As you will have read, Epicurus recommends a life of simple pleasures that are good for us in the long run.


Philosophy Intro to Ethics  HW

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About(( Aquinas, the Vatican, Pascal, Locke, Nozick, Bentham, Mill))


Original Post: Reading Epicurus is an easy way to realize that the typical criticisms made of his “hedonism” isn’t a good one: this criticism is that he focuses on “wine, women & song,” or “sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll” to the exclusion of all else. As you will have read, Epicurus recommends a life of simple pleasures that are good for us in the long run.

But another way to criticize Epicurus is to focus on the pursuit of pleasure for its own sake. Enter “the hedonistic paradox.” Let me quote Robert Arp, who’s written a chapter in book on Star Trek and Philosophy: “The basic idea [of the hedonistic paradox] is that, as a general rule, whenever pleasure itself is the object of our life’s search, either it is not found or it is found. If pleasure is not found, the result is the pain associated with not finding the pleasure one seeks. On the other hand, if pleasure is found, especially on a consistent basis, the result is (surprisingly!) still pain. The pain results from either finding pains that we mistake for pleasures in the long or short term, or from the boredom of always getting the pleasures we want. Either way, whether pleasure is found or not found, the paradoxical result is still pain. The hedonistic paradox is “hedonistic” because of the focus on the pleasure being sought (hedon is Greek for pleasure); it is a “paradox” because we consistently find the exact opposite (pain) of what we set out to find in the beginning (pleasure).”

Do you think the hedonistic paradox is real? If so, can you support your contention with an example from your own experience? If not, do we sometimes achieve stable happiness that we’ve sought for?




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