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Pleasure refers to experience that feels good, that involves the enjoyment of something. It contrasts with
pain Pain is a distressing feeling often caused by intense or damaging stimuli. The defines pain as "an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with, or resembling that associated with, actual or potential tissue damage." In medical ...
or
suffering Suffering, or pain in a broad sense, may be an experience of unpleasantness and aversion associated with the perception of harm or threat of harm in an individual. Suffering is the basic element that makes up the negative valence of affective ...

suffering
, which are forms of feeling bad. It is closely related to value, desire and action: humans and other conscious animals find pleasure enjoyable, positive or worthy of seeking. A great variety of activities are experienced as pleasurable, like eating, having sex, listening to music or playing games. Pleasure is part of various other mental states such as
ecstasy Ecstasy may refer to: * Ecstasy (emotion), a trance or trance-like state in which a person transcends normal consciousness * Religious ecstasy, a state of consciousness, visions or absolute euphoria * Ecstasy (philosophy), to be or stand outside on ...
,
euphoria Euphoria ( ) is the experience (or affect (psychology), affect) of pleasure or excitement and intense feelings of well-being and happiness. Certain natural rewards and social activities, such as aerobic exercise, laughter, listening to or maki ...

euphoria
and
flow Flow may refer to: Science and technology * Flow (fluid) or fluid dynamics, the motion of a gas or liquid * Flow (geomorphology), a type of mass wasting or slope movement in geomorphology * Flow (mathematics), a group action of the real numbers on ...
.
Happiness The term ''happiness'' is used in the context of mental Mental may refer to: * of or relating to the mind Films * Mental (2012 film), ''Mental'' (2012 film), an Australian comedy-drama * Mental (2016 film), ''Mental'' (2016 film), a Bangla ...

Happiness
and
well-being Well-being, also known as ''wellness'', ''prudential value'' or ''quality of life'', refers to what is intrinsically valuable relative ''to'' someone. So the well-being of a person is what is ultimately good ''for'' this person, what is in the s ...
are closely related to pleasure but not identical with it. There is no general agreement as to whether pleasure should be understood as a sensation, a quality of experiences, an attitude to experiences or otherwise. Pleasure plays a central role in the family of philosophical theories known as
hedonism Hedonism refers to a family of theories, all of which have in common that ''pleasure Pleasure refers to experience that feels good, that involves the enjoyment of something. It contrasts with pain Pain is a distressing feeling often cau ...
.


Overview

"Pleasure" refers to experience that feels good, that involves the enjoyment of something. The term is primarily used in association with ''sensory pleasures'' like the enjoyment of food or sex. But in its most general sense, it includes all types of positive or pleasant experiences including the enjoyment of sports, seeing a beautiful sunset or engaging in an intellectually satisfying activity. Pleasure contrasts with pain or suffering, which are forms of feeling bad. Both pleasure and pain come in degrees and have been thought of as a dimension going from positive degrees through a neutral point to negative degrees. This assumption is important for the possibility of comparing and aggregating the degrees of pleasure of different experiences, for example, in order to perform the
Utilitarian calculus The felicific calculus is an algorithm of an algorithm (Euclid's algorithm) for calculating the greatest common divisor (g.c.d.) of two numbers ''a'' and ''b'' in locations named A and B. The algorithm proceeds by successive subtractions in two ...
. The concept of pleasure is similar but not identical to the concepts of
well-being Well-being, also known as ''wellness'', ''prudential value'' or ''quality of life'', refers to what is intrinsically valuable relative ''to'' someone. So the well-being of a person is what is ultimately good ''for'' this person, what is in the s ...
and of
happiness The term ''happiness'' is used in the context of mental Mental may refer to: * of or relating to the mind Films * Mental (2012 film), ''Mental'' (2012 film), an Australian comedy-drama * Mental (2016 film), ''Mental'' (2016 film), a Bangla ...

