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More About Me

Still have any Gods? If so, who or what?

Found 3 results

  1. If I hear one more argument about the moral law giver, I'm gonna hurl!!! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C3rrh0ydr9E
  2. Has anyone else read Practical Ethics by Peter Singer? Or the Moral Landscape by Sam Harris? I have two research papers to do, both of which will use these as references and argue that ethics can be determined by an understanding of science. One paper specifically deals with faith healing and avoiding medical help for religious reasons and whether the state should intervene on the behalf of the child. The other paper is more generally giving an overview of the science/ethics stance as it stands now. I am hoping that some of you who are more familiar with the traditional Christian arguments against that stance can help me by listing some of them, so I can better counter them in my papers. Thanks, Mary.
  3. One thing I have noted in my recent debates with Catholics is their almost universal and boundless disdain of hedonism as an ethical philosophy. Where I think this comes from - based on my reading and, of course, my own upbringing as a Catholic - is the (what I now believe unwarranted) belief that pleasure and/or happiness, in and of themselves, are not objects; they are not worthwhile in themselves, and can only be justified if they result from the pursuit of 'higher' goals. Furthermore, hedonism is equated, by those who seek to roundly condemn it, as the mindless pursuit of 'pleasures of the flesh', and is supposed to lead to all kinds of profligacy, including rampant sexual exploits, gluttony, drink, drugs and rock'n'roll... ::sigh:: It would surprise me if most Catholics - or Christians of any stripe, for that matter - had ever seriously studied hedonism as a philosophy, or read and understood the life and philosophies of Epicurus, for example. If they had, I rather suspect they would evince more more respect for the ideas of moderation, intellectual exercise and tranquillity that are central to the hedonist approach to life. The basic belief is that all sentient beings seek that which provides them with pleasure and comfort. I find this a hard notion to dispute. It is a fact of our existence and that of most other animals (one that, perhaps, Epicurus himself did not fully appreciate) that certain pursuits - such as eating and sex - bring us pleasure because we have evolved such that our activities generally allow for survival and reproduction (Epicurus, if I recall correctly, actually advised against the building of family ties, since they were often a source of stress that proved detrimental to the achievement of tranquillity) - we are, when we eat and mate, fulfilling deep-seated urges, and the satisfaction of these urges is undoubtedly a source of pleasure - good in and of itself, regardless of whether we're eating a simple meal of porridge after a long fast, or a delicious gourmet feast; of whether our sexual encounters lead to conception or not. But we, as human animals, are also evolved to be sociable, to be intellectually active - and it should not be forgotten that Epicurus regarded friendship and intellectual interaction as the very highest of pleasures - he advised moderation in the pleasures of the flesh, since overindulgence invariably leads to pain later. A significant part of Epicurean hedonism, indeed, is the intellectual cultivation of pleasure in simple things - sometimes we must learn how to enjoy the life we have. Some would argue that hedonism is inherently self-centred, and that it allows for inflicting pain on others if this brings us pleasure; I would dispute this. Only the perversion - by suffering and brutalisation - of what I believe to be our natural social instincts leads us to take pleasure in the suffering of others. Yes, there are self-interested motives involved in most or even all of our actions - even if these motives involve the satisfaction of doing for others what we would wish done for ourselves. If such actions brought us no pleasure, as empathetic beings, why would we bother, indeed? Pleasure shared is pleasure multiplied, after all. What I find in hedonism is an unassailable ethical philosophy based upon the only criteria that are self-evidently good - pleasure, satisfaction and happiness. What does it matter that these criteria are subjective? What other basis do we have upon which to judge what is 'good'? All the values we hold culturally dear - justice, truth, beauty, peace, fortitude, kindness and so on - what would these be worth if they afforded us no satisfaction, no enduring pleasure? All of our endeavours, be they in art, science, philosophy - what good are they except in that they contribute to our happiness? What other values or experiences do we have, apart from happiness, satisfaction and pleasure, that we may claim to be good by definition? What's more, if life is ultimately, cosmically meaningless (as I believe it is), what other value does it have than that it affords opportunities for subjective enjoyment? For these reasons, I believe hedonism to be the only truly sound basis upon which to build a system of ethics. What do others think?
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