People always think of hedonism as this awful practice of sex, drugs, rock & roll, fortune, and fame. That might be what the word means now. Certainly the people who came up with the idea would actually detest that type of life style. See, back in the day, around 400 BCE, there lived a man named, Epicurus. Epicurus heard about Socrates and his alternative life style, and decided to do something similar.
All of the philosophers of the time were “selling” their philosophy. Followers would adopt a certain philosophy because they were all looking a certain “invincibility”. They called it “Ataraxia” which might be translated as “fulfillment”.
Epicurus would be more closely described as an ascetic than a Rock ‘n’ Rolla. His fundamental belief, in regards to ethics, is that we should live as simply as possible and enjoy the small things. People had two groups of desires: basic desires such as as food, water, and shelter, and luxury desires such as fancy food…
Epicurus believed that desiring luxury items was a weakness! And desiring only the basics was a strength. After all, who could tempt you to betray your integrity if they had nothing that you wanted.
To clarify, Epicurus wasn’t a total aesthetic. He would find it permissible to have luxury foods, as long as you didn’t get used to it. Once you’re used to it, once you need pampering, then you have a weakness. You can be controlled by others who threaten to remove these goods in your life.
I personally have found this philosophy to be immensely helpful in my life. It helps me focus on my goals. Whenever I think, “You know, it’s been a tough week, I should buy a nice greasy pizza.”, I remind myself that I am trying to be fit. I remember that I’m a total badass and I have control over what I want. I don’t “need” pizza. that would be a weakness. If I have it, it’s only a temporary treat.
(A side not, Epicurus believed in atoms, and Aristotle didn’t. Who’s laughing now?)