Wednesday, September 26, 2012


Hedonism is the school of thought that the acquisition of happiness is the ultimate goal of every person. According to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, "Motivational hedonism is the claim that only pleasure or pain motivates us."

'But surely not!' You say. 'We do things that harm ourselves all the time!' This is is true in a sense. For example, giving to charity, becoming a martyr, doing a hard workout, or commuting suicide all seem to harm us.

It may be helpful to note that 'net' happiness is what is sought after. This means that we may do things that are painful, such as taking a biology test or the MCAT. BUT, we only do these things because we think that we will gain a greater amount of happiness from doing so.

I would argue that even in cases of suicide, people are attempting to gain the most happiness. A suicidal person sees the future as containing a net negative happiness, and so decides to end their life.

On a less bleak note, I think that everything we do is motivated by a search for happiness. Going to school, going to work, helping someone with homework, getting married, having kids, going on a search for truth, we do all of things with our own best interest in mind.

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