Quotations, Sayings, Key Ideas,
Principles, Quips, Thoughts, Information
Hedonism, Epicureanism, Cyrenaics, Skepticism,
Pleasures, Happiness, Enlightened Self Interest, Mutual Enjoyment
Sensuality, Peace, Privacy, Liberty, Self-Preservation, Delight
Touching Seeing Hearing Smelling Tasting Senses Hands Somaesthetics
A Hypertext Notebook by Mike Garofalo Containing a Reading Guide, Notes,
Quotations, Bibliography, Resources,
Contextual Information, Quotations, Philosophy, Rambling, Reconnoitering, Research, and Miscellanies.
Quotations, Sayings, Key Ideas,
Principles, Quips, Thoughts, Information
"Stranger, here you do well to tarry; here our
highest good is pleasure."
- On a sign at the entrance to the Garden of Epicurus in Athens.
It is important to understand that very few of the hundreds of essays and other writings by Epicurus survived from ancient times. They were lost due to document degradation, earthquakes, fires, destruction and looting by invading hostile armies, and the intentional destruction by priests and monks of "pagan" works after the time of the Roman Emperor Constantine. Epicurean, hedonistic, and atheistic works are anathema and banned to this day by Christian and Moslem clerics. In ancient Greece, the famous philosopher Socrates was executed on the charge of corrupting the youth with impious ideas, and many other philosophers had to flee for their lives because of similar alleged non-conformity with local religious customs. Epicurus did not deny that gods existed, he just held the view that gods were not in any way interested in human affairs. Platonic, Aristotelian, Stoic other ancient philosophical schools, like preachers and priests today, falsely and incorrectly claimed that all male and female Epicureans were immoral, unethical, mere pleasure seekers, and bad.
"Let thy desire flourish,
In order to let thy heart forget the beatifications for thee.
Follow thy desire, as long as thou shalt live.
Put myrrh upon thy head and clothing of fine linen upon thee,
Being anointed with genuine marvels of the gods' property.
Set an increase to thy good things;
Let not thy heart flag.
Follow thy desire and thy good.
Fulfill thy needs upon earth, after the command of thy heart,
Until there come for thee that day of mourning."
- Egyptian Paraoh Intef, 11th Dynasty, circa 2150 BCE
"Seven classic objections to hedonism are presented and
explained. Each is carefully formulated as an objection to the Default Hedonism
introduced in Ch. 2. The objections are based on (a) the idea that some
pleasures are base, disgusting, and worthless; (b) the concept of ‘false
pleasures’; (c) the alleged worthlessness of pleasure without knowledge; (d)
difficulties in the measurement of pleasure and pain; (e) the idea that we can
imagine a good life in which there is no pleasure; (f) the idea that the value
of some worlds might be directly affected by such things as beauty or ugliness
even when these factors have no bearing on the amounts of pleasure and pain in
those worlds; and (g) the idea that the value of a world might be affected by
the justice or injustice of the distribution of pleasure and pain in that world
even though the total amounts of pleasure and pain are not affected."
- From Pleasure and the Good Life: Concerning the Nature, Varieties, and Plausibility of Hedonism.
"The chief part of a person's happiness consists of pleasure."
- Thomas More, Utopia, 1516
"We were born for cooperation. Like feet, like hands, like
eyelids, like the rows of upper and lower teeth. So to work in opposition to
one another is against nature; and anger or rejection is opposition."
- Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, Book 1, Ch. 1.
"We recognize pleasure as the first good innate in us, and from pleasure we
begin every act of choice and avoidance, and to pleasure we return again, using
the feeling as the standard by which we judge every good."
- Epicurus, Letter to Menoeceus
"Philosophical hedonists tend to focus on hedonistic theories of value, and
especially of well-being (the good life for the one living it). As a theory of
value, hedonism states that all and only pleasure is intrinsically valuable and
all and only pain is intrinsically not valuable. Hedonists usually define
pleasure and pain broadly, such that both physical and mental phenomena are
included. Thus, a gentle massage and recalling a fond memory are both considered
to cause pleasure and stubbing a toe and hearing about the death of a loved one
are both considered to cause pain. With pleasure and pain so defined, hedonism
as a theory about what is valuable for us is intuitively appealing. Indeed, its
appeal is evidenced by the fact that nearly all historical and contemporary
treatments of well-being allocate at least some space for discussion of
- Hedonism: Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy
preservation, loss, failure, success, poverty, riches, worthiness, unworthiness,
slander, fame, hunger, thirst, cold, heat─ these are the alterations of the
world, the workings of fate. Day and night they change place before us and
wisdom cannot spy out their source. Therefore, they should not be enough
to destroy your harmony; they should not be allowed to enter the storehouse of
the spirit. If you can harmonize and delight in them, master them and
never be a a loss for joy, if you can do this day and night without break and
make it be spring with everything, mingling with all and creating the moment
within your own mind─ this is what I call being whole in power."
- Zhuangzi, Burton Watson translation, p. 69.; Zhuangzi Section 5, circa 300 BCE.
"Nature has placed mankind under the governance of two
sovereign masters, pain and pleasure. It is for them alone to point out what we
ought to do, as well as to determine what we shall do. On the one hand the
standard of right and wrong, on the other the chain of causes and effects, are
fastened to their throne. They govern us in all we do, in all we say, in all we
- Jeremy Bentham, The Principals of Morals and Legislation
"Hedonism is a school of thought that argues that pleasure is
the primary or most important intrinsic
good. In very simple terms, a hedonist strives to maximize net pleasure
(pleasure minus pain).
