Hedonism and the desire-satisfaction theory of felicity or happiness are the major contenders in the competition for the title of an apt theory to lead the best life.
Speaking about Hedonism, there are different versions of the theory. However, in all its versions, it upholds that happiness is an entity that relies on what’s going on in your mind. It is a matter of completely untreated personal and prejudiced feeling that is not affected by the outside world. According to hedonism, for leading a happy life, one must maximize the feelings of pleasure and minimize the pain. A happy person is the one who is consistently smiling and indulges in a plenitude of pleasurable experiences with little to no pain in between.
The desire-satisfaction theory is hailed as a better one by a majority. According to the desire-satisfaction theory, eternal happiness lies in acquiring what you want. Fulfillment of one’s desires is the sole contributor towards one’s happiness irrespective of how much pleasure or pain is involved in it. In the case of desire-satisfaction theory, the outside world does have an impact on your happiness as for fulfilling one’s desires one must put in sincere efforts to make the situations around oneself conducive and cooperative. So, the desire-satisfaction theory is crystal clear on the things through which one can acquire happiness. Unlike hedonism, this theory doesn’t uphold pleasure as the only entity that can help one lead a good life but states that an individual has a long list of desires and fulfilling them can enhance the quality of an individual’s overall life making it better.
A relationship between the theories of desire-satisfaction and hedonism can be framed as well on the basis of how you perceive pleasure. If you consider pleasure arising from the personal satisfaction that comes after fulfilling a desire then a single theory of happiness can become a variant of both desire-satisfaction and hedonism.
A very simple example supporting this statement can be eating ice cream. If you desire to eat ice cream, you will go and have it or order it online thereby instilling a sense of happiness inside you. However, while eating the same ice cream you will experience pleasure as well that will again give rise to the feelings of happiness. In other words, you simply won’t eat ice cream if you are not desiring it at that point in time and eating ice cream in the absence of the desire to eat it won’t give way to the feelings of pleasure inside you. Long story short, if you don’t desire an item and you happen to acquire it, it won’t give you pleasure. So, we can safely say that desire and pleasure are interrelated and both when work in conjunction with each other paves the way for happiness to enter.
Here is another example that challenges the beliefs of a hedonist. The theory of hedonism takes into account only the aggregation of pleasures present in one’s life irrespective of the fact that how this aggregation is spread across one’s entire life-span. One person enjoys his childhood and youth but goes through a declining middle age and an extremely pathetic old age. On the other hand, there is a person who passes through a difficult childhood and youth full of pains but becomes successful and happy in adulthood and lives a beautiful old age. Since the aggregation of pleasures is the same in both cases, a hedonist will say that both persons lived an equally happy life. However, we all know this is not true.
Again, desire satisfaction falls short in defining what is truly necessary for life. If you have a desire to collect stamps, simply collecting them won’t provide you eternal happiness and beautiful life. Happiness comes from truly valuable pursuits like friendship, being healthy, acquiring an educational degree, and more. A beggar’s ultimate desire is to gain food for the day. However, that doesn’t guarantee that he is living a happy life.
So, overall we can say that hedonism and desire satisfaction are closely related. However, if one wishes to acquire eternal happiness, one must desire to achieve the truly valuable and wonderful things in life.
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