Hedonism Defined

Oct 23rd, 2012


I am a Hedonist.

I find this statement confounds, amuses, angers, and pours outright disbelief into others skulls in equal parts. Often some form of confused response is inevitable. It’s usually pithy, disbelieving, or a joking retort.

After all, surely I jest. Admitting to such a blatant character flaw — publicly no less — appears to lack wisdom and any sense of decorum. You might assume I throw caution to the wind, party every night until dawn, drink like a fish, have the morals of a street hooker. Are there any other unsavory clich├ęs I can toss onto the pile?

Yet I persist in my resolution and reject your assumptions.

I. Am. A. Hedonist. More specifically, a rational hedonist, aka Epicurean. Mind you, this is not some form of religious zealotry. It’s philosophy, dating back to Epicurus (a Greek) in the 3rd Century B.C. I’ve mentioned before how I’m a fan of Greek and Roman history, and it’s more than just the myths and screenplays of the time. You hear the name Epicurus and are likely thinking of epicureanism, a love of overindulging in gourmet food or drink. However, this is a label placed in modern times by those who didn’t understand Epicurus’ tenets included avoiding regular excess and thinking well enough ahead to understand the consequences of your actions and avoid subsequent pitfalls.

Oh, wait… There’s planning involved? There’s a level of…oh my goodness…moderation? Well, yes. Sorry to disappoint you.

Let’s see, you want to go out and party all night and get royally hammered, but you have to be at work the next day? The rational hedonist advises no, unless you want to potentially lose your job or feel like hell while you’re there, the pain suffering the next day most likely isn’t worth the short-term fun of the partying. Drunk-driving? Obvious life fail. Sure, the initial high might be grand, but the payoff is potentially deadly. Alternatively, there are countless ways to indulge without long-term consequences to yourself or those you care about (or heck, other drivers on the road, for that matter). Fine wine, quality chocolate, a perfectly cooked meal, curling up with a fantastic book, curling up with a snugly someone — pick your poison. ;)

Yes, I make decisions which bring me the most pleasure in life, both mentally and physically. In doing so I consider those close to me, and what will help maintain their happiness. Ideally I can choose options which increase joy for everyone involved, or conversely impact others in the least negative way. I may occasionally overindulge, but it’s a rare occurrence. Usually my most taxing offense is staying up too late and not getting enough sleep. True story.

However, I do indulge in life fully. If there’s fun and pleasure to be had, I jump right in and drink deeply.

As the poet Horace said, Carpe Diem (“Seize the Day”). (He was a fellow Epicurean, BTW.) My goal is to live fully, drink the day dry, and be ready to start fresh tomorrow.

I’ve planned a blog series on specific hedonistic examples and…suggestions. They may not be what you expect, but I think you’ll enjoy them. Let me know if you have particular questions. :)

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6 Responses to "Hedonism Defined" {+}

  1. Alan Edwards on October 23, 2012 Reply

    No wonder we hit it off so quickly. I’m a happy hedonist myself!

  2. Narcisse Navarre on October 24, 2012 Reply

    The Marquis de Sade, one of my favorite authors said it best:

    “It is only by enlarging the scope of one’s tastes and one’s fantasies, by sacrificing everything to pleasure, that that unfortunate individual called man, thrown despite himself into this sad world, can succeed in gathering a few roses among life’s thorns.”

    • Candice Bundy on October 24, 2012 Reply

      Love the quote. It’s only when we push ourselves beyond our known limits that we finally find out who we truly are underneath the surface.

  3. Bill Olander on October 24, 2012 Reply

    I’ve always found that I tend to gravitate towards Kant myself. That said, most western philosophies seem to dovetail at the important parts. The only ones I’ve had real issues with are Natural Law/Dharma.

  4. Wilder on August 26, 2015 Reply

    I would suppose that many pploee would disagree with your premise; perhaps you do too. I suspect that the purpose of your assignment is to research a subject and present an opposing view whether you agree with it or not. There are two reasons that I am aware of to spend money on solving global warming (I assume that is your subject, spending less money on solving global warming doesn;t make sense to me).1) Those pploee or companies or countries that have an interest in a product or economic reason for supporting global warming will search for and support reasons to ignor it. Such groups include petroleum companies, coal related companies, auto companies, transportation companies, industrial conpanies and countries who support these products and companies, whose products, when burned, increase the carbon dioxide levels. People say and do bizarre things when their fortunes are at stake.2) There is a valid opinion that enough is not known about the cause of carbon dioxide buildup and that throwing too much money into solving a minor problem may be useless overkill, while leaving the major cause unresolved. This view would be to spend wisely. As an example, if the USA were to legislate the omission of gas burning engines to cleaner fuels such as hydrogen, it would cost billions. Would it solve global warming? Perhaps it wouldn;t scratch the surface if the real cause of global warming is gas from cows and cow manure, flue gas from power plants and chemical plants and the use of spray cans. The cause is likely a combination of all these things, by the way. But the point is, where should be the money be spent? and by who? and when?There is some opinions that the current phenoninon is caused by too many pploee on the earth. What is solution to that? and how could money be spent to solve it?

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