Philosophy Narrow and Preference Hedonism Essay

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Life is a collection of feelings, and everything that gives us a good feeling will certainly give us happiness. For every person there is a different definition of happiness. Some people associate happiness with spiritual satisfaction which people achieve by practicing their religious activities. The gist of the discussion lies in the point that happiness is relative. One thing might make one person happy and the other sad. There are two sides to every slice therefore you cannot just consider one factor and declare one theory of happiness or school of thought right or wrong.

The battle of objectivity vs. subjectivity is different for every situation. For situations where objectivity is needed narrow hedonism theory of happiness will be considered more plausible as compare to the need for relativity from situation to situation and feeling to feeling will lead to the victory of preference hedonism theory of happiness.

Factor Two: Happiness

The relativity of happiness can be identified by observing the people around us. When you are observing a person who is being happy by inflicting pain upon him you will notice that pain will be resulting in something pleasurable for that person. For example, happiness is relative, even in gender. Women attain pleasure in shopping while most men feel stressed during shopping which becomes somewhat painful. The three most important things that are considered as source of happiness by the majority of people are wealth, fame, and respect.

1. Wealth - a lot of people believe that possession of money can buy happiness. People spend money to buy things that will fulfill their desires which in turn would give them happiness. However sometimes happiness is more than just a couple of dollars. This very statement in itself is objective because if we consider the principle of relativity money can be happiness for most of the people. It is important to note here that for a person the happiness related to wealth will differ from time to time. This means that a person wanting a certain amount of wealth in one year will want more in the next. The hunger for money can never be fulfilled which leads to incomplete happiness that goes back to the concept of not wanting the pleasure so much that the inability to attain it becomes painful.

2. Fame -- Fame is also an important source of happiness. You must have heard a common statement of the showbiz world, good attention or bad attention just save me from no attention. Celebrities become so obsessed with fame that they literally crave for it. For instance charm of success in a competition and applause from the crowd or audience would provide them the happiness that they strived for. Hence fame becomes their source of happiness. Some people, who fail to attain fame due to their lack of talent or skills, buy fame by their wealth such as politicians etc.

3. Respect -- Some people strive for being a respectful citizen of the society. For them knowing that the people around them respect them and value them is a strong source of happiness.

Factor Three: Satisfaction

Every person has defined satisfaction in his own terms. We cannot associate happiness or pain with satisfaction. Again, the fact remains, it is relative, and it is different for every person. Therefore, by considering only happiness or good as satisfaction will not be a right decision. Satisfaction can come by attaining anything that motivates a person. In the comparison of rich vs. poor we might believe that the rich person, having every kind of wealth as well as fame and respect in the society is more satisfied with his life as compared to the poor one. However the reality might be different, the poor person who has nothing but the basic necessities could be more satisfied than the rich person, may be because he has nothing to lose.

Factor Four: Passion

It is the nature of every human being to find the purpose of his life which usually comes in f passion. This passion can differ from person to person. For one person the passion might be religion and for the other the passion might be his profession. For a religious person living a life as per the religious guidelines becomes a passion for him. This gives him utmost satisfaction and happiness regardless of the fact whether his religious practices are pleasurable or painful.

For example, in Hinduism during a sacred month the Hindus take bath in an ice cold river which they refer to as "Ganga." They believe that this practice will clear all their sins and this very belief is pleasurable for a person who performs the practice. Similarly, Shia Muslims, during the holy Islamic month Muharram, beat themselves with knives and chains up to the level that even the spectators find it difficult to watch. This passionate practice is painful but gives them the satisfaction of sharing the pain of their holy leaders. Hence, religion becomes passion for such people and passion becomes a source of attaining happiness. It is important to note here that the factor passion consists of happiness as well as the factor of subjectivity.

Factor Five: Goal

Most of the people have set a certain goal for their life and for achieving that goal they go through different experiences. The experiences can be painful as well as pleasurable but the motivation to achieve that goal is so strong that they never stop working hard to achieve their goal.


By analyzing the discussion above, the preference hedonism appears to be more plausible and logical theory of happiness. Basic logic applies to the analysis, if only good things led to happiness then the world would have been free of crime, violence and terrorism. For criminals the height of happiness is in taking revenge and spreading violence. Apart from this example, good people can also take happiness by taking pain. The definition of pain is not limited to physical wounds it is also mental disturbance, mental stress and anxiety. That is why the majority of people in the world follow their respective religious guidelines in order to draw a clear line between a good thing and a bad thing i.e. they make efforts to be narrow hedonists.

Human beings are born illiterate while all other living beings are born literate in the sense that humans do not have an idea of what to eat or how to walk, they are taught and they get knowledge from outside world. However, other living beings know what they have to eat or how they are supposed to walk and who is their enemy. An herbivore will never eat meat as compared to a diabetic human who will definitely take sugar for pleasure purposes. Due to the fact that humans are born illiterate and they grow up in a different environment, they adapt different mental perceptions of happiness. Therefore the reality remains, preference hedonism theory of is more plausible.


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Edwards, R.B. (1979). Pleasures and Pain: A theory of qualitative hedonism. N.Y.: Cornell University Press.

Feldman, F. (2004). Pleasure and the Good Life: Concerning the Nature, Varieties, and Plausibility of Hedonism. Oxford University Press.

Feldman, F., Dancy, J., & Sosa, E. (1997). Utilitarianism, Hedonism, and Desert: Essays in Moral Philosophy. Cambridge University Press.

Gosling, J. (1969). Pleasure and Desire: The case for hedonism reviewed. Clarendon P. (Oxford).

Miller, F.P., Vandome, a.F., & McBrewster, J. (2009). Hedonism. AlphaScript Publishing.

Soper, K. (1990). Troubled Pleasures: Writings on politics, gender, and hedonism. Verso.

Stebbins, R.A. (2001). The costs and benefits of hedonism: some consequences of taking casual leisure seriously. Leisure Studies, 305-309.

Veenhoven, R. (2003).…[continue]

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