happiness
. These terms are used in overlapping ways, but their meanings tend to come apart in technical contexts like philosophy or psychology. ''Pleasure'' refers to a certain type of experience while ''well-being'' is about what is good for a person. Many philosophers agree that ''pleasure'' is good for a person and therefore is a form of ''well-being''. But there may be other things besides or instead of pleasure that constitute ''well-being'', like health, virtue, knowledge or the fulfillment of desires. On some conceptions, ''happiness'' is identified with "the individual’s balance of pleasant over unpleasant experience". ''Life satisfaction theories'', on the other hand, hold that ''happiness'' involves having the ''right attitude towards one's life as a whole''. ''Pleasure'' may have a role to play in this attitude, but it is not identical to ''happiness''. Pleasure is closely related to value, desire, motivation and right action. There is broad agreement that pleasure is valuable in some sense. Axiological hedonists hold that pleasure is the only thing that has intrinsic value. Many desires are concerned with pleasure. Psychological hedonism is the thesis that all our actions aim at increasing pleasure and avoiding pain.
Freud Sigmund Freud ( , ; born Sigismund Schlomo Freud; 6 May 1856 – 23 September 1939) was an Austrian neurologist Neurology (from el, νεῦρον (neûron), "string, nerve" and the suffix -logia, "study of") is a branch of medicine Me ...

Freud
's pleasure principle ties pleasure to motivation and action by holding that there is a strong psychological tendency to seek pleasure and to avoid pain. Classical utilitarianism connects pleasure to ethics in stating that whether an action is right depends on the pleasure it produces: it should maximize the sum-total of pleasure.


Sources and types of pleasure

Many pleasurable experiences are associated with satisfying basic biological drives, such as
eating Eating (also known as consuming) is the ingestion Ingestion is the consumption of a substance by an organism In biology, an organism (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ὀργανισμός, ''organismos'') is any individual contiguous syste ...

eating
,
exercise Exercise is any bodily activity that enhances or maintains physical fitness Physical fitness is a state of health Health is a state of physical, mental and social well-being Well-being, also known as ''wellness'', ''prudential value ...

exercise
,
hygiene Hygiene is a series of practices performed to preserve health Health, according to the World Health Organization, is "a state of complete physical, Mental health, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease and infirmi ...

hygiene
,
sleep Sleep is a naturally recurring state of mind and body, characterized by altered consciousness Consciousness, at its simplest, is or of internal and external existence. Despite millennia of analyses, definitions, explanations and deba ...

sleep
, and
sex Sex is either of two divisions, typically male Male (♂) is the sex of an organism that produces the gamete known as sperm. A male gamete can fuse with a larger female gamete, or ovum, in the process of fertilization. A male cannot sexual r ...
. The appreciation of cultural artifacts and activities such as
art Art is a diverse range of (products of) human activities Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most populous and widespread species of primates, characterized by bipedality, opposable thumbs, hairlessness, and intelligence allowing the use o ...

art
,
music Music is the of arranging s in time through the of melody, harmony, rhythm, and timbre. It is one of the aspects of all human societies. General include common elements such as (which governs and ), (and its associated concepts , , and ...

music
,
dancing Dance is a performing art form consisting of sequences of movement, either improvised or purposefully selected. This movement has aesthetic and often symbolic value. Dance can be categorized and described by its choreography, by its r ...

dancing
, and
literature Literature broadly is any collection of Writing, written work, but it is also used more narrowly for writings specifically considered to be an art form, especially prose fiction, drama, and poetry. In recent centuries, the definition has expan ...

literature
is often pleasurable. Pleasure is sometimes subdivided into fundamental pleasures that are closely related to survival (food, sex, and social belonging) and higher-order pleasures (e.g., viewing art and altruism). listed 14 kinds of pleasure; sense, wealth, skill, amity, a good name, power, piety, benevolence, malevolence, memory, imagination, expectation, pleasures dependent on association, and the pleasures of relief. Some commentators see 'complex pleasures' including wit and sudden realisation, and some see a wide range of pleasurable feelings.


