What is the main aim of Hedonism besides pleasure? What kind of pleasure are they after and what
exactly to the followers believe?
The aim of the early hedonists was simply pleasure as maximum enjoyment to be found through the
senses and intellect. Epicurus rejected enjoyment for the more lasting pleasure of happiness as
peace of mind. Peace of mind was to be found primarily through friendship and leading a simple life.
Epicurus founded a school which provided an exemplar of what he saw as the simple life. He sought
to teach moral perfection through sympathy compassion and honesty. The moral life was part of the
philosophical life of those times, in that it moulded the personality and regulated conduct. Presumably
the sort of personality moulded by Epicurus was required for the sort of pleasure he had in mind
which was peace, freedom from cares, desires, and fears. This is not pleasure as joy, but as calm
and wise. Seneca quotes Epicurus as saying "to win true freedom you must be a slave to philosophy"
which includes moral perfection as well as intellectual interest.
The importance Epicurus put upon friendship leads to the criticism that his philosophy was insular
and selfish rather than public-spirited. The lack of social orientation also stems from his beliefs.
Epicurus thought that belief in the Gods was superstitious and that the religion of the time instilled a
fear of death with its threats of eternal torment. He thought that death should not be feared because
when we are dead we no longer care since we are not here. Since men are, to an extent, spurred to
social activity through religious and nationalistic spirit rather than friendship the criticism does have
some ground. It did not bother Epicurus that not everyone was inclined towards happiness through
friendship and a simple moral life so long as his follower were.