Question 1: In chapter 2, one of Mill questioned his claim on the two levels of pleasures, saying that “It may be questioned whether any one who has remained equally susceptible to both classes of pleasures, ever knowingly and calmly preferred the lower…”. Can a person that experiences higher pleasures ever “devolve” and begin to prefer those that are lower, or vice versa?
What my initial thoughts on this was that there’s a possibility that a person could prefer lower over higher, or the other way around. What I considered “lower pleasures” to be in people are those that harm or are a prolonged wrong For example, gambling and doing drugs. They can be considered pleasures as the user experiences happiness from the acts, yet are detrimental to oneself and potentially others around them (ie: family, etc.). People can fall into these types of lower pleasures and find comfort within them, an potentially abandoning the other higher pleasures. Same goes for people who experience lower pleasures transitioning to higher ones. Essentially, what I was getting at is that people can change their preferences towards pleasures, as it depends on the environmental factors they’re experiencing.
I was surprised to hear that my group did not agree with what I had come up with for the answer. In the discussion, we came up with answers such as that people usually wouldn’t change their pleasures, because in their train of thought, they’ve reached their highest, regardless of what others think. Moreover, we also agreed upon that since people are beings capable of higher intelligences, for them to experience “lower pleasures” would just be delusions that the person would be experiencing. However, it depends on the pleasure, if it is possible to be experiences by humans or not. These new insights that were brought up in my group helped change my view upon what Mill’s question had been, as I had understood it in a wrong sense.
Question 2: Mill claims that a life in which a pig may be satisfied, will leave a human dissatisfied because the pig’s pleasures are purely sensual, and a human experiences both intellectual and sensual pleasures. Could it be possible for a person to live like a pig, enjoyably, and would it be considered wrong (according to Mill’s Greatest Happiness principle, that acts that are morally right to the degree produce happiness) to live as a pig?
My answer to this question is no, a person cannot live like a pig. No matter how hard a person tries, it’s impossible. In relation to the first question, people cannot void themselves of higher pleasures, as they are ingrained with intellect to rationalize and act upon choices. A pig doesn’t act upon choices, as it’s pleasures only consist sensually, and therefore it theoretically cannot think or plan out it’s life. If a person decides to live like a pig (basing everything upon sensualization) it wouldn’t count because the person made the initial conscious decision to choose that life and form of pleasure. Moreover, it’s wrong to live as a pig because you’re limiting yourself to the capabilities that a person can achieve/ find pleasure in. Unless it’s pleasurable to live as a pig, I guess that may be an exception.
In the discussion, my group agreed with most of the points I gave out in response to my question. The other points that we all came up with are that the “pleasure” of living like a pig cannot be felt as society partakes in mental pleasures, thus cementing the fact that mental pleasures are mandatory and a low pleasurable life akin to pigs is impossible according to society’s standards. We also had mutual agreement that people function intellectually upon instinct, so a life that is based on sensual pleasures isn’t possible as well. The only thing that surprised me was the last point my group came up with, which is that living a low pleasure life hurts society more so than the person. There would e a lot of resources wasted to supply a person with that type of life and would undoubtedly cause some familial issues as well. For the most part, however, we all agreed upon the same answers that it’s impossible and wrong for a person to live a low pleasurable life such as a pigs.