Theories of pleasure

Pleasure comes in various forms, for example, in the enjoyment of food, sex, sports, seeing a beautiful sunset or engaging in an intellectually satisfying activity. ''Theories of pleasure'' try to determine what all these pleasurable experiences have in common, what is essential to them. They are traditionally divided into quality theories and attitude theories. An alternative terminology refers to these theories as ''phenomenalism'' and ''intentionalism''. Quality theories hold that pleasure is a quality of pleasurable experiences themselves while attitude theories state that pleasure is in some sense external to the experience since it depends on the subject's attitude to the experience. More recently, dispositional theories have been proposed that incorporate elements of both traditional approaches.


Quality theories

In everyday language, the term "pleasure" is primarily associated with sensory pleasures like the enjoyment of food or sex. One traditionally important ''quality-theory'' closely follows this association by holding that pleasure is a sensation. On the simplest version of the sensation theory, whenever we experience pleasure there is a distinctive pleasure-sensation present. So a pleasurable experience of eating chocolate involves a sensation of the taste of chocolate together with a pleasure-sensation. An obvious shortcoming of this theory is that many impressions may be present at the same time. For example, there may be an itching sensation as well while eating the chocolate. But this account cannot explain why the enjoyment is linked to the taste of the chocolate and not to the itch. Another problem is due to the fact that sensations are usually thought of as localized somewhere in the body. But considering the pleasure of seeing a beautiful sunset, there seems to be no specific region in the body at which we experience this pleasure. These problems can be avoided by felt-quality-theories, which see pleasure not as a sensation but as an aspect qualifying sensations or other mental phenomena. As an aspect, pleasure is dependent on the mental phenomenon it qualifies, it cannot be present on its own. Since the link to the enjoyed phenomenon is already built into the pleasure, it solves the problem faced by sensation theories to explain how this link comes about. It also captures the intuition that pleasure is usually pleasure ''of'' something: enjoyment ''of'' drinking a milkshake or ''of'' playing chess but not just pure or object-less enjoyment. According to this approach, pleasurable experiences differ in content (drinking a milkshake, playing chess) but agree in feeling or hedonic tone. Pleasure can be localized, but only to the extent that the impression it qualifies is localized. One objection to both the sensation theory and the felt-quality theory is that there is no one quality shared by all pleasure-experiences. The force of this objection comes from the intuition that the variety of pleasure-experiences is just too wide to point out one quality shared by all, for example, the quality shared by ''enjoying a milkshake'' and ''enjoying a chess game''. One way for quality theorists to respond to this objection is by pointing out that the hedonic tone of pleasure-experiences is not a regular quality but a higher-order quality. As an analogy, a vividly green thing and a vividly red thing do not share a regular color property but they share "vividness" as a higher-order property.


Attitude theories

''Attitude theories'' propose to analyze pleasure in terms of attitudes to experiences. So to enjoy the taste of chocolate it is not sufficient to have the corresponding experience of the taste. Instead, the subject has to have the right attitude to this taste for pleasure to arise. This approach captures the intuition that a second person may have exactly the same taste-experience but not enjoy it since the relevant attitude is lacking. Various attitudes have been proposed for the type of attitude responsible for pleasure, but historically the most influential version assigns this role to
desire Desires are states of mind that are expressed by terms like "wanting", "wishing", "longing" or "craving". A great variety of features is commonly associated with desires. They are seen as propositional attitude A propositional attitude is a menta ...

desire
s. On this account, pleasure is linked to experiences that fulfill a desire had by the experiencer. So the difference between the first and the second person in the example above is that only the first person has a corresponding desire directed at the taste of chocolate. One important argument against this version is that while it is often the case that we desire something first and then enjoy it, this cannot always be the case. In fact, often the opposite seems to be true: we have to learn first that something is enjoyable before we start to desire it. This objection can be partially avoided by holding that it does not matter whether the desire was there before the experience but that it only matters what we desire while the experience is happening. This variant, originally held by
Henry Sidgwick Henry Sidgwick (; 31 May 1838 – 28 August 1900) was an English utilitarian Utilitarianism is a family of normative ethical theories that prescribe actions that maximize happiness and well-being Well-being, also known as ''wellness'' ...

