19 Aralık 2019 - Experimenting with the novel: Lateralization of Mill’s Pleasure Principle - Enver Utku Batur

19 Aralık 2019 - Experimenting with the novel: Lateralization of Mill’s Pleasure Principle - Enver Utku Batur

In a famous dismissal of swine, Mill makes long-discussed distinction between Higher and Lower Pleasures. Although this principle helps us avoid certain internal problems found in Psychological Egoism—particularly in the way Bentham describes— it still appears somewhat indefensible due to its internal inconsistencies with the Hedonistic Principle and its underdeveloped presuppositions rested upon the distinctions between contentment vs. happiness and competent vs. non-competent agent. Today, it is generally understood that the principle should either be completely rejected within a subjectivist account of Hedonism, or should be defended by rejecting the Hedonist principles in favor of an objectivist account of pleasures. Apart from its technical and logical difficulties, the sentiment “It is better to be a human being dissatisfied than a pig satisfied; better to be Socrates dissatisfied than a fool satisfied. And if the fool, or the pig, are a different opinion, it is because they only know their own side of the question” seems rather unappealing. If by rejecting the subjectivist principle, we are disturbing the democratic nature of leisure with a predefined normative understanding of pleasures; Mill’s initial political aims in developing his utilitarian philosophy would be lost. Although initially it was universally held that every person’s pleasure matters and they matter equally; if hierarchization of pleasures results in an hierarchization of agents through the argument of competent judges, this universal principle would no longer be held in good spirit. I propose that there is an alternative way of reconstructing Mill’s initial intentions in which we could retain the democratic nature of pleasure whilst simultaneously escaping the subjectivist trap of the Psychological Egoism. I believe that the objectivist and the subjectivist interpretations are not mutually exclusive and that we can construct an interpretation in between where agents are required to become competent in their judgements of pleasure-seeking, but this does not have to be according to an objective system of pleasures. In my presentation, I will try to reconstruct such a system and show how it solves some of the central problems found in Bentham and Mill. In the end, I will try to generalize the formulation of my principle and arrive at a version which is still democratic –unlike Mill’s– but has a content and is not self-referential –unlike Bentham’s. I will find that this final principle advises not a vertical striving towards higher pleasures, but a lateral search for new and deeper pleasures.