains no greater pleasure than limited time, if one measures by reason the limits of pleasure • justice: contract not to harm or be harmed, justice not a good in itself • injustice not an evil in itself, consequence of fear being unable to escape those appointed to punish actions (fear of pain) Jeremy Bentham: 608-611 Pleasure as the Good • pleasure and the absence of pain are the only things with value • anything else that is said to be good only promotes pleasure and prevents pain • agent’s motives are based around the two • do all pleasant experiences involve a single kind of feeling? Value of a lot of Pleasure or Pain, How to be Measured • pleasure and the avoidance of pain are the ends that the agent has in mind • can measure the greatness of pleasure/pain by: 1) its intensity 2) its duration 3) its certainty/uncertainty 4) its propinquity or remoteness • these estimate pleasures and pains in themselves • when estimating the tendency of any act by which it is produced, two circumstances: 1) its fecundity—the chance it has of being followed by sensations of the same kind, pleasures if it be a pleasure and pains if pains 2) its purity—or the chance it has of not being followed by sensations of the opposite kind, pains if it be a pleasure and pleasures if it be pains • deemed properties only of the act or another event • lastly: its extent, to the number of persons it extends to • must evaluate the value of the distinuishable pleasure or pain in the first instance • then, the value of each produced, constitute the fecundity of the first pleasure and impurity of first pain • sum up all the pleasures on one side and the pains on the other, the greater balance of pleasure on the one side will give the good tendency of the act (regards to interests of the individual), and pain = bad tendency • take into account the number of people it concerns with the numbers of good tendency and the number of people affected painfully by the balance of bad tendency • more focused on the maximization of pleasure than the avoidance of pain No Motives Either Constantly Good or Constantly Bad • a motive is pleasure/pain operating in a certain matter • pleasure is the only good and pain the only evil • there is no such thing as any sort of motive that s in itself a bad one ( a motive is always pleasurable, even if the pleasure is wretched) • when motives are described as good or bad, it is on the account of their effects • good on account of producing pleasure, bad on producing pain or avert pleasure John Stuart Mill: 298-302-Utilitarianism • ultimate principle of morality: strive to produce as much overall happiness as possible • derived from Bentham, difference: Bentham made no distinction amongst pleasu
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