Henry Sidgwick
, has recently been defended by Chris Heathwood, who holds that an experience is pleasurable if the subject of the experience wants the experience to occur for its own sake while it is occurring. But this version faces a related problem akin to the
Euthyphro dilemma The Euthyphro dilemma is found in Plato Plato ( ; grc-gre, Πλάτων ; 428/427 or 424/423 – 348/347 BC) was an Athenian , image_skyline = File:Athens Montage L.png, center, 275px, alt=Athens montage. Clic ...
: it seems that we usually desire things because they are enjoyable, not the other way round. So desire theories would be mistaken about the direction of explanation. Another argument against desire theories is that desire and pleasure can come apart: we can have a desire for things that are not enjoyable and we can enjoy things without desiring to do so.


Dispositional theories

''Dispositional theories'' try to account for pleasure in terms of
dispositions A disposition is a quality of character, a habit A habit (or wont as a humorous and formal term) is a routine of behavior Behavior (American English) or behaviour (British English; American and British English spelling differences#-our, -or, ...
, often by including insights from both the quality theories and the attitude theories. One way to combine these elements is to hold that pleasure consists in being disposed to desire an experience in virtue of the qualities of this experience. Some of the problems of the regular desire theory can be avoided this way since the disposition does not need to be realized for there to be pleasure, thereby taking into account that desire and pleasure can come apart.


Philosophy

''Pleasure'' plays a central role in theories from various areas of ''philosophy''. Such theories are usually grouped together under the label "hedonism".


Ethics

Pleasure is related not just to how we actually act, but also to how we ought to act, which belongs to the field of ''
ethics Ethics or moral philosophy is a branch of philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about Metaphysics, existence, reason, Epistemology, knowledge, Ethics, values, Philosophy of mind, m ...

ethics
''.
Ethical hedonism Hedonism refers to a family of theories, all of which have in common that ''pleasure'' plays a central role in them. ''Psychological'' or ''motivational hedonism'' claims that our behavior is determined by desires to increase pleasure and to decr ...
takes the strongest position on this relation in stating that considerations of increasing pleasure and decreasing pain fully determine what we should do or which action is right. ''Ethical hedonist theories'' can be classified in relation to whose pleasure should be increased. According to the egoist version, each agent should only aim at maximizing her own pleasure. This position is usually not held in very high esteem.
Utilitarianism Utilitarianism is a family of normative Normative generally means relating to an evaluative standard. Normativity is the phenomenon in human societies of designating some actions or outcomes as good or desirable or permissible and others as ba ...
, on the other hand, is a family of altruist theories that are more respectable in the philosophical community. Within this family, classical utilitarianism draws the closest connection between pleasure and right action by holding that the agent should maximize the sum-total of everyone's happiness. This sum-total includes the agent's pleasure as well, but only as one factor among many.


Value

Pleasure is intimately connected to ''
value Value or values may refer to: * Value (ethics) it may be described as treating actions themselves as abstract objects, putting value to them ** Values (Western philosophy) expands the notion of value beyond that of ethics, but limited to Western s ...
'' as something that is desirable and worth seeking. According to
axiological hedonism Hedonism refers to a family of theories, all of which have in common that ''pleasure'' plays a central role in them. ''Psychological'' or ''motivational hedonism'' claims that human behavior is determined by desires to increase pleasure and to de ...
, it is the only thing that has intrinsic value or is ''good in itself''. This position entails that things other than pleasure, like knowledge, virtue or money, only have ''instrumental value'': they are valuable because or to the extent that they produce pleasure but lack value otherwise. Within the scope of axiological hedonism, there are two competing theories about the exact relation between pleasure and value: ''quantitative hedonism'' and ''qualitative hedonism''. Quantitative hedonists, following
Jeremy Bentham Jeremy Bentham (; 15 February 1748 _4_February_1747.html" ;"title="nowiki/> 4 February 1747">nowiki/> 4 February 1747ref name="Johnson2012" /> – 6 June 1832) was an English , , and regarded as the founder of modern . Bentham defined as th ...

