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Happiness and pleasure

  Philosophers have often equated happiness with pleasure. Pleasure can be a sensation: an agreeable feeling. But it is not always a sensation. ‘I\'m pleased to be top of my class’ does not seem to mean the same as ‘Being top of my class causes me to have agreeable sensations’. It seems that pleasure and happiness can sometimes be cognitive, rather than a sensation. Perhaps pleasure can sometimes be a matter of having one\'s desires satisfied, and this pleasure is not the same as having an agreeable feeling.

Pleasures can be compared and ranked in terms of quantity and quality. Some pleasures are better than others in purely quantitative terms: they are more intense, last longer, or both. And perhaps some pleasures are better than others in qualitative terms. The intellectual pleasure involved in doing philosophy or solving a mathematical problem, for example, may be perceived as ‘higher’ or better than the merely sensual pleasures that we feel after a good meal. AJ

See also hedonism.Further reading R.M. Hare, Freedom and Reason.



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