Mill describes how to tell the difference between better and lower-quality pleasures: A pleasure is of better quality if individuals would choose it over another pleasure, even if it causes suffering, and if they would not swap it for more of the other pleasure. A pain is of higher quality if individuals would choose it over pain, even if it caused pleasure, and if they would not swap it for less of the other pain.
These criteria are easy to meet. For example, taking aspirin after a heart attack or surgery can be very painful but people will do so if it leads to a longer life. Lower-quality pleasures tend to bring out the worst in people. For example, many people would prefer to go on living even if this meant being tortured day in and day out. Higher-quality pleasures tend to make people kinder and more considerate. For example, many people would give up some pleasure now (for example, eating chocolate) if this led to better things happening later (for example, saving someone's life).
Now, what does all this have to do with pleasures? Only this: That there is no such thing as a perfect pleasure, nor a perfect pain. Any pleasure that was perfectly pleasant would cause you to want to keep wanting it forever, and any pain that was perfectly unpleasant would make you want to find some way to get rid of it.
Mill considers intellectual, emotional, and imaginative pleasures, as well as moral attitudes, to be far more valuable as pleasures than simple sensations. A lower being has a better chance of being fulfilled, but a higher being can live with the world's defects and be happier (Mill 57).
The higher pleasures require some degree of self-cultivation and discipline. They also require that you do something to seek them out. Lower pleasures are easier to find but they tend to be less satisfying.
In short, the mill distinguishes between higher and lower pleasures because only the first group provides true happiness. The second group is necessary for life to be happy, but one cannot exist without the other.
There are, however, greater joys: intellectual and moral pleasures that are uniquely human. This distinction is also required in order to build a complete description of Mill's moral psychology. Happiness, according to Mill, is "intended pleasure and the absence of pain" (Mill 55). He argues that only those pleasures that involve an experience of the mind (as opposed to the body) are worthy of the name "happy".
Mills begins by distinguishing between two kinds of mental pleasure: intellectual and emotional. Intellectually pleasant experiences include thinking about mathematics or history problems for long periods of time, reading interesting books, and engaging in creative activities such as writing poetry or music. Emotionally pleasant experiences include feelings of happiness, sadness, surprise, and fear. Mills claims that only certain types of emotionally pleasant experiences are truly happy; others may serve to relieve pain or stress but they do not make us happy. For example, he says that feeling sorry for ourselves when something bad happens to us is useful but it is not happy.
Next, Mills distinguishes between two different forms of intellectual pleasure: higher and lower. Higher intellectual pleasures include ideas that lead to new ideas, solutions to problems, plans for improvements, and theories about the universe. Lower intellectual pleasures include sensations, emotions, and memories. Mills claims that only certain types of higher intellectual pleasures are truly happy; others may lead to power over others or wealth but they do not make us happy.
> span>Thus, he believes that pleasure is capable of giving rise to further pleasure and this is why he calls it an "indefinable emotion".
Further down the page, he states that "all pleasures which have no foundation in some other pleasure or pain are momentary and faint." However, he also notes that some pleasures can become "habitual" if they are repeated frequently enough - for example, if you eat something delicious every day at lunch time, then this will begin to give you positive feelings towards eating at lunch time and this new habit will have begun.
It is important to remember that these opinions are just based on how Mill felt about different kinds of pleasures. Other people may disagree with him so always look at things from both sides of the argument before coming to a conclusion yourself!
Higher joys, on the other hand, are more valued than lesser pleasures. The pleasures of learning and assisting others, for example, are more significant than the pleasures of eating and drinking. We can determine which pleasures are more useful by looking at the consensus of experienced observers. As long as many people consider a certain pleasure beneficial, we can assume it is truly enjoyable.
People have different preferences for pleasures. Some prefer exciting and thrilling experiences while others value peace and quiet. Some like to spend their money on luxuries while others are happy with simple things. Through social comparison, we learn which pleasures are preferred by others so that we can try to imitate them. This is how cultures develop preferences for certain activities such as dancing or music playing.
In addition to social comparisons, we also use our instincts to decide what pleasures are worth pursuing. If something makes us feel good then we will want to do it again. This is why some people may enjoy gambling or alcohol even though they know these actions are harmful. Their instincts tell them that these pleasures are worth the risk. Other people avoid these activities because they know they are not good for them. They choose less dangerous alternatives instead.
Finally, some pleasures are chosen because they are convenient. If we need to spend time working or studying but don't want to deal with problems such as arguments or hunger, then these activities may be preferable to others.