Understanding what is Catholic Morality
Robert Spaemann’s Happiness and Benevolence
Chapter 1: Ethics as Teaching How Life Can Turn Out Well
As a point of departure for understanding the meaning of Spaemann’s initial discussion, we can advert to the Socratic moral principle which stays that, if you know the good, you will do the good. Today, this thesis is widely rejected even if we admit that our knowledge of good deeds that should be done does usually condition any subsequent acts of human willing which exist as implementations of a course of action which has been judged good. Our acts of human willing typically occur in a context which refers to our knowledge and understanding of things. Our acts of human willing do not occur in a vaccuum although it is to be admitted that the order of our human knowing does not dictate that which we will or should do in our acts of human willing. Aquinas admitted as much in many of his earlier texts. What we know does not compel what we will do. In the middle of composing his Summa Theologiae, in the prima secunda, it was only there that he began to elaborate a distinct philosophy of the human will. From that point on, he ceased to look at human willing from a context that was determined by the what and whys of our human understanding. Our practical human reason has a life of its own (having its own ends and goals).
However, if we work from a context which thinks of the good as a function of our human cognition, we can understand why, for some moral philosophers, it can be argued that errors in judgment about the truth of things leads to mistaken acts which we would regard as wrong and bad. Admittedly however, the culpability will vary. A person can act in good faith: tentatively. One knows that one is working with a provisional knowledge of reality and the contingency serves to determine the quality of a given response in our moral actions. However, a person can act on the basis of a dogmatic claim to know about what is true or false and the obduracy adds to the wrongness or the badness of the consequent moral actions which are undertaken. If, in any given action, we seek to realize something which does not exist, if we seek to bring into being that which currently lacks being, if we attend to the lack of reality that exists in our misjudgments about things which already exist, then we understand why, in our behaviour, we would be in a state of contradiction. By our actions, we would be realizing conditions or circumstances that are lacking in reality because they are lacking in intelligibility. An absence of rationality in our understanding is being communicated and expressed in ways that would take away from the integrity of our moral actions and so, as noted, we will act against ourselves.
When we attend more closely to the intellectual nature of our human being, we should discover that the ends of our human action are defined or they are known by how we exist as human beings or, in other words, by the kind of nature or intelligibility which we happen to have as human beings. Our proper desires are directed to ends or goals that cannot be willfully chosen. These ends already exist; they are constitutive of who we are as human beings although, as Spaemann notes, we can be in error with respect to our knowledge of these ends and we can also err in terms of the right means that should lead to the right ends or purposes which belong to us as human beings. Our means are right if they have a nature which is connatural with the ends that are to be accomplished. A proper fit must exist between means and ends. Hence, the reference to standards of propriety refers to sets of criteria that exist within the proper ordination which should exist between a set of suitable means and the ends that are to be achieved in a connatural way with the means that best go with the ends in question.
In returning however to the Socratic thesis which avers that, from a knowledge of the good, one will do the good, while it is to be admitted that lack of understanding and knowledge conditions inept moral deliberation and the making of bad decisions, it is possible for us to move from apprehensions that refer to that which exists as “mistakes” to apprehensions of wrong that refer to the existence of evil (moral evil). Evil always, of course, exists as a privation. In the making of mistakes that are based on misjudgments, there exists a privation of reasonableness and rationality (a privation of adequate understanding). However, when we refer to the problem and the mystery of evil, we move from intellectual deficiencies to that which exists as a moral deficiency in the life of our human willing. In the corruption of the moral will, we have evil although, admittedly, failures in our prior acts of understanding contribute to the evil which can exist in distorted forms of human willing. In Spaemann’s exegesis of texts from Plato, he argues that a Socratic understanding of good and evil is not too helpful. Its application leads to too many contradictions. The definition is too narrow. Something is wanting.
