• Pfhorrest
    4.4k
    Ethical hedonism on Wikipedia.

    And in case it’s somehow necessary to clarify, “pleasure” and “feeling good” are used synonymously here, as are “pain” and “feeling bad”.
    1. Do you think that whether things feel good or bad to people is morally relevant at all? (32 votes)
        Yes, that's the only thing or moral relevance
        22%
        Yes, but other things are morally relevant too
        63%
        No, that's irrelevant to morality
        16%
    2. Is it everyone's pleasure or pain that's relevant, or only some people's / your own? (32 votes)
        Everyone's is relevant
        59%
        Only some people's / mine is relevant
        22%
        Nobody's is relevant (I said "no" above already)
        19%
  • Pfhorrest
    4.4k
    Gah I missed a typo, "thing or moral relevance" -> "thing of moral relevance". @jamalrob et al is there any way I can fix that?
  • Wayfarer
    11.8k
    can intellectual pleasure (derived from e.g. listening to music, mastering an intellectual discipline etc) be differentiated from sensory pleasure (and likewise for pain, e.g. pain arising from emotional conflict as distinct from physical pain. ) I raise this because I voted 'no' on the basis that hedonism is only concerned with physical pleasure and pain, not the metaphorical use of those terms to describe emotional states connected with intellectual or cognitive stimuli.
  • Pfhorrest
    4.4k
    listening to music, mastering an intellectual discipline etcWayfarer

    I would count the good or bad feelings one gets from those, and emotional states generally, as well within the domain of pleasure/pain/hedonic experience.
  • 180 Proof
    3.1k
    A3. B1. (or 1C. 2A)
  • Pfhorrest
    4.4k
    It’s completely irrelevant, but everybody’s is relevant? How does that work?
  • TheMadFool
    9.1k
    Where do I begin? It seems Hedonism, in the Epicurean sense, is all about pleasure and pain, no strings attached, call this pure hedonism. The summum bonum, according to pure hedonism, is the pursuit of pleasure and the avoidance of pain and what's noteworthy is pure hedonism had nothing to do with morality and I think that's why the issue of what gives us pleasure and what causes pain never came up.

    It was many centuries later that philosophers like Bentham, Mill, et al hit upon the idea of founding a theory of morality (utilitarianism) on hedonism and when that happened the need for caveats arose - a morality based on hedonic principles couldn't be based on the unqualified notion of pleasure (and pain) i.e. utilitarians now had to work out the details regarding "...what gives us pleasure and what causes pain..." The reason for this is obvious - the relationship between pleasure/pain and good/bad is, let's just say, complicated in the sense not all things that give us pleasure are good and not all things that cause pain are bad.
  • Wayfarer
    11.8k
    "Hedonism: the ethical theory that pleasure (in the sense of the satisfaction of desires) is the highest good and proper aim of human life. "

    But intellect, rational judgement, and aesthetics need to be differentiated from sensation. Otherwise 'ethical hedonism' is reductionist in that it reduces every faculty to sensation and judgement to personal preference. Although of course in a consumer society there's really no alternative.
  • 180 Proof
    3.1k
    The first question is about relevance of good & bad "feeling" to morality, which is wholly subjective; and the second question is about bodily states of "pleasure" or "pain" (i.e. functional or dysfunctional) in themselves rather than relevant to anything else – and though experienced subjectively, such bodily states are also objectively observable (e.g. limping, fatigue, PTSD, pain-relief, fear/terror-responses, etc) as dispositions-conduct (e.g. data informing "theory of mind" about one another).
  • TheMadFool
    9.1k
    "Hedonism: the ethical theory that pleasure (in the sense of the satisfaction of desires) is the highest good and proper aim of human life. "

    But intellect, rational judgement, and aesthetics need to be differentiated from sensation. Otherwise 'ethical hedonism' is reductionist in that it reduces every faculty to sensation and judgement to personal preference. Although of course in a consumer society there's really no alternative.
    Wayfarer

