Monday, June 8, 2009

Ethical Hedonism and the Pursuit of Pleasure

I came across this article on Ethical Hedonism and was interested in some of the concepts presented. One is the confusion of pleasure and the source of pleasure, that the later leads to a misguided moral relativism – different things bring pleasure to different people. Whereas pleasure is something that is intrinsically good, an objective truth (not withstanding phenomenological and existential deconstructions).

The article concludes with the Hedonist paradox ( “Pleasure to be got must be forgot”) and a corollary that the secret to pleasure being one most lose oneself to activity, as pleasures are often accidental outcomes of the things we do, rather than something to be sought. This is the first time I had heard this stated, and like most things Aristotelian, it sounds reasonable at first glance, but on further investigation fails to resonate. After all, life as an enlightened hedonist is the pursuit of pleasure, that we can make choices to increase our pleasure just as certainly as we can make choices to decrease it.

Perhaps this is really pointing out that none of us is omniscience and as such cannot know with absolute certainty that any action we take will yield greater or lesser pleasure in the future. This is certainly true, but in the wake of this dilemma it seems more reasonable to consider one’s actions rather than to fill one’s life with random activity. But this is certainly worth some future though.

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