But, while we find tensions in Plato’s analysis of good and evil, it is to be admitted that, in it, we can find developments which point to a species of resolution when we see that he argues the case for employing the realm or the notion of the beautiful as a transcendental (as a very general category) that he uses (which we can use also) to subsume nuances of meaning and differences when we attend to certain distinctions which must be made when we attend to the ups and downs of our human moral life. In the context of his own day and time, in the commonsense understanding of good and evil as this existed amongst the Greeks, that which is good was not necessarily that which was beautiful. The two can exclude each other and often exclude each other. However, if we move into a deeper understanding of these two variables, we should find that they can refer to each other or include each other. A more comprehensive theory can be constructed if we adopt the form of beauty, the attribute of the beautiful, and use it as a general form for discussions and considerations about the good that should exist in our human lives. All instances of good suggest or point to the existence of beauty and, if anything is truly beautiful and luminous, good is present within it. In Plato’s analysis, in attempting to suggest how a systematic viewpoint can be constructed, moral reflection tends to be less circumstantial (it tends to be a bit more abstract). The object is an explanatory apprehension even if we can argue that, in Plato, we find a method of analysis that is judged by some to be a bit too removed from the human experience of conflicts and difficulties when concrete moral decisions need to be made within a given set of concrete circumstances. Is Plato’s approach too idealistic? And yet, in Plato, if, heuristically, we can have a solution or a means that, if implemented, can reduce the extent of ambiguity that often plagues our human moral lives, we can have this by turning to philosophical inquiry and by asking philosophical questions in further acts of inquiry that we can possibly move us toward lesser, fewer degrees of ambiguity.
As we shift then into the kind of moral analysis that we find in Aristotle, we find a methodology that can make finer distinctions. If, for instance, in Plato, contradictions or unresolved tensions exist about the nature of a “mistake” (“mistakes” occur within different contexts: we can err on the side of execution and we can err in our choice of means to attend certain ends or goals; we can also deliberately make bad decisions and we can make bad decisions without realizing what, in fact, we are doing), in both Aristotle and Aquinas, we can distinguish between that which exists as an act qua act and that which exists as a means that is selected to reach a given end. Within a context that is specified by the kind of metaphysics that we find in Aquinas (a metaphysics of act), we can distinguish between the kind of perfection which exists in the execution of a given act or action and the lack of a connatural relation which exists between the selection of a means to realize an end and the kind of end that we would like to have. To give an example: in order to obtain money to pay our bills and meet the cost of living, we could decide to rob a bank and we could carefully and intelligently rob a bank. The act of robbery possesses a perfection which belongs to it merely or precisely as a physical act. We say here that a given act or a given series of act is blessed with a kind of metaphysical perfection which properly belongs to it. But, when we move from the perfection of a given act to how it is ordered to an end which is not connatural to the means that we have selected in a given situation, we move from that which possesses a degree of ontological perfection to that which is lacking in a degree of moral perfection. It is a good thing to have money to pay one’s bills and meet the cost of living but a connatural relation does not exist between the value of this end and the disvalue of engaging in a bank robbery. Hence, the robbing of a bank is usually to be seen as an act which is lacking in moral worth or quality although, on the other hand, in Aquinas, the robbing of a bank can be a good moral act (it is not lacking in possible moral perfection) if, in a given context, no other means exists for maintaining one’s physical and biological health. A given person as a living person has a right to food and drink and if a person is deprived of food and drink, it is not wrong to steal the food that he or she needs and the drink that he or she needs to remain alive. If we attend to what kind of relation exists between the ontological goodness or the ontological perfection of a given act and the moral goodness or the moral perfection which could belong to the same act, in moving from one to the other, we should find that moral attributes or moral qualifications add a specification to the goodness of ontological acts in a way which points to moral determinations as itself a larger, more comprehensive good. Efficiency or success in execution is certainly a good but this good is qualified when we ask about how a given act can add to the realization of goods which refers to the ultimate ends or purposes of our human life. The ultimate ends or purposes of human living exist as a greater good. They are constituted by conditions which refer to a sound knowledge of reality that is joined to realizations of choice that are truly ordered to fitting achievements of the kind of good that is intended by how we exist and live as human beings. Hence, with respect to the lower orders of good that exist within this kind of ordering, metaphysical specifications of good exist as a lower level. The moral choices that we make to realize higher orders of good also exist (relatively) at a lower level. To these lower orders of good, a relativity can be ascribed. That which exists as the ends or purposes of authentic or good human living cannot be described as relativities. When we attend to the final goods of our human living, we come into the presence of absolute goods and these lack relativity.
