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Is Hedonism What You Think It Is?

by Esme
hedonic calculus is hedonism what you think it is

Hedonism is a school of thought that argues pleasure and happiness are the primary or most important intrinsic goods and the proper aim of human life.[1]

A hedonist strives to maximize net pleasure (pleasure minus pain), but when having finally gained that pleasure, either through intrinsic or extrinsic goods, happiness remains.

The Common Misconception

For most people, when they think of the word ‘hedonism’ it’s automatically related to a selfish state of mind; associating personal pleasure with a feeling of guilt. People feel uncomfortable with pleasure seeking purely for their own happiness because “if they are only aiming for pleasure then they aren’t being responsible to the community or society around them”

True hedonism is very different, although pleasure is the goal, it doesn’t mean other people have to suffer. (So long as actions the individual finds pleasurable are morally sound). This is highlighted most clearly when looking at the Hedonic Calculus:

  1. Intensity (I)–How intense is the pleasure or pain?
  2. Duration (D)–How long does the pleasure or pain last?
  3. Certainty (C)–What is the probability that the pleasure or pain will occur?
  4. Propinquity (nearness or remoteness) (N)–How far off in the future is the pleasure or pain?
  5. Fecundity (F)–What is the probability that the pleasure will lead to other pleasures?
  6. Purity (P)–What is the probability that the pain will lead to other pains?
  7. Extent (E)–How many persons are affected by the pleasure?

(the finished hedonic calculation)

Without going into the complexities, the Hedonic Calculus is a tool used for decision making. A Hedonist would think of all these factors (usually subconsciously) before making the decision, proving that although maximum pleasure is the aim it’s not in spite of others pain or future pain.

Therefore instead of:

– “constant pleasure at any cost.”


– “trying to get the most pleasure out of every situation.”


The Beginning

So now you know what hedonism actually is, where does it come from?

Ethical hedonism is said to have been started by Aristippus of Cyrene, a student of Socrates somewhere between c. 435 – c. 356 BCE. He held the idea that pleasure is the highest good.[2]

Hedonism is a sub-philosophy of utilitarianism, which says to act in a way that maximizes utility. In fact, the founder of modern Utilitarianism, Jeremy Bentham also created the Hedonic Calculus.  Hedonists equate pleasure with utility and believe that pleasure is the master of all humankind, and acts as the ultimate life goal. Hedonists believe that there are only two motivators of human action, pleasure and pain, and that decisions should only be made to further our pleasurable experiences and minimize or completely eliminate our painful ones.

What’s this got to do with Soulventure?

Soulventurers are natural pleasure seekers, driven by the need to fulfil the soul through adventure, by design the two definitions overlap. The difference being, Soulventure is an intrinsic feeling that brings together a collective of people whereas Hedonism is a moral compass in which to guide your life around.


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