Talk:Paradox of hedonism

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I don't see why the ethics category should not be used here. Am I correct in thinking that that's the topic of a minor edit war that's going on in this article? Michael Hardy 21:07, 2 Jul 2004 (UTC)

[quote]Happiness is often naively equated with pleasure, though sometimes the identification of the two concepts has been argued as part of a greater philosophical position called [/quote] "naively" is a very biased wording. i changed it by removing naively and adding ", a very debatable concept" after "...with 'pleasure'"

I deleted the reference to Ambrose Bierce's story, "Haita the Shepherd". Unless someone is willing to say where in the story this occurrs and and why the story is an example of hedonism, it's not helpful. I think allusions to literature are a good idea, but only if developed. User:Brinticus

I don't think this is really a paradox. Imagine aiming an arrow at a target; you'll only hit the bull's eye if you aim above it.

What about neuroscience?[edit]

The criticism section currently says that the paradox has no systematic place in empirical sciences. Maybe the neuroscientific perspective is lacking from the article? There is a simple explanation for this phenomenon: the brain seeks homoeostasis.

Pleasure serves as a reward within the framework of what is ultimately a survival mechanism, and for such a reward to work it needs to be in short supply, and so it tapers off soon. The upshot is that to stay pleased, you need to ration the consumption of any one pleasurable thing, and instead switch between different sources of pleasure after just a bit of consumption.

Un-/happiness is a higher-order state of being that draws on pleasure but is not directly connected. It appears to have a set point that you never deviate much from — no matter how good or bad life is, your un-/happiness soon dials back to your default level. Since any happiness is short-lived, there is little point in expending oneself to attain the highest possible happiness. Conversely, since any unhappiness is equally short-lived, there need be no fear of plans panning out worse than expected. You are never going to be much better or much worse off. The rational conclusion to draw is that what is valuable to chase is not happiness but simply experiences.

Your Brain: The Missing Manual by Matthew MacDonald has a chapter with a simple and cogent explanation of all of this.

Aristotle (talk) 23:44, 16 March 2009 (UTC)

Hedonistic criticism?[edit]

hi everyone, ive found this criticism unclear, has anyone else? postponing pleasure does not seem to be related to the topic very tightly? Spencerk 04:50, 22 February 2007 (UTC)

Actually, my first reaction after reading that subsection with a REALLY long title was to come here and discuss it. Yes, I agree it's confusing.
Root4(one) 03:55, 22 March 2007 (UTC)
I was actually thinking about deleting Hedonistic criticism to the Paradox of Hedonism just because it didn't seem to relate at all. That is, until I saw it under a new light, so edited it for better understanding (as I saw it) and added commentary. This section is actually about the refusal of so-called hedonist to understand or believe the actual paradox itself, which I think is related. I also added commentary. -- Side note, but it is interesting to note that while trying to add some source to my commentary (What I wrote has certainly been said before), I came upon Ecclesiastes. I don't think that the writer of this would agree 100% with my comments. But the Hebrew book has a lot to say about pleasure... even a little bit about a form of Nihilism, which I find rather amazing. In any case, I recommend it as an educational read.
Root4(one) 04:29, 22 March 2007 (UTC)
Later. This one section still needs fixing. I'm still tempted to delete it, or modify it, or something... I mean, the section title itself is needlessly horrendous. And I'm certain a bit "original research", though I still believe ideas from it could benefit the article as a whole. I wish I could fix it rather than blather and complain at my vain attempts. Root4(one) 05:14, 10 April 2007 (UTC)
Section renamed "Hedonistic Criticism" and re-edited. It's still probably "original research", but hey, whatever. If too many people complain and the section can't be amended to suffice we'll just delete. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Root4(one) (talkcontribs) 05:37, 10 April 2007 (UTC).

Strange Side Picture Explanation.[edit]

Can anybody explain the picture? Even most one panel cartoons have some sort of caption. Root4(one) 17:26, 22 March 2007 (UTC)

Possible Explanations section[edit]

I think that Hobbes should be quoted here. Hobbes makes a strong argument that man is naturally greedy, and will always look for egotistical desire fulfillment if given the opportunity to. (Hobbes' Leviathan). Hobbes' man in the state of nature will not stop at anything to achieve this desire fulfillment, except if other desires are being restricted. Ask a man if he is happy (as Locke says, quoted above) and man stops being happy because he realizes that there is more out there to pursue. That is greed.Farazars 04:38, 10 April 2007 (UTC) —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Farazars (talkcontribs) 04:36, 10 April 2007 (UTC).

