Lighthearted and anecdotal, she recalls her Hollywood days with clarity but seems, with the distance of the intervening decades, to no longer be in their thrall. She begins swiftly dispensing with the Hollywood myth that she'd been discovered by D. Griffith — her contract was a payoff for a debt owed her uncle, she writes, joking that even the press man who cooked up the lie eventually came to believe it.
She was just one of a bevvy of hopeful starlets, making her first film in and struggling to match Mary Pickford's innocent long-haired beauty. After years of intermittent, moderate success, she read the flapper novel "Flaming Youth" and begged for the part in the film. Her mother bobbed her hair to prove to the studio that Moore was right for the part.
Her look was revolutionary on-screen — legend has it that audiences gasped — and her energetic, modern persona was that of the new generation. The film rocketed her to stardom. The work was a whirlwind. Her marriage to a Hollywood filmmaker who was a desperate alcoholic was rocky. Between the personal anecdotes, Moore or a less interesting ghostwriter shares stories of the silent era — others' love affairs and heartbreak, the Fatty Arbuckle scandal, the murder of William Desmond Taylor. Moore doesn't detail her departure from Hollywood after a few years, she found a happy life with a Chicago businessman , but instead focuses on an unusual side project that absorbed her during her transition to her new life.
She called it the Fairy Castle ; it was a massive, exquisitely constructed dollhouse that she took on a national tour to raise money for charity. There is, yes, too much ink spilled over the real jewels in it, the craftsmen who created it and so on, but without all that folderol she wouldn't have gotten to its library.
It contained an autograph book the size of a postage stamp actually signed by Orville Wright, Henry Ford, U. In the miniature copy of "This Side of Paradise," F. What little things we are to have caused all that trouble. My author's name is F. Scott Fitzgerald. I was surprised to see Fitzgerald pop up in the middle of a memoir by a silent film actress, and delighted to see a playfulness that was lacking in his later life. So perhaps I could say that I'm reading for work. That this was bookish after all.
But not really. My guilty reading pleasures this summer are Hollywood stories. I love the strange window they provide into our city; the industry that created it; and the trials of women who were determined to create their own destinies when there was no path in sight. These two books are by no means comprehensive. I could, and I have, created coherent lists of early Angeleno entertainer autobiographies.
But this summer, I'm reading the serendipitous books on the shelf for their un-indexed surprises. And I'm imaging Fitzgerald poised with a fountain pen over a book not even an inch tall, figuring out what to write to the dynamic actress that he felt in cahoots with, as if they'd turned the world upside-down. Picturing Davis with her unsatisfied ego pounding in her chest, putting it all down on paper, thinking no one would ever care for her again, just before they did.
It's every writer's project: connecting with an invisible thread. Reaching a reader who cares. Telling the truth, but on a slant, in the light particularly suited to our city, Los Angeles. Skip to content. Fasten your seatbelts Bette Davis, center, in "All About Eve. Bette Davis at home in Yes, that's an Oscar by her shoulder.
Most Read. Column One Sikh drivers are transforming U. This article begins by clarifying the different types of hedonistic theories and the labels they are often given. The majority of this article is concerned with describing the important theoretical divisions within Prudential Hedonism and discussing the major criticisms of these approaches.
When the term "hedonism" is used in modern literature, or by non-philosophers in their everyday talk, its meaning is quite different from the meaning it takes when used in the discussions of philosophers. Non-philosophers tend to think of a hedonist as a person who seeks out pleasure for themselves without any particular regard for their own future well-being or for the well-being of others. Philosophers commonly refer to this everyday understanding of hedonism as "Folk Hedonism.
When philosophers discuss hedonism, they are most likely to be referring to hedonism about value, and especially the slightly more specific theory, hedonism about well-being. Hedonism as a theory about value best referred to as Value Hedonism holds that all and only pleasure is intrinsically valuable and all and only pain is intrinsically disvaluable.
The term "intrinsically" is an important part of the definition and is best understood in contrast to the term "instrumentally. Pleasure is thought to be intrinsically valuable because, even if it did not lead to any other benefit, it would still be good to experience. Money is an example of an instrumental good; its value for us comes from what we can do with it what we can buy with it. The fact that a copious amount of money has no value if no one ever sells anything reveals that money lacks intrinsic value.
