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Parent categories: lifestyle - morality - philosophy

Hedonism in the 20th and 21st centuries can best be summarized as sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll.

Related: basic instinct - bread and circuses - carnivalesque - dance - decadent - Dionysian - egoism - eroticism - escapism - narcissism - pleasure

A pocket history of hedonism might include jazz during its early years, disco in the 1970s and house music in the 1980s.

Compare: pain - reason

Hedonists claim that feelings of pleasure or happiness are the highest and final aim of conduct; that, consequently those actions which increase the sum of pleasure are thereby constituted right, and, conversely, what increases pain is wrong.


(hedoné, pleasure)

Hedonism is any theory that gives pleasure a central role. The simplest form of hedonism in ethics is "whatever causes pleasure is right". Even that simple version immediately runs into trouble. Pleasure for whom? Average pleasure? Is that the median or the mean? How can you make interpersonal comparisons of pleasure, anyway? Or even cross-time comparisons for the same person? Is that pleasure in the short term, or the long term? Another summary of hedonism, "Pleasure is the highest good" avoids some of these complexities, at the cost of not saying anything of practical consequence...

Some of Sigmund Freud's theories of human motivation have been called psychological hedonism; his "life instinct" turns out to be the (startling!) observation that people pursue pleasure. But he muddies up the waters with various less plausible mechanisms, such as the "death instinct". --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hedonism


For Sigmund Freud (1856-1939), pleasure was a basic instinct, initially taking the form of sexual gratification or libido. Since full pursuit of the "pleasure principle" appears incompatible with civilized order, the drive of pleasure is either thwarted (causing neurosis) or sublimated into art, religion, work and other creative or productive activity.

Thus Freud, and by extension modern values, in many respects reversed the priorities of earlier theologians and philosophers. They saw happiness, based on higher values, as the experience of truth, and hedonism as a kind of illusion, or at least less valuable. Freud, by contrast, saw the drive for sensory and sexual gratification as the ultimate truth about the human animal.--http://www.geocities.com/Tokyo/4968/love/article/article015.html

Western culture is sometimes criticized for its emphasis on instant gratification

Gratification is the positive emotional response (happiness) to a fulfillment of desire.

Maturity is often defined as the ability to delay gratification (patience).

Western culture is sometimes criticized for its emphasis on instant gratification, i.e., the conscious expenditure of effort to make the time interval between wanting something and getting it as short as possible. This focus may be due in part to the influence of utilitarianism, the consequentialist belief that morality can be measured by the overall yield of happiness (utility) that results from a particular action. One example of a significant influence of this theory is the importance of cost-benefit analysis in Western economic theory. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gratification [Feb 2007]

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