Friday, December 16, 2016

Pornosophy: The Pleasure Principle

Psychoanalysis talks about the pleasure principle, but is it hedonism or merely biology? Infantile pleasure is limited to the satisfaction of needs, but in an adult a life devoted to mere satiation can become narrowed. How does one equate notions like altruism with pleasure, if feelings of obligation and empathy get in the way of pleasurable drives and how can pleasure and conscience be equated? Can a life devoted to sensation be lived with total equanimity? For instance, while the infant’s job is to satisfy it’s pleasures, that of the parent is to defer them. In cases where a parent places his or her own needs above the child’s (particularly a very young one), then that child is likely to be deprived of the kind of security that will lead to the development of a well-adjusted adult. Wordsworth said, “The child is the father of the man.” Sure there are men and women who trade their aging wives and husbands in the way they do late model cars. Pleasure in both cars and bodies derives from a certain youth a certain beauty that result from a lack of bruises. A new car like a youthful person also functions better. Life takes its toll. If the pleasure principle is equitable with hedonism then what possible pleasure can come from fading and broken things or people? “In Xanadu did Kubla Khan/ A stately pleasure-dome decree,” writes Coleridge. Is the dream of a pleasure, utopia or merely the destructive aftermath of a party no one has bothered to clean up? Epicurus looked at pleasure as moderation. Yet pleasure as a dominating principle is like a tropical storm or other natural catastrophe. It’s bound to leave a path of destruction in its wake.

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