    Yes, these are few among many other elements that need to be incorporated into hedonism simpliciter for it to link up with ethics.
  • counterpunch
    1k
    In my view, hedonism cannot be an ethical principle because ethics reconcile individual behaviour to the social good. The social good would not served by the indiscriminate satisfaction of individual wants; indeed, the damage done to society by everyone doing whatever they want, would soon undermine individual happiness - so "consequentially" hedonism would be self defeating.
  • Wayfarer
    11.8k
    When I was at university, one of the books I loved to hate was B F Skinner 'Beyond Freedom and Dignity'. I always thought it called for a rejoinder named 'Beyond Reward and Punishment'.

    The social good would not served by the indiscriminate satisfaction of individual wants; indeed, the damage done to society by everyone doing whatever they want, would soon undermine individual happiness - so "consequentially" hedonism would be self defeating.counterpunch

    Isn't that pretty well what we see in the developed nations? Consumer capitalism, after all, thrives on the promotion of individual wants. What was that infamous saying by some counter-cultural figure, I forget who: 'do what you want will be the whole of the law'?
  • Pfhorrest
    4.4k
    the second question is about bodily states of "pleasure" or "pain" (i.e. functional or dysfunctional) in themselves rather than relevant to anything else180 Proof

    The second question asks “Is it everyone's pleasure or pain that's relevant, or only some people's / your own?”. It’s a followup to the first question: if pleasure (good feelings) and pain (bad feelings) are morally relevant, WHOSE are thus relevant?

    Poll questions can only be so long.
  • Pfhorrest
    4.4k
    the damage done to society by everyone doing whatever they want, would soon undermine individual happinesscounterpunch

    “Being happy” or otherwise not suffering is not synonymous with “doing whatever you want”. Hedonism is not necessarily extreme liberalism; consequentialist hedonism can be quite draconian in fact.
  • javi2541997
    595
    Nobody's is relevant (I said "no" above already)Pfhorrest

    “Nobody is relevant” sounds quite selfish. It remembers me when Bakunin wrote a letter to his parents asking why there are people who live alone. He criticised all of those people living alone and not caring about the rest as “selfish” and for him it is impossible reach happiness in this context.
  • counterpunch
    1k
    Alastair Crowley said: 'do what you want will be the whole of the law'?

    Capitalism is not indiscriminate pleasure seeking. Capitalism is primarily, the production, distribution - and "sale" of goods. Taking a consumer eye view of capitalism, and disregarding the fact the consumer is also a worker; producing chairs all day long, so he can buy a table - so to speak, is less than half the story.

    Capitalism begins with work that adds value to resources; which is to say, deferred satisfaction. Work is hard, and often unpleasant. The producer hopes to sell those goods - and so satisfy the wants of others, in order, ultimately, to satisfy his own wants - that's true, but he must first do what he doesn't want to do.

    I'm at a loss to say what we have in developing nations. Problems, certainly - but is indiscriminate pleasure seeking one of them? Maybe!

    Thing about Skinner is - he didn't believe in free will - or morality. He believed in positive and negative reinforcement, like we're all Pavlov's dogs, salivating to the sound of a bell. I can see why you'd hate that. I don't much like the idea myself.
  • TheMadFool
    9.1k
    When I was at university, one of the books I loved to hate was B F Skinner 'Beyond Freedom and Dignity'. I always thought it called for a rejoinder named 'Beyond Reward and Punishment'.Wayfarer

    I'm not sure if I catch your drift but if you're referrring to what can be summed up with the notions of heaven and hell - the carrot of happiness (heaven) and the stick of suffering (hell) vis-a-vis morality - it's proof that hedonism-based morality had an irresistable appeal that people naturally gravitated towards but most such moral theories, religions inclusive, are quite vague and never got down to the nitty-gritty.
  • counterpunch
    1k


    “Being happy” or otherwise not suffering is not synonymous with “doing whatever you want”. Hedonism is not necessarily extreme liberalism; consequentialist hedonism can be quite draconian in fact.Pfhorrest

    Consequentialist hedonism? If the individual is required to take into consideration what other people want; surely you've got something more akin to utilitarianism, than hedonism.
  • Wayfarer
    11.8k
    Alastair Crowley said: 'do what you want will be the whole of the law'counterpunch

    Oh that's right! I'd forgotten where I'd read it. I took it as a sardonic backhander to Augustine's 'Love, and do what you will.'

