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The Immorality of Hedonism

Posted By: Randy GageApril 2, 2011

So the last couple posts we’ve discussed the virtuous qualities of selfishness and the importance or getting your own needs met before you are able to help others in a meaningful way.  Now all this is not to be confused with Hedonism...

The philosophy of hedonism holds that only what is pleasant or has pleasant consequences is intrinsically good.   The psychology of hedonism holds that all behavior is motivated by the desire for pleasure and the avoidance of pain.  This would seem to suggest that pleasure is a standard for morality.  Which most certainly is not the case...

That would mean that whatever values you had would be moral.  It wouldn’t matter if you chose them consciously or unconsciously, with reason, or by emotion.  You would be basing your morality on whims, urges, or whatever desires possessed you at the moment.  This is definitely immoral.

Good or virtue must be defined by a rational standard of value.  Satisfying your pleasure is not a “first cause,” but a consequence of the actions you take.  And for those actions to be virtuous and moral, they should have been made because you have made a rational value judgment.   Meaning you did the critical thinking and those actions are congruent with your purpose.

So how you doing on that?

-RG

18 comments on “The Immorality of Hedonism”

  1. We have values that the majority hold true, and there are values that the minority holds true as well.

    Which is right and which is wrong, which is good and which is bad. Who get's the final say in that? We do.

    When we are young are values are defined by our parents and authority figures. As adults we need to consciously choose our morals and values based on what we believe is right and wrong.

    I prefer pleasure over pain, but most of our major growth experiences occur during what we define as painful experiences.

  2. Morality is totally subjective, and changes with the times and attitudes of the society a person is in.

    There's really no such thing as "Morality", although a given society may agree upon certain things for a bit.

  3. Epicurus, who advocated appreciation of the good things in life, in fact lived an austere discipline, appreciating the simple pleasures of plain bread and sweet water.

    Seneca, who adhered to the teachings of the stoics, in fact lived a live of luxury as a senator but he paid with his life for refusing to cater to the madness of Nero.

    Both were faithful to their principles, but expressed them in a way that was paradoxical but true.

    Neither was a blind follower of whatever pleased them, and by being congruent with their principles or values showed us how to really live.

    Both lived by a set of principles and I guess this is what distinguishes them from being hedonists.

    kh

  4. Are your values congruent with your purpose and is your purpose based on who you REALLY are; a unique fragment of God's love looking to be expressed as the potential that you are which serves YOU as well as the greater whole? Or do your values serve a purpose that is based on a twisted understanding of the real you which is disconnected from God and life and feels the need to steal, cheat, manipulate or in some way serve the self in a fear based way because it thinks who it really is is NOT supported by life.

    What I'm saying is that not all single purposed life pursuits are moral and in order to really gain the power of our creator and the forces of the universe to work with us in our efforts, we need to be working with Divine will. If we work outside of Divine will our magnitude of power can only come from cheating and cheating ways can only sustain a purpose for so long. Eventually your false idea of who you are (a separated being not supported by the greater good) will shatter and all you have accomplished will be taken from you not as a form of punishment or anger, but as a way to reunite you with truth.

    When we all grow into the potential that we are, we fit together in a type of harmony and love that is greater than any individual harmony and love could ever experience alone. And that's why God made us. For selfish reasons; to increase "his" experience of love and to share "his" potential. So if this is true, why wouldn't he help us with mystical power when we are on the right track?

    Hedonism is just so limited. It's not that morality is boring, cold and dispassionate, it is that reality, Truth is SO much more than that and to stop there would be such a waist of what we truly have to experience in our souls journey.

    I'm working on it because I've tasted the sun and know what is out there.

    1. *and he does help us; through universal laws based on the law of attraction, karma and the golden rule. This is our spiritual connection to unlimited 'help'.

      1. Great post Eve, your description of God's "selfishness" is perfect. To add anything would be redundant.

  5. Pleasure is great as long as it is never at the expense of someone else. I don't claim to be a nun but am grateful that I have, even in my less developed years, valued love and pleasure in my relationships as well as monogomy. The best relationships I know are with people who are respectful to eachother and want, not need, to bring pleasure to each others lives, not drama or pain. So much of this life is all about getting whatever it is we want, as much of it as we want and more of it than we need. Can't we recognize yet as a society what a horrible price we pay for the behavior? I am soooo grateful that I understand how wrong it is to have no value for living morally correct and doing what's right. God see's and judge's all so why do we try to lie to ourselves when we all know good from evil. Pleasure lasts but for a moment. Quality of character lasts long after we are gone from this earth.

  6. Randy says, "for those actions to be virtuous and moral, they should have been made because you have made a rational value judgment. Meaning you did the critical thinking and those actions are congruent with your purpose.

    "So how you doing on that?"