Ethical hedonism is the idea that all people have the right to do everything in
their power to achieve the greatest amount of pleasure possible to them,
assuming that their actions do not infringe on the equal rights of others. It is
also the idea that every person's pleasure should far surpass their amount of
pain. Ethical hedonism is said to have been started by Aristippus of
Cyrene, a student of Socrates.
He held the idea that pleasure is the highest good.
The name derives from the Greek word
for "delight" (ἡδονισμός hēdonismos from ἡδονή hēdonē "pleasure",
cognate with English sweet + suffix -ισμός -ismos "ism").
- Hedonism - Wikipedia
"It would be a condition of no pleasure and no pain
classifiable as kinetic, but it would by no means be a condition of no pleasure
and no pain at all. It would in fact be a condition of pleasure arising from the
simple, undisturbed, undistracted, awareness of oneself, and of one's openness
to the world through specific sensory inputs, but without being currently
engaged with any. It would be an active awareness of one's constitution as a
particular sort of animal—a constitution for such sensory engagement. And, one
would not be experiencing this pleasant awareness unless one's condition were
one of normal healthiness and ongoing natural functioning: if one's condition
were not such, one would be experiencing some disturbing movements in one's
consciousness—unhealthy or disturbed and distorted functioning is just what does
cause kinetic pain. Accordingly, to pleasure arising in this second set of
circumstances for the arousal of pleasure, Epicurusgave
the name "katastematic," drawing upon a Greek term for a condition or state, or
for the constitution, of a thing. It is called "katastematic" not so to indicate
a special kind of pleasure, any more than kinetic pleasures are a kind of
pleasure, but rather so as to draw attention to the special circumstances of
pleasure's arousal, on which it is conditioned, in the case of this pleasure. We
would describe this pleasure as pleasure in the awareness of the healthy
functioning of one's own natural constitution, physical and psychic."
- John M. Cooper, Pursuits of Wisdom, 2012, p. 234
"I. Nature has placed mankind under the governance of two sovereign masters, pain and pleasure. It is for them alone to point out what we ought to do, as well as to determine what we shall do. On the one hand the standard of right and wrong, on the other the chain of causes and effects, are fastened to their throne. They govern us in all we do, in all we say, in all we think: every effort we can make to throw off our subjection, will serve but to demonstrate and confirm it. In words a man may pretend to abjure their empire: but in reality he will remain. subject to it all the while. The principle of utility recognizes this subjection, and assumes it for the foundation of that system, the object of which is to rear the fabric of felicity by the hands of reason and of law. Systems which attempt to question it, deal in sounds instead of sense, in caprice instead of reason, in darkness instead of light.
But enough of metaphor and declamation: it is not by such means that moral science is to be improved.
II. The principle of utility is the foundation of the present work: it will be proper therefore at the outset to give an explicit and determinate account of what is meant by it. By the principle of utility is meant that principle which approves or disapproves of every action whatsoever. according to the tendency it appears to have to augment or diminish the happiness of the party whose interest is in question: or, what is the same thing in other words to promote or to oppose that happiness. I say of every action whatsoever, and therefore not only of every action of a private individual, but of every measure of government.
III. By utility is meant that property in any object, whereby it tends to produce benefit, advantage, pleasure, good, or happiness, (all this in the present case comes to the same thing) or (what comes again to the same thing) to prevent the happening of mischief, pain, evil, or unhappiness to the party whose interest is considered: if that party be the community in general, then the happiness of the community: if a particular individual, then the happiness of that individual.
IV. The interest of the community is one of the most general expressions that can occur in the phraseology of morals: no wonder that the meaning of it is often lost. When it has a meaning, it is this. The community is a fictitious body, composed of the individual persons who are considered as constituting as it were its members. The interest of the community then is, what is it?—the sum of the interests of the several members who compose it.
V. It is in vain to talk of the interest of the community, without understanding what is the interest of the individual. A thing is said to promote the interest, or to be for the interest, of an individual, when it tends to add to the sum total of his pleasures: or, what comes to the same thing, to diminish the sum total of his pains.
VI. An action then may be said to be conformable to then principle of utility, or, for shortness sake, to utility, (meaning with respect to the community at large) when the tendency it has to augment the happiness of the community is greater than any it has to diminish it.
VII. A measure of government (which is but a particular kind of action, performed by a particular person or persons) may be said to be conformable to or dictated by the principle of utility, when in like manner the tendency which it has to augment the happiness of the community is greater than any which it has to diminish it.
VIII. When an action, or in particular a measure of government, is supposed by a
man to be conformable to the principle of utility, it may be convenient, for the
purposes of discourse, to imagine a kind of law or dictate, called a law or
dictate of utility: and to speak of the action in question, as being conformable
to such law or dictate."
- Jeremy Bentham, Principles of Morals and Legislation, Chapter 1, 1823
"Greek culture was so lively and such fun. It had theatres and
athletics, some fascinating books, and a refined style of dining, the
symposium. By comparison it must have been rather dull to be a Jew in the
evenings before the Greeks came. In their trading and art, their warfare and
intellectuality, their literature and their culture, the Greeks towered over
their Asian subjects. In reaction, only Jews wrote anything literary, but it
was minor stuff, largely taking refuge in divine revelation and sacred 'wisdom.'