Value Hedonism reduces everything of value to pleasure. For example, a Value Hedonist would explain the instrumental value of money by describing how the things we can buy with money, such as food, shelter, and status-signifying goods, bring us pleasure or help us to avoid pain. Hedonism as a theory about well-being best referred to as Prudential Hedonism is more specific than Value Hedonism because it stipulates what the value is for.
Some philosophers replace "people" with "animals" or "sentient creatures," so as to apply Prudential Hedonism more widely. Singer questions why some humans can see the intrinsic disvalue in human pain, but do not also accept that it is bad for sentient non-human animals to experience pain.
When Prudential Hedonists claim that happiness is what they value most, they intend happiness to be understood as a preponderance of pleasure over pain. An important distinction between Prudential Hedonism and Folk Hedonism is that Prudential Hedonists usually understand that pursuing pleasure and avoiding pain in the very short-term is not always the best strategy for achieving the best long-term balance of pleasure over pain.
Prudential Hedonism is an integral part of several derivative types of hedonistic theory, all of which have featured prominently in philosophical debates of the past. Since Prudential Hedonism plays this important role, the majority of this article is dedicated to Prudential Hedonism. First, however, the main derivative types of hedonism are briefly discussed.
Motivational Hedonism more commonly referred to by the less descriptive label, " Psychological Hedonism " is the theory that the desires to encounter pleasure and to avoid pain guide all of our behavior. Most accounts of Motivational Hedonism include both conscious and unconscious desires for pleasure, but emphasize the latter. Bentham used the idea to support his theory of Hedonistic Utilitarianism discussed below. Weak versions of Motivational Hedonism hold that the desires to seek pleasure and avoid pain often or always have some influence on our behavior.
Weak versions are generally considered to be uncontroversially true and not especially useful for philosophy. Philosophers have been more interested in strong accounts of Motivational Hedonism, which hold that all behavior is governed by the desires to encounter pleasure and to avoid pain and only those desires. Strong accounts of Motivational Hedonism have been used to support some of the normative types of hedonism and to argue against non-hedonistic normative theories.
Glaucon believes that a strong version of Motivational Hedonism is true, but Socrates does not. Glaucon asserts that, emboldened with the power provided by the Ring of Gyges, everyone would succumb to the inherent and ubiquitous desire to pursue their own ends at the expense of others. Socrates disagrees, arguing that good people would be able to overcome this desire because of their strong love of justice, fostered through philosophising. Strong accounts of Motivational Hedonism currently garner very little support for similar reasons.
Many examples of seemingly-pain-seeking acts performed out of a sense of duty are well-known — from the soldier who jumps on a grenade to save his comrades to that time you rescued a trapped dog only to be predictably bitten in the process. Introspective evidence also weighs against strong accounts of Motivational Hedonism; many of the decisions we make seem to be based on motives other than seeking pleasure and avoiding pain.
Given these reasons, the burden of proof is considered to be squarely on the shoulders of anyone wishing to argue for a strong account of Motivational Hedonism. Value Hedonism, occasionally with assistance from Motivational Hedonism, has been used to argue for specific theories of right action theories that explain which actions are morally permissible or impermissible and why. The theory that happiness should be pursued that pleasure should be pursued and pain should be avoided is referred to as Normative Hedonism and sometimes Ethical Hedonism.
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Both types commonly use happiness defined as pleasure minus pain as the sole criterion for determining the moral rightness or wrongness of an action. Important variations within each of these two main types specify either the actual resulting happiness after the act or the predicted resulting happiness before the act as the moral criterion. Although both major types of Normative Hedonism have been accused of being repugnant, Hedonistic Egoism is considered the most offensive. Hedonistic Egoism is a hedonistic version of egoism, the theory that we should, morally speaking, do whatever is most in our own interests.
Hedonistic Egoism is the theory that we ought, morally speaking, to do whatever makes us happiest — that is whatever provides us with the most net pleasure after pain is subtracted. The most repugnant feature of this theory is that one never has to ascribe any value whatsoever to the consequences for anyone other than oneself. For example, a Hedonistic Egoist who did not feel saddened by theft would be morally required to steal, even from needy orphans if he thought he could get away with it. Would-be defenders of Hedonistic Egoism often point out that performing acts of theft, murder, treachery and the like would not make them happier overall because of the guilt, the fear of being caught, and the chance of being caught and punished.
