From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Hedone (Ancient Greek: ἡδονή, hēdonē) is the Greek word meaning "pleasure." It was an important concept in Ancient Greek philosophy, especially in the Epicurean school. It is also the root of the English word "hedonism".

In Greek mythology, Hedone is personified as a goddess of pleasure, enjoyment, and delight, as the daughter born from the union of Eros (personification of love) and Psyche (personification of the soul).[1] She was associated more specifically with sensual pleasure. Her opposites were the Algea, personifications of pain.[2] Her equivalent in Roman mythology is Voluptas. There is no evidence that she was ever the object of cult worship.

Aristotelian philosophy[edit]

Aristotle identified it as one of the two elements or components of pathe, with the other being lype or pain.[3] The philosopher described pathe in these words: "Let the emotions be all those things on account of which people change their minds and differ in regard to their judgments, and upon which attend pain and pleasure."[4]

Hēdonē, in Aristotelian ethics, is part of the philosopher's account of virtue and that pleasure (along with pain) is said to reveal a person's character.[5] It is good if it is a consequence of a virtuous life as opposed to the position of some philosophers such as Aristippus, which holds that it is wholly good.[6] For the concept to be good or true, it must conform to nature, reason, or virtue and that, although, hēdonē can harmonize with these three, Aristotle gave it less value.[6] An example is the concept of proper pleasure or oikeia hedone, which has been discussed in Poetics and considered a process of restoration.[7] Martin Heidegger's interpretation of Aristotelian philosophy explains that pleasure is a movement of the soul and that tranquility arises from it.[8]

In Epicureanism[edit]

In the philosophy of Epicurus, hēdonē is described as a pleasure that may or may not derive from actions that are virtuous, whereas another form of pleasure, terpsis, is always virtuous.[9] Another Epicurean reading, which distinguished hēdonē from terpsis, referred to it as a feeling of pleasure that is episodic and might or might not be beneficial.[10] According to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Epicurus uses hēdonē in reference to only physical pleasures.[11]


The Stoics held a negative view of hēdonē, arguing that it is not in accordance with nature and reason.[6] This can be understood within the philosophy's position that emotions are by definition excessive or are excessive impulses that exceed the measure of natural reason and – as in other forms of excess – leads to other evils of irrationality.[12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Stampolidis, Nicholas; Tassoulas, Yorgos (2009). Eros: from Hesiod's Theogony to late antiquity. Museum of Cycladic Art. p. 48. ISBN 9789607064868.
  2. ^ "Hedone". Theoi Greek Mythology. Retrieved 6 July 2015.
  3. ^ Reis, Burkhard (2006). The Virtuous Life in Greek Ethics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 195. ISBN 9780521859370.
  4. ^ Braund, Susanna; Most, Glenn (2004). Ancient Anger: Perspectives from Homer to Galen. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 100. ISBN 9780521826259.
  5. ^ Hyland, Drew A.; Manoussakis, John Panteleimon (2006). Heidegger and the Greeks: Interpretive Essays. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. p. 143. ISBN 0253348021.
  6. ^ a b c Kittel, Gerhard; Friedrich, Gerhard; Bromiley, Geoffrey (1985). Theological Dictionary of the New Testament: Abridged in One Volume. Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company. p. 304. ISBN 0802824048.
  7. ^ Munteanu, Dana LaCourse (2011). Tragic Pathos: Pity and Fear in Greek Philosophy and Tragedy. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. p. 103. ISBN 9780521765107.
  8. ^ Dahlstrom, Daniel O. (2011). Interpreting Heidegger: Critical Essays. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. p. 164. ISBN 9780521764940.
  9. ^ Warren, James (2002). Epicurus and Democritean ethics : an archaeology of ataraxia (1. publ. ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press. pp. 49–51. ISBN 978-0-521-81369-3. Retrieved 6 July 2015.
  10. ^ Warren, James (2002). Epicurus and Democritean Ethics: An Archaeology of Ataraxia. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. p. 50. ISBN 0521813697.
  11. ^ Konstan, David. "Epicurus". Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Summer 2014 Edition). Retrieved 6 July 2015.
  12. ^ Sherman, Nancy (2007). Stoic Warriors: The Ancient Philosophy behind the Military Mind. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 81. ISBN 9780195315912.

External links[edit]

  • Media related to Hedone at Wikimedia Commons