Empirical Hedonism—Continued

  • Henry Sidgwick


§ 1. Let, then, pleasure be defined as feeling which the sentient individual at the time of feeling it implicitly or explicitly apprehends to be desirable;—desirable, that is, when considered merely as feeling, and not in respect of its objective conditions or consequences, or of any facts that come directly within the cognisance and judgment of others besides the sentient individual. And let it be provisionally assumed that feelings generally can be compared from this point of view, with sufficient definiteness for practical purposes, and empirically known to be more or less pleasant in some definite degree. Then the empirical-reflective method of Egoistic Hedonism will be, to represent beforehand the different series of feelings that our knowledge of physical and psychical causes leads us to expect from the different lines of conduct that lie open to us; judge which series, as thus represented, appears on the whole preferable, taking all probabilities into account; and adopt the corresponding line of conduct. It may be objected that the calculation is too complex for practice; since any complete forecast of the future would involve a vast number of contingencies of varying degrees of probability, and to calculate the Hedonistic value of each of these chances of feeling would be interminable.


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Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1962

Authors and Affiliations

  • Henry Sidgwick
    • 1
  1. 1.University of CambridgeUK

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