Chapter III: Hedonism.

§ 65.

The most important points which I have endeavoured to establish in this chapter are as follows. (1) Hedonism must be strictly defined as the doctrine that Pleasure is the only thing which is good in itself: this view seems to owe its prevalence mainly to the naturalistic fallacy, and Mill’s arguments may be taken as a type of those which are fallacious in this respect; Sidgwick alone has defended it without committing this fallacy, and its final refutation must therefore point out the errors in his arguments (36—38). (2) Mill’s Utilitarianism is criticised; it being shewn (a) that he commits the naturalistic fallacy in identifying desirable with desired; (b) that pleasure is not the only object of desire. The common arguments for Hedonism seem to rest on those two errors (39—44). (3) Hedonism is considered as an Intuition, and it is pointed out (a) that Mill’s allowance that some pleasures are inferior in quality to others implies both that it is an Intuition and that it is a false one (46—48); (b) that Sidgwick fails to distinguish pleasure from consciousness of pleasure, and that it is absurd to regard the former at all events, as the sole good (49—52); (c) that it seems equally absurd to regard consciousness of pleasure as the sole good, since, if it were so, a world in which nothing else existed might be absolutely perfect: Sidgwick fails to put to himself this question, which is the only clear and decisive one (53—57). (4) What are commonly considered to be the two main types of Hedonism, namely, Egoism and Utilitarianism, are not only different from, but strictly contradictory of, one another; since the former asserts My own greatest pleasure is the sole good, the latter The greatest pleasure of all is the sole good. Egoism seems to owe its plausibility partly to the failure to observe this contradiction—a failure which is exemplified by Sidgwick; partly to a confusion of Egoism as a doctrine of end, with the same as a doctrine of means. If Hedonism is true, Egoism cannot be so; still less can it be so, if Hedonism is false. The end of Utilitarianism, on the other hand, would, if Hedonism were true, be, not indeed the best conceivable, but the best possible for us to promote; but it is refuted by the refutation of Hedonism (58—64) (§ 65 ¶ 1)