Roger Scruton, in his conversation with Sheikh Hamza Yusuf on “What Conservatism Really Means” (2018), asserted that “pleasure has driven out joy”. Pleasure, stemming from desires of ‘having it now’, is instant by nature. Therefore, it has a short-term reward, as anything that is attained instantaneously has psychologically less value.
Joy is attained gradually, and its rewarding effects are long-term because, though stemming from desires, it is coupled with a sense of superior motivation, struggle, and goal. In psychology, goal is a form of keeping the self functionally balanced by achieving a certain target. Motivations are biological, cognitive, behavioural, emotional, and social forces that compel us to achieve our goal.
It is not that pleasure does not possess motivation and goals, but it is very shallow and does do not require great effort. It is also untrue that pleasure is inherently evil or that indulging in it is a sin. In Islam, pleasure is a natural part of human survival, as we experience it when we consume food or indulge in intimacy. However, if the pleasure system malfunctions (that is, are used excessively), it may leads to psychological enslavement to the pleasure-seeking habit called addiction, thus taking the role of an addict.
This is an excerpt from the print issue.
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