This has been bothering me for a while.
I do not believe that the ethical theory of hedonism represents the world of which we live in truthfully, neither does it appeal to my common sense. However, sometimes I find myself not being able to resist hedonism, as it has tremendous explanatory power like no other ethical theory. For example, how do we explain the value of knowledge? According to the hedonist, knowledge is good insofar as it makes us feel good, it gives us pleasure and happiness and that is a good reason we should pursue it. But let's say we don't want to appeal to hedonism, because we believe that things other than pleasure also have value, how do we explain the goodness of knowledge, art, love, etc.? There doesn't seem to be any convincing explanation as to why we should pursue these things other than the fact that they make us feel good. Of course we can just say, "knowledge is good, simply because it is good", but does that really make any sense?
I'll delve into this a bit: For some odd reason (which I do not fully understand yet), most people (myself included) accept the intuition that "pleasure is good" as self-evident, i.e., that it requires no further explanation. The simply have the intuition that pleasure is good, and it is accepted prima facie. However, when it comes to other things, like knowledge, art, love, etc., people will not accept its goodness as self-evident. They will probe further into the matter and ask, "what makes them good?". And here is where I get stuck, for which other properties can they possibly possess (other than the property of happiness and pleasure that they have) that will justify their worthiness, or goodness?
It seems like the only alternative to hedonism is to give these aforementioned things some kind of mystical property that will justify their goodness and worthiness? But is this really the kind of theory that non-hedonist ethicists must resort to (On the other hand, goodness itself is a non-natural property according to intuitionist G. E. Moore)? Is there an alternative way to explain this, one that appeals to the common sense and the plain folk (i.e. people that have not been exposed to philosophy of ethics)?