Wednesday, 6 June 2012

The pleasure principle!

There is of course nothing new about the promotion of hedonism and epicureanism as a alternative to religion.

You only have to turn on the television to see that these are indeed the mainstrays of what passes for the philosophy of life of the masses today.

But it surely says something about the end of the age we are in when an online journal like The Punch can promote it as if it was something new, a serious alternative to all those nasty religions that actually demand you give something up as a sign of your faith.

Is the post meant to be a spoof?

Don't give me that old-time religion!

The article starts from the empty lives lived by so many and suggests that perhaps we need some belief in our lives:

"Here’s a proposition for you. Could it be that what is missing is some kind of belief? Could it be that a good wad of faith or philosophy would plug the gap?"

Something to hold on to would be nice – perhaps something written on stone, or in a gold book in someone’s back garden. But let’s face it, even a central tenet or a fundamental organising principle would probably do."

The problem of course, is that traditional religion actually demands some sacrifices:

"Perhaps you stuck your finger in this particular hole a long time ago. Maybe you even headed off to the changing room of faith, to try on some of the major brands. When it came to the crunch though none of the faiths fit and the philosophies made you look fat.

You weren’t prepared to renounce bacon, beef or condoms. You enjoy coveting your neighbour’s wife, and reincarnation sounded like a blast until you considered someone had to come back as an intestinal worm or a reality tv contestant."

Revinventing hedonism
The solution, it argues, is adopting 'the Pleasure Principle':

"You asked for a creed, a belief, a philosophy that would really work for modern conditions, and we listened. The answer is pleasure.

Yes pleasure as an end, an explanation and a guiding principle - Pleasure with a capital P. Perhaps adopting a philosophy of Pleasure strikes you as novel. And the problem with novel is that it is pretty close to nouveau. And you want to be nouveau like you want back hair.

So here’s the good news.The philosophical system that holds Pleasure as its principal guiding principle, and a sufficient end, is positively ancient. If you are out with single origin coffee drinkers, or people whose fantasies involve togas, you could refer to the philosophy as Epicureanism. Otherwise we could just call it the Pleasure Principle."

Well, honest at least.

Epicureanism, is not, of course, a philosophy that exactly aids the survival of a culture or society.

But it does aptly sum up the underlying principle pursued by many today...

1 comment:

Kiwi Priest said...

Epicureanism concerns refined pleasures and even preaches moderation. Perhaps it would be better to refer to the Cyrenaic pleasure seeking of Aristippus in this context. At any rate, the Experience Machine thought experiment of Robert Nozick tends to wake people up to the fact that truth and authenticity matters more than just pleasure.