Wednesday, September 14, 2016
I don’t agree with Epicurus’ claim that the absence of pain is the truest pleasure. To have a pain go away, or even momentary respite from it can be a powerful and intense pleasure; but that pleasure is fleeting. After recovering from a severe cold, simply breathing through uninhibited nostrils is fabulous. After a very few hours, however, breathing is again taken for granted. I think the reason the statement was so powerful for Epicurus is because he was in bad health all his life. The brief moments where his body felt like a normal body must have been blissful and sublime.
Epicurus’s claim that the absence of pain is the truest pleasure also seems self-contradictory. According to him, there are two types of pleasure, static and dynamic. Static pleasures are a state of equilibrium (the sensation of being full), and he regards static pleasures as superior to dynamic pleasures, which “consist in the attainment of a desired end, the previous desire having been accompanied by pain.” Wouldn’t the absence of pain then be the most basic definition of a dynamic pleasure? So wouldn't that make dynamic pleasure the superior one?
I think that pleasure is an active and pleasing emotion, which can change with the conditions of the person who is experiencing the feeling. I don’t feel that pleasure is a set thing; I agree with Epicurus that there are different types of it, but I think it would be very difficult to narrow every type of it down; it varies so much from person to person, and who can say that their perception of pleasure is in any way similar to those of other people?