duminică, 5 februarie 2012

Aristotle: The Desire of Continuance of Pleasure


According to Aristotle, any feeling of pleasure must at least incite for its continuance (cf. De anima  414b et seq. and R. Polansky’, Aristotle’s De anima, comment ad. loc.).

The statement could be supported in a description of the mechanism of producing pleasure that in fact ignores the temporality of the process.

A sudden feeling of a pleasure does not allow the clear demarcation of what contributes to pleasure in terms of a sequential series. The object of pleasure is not in the beginning of the pleasant feeling when it is eaten, but in the middle of it. When we separate it as a starting point, we need to justify its existence differently from the way we do for its existence as an object of pleasure.

The same objection of inadequacy to the temporality of the process of pleasure could be addressed to Aristotle’s contend that the continuance of the feeling of pleasure results after someone feels the pleasure.

The continuance or the permanency appears as more deeply implicated in the feeling of pleasure. Against moralists’ advice, someone who longs for a pleasure is supported by an implicit believes in its continuance, without being interested if the pleasure really lasts for a long or short time. And this omission is equally to the belief in the permanency of pleasure.

It is not a surprising omission, since the implicit rule for being confident in life would specify to take the life as an unending state. Memento mori sounds only in monasteries, where the human life is replaced by a wished divine life.

Moreover, the object of pleasure enters in the process of feeling without any temporal feature. We call the most usual objects of pleasure as abstract ones. Food, drink, and sex, which are enumerated by Aristotle as common pleasures, are abstract names that occur in the common discourse, while the eternal Platonic values as good or justice often appear determined as concrete values: my good, my justice, etc.

Aristotle himself speaks about phantasia as a faculty of soul able to make the objects of pleasure present in abstracto when they lack for the present time.

We could infer that the longing for permanency comes along with the entire feeling of pleasure and persists after the pleasure is felt, without being generated by it, as Aristotle suggests.

Consequently, Socrates’ hope that the erotic life would finish in a desire for the eternal value of beauty seems justified. Erotic or love dramas about lost lovers testifies about it. No sad and truly lover will speak about a lost erotic experience, but about the drama of losing, the lost love being viewed as an interruption of the continual life time. Thus, for instance, Orpheus’ cry in Gluck’s opera: ‘Que faro senza Euridice?’

Otherwise, some pleasures, as that of listening music, could be freed from the area of those attributed to the sheer taste. Instead, they could be considered as alternatives to the permanence of everyday life. We know that music has its proper time, which is better articulated than ours and provides a high sort of permanence.