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Reflections on Hedonism

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When talking about pleasure there needs to be a distinction between the quality and the quantity. While having many different kinds of pleasures can be considered a good thing, one is more likely to favor quality over quantity. With this distinction in mind, one is more able to quantify their pleasures as higher or lesser pleasures by ascertaining the quality of them. This facilitates the ability to achieve the fundamental moral value that is happiness. In his book Utilitarianism, John Stuart Mill offers a defining of utility as pleasure or the absence of pain in addition to the Utility Principle, where “Actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness; wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness” (Mill 7). Through this principle, Mill emphasizes that it is not enough to show that happiness is an end in itself. Mill’s hedonistic view is one in support of the claim that every human action is motivated by or ought to be motivated by the pursuit of pleasure.

Suppose one was to record their pleasures down on paper using a graph. At first, one might be confused as to how to go about quantifying their happiness. After consideration of the quality of ones varying pleasures though, one is more able to deduce whether it is a higher or a lower pleasure and graph them. This enables one to distinguish which things promote the greatest pleasure, which translates itself to strive for happiness. For example, consider the attainment of food or sex in contrast to mental and spiritual growth. When one is only interested in satiating their appetite for food or sex, the pleasure acquired is minuscule when compared to the acquisition of mental and spiritual growth. Thus, attaining mental and spiritual growth will bring o...

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...attainment of happiness is oftentimes difficult, so we are morally justified in searching to essentially reduce the amount of unhappiness and pain experienced by the human beings impacted by some of our actions. According to Mill, the absence of pleasure is only acceptable when it is for the greater good of humanity.

I agree with Mill’s hedonistic view of happiness. Mill believes that pleasure is a fundamental value because it promotes happiness, and diminishes the feelings of pain and unhappiness. The objections to hedonism are invalid because it is always better to be intelligent and consciously aware of everything in one's life, as opposed to being content and selfish, mimicking the lifestyle of a pig whose pleasures have all been satisfied.

Works Cited

Mill, John Stuart, and Oskar Piest. Utilitarianism. Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1957. Print.
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