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Hedonism Hedonism




Onecannot ignore the role of ethics in our lives. There are variousreasons why people act in certain ways and what benefit they obtainfrom their actions. One’s ethics influences their values and inturn, dictates their actions. Axiology is a branch of philosophywhich focuses on values, how they come about, their nature and theirimportance in life (Schenck, 2014). It evaluates how an individual`sactions are reflective of his or her ethics.

Thefirst type of ethics is the duty-based ethics where actions areeither right or wrong from a universal perspective. The second typeof ethics that drive action relates to a principle calledutilitarianism. It argues that the right thing to do is that whichbenefits the largest number of people.

Thefinal type of acts based on ethics relates to egoism whereby anindividual is selfish and concerned only about themselves. Under theegoistic approach, one`s actions are motivated by the need to getsomething for themselves. The right course of action is considered tobe that which maximizes benefits the individual gets (Schenck, 2014).

Theegoistic approach introduces a theory in axiology known as hedonism.The desire to please other individuals and to act fairly to allcannot possibly outweigh the good of pleasing oneself and tominimizing one’s pain. As much as values are critical, what anindividual ought’s to value, according to hedonism, is that whichbrings them pleasure.

Hedonismis the theory that states that the most important pursuit in humanlife is pleasure and it is the only thing that is good for people(Weijers, 2016).Proponents of the theory aim at, maximizing thepleasure they receive and minimizing pain in their lives.

Hedonistsbelieve that pain is a bad thing while pleasure is a good thing andas a result, they strive to minimize pain and maximize pleasure.Individuals are motivated by either pleasure or pain. Ethicalhedonism purports that between pleasure and pain, pleasure is theaspect that has value (Moore, 2013). Despite the fact that pleasureis of value, nature has placed man in a position to decide forhimself that which he desires between pain and pleasure (Moore,2013). Hedonism is related to egoism which is the view thatindividuals must always seek personal good on all issues.

Christiansface the question of how they should best live in this world whilebringing happiness not only to themselves but also to others.Christians are always in a dilemma as to whether the moral thing todo is that which gives them pleasure since this argument is the basisof the hedonism theory.

Thebig question to Christians is whether pleasure is a valid standard ofmorality and whether they should act only in a manner that minimizestheir pain and maximizes their pleasure.Thisarticle shows that human beings are not only driven by the pursuit oftheir happiness but also concern for fellow human beings.

Argumentsin Support of Hedonism

Hedonismcontinues to have significant following from individuals who believethat the theory is right and beneficial to them. In the past, therewere many proponents of the theory, and they based their argumentsfor the support of hedonism on different explanations. Jeremy Bentham(1748-1832) and John Stuart Mill (1806-1873), for instance, arguedthat the ultimate good was happiness and pleasure was the lack ofpain (Weijers, 2016).

Anothergroup of people who were proponents of hedonism is the Cyrenaic. Itwas a school founded by a follower of Socrates (Weijers, 2016). Theschool advocated for pleasure and taught that it was the highestlevel of good which was necessary to pursue the attainment of somebetter long-term results (Weijers, 2016).

Epicurusalso contributed to the topic of hedonism. He supported the theorythat pleasure was the sole intrinsic good and that absence of painwas the greatest source of pleasure (Weijers, 2016). Epicurus furthersimplified his approach to hedonism by stating that the greatest goodwas seeking moderate and sustainable pleasure.

Freedom,lack of fear and lack of bodily pain led to the highest form ofhappiness (Weijers, 2016). In the modern world, the proponents ofhedonism site various argument (Weijers, 2016). Those that supportethical hedonism believe that it leads to the highest form ofmorality.

Epicureanhedonism is the preferable form of hedonism since it focuses on anindividual and not the total good of all. Similarly, in today’sworld, some individuals argue that hedonism is ideal for them sinceas long as they achieve maximum pleasure and minimize their pain,then they have attained the highest level of good.

Objectionsto Hedonism

Somescholars criticized hedonism. Socrates provided three argumentsagainst the principles of hedonism (Moore, 2013). First, he refutedthe argument of equating pleasure and pain to good and bad (Prevos,2014). He also argued that pleasure and suffering were opposites andtherefore they could not be put together to compare the state of anindividual.

Hissecond argument was that pleasure and pain ceased simultaneously, butgood and bad things did not follow the same principle. He, therefore,disagreed with the equation of pleasure to good and pain to bad. Hisfinal argument was that there was no actual difference between goodand evil people since all individuals have both good and bad traits.

RobertNozick also leveled his arguments against hedonism. He wondered howideal life would be if it were true that individuals alwaysexperienced pleasure and the absence of pain. He used his experiencemachine to verify that hedonism was untrue. In the modern world, itis right to argue that hedonism is not a valid theory.

Thelack of validity is shown by the various examples that disapprove it.Take for instance a person who smokes. Smoking may be pleasurable tohim, but it is not good since the result is harm, not only to oneselfbut others too.

Someforms of pleasure only come through pain so the two cannot beseparated and labeled as either bad or good. The theory of hedonismstates that pleasure is an intrinsic value (Prevos, 2014).

Argumentsleveled against hedonism indicate that various things are equally ofintrinsic value such as knowledge, beauty and artistic experience,friendship and love, and life.

TheBible shuns hedonism. Take for instance the example of God when hesent his only son to die for all sinners. He was not concerned aboutwhat he would gain. Instead of seeking pleasure, he acted for thegood of all, to save the sinners.

Whereindividuals acted to maximize their pleasure and minimize painwithout regarding others in the Bible, it does not end well. Ananiasand Saphira are such an example. They did not want to share theirwealth with fellow believers, and after selling a piece of property,they decided to keep a portion of the money for themselves.

Duringthe questioning of Ananias and Saphira, they lied to the Holy Spiritand died as a result (Prevos, 2014). The story brings two themes, thetheme of egoism appears in that they wanted to benefit themselvesselfishly, something that God does not like. A similar example iswhen Judas betrays Jesus for thirty pieces of silver and whenJoseph’s brother sell him as a slave for twenty pieces of silver.


Bothproponents and opponents of Hedonism raise valid arguments. Hedonismindeed is an issue everyone faces in their day to day activities.Whereas some decision related to Hedonism may be minor, some havefar-reaching effects. One needs to be cautions when making decisionsthat impact many people.

Asmuch as the need to please oneself is a strong and consistent urge,individuals must not fail to realize that giving themselves forothers is the ultimate good as learned from the actions of God. It isalso clear that acting fairly and being concerned about others is thebest thing one can do to be ethical and to portray the highest formof morality.

Pleasureshould be sought moderately too so that it is not a cause of harms orhurt to other individuals. Also, pleasure is not similar to goodsince not everything that people enjoy doing and find satisfaction inis valuable or right.


Moore, A. (2013). Hedonism. Retrieved from Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/hedonism/

Prevos, P. (2014). Arguments for Hedonism: Pleasure for Individual Salvation. Retrieved from The Horizon of Reason: http://prevos.net/humanities/philosophy/hedonism/

Schenck, K. (2014). A Christian Philosophical Journey. Indiana: Triangle Publishing.

Weijers, D. (2016). Hedonism. Retrieved from Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy: http://www.iep.utm.edu/hedonism/