Jeremy Bentham
, hold that the specific content or quality of a pleasure-experience is not relevant to its value, which only depends on its quantitative features: intensity and duration. On this account, an experience of intense pleasure of indulging in food and sex is worth more than an experience of subtle pleasure of looking at fine art or of engaging in a stimulating intellectual conversation. Qualitative hedonists, following
John Stuart Mill John Stuart Mill (20 May 1806 – 7 May 1873), also cited as J. S. Mill, was an English philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as ...
, object to this version on the grounds that it threatens to turn axiological hedonism into a "philosophy of swine". Instead, they argue that the quality is another factor relevant to the value of a pleasure-experience, for example, that the ''lower pleasures'' of the body are less valuable than the ''higher pleasures'' of the mind.


Beauty

A very common element in many conceptions of
beauty Beauty is commonly described as a feature of objects that makes these objects pleasurable to perceive. Such objects include landscapes, sunsets, humans and works of art. Beauty, together with art and taste, is the main subject of aesthetics ...

beauty
is its relation to pleasure. Aesthetic hedonism makes this relation part of the definition of beauty by holding that there is a necessary connection between pleasure and beauty, e.g. that for an object to be beautiful is for it to cause pleasure or that the experience of beauty is always accompanied by pleasure. The pleasure due to beauty does not need to be ''pure'', i.e. exclude all unpleasant elements. Instead, beauty can involve ''mixed'' pleasure, for example, in the case of a beautifully tragic story. We take pleasure from many things that are not beautiful, which is why beauty is usually defined in terms of a special type of pleasure: ''aesthetic'' or ''disinterested'' pleasure. A pleasure is disinterested if it is indifferent to the existence of the beautiful object. For example, the joy of looking at a beautiful landscape would still be valuable if it turned out that this experience was an illusion, which would not be true if this joy was due to seeing the landscape as a valuable real estate opportunity. Opponents of ''aesthetic hedonism'' have pointed out that despite commonly occurring together, there are cases of beauty without pleasure. For example, a cold jaded critic may still be a good judge of beauty due to her years of experience but lack the joy that initially accompanied her work. A further question for hedonists is how to explain the relation between beauty and pleasure. This problem is akin to the
Euthyphro dilemma The Euthyphro dilemma is found in Plato Plato ( ; grc-gre, Πλάτων ; 428/427 or 424/423 – 348/347 BC) was an Athenian , image_skyline = File:Athens Montage L.png, center, 275px, alt=Athens montage. Clic ...
: is something beautiful because we enjoy it or do we enjoy it because it is beautiful? Identity theorists solve this problem by denying that there is a difference between beauty and pleasure: they identify beauty, or the appearance of it, with the experience of aesthetic pleasure.


History


Hellenistic philosophy

The ancient
Cyrenaics The Cyrenaics or Kyrenaics ( grc, Κυρηναϊκοί; ''Kyrēnaïkoí'') were a sensual hedonist Greek school of philosophy founded in the 4th century BCE, supposedly by Aristippus of Cyrene, although many of the principles of the school are ...
posited pleasure as the universal aim for all people. Later,
Epicurus Epicurus, ''Epíkouros'', "ally, comrade" (341–270 BC) was an and who founded , a highly influential school of . He was born on the Greek island of to parents. Influenced by , , , and possibly the , he turned against the of his day and e ...

