At first, I think there is a difference between utilitarianism and hedonism in that first assumes some kind of utility which can be calculated and last simply puts that it's natural (we are not here for critique of what "natural" means, I just accept "natural state of mind" for a state of mind when a human is free from fears, in particular from shame) for people to strive for pleasure and avoid pain.

We know that Nietzsche criticised utilitarianism, actually hated it. Probably believed living according to its principles would result in passivity.

However, my treatmeant of hedonism assumes that (some) people sooner or later will be bored by doing all the same stuff and actually that hedonism is one of very few engines of progress (another one I could think of is curiosity). Since people want novelty they create new things and this does not seem nihilstic at all.

Since hedonism (at least my understanding of it) is not nihilstic, would Nietzsche be against it? Is there anything in Nietzsche living comments on this type of thinking and living?

  • @Gordon Nietzsche has plan and I don't actually see the difference between the idea of God (which he claims is dead) and the idea of Übermensch which is his hope like messiah is the hope of theists.
    – rus9384
    Oct 22, 2018 at 11:56
  • You can see Bernard Reginster, Nietzsche on Pleasure and Power (2005). Oct 22, 2018 at 13:58

1 Answer 1


Yes, Nietzsche would be against it. The crux of Nietzsche attitude towards utilitarianism/hedonism/"English psychology" in general is the problem of suffering. Nietzsche thinks it makes sense to endure serious suffering (he himself had a congenital tumor near his eyes and during the periods when it would grow, he was in incredible pain) if you can "achieve something great". Pursuit of pleasure and in particular the minimization of pain leads to the "last man" he describes in Zarathustra.

Nietzsche wasn't really "against" any particular type of psychic profile (e.g. pleasure-seeking) or any particular ideology to justify any psychic type (e.g. hedonism); however, hedonists were not the type of people he was attempting to reach to affect his transvaluation of values, and the formulation of hedonism you give ("strive for pleasure and avoid pain") is exactly the one he flags and identifies with "the English" as particularly antipathetic to his own goals.

  • Hedonism by itself originated (as its name suggests) not in England, but in Ancient Greece and I think Nietzsche knew it. So, I'm not sure he was not merely against calculating nature of utilitarianism. Also, hedonist does not necessarily seeks only own pleasure. But this maybe is in the surface of slave morality, according to Nietzsche. Not sure if it is when you value both own and others' states. In either way, it seems to me that Nietzsche falsely believes that the one who seeks pleasure in long-term would not be involved in something great.
    – rus9384
    Oct 22, 2018 at 15:57
  • It's okay to disagree with Nietzsche :) Nietzsche was a scholar of classical Greek so yes, I suspect he might have known the word hedonē.
    – guest1806
    Oct 24, 2018 at 17:31

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