Spaemann distinguishes three levels or three orders of meaning in our analysis of moral activity as this exists for us as human beings: (1) the objective goal of the action to be done; (2) the subjective goal of the agent or responsible subject; and (3) the union which exists between these two goals, the union which exists between objectivity and subjectivity since, by such a union, we can speak about how, in our lives, we can move as subjects into a higher order of being which refers to objective specifications of good. As Bernard Lonergan would argue: through authentic subjectivity, we move into objectivity. No gap necessarily exists between that which exists as subjectivity and that which exists as objectivity.
(1) With respect to the objective goal of the action to be done, we refer to a concrete deed which realizes some kind of effect, product, or result. That which is brought into being enjoys an ontological, metaphysical kind of existence. Whether it is the making of a car or a bomb or an act of kindness which is extended to another, purely as an act, as we have already suggested to some extent, it enjoys an independence which distinguishes it from any agent or agents which have brought it into being. That which is brought into being can exist in a perfect degree of condition or in a manner which is unfortunately defective in some way. (2) Turning to the subjective goal of the agent or the subjective goal of the responsible subject, we refer to the subjectivity of a given agent which can be distinguished in terms of two states of mind or two conditions of consciousness: one is deliberate and subject to conscious control and the other is without care and without a consciousness which would lend itself to a possible degree of conscious control. Where self-consciousness exists and a degree of deliberation, choices can be made and, in the making of choices, a human subject experiences his or her own personal freedom. Now, as Spaemann notes, when a subject does something which is wrong (that which is a “mistake”), two states of mind are possible: one is deliberate and the other is lacking in deliberation. Now, if someone does something that he or she knows to be wrong (if it is a mistake), then a person can make changes later to change what has been done. The presence of deliberateness indicates a degree of self-control and self-control is a plus if persons are to have a point of departure for future changes that could be made. If, on the other hand however, a person does something wrong without realizing this (without knowing about it), then the person is in a worse situation. A person could keep doing something that is objectively wrong and not be in a position to effect any corrective changes. The lack of self-knowledge is too great. (3) Turning to the shift which occurs as subjectivity moves into objectivity, the question of doing “something well,” this shift varies if we attend to the doing of a subject as a maker, artisan, or technician and the doing of a subject who exists as a moral agent or moral subject. We recall Aquinas’s distinction between that which exists simply as an act and that which exists as a moral choice. Behind this distinction we recall Aquinas’s distinction between that which exists as the act of the man and that which exists as a truly human act. When a man is bothered by a fly while he is attempting to concentrate on some kind of task, he shoos it away. He takes a swat at it. Cows do the same kind of thing when they swing their tails. One is the act of a man; the other is the act of a cow. The same kind of act exists in both cases. But, on the other hand, when a human being engages in an act that involves deliberation on his part and a knowledge of options or possible choices, the investment which exists in terms of understanding points to acts which exist properly as human acts (acts which are not the acts of an animal, acts which are not the acts of an indifferent human being). Moral acts differ from other kinds of act since, in a moral act, rational elements are to be found as these are joined to the intentionality of a human agent. An intrinsically moral act is a reasonable, responsible act. Hence, if we return to man as an artisan and man as a moral agent, it is not good if, as an artisan, a man does something bad or something which is defective in an involuntary way (without any deliberation or foresight) since this indicates that he is not a good technician. He does not know what he is doing given the absence of thought and self-direction. He is not using his intelligence to produce something that is entirely lacking in any defects. However, if, as a moral agent, a man does something which is bad or defective in a voluntary way (in other words, with deliberation), then he is a truly bad moral subject. He is using