    I don't think capitalism necessarily encourages indiscriminate pleasure-seeking but in the absence of religious prohibitions, there's nothing that acts as a counter to it, aside from common sense, which does count for something. I'm inclined to say that overall the developed nations - UK, Europe, Australia, USA - are pretty hedonistic cultures overall. Not that it's necessarily wrong or deficient, but philosophically speaking, it does raise the question of the overall value of hedonism. And I don't think you can doubt that stoking wants and pleasures is at the centre of a lot of capitalist activity. The very word 'consumer' suggests it.

    hedonism-based morality had an irresistable appealTheMadFool

    it does have a pull, that's for sure.
  • TheMadFool
    9.1k
    it does have a pull, that's for sure.Wayfarer

    I wonder why? I've always been bothered by the fact that happiness and truth are not linked in a way we would've wanted. The truth usually makes us sad (the bitter truth) and lies seem to be very good at making us happy (sweet, little lies) and yet both seem to command equal respect from us. We seek happiness and truth with equal fervor but I believe one reaches a certain point on the journey to acquire happiness and discover truths where one of them has to go; we have to choose one to the exclusion of the other, both can't be had, and the fact that this is a dilemma, a tough choice to make, suggests something, right?
  • counterpunch
    1k
    By my definition, hedonism requires the pursuit of my wants, regardless of anyone, or anything else. By your definition, anyone who isn't wearing barbed wire underpants is a hedonist. The satisfaction of needs and wants is not hedonism. I think you must be using the term colloquially, where you say:

    UK, Europe, Australia, USA - are pretty hedonistic cultures overall.Wayfarer

    Colloquially, I'd agree, that western societies are wealthy enough to produce and sell pleasurable things, and are in that sense, hedonistic. But philosophically, I don't think that's what hedonism is - as an ethical system.

    To my mind, as I said above, I think hedonism implies the abandonment of social responsibility - in favour of the individual desire for pleasure. The hedonist claims the pursuit of individual pleasure is a sufficient and rightful condition for society. I don't think so. I think society would collapse and people would be much less happy.
  • counterpunch
    1k
    I wonder why? I've always been bothered by the fact that happiness and truth are not linked in a way we would've wanted. The truth usually makes us sad (the bitter truth) and lies seem to be very good at making us happy (sweet, little lies) and yet both seem to command equal respect from us. We seek happiness and truth with equal fervor but I believe one reaches a certain point on the journey to acquire happiness and discover truths where one of them has to go; we have to choose one to the exclusion of the other, both can't be had, and the fact that this is a dilemma, a tough choice to make, suggests something, right?TheMadFool

    Interesting. I disagree. I think if we accepted truth wholeheartedly, we'd be much happier!
  • I like sushi
    2.4k
    People are going to interpret and extrapolate the questions in different ways.

    For me it is the only thing that is relevant because feeling bad now may help you feel better tomorrow. It is important from every perspective as what makes me feel good (short/long term) may make several others feel terrible.

    The longest lasting good is ... well, ‘good’! The knowledge and knowhow of how to attain the best overall ‘good’ would obviously involve assessing truths and acting as seems best.

    Strangely enough the original use of ‘hedonism’ (Ancient Greece) was pretty much in line with what I’m saying. The term has since sprouted into other branches of ethical ideology.

