Ethics: In Ethics the Charvaka regards sensual pleasure as the summum bonum Of life. Eat, drink and be merry, for once the body is reduced to ashes, there is no hope of coming back here again.
There is no other world. There is no soul surviving death. Religion is the means of livelihood of the priests. All values are mere phantoms created by a diseased mind. The Ethics of the Charvaka is a crude individual hedonism; pleasure of the senses in this life and that too of the individual is the sole end. Out of the four human values— Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksa— only Kama or sensual pleasure is regarded as the end and Artha or wealth is regarded as the means to realize that end, while Dharma and Moksa are altogether rejected. Pleasure is regarded as mixed up with pain, but that is no reason why it should not be acquired. ‘Nobody casts away the grain because of the husk Should nobody cook because of beggars? Should nobody sow seeds because of animals? Rejection of the authority of the Veda and the denouncement of the Brahmana priests must have considerably helped the downfall of the Charvaka. But it is not the sole cause, since the Jainas and the Buddhists also have been equally contemptuous towards them. Rejection of God also is not so much responsible for their downfall, because the Jainas, the Buddhists, the Sankhya and the Mimamsakas too do not believe in the existence of God. The denial of the soul is shared along with Materialism by some schools of Buddhism also. The assertion of the reality of matter is shared with Materialism by all schools of realistic pluralism. The theoretical reduction of the mind to the matter also cannot be regarded as the main cause to merit universal contempt that has fallen to the lot of the Charvaka. The individual hedonism also has an appeal to the animal in man and pleasure, in fact, is desired by all. The main cause, therefore, should be sought for in the Charvaka’s denial of all human values which make life worth living. Life without values is the animal life, not the human life. Sensual pleasure is a very faint shadow of the supreme pleasure. There is a qualitative difference in pleasure. The pleasure of the pig is certainly not the same as the pleasure of the philosopher. It was for this reason that, later on, distinction was made between Crude and Refined Materialists. The celebrated work Kama – sutra of Vatsyayana, recommending the desirability of pleasure including sensual pleasure, yet regards Dharma or the moral values as the supreme end of life and says that acquision of pleasure should be in conformity with Dharma. Vatsyayana recommends a harmonious cultivation of all the three values of life — Dharma, Artha and Kama. No value should be rejected, suppressed or even looked down. As man after all is also a biological animal, satisfaction of the senses is as natural as the satisfaction of hunger or thirst. But because man is not merely a biological animal, but also a psychological and a moral creature, a rational and a self-conscious person capable of realizing the values, he should, therefore, instead of falling down to the level of the beast, transform the animal pleasure into human pleasure by means of urbanity, self control, education, culture and spiritual discipline.