Is named hedonism to the behavior, philosophy or attitude that has pleasure as its main purpose. For instance: avoid books, movies or news that produce suffering.
The hedonistic philosophy
Hedonism as a philosophy comes from Greek antiquity and was developed by two groups:
School founded by Aristippus of Cyrene. They postulate that personal wants must be satisfied immediately, regardless of the wants or needs of other people. The phrase that is usually used to represent this school is “first my teeth, then my relatives”.
School started by Epicurus of Samos, in the 6th century BC. The philosopher proposed that happiness consists of living continuously in a state of pleasure.
Although some forms of pleasure are elicited through senses (visual beauty, physical comfort, pleasant flavors) there are also forms of pleasure that come from reason, but also simply from the absence of pain.
He mainly postulated that no pleasure is bad in itself. But, unlike the Cyrenaics, he pointed out that there can be risk or error in the means of seeking pleasure.
Following the teachings of Epicurus, we can distinguish different types of pleasure:
- Natural and necessary desires. They are the basic physical needs, for example to eat, shelter, feel safe, quench thirst. The ideal is to satisfy them in the most economical way possible.
- Natural and unnecessary desires. Sexual gratification, pleasant conversation, enjoyment of the arts. You can seek to satisfy these desires but also try to achieve the pleasure of others. To achieve these goals, it is important not to risk health, friendship, or finances. This recommendation has no moral basis, but is based on avoiding future suffering.
- Unnatural and unnecessary desires. Fame, power, prestige, success. It is preferable to avoid them since the pleasure they produce is not lasting.
Although Epicurean thinking was abandoned in the Middle Ages (since it went against the precepts postulated by the Christian Church), in the 18th and 19th centuries it was taken up by the British philosophers Jeremy Bentham, James Mill and John Stuart Mill, but they transformed it into another doctrine called utilitarianism.
These days someone is often considered to be a hedonist when seeking their own pleasure.
In the consumer society hedonism is confused with consumerism. However, from the point of view of Epicurus, and as any consumer can see, the pleasure obtained from economic wealth is not lasting. In fact, this is what consumerism is based on, the need to continually renew the fleeting pleasure of obtaining merchandise.
However, hedonism does not necessarily seek pleasure through consumption.
In all cases, a person is considered hedonistic who in his Daily actions prioritizes your own pleasure when making decisions.
Examples of hedonism
- Investing money in an expensive trip that will cause pleasure is a form of hedonism, as long as that expense does not affect the economy itself in the future. Remember that hedonism always prevents future suffering.
- Choose carefully the foods that are consumed paying attention to quality, flavor, textures but also avoiding excess food that can cause later discomfort.
- Exercising the body only with activities that produce pleasure and with the aim of avoiding later discomfort.
- Meet only with people whose presence and conversation are pleasant.
- Avoid books, movies, or news that cause suffering.
- However, hedonism is not synonymous with ignorance. To do certain things that are satisfying, learning is sometimes necessary. For example, to enjoy a book you first need to learn to read. If someone enjoys being at sea, they can spend time and energy learning to sail. If you enjoy cooking, you need to learn new techniques and recipes.
- Avoiding unpleasant activities is a form of hedonism that may require more planning. For example, if someone does not like cleaning their house, they choose a job that is rewarding and enjoyable, and at the same time offers them enough financial resources to hire someone else to clean their house. In other words, hedonism is not “living in the moment” but organizing one’s life seeking the absence of suffering and enjoyment for as long as possible.