Is Pleasure The Reason Why You Act The Way You Do?

Have you ever behaved in a certain way and wonder why you acted in that manner?

Sometimes it may be towards something that you do not value, or towards a goal or a task you value so much. You behaved in an entirely different way that doesn’t seem like you, or in a way that gives you a sense of accomplishment and pride.

The reason why you act the way you do can be explained in different ways depending on the individual’s standpoint or expertise. While various explanations may be considered in understanding why you act the way you do, in this article, I am going to focus on one chief factor that underlies every action you’ve ever taken. That Chief factor is pleasure.

As it may be general knowledge, every human being has the natural need for satisfaction and contentment. And satisfaction and contentment are pleasurable.

According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, pleasure is a feeling of happiness, enjoyment, or satisfaction: a pleasant or pleasing feeling.

In philosophy, there is a doctrine called Hedonism. Hedonism simply means the worldpursuit of pleasure. It argues that the chief good in life is pleasure.

Hedonism is further divided into Aesthetical and Ethical Hedonism. Aesthetical Hedonism argues that any work of art is beautiful or valuable if it gives the observer a unique sort of pleasure.

Ethical hedonism on the other hand says that an action is good if it brings satisfaction to the actor.

Going by the ethical hedonism view, it’s clear that we do things because of the sense of satisfaction we will derive at the end. Think about your currents goals or what you’ve already accomplished, is there no sign that it’s the satisfaction you will derive at the end that motivated you to do them or aim at your goals?

Of course, you’ve sensed at least a sign. Whether the goal is to kill or help someone, the chief and often unconscious reason is satisfaction which is pleasure.

Is every pleasure-motivated action good or moral?

Of course not. The pleasure that motivates you to kill someone is not moral and is universally condemned. This will take us to Ethical hedonism again.

Ethical hedonism is further divided into two( Egoistic and Universalistic ethical hedonism) in a bid to explain which pleasure is moral or not. Egoistic ethical hedonism emphasises that a person ought to seek personal pleasure over other things. Whereas, Universalistic ethical hedonism which is also known as utilitarianism asserts that one ought to seek the greatest pleasure for the greatest number of people over other things.

Selfish people could be classified into the egoistic side and generous people into the universalistic side.

But it’s not every time we do seek pleasure for other people. We, first of all, seek personal pleasure before we seek pleasure for others. This is because we can’t give what we don’t have and even when we have, we still need to feel satisfied with what we have first before giving it out.

So the answer to whether every pleasure-motivated action is moral or not varies. It’s situational. There are actions that are good in one situation and not good in another situation. The responsibility is now for you to know which pleasure-motivated action you should take in various situations.

You have to learn how to resist some pleasure and make good use of some in various circumstances

From the points I have already explained, it’s clear that pleasure is the reason why you act the way you do. Whether your goal is to become a criminal, a celebrity, or the richest person in the world, it’s that sense of satisfaction and contentment(pleasure) you’ll get at the end that propels you to do what you do.


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