The word hedonism originates from the Greek name for pleasure. There are several theories that explain how people should behave to feel happy, what motivates them to do different things, and why something is good for them. According to the hedonistic approach, the most and only important elements of every phenomenon are pleasure and pain. This claim raises interesting philosophical discussions, and leads to the development of different hedonism types.
Non-philosophers consider a hedonist as an individual who wants to feel happy, regardless of everything else. So-called folk hedonists do not take their future or the well-being of other people into consideration. There is a stereotype that they never refuse alcohol, drugs, sex, and rock ‘n’ roll; no matter what the consequences might be. It seems reckless, but they do not think about potential health problems, relationship complications, and other regrets. Philosophers consider folk hedonism to be a combination of hedonistic egoism and motivational hedonism.
It is impossible to study hedonism and avoid talking about values. Value hedonism refers to the interpretation of pleasure being the only valuable thing, while pain is considered as completely invaluable. Pleasure in this case is valuable for its own sake. It should not lead to other benefits, and it is a process rather than an outcome. According to a value hedonist, an instrumental good provides the most value for him or her, and provides the possibility to feel happy. For instance, they do not need money themselves, but rather the pleasure they bring when people purchase goods and services.
In order to experience pleasure, hedonists can employ the theory of psychological or motivational hedonism. The theory describes human conscious and unconscious desires for delights, paying special attention to the latter. It also explains ways people can avoid pain. Many famous scientists developed motivational hedonism approaches; including Sigmund Freud, John Stuart Mill, and Charles Darwin. Jeremy Bentham proposed an idea that in most cases, the search for pleasure influenced human behavior significantly.
Another type of hedonism is hedonistic egoism. In theory, it states that every person should do whatever it takes to maintain his or her interests. In other words, people try to get the maximum net pleasure. This means that individuals do not care about others and their pain. Such an approach exculpates murderers, thefts, and other criminals because they should not care about moral obligations and do whatever it takes to experience pleasure at that moment.
Researchers also determine other types of hedonism. They provide argumentation for and against the concept. However, in the future, it seems that hedonism will lose its popularity because of the development of a civil society and the acceptance of smart social rules and regulations.