Eoghan Gardiner posted this at his blog, and I am linking here because I want to preserve my comment:
Eoghan: Pleasure is the goal - it's our only goal, EVERYTHING ELSE is either a means to that goal or at least a way to avoid a pain. Hopefully this adds something to the fantastic conversations we've been having here on this topic the past few days. http://hedonismepicureanirelan…l-everything-else-is.html
Very good post! In my own thinking lately these two things go hand in hand (1) Pleasure is the end goal because it is the only thing that is in and of itself desirable, and nothing has any reason to be called desirable unless it brings pleasure (or reduces pain, which is saying the same thing). But also implicit in the same point, and in this blog post is (2) there are MANY things that can bring pleasure, and not just the obvious food/wine/music/etc, but also, under the right conditions, abstractions such as idealism and rationalism and even supernatural religion. And these abstractions, being mental, can bring MORE pleasure than the ordinary food/wine/music/etc.
The point is that ALL SORTS of actions can bring pleasure, and we have to evaluate both long and short term consequences. Can idealism and rationalism and religion bring long-term pleasure? Certainly they CAN. And if they do in a particular case, then an Epicurean has no reason to criticize that person's choice (see PD10). BUT WE CAN'T FORGET EPICUREAN PHYSICS AND CANONICS. We can admit that idealism and rationalism and supernatural religion can indeed bring pleasure in some cases (we have to - it's obvious that they can, at least for short periods) BUT AT THE SAME TIME we maintain that idealism and rationalism and supernatural religion are CONTRARY TO NATURE because they are based on FALSE premises. And that means, since they are contrary to nature and based on falsehood, that they are not good bets for producing productive long-term results. And that's why we don't follow idealism and rationalism and supernatural religion, and why we urge our friends not to do so as well.