pleasure

The basic assumption of Freud's pleasure principle is that the most salient and unique aspect of human experience is the subjective experience of pleasure (tension reduction) and unpleasure (tension buildup). see Bateson's descriptions of "plateaus" in schismogenesis for a culture with a seemingly different approach to pleasure than one based on release of tension as in orgasm.

For Freud the affective and perceptual experiences are yoked. Without the experience of Hedonic tone, no perceptions would be registered at all.

Kant describes the pleasure we experience when nature conforms to the requirements of our subjectivity in the critique of judgement . (see also unity) He describes the pleasure the transcendental philosopher takes in finding that a particular purposiveness, or conformity to law, which was not necessary, turned out nonetheless to be the case. "The sole pleasure found in disinterested judgements concerning the mere form of objects reveals that nature (feeling) and reason are capable of agreement." (Rodolphe Gashé, The Idea of Form, p.173)

But Kantian aesthetic pleasure is not merely an effect -- an aesthetic manifestation of awareness -- it is intimately tied up with a state of mind in which the powers of imagination and reason become attuned in a judgement of taste. Taste, for Kant is "a tone of mind which is self-maintaining." (p.67) See Gashé, p. 51)

For Michel Foucault, the Greek relation to the body and its pleasures was a completely different model from the Christian relation to flesh and its desires. If the church and the ministry stressed the principle of a morality whose precepts were cumpulsory and whose scope was universal, the demands of austerity in classical thought were stylizations of masculine conduct. In The Use of Pleasure, Foucault sets out to trace the long history of the aesthetics of existence and the "techniques of the self" -- the ways in which the individual is summoned to recognize himself as an ethical subject of sexual conduct.

Rather than strictly defining what is permitted and what is forbidden, the accent of Greek and Greco-Roman ethical thought "was placed on the relationship with the self that enabled a person to keep from being carried away by the appetites and pleasures, to maintain a mastery and superiority over them, to keep his senses in a state of tranquillity, to remain free from interior bondage to the passions, and to acheive a mode of being that could be defined by the full enjoyment of oneself, the perfect supremacy of oneself over oneself." (p.31)

According to Foucault, foods, wines, and relations with women and boys constituted analagous ethical material. They brought forces into play that were natural, but that always tended to be excessive. The dynamic relation of acts, pleasures, and desires was a circular one, and the ethical question of aphrodisia was not: which desires? which acts? which pleasures? but rather with what force one is transported "by the pleasures and desires." (p.43) As Aristotle expresses it, "all men enjoy in some way both savoury foods and wines and sexual intercourse, but not all men do so as they ought." (p.52)