Saturday, May 11, 2013


Part 1

Philosophical Musings


Are Happiness and Pleasure correlated?

They say:

1.       Pleasure is Quantitative but Happiness is Qualitative

2.       Happiness is a lifelong goal

3.       Happiness requires cognitive judgment

4.       Pleasure is not essential to achieving happiness

Well, I do agree with the first three precepts, but I certainly do not agree with the fourth point.

I feel that happiness and pleasure are not mutually exclusive.

In fact genuine pleasure can be the source of much happiness.

No philosopher has better explored the distinction between happiness and pleasure than Epicurus, a Greek Philosopher of the Third Century BC. 

Epicurus (341-270 BC) espoused a strategy for achieving genuine human happiness by emphasizing the delights of the mind (over which you have control) rather than the delights derived from material things (which are  beyond your personal control).

Epicurus’ name survives in the team “epicurean” which is used to refer to someone with elevated tastes and a lifestyle centered on pleasure. 

However, if you peruse his philosophy thoroughly, you will realize that Epicurus counsels a way of life very different from what the popular use of the term “pleasure” implies.

You may feel that Epicurean philosophy champions the pursuit of pleasure as the supreme goal of life, but this does not mean the unrestrained pursuit of excesses of any kind. 

Instead, Epicurus argues for a life of sober restrain and moderation in all things. 

The pleasures Epicurus recommends are those that are easy to achieve and simple in nature. 

The prolonged pursuit of pleasure is best achieved by restraint and enlightened choice.

It may be the prudent to moderate our single minded pursuit of “outward” success and achievement.

You need to exercise prudence and avoid mindless acquisition of material possessions and accumulation of wealth, tendencies to showing off and ostentation, conspicuous consumption and lavish unrestrained pleasures.

You must focus on the more authentic “inner” pleasures of life such as happy family life, enriching relationships, cultivating the mind and intellect, enjoying the pleasures of friends and companions, and living on the higher plane.

Epicureanism does not advocate the wanton pursuit of pleasure. 

Also, you must remember that pleasures and pains of the mind are of greater importance than those of the body

Epicurus set forth a strategy for achieving authentic human happiness by emphasizing the delights of the mind over which you have control rather than the delights derived from material things which are so often beyond your personal control )

The fundamental premise is that presence of pleasure is synonymous with the absence of pain.

Genuine happiness emanates from pleasures that are easy to achieve and simple in nature.

If you have only a few things, you will enjoy them more than if you had many things.

And if you do not become used to rich and expensive foods, then simple fare, which is easier to obtain will satisfy you more.

In a nutshell: “The Art of Happiness is in keeping your Pleasures Mild”.

And how do you keep your pleasures mild...?


Are pleasures in any way linked to satisfying your desires?
There are two different types of pleasures:
'moving' pleasures
'static' pleasures
'Moving' pleasures occur when one is in the process of satisfying a desire – like eating delicious food when one is hungry.
Moving Pleasures involve an active enjoyable titillation of the senses which most people call 'pleasure'
However, Epicurus says that after one's desires have been satisfied, like suppose you are fully satiated after eating a hearty meal, this state of satiety, the state of no longer being in need or want, is itself pleasurable
Epicurus calls this a 'static' pleasure, and says that these static pleasures are the best pleasures.
Hence, Epicurus says that there is no intermediate state between pleasure and pain
When you have unfulfilled desires, this is painful.
When you no longer have unfulfilled desires, this steady state is the most pleasurable of all. 
There is no intermediate state between pleasure and pain
Either your desires are fulfilled or your desires are not fulfilled.
Epicurus also distinguishes between physical and mental pleasures and pains.  
Physical pleasures and pains concern only the present, whereas mental pleasures and pains also encompass the past (fond memories of past pleasure or regret over past pain or mistakes) and the future (confidence or fear about what will occur in future).
The greatest destroyer of happiness is anxiety about the future, especially the fear of death. 
If you can banish fear about the future, and face the future with confidence that one's desires will be satisfied, then you can attain a most exalted state of tranquility.
This we see that the key to happiness is the effective management of your desires – Desire Management.

Continued in Part 2 ... HOW TO MANAGE YOUR DESIRES

Copyright © Vikram Karve 2013
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A creative person with a zest for life, Vikram Karve is a retired Naval Officer turned full time writer and blogger. Educated at IIT Delhi, IIT (BHU) Varanasi, The Lawrence School Lovedale and Bishops School Pune, Vikram has published two books: COCKTAIL a collection of fiction short stories about relationships (2011) and APPETITE FOR A STROLL a book of Foodie Adventures (2008) and is currently working on his novel and a book of vignettes and an anthology of short fiction. An avid blogger, he has written a number of fiction short stories and creative non-fiction articles on a variety of topics including food, travel, philosophy, academics, technology, management, health, pet parenting, teaching stories and self help in magazines and published a large number of professional  and academic research papers in journals and edited in-house journals and magazines for many years, before the advent of blogging. Vikram has taught at a University as a Professor for 15 years and now teaches as a visiting faculty and devotes most of his time to creative writing and blogging. Vikram Karve lives in Pune India with his family and muse - his pet dog Sherry with whom he takes long walks thinking creative thoughts.

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