Comprehensive Essay on Hedonism

According to Hedonism, he done or pleasure is the ultimate standard of morality. It is the highest good, the supreme end of life. It is based on two assumptions, such as : metaphysical assumption and psychological assumption.


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Hedonism is based upon the metaphysical assumption that the self is purely sensuous in nature. It is a series of sensations, feelings, appetites and instincts. It has reason, no doubt; but it is not supreme in human nature, but a mere slave of passions. It simply points out the best means for the realization of the end of passions.

David Hume regards reason as hand-maid of passions. Gratification of the lower self is the supreme good according to Hedonism.


Hedonism is based on the psychological assumption that man naturally seeks pleasure and avoids pain. Many Hedonists e.g., J.S. Mill, Bentham and others assume that we naturally seek pleasure and avoid pain. Desire is primarily directed towards pleasure.

We desire pleasure as the ultimate end: We desire every thing else as a means to pleasure. Pleasure is the normal object of desire.

Psychological Hedonism:

Hedonism assumes many forms. It may be either psychological or ethical. Psychological Hedonism holds that pleasure is the natural and normal object of desire, that we always seek pleasure and avoid pain. Ethical Hedonism holds that pleasure is the proper object of desire; that we do not always seek pleasure but ought to seek pleasure. One is a statement of an actual fact. The other is a statement of an ideal or end.


It is the theory that pleasure is-the natural end and motive of human action. We always seek pleasure and avoid pain. Everyone desires what he thinks will be pleasurable and for the sake, of pleasure which he expects that it will give him. Things are desired not for their own sake but only for the sake of pleasure they will give us. Pleasure is the natural object of desire.

The Cyrenaics were the advocates of the view. J. Bentham and J.S. Mill are also the advocates of this theory. Bentham says, “Nature has placed mankind under the governance of two sovereign masters, pain and pleasure. It is for them alone to point out what we ought to do as well as what we shall do.”

The motive in prospect, is always some pleasure or some pain; some pleasure which the act in question is expected to be a means of producing; some pain which it is expected to be a means of producing; some pain which it is expected to be a means of preventing. A motive is substantially nothing more than pleasure or pain operating in a certain manner. Thus, according to Bentham, pleasure and pain are the only possible motives to action, the only ends at which we can aim.

Similarly J.S. Mill says, “Desiring a thing and finding it pleasant aversion to it and thinking of it as painful are phenomena entirely inseparable, rather two parts of the same phenomenon; to think of an object as desirable and to think of it as pleasant, are one and the same thing; to desire anything, except in proportion as the idea of it is pleasant, is a physical and metaphysical impossibility From this J.S. Mill concludes that we always desire pleasure or the pleasure is the only object of our desire.

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