The would-be defenders tend to surrender, however, when it is pointed out that a Hedonistic Egoist is morally obliged by their own theory to pursue an unusual kind of practical education; a brief and possibly painful training period that reduces their moral emotions of sympathy and guilt. Such an education might be achieved by desensitising over-exposure to, and performance of, torture on innocents. If Hedonistic Egoists underwent such an education, their reduced capacity for sympathy and guilt would allow them to take advantage of any opportunities to perform pleasurable, but normally-guilt-inducing, actions, such as stealing from the poor.
Hedonistic Egoism is very unpopular amongst philosophers, not just for this reason, but also because it suffers from all of the objections that apply to Prudential Hedonism. Hedonistic Utilitarianism is the theory that the right action is the one that produces or is most likely to produce the greatest net happiness for all concerned. Hedonistic Utilitarianism is often considered fairer than Hedonistic Egoism because the happiness of everyone involved everyone who is affected or likely to be affected is taken into account and given equal weight. Hedonistic Utilitarians, then, tend to advocate not stealing from needy orphans because to do so would usually leave the orphan far less happy and the probably better-off thief only slightly happier assuming he felt no guilt.
Despite treating all individuals equally, Hedonistic Utilitarianism is still seen as objectionable by some because it assigns no intrinsic moral value to justice, friendship, truth, or any of the many other goods that are thought by some to be irreducibly valuable. For example, a Hedonistic Utilitarian would be morally obliged to publicly execute an innocent friend of theirs if doing so was the only way to promote the greatest happiness overall.
Although unlikely, such a situation might arise if a child was murdered in a small town and the lack of suspects was causing large-scale inter-ethnic violence. Some philosophers argue that executing an innocent friend is immoral precisely because it ignores the intrinsic values of justice, friendship, and possibly truth. Hedonistic Utilitarianism is rarely endorsed by philosophers, but mainly because of its reliance on Prudential Hedonism as opposed to its utilitarian element.
Non-hedonistic versions of utilitarianism are about as popular as the other leading theories of right action, especially when it is the actions of institutions that are being considered. The Cyrenaics , founded by Aristippus c. The Cyrenaics believed pleasure was the ultimate good and everyone should pursue all immediate pleasures for themselves.
They considered bodily pleasures better than mental pleasures, presumably because they were more vivid or trustworthy. The Cyrenaics also recommended pursuing immediate pleasures and avoiding immediate pains with scant or no regard for future consequences. Their reasoning for this is even less clear, but is most plausibly linked to their sceptical views — perhaps that what we can be most sure of in this uncertain existence is our current bodily pleasures. Epicurus c.
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The Epicureanism of Epicurus is also quite the opposite to the common usage of Epicureanism; while we might like to go on a luxurious "Epicurean" holiday packed with fine dining and moderately excessive wining, Epicurus would warn us that we are only setting ourselves up for future pain. For Epicurus, happiness was the complete absence of bodily and especially mental pains, including fear of the Gods and desires for anything other than the bare necessities of life. Even with only the limited excesses of ancient Greece on offer, Epicurus advised his followers to avoid towns, and especially marketplaces, in order to limit the resulting desires for unnecessary things.
Once we experience unnecessary pleasures, such as those from sex and rich food, we will then suffer from painful and hard to satisfy desires for more and better of the same. No matter how wealthy we might be, Epicurus would argue, our desires will eventually outstrip our means and interfere with our ability to live tranquil, happy lives. Epicureanism is generally egoistic, in that it encourages everyone to pursue happiness for themselves.
However, Epicureans would be unlikely to commit any of the selfish acts we might expect from other egoists because Epicureans train themselves to desire only the very basics, which gives them very little reason to do anything to interfere with the affairs of others. With the exception of a brief period discussed below, Hedonism has been generally unpopular ever since its ancient beginnings.
Although criticisms of the ancient forms of hedonism were many and varied, one in particular was heavily cited. Socrates asks Protarchus to imagine a life without much pleasure but full of the higher cognitive processes, such as knowledge, forethought and consciousness and to compare it with a life that is the opposite.