- Robin Lane Fox, "Hellenistic Culture and Literature," essay found in The Oxford History of Greece and the Hellenistic World, p. 398
Pleasure, Enjoyment, Delight, Sensuality: Quotations, Sayings, Poems, Information
"The consummation of desire is thus a necessarily disillusioning experience for the modern hedonist as it constitutes the ‘testing’ of his day-dream against reality, the resultant recognition that something is missing. The real experience in question may yield considerable pleasure, some of which may not have been anticipated, but despite this, much of the quality of the dream-pleasure is bound to be absent. In fact, the more skilled the individual is as a ‘dream-artist’, then the greater this element of disillusionment is likely to be. A certain dissatisfaction with reality is thus bound to mark the outlook of the dedicated hedonist, something which may, under appropriate circumstances, prompt a turning to fantasy. It is more likely, however, that the dream will be carried forward and attached to some new object of desire such that the illusory pleasures may, once more, be re-experienced. In this way, the modern hedonist is continually withdrawing from reality as fast as he encounters it, ever-casting day-dreams forward in time, attaching them to objects of desire, and then subsequently ‘unhooking’ from these objects as and when they are attained and experienced.
It can easily be appreciated how this alters the very nature of desiring from that which characterizes traditional hedonism. There it is usual to desire that which one knows, and has had experience of in the past, or alternatively, perhaps, to be curious (if apprehensive) about something new which one is introduced to in the present. But in modern hedonism the tendency to employ imagination to perfect pleasures and project these on to future experience means that one will probably desire that which one has had no experience of at all. This may, however, be more than a matter of casting an illusory spell over a real object and then identifying it with something in our dreams, as we may believe int he reality of our dreams before actually ‘discovering’ anything in reality which corresponds to them. To that extent, our behaviour may correspond to an imaginatively initiated, diffuse search for an ‘unknown’ object to desire. This characteristic feature of modern hedonism is best labelled ‘longing’, something which differs from desiring insofar as it occurs without the presence of any real object.
In other words, although one must always desire something, one can long for… one
knows not what."
- Colin Campbell, The Romantic Ethic and the Spirit of Modern Consumerism
Yang Zhu taught, “If everyone does not harm a single
hair, and if everyone does not benefit the world, the world will be well
governed of itself.” Or, "weiwo 為我, each for himself, self-preservation."
In other words, everyone should mind their own business, neither giving nor
taking from others, and be content with what he has, and in that way one will be
happy and also contribute to the welfare of the world.
- Yang Zhu (440-360 BCE)
"Men go to far greater lengths to avoid what they fear
than to obtain what they desire."
- Dan Brown, The Da Vinci Code
"We should take care to lay in a stock of provisions,
but not of pleasures: these should be gathered day by day."
"Much more genius is needed to make love than to command armies."
- Anne Ninon de l'Enclos
"I am profoundly opposed to the philosophy of hedonism. Hedonism
is the doctrine which holds that the good is whatever gives you pleasure and,
therefore, pleasure is the standard of morality. Objectivism holds that the good
must be defined by a rational standard of value, that pleasure is not a first
cause, but only a consequence, that only the pleasure which proceeds from a
rational value judgment can be regarded as moral, that pleasure, as such, is not
a guide to action nor a standard of morality. To say that pleasure should be the
standard of morality simply means that whichever values you happen to have
chosen, consciously or subconsciously, rationally or irrationally, are right and
moral. This means that you are to be guided by chance feelings, emotions and
whims, not by your mind. My philosophy is the opposite of hedonism. I hold that
one cannot achieve happiness by random, arbitrary or subjective means. One can
achieve happiness only on the basis of rational values. By rational values, I do
not mean anything that a man may arbitrarily or blindly declare to be rational.
It is the province of morality, of the science of ethics, to define for men what
is a rational standard and what are the rational values to pursue."
- Ayn Rand, Playboy Interview, 1964
"Life is full of suffering, and so its chief purpose is
pleasure. There is no god, and no afterlife; men are the helpless puppets of the
blind natural forces that made them, and that gave them their unchosen ancestry
and their inalienable character. The wise man will accept this fate without
complaint, but will not be fooled by all the nonsense of Confucius and Mo Ti
about inherent virtue, universal love, and a good name: morality is a deception
practiced upon the simple by the clever; universal love is the delusion of
children who do not know the universal enmity that forms the law of life; and a
good name is a posthumous bauble which the fools who paid so dearly for it
- Yang Zhu - Ancient History Encyclopedia
Ten Basic Epicurean Values
- Epicurus, 341-270 BCE
"The philosophy of Epicurus (341–270 B.C.E.) was a complete and
interdependent system, involving a view of the goal of human life (happiness,
resulting from absence of physical pain and mental disturbance), an empiricist
theory of knowledge (sensations, together with the perception of pleasure and
pain, are infallible criteria), a description of nature based on atomistic
materialism, and a naturalistic account of evolution, from the formation of the
world to the emergence of human societies. Epicurus believed that, on the basis
of a radical materialism which dispensed with transcendent entities such as the
Platonic Ideas or Forms, he could disprove the possibility of the soul's
survival after death, and hence the prospect of punishment in the afterlife. He
regarded the unacknowledged fear of death and punishment as the primary cause of
anxiety among human beings, and anxiety in turn as the source of extreme and
irrational desires. The elimination of the fears and corresponding desires would
leave people free to pursue the pleasures, both physical and mental, to which
they are naturally drawn, and to enjoy the peace of mind that is consequent upon
their regularly expected and achieved satisfaction. It remained to explain how
irrational fears arose in the first place: hence the importance of an account of
social evolution. Epicurus was aware that deeply ingrained habits of thought are
not easily corrected, and thus he proposed various exercises to assist the
novice. His system included advice on the proper attitude toward politics (avoid
it where possible) and the gods (do not imagine that they concern themselves
about human beings and their behavior), the role of sex (dubious), marriage
(also dubious) and friendship (essential), reflections on the nature of various
meteorological and planetary phenomena, about which it was best to keep an open
mind in the absence of decisive verification, and explanations of such processes
as gravity and magnetism, which posed considerable challenges to the ingenuity
of the earlier atomists. Although the overall structure of Epicureanism was
designed to hang together and to serve its principal ethical goals, there was
room for a great deal of intriguing philosophical argument concerning every
aspect of the system, from the speed of atoms in a void to the origin of optical
- Epicurus - The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
"Cynicism is one of the most striking of all the Hellenistic philosophies. It offered people the possibility of happiness and freedom from suffering in an age of uncertainty. Although there was never an official cynic doctrine, the fundamental principles of cynicism can be summarised as follows:
Thus a cynic has no property and rejects all conventional values of money,
fame, power and reputation. A life lived according to nature requires only the
bare necessities required for existence, and one can become free by unshackling
oneself from any needs which are the result of convention."
