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Pleasure and pain

Pleasure-Seeking Behaviour

Avoiding Pain

Help Linked Module: L’éthique hédoniste d’Épicure Linked Module: Approches de la philosophie d'Epicure
History Module: Epicurus (341 to 270 B.C.), Letter to Menoeceus History Module: Epicurus

In its modern form, Epicurean hedonism resembles what many people call “voluntary simplicity”. By adopting a simple lifestyle and rejecting the conspicuous consumption encouraged by Western capitalist societies, the followers of voluntary simplicity have developed a perspective on life that resembles epicureanism.

Linked Module: Grands auteurs ayant appuyé la simplicité volontaire Linked Module: Book: La Simplicité volontaire plus que jamais..., by Serge Mongeau.

In the course of history there have been many philosophies based on seeking that which is pleasurable and avoiding that which is not. The term “hedonism” is often used to denote these moral systems based on seeking pleasure and avoiding suffering.

For hedonist philosophers, the quest for pleasure necessarily implies the quest for happiness. The ancient Greek philosopher Epicurus is certainly the most famous representative of this school of thought. Epicurus stressed the importance of fulfilling our pleasures in a simple way and avoiding excess. Contrary to the way people commonly understand the term “epicureanism” today, the real Epicureans lived in the greatest simplicity, avoiding luxury and worldly pleasures.

For them, happiness was found in the simple things of life, such as good meals and good friends. The desire for wealth or prestige was regarded as the result of social conditioning and something to be avoided, because it usually brought more harm than good.

The hedonist philosophy was fought bitterly by theologians and vilified throughout the Middle Ages. It did not really resurface until the 17th and 18th centuries, through the sensualist morality of philosophers such as Locke, Hume, and Diderot.

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