Hedonism Epicurus Greek Mythology


Hedonism has its philosophical roots as far back as Plato and Socrates, but ancient Greek philosopher Epicurus is often credited with articulating an early brand of hedonism based not on a life of untamed appetites, but on moderate pleasures and respect for others.

Today there are multiple views on what hedonism is. This is largely due to some highly nuanced philosophical arguments about how we should conceptualise pleasure.


Just as different experiences can bring a similar shiver of pleasure, the same experience can conjure a range of responses — from extreme pleasure to definite displeasure — in different people.

There is no single stimulus that elicits exactly the same response in everyone all the time: pleasure is an interaction between the stimulus and the perceiver.

Many of the things that commonly give us pleasure can also be used in risky or harmful ways.

A practical definition might be someone who tries to maximise the everyday pleasures while still balancing other concerns. I’ll call this a kind of “rational hedonism”. In fact, Epicurus emphasised a simple, harmonious life without the pursuit of riches or glory.

Maximising pleasure, unlike with debauchery or addiction, need not take the form of more, bigger, better. Instead, we savour everyday pleasures. We relish them while they’re happening, using all our senses and attention, actively anticipate them, and reflect on them in an immersive way.


How do we benefit from hedonism?

A state of pleasure is linked with reducing stress. So when we feel pleasure, our sympathetic nervous system – that fight or flight response we experience when we feel threatened – is calmed. First of all, the stimulus arouses us, then if we appraise the situation as safe, we have “stress-terminating responses”, which we experience as relaxation or stress relief.

Studies show pleasurable emotions are associated with broader and more creative thinking, and a range of positive outcomes including better resilience, social connectedness, well-being, physical health, and longevity. So, pleasure might not only help us to live more enjoyably, but longer.


Focusing on the pleasurable aspects of healthy foods can also be a more effective way to eat more of them than focusing on how “healthy” they are. Similar approaches are likely to be effective with exercise and other behaviours associated with health benefits.

In the meantime, we should defiantly shake off the idea that pleasure is slightly shameful or frivolous and become early adopters of this rational kind of hedonism. We can think of Epicurus, and intentionally savour the simple pleasures we have learned to overlook. 


D. Kozlowski (2017), What is hedonism and how does it affect your health?

Hedonism Effect On Healthy Lifestyle 

The Conversation