1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Pleasure

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PLEASURE (through Fr. plaisir from Lat. placere, to please; Gr. ἡδονή), a term used loosely in ordinary language as practically synonymous with “enjoyment.” As such it is applied equally to what are known as the “higher” or "intellectual” pleasures, and to purely “sensual," “animal” or “lower” pleasures. The conditions under which a man is pleased are the subject both or psychological and of ethical investigation. In general it may be said that pleasure and pain follow respectively upon the success of the failure of some effort, mental or physical (see Psychology); they may also attend upon purely passive sensations, e.g. a warm sun, a heavy shower, or upon associations with previous states of mind (i.e. a man may enjoy a sensation which is intrinsically painful, if it has pleasant associations). Recognition of the fact that mankind seeks pleasure and avoids pain has led some moralists to the conclusion that all human conduct is actuated by hedonic considerations: this is the direct antithesis to ethical theories which maintain an absolute criterion of right and wrong (see Hedonism; Ethics). Aristotle took a middle view, holding that pleasure, though not the end of virtuous action yet necessarily follows upon it (ἐπιγενόμενόν τι τέλος).