    I certainly could not say that my actions are all based on Rational Value Judgements. Oh, I can rationalize my actions...after the fact. I can tell you why they were the right actions....but the truth of the matter, for me, is that my actions are based on the conglomeration of my beliefs, expectations, ideas, current emotional state, etc. etc.
    There are times when I embrace the pure sensual pleasures---yummy food, conjugal sex, walks in the warm spring rain, etc.
    And I approve of myself & my actions, and of the results of my actions.
    I used to embrace drugs sex & rock 'n roll -- the result was anything but pleasurable.

    I conclude: there is bad hedonism, and good hedonism. I prefer the latter, and I could rationalize that, but really...it's not something I choose with the left side o' my brain.

  7. I think my brain caught fire on that one. I definitely smelled smoke. I don't think I could repeat it, but I agree. I understand and agree with the idea of creating the best good and comprehensive growth for myself so that I may impart the overflow of wisdom, talents and resources for the benefit of others, not at the expense of others.

  8. RG,

    This was certainly how I have lived for years. I think this thought pattern, lifestyle is the quickest trip to addiction. For years I have lived by the virtue, "eat drink and be merry because tomorrow ye may be dead."

    I realized later this mindset kept me from being close to God. If it feels good do it. I am not saying that I don't like fun things and good things. But some things are work. I would much rather go have cake or sex than meditate sometimes.

    When I give into what is truly not for my highest and best it is like "ground hog day".
    Thanks,
    Jim

  9. Oh yes, hedonism is the best trip to hell!And it is very very hard work to raise up and become a real moral person again.

  10. I think you are talking about goin for the pursuit of pleasure at the moment without thought of the consequenses, but I was thinking about something more subtle.

    I was thinking about the avoidance of pain. I think that is one of the surest ways to crazy making (I know from experience). For me, I think hedonism is sometimes avoiding the pain of growth to remain comfortable.

    I am tired of writing, but I just wanted to move on from that other post.

    Annie

  11. Hedonism is a very interesting subject, in this case...., a purely physical kind of pleasure...based on feelings instead of logic...

    I agree that pleasure should be obtained only under the guidance of reason...

    And I also see how easy it would be to indulge into hedonism...., since THINKING is a CHOICE.... and NOT an automatic human function....

  12. Bones, Morality is unchanging and does not fluctuate depending on the whims and fancies of each generation, or country we live. I won't quote from Jesus Christ and the Ten Commandments or from any other prophet who have all been very clear about morality and ethics. I will however quote from the Oxford Dictionary which describes Morality as a science of morals, point of ethic. Morals based on goodness. In my view MLM and Randy's teachings are based on this important principle in life. I confess that is the way I see it and I cannot see a peaceful world without moral principles be at the centre of it.

  13. Hi Bones. As I see it morality is a code of conduct which is basic to the way we live our life no matter the age, nor the culture which we are born into. Yes men will twist and turn to justify their actions and there could be bad or good morals. As I see it, far better to live with unchanging good morals, morals that are taught that have stood and will continue to stand the test of time.

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  • 18 comments on “The Immorality of Hedonism”

    1. We have values that the majority hold true, and there are values that the minority holds true as well.

      Which is right and which is wrong, which is good and which is bad. Who get's the final say in that? We do.

      When we are young are values are defined by our parents and authority figures. As adults we need to consciously choose our morals and values based on what we believe is right and wrong.

      I prefer pleasure over pain, but most of our major growth experiences occur during what we define as painful experiences.

    2. Morality is totally subjective, and changes with the times and attitudes of the society a person is in.

      There's really no such thing as "Morality", although a given society may agree upon certain things for a bit.

    3. Epicurus, who advocated appreciation of the good things in life, in fact lived an austere discipline, appreciating the simple pleasures of plain bread and sweet water.

      Seneca, who adhered to the teachings of the stoics, in fact lived a live of luxury as a senator but he paid with his life for refusing to cater to the madness of Nero.

      Both were faithful to their principles, but expressed them in a way that was paradoxical but true.

      Neither was a blind follower of whatever pleased them, and by being congruent with their principles or values showed us how to really live.

      Both lived by a set of principles and I guess this is what distinguishes them from being hedonists.

      kh

    4. Are your values congruent with your purpose and is your purpose based on who you REALLY are; a unique fragment of God's love looking to be expressed as the potential that you are which serves YOU as well as the greater whole? Or do your values serve a purpose that is based on a twisted understanding of the real you which is disconnected from God and life and feels the need to steal, cheat, manipulate or in some way serve the self in a fear based way because it thinks who it really is is NOT supported by life.

      What I'm saying is that not all single purposed life pursuits are moral and in order to really gain the power of our creator and the forces of the universe to work with us in our efforts, we need to be working with Divine will. If we work outside of Divine will our magnitude of power can only come from cheating and cheating ways can only sustain a purpose for so long. Eventually your false idea of who you are (a separated being not supported by the greater good) will shatter and all you have accomplished will be taken from you not as a form of punishment or anger, but as a way to reunite you with truth.

