The Talmudic Doctrine of the 'Benefit of a Pleasure': Psychological Well-Being in Talmudic Literature

20 Pages Posted: 9 Dec 2007  

Roman A. Ohrenstein

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Abstract

In this article, we attempt to analyze the Talmudic notion of well-being in the light of modern hedonic psychology. First, we examine the thoughts of Hebrew "wisdom" and Greek "sophia" concerning the phenomenon of happiness. We then discuss the Talmudic doctrine of "optimality", a concept similar to that of the Pareto improvement. This is followed by a discourse deemed to be of extraordinary significance - the idea of "mutual benefit", which may be described as "super optimum". Thereafter, the doctrine of the "Benefit of a Pleasure" is demonstrated to be a "pleasure-measure" of reciprocal and nonreciprocal happiness. Finally, it is argued, that although Plato, according to Professor Lowry, detailed precise "trade-offs" between degrees of pleasure, pain, and time, it was applied to "moral values" only, whereas the Talmudists posited the existence of a "psychoeconomic" category, in which pleasure itself is equated with money.

Suggested Citation

Ohrenstein, Roman A., The Talmudic Doctrine of the 'Benefit of a Pleasure': Psychological Well-Being in Talmudic Literature. American Journal of Economics and Sociology, Vol. 66, No. 4, pp. 661-680, October 2007. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1061814 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1536-7150.2007.00533.x

Roman A. Ohrenstein (Contact Author)

affiliation not provided to SSRN

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