- Cynicism, Wikipedia
Tranquility, Equanimity, Peace of Mind
Walter Pater's 1873 Studies in the History of the Renaissance is widely
regarded as the manifesto of aestheticism. In a period when the Middle Ages were
celebrated, Pater instead advocated Renaissance culture. He praised the
renaissance artists’ individualism and also their acknowledgement of hidden and
mysterious motives and desires. But his most provocative and influential
statements came in the book’s famous ‘Conclusion’. Flying in the face of
Victorian notions of both objective reality and eternal truths, Pater described
a world of fleeting impressions. All the individual has is the subjective
experience provided by intense sensory engagement with lovely things. Pater
advises that the wisest people will seek to concentrate all their energies and
efforts on the pleasure of these moments. For some, this seemed a recipe for
self-indulgence through the hedonistic pursuit of pleasure. For others, though,
it was a breathtakingly radical call to cast off the heavy weight of Victorian
moralism and Christian doctrine in the name of art."
- Walter Pater
"I possess. I am not possessed."
- Aristippus of Cyrene
"De gustibus non est disputandum, or de gustibus non disputandum est, is a Latin
maxim meaning "In matters of taste, there can be no disputes" (literally "about
tastes, it should not be disputed/discussed"). The implication is that
everyone's personal preferences are merely subjective opinions that cannot be
right or wrong, so they should never be argued about as if they were. Sometimes
the phrase is expanded as De gustibus et coloribus... referring to tastes and
colors. The phrase is most commonly rendered in English as "There is no
accounting for taste" (or "There is no accounting for tastes")."
"While Socrates pursued truth and sought understanding, Aristippus simplified
the teaching of his master by claiming the highest truth one could attain was
the recognition that pleasure was the purpose of human existence and the pursuit
of pleasure was the meaning of life. In this, and in his scorn for those
who complicated matters by thinking too precisely on them, he would be a kindred
spirit of the Chinese hedonist philosopher
Yang Zhu (440-360 BCE) who claimed
that concerns about "right" and "wrong" were a waste of time because there is no
god, no afterlife, and no reward for suffering needlessly by denying oneself
when one could as easily, and more sensibly, enjoy life in the present."
- Joshua J. Mark, Aristippus of Cyrene
"Philosophers commonly distinguish between psychological
hedonism and ethical hedonism. Psychological hedonism is the view that
humans are psychologically constructed in such a way that we exclusively desire pleasure.
Ethical hedonism is the view that our fundamental moral obligation is to
maximize pleasure or happiness.
Ethical hedonism is most associated with the ancient Greek philosopher Epicurus (342-270
BCE.) who taught that our life's goal should be to minimize pain and maximize
pleasure. In fact, all of our actions should have that aim."
- Utilitarian Resources
"For Epicurus, the only criterion for deciding on one's way of life is what will
work out best form the point of view on one's own pursuit of a continuous
experience of katastematic pleasure, varied suitably so as to conform to one's
own, perhaps somewhat idiosyncratic, preferences among sources of kinetic
- John M. Cooper, Pursuits of Wisdom, 2012, p. 263
"Don't do to others what you don't want them to do to
- Confucius, Analects 15:23
Golden Rules Chronology
"Little is needed to make a wise man happy, but nothing
can content a fool. This is why nearly all men are miserable."
- La Rochefoucauld
"Desire is a subject upon which ... true views can only
be arrived at by an almost complete reversal of the ordinary unreflecting
- Bertrand Russell
"Many of our most profound, life-affecting desires are
not rational, in the sense that we don't use rational thought processes to form
them. Indeed, we don't form them; they form themselves within us.
They simply pop into our heads, uninvited and unannounced. While they
reside there, they take control of our lives. A single rogue desire can
trample the plans we had for our lives and thereby alter our destinies."
- William B. Irvine, On Desire, p. 12
"Men go to far greater lengths to avoid what they fear
than to obtain what they desire."
- Dan Brown, The Da Vinci Code
Intensity: How powerful is the pleasure?
Duration: How long lasting is the pleasure?
Certainty: How guaranteed is the pleasure?
Proximity: How close is the pleasure?
Fecundity: Will this pleasurable activity generate additional pleasures?
Purity: How pain-free is this particular pleasure?
Extent: How many other persons will experience this pleasure?
Jeremy Bentham, 1748-1832
We might add: Financial: What is the cost of the objects that provide the pleasure? Environmental: What are the
consequences to our environment if we indulge in this pleasure?