his intelligence not in order to function as a source of value and goodness. Evil is done deliberately (with full knowledge). Hence, it is better for a moral agent to do something bad in an accidental way and not in a way which is consciously deliberate. It is better for an artisan, however, to do something bad in a deliberate or thoughtful way rather than in an involuntary or accidental way since, if deliberation is present, we know that the worker in question knows what he is doing as an artisan. For some reason that is perhaps known only to him, he decides to do something badly at the present moment because he wants to effect some other good that cannot be brought into being other than in the way that he is currently choosing and then doing it. A good technician could deliberately make a defective bomb, for example, so that, in fact, it will not explode and cause harm to other persons. However, a good moral agent cannot deliberately do something that is defective from a moral point of view and, at the same time, remain a good moral agent. When we attend to the ordering of our acts to who we are as human beings, we must always attend to the finality of our human existence, since we always desire that which we believe to be good for ourselves. And so, in this type of situation, we never do anything which is knowingly harmful to ourselves. As we have perhaps already noted, harm comes to us when we lack in our self-knowledge. We misjudge what exactly is our true and proper good as human beings.
With respect to the question of working with an eudaimonistic ethics, an ethics which speaks of the good of human life in terms of eudaimonia, commonly this term has been translated from Greek in terms of happiness. All men desire to be happy. All men want to be happy. But, as Spaemann notes, this is a subjective interpretation/translation and it can be countered by a translation which speaks of eudaimonia in terms of “a life which turns out well.” An objective emphasis or an objective orientation is given since no one wants to live in a way which acts against this principle (against the good that, by nature, we all seek) and so, as a result, if, in fact, some human beings live a life which does not turn out well, the explanation is a lack of understanding or insight on their part. A person has misunderstood a given situation and has make decisions and taken actions on the premiss that he or she is doing the right thing since it is unthinkable to behave in some other kind of way: in a way which consciously acts against one’s well being and a life that “turns our well.” Hence, the absence of a desire to engage in evil deeds takes away from the evil of actions which should not have been undertaken. It can be argued that intrinsically evil deeds do not exist since they are never intended and, in a way, they can never be intended. However, if we adopt this kind of standpoint, we can run into difficulties if we should want to distinguish between the virtue of a good deed and the evil of a bad deed. We can say, yes, the evil exists as an omission but, for some, this might not be too satisfactory. If we always intending to do what is right and good, our degree of culpability cannot be very great (if it exists at all). Eudaimonistic ethics comes across or can come across to us as an individualistic ethics (it is too individualistic) since little attention is paid to moral norms or moral values that apply to all persons, serving as a point of departure for moral criticisms that could be made by others of others with respect to what has been their behavior.
As a kind of summary then, if errors of one kind or another lead to immoral actions and if these errors cannot be adequately understood (every effort would lead to a kind of infinite regress), the only way that any headway can be made is by means of a deepening of our self-awareness in a way which leads us to self-knowledge, greater measures of self-knowledge. A life best turns out well to the degree that it is characterized by greater awareness or greater consciousness. The greater consciousness creates conditions that lead to greater measures of self-control and, even if we must admit that growth in self-knowledge introduces order and reason into the conduct of our lives, if our understanding is to emerge as a species of new first cause or new first principle (the reception of a given understanding leading to the possible reception of another understanding), before this type of thing can truly happen, something must be given to us from some kind of external agent: something that comes to us from God or from the love and gift of other human beings. We recall in this context that that which exists in a condition of potency cannot realize itself and shift into a condition of act. Potencies do not realize themselves.
