10 Hedonism Examples

10 Hedonism ExamplesReviewed by Chris Drew (PhD)

This article was peer-reviewed and edited by Chris Drew (PhD). The review process on Helpful Professor involves having a PhD level expert fact check, edit, and contribute to articles. Reviewers ensure all content reflects expert academic consensus and is backed up with reference to academic studies. Dr. Drew has published over 20 academic articles in scholarly journals. He is the former editor of the Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education and holds a PhD in Education from ACU.

hedonism example and definition, detailed below.

Hedonism is a philosophical school of thought suggesting that pleasure and enjoyment should be the highest goals in life.

It is based on the belief that pleasure and happiness are the only intrinsic goods, meaning they are valuable regardless of any other factors. 

Hedonism holds that the pursuit of pleasure should make up the majority of one’s life, and ethical responsibilities, such as morality or justice, should be secondary considerations.

Hedonistic activities can involve anything that brings someone pleasure, from physical pleasures such as eating delicious food or swimming to mental pleasures like reading a book or learning a new language. 

For example, a hedonist might prioritize going to the beach with friends over studying for an upcoming test because they find more pleasure in the former.

While hedonism typically focuses on short-term gratification, some people view it as an ongoing pursuit of life-long happiness and satisfaction. 

Definition of Hedonism

Hedonism is the philosophical belief that pleasure and happiness are the highest forms of good and should be the primary goals of life.

It is based on the belief that pleasure and happiness are the only intrinsic goods, meaning they are valuable regardless of any other factors. 

According to Prophet and Prophet (2008),

“…hedonism is defined as the doctrine that pleasure or happiness is the sole or chief good in life, or a way of life-based on this doctrine” (p. 7).

The concept, which has its roots in ancient Greek philosophy, is based on hedonic calculus—a method of weighing pleasure and pain to determine whether an action or decision is right or wrong (Tubbs, 2009).

Tribe (2009) states that

“…seeking pleasure and avoiding pain, as the end we should seek, is the moral view of the hedonists” (p. 217).

In hedonistic thought, pleasure is not necessarily equated with material goods; it can include mental or emotional joys and physical pleasures.

From a scientific standpoint, it is postulated that hedonic activities, such as eating a delicious meal or engaging in recreational activities, increase dopamine levels in the brain, producing feelings of pleasure and satisfaction. 

Simply, hedonism is the belief that seeking pleasure and avoiding pain should be the primary goals of life.

Hedonism Examples

  • Eating delicious food: Eating food that brings pleasure, such as a gourmet meal or a favorite snack of comfort food, is an example of hedonism. The act of eating, combined with the flavors and textures of the food, can bring feelings of satisfaction and pleasure.
  • Listening to music: Music has always been highly valued for its ability to bring emotions and joy to its listeners. Listening to the music you enjoy is a form of hedonism, as it produces feelings of pleasure when you consider the melodies, rhythm, and lyrics.
  • Watching movies: Watching movies is another form of hedonism, as it brings enjoyment through engaging stories and captivating visuals. Cinematic experiences can be especially enjoyable when shared with friends or family, as it adds a level of connection through shared emotions and reactions in response to the movie itself.
  • Traveling: Experiencing new places worldwide is an incredibly rewarding form of hedonism as it allows one to gain insight into different cultures while providing moments that create memories that last a lifetime. It also provides opportunities to try new activities, such as hiking or diving, which offer physical and mental pleasures related to exploration and discovery.
  • Going on adventures: Taking risks, such as going on an adventure, can be extremely pleasurable in terms of pushing one’s own boundaries while receiving adrenaline-charged thrills from overcoming obstacles along the way. It includes activities like bungee jumping, skydiving, or rock climbing, which give heightened experiences without too much danger involved in them due to precautions taken by experienced professionals in these fields.
  • Having meaningful conversations: Engaging in deep conversations with someone else can be immensely satisfying. It allows two people to connect on a deeper level while understanding each other’s thoughts and feelings more deeply than ever before, possible through verbal communication alone.
  • Exercising: Working out provides plenty of physical benefits, but it’s full of psychological rewards too. It releases chemicals that make you feel good and more energetic. Some people enjoy exercise because it challenges them to do better and achieve their big or small goals.
  • Getting creative with hobbies: Doing something creative like drawing, painting, or playing an instrument gives rise to feelings of accomplishment from mastering something new alongside calming effects from simply indulging in your creative side.
  • Being productive at work: Working hard towards achieving goals within one’s area of expertise can often come with great satisfaction once the desired result is achieved.
  • Experiencing nature: Spending time outdoors surrounded by nature has been proven beneficial for physical and mental health. Feeling connected with something greater than oneself while being immersed in beautiful landscapes allows many people to reset their minds while enjoying fresh air filled with natural scents.

Origins of Hedonism

Hedonism is a philosophical approach to life that is centered on the pursuit of pleasure. It dates back to Ancient Greek philosophy with the Cyrenaics, a school of thought led by Aristippus of Cyrene in the fifth century BC (Lampe, 2017).

The focus of this school was to argue that pleasure should be seen as the only intrinsic good – its possession will bring about happiness, and its lack will result in misery.

Many philosophers have altered and added to hedonism’s fundamental ideas throughout history.

For example, epicureanism was introduced by Epicurus in the fourth century BC, asserting that pleasure should be pursued but not excessively as it can lead to further suffering (Lampe, 2017).

This idea was then furthered by Utilitarianism, a moral theory developed by Jeremy Bentham, which stated that actions should be judged based on how much pleasure or pain they cause overall for all beings affected by them.

