Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Pleasure vs Happiness

Philosophers and spiritual leaders have debated the value and nature of pleasure for centuries, often comparing it to its more abiding sibling, happiness. The two are related, of course, but most of us, from saint to sinner, have never doubted which of the pair would make the best honeymoon companion.

Happiness is often said to be a "gift for making the most of life" or "enjoying the simple things."

Pleasure is a hedonic reflex, a burning impulse to abandon rational thought altogether and immerse oneself in the moment.

Happiness is an abstraction, constructed from our social and moral identities -- a carefree stroll on the beach, 2.3 children and a white picket fence, a sense of accomplishment.

The pleasure instinct, like the survival instinct, is pure biological imperative fueled by an ephemeral reward so fevered and beautiful with desire that it can drive us to extraordinary lengths.

Happiness is a Norman Rockwell painting hanging over your fireplace on a cold winter's eve.

Pleasure is the warmth and aesthetic beauty of the flames, the heat beating on your skin.

Gene Wallenstein, The Pleasure Instinct


Blogger Poetry of Flesh said...

I must say, I'm very much enjoying these various excerpts.

January 20, 2011  

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