From the other thread:
'Let me ask this question first... Doesn't your question reveal that you hold a value judgement that is not totally based on pleasure? Did you notice that there is a presupposition smuggled into your question ... namely that people should refocus the way they derive pleasure? But why should they? If one claims to get more pleasure out of being spiteful than out of being kind... and the non-verbal claim can also be the fact that they have chosen to be spiteful... then on what grounds can you suggest a superior way? Pleasure being quite subjective in nature, would reduce your statement to "It is my preference to be more kind and giving". '
The reason I phrased my question in the manner I phrased it is that it seems to be the conviction of most people I know that helping the disadvantaged is a desireable trait- as such, it becomes the more-prefferred way, not the superior one. Jim Crow laws were prefferred in the post-Civil-War south... and, it wasn't a matter of right or wrong, it was a matter of majority rules.
I think that humanity is much less likely to claim that we shouldn't be compelled to help others... so far, there aren't any laws requiring us to help the homeless by giving them our dollars... and I hope there never are- however, socially speaking, doesn't it make sense to educate people on the personal pleasure that can be derived by helping, that way more people will be likely to make the choice to help, thus helping to alleviate the problem (or at least, its symptoms) and showing that if humanity is going to choose helping others as a moral by which it chooses to operate, we can do it without unfair laws and regulations? I don't know if what I just said makes much sense or not...
I think the problem with your interpretation of the 'pleasure principle' is that you view it as a reduction in human values. Pleasure and personal benefit should be a very imperitave concern of each person, in my opinion. Now... people being creatures of compassion and emotion, we have a natural leaning toward helping those that we can relate with... so, maybe if the public was better educated about the disable, the poor, the homeless, they would be better able to understand their plight instead of just thinking they should get off their lazy asses and work... and consequently, they might be more motivated to do something to help based on their own compassion, and the pleasure it brings them to alleviate suffering in another person.
My point is this: even if the person's ideal is making their lives matter in a context that is more important than the self, and more outwardly concerned, going out and working for those goals is still an attempt to attain what is considered right by the individual... because we feel satisfaction with ourselves when we do what we feel is right, and that satisfaction is a form of pleasure.
From this thread:
'what exactly is the moral difference we percieve, say, between a man who derives pleasure from giving to others, and a man who derives pleasure from injuring others?'
The difference is this: injuring others has been deemed, by society as a whole, to be an unnacceptable behavior. Therefore, there are laws against doing so. One cannot pursue happiness if that puruit is an intentional effort to thwart another's pursuit of happiness.
Whether or not I decide to give a homeless man five dollars does affect his life in a potentially positive way- however, not giving to him does not inflict any greater harm. It's not like I stole his five dollars- that would be different- that would be an intentional injury to him. But when it comes to giving or not giving me five dollars, it is a personal matter, and it is wholly my decision.
There is a major difference in the nature of the choice.
'Is there any fundamental difference somewhere in their motives?'
This is where I have more trouble with drawing a line, because there being a fundamental difference in their motives does imply a universal morality. That's an area I'm having trouble with right now, and I don't really know how I feel. We all know what it's like to be hurt... and I can't honestly say that I believe someone choosing to hurt another in order to pleasure themselves is driven by the same motivating forces by someone who wants to help someone up.
I think it's possible that the nature of the motivation is the same- pleasure. However, we all have different ways in which we acheive pleasure... and while one person who is hurting might feel better by making someone else hurt worse, another person who is hurting might see the needy in relation to themselves, and derive their pleasure by knowing that they helped another human being feel better, which is something they know they, themselves, would appreciate.
So, I think I can still say that pleasure is the motivating principle... the difference lies in the ways we choose to attain pleasure.
'Approval or disapproval must be limited to actions and results.'
In a pragmatic sense, I agree with you... after all, wouldn't it be easy if every murderer was sentenced to death, regardless of their motivation?
But we're back to the Cold Equations... and I choose not to live formulaically (sp?) because while in the context of actions and reactions, cause and effect, it's much easier, and more clearly defined... to do so is to live in denial of emotions. That's not a life I'd choose.
Should a mother or father who killed an intruder to his or her home in order to defend their children be sentenced to the same punishment as the serial killer who has killed dozens for pleasure, and will continue to do so?
I know, I know, I just said 'for pleasure,' and that might look like it's in opposition to my earlier comments... but like I said, one cannot actively pursue their pleasure if it intrudes upon the ability of others to seek pleasure...
Anyway... that's all I have for now...
THE ONLY WAR THAT MATTERS IS THE WAR AGAINST THE IMAGINATION
ALL OTHER WARS ARE SUBSUMED IN IT
-Diane Di Prima