In defence of hedonism

I have often heard hedonism decried by pretentious superstition, but can someone offer any rational or moral reason why pursuing earthly sensual and self indulgent pleasures is to be avoided?

I mean as long as no one else is harmed or exploited to obtain them, where’s the harm? I mean what else is there anyway?

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This is the caveat. Generally speaking a hedonistic person will also be narcissistic. Everything for me and other people do not matter. The hedonist has no idea when she or he is hurting other people. People with the capacity to care for others probably do not adopt hedonistic philosophies.

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It would be a fine balancing act between selfishness and selflessness. But that is what we do each day, make our assessments, decide, and hope our decision is the right one.

Personally, going to either extreme is harmful to others. We have seen very selfish people hurt themselves and others, and those cloaked in selflessness do the same, proclaiming they do it for others. Mother Teresa lived in austerity, but she definitely inflicted great suffering on many.

My personal interpretation of Reagonomics is to favor the wealthy, so they spend more and that trickles down as positive benefits to others. I can grasp those basics, but in practice it does not work. So is hedonism of benefit to anyone but the individual? Is hedonism harmful to anyone but the individual?

Once again, every decision and action must be carefully weighed, even having a few beers.


I’m not sure they’re entirely mutually exclusive, are they? I mean there are biological restraints on just how relentlessly we can pursue pleasure, but it strikes me that the times when I have enjoyed myself the most was when I could share those pleasures with others, especially those I care about.

After all what is more self indulgent than enjoying the company of those we care for and love. I guess it’s a balance between what we want, and what others need from us.

This is the point. Is the enjoyment about your pleasure or actually having friends. Are friends there for your pleasure? Or do you have friends and not only have fun with them but endure the bad times as well. Wouldn’t a hedonist as well as a narcissistic personality fit more into the category we call “fair weather friends.”

Agreed - not mutually exclusive.

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I think it can be obviously, however as your last sentence shows I don’t believe this is always the case. I guess as with all else, there is a balance to be struck.

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I guess we will just have to agree to agree! Damn! You are no fun at all to debate with. I’m gonna go find a dipwad!

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Well I’ve seen you pistol whip too many willing protagonists, for me to rush in.

:face_with_raised_eyebrow: :wink: :sunglasses:

Besides I’m too busy enjoying worldly pleasures, and to be honest I’m not sure there are any other kind. Though I may be misinterpreting hedonism of course.

RE: Those Protagonists - I generally know how to pick my battles so that I don’t get my ass handed to me, ahemmm Mr. Sheldon. If you were to “Rush In” I would probably duck for cover.

I have often pondered if there is such a thing as a truly “selfless” act. Even the most selfless acts I hear of, at their root have a personal motivation, even if that motivation is to be “selfless,” an often desirable trait to be known as or to consider one self.

Have an agree sir, and I would add that we are evolved apes, who must necessarily step on and either side of that line in a short life where we are learning everything from scratch.

In my limited experience, flattery will get you laid occasionally, maybe promotion, and now and again the gushing vapid praise of sycophants, and perhaps the transient adoration of a crowd, and maybe some more stuff I have been too lazy or wasted to notice, but it won’t wash with…

Oh who the fuck am I kidding, I lap it up like everyone else…

:smiley: :sunglasses: :wink:

I think we did this once before and agreed that a person walking down the street who mindlessly reaches into his or her pocket to drop a few bucks into a beggars hand has engaged in a mindless and therefore altruistic, act of charity. I have given money to people on the streets in the Philippines for absolutely no reason at all.

The problem; now becomes, did I do it so that I can talk about it in a forum like this??? Well. not at the time.

It appears to me that the desire to be selfless would negate any selfless act as qualifying for selflessness. It would not be selfless if it was done to be selfless. I just literally reach into my pocket pull out some cash and hand it over without stopping or waiting for a thank you or anything. I have no idea why I even do it.

To be honest, I have a belief system that tells me not to give money to people on the street. By giving money to people on the street, I am paying them to be beggars. I am encouraging begging activity. I honestly believe that if no one gave money, there would be no beggars. Still, there are occasions when I do engage in the activity.

The last time, a mother was sleeping with two kids in a doorway in Angeles City. I just suck a few bills in her hand as she slept and continued on my way.

I think we will run into the same problem. Too much selflessness is certainly not a good thing. Too little can also be a problem. Perhaps there is no such thing as 100% I give money or food to the poor because it makes me feel good. (That can not be argued against.) I don’t think “doing this will make me feel good.” But I have to admit that I think I am doing good and legitimately feel I have helped another human being. Does that kill altruism?

Perhaps…because you “remember” your act. Didn’t we once discuss altruism and come to some type of conclusion that pure altruism are those “acts” that we don’t remember, thereby removing any “self-gain from the act of helping another”?

Anyway back to hedonism. I can only define this idea through my own experiences of “self pleasure/sensation/satisfaction” and how I’ve explained this idea to my boys.

In its purest sense, I would posit that “pure hedonism is at the expense of others”. Why? Take the simple act of making myself and my kids a meal.

Throughout this process, I can “enjoy it” with an expectation that it may turn out like I expect it to. I can choose to listen to music. Or I can enjoy the silence of “background” while listening to the sound of the knife slicing vegetables :tomato:. I can immerse myself in the smells of freshly sliced cucumber :cucumber: and experience the texture of feta as it crumbles beneath my fingers.

For myself- is this “hedonistic”? Perhaps. The intent is to share this meal, so my mind and body is enjoying the idea of the full benefit of this particular meal preparation. Then, if it comes together as intended, I can continue this process with taste and physical satisfaction - emotional satisfaction if the meal is received and enjoyed by my boys, etc.

