The philosophy in question believes:

  • You only live once, and you have predetermined desires from your genetics and environment. If these desires are not fulfilled as short-term or long-term goals you will live a miserable life.
  • So you should act on those desires, no matter how anti-social, despicable or illegal they are. (If you like helping people, help them, if you like hurting people, hurt them) to live a happy life.

What is the name of this amoral hedonistic philosophy?

  • 5
    There is no such philosophy because it is incoherent. Anti-social, despicable or illegal are not the problem, the problem is that many desires conflict with laws of nature and with each other. One may want to shoot heroin and live long and prosper too. We can't even always tell what is and is not possible now or how acting on a desire now will affect the possibilities later. Doing whatever you want just ain't gonna happen.
    – Conifold
    Commented Jan 5, 2023 at 11:58
  • 4
    There are hedonism, egoism, immoralism, but all of them move past the "I wanna" philosophy and deal with complicated issues like physical limitations, clash of desires, their articulation, and obscurity of finding ways to act on them, each in their own way. It is unclear from your description which way you prefer. The rudimentary "belief" described does not survive a minute's consideration, so selfishness and realization of desires need better outlets than that. It is not about right and wrong, it is about thinking it through.
    – Conifold
    Commented Jan 5, 2023 at 12:28
  • 2
    Might be hedonistic egoism. Notice the priority of the self in front of others, which is what you seem to ask for.
    – RodolfoAP
    Commented Jan 5, 2023 at 13:59
  • 2
    Try it and see what happens. Experimental Philosophy! Full-contact sport!
    – Scott Rowe
    Commented Jan 5, 2023 at 19:05
  • 2
    Sounds like Eric Cartman's philosophy, "Whatever, I do what I want!" Commented Jan 5, 2023 at 23:16

6 Answers 6


Here is a blog post proposing a concept of "hedonic nihilism", which comes very close to what is described in the question.

Hedonic Nihilism is an amalgamation of two philosophical ideas. Hedonism can be seen as a school of thought which suggests that the pursuit of pleasure is the primary, if not only, intrinsic good in human life. Now pleasure may not mean purely that of sensation (food, sex, drugs etc), but for the purpose of Hedonic Nihilism I will focus purely on these. The hedonist seeks to maximise net pleasure (pleasure - pain) as they believe this is the ultimate good, the sumum bonum. Nihilism is the philosophical view that there is no intrinsic meaning to any aspect of life.

Existential Nihilism suggests life has no intrinsic value and from this we get Moral Nihilism, which states that morality is not something that is inherent to objective reality. Now you’re probably putting the pieces together and understanding what Hedonic Nihilism means. To put it simply: Hedonic Nihilism is the belief that because there is no inherent value in living a good life, the only way I should live is to maximise my own sensational pleasure.

As it says explicitly, "Hedonic Nihilism" is just something this blogger made up. However, hedonism is very much a coherent philosophical tradition tracing back to the ancient Greeks. Nihilism is more of a general grouping of modern continental philosophical currents.

  • 1
    No... This belief of hedonistic nihilism is different because its implying that one should just become obese and smoke party drugs until they die at 30. That is not the belief in question because it does state "long term goals" as well. Would you consider an entrepreneur working for 5 years to reach a desired profit margin "instant gratification", or gratification in general? Is this long-term gratification still considered "pleasure" like hedonistic pleasure? Normally hedonism isn't associated with long-term sacrifices and successes.
    – user63990
    Commented Jan 5, 2023 at 16:00
  • 4
    @AshtonDowling "Normally hedonism isn't associated with long-term sacrifices and successes." It can be, though the author above explicitly chooses not to consider this. It may be of interest to look at how the Cyrenaics discuss altruism, family, etc.
    – Brian Z
    Commented Jan 5, 2023 at 18:45
  • 3
    @AshtonDowling If your idea can include working really hard at something for quite a while to get what you want, then it seems... Normal.
    – Scott Rowe
    Commented Jan 5, 2023 at 19:14
  • 2
    I don't totally agree - I don't see anything in that definition saying that it only cares about the short-term? I hadn't heard the term, but I love it - certainly how I try to live my life, the maximization of overall lifetime happiness. (That is: if you died at 30 from all the drugs you took, you are NOT maximizing overall happiness, as you lost all the happiness you would have had the rest of your life! Etc. That also provides an internally consistent reason not to hurt people, steal, etc, even if you didn't care about others' happiness: because it's hard to enjoy life from jail. :p)
    – neminem
    Commented Jan 5, 2023 at 21:42
  • 1
    The equation (happiness - pain) would probably produce a bell shaped curve: trying too hard for happiness will increase pain and offset it. In other words, maybe the Buddha had something with his "middle way" notion?
    – Scott Rowe
    Commented Jan 6, 2023 at 0:28

Thelema is is a Western esoteric and occult social or spiritual philosophy and new religious movement founded in the early 1900s by Aleister Crowley (1875–1947), an English writer, mystic, occultist, and ceremonial magician. The word thelema is the English transliteration of the Koine Greek noun θέλημα (pronounced [θelima]), "will", from the verb θέλω (thélō): "to will, wish, want or purpose."

