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Pleasant feeling is impermanent, conditioned, dependently-arisen, bound to decay, to vanish, to fade away, to cease. ... Anyone who, on experiencing a pleasant feeling, thinks: "This is my self", must, at the cessation of that pleasant feeling, think: "My self has gone!" ~ Digha Nikaya
Now for most men their pleasures are in conflict with one another because these are not by nature pleasant, but the lovers of what is noble find pleasant the things that are by nature pleasant; and virtuous actions are such, so that these are pleasant for such men as well as in their own nature. Their life, therefore, has no further need of pleasure as a sort of adventitious charm, but has its pleasure in itself. ~ Aristotle

Pleasure describes the broad class of mental states that humans and other animals experience as positive, enjoyable, or worth seeking. It includes more specific mental states such as happiness, entertainment, enjoyment, ecstasy, and euphoria.

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  • Not only is a horse pleasant to the lover of horses, and a spectacle to the lover of sights, but also in the same way just acts are pleasant to the lover of justice and in general virtuous acts to the lover of virtue. Now for most men their pleasures are in conflict with one another because these are not by nature pleasant, but the lovers of what is noble find pleasant the things that are by nature pleasant; and virtuous actions are such, so that these are pleasant for such men as well as in their own nature. Their life, therefore, has no further need of pleasure as a sort of adventitious charm, but has its pleasure in itself.
    • Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, Book 1, Chapter 8
  • I once went through books and wanted to understand what philosophers said about life. Some of them saw everything as dark. "Since we are nothing and we will reach zero, there is no room for joy and happiness during our temporary life on earth," they said. I read other books, written by wiser men. They were saying: "Since the end is zero anyway, let us at least be joyful and cheerful as long as we live." For my own character I like the second view of life, but within these limits: A man who sees the existence of all mankind in his own person is pathetic. Obviously that man will perish as an individual. What is necessary for any man to be satisfied and happy as long as he lives is not to work for himself, but for those who will come after him. Only in this way can a man of understanding act. Complete pleasure and happiness in life can only be found in working for the honor, existence and happiness of future generations.


  • without love, pleasure withers quickly, becomes a foul taste on the palate, and pleasure’s inventions are soon exhausted. There must be a soul within the body you are holding, a soul which you are striving to meet, a soul which is striving to meet yours.
  • Purification of the soul ... consists in scorning the pleasures that arise through the senses, in not feasting the eyes on the silly exhibitions of jugglers or on the sight of bodies which gives the spur to sensual pleasure, in not permitting licentious songs to enter through the ears and drench your souls.
  • Monks, these two extremes ought not to be practiced by one who has gone forth from the household life. (What are the two?) There is addiction to indulgence of sense-pleasures, which is low, coarse, the way of ordinary people, unworthy, and unprofitable; and there is addiction to self-mortification, which is painful, unworthy, and unprofitable. Avoiding both these extremes, the Tathagata (the Perfect One) has realized the Middle Path; it gives vision, gives knowledge, and leads to calm, to insight, to enlightenment and to Nibbana. And what is that Middle Path realized by the Tathagata? ... It is the Noble Eightfold Path, and nothing else, namely: right understanding, right thought, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness and right concentration.
  • Pleasant feeling is impermanent, conditioned, dependently-arisen, bound to decay, to vanish, to fade away, to cease—and so too are painful feeling and neutral feeling. So anyone who, on experiencing a pleasant feeling, thinks: "This is my self", must, at the cessation of that pleasant feeling, think: "My self has gone!"
  • Doubtless the pleasure is as great
    Of being cheated as to cheat.
  • There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
    There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
    There is society where none intrudes
    By the deep Sea, and music in its roar.


  • Rich the treasure,
    Sweet the pleasure,
    Sweet is pleasure after pain.


  • No pleasure is in itself evil, but the things which produce certain pleasures entail annoyances many times greater than the pleasures themselves.
    • Epicurus variant translation: No pleasure is itself a bad thing, but the things that produce some kinds of pleasure, bring along with them unpleasantness that is much greater than the pleasure itself.
  • There are two kinds of pleasure: one consisting in a state of rest, in which both body and mind are undisturbed by any kind of pain; the other arising from an agreeable agitation of the senses, producing a correspondent emotion in the soul. It is upon the former of these that the enjoyment of life chiefly depends.
  • Pleasure, or pain, is not only good, or evil, in itself, but the measure of what is good or evil, in every object of desire or aversion; for the ultimate reason why we pursue one thing, and avoid another, is because we expect pleasure from the former, and apprehend pain from the latter. If we sometimes decline a present pleasure, it is not because we are averse to pleasure itself, but because we conceive, that in the present instance, it will be necessarily connected with a greater pain. In like manner, if we sometimes voluntarily submit to a present pain, it is because we judge that it is necessarily connected with a greater pleasure.
    • Epicurus, as quoted in Ancient and Modern Celebrated Freethinkers (Half-Hours with the Freethinkers) by Charles Bradlaugh, A. Collins, and J. Watts (1877)




  • Look upon that hour-marked round,
    Listen to that fateful sound ;
    There my silent hand is stealing.
    My more silent course revealing ;
    Wild, devoted Pleasure, hear, —
    Stay thee on thy mad career !
    • Letitia Elizabeth Landon, The London Literary Gazette (27th July 1822), Sketches from Drawings by Mr. Dagley. Sketch the First. Time arresting the Career of Pleasure.
  • We thus derive that the essence of a man's existence in this world is solely the fulfilling of mitzvoth, the serving of God and the withstanding of trials, and that the world's pleasures should serve only the purpose of aiding and assisting him, by way of providing him with the contentment and peace of mind requisite for the freeing of his heart for the service which devolves upon him.