Epicurus
defined the highest pleasure as
aponia "Aponia" ( grc, ἀπονία) means the absence of pain Pain is a distressing feeling often caused by intense or damaging stimuli. The International Association for the Study of Pain The International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP) ...
(the absence of pain),The Forty Principal Doctrines
Number III.
and pleasure as "freedom from pain in the body and freedom from turmoil in the soul".Letter to Menoeceus
, Section 131-2.
According to
Cicero Marcus Tullius Cicero ( ; ; 3 January 106 BC – 7 December 43 BC) was a Roman Roman or Romans usually refers to: *Rome, the capital city of Italy *Ancient Rome, Roman civilization from 8th century BC to 5th century AD *Roman people ...

Cicero
(or rather his character Torquatus) Epicurus also believed that pleasure was the chief good and pain the chief evil.About the Ends of Goods and Evils, Book I
, From Section IX, Torquatus sets out his understanding of Epicurus's philosophy.
The Pyrrhonist philosopher
Aenesidemus Aenesidemus ( grc, Αἰνησίδημος or Αἰνεσίδημος) was a Greece, Greek Pyrrhonism, Pyrrhonist philosopher, born in Knossos on the island of Crete. He lived in the 1st century BC, taught in Alexandria and flourished shortly af ...
claimed that following Pyrrhonism's prescriptions for
philosophical skepticism Philosophical skepticism (American and British English spelling differences, UK spelling: scepticism; from Ancient Greek, Greek σκέψις ''skepsis'', "inquiry") is a family of Philosophy, philosophical views that question the possibility of k ...
produced pleasure.


Medieval philosophy

In the 12th century, Razi's "Treatise of the Self and the Spirit" (''Kitab al Nafs Wa’l Ruh'') analyzed different types of pleasure- and
intellectual An intellectual is a person who engages in critical thinking Critical thinking is the analysis of facts to form a judgment. The subject is complex; several different Critical thinking#Definitions, definitions exist, which generally includ ...
, and explained their relations with one another. He concludes that human needs and desires are endless, and "their satisfaction is by definition impossible."


Schopenhauer

The 19th-century German philosopher
Arthur Schopenhauer Arthur Schopenhauer (; ; 22 February 1788 – 21 September 1860) was a Germans, German philosopher. He is best known for his 1818 work ''The World as Will and Representation'' (expanded in 1844), which characterizes the Phenomenon, phenomena ...
understood pleasure as a negative sensation, one that negates the usual existential condition of suffering.Counsels and Maxims
, Chapter 1, General Rules Section 1.


Psychology

Pleasure is often regarded as a bipolar construct, meaning that the two ends of the spectrum from pleasure to suffering are mutually exclusive. That is part of the circumplex model of affect. Yet, some lines of research suggest that people do experience pleasure and suffering at the same time, giving rise to so-called mixed feelings. Pleasure is considered one of the core dimensions of emotion. It can be described as the positive evaluation that forms the basis for several more elaborate evaluations such as "agreeable" or "nice". As such, pleasure is an
affect Affect may refer to: * Affect (education) * Affect (linguistics), attitude or emotion that a speaker brings to an utterance * Affect (philosophy) * Affect (psychology), the experience of feeling or emotion ** Affect display, signs of emotion, such ...
and not an
emotion Emotions are mental state, psychological states brought on by neurophysiology, neurophysiological changes, variously associated with thoughts, feelings, behavioural responses, and a degree of pleasure or suffering, displeasure. There is currentl ...

emotion
, as it forms one component of several different emotions. The clinical condition of being unable to experience pleasure from usually enjoyable activities is called
anhedonia Anhedonia is a diverse array of deficits in Hedonism, hedonic function, including reduced motivation or ability to experience pleasure. While earlier definitions emphasized the inability to experience pleasure, anhedonia is currently used by rese ...
. An active aversion to obtaining pleasure is called hedonophobia.


Pleasure and belief

The degree to which something or someone is experienced as pleasurable not only depends on its objective attributes (appearance, sound, taste, texture, etc.), but on beliefs about its history, about the circumstances of its creation, about its rarity, fame, or price, and on other non-intrinsic attributes, such as the social status or identity it conveys. For example, a sweater that has been worn by a celebrity is more desired than an otherwise identical sweater that has not, though considerably less so if it has been washed.Paul Bloom. ''How Pleasure Works: The New Science of Why We Like What We Like'' (2010) 280 pages. Draws on neuroscience, philosophy, child-development research, and behavioral economics in a study of our desires, attractions, and tastes.


