What To Do Tonight?
 
According to Utilitarianism, it is a psychological fact that people act in their own interests of gaining pleasure and avoiding pain. For a person to be happy, he needs to achieve a greater balance of pleasure over pain for the greatest amount of people.

But there is an obvious and ridiculous difficulty about this claim. It presupposes that pleasure and pain is somehow quantifiable.

Is pleasure quantifiable in such a way that we can measure the degree of pleasure of one thing over the degree of pleasure over another? How much more pleasure can we derive from this particular action in comparison to that action? How much pain can we avoid from this particular action in comparison to another? Is there a mathematical formula or a method of deduction that allow me to calculate and compare (all possible) pleasures with (all other possible) pleasures, pains with pains, and pleasures with pains until I end up with one ultimate solution to the question : I’m free tonight, what should I do?

Should I indulge my lust for sex and jerk off, satisfy my fried chicken craving by eating at Pop Eyes, rent a DVD, feed the homeless, talk on the phone, kick my neighbor’s dog, take a nap, clean my room, read some Nietzsche, spy on my mom, go to the clubs, go to the gym… and do what exercise? Squats? Deadlifts? Bench? or shoot some hoops?

Is jacking off a bit more pleasurable than cleaning my room but less pleasurable than watching a DVD and talk on the phone or not quite as pleasurable as kicking a dog? Maybe I should just eat fried chicken. Can’t go wrong with Pop Eyes. But wait…would the pain resulted from the guilt of consuming junk food outweigh the initial pleasure of indulging it? But suppose I take a trip to the gym and burn off 5000 calories before I eat, would that make my cheat meal more rewarding, thus doubling it’s pleasure, and at the same time overriding any pain derived from my guilty conscious for eating unhealthily? What exercise should I pick at the gym that would give me the biggest bang for the buck by resulting the least amount of muscle strain but still burn enough calorie to make me happy? Suppose I hit the gym and ate fried chicken afterwards, would the aftermath of my overindulgance made me regret not feeding the last two drumsticks to the homeless guy camping on the sidewalk just outside of Pop Eyes? Would feeding the homeless guy result greater pleasure for his stomach than my own stomach, but a bit less pleasurable than to simply stay home in the first place and read and gain pleasure from knowledge? But isn’t it obvious that the pleasure of watching porn and jacking off outweigh the pain of my struggle to comprehend Nietzsche by a significant degree? Or would the pleasure from masturbating be cancelled out by the pain of my regret for not saving that wonderful orgasm for my girlfriend, who could ultimately derive more pleasure from pleasuring me than any of the above possible actions combined?

Now I really don’t know what to do tonight. Maybe I should make a call to Jeremy Bentham’s mortal remains for a consultation session.

Advertisements