Differences between Stoicism and Hedonism

It is well known that ethics and morality are terms that, today, are used as synonyms. However, in philosophy, morality is usually distinguished as the norms that regulate a correct action of the human being, while ethics is conceived as the reflection that the individual makes about morality. That is why ethics allows man to equip himself with a set of guidelines for his behavior and morality allows the same meditation of the rules.

However, both belong to the different philosophical theories that have governed the life of man since ancient times and can be divided into several types, such as: formalism, discursive ethics, stoicism, utilitarianism, hedonism, eudaemonism, among others. In this sense, hedonism and stoicism guide man to discover who can tell him what he should do, the correct actions and choose what is good for him.

Therefore, below we will make a brief description of these two philosophical theories, to capture and summarize what their characteristics, differences and similarities are.


This school was created by Zeno of Citium in the years 301 BC and refers to the ethical doctrines that are inclined to indifference towards external pleasures and pains. In that sense, it can be said that this doctrine practices the control of the desires that disturb the life of man, using virtue and reason.

His goal was to achieve imperturbability and autonomy towards external things. In addition, this philosophical theory intends to indicate that the happiness of the human being depends on his conformity with rational nature and that the only good is virtue and the only evil is vice and the passions.


Hedonism comes from the Greek -hedoné- which means “pleasure” and is a philosophical doctrine that equates pleasure with good and ensures that happiness is derived from having a life full of pleasures. The philosopher Aristippus of Cyrene was the father of hedonism, this being a disciple of Socrates. Aristippus indicated that there is a smooth movement of the soul, which is known as pleasure, and a rough movement of the soul, which is known as pain. In this sense, he concluded that pleasure can reduce pain, being the pleasure of the body the meaning of life.

That said, here are some differences between the philosophical theories presented in this article:

  • Stoicism conceived of happiness in controlling the pleasures that disturb life while Hedonism preached that happiness depends on the pleasures of the body.
  • Stoicism was created by Zeno of Citium while Hedonism was proposed by Aristippus of Cyrene.
  • The goal of Stoicism is to achieve man’s autonomy towards external things while Hedonism aims to reduce pain through pleasure.

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