...the maximisation of pleasure was the central aim of utilitarian ethics. In place of the traditional Christian stress on bodily restraint and discipline, Bentham sought, like many other 18th-century philosophers, to promote the benefits of economic consumption, the enjoyment of worldly appetites and the liberty of natural passions. This modern, enlightened view of the purpose of life spawned a revolution in sexual attitudes, and no European scholar of the time pursued its implications as thoroughly as Bentham. To think about sex, he noted in 1785, was to consider "the greatest, and perhaps the only real pleasures of mankind"
Is that really the best that Bentham could come up with? That the purpose of life is the maximisation of pleasure, understood in the most mundane terms as economic consumption and worldly appetites? To Bentham it even made sense to consider thinking about sex as the only real pleasure of mankind.
It seems shallow and alienated and yet the modern West follows Bentham to quite some degree by assuming that the purposes of life are career and consumption.
The chickens of the sexual revolution are coming home to roost in the UK where pedo-hysteria has reached epidemic proportions and anyone (male) who was famous in the 1960s and 1970s must now be quaking in their boots at the prospect of some one-time teen dolly bird now disillusioned and remorseful middle-ager levelling accusations (real or imagined) of impropriety years ago when free 'love' was on offer and supposed to be there for the taking. Late comedian Leonard Rossiter has recently been accused of watching on (thereby being implicated as a co-accused) while male and female extras in a 1970s TV play were allegedly being molested in a dressing room (by parties unnamed). The play was The Year Of The Sex Olympics, by sci-fi writer Nigel Kneale, and depicted a near future when all entertainment was reality TV and sex had become a spectator sport. How prescient and ironic.ReplyDelete
Not career and consumption. Most of the Western populations don't have careers and a high percentage don't have jobs. The stated purposes of life are sexual liberation and consumption ie Lust and Greed. Both of which have brought about social and economic collapse.ReplyDelete
The moments in which human beings experience the greatest please involves sex. Second place is far behind. This, of course, is an argument against, no for, utilitarianism as an ethical philosophy.ReplyDelete