Drawing Upon Textual Evidence From The Reading In Question, Summarize And Explain In Your Own Terms What Mill Means When He Claims That The Sources Of Happiness Are Not Limited To The Primitive Desires We Are Born With,

Happiness, Meaning and Good Life: Sources Of Happiness Are Not Limited To The Primitive Desires

        John Stuart mill is a born utilitarian who in his philosophy shows that utility is happiness and happiness is pleasure without suffering. Utilitarianism is an ethical philosophy of happiness which main aim is to increase happiness to people or reduce pain to most people. Mill further explained that happiness is a balance amid pleasure over sufferings. Utilitarianism holds that actions are right if they tend to hold and promote happiness, which results in the envisioned pleasure. Actions are wrong if they result in pain and deprivation of pleasure. Utilitarianism is a theory of morality which maintains that all are desired due to pleasure found in them or as a way of finding pleasure and to prevent pain.

      Utilitarian says that the standard of morality of human is the end of his action. This means that the end justifies the means. Any human should choose the option that gives him the most happiness. Mill creates a hypothetical environment where human happiness is judged. He says that no human being of sound mind and intelligence would accord to be a fool, an instructed person can not be ignorance or a person of sense and integrity would be egotistical and dishonorable even if they were convinced that a dupe, the dunce or the scamp is well with his lot than they are. A human being of higher class requires more for his happiness and is more vulnerable severe suffering and easily accessible than those of inferior status. In spite of all these the higher being can never fall victim of what degrades his existence and actions. This is what mill calls a sense of dignity and it brings pleasures and happiness as desired. According to the greatest happiness principle, at the very end of his actions, human beings should have an existence free from pain, full of enjoyments, both in quantity and quality. Mill believes that pleasure is realized when everyone is happy with no suffering and pain. True happiness according to mill is ethical and logical and does not entails physical happiness. Happiness is superior than feeling of satisfaction.

        According to mill, happiness exists in diverse forms. The high and low happiness. The difference in these pleasures is not big only that one is greater in amount than the other. When comparing these pleasures, mill says that if all those who experience one of these pleasures give decided preferences, despite any sense of moral commitment to choose it, that is the most needed pleasure that leads to high happiness. Mill points out that if any human being among those who have experienced the two, chooses a pleasure even if he knows the other to be full of discontents, and would not leave it for another that pleasure which would bring much happiness, it is good to acknowledge the preferred pleasure as superior on the basis of quality and outweighs the quantity aspect of the other.

       When a human being experiences both the low and high happiness, he seems to prefer one over the other. Mill points out that simple pleasures are usually preferred by human beings who have not had a chance to experience the bigger ones. However, he maintains that higher pleasures are always valued and most human beings are willing to go into risky depths to attain it. The will to be happy determines our desires and this shapes our actions. Mill yet postulates that the recognition of human want can at times be subjective to the resolve of an individual or an individuals’ practice. The utilitarian covers more on the human actions rather than meagre indulgence. every inherent human want is an elementary derivative of human desires to be happy or to realize satisfaction.

        Mill says that not any given pleasure or exemption from pain is always aimed at achieving happiness. he posits that you could say that people wish for things like virtue or the absence of vice which is normally discrete from happiness. Then again, he maintains that happiness is a whole idea with constituent parts. People want virtue since it’s part of happiness and encourages the universal happiness. Mill notes that there’s a variance in craving something as a way to happiness and desiring something because it’s part of happiness.

       He gives an example of money. Money is mainly liked for the things it can buy, this means money is just a bridge to achieving other things. While money is not the sole want, it is one of the greatest forces moving the world and human life. This shows that money is not desired so that we can achieve the end but its part of the end. Things that human being do with money are the ones that bring happiness to them but not money. It is the main ingredient of individuals outset of happiness. Human being believes he can be made happy by possession of money but when he fails he is unhappy. This evidently shows that the desire for money to fulfill our personal wants is direct desire for happiness.

       Mill says that happiness is made of different desires and it is a concrete whole. This is approved by utilitarian theory which summarizes that in the quest of human being trying to satisfy their primitive desires they end up attaining pleasures which are more permanent throughout the human existence and even in intensity. From this we understand that happiness is the sole result of human actions and promotion of happiness is the scale on which human actions are measured and this means that morality, which is the main argument of mill, is a constituent of happiness since it is a part of the whole.

         Happiness is important in that it shapes the morals of human beings and rebukes bad actions that would cause pain and suffering to others. According to mill, moral duty is determined by the consequences of our actions. He says in order to show good moral deeds to people, then we should be able to make them happy. In order to bring happiness to people we ought to do something moral even if our intentions for profiting the largest group of people possible is self-centered. Mill suggested that acting in rational right manner produces the best in us. happiness according to utilitarianism is a good that should be attained through any ethical action that will lead to eventual superiority.


Mill, John Stuart (1863). Utilitarianism (1 ed.). London: Parker, Son & Bourn, West Strand.

Harsanyi, J. C. (1995). A theory of prudential values and a rule utilitarian theory of morality. Social Choice and Welfare, 12(4), 319-333.

Hare, R. M., & Hare, R. M. (1981). Moral thinking: Its levels, method, and point (Vol. 21, No. 41,111). Oxford: Clarendon Press.

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