Hedonism and Ultimate Good
In this chapter, Sidgwick discusses the connection between value and psychology. Sidgwick points out that while ancient philosophers were concerned with the proper ultimate object of rational thought (the Ultimate Good), modern thinkers have been interested in the basis and validity of a received code of restrictive, not directive, rules. Whereas modern philosophers concentrate on the general good, ancient Greek philosophers focused on an egoistic good, that is, the good for any individual seeking the true way of life. And yet, the old question ‘What is the Ultimate Good?’ has arisen again. To this question of how to reconcile a desire for one's own Good with the dictates of duty by reason, Sidgwick argues that only Utilitarianism offers a rational account of the ideal subordination of individual psychological impulses to universal ends.
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