Socrates describes this opposite life as having perfect pleasure but the mental life of an oyster, pointing out that the subject of such a life would not be able to appreciate any of the pleasure within it. The harrowing thought of living the pleasurable but unthinking life of an oyster causes Protarchus to abandon his hedonistic argument. The oyster example is now easily avoided by clarifying that pleasure is best understood as being a conscious experience, so any sensation that we are not consciously aware of cannot be pleasure.
Normative and Motivational Hedonism were both at their most popular during the heyday of Empiricism in the 18 th and 19 th Centuries.
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Indeed, this is the only period during which any kind of hedonism could be considered popular at all. Their theories are similar in many ways, but are notably distinct on the nature of pleasure. Bentham argued for several types of hedonism, including those now referred to as Prudential Hedonism, Hedonistic Utilitarianism, and Motivational Hedonism although his commitment to strong Motivational Hedonism eventually began to wane.
Bentham argued that happiness was the ultimate good and that happiness was pleasure and the absence of pain. Bentham devised the greatest happiness principle to justify the legal reforms he also argued for. He understood that he could not conclusively prove that the principle was the correct criterion for morally right action, but also thought that it should be accepted because it was fair and better than existing criteria for evaluating actions and legislation.
Bentham thought that his Hedonic Calculus could be applied to situations to see what should, morally speaking, be done in a situation. The Hedonic Calculus is a method of counting the amount of pleasure and pain that would likely be caused by different actions.
The Hedonic Calculus required a methodology for measuring pleasure, which in turn required an understanding of the nature of pleasure and specifically what aspects of pleasure were valuable for us. The Hedonic Calculus also makes use of two future-pleasure-or-pain-related aspects of actions — fecundity and purity. Certainty refers to the likelihood that the pleasure or pain will occur.
Propinquity refers to how long away in terms of time the pleasure or pain is. Fecundity refers to the likelihood of the pleasure or pain leading to more of the same sensation. Purity refers to the likelihood of the pleasure or pain leading to some of the opposite sensation. Extent refers to the number of people the pleasure or pain is likely to affect. Intensity refers to the felt strength of the pleasure or pain. Duration refers to how long the pleasure or pain are felt for.
It should be noted that only intensity and duration have intrinsic value for an individual. Certainty, propinquity, fecundity, and purity are all instrumentally valuable for an individual because they affect the likelihood of an individual feeling future pleasure and pain. Folk Hedonists rarely consider how likely their actions are to lead to future pleasure or pain, focussing instead on the pursuit of immediate pleasure and the avoidance of immediate pain. For example, Bentham held that pleasure from the parlor game push-pin was just as valuable for us as pleasure from music and poetry.
Mill also thought happiness, defined as pleasure and the avoidance of pain, was the highest good. Mill argued that pleasures could vary in quality, being either higher or lower pleasures. Mill employed the distinction between higher and lower pleasures in an attempt to avoid the criticism that his hedonism was just another philosophy of swine. Lower pleasures are those associated with the body, which we share with other animals, such as pleasure from quenching thirst or having sex.
Higher pleasures are those associated with the mind, which were thought to be unique to humans, such as pleasure from listening to opera, acting virtuously, and philosophising. Mill justified this distinction by arguing that those who have experienced both types of pleasure realise that higher pleasures are much more valuable.
He dismissed challenges to this claim by asserting that those who disagreed lacked either the experience of higher pleasures or the capacity for such experiences. For Mill, higher pleasures were not different from lower pleasures by mere degree; they were different in kind.
Indeed, since G. Moore, hedonism has been viewed by most philosophers as being an initially intuitive and interesting family of theories, but also one that is flawed on closer inspection. Moore himself thought the heap of filth example thoroughly refuted what he saw as the only potentially viable form of Prudential Hedonism — that conscious pleasure is the only thing that positively contributes to well-being.
Moore used the heap of filth example to argue that Prudential Hedonism is false because pleasure is not the only thing of value. In the heap of filth example, Moore asks the reader to imagine two worlds, one of which is exceedingly beautiful and the other a disgusting heap of filth. Moore then instructs the reader to imagine that no one would ever experience either world and asks if it is better for the beautiful world to exist than the filthy one.
As Moore expected, his contemporaries tended to agree that it would be better if the beautiful world existed. Relying on this agreement, Moore infers that the beautiful world is more valuable than the heap of filth and, therefore, that beauty must be valuable. Moore then concluded that all of the potentially viable theories of Prudential Hedonism those that value only conscious pleasures must be false because something, namely beauty, is valuable even when no conscious pleasure can be derived from it.