The only rule of this Abbey was "fay çe que vouldras" ("Fais ce que tu veux", or, "Do what thou wilt")


I don't think this, as is, would fall into any singular philosophical idea.

The problem is that avoiding anti-social, despicable or illegal behaviour may, in itself, be included in your desires.

You only live once, and you have predetermined desires from your genetics and environment. If these desires are not fulfilled as short-term or long-term goals you will live a miserable life.

I would probably agree with the Brian that pursuing these desires for their own sake is hedonism.

It's also somewhat related to the idea that free will doesn't exist, which is not to say you'll be miserable if you act against those desires, nor that you "should" act in line with them, but rather that it's literally impossible for you to act against those desires.

But one may desire to avoid anti-social, despicable or illegal behaviour under either of these concepts.

You should act on those desires, no matter how anti-social, despicable or illegal they are

This sounds somewhat like anarchism. But anarchism is about actively pushing against authorities and hierarchies to bring about social change, whereas what you mention sounds closer to indifference to them. I'm not aware of a term for this.

It's quite closely related to ethical egoism, which is "the normative position that moral agents ought to act in their own self-interest". Helping others wouldn't typically be included here, but one might argue that the motivation behind helping others in this case is egotistical rather than altruistic. But still, one might follow social or legal rules, as doing so is often in one's own self-interest. An egoist would, however, not avoid illegal behaviour just because it's illegal, but rather they'd judge it based whether they'd suffer negative effects.

  • Well... The criteria states 'no matter' it doesnt imply 'you must (do antisocial stuff)' which gives complete freedom to the self as it doesnt bias towards either acting ethically or unethically, rather it allows all possibilities. I even clarified that if the self liked helping others (out of intrinsic kindness, not to leverage something else) the philosophy would allow the self to do that
    – user63990
    Commented Jan 7, 2023 at 22:54

Given the clarifications given in the comments, what you describe is not much of a philosophy as a lack thereof, a.k.a. "normal human existence".

As Conifold has said, what you describe would be incoherent as a philosophy, because a philosophy attempts to establish some kind of a system. It is defined by the general statements it makes, such as "if you steal, karma will eventually catch up and bust your punk ass" or "burning churches is universally fun". You have not established any beyond the standard hedonistic framework, really. And one may not explain their actions by this one principle alone, heavily leaning onto ad hoc arguments.

If you declare that no more general statements could be produced at all, and it is ad hoc all the way down, that is nihilistic and thusly arrives at Brian Z's answer. If no such declaration is made, then it is simply hedonism (and indeed, hedonism does not imply the absence of long-term goals).


It reminds me of the position of the character Callicles in Plato's dialogue: Gorgias. It also reminds me of Nietzsche's concept of will to power.

Maybe this SEP entry will be useful:

Callicles’ version of the immoralist challenge turns out to involve four main components, which I will discuss in order: [1] a critique of conventional justice [nomos], [2] a positive account of ‘justice according to nature’ [phusis], [3] a theory of the virtues, and [4] a hedonistic conception of the good.

[2] and [3] seem to match your first point, and both [1] and [4] with your second point.

[1] Callicles locates the origins of the convention in a conspiracy of the weak: “the people who institute our laws are the weak and the many… they assign praise and blame with themselves and their own advantage in mind” (483b). This diagnosis of ordinary moral language as a mask for self-interest is reminiscent of Thrasymachus; but there is also a contrast, for Thrasymachus presented the laws as adapted to serve the strong, i.e., the rulers. Callicles is perhaps more narrowly focussed on democratic societies, which he depicts as involving the tyranny of the weak many over exceptional individuals. The many “mold the best and the most powerful among us … and with charms and incantations we subdue them into slavery, telling them that one is supposed to get no more than his fair share” (483e–484a). This rhetorically powerful critique of justice inaugurates a durable philosophical tradition: Nietzsche, Foucault, and their successors in various projects of genealogy and ‘unmasking’ are all Callicles’ heirs.