"When we say, then, that pleasure is the end and aim, we
do not mean the pleasures of the prodigal or the pleasures of sensuality, as we
are understood to do by some through ignorance, prejudice, or willful
misrepresentation. By pleasure we mean the absence of pain in the body and of
trouble in the soul. It is not an unbroken succession of drinking-bouts and of
revelry, not sexual lust, not the enjoyment of the fish and other delicacies of
a luxurious table, which produce a pleasant life; it is sober reasoning,
searching out the grounds of every choice and avoidance, and banishing those
beliefs through which the greatest tumults take possession of the soul."
"Enjoy and have others enjoy, without doing harm to
yourself or anyone else; that is all there is to morality."
- Nicolas Chamfort
"The creed which accepts as the foundation of morals,
Utility, or the Greatest-Happiness Principle, holds that actions are right in
proportion as they tend to promote happiness, wrong as they tend to produce the
reverse of happiness. By happiness is intended pleasure, and the absence
of pain; by unhappiness, pain, and the privation of pleasure."
- Jeremy Bentham, found in John Stuart Mill, Utilitarianism.
Non fui, fui, non sum, non curo
I was not, I was, I am not, I do not care
- Epicurus, a tombstone epitaph, 4 Feb 341 - 270 BCE
Ten Golden Rules for Living the Good Life
“1. Examine life, engage life with vengeance; always search for new pleasures and new destines to reach with your mind.
2. Worry only about the things that are in your control, the things that can be influenced and changed by your actions, not about the things that are beyond your capacity to direct or alter.
3. Treasure Friendship, the reciprocal attachment that fills the need for affiliation. Friendship cannot be acquired in the market place, but must be nurtured and treasured in relations imbued with trust and amity.
4. Experience True Pleasure. Avoid shallow and transient pleasures. Keep your life simple. Seek calming pleasures that contribute to peace of mind. True pleasure is disciplined and restrained.
5. Master Yourself. Resist any external force that might delimit thought and action; stop deceiving yourself, believing only what is personally useful and convenient; complete liberty necessitates a struggle within, a battle to subdue negative psychological and spiritual forces that preclude a healthy existence; self mastery requires ruthless cador.
6. Avoid Excess. Live life in harmony and balance. Avoid excesses. Even good things, pursued or attained without moderation, can become a source of misery and suffering.
7. Be a Responsible Human Being. Approach yourself with honesty and thoroughness; maintain a kind of spiritual hygiene; stop the blame-shifting for your errors and shortcomings.
8. Don’t Be a Prosperous Fool. Prosperity by itself, is not a cure-all against an ill-led life, and may be a source of dangerous foolishness. Money is a necessary but not a sufficient condition for the good life, for happiness and wisdom.
9. Don’t Do Evil to Others. Evildoing is a dangerous habit, a kind of reflex too quickly resorted to and too easily justified that has a lasting and damaging effect upon the quest for the good life. Harming others claims two victims—the receiver of the harm, and the victimizer, the one who does harm.
10. Kindness towards others tends to be rewarded. Kindness to others is a good habit that supports and reinforces the quest for the good life. Helping others bestows a sense of satisfaction that has two beneficiaries—the beneficiary, the receiver of the help, and the benefactor, the one who provides the help.”
- By M. A. Soupious and Panos Mourdoukoutas, The Ten Golden Rules: Ancient Wisdom from the Greek Philosophers on Living the Good Life, 2009.
"Whoso would be a man must be a nonconformist."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
"One must know how to conserve onself: the
hardest test of independence."
- Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil, Section 41
"Hedonism is a modern word derived from the Greek hedone, or "pleasure." As a philosophical position, moral hedonism justifies pleasure as a good, or even the good. Its history can be traced back tophilosophy.
Ancient ethics can be defined as a response to the question: "What is a good life?" The first reply to such a question is "happiness" (eudaimonia). This starting point is common to Plato and, to Epicureanism and Stoicism, but then the competition about the proper definition of "happiness" begins. What is happiness? And here, with the variety of meanings of eudaimonia, the discrepancy among philosophical traditions unfolds. Yet, at the point where the disagreement begins, we find a remarkable consensus about what usually comes to mind as the most obvious candidate. It is pleasure.
Now, for Plato, Aristotle, and the Stoics, hedone is both the first and the worst candidate. Only the Epicureans, after the Cyrenaics, accept it fully as the condition of a good life. The claim that pleasure is a value, even the criterion for moral worth, lies at the core of hedonism and its tradition.
Of all thewho reject the value of pleasure, the most radical is Plato. He endorses the archaic vision of delight as oblivion, carelessness, and selfishness; worse still, except in the enjoyment of knowledge, pleasure cannot truly be, because desire is insatiable.
Whereas, for Plato, pleasure is unlimited, irrational, incompatible with virtue,
especially justice, for
- Hedonism in European Thought
"Our sphere of action is life's happiness,
And he that thinks beyond, thinks like an ass.
Thus, whilst against false reasoning I inveigh,
I own right reason, which I would obey:
That reason which distinguishes by sense
And gives us rules of good and ill from thence,
That bounds desires, with a reforming will
To keep 'em more in vigour, not to kill.
Your reason hinders, mine helps to enjoy,
Renewing appetites yours would destroy.
My reason is my friend, yours is a cheat;
Hunger calls out, my reason bids me eat;
Perversely, yours your appetite does mock:
This asks for food, that answers, “What's o'clock?”
This plain distinction, sir, your doubt secures:
'Tis not true reason I despise, but yours."
