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Hedonism is a school of thought that argues that pleasure is the only intrinsic good (1). A hedonist strives to maximize pleasure while reducing pain. Additionally, ethical hedonism is the idea that all people have the right to do everything in their power to achieve the greatest amount of pleasure. Ethical hedonism is said to have been started by Aristippus of Cyrene, one of Socrates’ students (1).

The first school hedonist thought were the Cyrenaics that taught that the only intrinsic good is pleasure, which meant not just the absence of pain, but positively enjoyable sensations (1). In addition, momentary pleasures, especially physical ones, are stronger than memory. They also agreed that pleasure could be derived through altruism (1). The famous Greek school died out a century after it was started and was replaced by Epicureanism (1).

Hedonists can define pleasure and pain in broad terms. Pleasure could include feelings or experiences such as elation, ecstasy, delight, joy, and enjoyment (1). Pain could include aches, throbs, irritations, anxiety, discomfort, grief, and depression (1).

Motivational hedonism is the egotistic claim that one is motivated by one’s own pleasure or pain (1). A negative connotation of motivational hedonism is that the on is always and only motivated by the greatest balance of pleasure over pain for oneself. In other words, individuals want to maximize the amount of value of pleasure.

Normative hedonism is the claim that only pleasure has value and only pain has disvalue (1). Through this view, friendships, actions, and achievements, understanding, insight, and character have only instrumental worth through the pleasure they cause or the pain they diminish (1).



(1) http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/hedonism/ 

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