[2] For all its ranting sound, Callicles has a straightforward and logically valid argument here: (1) observation of nature can disclose the content of ‘natural justice’; (2) nature is to be observed in the realms where moral conventions have no hold, viz among states and among animals; (3) such observation discloses the domination and exploitation of the weak by the strong; (4) therefore, it is natural justice for the strong to rule over and have more than the weak.

[3] Callicles’ theory of the virtues: As with Thrasymachus, Socrates’ response is to press Callicles regarding the deeper commitments on which his views depend. He first prods Callicles to articulate the conception of the ‘superior’ which his account of natural justice involves. Callicles has said that nature reveals that it is just for the ‘superior’, ‘better’ or ‘stronger’ to have more: but who are they (488b–c)? In practice, as Socrates points out, ‘the many’, whom Callicles has condemned as weak, are in fact stronger: they are able, as Callicles himself has complained, to suppress the gifted few. So, like Thrasymachus when faced with the fact that rulers sometimes make mistakes in the pursuit of self-interest, Callicles now has to distinguish the ‘strength’ he admires from actual political power. (This leaves it unclear whether and why we should still see the invasions of Darius and Xerxes as examples of the ‘strong’ exercising the ‘justice of nature’; since both their expeditions were notorious failures, the examples are rather perplexing anyway.)

Callicles goes on to articulate (with some help from Socrates) a conception of ‘superiority’ in terms of a pair of very traditional sounding virtues: intelligence [phronêsis], particularly about the affairs of the city, and courage [andreia], which makes men “competent to accomplish whatever they have in mind, without slackening off because of softness of spirit” (491a–b). These are the familiar ‘functional’ virtues of the Homeric warrior, and the claim that such a man should be rewarded with a ‘greater share’ is no sophistic novelty but a restatement of the Homeric warrior ethic: the best fighter in the battle of the day deserves the best cut of the meat at night. At the same time, Callicles is interestingly reluctant to describe his ‘superior’ man as possessing the virtue of justice [dikaiosunê], which we might have expected him to redefine as conformity to the justice of nature. Instead, he seems to dispense with any conception of justice as a virtue; and he explicitly rejects the fourth traditional virtue which Plato will take as canonical in the Republic, sôphrosunê, temperance or moderation.

[4] It is not made clear to us what pleasures Callicles himself had in mind—perhaps he himself is hazy on that point. All he says is that the superior man must “allow his own appetites to get as large as possible and not restrain them. And when they are as large as possible, he ought to be competent to devote himself to them by virtue of his courage and intelligence, and to fill him with whatever he may have an appetite for at the time” (491e–492a). This seems to leave the content of those appetites entirely a matter of subjective preference. And Callicles eventually allows himself, without much resistance, to be committed by Socrates to a simple and extreme form of hedonism: all pleasures are good and pleasure is the good (495a–e). Their arguments over this thesis stand at the start of a fascinating and complex Greek debate over the nature and value of pleasure, which is here understood as the ‘filling’ or ‘replenishment’ of some painful lack (e.g., the pleasure of drinking is a replenishment in relation to the pain of thirst). However, it is difficult to be sure how much this discussion tells us about Callicles, since it is Socrates who elaborates the conception of pleasure as replenishment on which it depends. Even the strength of Callicles’ commitment to the hedonistic equation of pleasure and the good is uncertain. At 499b, having been refuted by Socrates, he casually allows that some pleasures are better than others; and as noted above, hedonism was introduced in the first place not as a thesis he was keen to propound, but as the answer to a question he could not avoid—viz, the stronger should ‘have more’ of what? Callicles’ philosophical enthusiasm is not, it seems, for pleasure itself but for the intensity, self-assertion and extravagance that accompany its pursuit on a grand scale: he endorses hedonism so as to repudiate the restraints of temperance, rather than the other way around. One way to understand this rather oddly structured position is, again, as inspired by the Homeric tradition. Callicles’ somewhat murky ideal, the superior man, is imagined as having the arrogant grandeur of the larger-than-life Homeric heroes; but what this new breed of hero is supposed to fight for and be rewarded by remains cloudy to his imagination.

  • links tend to die; best to copy in the part or parts you feel are relevant
    – msouth
    Commented Jan 5, 2023 at 20:46

How about Thomism?


On the contrary, Augustine says (De Trin. xiii, 3) that all men agree in desiring the last end, which is happiness.

Technically, everyone is seeking the same last end: happiness. So, everyone is doing what they want. Everyone differs in what they think will make them happy.

Seems identical to what you say here:

So you should act on those desires, no matter how anti-social, despicable or illegal they are. (If you like helping people, help them, if you like hurting people, hurt them) to live a happy life.

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