본문 바로가기
  • Home

An Apology for Hedonism -A Study of Pierre Gassendi’s Ethics-

  • Journal of Humanities
  • 2015, (56), pp.149-182
  • Publisher : Institute for Humanities
  • Research Area : Humanities > Other Humanities
  • Received : December 19, 2014
  • Accepted : January 28, 2015

Cho, Byeong-Hee 1

1성균관대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

Pierre Gassendi views happiness as a state of enjoying goodness to themaximum under the state of minimized evil. Following the view of Epicurus,he maintains that everything that offers pleasure is good and pursuable byitself and everything that accompanies pain is bad. For him, pleasure isultimate goodness (summum bonum) in that every creature pursues it as thebest option without exception and it is the highest goal, rather than a meansof achieving a certain purpose. In his idea of ethics, happiness and pleasureare the “form and essence” of ultimate goodness and thus he made anequation: “summum bonum=happiness=pleasure.” What then is the way ofacquiring pleasure, which is the essence of ultimate goodness and happiness?Gassendi finds a clue for the answer in the concept of “excellence (or virtue,aretê)” – the ethics of ancient Greece. It is because, when virtue is relatedto conduct and sentiments, and every conduct and sentiment is followed bypleasure and pain, virtue, too, is related to pleasure and pain. For him, virtuedoes not mean such personal “ability” or “skill” as “courage” or“temperance.” He stretches the meaning of what Greek people called “aretê”into either “the perfection of the soul” or “habitus of knowing how toperfectly cope with passion or impulse.” According to the theory, only a manof wisdom can live a life of virtue as he or she is equipped with thecapability to maintain “tranquility of soul (tranquillitas animi).” This paper has examined, through the view of Gassendi, how Epicurean ethics ofhedonism and Aristotelian ethics of virtue can be combined in a system ofpractical knowledge.

Citation status

* References for papers published after 2022 are currently being built.

This paper was written with support from the National Research Foundation of Korea.