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The Only Reason to Live is Ultimately Hedonistic

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MarcT
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Life is not an end in itself. The reason people choose to live is for experiences and pleasure, the central tenants of hedonism. The reasons people choose to live long is either a) fear of death or B) maximization of pleasure According to hedonism, pleasure (this includes the abstraction "happiness") is the only intrinsic good.

This means that are actions are mere means to an end. Not an end in themselves. Not means to some over-rationalistic "survival" end. We survive "because" we want to feel good.

Some people, for example, may choose to live 30 years in a succession of intensely happy and pleasurable moments and end it because they want to and feel they have nothing else to live for. With no "long term" purposes intended. Others (with the help of technology) may choose to live 1000 years. Its always their choice and its not "moral" choice or the domain of judgement.

An ethics of hedonism is perfectly rational and perfectly justifiable. Our lives are short and we only live once. We should dedicate as much of our lives as possible in the (shameless) pursuit of pleasure and great experiences (however we define it) without of course, harming others in any way in the process. In fact, we should include and share others in our pursuits whenever possible as this increases our happiness and pleasure.

Living life on some sort of non-scientific, personal intellectual quest, (such as "struggling" to "integrate" Objectivism and is contents) , is ultimately pointless, (and probably dying as some sort of lonely martyr) as you'll die anyway and with nothing to show for it "long-term". It's a vain, pointless (and painful) process. Its painful because it causes both undue mental strain and social isolation.

Hedonism is the only truly "self-evident" philosophy. Practically every sane person practices it in some capacity. However variants of Hedonism (do what you want at the cost of others) can take things in the wrong direction and cause conflicts and suffering.

NOTE: For those who would like to know, and for future reference, my philosophical system is organized as follows:

Metaphysics/Epistemology: Empiricism

Ethics: Hedonism (self), Utilitarianism (others)

Politics: Libertarianism (non agression)

Aesthetics: Romanticism (shameless worship of human values)

Discuss!

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I doubt you'll get much argument from Objectivists that pleasure and happiness are bad in some way. Hedonism, however, defined as the short-term pursuit of pleasure without regard for long-term consequences, isn't compatible with Objectivist ethics because it ignores the nature of man as a long-term living being. Man actually must consider the long term in order to live a good life. Consider the very simple example of playing video games today versus working for a good meal tomorrow, or perhaps even for more video games tomorrow -- the same principle applies to all happiness-seeking. It isn't proper to conflate happiness with pleasure, because they mean two different things to a man's life, even though they can both be classified under "good feelings."

Knocking Objectivism because of its "hard to implement principles" (and this is definitely arguable) is like knocking a hard day's labor. The end goal makes both worthwhile.

Edited by JASKN
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Life is not an end in itself. The reason people choose to live is for experiences and pleasure, the central tenants of hedonism. The reasons people choose to live long is either a) fear of death or maximization of pleasure According to hedonism, pleasure (this includes the abstraction "happiness") is the only intrinsic good.
Argument by assertion.

This means that are actions are mere means to an end. Not an end in themselves. Not means to some over-rationalistic "survival" end.
If all the ends of action are mere means to an end, and there is no end in itself, then what is the end that the ends of action are a means to? As stated, this reasoning falls into an infinite regress, and is therefore invalid.

We survive "because" we want to feel good.
Argument by assertion.

Some people, for example, may choose to live 30 years in a succession of intensely happy and pleasurable moments and end it because they want to and feel they have nothing else to live for. With no "long term" purposes intended. Others (with the help of technology) may choose to live 1000 years. Its always their choice and its not "moral" choice or the domain of judgement.
It's not clear what, if anything, is supposed to follow from these ruminations, but if their choices are not moral, or the domain of judgment, then why is the title of this tread telling me what the only reason to live is?

An ethics of hedonism is perfectly rational and perfectly justifiable.
Argument by assertion.

Our lives are short and we only live once. We should dedicate as much of our lives as possible in the (shameless) pursuit of pleasure and great experiences (however we define it) without of course, harming others in any way in the process.
Non sequitur.

