Nineteenth Century Philosophy

John Stuart Mill

How did John Stuart Mill define the difference between higher and lower pleasures?

Mill did not think that a simple quantitative calculus could be used to make moral decisions. He argued that there were “lower pleasures” that were mainly connected with immediate physical gratification and delight, and “higher pleasures” that involved delayed gratification or prior diligence. The higher pleasures, such as those found in the cultivation and enjoyment of art, literature, poetry, and friendship, were better than the lower pleasures. Mill’s proof that they were better was the testimony of those who had experienced both the lower and higher pleasures.


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