Motivation and behavior

Pleasure-seeking ''behavior'' is a common phenomenon and may indeed dominate our conduct at times. The thesis of
psychological hedonism Hedonism refers to a family of theories, all of which have in common that '' pleasure'' plays a central role in them. ''Psychological'' or ''motivational hedonism'' claims that our behavior is determined by desires to increase pleasure and to dec ...
generalizes this insight by holding that all our actions aim at increasing pleasure and avoiding pain. This is usually understood in combination with
egoism Egoism is the philosophy concerned with the role of the self The self is an individual person as the object of its own reflective consciousness. Since the ''self'' is a reference by a subject to the same subject, this reference is necessar ...
, i.e. that each person only aims at her own happiness. Our actions rely on beliefs about what causes pleasure. False beliefs may mislead us and thus our actions may fail to result in pleasure, but even failed actions are ''motivated'' by considerations of pleasure, according to ''psychological hedonism''. The
paradox of hedonism The paradox of hedonism, also called the pleasure paradox, refers to the practical difficulties encountered in the pursuit of pleasure Pleasure refers to experience that feels good, that involves the enjoyment of something. It contrasts with pai ...
states that pleasure-seeking behavior commonly fails also in another way. It asserts that being motivated by pleasure is self-defeating in the sense that it leads to less actual pleasure than following other motives.
Sigmund Freud Sigmund Freud ( , ; born Sigismund Schlomo Freud; 6 May 1856 – 23 September 1939) was an Austrian and the founder of , a clinical method for treating through dialogue between a patient and a psychoanalyst. Freud was born to (from ) parents ...

Sigmund Freud
formulated his pleasure principle in order to account for the effect pleasure has on our behavior. It states that there is a strong, inborn tendency of our mental life to seek immediate gratification whenever an opportunity presents itself. This tendency is opposed by the
reality principle In Freudian Sigmund Freud ( , ; born Sigismund Schlomo Freud; 6 May 1856 – 23 September 1939) was an Austrian neurologist Neurology (from el, νεῦρον (neûron), "string, nerve" and the suffix -logia, "study of") is a branch of me ...
, which constitutes a learned capacity to delay immediate gratification in order to take the real consequences of our actions into account. Freud also described the ''pleasure principle'' as a
positive feedback Positive feedback (exacerbating feedback, self-reinforcing feedback) is a process that occurs in a which exacerbates the effects of a small disturbance. That is, the effects of a perturbation on a system include an increase in the magnitude ...
mechanism that motivates the organism to recreate the situation it has just found pleasurable, and to avoid past situations that caused
pain Pain is a distressing feeling often caused by intense or damaging stimuli. The defines pain as "an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with, or resembling that associated with, actual or potential tissue damage." In medical ...

pain
.


Cognitive biases

A ''
cognitive bias A cognitive bias is a systematic pattern of deviation from norm Norm, the Norm or NORM may refer to: In academic disciplines * Norm (geology), an estimate of the idealised mineral content of a rock * Norm (philosophy) Norms are concepts ( se ...
'' is a systematic tendency of thinking and judging in a way that deviates from a normative criterion, especially from the demands of
rationality Rationality is the quality or state of being rational – that is, being based on or agreeable to reason Reason is the capacity of consciously applying logic by Logical consequence, drawing conclusions from new or existing information, with t ...

