By Nominis Expers
Hedonism as a philosophy defines "the good" in terms of pleasure and pain, and is the worldview that holds to the doctrine that pleasure is the greatest good. Now, who wouldn't define pleasure as good? Aren't we all by this definition Hedonists? Here is where those three little letters, "i-s-m" make their impact. As we have learned, the suffix "-ism" transforms a word into a title for an entire life and world view. Hedonism indicates a system of thought, a lense through which to view the universe in which the "summum bonum", the "highest good" of man and the ultimate purpose of his being is found in the enjoyment of pleasure and the avoidance of pain. So what is sought for under this system, constantly and continuously is the increase of pleasure and the decrease of pain. The roots of Hedonism can be traced back to the fifth century BC to the ancient Greek school of the Cyrenaics. The Cyrenaics were named after their native city of Cyrene in North Africa. Their focus on the pleasure of the moment as the supreme good reflected a general skepticism: Only immediate sensations can be known. Concern with the past or the future causes uncertainty and anxiety, and should therefore be avoided. Gross excess and reckless abandon in sexuality and the use of alcohol are associated with this particular philosophical principal. Greek religious devotion to the god Dionysius and later Roman celebrations of the Bacchanalia, orgiastic festivals honoring Bacchus, the god of wine are similar manifestations of a Cyrenaic-style Hedonism. In these cases, the celebrant sought liberation from every-day inhibitions and a mystical experience of ecstasy, aided at times by temple prostitutes. The Epicurean school of hedonistic philosophy might be looked on as the next stage of Hedonism. Named after its founder, Epicurus, and started around 306 BC, Epicureanism was a more moderate variety of the seeking of pleasure, recognizing the problem of: The...
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