In Aristotle’s moral philosophy thus, we have a way of thinking and understanding which differs from the theoretical understanding which we find within the sciences. Where, in the sciences, the object is the reality of truth which one grasps in the wake of understanding, in moral reflections or that which exists as practical philosophy, we find an order of reflection that is geared to the virtue of prudence and discovering how we should act to realize concrete goals and objectives: bringing something into being which before had not existed. In the analysis and study of the human good, moral philosophy or the study of ethics is closely tied to the good of political philosophy and also the good of economics. Our individual human lives are realized in the context of a political order and an economic order which already exists. The individual is not a natural unit nor is a given society a mere product of human agreement as if our social order exists as a matter of convention and subject to arbitrary changes of one kind or another. By nature, we are “social animals” and so society or the political order which exists is to be regarded as a species of precondition for the living by us of a good life. In a bad political order, it is difficult to live a good human life although, in the middle of a bad political order, it is essential that human beings live as good human beings if they are not to self-destruct. Because a political order is not constructed by individuals as such but by subgroups or lesser communities which exist with in society, having a dignity of their own and an intelligibility of their own, the polis or the political order cannot be viewed as an order of being which can claim to have too great an authority which would allegedly belong to itself. A good political order recognizes the existence of other authorities and it tries to work with them in a just and amicable way. If moral philosophy is designed to help individuals lead a good moral life and political philosophy is designed to help the life of a given political community, economics plays a role because it serves to encourage the better life of family units (households in Aristotle) since all human beings are born into families and relations of kinship which help them together in their economic life and which also serve to educate individuals for the greater life that awaits them when they enter the greater life of human society as this exists within the polis (the state). However, as Spaemann notes, with the later separation of economics and political philosophy from ethics or moral philosophy, this has led to a greater individualization of ethics since, within this changed context, the individual is more exclusively the focus and not the individual as he exists with other persons in the context of a society which consists of one or more communities that, in their interaction, are constitutive of the existence of a larger social order.
These things being said, it is to be noted that the focus on the worth or the dignity of individual personal morality is something that can be dated from the thought and work of both Plato and Aristotle. The purity of personal motivations finds an echo in both Plato and Aristotle and, with this focus, there is a shift that moves from an eudaimonistic ethics to a Kantian conception which thinks in terms of meeting a transcendent order of obligations: doing one’s duty, fulfilling one’s obligations. If we want to give some content to that which could be meant by a life that turns out well, we must turn to questions of higher duty as a criterion for making our judgments and evaluations. A focus on individual desires for happiness presents itself to us as tending to an overly subjective, relative approach and, if our moral life is to have a more solid foundation, we must attend to values and goods that tend to act against the selfish concerns and interests of individual persons. Only if we begin from this higher perspective can we then turn to turn to our individual claims as this refer to our desire for happiness.
To move away from the subjective bias of eudaimonistic ethics and given Kant’s concerns about the subjectivity of eudaimonistic ethics which tends to associate our happiness with experiences of pleasure, Kant accordingly proposes a reformulation about how we are to conceive of the end or the purpose of our existence as human beings, an end or purpose which is to be expressed in how we are to live as moral beings. From Kant, we get the reformulation that we have been using which refers to eudaimonia in terms which refer to our human lives “turning out well.” Such an emphasis is more comprehensive and abstract. It cannot be so easily correlated with anything that we do as one particular act although, at the same too, it is noted and argued that Kant’s deontological ethics is somewhat abstract although, to his credit, from the viewpoint of an eudaimonistic ethics, Kant notes that, eventually, if we will all focus on meeting requirements that tell against our selfishness, our lives will turn out well and we will know happiness within our present current life. In response to this conclusion, Kant’s moral philosophy was criticized for its inconsistency although, in the end, if we are to conceive of ethics in terms of some kind of pure, abstract morality, we will tend to have something that is a bit inhuman and oppressive: something which perhaps should be done away with (Schopenhauer). The rationalism of Kant’s ethics tends to separate that which is good from that which is beautiful. A point of departure is being used that cannot think these two principles together. And so, in the end, given the concreteness of our human life, the individual human conscience is something that cannot be done away with as it deals with concrete situations that are not readily understood by attempting to apply abstract principles and universal rules. To try to engage in exercises that would try to separate the concreteness of our human living (a life that turns out well) from notions of disinterestedness and duty leads, with Nietzsche, to a kind of emptying which occurs in our subsequent moral reflection. Moral considerations are taken out and the result is a form of reductionism which, in turn, encourages ways of thinking and analysis which do not attend to how we exist within human communities which exist in a way that is more natural and intelligible than the simply being of our individual human existence. As Aristotle would say: we can only be moral within a society (within a social order). Moral considerations join us with other persons and if we attend to this primary condition, we cannot subscribe to an understanding of ethics that is entirely conditioned by an exclusive focus on duties and the performance that we should give to our duties.