rationality
. Cognitive biases in regard to ''pleasure'' include the '' peak–end rule'', the '' focusing illusion'', the ''nearness bias'' and the ''future bias''. The ''peak–end rule'' affects how we remember the pleasantness or unpleasantness of experiences. It states that our overall impression of past events is determined for the most part not by the total pleasure and suffering it contained but by how it felt at its ''peaks'' and at its ''end''. For example, the memory of a painful
colonoscopy Colonoscopy () or coloscopy () is the endoscopic examination of the large bowel and the distal Standard anatomical terms of location deal unambiguously with the anatomy of animals, including humans. Terms used generally derive from Latin or Gr ...
is improved if the examination is extended by three minutes in which the scope is still inside but not moved anymore, resulting in a moderately uncomfortable sensation. This extended colonoscopy, despite involving more pain overall, is remembered less negatively due to the reduced pain at the end. This even increases the likelihood for the patient to return for subsequent procedures.
Daniel Kahneman Daniel Kahneman (; he, דניאל כהנמן; born March 5, 1934) is an Israeli Americans, Israeli-American psychology, psychologist and economist notable for his work on the psychology of judgment and decision-making, as well as behavioral econ ...

Daniel Kahneman
explains this distortion in terms of the difference between two selves: the ''experiencing self'', which is aware of pleasure and pain as they are happening, and the ''remembering self'', which shows the aggregate pleasure and pain over an extended period of time. The distortions due to the ''peak–end rule'' happen on the level of the ''remembering self''. Our tendency to rely on the ''remembering self'' can often lead us to pursue courses of action that are not in our best self-interest. A closely related bias is the ''focusing illusion''. The "illusion" occurs when people consider the impact of one specific factor on their overall happiness. They tend to greatly exaggerate the importance of that factor, while overlooking the numerous other factors that would in most cases have a greater impact. The ''nearness bias'' and the ''future bias'' are two different forms of violating the principle of ''temporal neutrality''. This principle states that the temporal location of a benefit or a harm is not important for its normative significance: a rational agent should care to the same extent about all parts of their life. The ''nearness bias'', also discussed under the labels " present bias" or "
temporal discounting In economics, time preference (or time discounting, delay discounting, temporal discounting, long-term orientation) is the current relative valuation placed on receiving a good 125px, In many Western religions, angels are considered to be g ...
", refers to our tendency to violate ''temporal neutrality'' in regards to temporal distance from the present. On the positive side, we prefer pleasurable experiences to be near rather than distant. On the negative side, we prefer painful experiences to be distant rather than near. The ''future bias'' refers to our tendency to violate ''temporal neutrality'' in regards to the direction of time. On the positive side, we prefer pleasurable experiences to be in the future rather than in the past. On the negative side, we prefer painful experiences to be in the past rather than in the future.


Brain and reward system


Pleasure centers


Reward system and motivation

While all pleasurable stimuli can be seen as rewards, some rewards do not evoke pleasure. Based upon the
incentive salience An incentive is something that motivates or drives one to do something or behave in a certain way. There are two types of incentives that affect human decision making. These are: intrinsic and extrinsic incentives. Intrinsic incentives are ...
model of reward – the attractive and motivational property of a stimulus that induces approach behavior and consummatory behavior – an intrinsic reward has two components: a "wanting" or desire component that is reflected in approach behavior, and a "liking" or pleasure component that is reflected in consummatory behavior. Some research indicates that similar circuitry is activated by quite diverse pleasures, suggesting a common neural currency. Some commentators opine that our current understanding of how pleasure happens within us remains poor, but that scientific advance gives optimism for future progress."prospects seem good for new and deep scientific understanding of pleasure and of how it is organized in the brain." Conclusion, Pleasure, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/pleasure/


Animal pleasure

In the past, there has been debate as to whether pleasure is experienced by other animals rather than being an exclusive property of humankind; however, it is now known that animals do experience pleasure, as measured by objective behavioral and neural hedonic responses to pleasurable stimuli.


See also


References


Further reading

* Draws on neuroscience, philosophy, child-development research, and behavioral economics in a study of our desires, attractions, and tastes. * M.L. Kringelbach. ''The pleasure center: Trust Your Animal Instincts'' (2009). Oxford University Press. . A general overview of the neuroscience of pleasure.


External links

* * * {{Authority control Emotions Feeling