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Wednesday, June 8, 2005 - 8:20amSanction this postReply
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If Objectivists are to inform the religionists, there is a question I believe we have to be ready to answer which is: if there is no afterlife or continuation of consciousness in any form after death, what is the point of any pursuit.  Refinement, knowledge, perfection of talent all are "vanity" if they are simply taken to a mouldering grave. 

Longfellow argues:

Lives of great men all remind us, we can make our lives sublime,

And, departing, leave behind us, footprints on the sands of time;

 

Footprints, that perhaps another, sailing o'er life's solemn main,

A forlorn and shipwrecked brother, seeing, shall take heart again.

 
But is this a justification for human achievement, to benefit future generations?  If not, is the alternative hedonism?




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Wednesday, June 8, 2005 - 8:28amSanction this postReply
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It never ceases to amaze me that the seeming alternative to, in effect, being a serf - is to be,in effect, a glutton...... all which merely describes the inner mindset of those postualting this as the alternatives.....



Post 2

Wednesday, June 8, 2005 - 10:30amSanction this postReply
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Robert, I think you are seeing a false dichotomy here where none exists.  There is no mention of serfdom. Your quick dismissal begs the question.
(Edited by Robert Davison on 6/08, 10:35am)




Post 3

Wednesday, June 8, 2005 - 10:34amSanction this postReply
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To exist for the purpose of serving others, to have as appropos the notion of 'beyond oneself', meaning in practice others before or above self - is indeed, a form of serfdom, whether called that or not - tribalism is serfdom......in spirit as well as practice....



Post 4

Wednesday, June 8, 2005 - 10:37amSanction this postReply
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You are only reacting to Longfellow, who I quoted as simply one possible argument.  The real question is, if there is no afterlife in any form why should man struggle for perfection?  Is it not pointless?



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Wednesday, June 8, 2005 - 11:23amSanction this postReply
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The real question is, if there is no afterlife in any form why should man struggle for perfection?  Is it not pointless?

 
Robert D., I'm surprised.  One's own happiness - long-term and at the highest height attainable - is the justification.

Jason




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Post 6

Wednesday, June 8, 2005 - 1:11pmSanction this postReply
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Robert D.

It is the brevity of our life that informs it, that defines it, that delineates it. All of our values are put into the context of "how much time do I have and how much time will I give this?"

It is the knowledge that we will die one day that makes this moment and the remaining moments so poignant. It makes the sky bluer, the grass greener, our love deeper. It makes loss greater and the memories richer.

It focuses our minds on the here and now -- and not on the then and forever.

It is, in fact, religion that turns minds to mush, turning people into scatter-brained hedonists or puritans because they have an implicit "devil may care" attitude about the present and have no rational framework for guiding their lives. All a religionist has to do is have a death-bed confession and all hedonism is forgotten. How can such a mind ever find the "point of any pursuit" in this life?

It takes courage to face the reality of death and to realize that it is your life until then that is the only thing that will ever matter in the vast time/space scheme of the universe. It takes courage to laugh in the face of death -- so to speak.

But, or course, our lives are not about death. The Greeks used to say that you don't die -- the world ends. Amen.




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Wednesday, June 8, 2005 - 1:31pmSanction this postReply
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It focuses our minds on the here and now -- and not on the then and forever.
Amen!




Post 8

Wednesday, June 8, 2005 - 2:05pmSanction this postReply
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The problem,  Jason, is that an argument can just as easily be made for hedonism.  That can be one's happiness depending upon the person. What then is the argument against Hedonism?
(Edited by Robert Davison on 6/08, 2:07pm)




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Post 9

Wednesday, June 8, 2005 - 2:23pmSanction this postReply
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Hedonism is irrational, Robert. It does not take into account that we are rational beings that need fulfillment through work, health, romance, friendship, great art, honesty, justice.

Hedonism is not the pursuit of happiness. It is the pursuit of sensory pleasure without regard for the full enrichment of the human soul via the aforementioned things. The only way hedonists can avoid the horrible belief that they cannot be happy in this short life is to throw themselves headlong into sensory overload, to occupy every moment of their day with mindless activity.

It is escapism, which is rooted in skepticism -- the belief that humans are not efficacious, not capable of or worthy of long-term happiness. That is the mindset of Christians and every other sect (theist and atheist) throughout history. That's why they focus so much on a netherworld. They don't think they are capable of being happy here. It is, ironically, death worship. They live for dying.

(Edited by David Elmore on 6/08, 2:31pm)




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Wednesday, June 8, 2005 - 3:05pmSanction this postReply
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It does not take into account that we are rational beings that need fulfillment through work, health, romance, friendship, great art, honesty, justice.
Main Entry: he·do·nism
Pronunciation: 'hE-d&n-"i-z&m
Function: noun
Etymology: Greek hEdonE pleasure; akin to Greek hEdys sweet -- more at SWEET
1 : the doctrine that pleasure or happiness is the sole or chief good in life

There is nothing in your list of work, health, etc., with the possible exception of work that could not be subsumed within hedonism.  You are doing to hedonism, what atheists do when they tar unitarians and jihadists with the same brush.

It is escapism, which is rooted in skepticism -- the belief that humans are not efficacious, not capable of or worthy of long-term happiness.
Again this how you are choosing to define it.  Are you saying then that there is intrinsic value in achievement? 

 




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Post 11

Wednesday, June 8, 2005 - 3:43pmSanction this postReply
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Defining something, Robert, and identifying the philosophical principle behind it are not the same thing.  By David saying hedonism is escapism he is not attaching a new definition to it.  He's identifying that seeking pleasure moment-by-moment with no regard to long-term, lasting happiness is escapism.  And that, the seeking of pleasure moment-by-moment, is how hedonism is used in most cases. 

