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32. The Cause of Pleasure

1. Pleasure is the result of attaining a suitable thing, a thing which satisfies, and is therefore a good. It is the attaining of a good, together with awareness of the fact that the good is attained.

2. As we have said, pleasure in itself is not subject to time, and yet it is not incompatible with movement, and hence with time which is movement. A man enjoying an interesting story takes pleasure in moving on from chapter to chapter in the prospect of finally knowing the whole story. And there is pleasure in moving from aspect to aspect of a pleasing thing, and even in going over and over the details of a delightful event which is cherished in memory, or in looking again and again at the minutest features of a prized possession. Hence movement itself can be a cause of pleasure. One's own movement locally can cause pleasure, and people enjoy walking, riding, and sailing.

3. Things hoped for can stir pleasure, as can remembered joys. Thus hope and memory are causes of pleasure.

4. Even sadness or sorrow can be a cause of pleasure. Sorrow over a loss calls to mind the beloved object with which remembered joys are associated. Sorrow over an evil once sustained is accompanied by knowledge of escape or deliverance, and this knowledge is pleasurable.

5. The actions of others may cause us pleasure, (a) because they are the actions of one we love; thus parents take keen pleasure in beholding the meaningless movements of their baby; or (b) because these actions confer a benefit on us; or (c) because these actions make us appreciate the good we ourselves possess. Thus the slow and careful gait of an old man may make us rejoice in our youth and agility.

6. Doing good to others causes us pleasure, for it makes us aware of a pleasing ability in ourselves, and also pleasurably aware of an abundance of good that we can share. Further, to do good is in accordance with our nature, and there is pleasure in orderly natural action. Finally, in doing good to others we show our love for them, and love is the principal cause of pleasure.

7. Because like has a tendency to love like, likeness itself is a cause of pleasure. Creatures normally take pleasure in associating with their kind. Youth enjoys being with youth. People of like interests have pleasure in one another's company and conversation. Yet, accidentally, likeness which should cause pleasure sometimes occasions displeasure. A man may be displeased with another who is in the same line of business, not because of likeness of occupation, but because of something accidental to that likeness in this particular case, such as the fact that the other man is a competitor, a limiting factor in financial gain, and perhaps a challenger for a place of social prominence in a community.

8. Things that excite wonder are pleasurable. They give pleasing knowledge of striking facts or events, together with a desire for further knowledge (that is, the explanation of the wondrous things), and this desire itself is pleasing. And sometimes there is pleasure in studying and comparing things which, in themselves, are not pleasing; thus a medical student may find pleasure in working with specimens of deteriorating tissue.

"Obedience is a short cut to perfection."
St Philip Neri

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"Try to turn your heart from the love of things visible and bring yourself to things invisible. For they who follow their own evil passions stain their consciences and lose the grace of God. "
Thomas á Kempis

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"The supreme perfection of man in this life is to be so united to God that all his soul with all its faculties and powers are so gathered into the Lord God that he becomes one spirit with him, and remembers nothing except God, is aware of and recognises nothing but God, but with all his desires unified by the joy of love, he rests contentedly in the enjoyment of his Maker alone."
St Albert the Great

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