Re: Anticipations of joy and pleasure
- Jan Edward Garrett wrote:
> From: Jan Edward Garrett <jgarrett@...>That's helpful. Thank you.
> Bert writes,
> > Is there anyone in this group who does not enjoy food and
> chooses it
> >based on anticipated pleasure? Or wine? Or the multitude of other things
> we do to
> >enhance our pleasure? And, perhaps more important, if you do, is it your
> >to blot out that pleasure and become indifferent to food's taste? Most
> >people reach the point of indifference to food.
> Why would anybody think that he or she should not take pleasure in food and
> try to substitute for that pleasure mere pleasure in anticipation of the
> food? The undertaking seems internally contradictory to me. And there is
> absolutely no reason for a Stoic to avoid taking *physical* pleasure in food.
> The classical Stoa distinguished physical pleasure (hedone) from the pathos
> (also called hedone). Physical pleasure was generally in accord with our
> nature, but was also classified as an indifferent not because it would not
> occasionally be "selected" but because it was distinct from virtue and the
> affective states of the wise person.
> Now the pathos hedone might usefully be translated by a word different from
> "pleasure," e.g., as "laetitia" (Cicero's Latin, which is distinct from
> "voluptas") or as "delight" (some translators). The pathos arises from the
> judgment that the object of pleasure is a good that I just *must* have; but
> for the Stoa this involves an error since the only absolute good is virtue
> and what is associated directly with it; it also involves an error because
> the object of pleasure is not entirely up to us.
> Thus Stoics [who are making progress] can take pleasure in eating, and maybe
> even a little pleasure in anticipation of the pleasure of eating, without
> making such a big deal of the pleasure that it becomes for them an essential
> feature of the goodness of their lives.
> If anybody thinks we are being unduly ascetic for insisting on the avoidance
> of the pathos hedone, consider this: if you regard a physical pleasure as
> something you *must* have, how are you going to avoid lusting for it (even
> when it's occurrence is beyond your control, as it must occasionally be,
> since it depends upon the nonmental aspects of our selves and upon things
> external to us)? How are you going to avoid fearing its loss or being
> distressed when in fact you are deprived of it?
> The anticipation of joy of which I was speaking, Bert, pertained to the
> dichotomy between the (non-sage) person making progress and the sage, a
> dichotomy on which most of the major summaries of classical Stoic thought
> insist. I offered this idea as a way of making sense out of how one might
> begin to bridge the gap this dichotomy threatens to open up.
> The anticipation of *physical* pleasure is possible for non-sages as well as
> sages; the chief difference being, I think, that the non-sage would be more
> likely to err by interpreting the pleasure anticipated as a genuine good,
> and not merely generally in accord with our natures. The anticipation of
> delight (hedone as a pathos) coupled
> with the lustful looking forward to it would be characteristic of the
> non-sage only. But a sage can have an impression of something external as
> apparently good without assenting to that impression, that is, to the
> proposition that the object in question is really good.
- Dear Fellow Stoics
Jan's comments to Bert's challenge about enjoying food are simply
wonderful. I confess that at a gourmet dinner I usually upbraid myself in
silence for stooping to mere hedonism--not that I always refuse the
delicacies, you understand.