The term hedonism refers to the philosophy that states that pleasure is humanity's most important quest, and the only thing that is good for an individual. Hedonists look for the maximum way to maximize their total pleasure and have less pain or suffering. They consider that pleasure is the only good that exists in life, and that pain is the only evil, and furthermore, that the goal of our life should only be to seek ways to increase pleasure and minimize pain.
What is hedonism?
It is a philosophical doctrine that thinks that pleasure is the only end and objective that man should have in life, so he should live to enjoy all pleasures avoiding above all things pain.
From the psychological point of view, hedonism is the existing view that humans are psychologically constructed to desire pleasure alone, while ethical hedonism refers to the view that our fundamental moral obligation is to potentiate pleasure or happiness.
Hedonism consists of a set of moral theories focused primarily on believing and asserting that all man does is the way to get something else. Pleasure, on the other hand, is the only thing that one seeks for oneself.
It is associated with selfishness and is founded on the paradox of hedonism which is also called the paradox of pleasure and which points out that pleasure and happiness are strange phenomena which do not obey normal principles, in the sense that they cannot be acquired directly, only indirectly, since we often do not get pleasures if we deliberately seek them.
The word etymology comes from the Greek and derives from the term “hedonisms“, a word that is formed by two differentiated parts: “hedone” which means pleasure and the suffix “isms” which can be defined as quality or doctrine. The first example of hedonism was the philosophy of Cyrenaica, an early Socratic school founded by Aristipus of Cyrene in the 4th century BC. The Cyrenaics emphasized the teachings of Socrates that happiness is one of the ends of moral action and held that pleasure was the supreme good, especially physical pleasure.
The main characteristics of hedonism are the following:
- The main characteristic of hedonism is the constant search for pleasure and the avoidance of pain at all costs.
- Its ethical representative was Epicurean, who affirmed that having a life full of pleasure was the only way to achieve maximum happiness.
- The only pleasure that exists is the one that does not cause any kind of pain.
- It has different types of pleasures that do not only include sexual gratification.
- For hedonists, spiritual pleasure was more important than sensible pleasure.
- They can always find time to enjoy and relax no matter what the rest of the world has to do.
- Avoid pain or damage either directly or collaterally.
- They are not limited to material pleasures nor does money mean any kind of obstacle to them.
Other types of hedonism
There are different types of hedonism, among which we mention the following:
- Psychological Hedonism: it is the best known and says that all people have an inclination toward the behavior they believe will lead to happiness, thinks that the behavior is accentuated by avoiding pain and approaching the pleasant and pleasant.
- Ethical Hedonism: considers social well-being and social utility and mentions that various sources of pleasure can be found. He mentions that no matter what his education, character and possibilities, the hedonistic individual will try to experience different pleasures, but in the idea that only pleasure is a good in itself.
- Christian Hedonism: it is used to show that people love God with all their heart and through this, they get a greater pleasure than the world can offer them. It is the search for God and to have a closer relationship with Him.
- Rational Hedonism: it mentions that the search for pleasure must be guided by prudence. Epicurus was his main exponent and said that freedom was possible without chance and that without it, hedonism had no raison d’être.
The main representatives of hedonism were:
- Aristippus: was a Greek philosopher who is considered the founder of the hedonistic and Cyrenaic school that identified good with pleasure.
- Epicurus: his philosophy had three parts: Gnoseology or Canonic, which dealt with different criteria to distinguish the true from the false; Physics, which studies nature; and Ethics, which was a combination of the two previous parts.
- Lucretius: he was a Roman poet and philosopher and author of the didactic poem “De rerum natura” or “About nature of things” which is considered to be the greatest work of Rome’s poetry, exposing the atomist philosophy and physics of Epicurus and the atomist physics of Democritus.
The main works of hedonism are:
- Hedonistic Christianity by Michel Onfray
- Hedonistic Manifesto of Guisán Esperanza
- From Utopia to Hedonism, Jiwei
- My wines, dishes, flowers and music chosen from Ciriaco Yáñez’s manual of beginner hedonism.
- Making an expensive trip that will bring pleasure is a form of hedonism, as long as the expense does not affect the economy afterwards. Let us remember that hedonism always avoids future suffering.
- Choose carefully the provisions that are consumed paying attention to quality, taste, textures, but also avoiding the excess of food that may cause discomfort later.
- Exercise the body only with activities that produce pleasure and with the aim of avoiding later discomfort.
Today we can say that hedonism is still practiced and that people like Epicurus left deep traces in history, because to this day people follow their ways to reach happiness. Today, a philosophical hedonism is proposed that goes through a modification of behavior. It seeks to achieve a real presence in the world, and joyfully enjoy existence: smell better, taste, listen better, avoid anger, be in health with the body and consider passions, who are friends and who are not.
Written by Gabriela Briceño V.