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© 2014, The Columbia University Press.

Hedonism: Selected full-text books and articles

Pleasure and the Good Life: Concerning the Nature, Varieties and Plausibility of Hedonism
Fred Feldman.
Clarendon, 2004
Happiness, Pleasure, and Judgment: The Contextual Theory and Its Applications
Allen Parducci.
Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1995
Socrates, Pleasure, and Value
George Rudebusch.
Oxford University Press, 1999
Librarian’s tip: Chap. Four "Callicles' Hedonism"
The Methods of Ethics
Henry Sidgwick.
University of Chicago Press, 1962
Librarian’s tip: Book II "Egoistic Hedonism" begins on p. 117
The Concepts of Ethics
Sidney Zink.
St. Martin's Press, 1962
Librarian’s tip: Chap. III "Pleasure"
Plural and Conflicting Values
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
Paul Thomas Young.
John Wiley & Sons, 1936
Librarian’s tip: Chap. VII "Pshychological Hedonism"
The Concept of Motivation
R. S. Peters.
Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1958
Librarian’s tip: Chap. Five "The Regression to Hedonism"
Plato on Pleasure and the Good Life
Daniel Russell.
Oxford University Press, 2005
Personal Causation: The Internal Affective Determinants of Behavior
Richard DeCharms.
Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1983
Librarian’s tip: "Hedonism" begins on p. 54
On the Knowledge of Good and Evil
Philip Blair Rice.
Random House, 1955
Librarian’s tip: Discussion of hedonism begins on p. 29
A Modern Introduction to Ethics
Lucius Garvin.
Houghton Mifflin, 1953
Librarian’s tip: "Early Hedonistic Philosophies" begins on p. 261
Morality and the Good Life
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
Ted Honderich.
Oxford University Press, 1995
Librarian’s tip: Discussion of hedonism begins on p. 337
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