Are you a hedonist? The question is harder for me to answer about myself than I thought and it (somewhat) bothers me.

Here's a basic Wikipedia article for definition purposes:

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hedonism

Hedonism is a school of thought that argues that pleasure is the only intrinsic good.[1] In very simple terms, a hedonist strives to maximize net pleasure (pleasure minus pain).


Christians would say it is "of satan" lol

For me, it poses a problem of selfishness. Is hedonism equivalent to selfishness? Or even psychopathy? How do you define "healthy hedonism" if there is such a thing?

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I would say that this, like all things must be moderated. There is such a thing as "Too much of a good thing." I enjoy working on my projects, but too much is nearly painful. The same thing with just lazing about. People inherently need work, not just to live, but just to give you something to do. I think that's why so many retired people go get a small part time job of some sort. There is also some truth to the idea that we need suffering in order to be able to appreciate the good in life, although not nearly to the extent that the theist claims. You don't know how good a really good day at work is, until you have a really bad day at work, etc.

Hedonism is a good idea, but life's a much more complicated that the idea is able to encompass.

I would say, do what makes you happy, but don't get discouraged if you're stuck doing something you hate. Always learn from your mistakes. Don't turn down a good party for an idea, but don't miss work for the same reason.

You're right, a truly hedonistic person would be only for the pleasure, and would simply refuse to deal with anything that's not. My point was simply to illustrate that it's not logical to be purely  hedonistic, and certainly not logical to be purely of the Christian mindset. Balance is a basic fact of nature, the wave function will always attempt to preserve itself and seek balance. It's only natural to live your life that way. Take the good and the bad in stride and keep moving forward. Every extreme needs to be regulated and moderated.

Epicurus would probably agree with you. His Epicurean philosophy: live modestly and seek knowledge and suffer the least amount pain and fear.

For example, Philodemus was a well know epicurean who challenged the view that the purpose of art is moral improvement of the audience, and suggests that great art gives us intellectual pleasure through content and form. I hate when every story has to have a moral. We know his poems and writings only because Mt. Vesuvius preserved them at Herculaneum.

Here he is, inviting a benefactor, Piso to an annual dinner party that will not include fine wine.

Tomorrow, dearest Piso, your cultured companion drags you
To his humble shack at three o'clock
To feed you your annual dinner on the Twentieth. If you'll miss
Sow's udders and Bromius' Chian wine,
Still you'll see your faithful companions and hear
Things far more sweet than the Phaeacians' land.
And if you ever turn your gaze on us too, Piso,
We'll have a richer Twentieth, instead of a humble one.

 

 

That was lovely, RobertPiano!

Actually I think the Wiccans main law is "Do what you will, as long as it harms no-one". So technically it could be a hedonistic creed.

I enjoy my hedonism. Everything I do, I do for me. If others enjoy it too, good.

On selfishness.

For me, it poses a problem of selfishness.

Belle, did xianity tell you that?

Control, control, control. For your own good health, get over it.

I don't believe people who say they aren't selfish.

At best they haven't unexamined their lives. At worst they have motives they need to conceal.

BTW, guilt sucks too.

Are you a hedonist? Hedonism is a school of thought that argues that pleasure is the only intrinsic good.[1] In very simple terms, a hedonist strives to maximize net pleasure (pleasure minus pain).

I tend to look at ethics on a scale of 'well-being versus harm'. I suppose one might call the same continuum 'pleasure versus pain' or 'maximum happiness versus maximum misery'.

But I think 'well-being versus harm' are the most correct terms, at least for how I see it. They're the most extensible, covering not only myself and other people, but (as one example) a duty to protect nature.

A rainforest feels no pleasure or pain, no happiness or misery, but it can be well or be harmed. I might derive great pleasure from the wealth I attain from cutting down an entire rainforest, and even if doing so would not necessarily harm other people, it would be greatly harmful to the rainforest. On that basis, my priority would be to manage the rainforest as responsibly as I could, rather than exploit it the best I could.

It's ultimately on this charge where I find hedonism comes up short: there are ethical duties and considerations outside the continuum of personal pleasure and pain. I agree with the idea of maximizing well-being and minimizing harm, so in that sense I am hedonistic, but I wouldn't describe myself as a hedonist. By all means, enjoy life the best you can, but do it responsibly for the sake of yourself, others and nature.

Can't say. I've never even participated in an orgy, despite the lack of religious suppression in my life. Maybe that guy in Santa Barbara could have... naw, never mind. Gettin' creepy now.

Hah, I imagine an occasional orgy could make me happy! My hedonism is more cerebral... a kind of virtual social experience, and without even resorting to Second Life. I resort to TA, perhaps, and the people here who need (or at least enjoy) other atheists looking for positive interaction in a world of religious suppression and panderment [sic] to people's life/death fantasies. The purpose of life is to serve God? Allah? Right. Kill in His name, and get the virgins in heaven. Oops, I digress.

But seriously, other things make me feel happy. Hedonism as a means to happiness just never occurs to me. Similarly, I also don't get the point when people claim there's no such thing as altruism, because all behavior just comes down to selfishness. I.e. "being good to others is a selfish act just because it makes one feel good". Doing good for society and culture should be encouraged, and the rest of the philosphical discussion about whether or not it's ultimately "selfish" is meaningless to me.

You got me thinking now. TA sanctioned orgies. I should probably update my profile. 

It depends on the kind of pleasure. What's the point in drinking too much and throwing up or getting into a fight? What's the point in eating the whole chocolate cake and getting sick? What's the point in having sex with everyone if it means you cheat and hurt your partner? Maximizing net pleasure equals pain. 

It's not quite a part of the definition you offered, but hedonism usually has a connotation of doing what feels good right now and damn the future consequences.  In that form I'd argue it's nowhere near equivalent to selfishness, because the selfish person wants what is best for themselves and that long term consequence isn't anything of the kind.

"hedonism usually has a connotation of doing what feels good right now and damn the future consequences."   - I'd say that's an exact definition of selfishness - acting without a conscience. 

Ethical hedonism is acceptable. But the premise that pleasure is the only intrinsic good is a shallow notion. Caring for loved ones who are infirm is not a pleasurable experience but there is certainly a huge amount of good in doing so. It is difficult to find fault with those who concentrate on providing themselves with pleasurable experiences. If they can do this without injury to others or their environment it is their option to take, and still keep a clear conscious. But in times of trouble for those around them it would be selfish to lack the compulsion to help. They say no man is an island unto himself. A hedonist might argue that assertion.

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