Two Kinds of Hedonism, by David Carlin

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*Image: The Pursuit of Pleasure by Joseph Noel Paton, 1848 [Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT]

By David Carlin, The Catholic Thing, June 14, 2022

David Carlin is a retired professor of sociology and philosophy at the Community College of Rhode Island, and the author of The Decline and Fall of the Catholic Church in America and, most recently, Three Sexual Revolutions: Catholic, Protestant, Atheist.

David CarlinIn the world of ancient moral philosophy, there were two very different schools of hedonism.  They agreed on the fundamental principle of hedonism, namely, that feelings of pleasure are the only intrinsically good things in the world and feelings of pain the only intrinsically bad things.

All other things that we call good (wealth, health, freedom, good looks, power, fame, etc.) are good in an instrumental way only; that is, they are good insofar as they lead to pleasure.   …