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Epicurus, Mill, & the Attractions of Hedonism

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Sasha Shivers

on 22 January 2016

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Transcript of Epicurus, Mill, & the Attractions of Hedonism

Why would
Mill agree?
Happiness consists of
SUSTAINED ENJOYMENT...BUT IS THAT ENOUGH?

Self-indulgence
THE GREATEST HAPPINESS PRINCIPLE: actions are right in proportion as they
tend to promote happiness
According to Epicurus
WHAT'S WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE?
Hedonism
What stereotypes
do we associate
with hedonism?
gluttony
EPICURUS: The pursuit of WISDOM through philosophy leads to HAPPINESS.

NECESSARY DESIRES: health of body; tranquility of mind; to be free from pain & fear.

PURSUE ATTITUDINAL PLEASURES: sober reasoning, wisdom, honor, justice
& you will live as a GOD among MEN.

ATTRACTIONS OF HEDONISM:
1. There are many models of a good life.
2. Personal authority over one's own well-being.
3. Misery clearly takes away from a good life; happiness clearly improves it.
4. The limits of explanation: we don't need to show that happiness leads to anything else in order to show that it is valuable.
5. Hedonism accounts for exceptions to the rules.
6. Happiness is what we want for our loved ones.
"I recall a talk by a doctor who described a patient of his (who had perhaps had a prefrontal lobotomy) as 'perfectly happy all day long picking up leaves.' This impressed me because I thought, 'well, most of us are not happy all day long doing the things we do,' and realized how strange it would be to think that the very kindest of fathers would arrange such an operation for his (perfectly normal) child."
-- Philippa Foot
THE LOBOTOMY CHALLENGE:
Utility--
Quality & Quantity
"It is better to be a human being dissatisfied, than a pig satisfied; better to be Socrates dissatisfied, than a fool satisfied."
Full transcript