The pleasure between morality and egoism
A dialogue between Emilies the blue berries and Simones the green berries. The Emilies believe that life in society introduces value judgments that are often harmful to the simple and natural aspirations of human beings and that happiness is nevertheless dependent on others. The Simones assert that femininity is a condition imposed by history and society and question traditional roles.
Emilies: Simones, we need some advice from you.
Simones: some advice? We thought you didn’t approve of our way of life.
Emilies: it’s true but you know how to seduce and on this point, we have a lot to learn.
Simones: are you tired of living with Socrates?
Emilies: no, not at all, but we are afraid that if he always keeps us as decoration, we will never be able to have offspring so we wonder how to get him to plant us in the ground.
Simones: but why do you want offspring? There are already so many berries, don’t you think that’s enough? It is not a duty to reproduce, there are other ways to experience female sexuality.
Emilies: if everyone thought like you, we would soon be endangered and so would the birds. But we believe that this is our mission and that is what will make us happy.
Simones: birds only think of their belly, why do you want to help them when they have ignored you?
Emilies: we don’t want to help them, we want to perpetuate ourselves in new shrubs that will carry us. The birds imagine that we offer ourselves to them for their plumage, whereas it is above all our satisfaction that we aim for. The world is so made that the needs of some are satisfied by the desires of others and you for example, you prefer sexual freedom without reproduction but it is perhaps a ruse of nature to limit the number of berries of your kind.
Simones: you could be right on this point as you could follow a cultural pattern that you incorporated in your childhood about your desires. We prefer to get caught without germinating in order to keep the shape we have. We don’t care about propriety and morals and if that’s part of nature’s plans, it suits us.
Emilies: don’t you think pleasure is above all in the imagination because once satisfied, it asks to be renewed? It is for this reason that we give it a moral value which then sustains us afterward.
Simones: we don’t see any problems in repeating our experiences of pleasure and even see its satisfaction as the promise of others to come. This is what gives life to life. We nevertheless follow the precepts of Epicurus in this area and we are satisfied with what we can have without wanting what we cannot have.
Emilies: when for us, there’s only one way to achieve our goals and we have to reach it.
Simones: so why don’t you ask Socrates to put you in the ground? This seems the best advice we can give you: assert your desires to see them satisfied.
Emilies: it is not a suitable path for female species to seek favors from males. They must be offered freely. It’s also part of our imagination.
Simones: but you still come to us to find out how to do it without saying anything! Are you as moral as you think?
Emilies: there is what is done and what is not done, that’s what morality is. And finding ways to achieve our goals while preserving appearances seems the right thing to do. Like cultivating food rather than begging.
Simones: you have a morality that follows your opinions rather than the opposite, it looks like.
Emilies: so you don’t want to help us?
Simones: don’t worry, it’s a pleasure for us to please so we will send a message to Socrates or we will find another solution.
Emilies: we knew we could count on you! Can we now ask you a somewhat indiscreet question?
Simones: give it a try, you’ll see!
Emilies: how do you manage to be eaten without being digested?
Simones: we make a pact with the birds.
Emilies: what do they have to gain?
Simones: the pleasure of giving pleasure and a different experience. Remember, we only want to achieve what’s possible so we have to think about it and decide how to do it,
Emilies: what if they’re still trying to digest you?
Simones: our skin is hard and acidic. It calms their ardor and we warn them of the harmful consequences that could ensue for them if they do not free us intact.
Emilies: is that why you are green?
Simones: yes, we have not yet achieved maturity.
Emilies (between them): we knew it (at the Simones): thank you for your help anyway. When we have offsprings, we promise you that you will be their godmothers.
Simones (among themselves): are they kidding or what? (to the Emilies): we will talk about it again when the time comes, dear Emilies, let’s not rush anything.
What is pleasure?
For the Emilies, it is a function of the imagination which must be inseparable from the idea of duty, otherwise dissatisfaction sets in once the desire is achieved. It could also be that it is a ruse of nature to encourage us to work for it.
For the Simones, pleasure is an individual quest that is sufficient in itself beyond morality and conventions. It is achieved thanks to the satisfaction of desires but these desires must remain in the order of the possible and therefore require reflection to be satisfied.
Why does morality often condemn the search for pleasure?
Can a life without pleasure be a happy life?
Want to think a little more? See, for example, Julie, or the New Heloise where Rousseau puts forward the idea that pleasure can be experienced in virtue.
Want to contribute to these dialogues? Write your comments and questions below.
Want to know more about the tastes of Simones and Emilies? Their favorite books are in the domain library.