      When we all grow into the potential that we are, we fit together in a type of harmony and love that is greater than any individual harmony and love could ever experience alone. And that's why God made us. For selfish reasons; to increase "his" experience of love and to share "his" potential. So if this is true, why wouldn't he help us with mystical power when we are on the right track?

      Hedonism is just so limited. It's not that morality is boring, cold and dispassionate, it is that reality, Truth is SO much more than that and to stop there would be such a waist of what we truly have to experience in our souls journey.

      I'm working on it because I've tasted the sun and know what is out there.

      1. *and he does help us; through universal laws based on the law of attraction, karma and the golden rule. This is our spiritual connection to unlimited 'help'.

        1. Great post Eve, your description of God's "selfishness" is perfect. To add anything would be redundant.

    5. Pleasure is great as long as it is never at the expense of someone else. I don't claim to be a nun but am grateful that I have, even in my less developed years, valued love and pleasure in my relationships as well as monogomy. The best relationships I know are with people who are respectful to eachother and want, not need, to bring pleasure to each others lives, not drama or pain. So much of this life is all about getting whatever it is we want, as much of it as we want and more of it than we need. Can't we recognize yet as a society what a horrible price we pay for the behavior? I am soooo grateful that I understand how wrong it is to have no value for living morally correct and doing what's right. God see's and judge's all so why do we try to lie to ourselves when we all know good from evil. Pleasure lasts but for a moment. Quality of character lasts long after we are gone from this earth.

    6. Randy says, "for those actions to be virtuous and moral, they should have been made because you have made a rational value judgment. Meaning you did the critical thinking and those actions are congruent with your purpose.

      "So how you doing on that?"

      I certainly could not say that my actions are all based on Rational Value Judgements. Oh, I can rationalize my actions...after the fact. I can tell you why they were the right actions....but the truth of the matter, for me, is that my actions are based on the conglomeration of my beliefs, expectations, ideas, current emotional state, etc. etc.
      There are times when I embrace the pure sensual pleasures---yummy food, conjugal sex, walks in the warm spring rain, etc.
      And I approve of myself & my actions, and of the results of my actions.
      I used to embrace drugs sex & rock 'n roll -- the result was anything but pleasurable.

      I conclude: there is bad hedonism, and good hedonism. I prefer the latter, and I could rationalize that, but really...it's not something I choose with the left side o' my brain.

    7. I think my brain caught fire on that one. I definitely smelled smoke. I don't think I could repeat it, but I agree. I understand and agree with the idea of creating the best good and comprehensive growth for myself so that I may impart the overflow of wisdom, talents and resources for the benefit of others, not at the expense of others.

    8. RG,

      This was certainly how I have lived for years. I think this thought pattern, lifestyle is the quickest trip to addiction. For years I have lived by the virtue, "eat drink and be merry because tomorrow ye may be dead."

      I realized later this mindset kept me from being close to God. If it feels good do it. I am not saying that I don't like fun things and good things. But some things are work. I would much rather go have cake or sex than meditate sometimes.

      When I give into what is truly not for my highest and best it is like "ground hog day".
      Thanks,
      Jim

    9. Oh yes, hedonism is the best trip to hell!And it is very very hard work to raise up and become a real moral person again.

    10. I think you are talking about goin for the pursuit of pleasure at the moment without thought of the consequenses, but I was thinking about something more subtle.

      I was thinking about the avoidance of pain. I think that is one of the surest ways to crazy making (I know from experience). For me, I think hedonism is sometimes avoiding the pain of growth to remain comfortable.

      I am tired of writing, but I just wanted to move on from that other post.

      Annie

    11. Hedonism is a very interesting subject, in this case...., a purely physical kind of pleasure...based on feelings instead of logic...

      I agree that pleasure should be obtained only under the guidance of reason...

      And I also see how easy it would be to indulge into hedonism...., since THINKING is a CHOICE.... and NOT an automatic human function....

    12. Bones, Morality is unchanging and does not fluctuate depending on the whims and fancies of each generation, or country we live. I won't quote from Jesus Christ and the Ten Commandments or from any other prophet who have all been very clear about morality and ethics. I will however quote from the Oxford Dictionary which describes Morality as a science of morals, point of ethic. Morals based on goodness. In my view MLM and Randy's teachings are based on this important principle in life. I confess that is the way I see it and I cannot see a peaceful world without moral principles be at the centre of it.

    13. Hi Bones. As I see it morality is a code of conduct which is basic to the way we live our life no matter the age, nor the culture which we are born into. Yes men will twist and turn to justify their actions and there could be bad or good morals. As I see it, far better to live with unchanging good morals, morals that are taught that have stood and will continue to stand the test of time.

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