The demise of these arguments was partly due to mounting objections against them, but mainly because arguments more suited to the task of refuting Prudential Hedonism were developed. These arguments are discussed after the contemporary varieties of hedonism are introduced below. Several contemporary varieties of hedonism have been defended, although usually by just a handful of philosophers or less at any one time.
Other varieties of hedonism are also theoretically available but have received little or no discussion. Contemporary varieties of Prudential Hedonism can be grouped based on how they define pleasure and pain, as is done below. In addition to providing different notions of what pleasure and pain are, contemporary varieties of Prudential Hedonism also disagree about what aspect or aspects of pleasure are valuable for well-being and the opposite for pain.
The most well-known disagreement about what aspects of pleasure are valuable occurs between Quantitative and Qualitative Hedonists. Quantitative Hedonists argue that how valuable pleasure is for well-being depends on only the amount of pleasure, and so they are only concerned with dimensions of pleasure such as duration and intensity. Quantitative Hedonism is often accused of over-valuing animalistic, simple, and debauched pleasures. Qualitative Hedonists argue that, in addition to the dimensions related to the amount of pleasure, one or more dimensions of quality can have an impact on how pleasure affects well-being.
The quality dimensions might be based on how cognitive or bodily the pleasure is as it was for Mill , the moral status of the source of the pleasure, or some other non-amount-related dimension. Qualitative Hedonism is criticised by some for smuggling values other than pleasure into well-being by misleadingly labelling them as dimensions of pleasure. How these qualities are chosen for inclusion is also criticised for being arbitrary or ad hoc by some because inclusion of these dimensions of pleasure is often in direct response to objections that Quantitative Hedonism cannot easily deal with.
That is to say, the inclusion of these dimensions is often accused of being an exercise in plastering over holes, rather than deducing corollary conclusions from existing theoretical premises. Others have argued that any dimensions of quality can be better explained in terms of dimensions of quantity. For example, they might claim that moral pleasures are no higher in quality than immoral pleasures, but that moral pleasures are instrumentally more valuable because they are likely to lead to more moments of pleasure or less moments of pain in the future.
Hedonists also have differing views about how the value of pleasure compares with the value of pain. This is not a practical disagreement about how best to measure pleasure and pain, but rather a theoretical disagreement about comparative value, such as whether pain is worse for us than an equivalent amount of pleasure is good for us.
The default position is that one unit of pleasure sometimes referred to as a Hedon is equivalent but opposite in value to one unit of pain sometimes referred to as a Dolor. Several Hedonistic Utilitarians have argued that reduction of pain should be seen as more important than increasing pleasure, sometimes for the Epicurean reason that pain seems worse for us than an equivalent amount of pleasure is good for us.
Imagine that a magical genie offered for you to play a game with him. The game consists of you flipping a fair coin. If the coin lands on heads, then you immediately feel a burst of very intense pleasure and if it lands on tails, then you immediately feel a burst of very intense pain. Is it in your best interests to play the game? Another area of disagreement between some Hedonists is whether pleasure is entirely internal to a person or if it includes external elements.
Internalism about pleasure is the thesis that, whatever pleasure is, it is always and only inside a person. Externalism about pleasure, on the other hand, is the thesis that, pleasure is more than just a state of an individual that is, that a necessary component of pleasure lies outside of the individual. Externalists about pleasure might, for example, describe pleasure as a function that mediates between our minds and the environment, such that every instance of pleasure has one or more integral environmental components.
The vast majority of historic and contemporary versions of Prudential Hedonism consider pleasure to be an internal mental state. Perhaps the least known disagreement about what aspects of pleasure make it valuable is the debate about whether we have to be conscious of pleasure for it to be valuable. The standard position is that pleasure is a conscious mental state, or at least that any pleasure a person is not conscious of does not intrinsically improve their well-being.
The most common definition of pleasure is that it is a sensation, something that we identify through our senses or that we feel. Psychologists claim that we have at least ten senses, including the familiar, sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch, but also, movement, balance, and several sub-senses of touch, including heat, cold, pressure, and pain.