- John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester, A Satyr Against Reason and Mankind, 1674
Pleasure, Enjoyment, Sensuality: Quotations, Sayings, Poems, Information
"Art is individualism, and individualism is a disturbing
and disintegrating force. There lies its immense value. For what it seeks is to
disturb monotony of type, slavery of custom, tyranny of habit, and the reduction
of man to the level of a machine."
- Oscar Wilde
"It is not the young man who should be considered
fortunate but the old man who as lived well, because the young man in his prime
wanders much by chance, vacillating in his beliefs, while the old man has docked
in the harbour, have safeguarded his true happiness."
“Let no one be slow to seek wisdom when he is young nor
weary in the search of it when he has grown old. For no age is too early or too
late for the health of the soul. And to say that the season for studying
philosophy has not yet come, or that it is past and gone, is like saying that
the season for happiness is not yet or that it is now no more. Therefore, both
old and young alike ought to seek wisdom, the former in order that, as age comes
over him, he may be young in good things because of the grace of what has been,
and the latter in order that, while he is young, he may at the same time be old,
because he has no fear of the things which are to come. So we must exercise
ourselves in the things which bring happiness, since, if that be present, we
have everything, and, if that be absent, all our actions are directed towards
- Epicurus, Letter to Menoeceus
"Seven classic objections to hedonism are presented and explained by Fred Feldman in his book Pleasure and the Good Life. Each is carefully formulated as an objection to the Default Hedonism introduced in Ch. 2. The objections are based on (a) the idea that some pleasures are base, disgusting, and worthless; (b) the concept of ‘false pleasures’; (c) the alleged worthlessness of pleasure without knowledge; (d) difficulties in the measurement of pleasure and pain; (e) the idea that we can imagine a good life in which there is no pleasure; (f) the idea that the value of some worlds might be directly affected by such things as beauty or ugliness even when these factors have no bearing on the amounts of pleasure and pain in those worlds; and (g) the idea that the value of a world might be affected by the justice or injustice of the distribution of pleasure and pain in that world even though the total amounts of pleasure and pain are not affected."
"Individualism is the moral stance, political philosophy, ideology, or social outlook that emphasizes the moral worth of the individual. Individualists promote the exercise of one's goals and desires and so value independence and self-reliance and advocate that interests of the individual should achieve precedence over the state or a social group, while opposing external interference upon one's own interests by society or institutions such as the government.Individualism is often defined in contrast to totalitarianism or collectivism.
Individualism makes the individual its focus and so starts "with the fundamental premise that the human individual is of primary importance in the struggle for liberation." Classical Liberalism, existentialism, and anarchism are examples of movements that take the human individual as a central unit of analysis.Individualism thus involves "the right of the individual to freedom and self-realization".
It has also been used as a term denoting "The quality of
being an individual; individuality" related
to possessing "An individual characteristic; a quirk."Individualism
is thus also associated with artistic and bohemian
interests and lifestyles where there is a tendency towards self-creation and
experimentation as opposed to tradition or popular mass opinions and behaviors as
so also with humanist philosophical
positions and ethics."
- Individualism, Wikipedia Encyclopedia
Over 866 quips, sayings, observations, humor, jokes, aphorisms, and remarks by Mike Garofalo.
Fate deals runs of good cards, runs of bad cards, runs of good and bad cards; but Fate only works part-time as a card dealer, for fun.
The most complex minds in ordinary bodies enjoy simple pleasures.
Disorderliness produces anxiety and discomfort, and occasionally fear.
By decreasing your desires you actually diversify and and increase your pleasures and satisfaction.
Serenity is often discovered in silence.
Tending a garden is often a tranquil place of mind.
Private masturbation is intense and efficient, lechery with others wastes a lot of time and money and exposes you to diseases.
Most pleasures grow stale, become taken for granted, and provide lowering levels of satisfaction with the unneeded and excessive repetition of those pleasures.
The experience of being touched needs elaboration in terms of time, place, participants, wanted intimate behavior, intentions, etc.
The meaning of life is to give it some meaning.