I don't think anybody's going to keep you from quoting (or even paraphrasing) Hobbes. Given the current quality of the article, anything from a notable person or reliable source would probably help. Root4(one) 05:12, 10 April 2007 (UTC)


"Happiness is often wrongly equated with pleasure" This is vague and stupid. That which is pleasurable makes us happy. The use of "equate" is tedious; people do not analyze their feelings in this way, but because pleasure leads to happiness (however short-lived), it is hardly a guilty assumption. Indeed, it is a fair assumption. If we take "pleasure" and "happiness" as separate sensations or emotions (the distinction being that emotions are slightly more delayed reactions than sensations) then it is evident that both frequently occur together, either one after another or simultaneously. I would also contend that happiness is a form of pleasure, albeit (when an emotion) something which can endure over time without stimulating anything other than our emotional state. No, this isn't scientific- but it is more accurate than the quoted notion. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 23:25, 5 May 2007 (UTC).

Take the statement "Happiness is often wrongly equated with pleasure" for literal value. Now take your argument "happiness is a form of pleasure". Your argument itself implies that Happiness should not be equated with pleasure. Where's the contradiction? When something is a form of something else, then certainly there is no equivalence. I don't even agree with your definition, but I see nothing contrary.
A statement as to what "pleasure" and "happiness" means in this context may be in order. I did not write the section, so I can't say authoritatively what it is supposed to mean. To me, happiness is more of a state of mind, a kind of contentment. It certainly is an emotion, if not emotionally related. Pleasure is more sensual, whether it be related to tasting good food, laughing at a good joke, admiring a wonderful painting, having an awesome orgasm, feeling a friends hug, enjoying a hobby, whatever. It is more concrete in that things that are pleasurable invoke some specific pleasure sensing portion of our minds. I could even imagine that theoretically, we might even be able to measure "how much one is pleased" with the proper tools.
I suppose the usage of "equate" here really means, A: "I will be happy If and only if I seek that which is pleasurable", or possibly even only B: "if I seek that which is pleasurable, then I will be happy" But that's simply not the case. That which is pleasurable does not always make us happy. If any of us see and are focused on a "wrong" in the world, I dare say nothing pleasurable would make us happy until the "wrong" is fixed or removed from our immediate view (or perhaps a third way to make us happy for a particular instance of "wrong" would be to realize what what we thought was a "wrong" really wasn't wrong at all). But people DO often make the assumptions A or B, try the actions suggested, and then can't figure out why they aren't happy.
Honestly, I consider "Happiness is often wrongly equated with pleasure" to be the primary reason for this article's existence. Intuitionally, one might consider happiness and pleasure being equivalent, or that one leads (and only leads) to the other, but the fact is happiness is much more complicated an emotion than we tend to think. Root4(one) 04:29, 7 May 2007 (UTC)
BTW, I wanted to assert, even though I've replied in quantity on this talk page (and will probably continue to do so), I do not "OWN" this article. The rules of Wikipedia still apply. If you want to improve the article, go right ahead. I can't promise that I won't revert the edits of anybody (obviously), but I can try to be fair. Root4(one) 04:37, 7 May 2007 (UTC)

Leviathanlover (talk)Esentially, couldn't you equate this also with the thought that in order to feel the full effects of pleasur, one must also feel the effects of pain? Just as a thought, but the seeking of pleasure could become just like any addiction to drugs or to work or whatnot, as in after awhile, you are not deriving the same amount of pleasure from an act or an object, so you would need to find something else that would give you the added pleasure. My friend and I had a dicussion about sex and how when that first time happens that you actually penetrate a woman, it is the best feeling in the whole world, nothing at all is like it. However, each time yo hav eintercourse after that, it isn't anywhere close to the same feeling that came with the first time, but we still continue to do it anyway and over time want to do different things to attempt and bring that feeling back. So without that time in between sex when you are not experiencing the pleasure of it, you would esentially be feeling pain, and desiring to have sex again.

