What is hedonism?

We explain what Hedonism is and what was the origin of this philosophical doctrine. In addition, what the hedonistic schools consisted of.

  1. What is hedonism?

Hedonism is considered as a branch or doctrine within philosophy , whose followers propose as the sole purpose of life to achieve absolute and true pleasure . It is then that those who make hedonism their way of life , it is said that they seek to enjoy and take advantage of every moment lived, moving away from pain and all evil, to fully achieve the end of this doctrine.

Within the hedonism, moral theories can be highlighted regularly, the contents of which always emphasize the activities carried out by man, affirming then that in most cases, these activities are concretized to fulfill a particular interest. From now on, hedonists conclude that only pleasure is sought to achieve its own sensation.

  1. What is the origin of Hedonism?

Epicurus, a Democritus disciple, was the first driver of Hedonism.

When trying to refer to the term hedonism, every action that allows man to find and therefore possess that emotional pleasure he craves is being included within it. This philosophy has been thought and analyzed many years ago and it can be affirmed that its first promoter and thinker is the philosopher of ancient Greece, Epicurus .

Epicurus was a Greek philosopher born in Samos and it is in that same place where he was raised and educated during his childhood. It tells the story that at 14 he was transferred to the city of Teos, where he managed to continue his studies through the teachings of Nausiphanes, a direct disciple of Democritus . Throughout his life, Epicurus was enlisted for a time in the military sector of his time and would then be returned to Athens, where he founded his own Garden and in which he taught until his death .

For Epicurus, the first driver of hedonism, happiness must be the unmistakable yearning of every man and for which he had to fight all his life to get it. Within this supposed happiness that, for Epicurus, men had to reach, a certain order would have to be established in both material and spiritual wealth.

The search for pleasure proposed by hedonism has a directly subjective character , so that different individuals who have different points of view about things are generally called hedonistic. However, hedonism can be classified as ethical hedonism or psychological hedonism.

Ethical hedonism is confronted with the Epicurus school, therefore it is feasible to understand this first concept also as epicurean ethics. Epicurean ethics was extracted from the Epicurus school and argues that man , although he must cling to corporeal pleasures (food, drink, materials, etc.), must consider as a priority those intellectual pleasures (love, wisdom, etc.), also called as superior pleasures. At the same time, they affirm that individuals should use their reason wisely to be able to keep those things and feelings they grant, in a long period of time, happiness and pleasure.

However, hedonism is generally rejected by different religions , since they consider that the same attentive in different ways to the principles they possess. Catholicism, for example, directly rejects hedonism because its purpose – self-pleasure as a priority – goes against its dogmatic values, affirming then that it puts its own pleasure before God’s will.

  1. Hedonistic schools

  • Cyrenaic  school : The philosophical school known as the Cyrenaic school was founded by Aristipo de Cirene, follower and disciple of Socrates. Its beginnings are strongly related to the megalic and cynical schools. However, the hedonism of the Cyrenaic school is usually divided between the followers of Aristipo, Hegesías and Teodoro. This school concentrates characteristics of ethical hedonism and identifies the pursuit of pleasure as the achievement of spiritual pleasure. Aristipo concludes that man must exterminate all his concerns to achieve his happiness and for this it is necessary to appeal to autarchy.
  • School of Epicurus or Epicureanism :  The school of Epicurus or Epicureanism is about hedonism and considers finding happiness through a rational search for pleasures. Epicureanism integrates each of the teachings of the Greek philosopher Epicurus and each opinion or added by those followers of it. Unlike the Cyrenaic school, which overcame bodily pleasure to achieve happiness, epicureanism held that true happiness was in intellectual pleasures. It affirms that there must be a perfect and absolute balance between the mind and the body to achieve the purest happiness.

The ideas and teachings of Epicurus were sustained for seven continuous centuries . When the Middle Ages arrived, they began to be forgotten with the appearance of Christianity and continuously, with the burning of many of the writings of this philosopher.

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