Gaian Ethics—Again?


Hedonism… Again?

…and, what do Gaian Ethics and hedonism have to do with each other?

Once you get the gist of what they are about, you’ll start seeing the implications inherent to their relationship, and begin to see how every part of our existence somehow involves them both. Looking at the scale, let’s begin with the basics.

First, hedonism is NOT the single interest toy as advertised by the churches and other commercial interests that, one way or another, concern themselves only with pleasure. The scale only shows pleasure as balanced against pain, as physical concerns; we, however, also must deal with emotional concerns which I will, for simplicity’s sake, list as Wants versus Needs. Some wants, of course, originate in the physical and, if deprived of them, elevate into the emotional as needs. Wanting food, for example, can become an urgent issue where food cannot be found as hunger overwhelms the senses. Deprived people can harden themselves against most forms of deprivation, and risk harming themselves by doing so, but, that is exactly what makes this an important social moral issue.

As the scale’s graphic shows, the hedonist’s primary concern is to maintain a state of balance between pleasure and pain, influenced by awareness that, while appropriate pleasure eases pain, too much can induce pain, which demonstrates pleasure’s self-limiting nature. Use modern English to deal with this.

To think ‘reward’ and ‘penalty’ rather than ‘pleasure’ and ‘pain’ makes a clearer statement you can more accurately visualize. Think of homeostasis and homeorhesis where you read ‘ataraxia’ or eudemonia. So, we should relabel the scale in accordance with all that, and paste ‘reward’ and ‘penalty’ over ‘pain’ and ‘pleasure’.

Now, we need to complete our scale by making it capable of measuring in four directions, so that ‘wants’ and ‘needs’ can be included in our considerations. ‘Needs’ represents all those things that enable survival and fulfilment. Food, water, shelter, physical and mental love, family, friends, knowledge, are but a few. We must balance those against ‘wants’—a new car, the latest smart phone, that wall to wall TV you admired in the store, that leftover cup of pudding in the fridge. Wreck your old car in an accident, and you’ll see a ‘want’ transform into a ‘need’.

Understand all the foregoing and you should gain a vivid picture of hedonism that more fully meshes with reality. Read up on all you can find about Thomas Jefferson, the establishment of the United States, those whose view of hedonism differs from mine, Epicurus, The Garden, Epictetus, Socrates, Pliney, Aristotle, and follow whatever links you run across to wherever they lead you. You will find controversy aplenty, people being attacked for their ideas (instead of their ideas), more information than one puny brain can understand, stuff you won’t ask your preacher about, and end up with a firm understanding of a secular form of morality that naysayers say can nay exist. For we who tend to look for truth in Nature, a complete hedonism prescribes the moral process.


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