Website owner:  James Miller

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My views on the topic of pleasure

   Some philosophers have advocated a philosophy of self-
   renunciation that goes to the extent of renouncing all 
   pleasure.  Maggie, in "The Mill on the Floss", after reading 
   Thomas a Kempis, took up such a self-abusing philosophy.  What 
   are my attitudes in regard to the topic of pleasure?  I have 
   nothing against legitimate, innocent pleasure.  There are many 
   wholesome pleasures in this world and I would simply enjoy them 
   and be grateful to God for them.  I would, of course, be 
   against immoral or bad pleasures.  But to enjoy pleasures that 
   may present themselves to us as we make our way through life is 
   one thing;  to make the pursuit of pleasure the object of life 
   is another.  There is only one proper object for life: love of 
   God and servitude to God as a consequence of that love.  And 
   what that really means is right living, the pursuit of Virtue, 
   the pursuit of spiritual knowledge and understanding.  If in 
   the pursuit of God, Right, Virtue and Spiritual Understanding 
   we encounter occasional innocent pleasures that is good.  But 
   in actual practice it is true that the way of God and Right is 
   often a Way of Duty that may not seem to have much pleasure in 
   it (it may not seem to have much fun or enjoyment in it, 
   although in fact it is a way of great satisfaction and 
   pleasure).  To follow God's way is to do what we know we should 
   do even though it may be a hard way and appear devoid of 
   pleasure.  And because of this the moral, upright man is often 
   viewed as a person leading a dull, drab, pleasureless life.  
   He lives by conscience, does as conscience requires, and is 
   indeed morally prohibited from many kinds of pleasure.  Most 
   people don't have a real love of God, a real allegiance to God, 
   and thus don't have many principles to constrain and guide 
   them.  Consequently their actions are determined mainly by 
   considerations of pleasure and self-gain rather than 

   May 1992

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