Utilitarianism : A Form Of Hedonism Essay

Utilitarianism : A Form Of Hedonism Essay

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MIll presents a form of hedonism that is quite contrary to its usual connotation. His "utilitarianism" is a principle stating that every person desires more happiness than pain and that actions are moral if they are condusive to this desire. Utilitarianism is empircally based, or centered around observation. Rather than seeking pleasure in any form, Mill contends that some pleasures are greater than others. He believes that, as humans, we are capable of intellectual pleasures rather than simple animal pleasures, and that these intellectual pleasure provide much more quality, which is far superior to quanity. Thus need a way to discern between which is more worthwhile. According to Mill, the only reasonable way to do this is to look at the opinions of those who have experienced both pleasures, and take the opinion of the majority. We should then pursue the pleasures that follow the "Greatest-happiness Principle" (17). In utilitarianism, all moral actions promote the greatest happiness in the greatest amount of people. This is done indiscriminitley, meaning that every person counts as one unit and nobody 's happiness is placed over another 's. Indeed, Mill believes that all humans are seeking, as an ultimate end, happiness, and all other pursuits are simply means to that end. He defends this view by raising other possible ends and showing that they are all a part of happiness, rather than a separate puruit. He also shows why, once we have attained a higher sense of intelect and other faculties, no human, save for extreme circumstances, would ever choose to revert to a simpler state of mind, despite the fact that these simpler people may be more satisfied with their lot than those of higher faculties. He believes this a general p...


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...ature can form a habit contrary to its nature" (124). He illustrates this by relating the human mind to a thrown stone or fire. It could be objected that the human mind is not naturally subject to the same laws of physics, and therefore we can develop habits contrary to our natural predispositions. Perhaps we are naturally virtuous but through conditioning by culture and other factors this ability becomes clouded by selfishness and other factors. It is entirely plausible that in certain situations a child would be able to make a more ethical decision than an adult who has been conditioned toward the opposite of viture. Children are also exceptionally happy. It could be stated then that this is our natural state, but hardships of life and growing up can train us to behave in a way contrary to this nature, which would be a direct contradiction to statement by Aristotle.

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