Hedonism has continued to evolve since its birth in Ancient Greece, branching out into different areas. However, its core concept has remained the same: pleasure should be sought and suffering avoided (Lampe, 2017).

Theories of Hedonism

Hedonism is comprised of three main theories – psychological, ethical, and axiological. All varieties seek to maximize pleasure while minimizing suffering in the pursuit of enjoyment and contentment.

Here is an overview of each type:

1. Psychological Hedonism

Psychological hedonism is the belief that all human behavior is fundamentally motivated by the pursuit of pleasure (Tatarkiewicz, 1949).

It suggests that what people do and strive for, from a biological perspective, is ultimately to maximize pleasure and minimize suffering. 

For example, an individual may choose to pursue activities or make decisions that bring them more joy, even at the expense of other options that may be more logical or practical.

2. Ethical Hedonism

Ethical hedonism states that pleasure should be identified as good and pain should be identified as bad (Lafleur, 1956).

It means that any action which results in outcomes primarily aimed at providing pleasure is morally right, while those resulting in more pain are considered wrong. 

This theory can also be extended to acts within society.

For example, when considering the potential effects of a certain law or policy on its citizens, ethical hedonists would prioritize the amount of pleasure it could bring compared to any potential harm it might cause.

3. Axiological Hedonism

Axiological hedonism suggests that pleasure and happiness should be seen as intrinsic values, meaning they have inherent value independent of any external factors like utility or wealth (Anstey, 2013).

Therefore, according to axiological hedonism, it doesn’t matter what brought about the feeling – whether it was money, fame, or power – but rather just how pleasurable the experience was itself. 

An example of axiological hedonism could be how someone who has achieved great wealth through hard work may find fulfillment from simply experiencing a sunset without needing any material possessions around them to feel content.

Critique of Hedonism

Hedonism has faced widespread criticism over time, with many philosophers and psychologists believing that pleasure should not be the sole principle by which we live our lives. 

By placing pleasure as the highest ideal, it is argued that hedonism can lead to materialistic and selfish behavior as individuals are only concerned about maximizing their own pleasure regardless of any negative consequences for others around them (Ksendzova et al., 2015).

Another issue with hedonism is that some claim it relies too heavily on subjective measures of good or bad – what may bring immense pleasure to one person could be completely unappealing to another (Heathwood, 2006).

It makes quantifying how much pleasure a certain action or experience brings difficult since it could be interpreted differently depending on the individual.

Moreover, critics of hedonism have suggested that the pursuit of nothing but physical pleasures can contribute to an overall decline in mental health, with feelings of contentment and peace being overlooked for more fleeting experiences such as food or sex (Taquet et al., 2016).

In this regard, one needs to balance short-term pleasures and long-term happiness for one’s well-being to remain intact.

Conclusion

Hedonism is a philosophical belief that centers on pursuing pleasure and happiness as the ultimate goals in life. 

Throughout history, various forms of hedonism have evolved and been discussed in detail, with psychological, ethical, and axiological hedonism the most popular.

While hedonism offers a wide range of pleasurable experiences and activities, it has faced criticism for potentially promoting selfish behavior and relying too heavily on subjective measures of pleasure. 

Despite these critiques, hedonism remains a significant philosophical concept that has inspired many to explore the importance of pleasure and happiness. 

Achieving a balance between short-term gratification and long-term well-being is essential in fostering a fulfilling and meaningful existence.

References

Anstey, P. R. (2013). The Oxford handbook of British philosophy in the seventeenth century. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Heathwood, C. (2006). Desire satisfactionism and hedonism. Philosophical Studies, 128(3), 539–563. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11098-004-7817-y

Ksendzova, M., Iyer, R., Hill, G., Wojcik, S. P., & Howell, R. T. (2015). The portrait of a hedonist: The personality and ethics behind the value and maladaptive pursuit of pleasure. Personality and Individual Differences, 79, 68–74. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2015.01.042

Lafleur, L. J. (1956). In defense of ethical hedonism. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 16(4), 547. https://doi.org/10.2307/2104257

Lampe, K. (2017). Birth of hedonism – The Cyrenaic philosophers and pleasure as a way of life. New Jersey: Princeton University Press.

Prophet, M., & Prophet, E. C. (2008). Paths of light and darkness. Montana: Summit University Press.

Taquet, M., Quoidbach, J., de Montjoye, Y.-A., Desseilles, M., & Gross, J. J. (2016). Hedonism and the choice of everyday activities. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 113(35), 9769–9773. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1519998113

Tatarkiewicz, W. (1949). Psychological hedonism. Synthese, 8(1), 409–425. https://doi.org/10.1007/bf00485925

Tribe, J. (2009). Philosophical issues in tourism. Los Angeles: Channel View Publications.

Tubbs, J. B. (2009). A handbook of bioethics terms. Washington DC: Georgetown University Press.

Viktoriya Sus

Viktoriya Sus (MA)

Viktoriya Sus is an academic writer specializing mainly in economics and business from Ukraine. She holds a Master’s degree in International Business from Lviv National University and has more than 6 years of experience writing for different clients. Viktoriya is passionate about researching the latest trends in economics and business. However, she also loves to explore different topics such as psychology, philosophy, and more.

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This article was peer-reviewed and edited by Chris Drew (PhD). The review process on Helpful Professor involves having a PhD level expert fact check, edit, and contribute to articles. Reviewers ensure all content reflects expert academic consensus and is backed up with reference to academic studies. Dr. Drew has published over 20 academic articles in scholarly journals. He is the former editor of the Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education and holds a PhD in Education from ACU.

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