During this process, many things “outside” my “control” may occur. I may cut my finger. Lemon :lemon: juice may enter the cut. I may have forgotten that I don’t have “olives” to add to the salad. The boys may be arguing in the background. I may create the perfect (for my tastes) salad, but one or all of my boys may reject eating it because they filled up on potato chips… ugh :tired_face:

Hahahaha … good luck with pure hedonism! Even a serial killer who discovered his/her pleasure is just endlessly trying to re-create or experience the “first thrill” of holding a life and choosing to extinguish it…playing back the memory through “physical trophies”.

Our “mind” or interpretation of events is what allows “pleasure”.

Oops :speak_no_evil: … back to this, my original point -

“pure hedonism is at the expense of others”.

In order to indulge oneself completely (as an opposite of altruism) one has to be completely focussed on “oneself” without consideration for “another”, as the idea of “another” requires for the “moments of experiencing”, setting your own pleasure aside.

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Yes I think we have pretty much arrived at the same conclusion White, that whilst there is nothing wrong with hedonism per se, there is a balance required, or a line to be drawn if you will. To be honest a purely hedonistic life just seems exhausting to me now, being 54. Even in my younger days, I think it was obvious that you couldn’t live your life purely seeking hedonistic pleasure, though I certainly had my moments, and hope they’re not completely over.

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I enjoy my day at about a 80-90% satisfaction rate. Some days are a 99% and others about 50%. I would not consider myself “hedonistic” nor am I “altruistic”. I derive pleasure from the simplest things and understand that all my actions (physical) will bring me physical consequences - at which time I determine whether they are positive or negative results.

I determined for myself, long ago, that I really only “live” in a moment - which becomes “past” almost instantly AND I am never in the “future”. So, how I am in each moment (mentally, physically, etc) is the only thing that matters. I don’t spend this moment rehashing in my imagination, “things” that are well long and passed. Now, I have had my moments (which are healthy) of self-pity indulgence, usually with alcohol, but even those moments are bringing me some form of “pleasure” (does this make any sense?). My moments of anger and sorrow and pain… I haven’t regretted experiencing a single one.

Days I put at 50% are days where the totally unexpected has occurred that are, in those moments, I judge as beyond my “control” - which they are. Usually, helplessness, frustration, anxiety…mind wandering into the darkest places of what physical reality may bring…

Then I breath. I have a smoke. I bring myself back to what do “I have today” (or this morning; or this hour…) to “get by” to get to “the next moment”…

One day, I understand my “next moment” will not come for me. I’m good with that. I am prepared emotionally that this “could be the last sentence” I ever write. If it was, my boys, asleep, know I loved them through not only words but by actions. I’ve given them the best tools I know to make it through “their moments” (if they chose to use them), and understand they will all experience my death differently. I have all my preparations done, so it would leave them one less thing to “deal with” - and they would be physically cared for. All that is done for my “mental ease”, not theirs. The last thing I want to spend a final moment on is thinking…”I should have…” - I want to be free to enjoy my last breath.

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Hahahaha. I wrote all that - went into the kitchen to start making omlets AND thought of fucking Jim Carey! Holy shit! I am not advocating a fucking “Jim Carey” way-of-living

To be clear!!! He’s a dipshit…I love my “ego” and “material goods” and shit - I just don’t give a fuck ABOUT other people’s ideas of who I am… and value my moments of time.

After visiting Manila and Cebu, (visited Cebu not long after a major devastating hurricane blew through.) I felt a stronger urge then usual to give away any pocket change I had.

With quite a bit of background in charitable giving, I stuck to my standard method of: instead donating to highly rated charity organizations that can make the donation dollars go a lot farther and be much more useful, then handing a few bucks out to a person lucky enough to cross my path when I was in a charitable mood and actually had cash on me.

That said there were a few lucky small shop/street vendors where I paid the full: obvious white USA tourist price for things, w/o haggling for something that caught my eye as a gift for someone at home.

Even my driver tried to warn me I was paying too much. (I highly advise hiring a driver if you are going to end up in Manila or Cebu, the unspoken rules of driving are very different then they are in much of the western world!) I am used to distances between cars being measured in feet in most of my world travels when navigating intersections etc, but especially in Manila it is almost always measured in inches until you left the gridlock of what feels like endless city.

This is all true, stack on what I mentioned above, (dollars donated to properly run charities always go much further) there is also criminal activity. Not only do you identify yourself to possible local criminal activity as having money and feeling charitable, I have seen many times in my travels to 2nd/3rd world countries where the local criminal element will even employ/enslave beggars, especially kids. If I show up at tourist choke points, like major border crossing points in some of these countries, kids missing arms and legs show up almost like clock work as soon as my lily white ass is spotted anywhere near these locations.

Even in Colorado, I have been in my current area long enough that I see many of the same panhandlers that I see on the street every day walk into the nearby liquor store shortly before closing, even though I saw them on the street corner holding a sign saying: “will work for food, anything will help, god bless.”

Fully agreed there.

That is part of the same question I wrestle with.

At the same time, I try not to worry about it too much. I donated a decent chunk of money to the local food bank back in March, was it truly altruistic? No. But, even if it was not altruistic, help was getting to people that needed it. The altruism (to me) of the charitable giving is really not important.

How beautifully supercilious of you.

Were this not atheist focused, I would say: “How very Christian of you”.


It seems you’re still not ready to tell us where you get word definitions from, if as you claim they’re not in dictionaries.

As for supercilious, that’s pretty rich coming from you. In my experience if you show people respect, they’ll usually reciprocate, though you seem to be an exception whose ego can’t take being disagreed with.

Disbelief in a deity is not a claim no deity exists, you were and are wrong, everything else is coloured bubbles.

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