Chapter 2: Eudaimonism
Three theses are stated: (1) we all seek to be happy or, less misleadingly, we want our lives to turn out well; (2) our individual actions exist for the sake of a greater good that is being intended; and (3) we evaluate the morality of a given act to the degree that it conduces to the greater end or good that is being ultimately intended. While each of these positions is questioned and denied by other thinkers and philosophers, it is to be admitted that we tend to seek goals or objectives that, for us, we greatly value and would seem to lead us to that which we would really want. We do this to get that although, often, we find that a given deed or action does not lead to that which we really desire. We are disappointed by our decisions and actions. We experience a certain lack of fulfilllment and we seek more. We move to something else and we often find that we are similarly disappointed. A given good is not really good as soon as we attain it. It might even be evil to some extent although it was intended as a good. Ambiguities are present. We may not have a very clear understanding about the happiness we desire or, more accurately, we might know know exactly what is meant by a life that is “turned out well.” The sense of disappointment that we experience points to something that is missing in our lives…something more that is not understood or attained even if this something more exists in a potential way and as it draws us to try and find ways to move toward it. As we look at our moral agency, we cannot deny that we organize our lives in such a way that we employ means to obtain ends and that, in our acts of moral deliberation, we weigh costs and benefits to each other. Having goals gives a form to our lives even as we realize that personal costs are involved in attempting to reach certain goals. However, if we attempt a deeper reflection, while, yes, we admit that in the tradition (in Aristotle) we have language which speaks about means and ends, it is to be admitted too that, in the tradition (in Aquinas), we have language which speaks about a connatural relation which exists between means and ends. The end does not justify the means. Given the intelligibility of a desired goal, the means that lead to it must participate in the goodness of the intelligibility that is being desired as a greater goal. If one wants to increase one’s income to send one’s children to university, one does not engage in a bank robbery to increase the size of one’s income. A closer look at the relation between means and ends should indicate that a kind of mutual kind of causality or priority exists between means and ends. The relation between parts or elements, the relation between alleged means, determines the end that is brought into being. A greater union exists between means and ends since, in the means, we find the ends. The relation which exists between parts determines that which exists as a whole. Hence, even as we admit that, as human beings, we reach toward ends through means which exist as immediate or proximate ends, the focus shifts from the primacy of ends to the primacy of means. Right ends exist through right actions. The goodness and rightness of our actions is all determinative since the good doing of good actions as means is the means whereby we can possibly think about the realization of that which can exist as a good life: a life that has turned out well. Admittedly however, objective and subjective determinations of good exist with a degree of tension between them since it is possible that we can achieve good actions, do good deeds, and not realize that we have done what we should have done. We can also believe that we have done well when, in fact, we have not done well. It is no easy task to try and move toward a comprehensive view that can know all the variables and give to each variable its due weight.