  • The Puritan hated bear-baiting, not because it gave pain to the bear, but because it gave pleasure to the spectators.
  • Take all the pleasures of all the spheres,
    And multiply each through endless years,
    One minute of Heaven is worth them all.


  • It is not the actual enjoyment of pleasure that we desire. What we want is to test the futility of that pleasure, so as to be no longer obsessed by it.
  • The road that leads to pleasure is downhill and very easy, with the result that one does not walk but is dragged along; the other which leads to self-control is uphill, toilsome no doubt but profitable exceedingly. The one carries us away, forced lower and lower as it drives us down its steep incline, till it flings us off on to the level ground at its foot; the other leads heavenwards the immortal who have not fainted on the way and have had the strength to endure the roughness of the hard ascent.
    • Philo, On The Special Laws, Part IV, p. 77.
  • κακοῦ δέλεαρ
    • the bait of sin
    • Plato, Timaeus, 69D.
  • Pleasures are ever in our hands or eyes;
    And when in act they cease, in prospect rise.
  • Reason's whole pleasure, all the joys of sense,
    Lie in three words,—health, peace, and competence.


  • Next to enjoying ourselves, the next greatest pleasure consists in preventing others from enjoying themselves, or, more generally, in the acquisition of power.
  • There is much pleasure to be gained from useless knowledge.
    • Bertrand Russell, In Praise of Idleness and Other Essays (1935), Ch. 2: 'Useless' Knowledge.


  • And painefull pleasure turnes to pleasing paine.
    • Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene (1589-96), Book III, Canto X, Stanza 60.


  • In the beginning the body causes difficulties because it claims its rights without realizing that it is cutting off its own head by not surrendering.
    • Teresa of Avila, The Way of Perfection, as translated by Kieran Kavanaugh and Otilio Rodriguez, O. C. D., in The Collected Works of Saint Teresa of Avila (1980), pp. 142-143
  • They who are pleased themselves must always please.
    • James Thomson, The Castle of Indolence (1748), Canto I, Stanza 15.


  • "Has it ever occurred to you, Euthydemus, ... that though pleasure is the one and only goal to which incontinence is thought to lead men, she herself cannot bring them to it, whereas nothing produces pleasure so surely as self-control?”

    “How so?”

    "Incontinence will not let them endure hunger or thirst or desire or lack of sleep, which are the sole causes of pleasure in eating and drinking and sexual indulgence, and in resting and sleeping, after a time of waiting and resistance until the moment comes when these will give the greatest possible satisfaction; and thus she prevents them from experiencing any pleasure worthy to be mentioned in the most elementary and recurrent forms of enjoyment. But self-control alone causes them to endure the sufferings I have named, and therefore she alone causes them to experience any pleasure worth mentioning in such enjoyments."


  • Sure as night follows day,
    Death treads in Pleasure's footsteps round the world,
    When Pleasure treads the paths which Reason shuns.
    • Edward Young, Night Thoughts (1742-1745), Night V, line 863.
  • To frown at pleasure, and to smile in pain.
    • Edward Young, Night Thoughts (1742-1745), Night VIII, line 1,045.

Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations

Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 600-02.
The rule of my life is to make business a pleasure, and pleasure my business. ~ Aaron Burr
  • It is happy for you that you possess the talent of pleasing with delicacy. May I ask whether these pleasing attentions proceed from the impulse of the moment, or are the result of previous study?
  • Pleasures lie thickest where no pleasures seem;
    There's not a leaf that falls upon the ground
    But holds some joy of silence or of sound,
    Some sprite begotten of a summer dream.
  • Every age has its pleasures, its style of wit, and its own ways.
  • But pleasures are like poppies spread;
    You seize the flower, its bloom is shed.
    Or like the snow falls in the river,
    A moment white—then melts forever.
  • The rule of my life is to make business a pleasure, and pleasure my business.
  • Ludendi etiam est quidam modus retinendus, ut ne nimis omnia profundamus, elatique voluptate in aliquam turpitudinem delabamur.
    • In our amusements a certain limit is to be placed that we may not devote ourselves to a life of pleasure and thence fall into immorality.
    • Cicero, De Officiis (44 B.C.), I. 29.
  • Omnibus in rebus voluptatibus maximis fastidium finitimum est.
    • In everything satiety closely follows the greatest pleasures.
    • Cicero, De Oratore, III. 25.
  • Voluptas mentis (ut ita dicam) præstringit oculos, nec habet ullum cum virtute commercium.
    • Pleasure blinds (so to speak) the eyes of the mind, and has no fellowship with virtue.
    • Cicero, De Senectute, XII.
  • Divine Plato escam malorum appeliat voluptatem, quod ea videlicet homines capiantur, ut pisces hamo.
    • Plato divinely calls pleasure the bait of evil, inasmuch as men are caught by it as fish by a hook.
    • Cicero, De Senectute, XIII. 44.
  • Who pleases one against his will.
  • That, though on pleasure she was bent,
    She had a frugal mind.
  • Pleasure admitted in undue degree
    Enslaves the will, nor leaves the judgment free.
  • Men may scoff, and men may pray,
    But they pay
    Every pleasure with a pain.
  • Follow pleasure, and then will pleasure flee,
    Flee pleasure, and pleasure will follow thee.
  • Ficta voluptatis causa sint proxima veris.
    • Let the fictitious sources of pleasure be as near as possible to the true.
    • Horace, Ars Poetica (18 BC), 338.
  • Sperne voluptates; nocet empta dolore voluptas.
    • Despise pleasure; pleasure bought by pain is injurious.
    • Horace, Epistles, I. 2. 55.
  • Vivo et regno, simul ista reliqui
    Quæ vos ad cœlum effertis rumore secundo.
    • I live and reign since I have abandoned those pleasures which you by your praises extol to the skies.
    • Horace, Epistles, I. 10. 8.
  • I fly from pleasure, because pleasure has ceased to please: I am lonely because I am miserable.
  • Pleasure the servant, Virtue looking on.
  • Voluptates commendat rarior usus.
    • Rare indulgence produces greater pleasure.
    • Juvenal, Satires (early 2nd century), XI. 208.
  • Medio de fonte leporum
    Surgit amari aliquid, quod in ipsis floribus angat.
    • From the midst of the fountains of pleasures there rises something of bitterness which torments us amid the very flowers.
    • Lucretius, De Rerum Nat, Book IV. 11. 26.
  • Ah, no! the conquest was obtained with ease;
    He pleased you by not studying to please.
  • There is a pleasure which is born of pain.
    • Owen Meredith (Lord Lytton), The Wanderer, Book I. Prologue, Part I.
  • The roses of pleasure seldom last long enough to adorn the brow of him who plucks them; for they are the only roses which do not retain their sweetness after they have lost their beauty.
    • Hannah More, Essays on Various Subjects, On Dissipation.
  • God made all pleasures innocent.
    • Mrs. Norton, Lady of La Garaye, Part I.
  • Quod licet est ingratum quod non licet acrius urit.
    • What is lawful is undesirable; what is unlawful is very attractive.
    • Ovid, Amorum (16 BC), II. 19. 3.
  • Blanda truces animos fertur mollisse voluptas.
    • Alluring pleasure is said to have softened the savage dispositions (of early mankind).
    • Ovid, Ars Amatoria, Book II. 477.
  • Usque adeo nulli sincera, voluptas,
    Solicitique aliquid l�tis intervenit.
    • No one possesses unalloyed pleasure; there is some anxiety mingled with the joy.
    • Ovid, Metamorphoses, VII. 453.
  • The little pleasure of the game
    Is from afar to view the flight.
    • Matthew Prior, To the Hon. C. Montague. "But all the pleasure of the game, / Is afar off to view the flight." (In ed. of 1692).
  • Dum licet inter nos igitur lætemur amantes;
    Non satis est ullo tempore longus amor.
    • Let us enjoy pleasure while we can; pleasure is never long enough.
    • Sextus Propertius, Elegiæ, I. 19. 25.
  • Diliguntur immodice sola quæ non licent; * * * non nutrit ardorem concupiscendi, ubi frui licet.
    • Forbidden pleasures alone are loved immoderately; when lawful, they do not excite desire.
    • Quintilian, Declamationes, XIV. 18.
  • Continuis voluptatibus vicina satietas.
    • Satiety is a neighbor to continued pleasures.
    • Quintilian, Declamationes, XXX. 6.
  • Spangling the wave with lights as vain
    As pleasures in this vale of pain,
    That dazzle as they fade.
  • Non quam multis placeas, sed qualibus stude.
    • Do not care how many, but whom, you please.
    • Syrus, Maxims.
  • Prævalent illicita.
    • Things forbidden have a secret charm.
    • Tacitus, Annales (AD 117), XIII, 1.
  • Pleasure is frail like a dewdrop, while it laughs it dies. But sorrow is strong and abiding. Let sorrowful love wake in your eyes.
  • I built my soul a lordly pleasure-house,
    Wherein at ease for aye to dwell.
  • Nam id arbitror
    Adprime in vita esse utile ut ne quid nimis.
    • I hold this to be the rule of life, "Too much of anything is bad."
    • Terence, Andria, I, 1, 33.
  • Trahit sua quemque voluptas.
    • His own especial pleasure attracts each one.
    • Virgil, Eclogæ, II, 65.
  • Zu oft ist kurze Lust die Quelle langer Schmerzen!

See also

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