**This is from guest blogger, Talia.**
John Stuart Mill promotes the idea that the rightness of actions depends on their ability to promote happiness, i.e. pleasure, and that all desirable things are sought out as a means to some pleasurable ends. He distinguished between two types of pleasures in order to support his view against possible objectors: pleasures of the body and pleasures of the mind. The former are those which even animals are capable of acquiring, i.e. satisfaction from food, sexual pleasures, while the later are those experienced by human beings, i.e. intellectual stimulation, use of the imagination. Mill prioritizes mental pleasures over bodily pleasures due to their "circumstantial advantages", i.e. permanence, safety, affordability, and tendency to be preferred by those who have adequate experience with both types of pleasures.
After reading through the article, a few questions/concerns came to mind: first, in our quest for happiness, must we necessarily seek pleasure? I'd be curious to hear other's opinions about possible alternative definitions for happiness. Additionally, is Mill promoting short or long term pleasure? There are cases in which we accept pain over pleasure in order to produce the best long-term outcome, i.e. breaking up with a boyfriend/girlfriend before college because it will be too hard to maintain the relationship. Some actions might initially bring about pleasure or pain, with the other sensation on the horizon. How do we prioritize which pleasure - short vs long term - to prioritize? And relatedly, how do we quantify both of these feelings? I find it difficult to personally measure the relative happiness or pleasure/pain a certain action will bring, let alone do so for all actions across all individuals. Finally, Mill's general categorization of mental pleasure being more desirable/valuable than bodily pleasures applies on a larger scale, but what about in individual cases? Yes, for the most part, everyone would agree on the pleasure brought about by most actions, but it seems that Mill is completely disregarding individual preferences. What if someone finds pleasure through something that causes most other people pain? Thoughts?