I notice that the dictionary definition you supplied makes no distinction between pleasure and happiness.  If it simply said "the doctrine that happiness is the sole or chief good in life" then it would be describing the Objectivist ethics.  But it doesn't; it includes pleasure.  There is nothing wrong with pleasure intrinsically - it's the signal built into humans to indicate"something's right."  But it's sensory.  Happiness is not simply sensory.  One can easily introspect and tell the difference between a particular sexual stimulation (pleasure) and contemplation of a beloved partner after the act (happiness). 

And since human beings can project and plan over their entire life spans, higher and higher forms of happiness can be achieved.  One can find the mate that is a perfect complement, one can find the career that will provide the right challenges and rewards for one's personality/psychology, and one can find friends who enrich one's life.  These are long-term forms of happiness rather than moment-by-moment pleasures.  They last.  They can be contemplated & themselves bring pleasure even when the object is not present.

Do you doubt for a moment that hedonism is understood to be the throwing oneself over to moment-by-moment, sensory stimulation?  You can pull out five different dictionaries to provide various definitions, but those are possible uses -  every definition doesn't necessarily accurately describe the concept as it's generally used and understood today. 

I said before that if you found a definition that only said happiness is the sole or chief good in life, you'd be describing the Objectivist ethics.  To make it precise, one would have to say "the doctrine that one's own..."  But if that's what most definitions said, I would say, "Then I'm a hedonist."  But I would add, "According to the dictionary definition, that is.  But since the dictionary definition is not how the concept is understood today, I would never call myself that."

Jason

Edit for typo - from "now" to "not" in the last sentence.

(Edited by Jason Dixon on 6/09, 5:36am)




Post 12

Wednesday, June 8, 2005 - 6:10pmSanction this postReply
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This is excellent Jason.

Posts like this one of mine would not be tolerated on another Objectivist site.  Anyone posting such a thing would be banned.  But, Linz et al, in their wisdom, have decided that no topic is taboo.

We are in a ghetto.  There are many here who have not done the work.  They have learned to rely on the opinion of others and to lay low by following the leader, dismissing out of hand those ideas they know other Objectivists revile.  It is an instinctive defense against censure.   

We say here we want to expand the movement by spreading the word and attracting others to our thinking, but unless we are recruiting idiots we have to be ready to answer questions like this, especially on a site dedicated to the pursuit of pleasure.




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Post 13

Wednesday, June 8, 2005 - 6:19pmSanction this postReply
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We say here we want to expand the movement by spreading the word and attracting others to our thinking, but unless we are recruiting idiots we have to be ready to answer questions like this, especially on a site dedicated to the pursuit of pleasure.

This is a very poignant statement, Robert (as are the excellent statements by both Jason and David).  I think one of the things we have to defend most is the right to pleasure, as other "factions" are quick to dismiss such as Hedonism.  By consistently conveying the principles behind said pleasure, and giving them a concrete basis in reality, we only further our cause.

Well done, gentlemen. 




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Post 14

Wednesday, June 8, 2005 - 11:36pmSanction this postReply
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Robert D,

Probably the most serious problem with hedonism is how reason fits in.

The normal hedonistic pleasures one thinks about, getting drunk or high, lots of sex, glutting on taste and food and so forth are not bad in themselves. However they are not recipes for happiness. They are merely good experiences along the way in life (and some not so good after a while - like hard drugs).

An essential component to happiness for a human being is to realize his/her potential - which to human beings means letting the mind develop to proper maturity according to its own nature. The most efficacious use of a human mind is rational thought. Having this capacity is not chosen. How to develop it is.

Another primary element to a healthy mind is emotions. Feelings running amuck will also not lead to happiness. More often than not they lead to destruction or suicide. Emotional balance is needed - and this also is a state of the mind's potential being realized. Rational thought helps with such balance, but this is where sensory pleasures fit in too. They provide instant short-term rewards for living (sensory pleasure), thus prompt positive emotions, but do not provide a reason for living, which is to prolong life span and realize inherent potential (the birth, growth and maturity according to the nature of the organism, and death cycle).

A man can only find true happiness by devoting his mind to realizing its own potential - fully blooming so to speak.

Note that happiness is not an issue with animals - they automatically seek to realize their own inherent potentials. They are automatically happy.

The greatest argument against hedonism is that it does not take reason into account. That is why sensory pleasures by themselves in excess get tiresome over time. Such excess inhibits the mind's rational development and thus ironically stifles happiness.

However, a hedonistic outlook under the guidance and control of a developed rational mind can be a wonderful thing that results in a more intense here-and-now flavor of happiness, instead of a more future-oriented kind. I think the secret is in finding the proper blend.

Michael



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Post 15

Thursday, June 9, 2005 - 4:27amSanction this postReply
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Well stated guys.  And to that I will add:   Eat, drink and be merry for today is Michael Kelly's birthday!

Happy birthday sweetheart. 

Kat




Post 16

Thursday, June 9, 2005 - 5:35amSanction this postReply
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"A man hath no better thing under the sun, than to eat, and to drink, and to be merry."
Ecclesiastes 8:15
Oh! I didn't realize this quote originates from the Bible.

Anyway, who on earth is this woman called Merry? ;-)

Anyway,

Happy Birthday Michael !

Hold onto that Kat, because it looks like you got a tiger by the tail. Great Stuff! :-)




Post 17

Thursday, June 9, 2005 - 6:13amSanction this postReply
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Good comments all.  Happy Birthday, Michael.



Post 18

Thursday, June 9, 2005 - 7:41amSanction this postReply
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Happy Birthday, Michael!  :)



Post 19

Thursday, June 9, 2005 - 9:26amSanction this postReply
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Good post Michael, and happy birthday.....


Regards,

Shane Hurren




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