The same can be said of your example of John collecting stamps. He isn't collecting stamps because he knows it's pleasurable to him, he is generally collecting stamps because it is something to occupy his time that calms him and has him doing something that he thinks is beneficial but really doesn't effect anyone but himself. When John isn't working meticulously on collecting and organizing and presenting his stamps in perfection, he isn't necessarily miserable, but he is feeling pain of not doing what he loves to do. His hobby could start off slow as well, with him collecting stamps that areon envelopes his relatives send him, or from sets that he purchases from the Postal Service. After time, he now has all the stamps that come in the mail and all the stamps you can purchase at face value from the post office, and begins going to collectors shows and travelling to differet countries to collect their stamps as well. The seeking of pleasure has taken him from just collecting stamps that come to him, to going out of his way to find stamps that are new and unusual because he needs to work with them, to display them in order to be happy.

Just a thought. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Leviathanlover (talkcontribs) 20:44, 29 December 2008 (UTC)

Would it not be better to find a reliable source that explains that pleasure, when reaching a certain threshold, results in happiness?Wzrd1 (talk) 06:28, 25 April 2015 (UTC)

Last paragraph of Example[edit]

I find this paragraph interesting, but it also seems awkwardly written, based on a limited paradigm, and quite irrelevant. Before I consider deleting it, I want to see if there is some explanation as to its place in this article. I understand the meaning, but I think that, unfortunately, it serves only to confuse or at least distract the reader. MagnesianPhoenix (talk) 03:53, 31 December 2008 (UTC)

Most of it was deleted when I looked at it today; I deleted the remainder (which was only the first sentence) because it was unreferenced and didn't make any sense. -- Beland (talk) 22:20, 2 August 2013 (UTC)

Introductory Sentence, NPOV issues[edit]

Before my last edit, the first sentence of this article read "The paradox of hedonism, also called the pleasure paradox, is the idea in the study of ethics which points out that pleasure and happiness are strange phenomena that do not obey normal principles." This introduction accepts that the paradox of hedonism is a true paradox that shows that pleasure and happiness somehow transcend logic, which isn't NPOV, considering that the Suggested Explanations section points out that the paradox doesn't arise if you don't equate happiness and pleasure.

The opening sentence now reads, "The paradox of hedonism, also called the pleasure paradox, is a thought experiment in the study of ethics which explores the nature of pleasure and happiness." This introduces the concept without taking a stance on it.

This article needs more work to be NPOV, though. At the moment, it quite clearly advocates the idea that pleasure cannot be acquired directly, which is hardly even a generally accepted point of view. Ketsuekigata (talk) 20:48, 19 April 2010 (UTC)

Nietzsche and Adler[edit]

I suggest that Nietzsche and Adler quotations be removed; even if they deal with the issue of happiness, they have nothing to do with the paradox of hedonism. Frankl´s view is on topic, and thus should be kept, but is regrettable, because it pressuposes one can´t be happy by one´s own. One of the most important things I learned from my therapist is that one should be happy by one´s own before being able to be happy with someone else. I have read something very close to this somewhere in Wikipedia. If only I could remember where... Other than that, this article is of great value. I think everyone should read it. Binho Gomes (talk) 16:21, 8 March 2011 (UTC)


I've taken out the quote:

Most men pursue pleasure with such breathless haste that they hurry past it.[1]

as I'm pretty sure it is mythical. (Much admired though it is on the internet! It seems to originate in Britannica 1911.

The nearest he seems to come to it is to write;

‘Most men rush after pleasure so fast that they rush right past it.’

page 29, Kierkegaards Writings: Either/Or Part 1 by Søren Kierkegaard, Howard V. Hong

The context however indicates that the sense is distorted in the popular version - Kierkegaard is cynical, not mellow about happiness - he even uses the metaphor of a dwarf guarding a princess in a castle! Gemtpm (talk) 23:02, 7 January 2013 (UTC)


The example doesn't make any sense to me.

If Paul likes collecting stamps, then by definition he is deriving pleasure directly from doing so. If he collects stamps but does not enjoy it, by definition that's not going to make him happy. This happens regardless of what his motivation was in starting stamp collecting. Maybe he heard other people enjoy doing it, so tried it, and either liked it or didn't. Maybe he was intrinsically attracted to stamps and so started collecting them for pleasure. It's just a matter of personal preference. Am I misunderstanding? Maybe this whole concept is just bogus. -- Beland (talk) 22:24, 2 August 2013 (UTC)

It's an oversimplification, which ignores far more complex behavior. An example would be, "Paul enjoys stamps, but feels fulfillment when completing a particular series or monetary value", with fulfillment equating to happiness.Wzrd1 (talk) 06:34, 25 April 2015 (UTC)