Advice Beauty Bibliography Blog Body-Mind Broad Minded Cheerfulness
Contemplation Desires Dharmapada Sutra Education Epicureanism Equanimity
Feeling Fitness Five Senses Friendship Gardening Generosity Good Life
Happiness Hedonism Hospitality Independence Kindness Learning Links
Meditation Memory Mindfulness Moderation Neo-Paganism Open Minded Paramitas
Patience Philosophy Play Pleasures Qigong Reading Self-Reliance
Sensory Pleasures Simplicity Solitude Somaesthetics Stoicism Taijiquan
Tao Te Ching Thinking Tolerance Touching Tranquility Vigor Virtues Vision
Walking Willpower Wisdom Wonder Zen Precepts
Free Thought, Skeptical, Liberal, Secular, Humanistic, and Utilitarian Thinkers
Brihaspati (600 BCE) Information: Charvaka Lokayatika School
Aristippus of Cyrene (435–356 BCE) Information: Wikipedia Encyclopedia
Yang Zhu (440-360 BCE) Information: Ancient History Encyclopedia, Wikipedia Encyclopedia
Aristotle (384–322 BCE) Information: Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Wikipedia Encyclopedia, Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Epicurus (341-270 BCE) Information: Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Wikipedia Encyclopedia, Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Titus Lucretius Carus (99-55 BCE) Information: Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Wikipedia Encyclopedia, Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy
Sextus Empiricus (160-210 CE) Information: Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Wikipedia Encyclopedia
Al-Ma'arri (973-1057) Information: Wikipedia Encyclopedia
Pierre Gassendi (1592-1655) Information: Wikipedia Encyclopedia
John Locke (1602-1734) Information: Wikipedia Encyclopedia, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
Anne Ninon de l'Enclos (1620-1705) Information: Wikipedia Encyclopedia
Baruch Spinoza (1632-1677) Information: Wikipedia Encyclopedia, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
Jean Meslier (1664-1729) Information: Wikipedia Encyclopedia
Julien Offray de La Mettrie (1709-1751) Information: Wikipedia Encyclopedia
Baron D'Holbach (1723-1789) Information: Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Wikipedia Encyclopedia
Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) Information: Wikipedia Encyclopedia
Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832) Information: Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Wikipedia Encyclopedia, Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy
John Stuart Mill (1806-1873) Information: Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Wikipedia Encyclopedia
Karl Marx (1818-1883) Information: Wikipedia Encyclopedia
Frederick Wilhelm Nietzsche (1844–1900) Information
Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) Information: Wikipedia Encyclopedia
John Dewey (1859-1952) Information: Wikipedia Encyclopedia, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
Bertrand Russell (1872-1970) Information: Wikipedia Encyclopedia
Carl Rogers (1902-1987) Information: Wikipedia Encyclopedia
Albert Ellis (1913-2007) Information: Wikipedia Encyclopedia
José Saramago (1922-2010) Information: Wikipedia Encyclopedia
Hugh Hefner (1926-) Information: Wikipedia Encyclopedia
Woody Allen (1935-) Information: Wikipedia Encyclopedia
Richard Dawkins (1941-) Information: Wikipedia Encyclopedia
Christopher Hitchens (1949-2011) Information: Wikipedia Encyclopedia
Michel Onfray (1959-) Information: Wikipedia Encyclopedia
I share many of the philosophical and non-religious views so persuasively and emphatically expressed by Dan Barker, Jeremy Bentham, Luther Burbank, André Comte-Sponville, Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, John Dewey, Albert Ellis, Epicurus, A.C. Grayling, Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens, Baron d'Holbach, David Hume, Thomas Jefferson, Robert Ingersoll, Paul Kurtz, Corliss Lamont, John Stuart Mill, Friedrich Nietzsche, Thomas Paine, Madalyn Murray O'Hair, Michel Onfray, Ayn Rand, Richard Rorty, Bertrand Russell, Carl Sagan, Friedrich Schleirmacher, Baruch Spinoza, George Smith, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and many other intelligent, hard working, courageous, forthright, dynamic, honest, fulfilled, and wise persons. These free-thinkers give me hope! Many, but not all, favored Epicurean and Hedonistic viewpoints. These persons often had different political and social viewpoints. All were and non-religious or atheists. Most were materialists.
Don't Be Misled by the Name-Calling Haters of Hedonism
|Insults, Aspersions, Misconceptions, Lies, Epithets, Falsehoods,
Name-Calling, Untruths, or
|Hedonistic, Epicurean, Skeptical and Utilitarian Views and Possible Responses|
||Mutual enjoyment and cooperation are essential
to a happy life. Total selfishness significantly reduces your
options for obtaining security, friendships, peace of mind, and a wide
range of dignified pleasures. Pleasures and delight are enhanced
|Piggish behavior, boorish
||We are not pigs; but pigs and humans are
animals. Animals have feelings, enjoy pleasure, and avoid pain
just as we do. Putting down pigs is a favorite ritualistic pastime
of Jews and Muslims. Human beings enjoy a far wider range of
pleasures than many animals. Pigs, like humans, are omnivorous─and
when hungry will eat most anything. Universal education, frequent
reading, common courtesy, and good manners will help reduce boorishness.
||Sexual and loving relationships between
consenting adults are enjoyed by people everywhere. Some people
are very fearful and neurotic about enjoying sexual pleasures, but most
people are not. Hedonists don't advocate licentiousness.
|Crude and dirty||To overcome "dirtiness": take a bath, wear clean clothes,
and clean your house. I don't find most Epicureans any "cruder"
than the average educated and cultured Jane or Joe. Many people
lack sophistication and education, and speak and act in a "crude"
manner; but, if they are not harming others, I just mind my own business
and leave them alone. Some stuffy Puritan and rigid types believe
many ordinary behaviors are "crude and dirty." Social customs vary
greatly─so when in Oregon do as the Oregonians do.
|Ungodly||We are humans, not imaginary supernatural
beings. Yes, many Hedonists are non-religious or atheists; some
are not. There are
Age or ancient spirituality and positive somatic practices that appeal
|Unbridled sensuality||We learn via our
manage our sensual experiences, we are practical and reasonable about
the degree and extent of our sensual pleasures, and we avoid pain and
discomfort. Yes, we enjoy and take delight in sensual pleasures of
all kinds, from the simple (drinking clean water) to very complex
(walking in a beautiful garden, listening to Mozart). We are not
horses that need a bridle in our teeth, so as to be led around and
overworked by owners. A smart and sensible Hedonist knows the
dangers of overindulgence in dangerous pleasurable activities─they think
|Not a Christian, Muslim or Jew||Be a freethinker, reject spurious theology,
avoid the self-serving lies and misconceptions of religious leaders,
acknowledge the pernicious effects of organized religion.
Followers of these religions are typically anti-body, anti-sensual,
fearful, neurotic about petty and arbitrary rules, submissive, and
obsessed with other worldly fictions.
