Practically speaking ancient hedonism advocated the happiness of the individual: the modern hedonism of Hume, Bentham and Mill is based on a wider conception of life.
This pessimistic attitude is far removed from the positive hedonism of Aristippus.
Between the hedonism of the ancients and that of modern philosophers there lies a great gulf.
Pleasure is strictly nothing more than the state of being pleased, and hedonism the theory that man's chief good consists in acting in such a way as to bring about a continuous succession of such states.
This hedonism has perplexed Plato's readers needlessly (as we have said in speaking of the Cyrenaics), inasmuch as hedonism is the most obvious corollary of the Socratic doctrine that the different common notions of good - the beautiful, the pleasant and the useful - were to be somehow interpreted by each other.
He gave up the psychological hedonism of Mill, and adopted instead a position which may be described as ethical hedonism, according to which the criterion of goodness in any given action is that it produces the greatest possible amount of pleasure.
In the first place hedonism may confine itself to the view that, as a matter of observed fact, all men do in practice make pleasure the criterion of action, or it may go further and assert that men ought to seek pleasure as the sole human good.
Thus, in the end, Aristippus, the founder of ' the purest hedonism in the history of thought, comes very near not only to the Cynics, but to the more cultured hedonism of Epicurus and modern thinkers.
The negative side of Epicurean hedonism was developed to such an extent by some members of the school (see Hegesias) that the ideal life is held to be rather indifference to pain than positive enjoyment.
It would be quite possible to accept his criticisms of naturalism and hedonism while rejecting many of the metaphysical inferences which he draws.