A being of higher faculties

“A being of higher faculties requires more to make him happy, is capable probably of more acute suffering… than one of an inferior type; but in spite of these liabilities, he can never really wish to sink into what he feels to be a lower grade of existence.”

“It is better to be a human being dissatisfied than a pig satisfied; better to be Socrates dissatisfied than a fool satisfied. And if the fool, or the pig, are of a different opinion, it is because they only know their own side of the question.”29
This expression of faith in the appeal of the higher human faculties is compelling. But in relying on it, Mill strays from the utilitarian premise. No longer are de facto desires the sole basis for judging what is noble and what is base. Now the standard derives from an ideal of human dignity independent of our wants and desires. The higher pleasures are not higher because we prefer them; we prefer them because we recognize them as higher. We judge Hamlet as great art not because we like it more than lesser entertainments, but because it engages our highest faculties and makes us more fully human.


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