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Pascal Bal (TBS 2016) : Hedonism, Eudaimonism & epicurianism ?

26 April 2021 Careers

A quest for permanent balance... even profesional 

All these words convey a state of satisfaction as regards the quest for happiness which can be considered a primary preoccupation of mankind. 
However, different types of satisfaction can be defined according to whether they are transitory or longlasting, individual or shared, tangible (physical) or abstract (intellectual).  
These states become quests in our human lives as per our own criteria and specific values that we can define in three categories :

  • The hedonist, for whom the purpose in life is pleasure, placing pleasure above happiness.
  • The epicurian, for whom the ultimate goal is happiness, which involves measurable and reasonable pleasure.
  • The eudaimonist, for whom the ultimate goal is happiness through idealistic (intellectual) pleasure.

We can therefore visualize the different objectives as follows : 

Hedonism                                     Epicurianism                                      Eudaimonism


Materialistic                                                                                                Idealistic

Quest for physical pleasure                                                 Quest for happiness through rationality 


Hedonism is widespread in our society and aspires to enjoyment, entertainment, travel, consumer goods, sensory satisfaction. 

If we judge by the high consumption rates of anti-anxiety, hypnotic and sedative medication during this pandemic, anxiety and mental suffering are running very high because the hedonist quest - that is of the individual, doesn't get enough satisfaction.

Does it suggest that personal pleasue is an illusory and transitory form of happiness ? It would appear to be the case because this desires leads to more desire and when it is missing, it creates pain.  

Conversely, happiness is created with others in a quest that uses rational sense, the fruit of echical and metaphysical thought processes.  

Thus, true happiness is intended to be a lasting state of satisfaction. 
This is what Stoics call Ataraxia, an accurate valuation of the value of things leading to knowledge and inner peace.
The fact remains that our society dictates that our happiness comes from eternal youth, increased use of technology, the quest for materialistic perfection.

These conditions make it difficult to live an ascetical life in order to be happy but is this the only choice we have ?  
Pleasure can be met (over time since it is indeed a quest of humanity) in pleasure that does not come from the sensess but from the soul. 

When we dispose of physical constraints, the tyranny of desire and the correlated fear triggered by want is replaced by true pleasure as we gain in new spiritual awareness and reach new levels of consciousness.

In this way, those with wisdome can be considered as being "epicurians of the soul".

If you take time to reflect on your life, in particular, on the professional aspects : 

  • You tell yourself that it is essential to make the most out of life and that any suffering in life must be overcome (but uneasiness remains) or ignored (which can lead to a burn-out). 
  • You tell yourself that "it is better to settle for less" (perseverence), accept constant change (in fact, there is nothing more constant than change in fact) which can lead to just as much stress. 
  • Perhaps you tell yourself that in your professional capacity, what you care about the most is the Path (your own personal path) and that you alone (with the help of your conscience) must choose (and consequently, stop being submissive). This is therefore first and foremost a quest for Your Own Personal Stability.

Our choices (both personal and professional) generate our happiness and our suffering.
Philosophers were a long way off imagining what is actually happening in our society today but they have already thought about what the search for meaning and happiness means to mankind. 

And you, what is your quest ?

Article written by Pascal BAL, Professional coach and member of our Mutual Support section.
For more information about Pascal ? 
See his presentation


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