Subjective Vs Hedonism

1937 Words 8 Pages
Philosophical theories of well-being can be divided in subjective and objective theories of well-being. Subjective theories of well-being claim that well-being is dependent on the subject’s attitude of favor and disfavor while objective theories deny that. In this paper, I will discuss two subjective theories of well-being: theory of authentic happiness and hedonism. First, I will point out some important differences between these two theories. Then I will try to criticize hedonism from the perspective of authentic happiness theory and vice versa.
Hedonism and theory of authentic happiness are two different versions of subjectivism. Hedonism is using pleasure and pain to define basic positive or negative attitudes that one can have towards
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The subject can be indifferent or have a negative attitude towards pleasures. For example, one can choose ascetic life and this life doesn’t have to be unhappy. We can see that the subject in authentic happiness theory is autonomous to make a decision about her priorities .On the other hand; hedonist theory is “dogmatically” claiming that a subject’s priority regarding well-being is always to experience life as pleasant. Hedonism is also claiming that the subject is the final arbiter but only in how pleasurable some experience is. However, in hedonist theory, it is the balance of pleasant and unpleasant experiences that decides how life is going for the subject and the subject can’t introduce different parameters. Haybron offers an example of an unhappy farmer to show that happiness and unhappiness cannot be reduced to pleasure and pain. Realization of one’s potentials and aims can be a source of happiness that cannot be reduced to pleasure. Haybron in his book “The pursuit of unhappiness” describes unhappy farmer Henry who wanted to be a train designer. The cause of Henry’s unhappiness is not unpleasantness of being a farmer, but that his life is not in accordance with his aims and desires. This is the reason why giving Henry some “pleasure pill” or “brain implant” wouldn’t solve his problem. Obviously, hedonism can’t provide a solution to this problem by giving him a “pleasure pill” because in order to be happy Henry would have to become a train designer. To solve Henry’s problem we would have to change something in the subject’s relation to reality; the objective world and the solution to Henry’s problem don’t have anything to do with pleasure and pain. This means that it is not only pleasure and pain which make a subject happy or unhappy. The realisation of our aims in the real world also has a big influence

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