Friday, November 09, 2012

Hedonism

Conwy, Wales 2000-2001
















From The Problem of Evil (2003) : Anglican and Baptist Perspectives: MPhil thesis, Bangor University: Russell Norman Murray

Hedonism was also discussed by Woods. James A. Montmarquet defined Hedonism in the following way: "the view that pleasure (including the absence of pain) is the sole intrinsic good in life." Montmarquet (1996: 311).

Woods provided a similar definition: "Hedonism is a broad term used to encompass all theories that see pleasure as the ultimate goal of life and criterion for conduct. Anything that is fun is good. Anything that is not fun is bad and should be avoided." Woods (1974)(1982: 18). Basically, Hedonism sees pleasure as the most important thing in reality. Interestingly, Woods mentioned Playboyism, and stated of Hugh Hefner, Publisher of Playboy Magazine: "Hefner rejects any philosophy that holds a man must deny himself for others. The Playboy outlook says a man should love himself preeminently and pursue only his own pleasure." Woods (1974)(1982: 108).

Woods noted that happiness should be a result of a responsible life. Hedonism is not responsible since ones pleasure often exists at the expense of someone else’s pain. For example, considering Playboy, where women are viewed as objects sexually by both Hefner and the willing women participating, this magazine brings its participants money, fame and sexual gratification, but the Playboy philosophy represented in the magazine, through mass media influence, also causes women in society to be viewed as objects by many men. This can cause many women to be overlooked for their intellect, and looked upon more for their sexual beauty.

So, in a subtle fashion, the Playboy philosophy can bring pain to many people in society because Playboy Magazine exploits sexuality when, in reality, sexuality belongs in the context of marriage/committed relationship where the inner beauty of the person is more important than their outer image. With the Playboy philosophy, the outer beauty is far more important than the inner beauty.

It must be admitted that Hedonism is pleasurable to people. For example, as a pastor of a local church recently stated, most men struggle with pornography at some time. An advocate of the Playboy philosophy may state that its critics secretly desire that lifestyle. There can be an element of truth in this, but a wiser person, and certainly a Christ-centred person, should see that sexual conduct outside of a healthy marriage can lead to many destructive things such as divorce, abortion, venereal disease, HIV, and public disgrace. Only sexuality in commitment leads to something fulfilling over a long period.

The Hedonism represented with Playboy is irresponsible in that it hurts people and puts short term pleasure before long term fulfilment. Thus, it escapes the struggle of a serious relationship leading to long term fulfilment and instead seeks easier, shorter relationships. This, in no way, avoids evil. It simply promotes more evil in that extreme human selfishness just leads to more people being hurt.

MONTMARQUET, J.A. (1996) ‘Hedonism’, in Robert Audi, (ed.), The Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.

WOODS, B.W. (1974) Christians in Pain, Grand Rapids, Baker Book House.

2012 Update

Blackburn's definition is one of seeking pleasure as an end in itself, with the view that such a pursuit is the proper aim of all action. Blackburn (1996: 168). He seems to indicate that hedonism is generally not concerned morally with others as in friendship or even less of a concern, although there are attempts to align hedonism and selfishness with concern for others. Blackburn (1996: 168).

I reason hedonism, in the context discussed, is anti-Biblical and something which is a struggle for most persons and most Christians. I do not follow a Playboy philosophy, bookmark or collect pornography, but like many persons reading that are online often, it is on many websites and ads, as it is also on television. Jesus and the Apostles in places such as Matthew 5 and 1 Corinthians 7 highlighted the impossible standards of holiness God set, therefore the need for atonement, and yet in today's Western world, it is philosophically rather easy for even the Christian to follow along with the fallen nature and societal standards (Christian and secular) rather than the Holy Spirit and give into hedonism on many levels virtual and actual. I state this as a fallen human being saved by grace through faith and as a theologian and philosopher, not being judgmental at all, because I too struggle with sin.

Seems to me though that philosophical excuses that allow for hedonism in the Christian life need to be abandoned and this is often a major life challenge because this may require some very difficult changes in prayer and action, going against sinful nature, going against culture (Christian and secular), etc,  not necessarily or idealistically apart from much quality Biblical Christian community. But I deduce to not so is to potentially set one up for more trouble in the future, sort of a sin snowball effect.

