Over the centuries, simplicity has also been embraced as a stylish fad. Benjamin Franklin’s self-conscious decision to wear an old fur cap and portray himself as a plain Quaker while serving as an American diplomat in Paris reflected his shrewd awareness that rustic simplicity had become quite fashionable among the French ruling class. Marie Antoinette’s famous playground, Hameau, constructed on the grounds of Versailles, was a monument of extravagant simplicity. The toy village had its own thatched cottages, a dairy barn with perfumed Swiss cows, and a picturesque water mill. When the lavish life at court grew tiresome, the Queen could adjourn to Hameau, don peasant garb, and enjoy the therapeutic effects of milking cows and churning butter.
If, then, I manage to get from that great Parisian factory a nice little law saying: "Belgian iron is prohibited," I shall attain the following results: The government will replace the few servants that I wanted to send to the frontier with twenty thousand sons of my recalcitrant metalworkers, locksmiths, nailmakers, blacksmiths, artisans, mechanics, and plowmen. Then, to keep these twenty thousand customs officers in good spirits and health, there will be distributed to them twenty-five million francs taken from these same blacksmiths, nailmakers, artisans, and plowmen. Organized in this way, the protection will be better accomplished; it will cost me nothing; I shall not be exposed to the brutality of brokers; I shall sell the iron at my price; and I shall enjoy the sweet pleasure of seeing our great people shamefully hoaxed. That will teach them to be continually proclaiming themselves the precursors and the promoters of all progress in Europe. It will be a smart move, and well worth the trouble of trying!
Aristotle rejected Plato’s assimilation of enjoying sights,sounds, smells, and intellectual activity to the satisfaction ofhomeostasis-serving appetites and also his view of the best, divine,changeless life we should aspire to approximate to as one ofpleasureless cognition. Yet he adopted as his own the project offinding a unitary account of pleasure that would fit theteleological metaphysics and intellectualist value theory he inheritedfrom Plato – and also Plato’s strategy of giving a genericformal account that allows for specific variation. He thus rejectedPlato’s restoration process account totally to substitute hisown equally general account of pleasure as arising rather from theactivities of animals, or of their parts or faculties, when these arealready, at least in part, in good condition.
The single uniform attitude approach also faces a problematic tensionbetween its intuitive motivation and its technical adequacy. Thenatural and intuitive assignment of contents that makes plausibleconstruing pleasure sometimes as an attitude withpropositional content runs into problems when it is extended to auniform propositional attitude theory of all pleasure, as Anscombe(1981c/1967) first observed. To use and develop further her line ofreasoning using her original example: her enjoying riding with someoneis different and separable from her enjoying reflecting then on thefact that she is (and, if the latter is distinct from that, also fromher being pleased then that this is the case). But on a single uniformattitude analysis, applied in what seems the natural and intuitiveway, it seems these should consist in her directing the same attitudeon the same proposition (or, alternatively, on her self-attributingthe same property). But this doesn’t seem to allow that shemight enjoy one but not the other, as she surely may. A technicalproblem may have a technical fix. Perhaps one may thus regard theactivity of reflecting as a different mode of presentation (or thelike) of the same propositional content that Anscombe more directlyenjoys to the same attitude, while retaining something of theapproach’s intuitive motivation. However, it seems more naturaland intuitive to say the attitude is directed, instead, primarilytoward these different activities, including some naturally describedas themselves taking propositional or de se(property-self-attributing) contents, such as Anscombe‘sreflecting that she is riding with someone, but also toothers that don’t, such as her just riding.
On the simple picture, pleasure itself is always the same; when it isbound up with the different pleasures of sweets or philosophyit is only caused (however cognitively, reciprocally, orrecurrently) in different ways. Philosophers have often aimed torespect, more equally with pleasure’s obscurely felt unity, alsothe diversity manifest in its occasions. Thus Plato speculated thatpleasure is a sensing, perceiving, or awareness of improvement, invarying respects, in one’s condition; Aristotle, that it arisesin the unimpeded functional fulfillment of varying life capacities intheir characteristically different activities (e.g.; perceivingparticular things, theoretically contemplating their natures); andcontemporary writers that it is a welcoming attitude (had towarddifferent contents) or some underlying stance of openness toexperience generally that may waver between different objects andhaving none at all. Such questions have been explicitly contested atleast since Plato had his Socrates suggest that pleasure is soextremely heterogeneous that no simple generalizations about it willhold, such as the hedonist’s claim that all pleasure is good,especially given the very large differences between the things thatvery different sorts of people enjoy (Philebus12C–13B).