You don't need to believe or
practice these religions to be a good or happy person. These
religions have historically despised and persecute hedonists, violators
of the creeds, non-conformists, advocates of pleasure and delight.
|A mere pleasure seeker||There are many kinds of activities that produce
pleasure and delight, both mental and physical. If an activity
produces little or no pleasure, or pain, then stop doing that activity. Hedonists do seek of maximize pleasure
and delight in the long run─merely a sensible objective.
Some people are merely pain,
discomfort, and unhappiness seekers─pessimists, paranoids, neurotics,
depressives. To believe that Hedonists are only gluttons, drug
addicts, and sexual compulsives is a completely false view.
|Wallow in pleasure||Swimming or relaxing in a hot tub is
pleasurable, enjoyable, fun. Swimming and playing in the warm sea
is a delight. Wallow away! I guess some prudes don't want to
take their clothes off to enjoy these simple pleasures, but I will take
wallowing in a hot shower anytime.
|Chastity is best||If you like being chaste, then fine, enjoy that
experience. Do what you want to do, your not hurting
anyone by chastity, masturbating, or enjoying sexual relations.
Ascetics like the calmness and uncomplicated lifestyle of chastity - but
to think this is ideal and best is an opinion shared by few.
|Hedonists get diseases||Everyone is subject to getting diseases and
dying─no exceptions. Use sound medical science to
learn about diseases and prevent them. Be trim, fit, and healthy
and enjoy your life. Support medical and social measures to reduce
the occurrence of diseases and the suffering and pain they can bring.
|A sinner, immoral, bad, evil||Every religion has different conceptions of
sinful behavior. It is best not to rely on a religious persons
definition of "sin," or bother with such wishy-washy and divergent
moral/social fancies. Not following another persons
rules and regulations when they provide you with no pleasure or pain
seems a sensible alternative. Some people believe
everyone is born sinful, unworthy, and prone to evil; but, the facts of
life don't support such nonsense.
|Disgusting||Simple pleasures are "disgusting" only to
persons who have distorted views about human bodies,
pleasure haters, or have very limited experiences with refined and
elevating pleasures and delights.
Disgusting events usually produce discomfort, revulsion, anxiety, or
pain─and are avoided by hedonists.
|Lazy Lotus Eater||Honest labor is often very pleasurable and
satisfying. Just about everyone works for a living.
not lazy. "Lotus Eater" I assume refers to using recreational
drugs. Any intelligent person knows that drug
addictions might ruin your mind, destroy your good health, and even kill
you─and all hedonists try to avoid pain,
suffering, and death. Marx called religion the "opiate for the
masses"─and priests an imams manufacture
lotus opiates for dummies.
|Libertine||Just a name for somebody priests and imams
don't like. Hedonists do favor liberty and privacy.
|Self-centered||Most people are concerned about themselves,
their well being, their health, and their loved ones. Friendship
is a central core value for hedonists because of the pleasure and
security provided to all parties. A poorly developed sense of self
is likely to produce uneasiness, slavishness, sadness, and pain.
|Shameful||Pleasures, delights, satisfaction, contentment,
happiness, peace of mind ... these are not "shameful." Shaming is
frequently a a concern of sexual pleasure haters, rigid believers,
puritans─not hedonists. Murdering someone is shameful; enjoying a
cold glass of wine and a vegetarian casserole is not shameful.
Hedonists are a good deal more sophisticated and precise than those
playing the shame game.
|Unrealistic||Hedonists support experience,
science, reasoning, facts, skepticism, and practicality. Most
hedonists are materialists and naturalists. Most hedonists don't
believe in supernatural fancies, magic, mysticism, myths, and miracles.
|Cowards||Hedonists favor minding their own
Wei, and try to minimize the need for arguing, fighting, and
killing. Epicureans tended to favor small and agreeable
communities, political disengagement, and they eschewed political and
religious violence. They are often skeptical of political nonsense
and blind patriotism. When their backs are against the wall, like
most folks, they can be quite courageous fighters. Glorifying
violence, destruction, pain, and suffering is not part of their creed;
but, reasonable self-defense is not rejected.
|Childish||Many pleasures we enjoyed as children do
provide the same delights to adults. Many experiences that are
harmless, fun, delightful, and invigorating are enjoyed by adults and
children. Don't put down children; enjoy life with them.
|You will go to hell||When you die, it is over for you─no body, no
consciousness. When your dead you will not experience pleasures or
pains─what was "you" has vanished. Hell is a fiction anyway.
Many religious people use
intimidation, threats and fear to coerce you to follow their
arbitrary orders─pain and punishment are their boring and tiresome games.
|Profligates||Some hedonists are profligates, most are not.
Some people are excessive in their pursuits of pleasure or pain for
themselves or others─unwisely. Hedonists recognize and limit
|Yes, we are animals; hardly a great insight.
Humans are often worse than animals in causing pain and destruction.
Before Charles Darwin the common opinion was that human beings have
rational and spiritual powers, were created specially by a Divine Being,
and were not animals despite obvious evidence to the contrary.
Comparing a person you don't like to some animal you don't like or fear is a
common weak insult.
"De gustibus non est disputandum" ... In matters of taste, there can be
no dispute. One man's meat is another man's poison. There
can be little argument that reasonable distinctions and judgments can be
made about values and matters of "taste." However, in the end,
what is chosen by the individual depends upon individual preferences,
education, wealth, and opportunity. I like to read philosophy,
garden, eat Northwest cuisine, and play taijiquan; while other seniors
like to watch NASCAR on television, gamble at the local casino, and eat
at McDonalds. Que sera, sera!
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This webpage was last modified and updated on June 7, 2016.
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