Chapter 3: Hedonism
If I can begin with a very general summary or overview of Spaemann’s discussion on hedonism, I would say that Spaemann associates hedonism with an animalistic notion of that which is regarded as good although, by the end of his discussion, he indicates how hedonism, as a philosophy, exists in a self-contradictory state. By following lines of thinking and value which exist within it (hedonism as allegedly a philosophy), we are led to points of view which transcend hedonism as a sound moral philosophy. In any case, if we begin with how Spaemann initiates his discussion, he notes that self-questioning in the moral sphere begins when our lives are not entirely subject to meeting external demands and needs. If our physical desires are satisfied and a degree of security exists with regard to their enjoyment, a spirit of inquiry can begin to reveal itself to us and this inquiry can begin to move us from animal apprehensions of good toward apprehensions of good that are connatural to the existence and being of ourselves as human persons who exist with minds that can ask questions and who can come to know about alternative courses of action and the possibility of making a choice among different moral options. Within a hedonistic way of life, yes, as the Sophists had noted, we tend to act out of self-interest. In living hedonistically, we want that which immediately pleases us…experiences of pleasure. But as our self-inquiry begins to identify our motives or our purposes in terms of pleasure, when we ask ourselves if this orientation is sufficient for us or if it truly leads toward our happiness, we begin to find that the goodness of our lives cannot be determined or settled if our object is the constant experience of pleasure. We find that we are not happy (we are ill at ease) if we should find that the purpose of our lives is determined by individualistic desires that are geared toward experiences of pleasure (sensate experiences of good). The implication, for us, is that the dawn of reflective moral inquiry is such that it is geared away from suppositions or assumptions that would correlate that which exists as the good life with that which exists as a life of pleasure. In speaking about a dialectic which exists within hedonism, Spaemann refers to the presence of three contradictions. Firstly, when hedonism as a way of life or as an orientation is conceptualized, when it is articulated in terms which refer to it as a universal truth, a contradiction manifests itself between a focus on subjective well being and a manner of articulation which wants to move beyond the subjectivity of well being toward an apprehension of truth or reality that transcends subjective conditions. The kind of subjectivity that exists in hedonism precludes universalism and apprehensions of truth that are not to be correlated with human experiences of pleasure. In other words, animal apprehensions of good in terms of pleasure do not square with the possibilities of self-transcendence which exist in the life of human beings who live and exist as human subjects. Secondly, another contradiction exists when we think about memories of past pleasures and anticipations of future pleasures. Yes, at times, when we remember past pleasures, we can be consoled. However, in these memories, we can be disappointed or burdened with sorrows as we experience and know that we are not experiencing these pleasures currently. Disappointments can easily attend our memories of past pleasures. Similarly too, when we think about future pleasures, this can be a heartening thing for us. We can look forward to future pleasures but then, there also exists the experience of disappointment and when our hopes are dashed, the fuller or stronger the hope, the more we are disappointed. Our experience of pleasure is turned into experiences of pain. The greater the anticipation, the greater the sorrow and disappointment. Hence, within this context, we find contradictions that exist in an existential kind of way. Thirdly, when we attend to the existence of feelings that exist with a content or with feelings that are associated or triggered by an external object, we deal with feelings that take us beyond ourselves in an existential form of self-transcendence that undermines the subjectivity of pleasure which exists as something that is supposed to be essentially selfish. However, if we attend to the true nature of friendship and when we attend to our desire to have truly good friends, we find that this attainment (its full attainment) requires self-sacrifice on our part. The self-sacrifice leads to enjoyments of deeper fuller friendship and so, as we notice these variables within our consciousness of self, we discover that selfish notions of the good which exist as pleasure cannot be believed or held in a way that can point to the rationality of such a thesis. As we seek to grow in experiences of well being, we find that true well being requires a species of human consciousness that distances itself from sensible experiences of pleasure. Pleasure is to be distinguished from a condition of joy which can include or which includes both an objective and a subjective aspect.