On the other hand, if something in the spirit of Feldman’swelcoming attitude were freed from the requirement of always taking acontent or object, and might obtain on its own, then it could capturenot only all of the above but also cases in which we seem to havepleasure when doing nothing at all and attitudinizing toward nothingat all. Perhaps, then, pleasure is a stance (for lack of abetter place-holding term) of affective openness, welcoming, orimmediate liking with which we may wholeheartedly engage in theactivities and experiences we enjoy, from thinking to swimming to justlying about and ‘doing nothing’, but that may also (unlikeordinary propositional attitudes or de se[reflexively-centered] attitudes) obtain without having any object orcontent at all. Like many experiential features and mental processes,it might be sometimes integrated and bound with others, but sometimesnot, and the same episodic instance might survive as the variablebinding and integration develops, decays, and shifts over time(perhaps varying without increasing the pleasure, as the Epicureanssaid) while the underlying mood or stance of readiness for pleasantengagement remains, rather than being individuated in term of itscontents or objects as particular intentional mental acts are. Ratherthan being an attitude of taking pleasure in some specific orparticular content or other, pleasure itself could be a central stateindependent of such attitudes from which they arise and perhapsinclude as their common inner ground.
Anscombe’s earlier work, apparently provoked by proposalssimilar to Feldman’s, suggests such a way out. As she noted,cases described as enjoying a proposition or fact seem to involve ourthinking about it or being in some state or the like (1981c/1967).These seem to be activities or experiencings that we may (followingAristotle) regard as activities, at least for present purposes. Wemay, then, let the different activities make the needed distinctions,by saying that enjoying riding is one thing and enjoying reflectingthat one is riding is another. Such an approach also handles thepleasure of prancing puppies and of suckling babies without seeming toascribe to them the general and logically combinatorialrepresentational capacities that may be involved in having attitudestoward propositions, attributing properties to oneself, or thelike – capacities that puppies and babies may lack and thateven human adults may not always exercise when enjoying a nap or awarm bath. The most natural and uniform attitudinal view of pleasurewould thus seem to be not Feldman’s propositional view butrather one on which to enjoy a sensation is just to enjoy sensing itand that similarly to enjoy any cognitive content or object of thoughtas such is just to enjoy thinking about it or the like –and that these are all actual activities. But this seems at least veryclose to an ‘adverbial’ (activity-dependent)neoAristotelian view on which particular instances of pleasure aremodes of their activities (without the need for any special singlekind of attitude).
Justin Gosling, insightfully appraising the Ryle-inspired literaturetoward the end of its run, argued that it had largely missed theethical and psychological importance of pleasure by neglecting theconceptually central cases of positive emotion and mood. (For aforthright denial of pleasant occurrent mood, see Taylor 1963.) Heconcluded that our being pleased in these ways shows pleasure to be,in a relaxed way of speaking, a feeling, after all, and that theconcept is extended from these cases to include enjoyments that mayplease one at the time or else cause or dispose one to be pleasedlater. Wanting things for their own sake, which hedonists often seekto explain in terms of their being pleasant, is actually connected tothe central cases through its often being caused by being pleased atsome prospect. While Gosling used such distinctions to block somearguments for hedonist theses, he also defended the importance ofpleasure in both moral psychology and ethics (1969, chapters 9 and10).
Feldman, in an encyclopedia treatment that perhaps presents theattitudinal approach to pleasure more broadly than the works citedabove presenting his own propositional version, allows attitudinalpleasure to take among its objects or contents activities andsensations as well as facts (2001, p. 667). Elsewhere he allowsnonactual states of affairs among the objects of attitudinalpropositional pleasure (2002, p. 608). Presumably he will needdistinct impossible propositions, so that Hobbes’ pleasure incontemplating the (supposed) geometrical fact (actually, amathematical impossibility) that the circle can be squared may bedistinguished from his pleasure in his having (equally impossibly)discovered this. (Surely the magnitude of his taking pleasure in thesetwo may change in opposite directions, as his focus shifts, as hefirst loses all thought of himself in the mathematics, but laterswells with self-regarding pride.) Whether there are such distinctimpossible states of affairs or propositions (between which Feldmanmay not distinguish) seems especially controversial. Feldman tells usthat pleasure is an attitude like belief, so it may seem we may restcontent to have pleasure no worse off than belief and leave it totheorists of belief to solve such shared problems generally. Butpleasure must be even more general than belief if, as in Feldman 2001,it takes as its objects not only the contents of belief (often thoughtof as abstract entities, which as we have seen need to at leastrepresent, if not include, nonactual and even impossible objects) butalso sensations and activities that, for us to enjoy them, must be notonly actual and concrete but also presentand our own. The supposedly single attitude of pleasure thusseems to come apart along this line, in part corresponding to onebetween sensory and intellectual pleasure that many medievals andBrentano respected, by complicating their theories at this point, asFeldman does not. The move from Locke’s distinctive feeling ofpleasure to Feldman’s stipulated distinctive attitude does notobviously help with the unity problem for pleasure that he supposes itto solve; similar doubts arise about pleasure’s unity and, itseems, more besides.
-- The picture isleft: the table, the chair, the window where I learned to construe Livy,the chapel where my father preached, remain where they were; but hehimself is gone to rest, full of years, of faith, of hope, and charity!ESSAY IIThe painter not only takes a delight in nature, he has a new andexquisite source of pleasure opened to him in the study andcontemplation of works of art --He turns aside to view a country gentleman's seat with eager looks,thinking it may contain some of the rich products of art.