|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.
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.
Does the big guy think he has so much padding he does not need a seat belt?