Hegesias


Diogenes Laertius, Book II Aristippus

The school of Hegesias, as it is called, adopted the same ends, namely pleasure and pain. In their view there is no such thing as gratitude or friendship or beneficence, because it is not for themselves that we choose to do these things but simply from motives of interest, apart from which such conduct is nowhere found. 94. They denied the possibility of happiness, for the body is infected with much suffering, while the soul shares in the sufferings of the body and is a prey to disturbance, and fortune often disappoints. From all this it follows that happiness cannot be realized. Moreover, life and death are each desirable in turn. But that there is anything naturally pleasant or unpleasant they deny; when some men are pleased and others pained by the same objects, this is owing to the lack or rarity or surfeit of such objects. Poverty and riches have no relevance to pleasure; for neither the rich nor the poor as such have any special share in pleasure. 95. Slavery and freedom, nobility and low birth, honour and dishonour, are alike indifferent in a calculation of pleasure. To the fool life is advantageous, while to the wise it is a matter of indifference. The wise man will be guided in all he does by his own interests, for there is none other whom he regards as equally deserving. For supposing him to reap the greatest advantages from another, they would not be equal to what he contributes himself. They also disallow the claims of the senses, because they do not lead to accurate knowledge. Whatever appears rational should be done. They affirmed that allowance should be made for errors, for no man errs voluntarily, but under constraint of some suffering; that we should not hate men, but rather teach them better. The wise man will not have so much advantage over others in the choice of goods as in the avoidance of evils, making it his end to live without pain of body or mind. 96. This then, they say, is the advantage accruing to those who make no distinction between any of the objects which produce pleasure.

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