    For anyone to say it is irrelevant to morality must have said so with good reason ... I cannot fathom what that is and will be simply down to their personal understanding of what ‘morality’ means. I can understand the view that the ‘pleasure’ is in the journey, but the ‘pleasure’ is still ‘pleasure’ rather than some cold-reasoned way of living morally that may actively pursue pain and suffering ... pain and suffering can be a good longterm goal in seeking out overall good feelings (I’d say suffering and pain are necessary for a healthy and happy life).

    As a rather simple analogy saying good ingredients makes a good cake is not true. What makes the cake good is how it tastes.
  • TheMadFool
    9.1k
    Interesting. I disagree. I think if we accepted truth wholeheartedly, we'd be much happier!counterpunch

    Truth is bitter. Why say that?
  • Wayfarer
    11.8k
    From the perspective of traditional cultures, both the desire for pleasure and the fear of pain are natural instincts that have to be moderated. In Greek philosophy, the appetites were to be subdued by reason which Christian philosophy inherited and modified. In Buddhism, there is an icon of the pig, rooster and chicken chasing each other, signifying want (pig), hatred (snake), stupidity (chicken). I read the other day the definition of asceticism as 'the skillful use of discomfort'.

    By my definition, hedonism requires the pursuit of my wants, regardless of anyone, or anything elsecounterpunch

    I don't think it has to be necessarily that egocentric. I can imagine a hedonistic lifestyle that nevertheless makes room for other's wants. What if you were in a care-giving profession, like nursing or veterinary science, but after hours you were into BDSM? Not hard to imagine.
  • Wayfarer
    11.8k
    Strangely enough the original use of ‘hedonism’ (Ancient Greece) was pretty much in line with what I’m saying.I like sushi

    I would have thought that the most obviously hedonist of the Greek schools was Epicurianism: 'The school rejected determinism and advocated hedonism (pleasure as the highest good), but of a restrained kind: mental pleasure was regarded more highly than physical, and the ultimate pleasure was held to be freedom from anxiety and mental pain, especially that arising from needless fear of death and of the gods.'

    That state of freedom from anxiety was ataraxia, I believe.
  • TheMadFool
    9.1k
    From the perspective of traditional cultures, both the desire for pleasure and the fear of pain are natural instincts that have to be moderated. In Greek philosophy, the appetites were to be subdued by reason which Christian philosophy inherited and modified. In Buddhism, there is an icon of the pig, rooster and chicken chasing each other, signifying want (pig), hatred (snake), stupidity (chicken). I read the other day the definition of asceticism as 'the skillful use of discomfortWayfarer

    I fully agree that moderation is/should be a permanent fixture in all human affairs - the golden mean and madhyama pratipada make complete sense - but what I'm particularly interested in is hedonism's need for a, to use a computer metaphor, patch to make it morality-apt. Hedonism by itself doesn't cut it so to speak. There are other morally relevant elements as the right/wrong kind of pleasurable activities, the right/wrong kind of pain that are part of the picture of hedonic morality.
  • I like sushi
    2.4k
    @Wayfarer That is a later version of the ‘hedonistic’ view. The original use was more or less something like attaining the largest amount of pleasure in life (meaning NOT being a slave to passions and desires). It doesn’t discount ‘wisdom’ and general experience nor does it necessarily talk about avoiding all pain and harm for obvious reasons (the ‘obvious reasons’ being physical fitness can lead to greater pleasures, but acquiring greater physical fitness necessarily requires one to ‘suffer’ the hardships of building and maintaining a healthy physical condition).
  • I like sushi
    2.4k
    I think it was a guy named Cyrine? That name springs to mind for some reason.
  • Pfhorrest
    4.4k
    something more akin to utilitarianism, than hedonismcounterpunch

    Utilitarianism is a kind of hedonism. It's a consequentialist altruistic hedonism. (This poll's two questions are about hedonism yes or no, and if yes, altruism yes or no; I'm not asking about consequentialism yes or not at this point).
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