New senses get added to the list when it is understood that some independent physical process underpins their functioning. The most widely-used examples of pleasurable sensations are the pleasures of eating, drinking, listening to music, and having sex. Use of these examples has done little to help Hedonism avoid its debauched reputation.
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It is also commonly recognised that our senses are physical processes that usually involve a mental component, such as the tickling feeling when someone blows gently on the back of your neck. If a sensation is something we identify through our sense organs, however, it is not entirely clear how to account for abstract pleasures.
This is because abstract pleasures, such as a feeling of accomplishment for a job well done, do not seem to be experienced through any of the senses in the standard lists. Some Hedonists have attempted to resolve this problem by arguing for the existence of an independent pleasure sense and by defining sensation as something that we feel regardless of whether it has been mediated by sense organs. Most Hedonists who describe pleasure as a sensation will be Quantitative Hedonists and will argue that the pleasure from the different senses is the same.
Qualitative Hedonists, in comparison, can use the framework of the senses to help differentiate between qualities of pleasure. For example, a Qualitative Hedonist might argue that pleasurable sensations from touch and movement are always lower quality than the others. Hedonists have also defined pleasure as intrinsically valuable experience, that is to say any experiences that we find intrinsically valuable either are, or include, instances of pleasure.
According to this definition, the reason that listening to music and eating a fine meal are both intrinsically pleasurable is because those experiences include an element of pleasure along with the other elements specific to each activity, such as the experience of the texture of the food and the melody of the music.
By itself, this definition enables Hedonists to make an argument that is close to perfectly circular. Defining pleasure as intrinsically valuable experience and well-being as all and only experiences that are intrinsically valuable allows a Hedonist to all but stipulate that Prudential Hedonism is the correct theory of well-being. Where defining pleasure as intrinsically valuable experience is not circular is in its stipulation that only experiences matter for well-being.
Some well-known objections to this idea are discussed below. Another problem with defining pleasure as intrinsically valuable experience is that the definition does not tell us very much about what pleasure is or how it can be identified. For example, knowing that pleasure is intrinsically valuable experience would not help someone to work out if a particular experience was intrinsically or just instrumentally valuable.
Hedonists have attempted to respond to this problem by explaining how to find out whether an experience is intrinsically valuable. One method is to ask yourself if you would like the experience to continue for its own sake rather than because of what it might lead to.
Wanting an experience to continue for its own sake reveals that you find it to be intrinsically valuable. While still making a coherent theory of well-being, defining intrinsically valuable experiences as those you want to perpetuate makes the theory much less hedonistic. The fact that what a person wants is the main criterion for something having intrinsic value, makes this kind of theory more in line with preference satisfaction theories of well-being.
Another method of fleshing out the definition of pleasure as intrinsically valuable experience is to describe how intrinsically valuable experiences feel. This method remains a hedonistic one, but seems to fall back into defining pleasure as a sensation. It has also been argued that what makes an experience intrinsically valuable is that you like or enjoy it for its own sake. Hedonists arguing for this definition of pleasure usually take pains to position their definition in between the realms of sensation and preference satisfaction.
They argue that since we can like or enjoy some experiences without concurrently wanting them or feeling any particular sensation, then liking is distinct from both sensation and preference satisfaction. Liking and enjoyment are also difficult terms to define in more detail, but they are certainly easier to recognise than the rather opaque "intrinsically valuable experience. Merely defining pleasure as intrinsically valuable experience and intrinsically valuable experiences as those that we like or enjoy still lacks enough detail to be very useful for contemplating well-being.
A potential method for making this theory more useful would be to draw on the cognitive sciences to investigate if there is a specific neurological function for liking or enjoying.
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Cognitive science has not reached the point where anything definitive can be said about this, but a few neuroscientists have experimental evidence that liking and wanting at least in regards to food are neurologically distinct processes in rats and have argued that it should be the same for humans.
The same scientists have wondered if the same processes govern all of our liking and wanting, but this question remains unresolved. Most Hedonists who describe pleasure as intrinsically valuable experience believe that pleasure is internal and conscious. Hedonists who define pleasure in this way may be either Quantitative or Qualitative Hedonists, depending on whether they think that quality is a relevant dimension of how intrinsically valuable we find certain experiences.
One of the most recent developments in modern hedonism is the rise of defining pleasure as a pro-attitude — a positive psychological stance toward some object.