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The Paradox of Hedonism

[ P5 English and Up: Logic and Sentence Structure ]

Here's a little test, to assess your capacity at understanding a comprehension passage.


Suppose Paul likes to collect stamps. It is believed that Paul likes collecting stamps because he gets pleasure from collecting stamps. Stamp collecting is an avenue towards acquiring pleasure.

However, if you tell Paul this observation, he will likely disagree. He does get pleasure from collecting stamps, but this is not the process that explains why he collects stamps.

It is not as though he says, "I must collect stamps so I, Paul, can obtain pleasure". Collecting stamps is not just a means toward pleasure. He just likes collecting stamps and derives happiness from the process.

This is the Paradox of Hedonism: If one sets the goal to please oneself too highly, then the mechanism would in fact jam itself. Happiness, thus, is not something directly attained, but indirectly attained; yet everyone seeks it without really thinking about it.

Happiness is not found within the conscious act of collecting stamps, but the innate desire Paul has, putting himself in a position where he diligently collects and appreciates the stamps stockpiled; in the success and accomplishment of doing so, where his self-image conforms with material conditions, positive feelings are thusly generated.


If you felt like you didn't fully understand after reading the passage above, consider signing up for an English course with us to improve your English! We offer courses from P1 all the way upwards to the General Paper subject taught in junior colleges. Here at Mind Centre, our Fast & Systematic methodology aims to improve your ability to grasp and comprehend difficult passages.


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