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Unformatted text preview: nce and its feeling good. And there's a second
problem in using the notion of desire to understand enjoyment.
Desire is usually understood 'functionally', that is, in terms of —i
°- its role in the explanation of action. But we should allow that
creatures incapable of action may experience enjoyment.
So perhaps we should go for internalism after all. But what
about the objection that there's no common quality to all the
experiences we enjoy? Well, if we're looking for something
like a special sensation, such as that of sweetness, or a tingle
located in some part of the body, or indeed something like a
visual quality such as redness, we shall be disappointed. But
in fact there does seem to be something experientially common to enjoyable experiences: They feel enjoyable! And in
ordinary life we don't have any problem with this. I can ask
you to rank some of the experiences you've had over recent
days, in order of how much you enjoyed them. This is not
asking which experiences you preferred, since you may have
preferences based on things other than enjoyment. Rather,
it is asking you to rank them in order of the degree to which
they possess a common quality: their being enjoyable. John
Locke, then, was on the right track about enjoyment and suffering when he said that they 'like other simple ideas cannot
be described, nor their names defined ... the way of knowing
them is, as of the simple ideas of the senses, only by experience' (Essay concerning Human Understanding, 2.2A). a.
^ The philosophy of swine?
The idea that hedonism is bestial is as old as the view itself,
and can be dealt with quite quickly by the hedonist who can
distinguish hedonism from sensualism. But this will not satisfy
everyone. For it is still the case, according to hedonism, that
what makes purely physical sex good for someone (that is, its
being enjoyable) is exactly the same property as what makes
listening to a Mozart opera good for someone. And it might be
thought that a monistic form of internalism about enjoyment,
such as I defended in the previous section, is particularly open
to this accusation.
We might bring out the force of this objection using the following example, taken from my book Mill on Utilitarianism: Haydn and the Oyster. You a r e a s ou l in h eave n
waitin g t o b e a llocate d a life o n E arth . It is l at e F rida y
afternoon , a n d y o u w atc h a nxiousl y a s t h e s uppl y o f
availabl e l ive s d windles . W he n y ou r t ur n c omes , t h e
ange l in c harg e offer s y o u a c hoic e b etwee n t w o l ives ,
tha t o f t h e c ompose r J osep h H ayd n a n d t ha t o f a n
oyster. B eside s c omposin g s om e w onderfu l m usi c a n d
influencin g t h e e volutio n o f t h e s ymphony , H ayd n w il l
mee t w it h s ucces s a n d h onou r in his o w n l ifetime , b e
cheerfu l a n d p opular , t rave l a n d g ai n m uc h e njoymen t
fro m f iel d s ports . T h e o yste...
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- Fall '11