BLACKBURN, SIMON (1996) Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy, Oxford, Oxford University Press.

End

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54 comments:

Anonymous said...

В современной жизни есть темы, подлинное значение которых искусственно принижено. К таким темам можно отнести девственность. Кто-то к девственной чистоте относится как к пережитку прошлого, кто-то как к мелочи, не стоящий даже внимания, кто-то как к досадному недоразумению и даже пороку, а кто-то как к великому дару, но последних все меньше и меньше. Давайте посмотрим, что же такое девственность, плюсы и минусы ее наличия или отсутствия. [url=http://futbolclub.ru/poznakomitsja-bystro/bojus-poznakomitsja/]Markov Rustam[/url]

Satire And Theology said...

Translated from Russian:

'In modern life, there are issues which the true value artificially discounted. These topics include virginity. Someone to virginal purity applies to remnants of the past, someone like a trifle, not worth even paid someone as an unfortunate misunderstanding, and even vice, and someone as a great gift, but the latter is less and less . Let's see, what is virginity, the pros and cons of its presence or absence.'

We have a philosopher, of sort.

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Satire And Theology said...

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Looney said...

I am jealous. You get all the good comments!

The rhetoric of Hedonism is certainly different from the of Epicureanism, but I am wondering if there is any practical difference?

Satire And Theology said...

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But a minority of the comments are worth presenting.

Blackburn page 122, describes 'Epicureanism' in common usage as a way of life based on sensual enjoyment. Although Epicurus himself recommended moderation.

You appear to have raised a good point, thank you.

Anonymous said...

Howdy. I am not sure if I coincide be the victor in the previous arguments. I entertain a migraine.

Satire And Theology said...

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Cheers

bill kim said...

Thank you for your post. I agree with you that pleasure derived from virtue is more desirable than temporal and "fleshy" pleasures. I also would like to draw attention to the relational dimension in pornography that is missing as an evidence that something is wrong with the picture already. If we could see what is lost, missing, or damaged by seeking fulfillment this way, I am sure we would hold out for something much more palatable, more pleasurable and appropriate to us as human creatures, even healthy :)

Matthew Smed said...

We know that there are many things in our lives that we consume that give us a great feeling, very quickly, and we allow ourselves to be tricked into thinking we will not have to "pay" for this later. Food, alcohol, candy - any of these can cause health problems if they are not used in moderation. I believe the feelings around sexual attraction to be natural, and -even- good. The point of moderation needs to be made in relation to our desires, i.e. do not entertain sexual thoughts when they come into your mind, and do not allow yourself to give in, to be seduced, as in Prov.7:22, "All at once he followed her, like an ox going to the slaughter [...] Her house is a highway to the grave, leading down to the chambers of death." I don't really want to go there! So the warning is greater than that of chocolate, but somewhat similar to the warning about excessive drinking (Proverbs 23:29-35).

Satire And Theology said...

'I also would like to draw attention to the relational dimension in pornography that is missing as an evidence that something is wrong with the picture already. If we could see what is lost, missing, or damaged by seeking fulfillment this way, I am sure we would hold out for something much more palatable, more pleasurable and appropriate to us as human creatures, even healthy :)'

Well-stated. Thank you, Bill.

Satire And Theology said...

Moderation and prayer, Mr. Matt, thank you.

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Anonymous said...

Hey pleasure is pleasurable, but is all pleasure good for us, uhhh No, Therefore hedonism although an intriguing philosophy to incorporate into one's lifestyle is not a philosophy that a person should live by.
-Hedon'tism-

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Satire And Theology said...

'Anonymous said...
Hey pleasure is pleasurable, but is all pleasure good for us, uhhh No, Therefore hedonism although an intriguing philosophy to incorporate into one's lifestyle is not a philosophy that a person should live by.
-Hedon'tism-'

I agree. I did have a professor at CBC that did teach Christian hedonism, but that would be based on Biblical values.

Satire And Theology said...

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