Epicurus and the paradox of hedonism

Zdrojový dokument: Graeco-Latina Brunensia. 2022, roč. 27, č. 2, s. 73-84
  • ISSN
    1803-7402 (print)
    2336-4424 (online)
Type: Článek
The paradox of hedonism is arguably one of the most powerful anti-hedonist arguments. This argument tells us that, because it is self-defeating and irrational to single-mindedly pursue pleasure, pleasure cannot represent the only thing that directly makes us better off. We intend to show in this paper that some of the main elements in Epicurus' ethical position enable him to avoid the negative conclusion of this paradox. We also argue that central claims of the Cyrenaics' hedonism – specifically that only the experience of present pleasure has intrinsic value, and that we should pursue whatever brings pleasure now – make their ethical position especially vulnerable to this paradox. In conclusion, we argue that the fact that Epicurus can, while the Cyrenaics cannot, cope with the paradox of hedonism clearly represents a favorable characteristic of his ethical position.
  • This paper is based on research funded by the Spanish Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities (Projects FFI2013-41170-P and FFI2017-87034-P), the Agencia Estatal de Investigación (AEI) and the European Regional Development Fund (FEDER, UE).
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