Homework Help

PhilosophyHow do interpret this paragraph " “It is better to be a human being...

lqle's profile pic

Posted via web

dislike 1 like

How do interpret this paragraph "

“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. The other party to the comparison knows both sides” (Utilitarianism, Mill)

7 Answers | Add Yours

lqle's profile pic

Posted (Answer #2)

dislike 0 like


pohnpei397's profile pic

Posted (Answer #3)

dislike 0 like

Mill is saying here that the "higher" a being, the more satisfying their life.  A human is higher than a pig, Socrates is higher than a fool.  In both cases, he says, it's better to be the higher being.  The last sentence means that lower people might think they have it better, but that is only because they are not actually able to compare the two states whereas the higher person can compare them and knows he/she has it better.

This comes from a chapter in which Mill is explaining why it is better to have choices and to be more thoughtful than it is to have fewer choices and go through life without thinking.

catd1115's profile pic

Posted (Answer #4)

dislike 0 like

I think the last part is the most important. The paragraph implies that only when you can see both sides, when you can weigh the options, when you have choices are you the most satisfied. The comparisons at the start of the paragraph are showing that the more you are aware of your many choices the more satisfied you will be.

litteacher8's profile pic

Posted (Answer #5)

dislike 0 like

I think this quotation states that intelligence leads to satisfaction.  The more you know, the better off you will be.  Ignorance is not bliss.  More intelligent beings and people have a better chance of being self-actualized.  I would agree to a certain extent, but not so far as to equate satisfaction with happiness.

amy-lepore's profile pic

Posted (Answer #6)

dislike 0 like

The way to satisfaction is the collection of information regardless of intellect.  The more one knows of both sides, the more one may be able to weigh the pros and cons, thus becoming more satisfied with his or her situation and life.  The best way to understand and to offer compromise (thus, Peace), is to walk a mile in the other person's shoes.  Ask questions, collect information, and weigh both sides of the issue in order to be resolved.

accessteacher's profile pic

Posted (Answer #7)

dislike 0 like

Mill is playing with the word "satisfaction" and its various meanings. He argues that if we are a "lower form," satisfaction is easily attained in ignorance. However, "higher forms" are distinguished by their constant search for answers and their rejection of simplicity and ignorance.

e-martin's profile pic

Posted (Answer #9)

dislike 0 like

Looking at the inverse of the statement may be instructive here. Maybe the wiser creature would be more intensely dissatisfied when dissatisfied, knowing as it does the benefits of satisfaction, compared to the creature with less wisdom and less awareness of a state that does not currently characterize it. 

Maybe the statement really comes down to the idea that wisdom allows one to dwell in multiple states hypothetically and a lack of wisdom restricts or fails this possibility. 

Join to answer this question

Join a community of thousands of dedicated teachers and students.

Join eNotes