Hedonism

hedonism (hē´dənĬz´əm) [Gr.,=pleasure], the doctrine that holds that pleasure is the highest good. Ancient hedonism expressed itself in two ways: the cruder form was that proposed by Aristippus and the early Cyrenaics, who believed that pleasure was achieved by the complete gratification of all one's sensual desires; on the other hand, Epicurus and his school, though accepting the primacy of pleasure, tended to equate it with the absence of pain and taught that it could best be attained through the rational control of one's desires. Ancient hedonism was egoistic; modern British hedonism, expressed first in 19th-century utilitarianism, is universalistic in that it is conceived in a social sense— "the greatest happiness for the greatest number."

See J. C. Gosling, Pleasure and Desire (1969).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2015, The Columbia University Press.

Hedonism: Selected full-text books and articles

Socrates, Pleasure, and Value By George Rudebusch Oxford University Press, 1999
Librarian’s tip: Chap. Four "Callicles' Hedonism"
The Methods of Ethics By Henry Sidgwick University of Chicago Press, 1962
Librarian’s tip: Book II "Egoistic Hedonism" begins on p. 117
The Concepts of Ethics By Sidney Zink St. Martin's Press, 1962
Librarian’s tip: Chap. III "Pleasure"
Plural and Conflicting Values By Michael Stocker Oxford University Press, 1989
Librarian’s tip: "Hedonism Allows for Akrasia" begins on p. 218 and "Hedonism as a Pure Intellecutal Idea" begins on p. 237
Motivation of Behavior: The Fundamental Determinants of Human and Animal Activity By Paul Thomas Young John Wiley & Sons, 1936
Librarian’s tip: Chap. VII "Pshychological Hedonism"
The Concept of Motivation By R. S. Peters Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1958
Librarian’s tip: Chap. Five "The Regression to Hedonism"
Plato on Pleasure and the Good Life By Daniel Russell Oxford University Press, 2005
Personal Causation: The Internal Affective Determinants of Behavior By Richard DeCharms Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1983
Librarian’s tip: "Hedonism" begins on p. 54
On the Knowledge of Good and Evil By Philip Blair Rice Random House, 1955
Librarian’s tip: Discussion of hedonism begins on p. 29
A Modern Introduction to Ethics By Lucius Garvin Houghton Mifflin, 1953
Librarian’s tip: "Early Hedonistic Philosophies" begins on p. 261
Morality and the Good Life By Thomas L. Carson; Paul K. Moser Oxford University Press, 1997
Librarian’s tip: "Hedonism: Defense and Criticism" begins on p. 135
The Oxford Companion to Philosophy By Ted Honderich Oxford University Press, 1995
Librarian’s tip: Discussion of hedonism begins on p. 337
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