Meetup: philosophy of hedonism

“Nature has placed mankind under the governance of two sovereign masters, pain, and pleasure. It is for them alone to point out what we ought to do, as well as to determine what we shall do,” according to Jeremy Bentham. Was he right? Should we be pursuing the greatest-good-for-the-greatest number? How should we understand pleasure? What about Epicurus who defined happiness as tranquility more than pleasure? Or is pleasure entirely the wrong way to think about a good life?

Hedonistic philosophy proposes that maximizing pleasure and minimizing pain are ultimately important in living a good life. This might be true to some extent, but whether they’re the *only* important elements is debatable. We’ll be discussing whether you should feel guilty about pursuing pleasure and more at the next Skye & Massimo’s Philosophy Cafe!

Suggested reading: here.

When: Monday, 12 August 2019, at 6pm.

RSVP here.


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Massimo is the K.D. Irani Professor of Philosophy at the City College of New York. He blogs at and He is the author of How to Be a Stoic: Using Ancient Philosophy to Live a Modern Life.

2 thoughts on “Meetup: philosophy of hedonism”

  1. Massimo,

    It sounds like it will be an interesting discussion. Speaking of happiness, tf you like to peruse magazines, note that happiness is the theme of the summer issue of Lapham’s Quarterly, “a magazine of history & ideas,” according to its website, that “embodies the belief that history is the root of all education, scientific and literary as well as political and economic” Seneca is among the contributors [sic] to the current issue. Perhaps having a little fun at the expense of the Enlightenment, the issue includes this miscellany:

    “Even before Jeremy Bentham wrote his own treatise on utilitarianism, Enlightenment scholars were attempting to quantify a happy life. In the eighteenth century, Glasgow professor Francis Hutcheson offered an equation for benevolence, defined as the desire to spread happiness to others, where b = benevolence, a = ability, s = self-love, i = interest, and m = moment of good. His formula: ba = m + sa = m + i, and therefore b = (m + i)/a.”


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