A lot of us may know the name “John Locke” from the famous TV series “Lost“. But that lot might not remember his character’s real name “Jeremy Bentham”. His character went through a lot of pain during his life before the plane crashed into the island where he found himself absolved of all pain and began to believe that “The Island” was his place to be, as he found a lot of pleasure in following its vague spiritual orders through “Jacob”, and otherwise.
In the real world too, a Jeremy Bentham existed a while ago. Was he in anyway connected to this reel character? Lets ponder!
Jeremy Bentham breathed through 1748 until 1832. He was the great British Economist and Philosopher who founded ‘Utilitarianism‘ and tried to quantify the ‘Pleasures and Pains’ in one’s life through his thorough but still tacit work called “Felicific Calculus“.
He laid out a very indulgently descriptive list of ‘Pleasures’ and ‘Pains’ in human lives.
The Pleasure of senses, skill, wealth, power, benevolence, amity, good name, imagination; to list a few. The Pains of enmity, association, expectation, ill name etc.
His idea was to minimize the pains and maximize the pleasures for the greater good of everyone according to a certain metric he invented. He tried quantification through parameters like the Intensity, certainty, propinquity, purity, duration and extent of Pleasure and Pain. But his doctrine had a flaw – the probability of all these parameters to differentiate for each individual was huge! The chances that 2 individuals will have the same intensity, purity, duration or any other effect of a pleasure or pain was zero, zilch, nada! and the number of differentiating factors and their intensity difference was uncountable! So his “Felicific Calculus” was not as thorough as he wanted it to be.
Hedonism, the philosophy of maximizing pleasure and minimizing pain was born from Utilitarianism. So Jeremy Bentham, in a way, pushed the lazy to the couch! But from his written pieces, one can observe that absolute pleasure was not part of his campaign! He was just trying to quantify life through pain and pleasures and the takeaway was ‘For the good of everyone!’
In the modern day technological advancement, a lot of human population is nowadays quantifying their life, but to a better cause of balancing the pains and pleasures. Everyone has these health gadgets these days to quantify sleep, exercise, diet, diseases and other health related parameters. One prime example would be FitBit. Financial gadgets, with the ease of regulations, have caused the rise of fiscal awareness among the common folks. Apps like Robin Hood, PayPal, Apple Pay, Samsung Pay etc. cater to a very eager audience of today who want to quantify (Read: Optimize) their routine (Read: Time and Money) to the level where they gather information and execute a good amount of financial investment and stabilization tasks with much less time spent. These are just 2 facets of life I have indulged in providing some examples of. There are many more facets (Read: Almost all) where quantification, not possible earlier, has now changed the way the general human population gathers information and executes daily life tasks.
I think the words to remember are Balance and Over Indulgence. Both serve two different Devils/ Gods of two different worlds.
The real question is
‘Once Self Pleasing attitude starts driving you, How deep would you like to indulge?and in what direction specifically – For the greater good of everyone, a selected few or just yourself ?’