Bentham ’s theory can be divided into three parts:
The Principle of Utility
The Utility or Hedonic
First a re-cap of Bentham…
PLEASURE All types of pleasure and pain can be measured on the same scale Pleasures can be compared quantitatively because there is no difference between them What is good and bad for each person is a matter for each person to decide by following the hedonic (felicific) calculus Bentham once said that “quantity of pleasure being equal, push-pin (a simple child’s game) is as good as poetry.”
The Hedonic Calculus The Hedonic Calculus is: Democratic Egalitarian (classless) “ Everybody is to count for one, and nobody for more than one.” In keeping with the enlightenment thinking the Hedonic Calculus was a rational and scientific way to measure pleasure. Bentham claimed that goodness could be empirically (through experience) proven. “ No one person’s pleasure is greater than another’s”
“ The creed which accepts as the foundation of morals, Utilitarianism, or the greatest happiness principle, holds that actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness, wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness. By happiness is intended pleasure and absence of pain: by unhappiness pain and privation of pleasure.”
Are bodily pleasures lower than intellectual pleasures?
On your own, arrange the following from higher to lower quality: eating, listening to music, making music, drinking alcohol, watching a good movie, viewing beautiful artwork, spending time with your partner, spending time with your friends, attending family gatherings, eating chocolate, reading or hearing poetry, playing sport, achieving fame.
How do we distinguish between two higher pleasures? How could the pleasures to be gained from playing Bach be measured against the pleasures to be gained from seeing a Shakespearian play? Give examples if you can.
Is it better to be intellectually aware of the world ’s imperfections and the sufferings of people and, hence, be unhappy or dissatisfied, or is it better to be blissfully ignorant of the world’s troubles and, hence, be happy and content with ;life?