The philosopher Epicurus, the founder of the Epicureanism school of philosophy, argued that the best things in life are simple, modest pleasures, the absence of fear and personal desires, and tranquility. This philosophy is not necessarily based on modern thinking, but it is rooted in ancient Greek thought. He defined the highest good as a feeling of happiness. However, his definition was based on a different set of values than Epicureanism.
Jeremy Bentham, the philosopher who revived the hedonism school, believed that morality could be determined by weighing pleasures. According to Bentham, the more pleasure a person experiences, the more morally right that action is. He suggested weighing the intensity, duration, probability, and fecundity of further actions to determine the value of pleasure.
Hedonism has better naturalistic credentials than its rivals. A number of well-known criticisms are actually non-necessity objections. For example, Plato said that living only for pleasure would be like an oyster. However, he did not consider life without pleasure unlivable. Hence, hedonism owes its status as non-instrumental values.
The hedonistic calculus is a mathematical formula used by hedonists to determine the value of pleasure. This formula measures the intensity of pleasure by multiplying the duration of the activity. This calculation is not valid if the person is involved in immoral activity. But it is a good tool for calculating the level of satisfaction a person can derive from an activity. For example, hedonism advocates should avoid eating meat.
While hedonism is still a controversial topic today, it has influenced philosophers and philosophies for centuries. Aristotle and Plato are among the most influential contributors to this debate. Mill and Bentham both advocated seeking pleasure, arguing that intellectual knowledge is necessary to achieve happiness. However, they differed on whether intellectual understanding is important to the welfare of humankind.
Moral hedonism has been criticized since the days of Socrates. Traditionally, some philosophers have argued that humans have no duty to seek pleasure, but the pleasures of others are morally relevant. In addition, hedonists claim to simplify ethical problems by introducing a single standard of moral behavior, but in reality, this approach imposes a double standard.
John Stuart Mill
Hedonism is a major philosophical concern for Mill, who argues that higher pursuits lead to greater pleasure. In contrast to Bentham’s quantitative hedonism, Mill’s higher pleasures doctrine is anti-hedonistic. He claims that the value of intellectual pursuits exceeds the contentment and pleasure they produce. Ultimately, Mill argues that the value of intellectual pursuits is not merely quantitative, but also subjective.
Hedonism is an ethical perspective on pleasure and is typically associated with the individualist stance of Egoism. According to egoism, an individual must seek his or her own good above all else. In contrast, epicureanism takes a more moderate approach, defining happiness as tranquility. Finally, utilitarianism takes a more altruistic approach, defining utility by maximizing happiness.
Hedonism is an approach to morality that rejects narrow self-interest in favor of the good of society. In the nineteenth century, Mill was influenced by the philosophy of utilitarianism, which advocates the maximization of human happiness. In 1853, he was married to Harriet Taylor and was influenced by her political beliefs. Although Mill’s political views had profound implications for his later work, he did not abandon his belief in utilitarianism.
While Mill’s utilitarianism is based on the principle of probable consequences, his moral theory largely deviates from utilitarianism. This leaves a serious question about the nature of utilitarianism. Nevertheless, Mill’s utilitarianism is still a great classic of utilitarian thought. Hedonism is a major part of Mill’s ethics and has received substantial attention over the past 150 years.
The philosophy of the Arts of Life is a core element of Epicureanism. The term implying the love of food and drink also suggests that Epicurus was a connoisseur of fine cuisine and wine. While he emphasized moderation at meals, he did not shy away from occasional indulgence. In fact, his community was based in a kitchen garden, and became known as “The Garden.”
According to Epicurus, the highest good is pleasure. However, pleasures are not the ultimate good and cannot be achieved by the self-sacrifice of virtues. Moreover, pleasure is a natural by-product of living a pleasurable life. Ultimately, the ultimate goal of Epicurean hedonism is to live a calm and peaceful life, free of conflicts and agitation.
The ancient Greek philosopher Philodemus studied in Athens and moved to Italy. His writings are preserved in Philodemus’ rolls, which reveal the history of Epicureanism. Although Epicureanism is conservative in nature, later thinkers embellished it, and new editions of the texts are making the ancient philosophy more accessible to a wider audience. However, it is important to remember that Epicureanism was not universal, and the teachings of Epicurus may be subject to misunderstandings.
Similarly, Epicurus’s teachings on the ideal of friendship have inspired many contemporary thinkers. From Marx to More, his philosophy has influenced many Utopian thinkers. In particular, Epicurus pinned the hopes of human happiness on a total change in social relations. This means that, while we can no longer live in an ideal world, we can still enjoy the pleasures of life.
Philosophers have debated the role of motivation in the human experience. Some argue that motivation is intrinsically good, while others say it is merely a function of our personality. Either way, it is important to remember that we are motivated by many factors, including the desires of our own psyches and those of others. Motivational hedonism is a philosophy of happiness and well-being that seeks to understand what motivates us.
The hedonists’ argument has its own problems. One major criticism of this approach is that it emphasizes the importance of basic desires. Basic desires include hunger and thirst, whereas non-basic desires include power, fame, and happiness. Butler’s criticism of hedonism makes the case that people have other desires aside from pleasure. In addition, motivational hedonists believe that each desire has its own object of fulfillment.
Hedonists counter the counterexamples of hedonistic behavior by providing rival motivational stories. The soldier was motivated by his belief in a joyful afterlife. A parent is motivated by her desire to provide a good life for her child, anticipating that having good intentions will give her later pleasure. Similarly, a dying person will cling to life because she believes there will be pleasure after death.
The hedonists’ response to these criticisms is to reject the claim that pleasure is intrinsically good, claiming that pleasure can be obtained in the form of sufficient or maximal pleasure. But they have to answer these objections with their own views of pleasure and displeasure. The response to these objections reflects the centrality of motivation. But there are other ways of approaching hedonism.
Epicurean response to pleasure
For many centuries, the Epicurean response to pleasure has puzzled philosophers. It is unclear whether this is a response to the pleasure itself or to the hedonistic ideal of infinite happiness. While the human being possesses a capacity to experience pleasure, Epicurus viewed the hedonistic ideal of happiness as a more limited and illusory goal than that of immortality. According to Epicurus, hedonistic pleasure is not inherently bad, but can be harmful when the desire is strong.
However, Epicureans are characterized by their tendency to avoid pain and pursue pleasure. In some cases, if the pursuit of pleasure involves pain or inconvenience, the Epicurean will shun it. In other cases, they may choose to endure pain in exchange for pleasure, even if it means enduring pain. While this may seem like a counterintuitive response, the Epicurean is seeking to maximize pleasure in the long run.
The Epicurean response to pleasure is a paradoxical one, but a good definition will help to understand its nuances. While the Epicurean definition of pleasure emphasizes the physical sensations of pleasure, it also recognizes that they can have a psychological component as well. It is the desire for pleasure that is at the root of many of the problems we face in life. Fortunately, the Epicurean notion of pleasure has a clearer foundation than the hedonist’s.
As Epicurus explained, there are three kinds of pleasure: natural but non-necessary desires, and kinetic pleasures. It is best to fulfill natural and necessary desires first, before moving on to hedonism. In addition, the Epicurean responds to pleasure by focusing on the hedonic calculus. The more intense the pleasure, the more negative it becomes. The kinetic pleasure, on the other hand, can lead to increased stress and dissatisfaction.