No factual judgment can form the basis of any ethical judgment. Ethics is no factual or descriptive science. It has simply no consent with what a person wants. It is a normative science.
Its aim is to find what the idea of the human species ought to be. It is related only to ideals. Ethical laws are universal laws, being the same for everyone irrespective of time and place.
But judgments relating to facts cannot be universal because they are dependent upon conditions. If psychological hedonism is taken to mean that man searches for his supreme pleasure, then the statement that he should search for pleasure becomes meaningless. As Green puts it, to a person who is only the result of physical forces it is useless to direct to obey ethical laws.
(2) Psychological hedonism is un-psychological:
To believe that the motive of action is the feeling of pleasure is a blunder. Pleasure is the result of the fulfillment of wish and not its motive. Generally person wants some object, and he feels pleasure on obtaining possession of it.
These objects coincide with his nature and consequently, even on getting pain, he still searches for them. In fact, the psychological process takes the following form— (a) Feeling of deficiency, (b) desire of object, (c) possession of object, (d) pleasant feeling.
A hungry man wants food, not the pleasant feeling following the act of eating. To desire pleasure and to look for the desired object are two different things. In the words of Rahall, “There is undoubtedly pleasure in the satisfaction of all desires.
But that is a very different thing from asserting that the object is desired because it is thought of as pleasant. The hedonistic psychology involves a hysteron portion; it puts the cart before the horse. In reality, the imagined pleasantness is created by the desire and not the desire by the imagined pleasantness.”
(3) Difference between the Idea of pleasure and the pleasant idea:
Psychological hedonism does not differentiate between idea of pleasure and pleasant idea. The thought of the desired object is definitely pleasant but it is not pleasure. The selected object is always pleasant but man does not always select pleasure.
Pleasure is, of course, the efficient cause of action but it is not its final cause. Selection also has some objective value. A person selects some object because it is analogous to his character.
The object itself is also an end, not only a means of attainment. For example, a mother loves the child for the sake of the child and not only for own pleasure.
(4) Desires precede fulfillment:
The same thing can be clarified still further by the fact that desires precede fulfillment In Butler’s opinion; the absence of the desires for some objects will lead to the state in which many kinds of pleasures will also cease to exist.
A philanthropist gets pleasure in doing good but his objective is doing well to others and not the resulting pleasure. As Mackenzie expresses it,” Pleasure ensues upon the satisfaction of certain wants, and the wants must be prior to the satisfactions.” In this way, one must admit, at least, that some desires are definitely not desires of pleasure.
(5) Two meanings of the word ‘Pleasure’:
There can be two meanings of the word ‘pleasure’ (a) pleasant feeling, (b) pleasing object Thus, in the form of object we always undoubtedly search for pleasure, meaning, in other words, that we search for objects the possession of which affords us pleasure.
But this does not mean that we search for pleasant feelings. A mother does not want to take the child on to her lap because it is soft, smooth and warm and gives her a feeling of pleasantness but because she loves the child. In the words of Mackenzie “the fact that we desire pleasure (object) is no evidence that we desire pleasure (feeling).’
(6) Paradox of hedonism:
According to Sidwick, “The impulse towards pleasure, if too predominant, defeats its own purpose.” The more the anxiety for obtaining pleasure, the will be the pleasure. Mill explained the same thing by saying that only that person is happy whose mind is centered on an object other than pleasure.
Epicurus advocated reduction of desires for minimizing pain or staying indifferent to pleasure and pain. Mackenzie explains this paradox of hedonism in this way: “even when we do desire pleasure, the best way to get it is often to forget it we think about the pleasure itself, we are almost sure to miss it whereas if we direct our desires towards objective ends the pleasure comes of itself.’
The hedonistic paradox is not true of all pleasures but notwithstanding this, some detachment Ls essential for complete satisfaction for example, if you are seeing a film, the pleasure will ensure from attending to the film not to the pleasure arising from seeing the film.
Rashdall has indicated that the hedonistic paradox is indeed an exaggeration. “It is not a matter of experience that pleasure is diminished by being provided and contrived to beforehand.
I do not find that the dimmer which I have ordered myself always gives me less pleasure than the dinner which has been ordered by someone else. In certain circumstances the previous contrivance may even become a positive enhancement of the delight.”
To take another example, if you go the movies because it will give you pleasure, then this preconception of pleasant feeling will in no way detract from the pleasure which will actually be your- It is obvious, and need not be mentioned that the hedonistic paradox does not apply to all pleasures.
It applies only to condition that the object itself be forgotten in contemplation of the pleasures accruing from it or that its objective value of completely disregarded.
(7) Materialistic basis:
Psychological hedonism is based on materialistic philosophy which has been adequately criticized. Materialism has become obsolete even in the scientific field.
(8) One-sided Interpretation of pleasure:
Hedonists have given a biased interpretation of pleasure. Physical pleasure is not the only pleasure and neither is it the supreme pleasure. Intellectual and spiritual pleasures are far more permanent- Man is a rational being. His understanding of the importance of rational pleasure increases with the development of the rational aspect
(9) Reason slave of passions:
The hedonists did realize the importance of reason but they tried to make it a slave of passions. Actually it is reason which should direct the passions. An ideally pleasant life can only be the outcome of a proper balance between reason and feeling.
(10) Unsocial and individualistic theory:
The theory of the hedonists is unsocial and individualistic. If man takes physical pleasure to be the goal, he becomes completely selfish. Bentham opined that the pleasure of the maximum number the supreme end but by emphasizing the intensity of pleasure he made of theory selfish.
In social life marl feeds some degree of balance and sacrifice- For social being duties come before pleasure. A person steeped in physical pleasure cannot be social.
(11) Impractical ideal:
Hedonism is impractical, if every person is going to look his individual pleasure, a state of insoluble conflict will result when their stylish pleasures clash and such a state would jeopardize the pleasures of every one.
Hedonism is immoral. According to Mackenzie selfish hedonic presents to the ethical consciousness a detestable form to behold. He don’t is theory of prudence. It does not place any ideals. It has no meaning for ought. It makes man’s reason a slave to his passions and takes him toward? The animal’s level
(13) Absence of universal theory:
Hedonism cannot evolve any universal theory. Pleasure can have no universal standard. On the basis of hedonism pleasure can be evaluated by its intensity but how is the intensity to be measured?
Pleasure depends upon the character, situation and mental state of the person. The same object gives pleasure to one and pain to another and pain at one time and pleasure at another to same person.
According to hedonism, pleasures have no distinctions of value. Some hedonists have recognized a qualitative difference in pleasures,’ but in doing so they cease to be hedonists because then the criterion of values becomes reason instead of pleasure.
(14) Hedonism is practical:
The value of hedonism is understood in comparison to asceticism. Asceticism is representative of the rigorous and dry aspect of life. Hedonism explains the value of feelings and tendencies. But both are partial. The two theories are mutually complementary. Hedonism needs to be reformed in the light of perfectionism.