Hedone (Ancient Greek: ἡδονή) was the personification and goddess of pleasure, enjoyment, and delight. Hedone, also known as Voluptas in Roman mythology, is the daughter born from the union of the Greek gods Eros (Cupid) and Psyche in the realm of the immortals. She was associated more specifically with sensual pleasure. Her opposites were the Algos, personifications of pain.
The term Hēdonē, which is a Greek word meaning pleasure, is used as a philosophical concept in ancient Greece. For instance, it played an important role in the Epicurean school. It is also the root of the English word "hedonism".
Aristotle identified it as one of the two elements or components of pathe, with the other being lype or pain. The philosopher described pathe in these words: "Let the emotions be all those things on account of which people change their minds and differ in regard to their judgments, and upon which attend pain and pleasure."
Hēdonē, in Aristotelian ethics, is part of the philosopher's account of virtue and that pleasure (along with pain) is said to reveal a person's character. It is good if it is a consequence of a virtuous life as opposed to the position of some philosophers such as Aristippus, which holds that it is wholly good. For the concept to be good or true, it must conform to nature, reason, or virtue and that, although, hēdonē can harmonize with these three, Aristotle gave it less value. An example is the concept of proper pleasure or oikeia hedone, which has been discussed in Poetics and considered a process of restoration. Martin Heidegger's interpretation of Aristotelian philosophy explains that pleasure is a movement of the soul and that tranquility arises from it.
In the philosophy of Epicurus, hēdonē is described as a pleasure that may or may not derive from actions that are virtuous, whereas another form of pleasure, terpsis, is always virtuous. Another Epicurean reading, which distinguished hēdonē from terpsis, referred to it as a feeling of pleasure that is episodic and might or might not be beneficial. According to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Epicurus uses hēdonē in reference to only physical pleasures
The Stoics held a negative view of hēdonē, arguing that it is not in accordance with nature and reason. This can be understood within the philosophy's position that emotions are by definition excessive or are excessive impulses that exceed the measure of natural reason and – as in other forms of excess – leads to other evils of irrationality.
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- Sherman, Nancy (2007). Stoic Warriors: The Ancient Philosophy behind the Military Mind. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 81. ISBN 9780195315912.
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