In fact, we should include and share others in our pursuits whenever possible as this increases our happiness and pleasure.
Argument by assertion.

Living life on some sort of non-scientific, personal intellectual quest, (such as "struggling" to "integrate" Objectivism and is contents) , is ultimately pointless, (and probably dying as some sort of lonely martyr) as you'll die anyway and with nothing to show for it "long-term". It's a vain, pointless (and painful) process. Its painful because it causes both undue mental strain and social isolation.
Argument by assertion.

Hedonism is the only truly "self-evident" philosophy. Practically every sane person practices it in some capacity.
Saying that your doctrine is self-evident seems like a convenient way to avoid providing any reasons for believing it. Saying that every sane person practices it seems to define yourself into victory and simultaneously claim that your opponents are insane.

However variants of Hedonism (do what you want at the cost of others) can take things in the wrong direction and cause conflicts and suffering.
Argument by assertion, again. I don't know if you meant this post as an introduction to your belief system, with arguments to follow when asked for, but as it stands, no reasons to believe or justify anything herein have been provided.
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Have you noticed that openly pleasure-seeking societies (such as Brazil) are less racist and more open to interracial relationships than more puritan societies (such as the USA and Japan)?

The Brazilian love of pleasure and the "good life" leads to less of a concern over petty differences in physical features between human groups.

In contrast, America is a pro-immigration country, but heavily self-segregated and still has low rates of interracial marriage and a contemptible history in race relations. Open hatred and derailment of blacks and other racial minority groups was encouraged. People who married across color lines lived in terror for their lives at one point.

Both countries practiced slavery (making the "legacy of slavery" argument null), but went in two completely different directions.

Hedonistic societies are happier and simply don't care about "race" in any meaningful, day to day sense.

This is why sex (short term) is usually less discriminating than marriage (long term).

If you were in the throes of intense pleasure and happiness, would you "care" about some such trivial non-sense as whether someone was "black" or "asian" or whatever? Would it cause you to abruptly stop your experience?

Edited by MarcT
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From Miss Rands notes on morality:

This is the difference between my morality and hedonism. The standard is not: "that is good which gives me pleasure, just because it gives me pleasure" (which is the standard of the dipsomaniac or the sex-chaser)—but "that is good which is the expression of my moral values, and that gives me pleasure."

If you are looking for the answer to racism, you might consider what individualism has to offer. The racist basis its "moral evaluations" only on the visually distinguishable attributes they observe in others, be it skin color, the slant of the eyes, and even historically, the combination of the color of the eyes and hair. The individualist requires an intellectual element, to evaluate based on criteria which is not immediately available to the senses.

Being this is a forum and I cannot see you, the only criteria I have to evaluate you by is what you say and advocate. Thus far, it appears that you are pouring placebos into the well while declaring the placebos are poison.

Note: This was posted in response to: Hedonism as an answer to racism.

Edited by dream_weaver
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Metaphysics/Epistemology: Empiricism

Ethics: Hedonism (self), Utilitarianism (others)

Politics: Libertarianism (non agression)

Aesthetics: Romanticism (shameless worship of human values)

Discuss!

Sup, Mill? Unfortunately this isn't just a forum for people to come and discuss their philosophy. If you wish to relate this in some way to Objectivism, feel free.

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http://en.wikipedia....acism_in_Brazil

Brazilians that I've known don't tend to agree with your assertion so I did a quick search. No shortage of material if your interested in correcting your view. This doesn't discredit your primary point. it's just not a great example.

Taken from your source:

A result of the research, elaborate in 2008, is not exactly a surprise in a country where, although being barely half of the Brazilian population, the black people had no more than 8% of the 513 chosen representatives in the last year. And the salary of a white man inBrazil is, on average, 46% over the one of a black man, what also can be explained by the difference of education.[1]

The problem, is that in Brazil, the lines between "black" and "white" is heavily blurred, (unlike in America) and so its not entirely clear how "white" the white people are or how "black" the black people are.

Therefore, ancestry is quite irrelevant for racial classifications in Brazil. A genetic resource conducted by UFMG on self-identified white Brazilians found that 2.5% of them had African Y chromosomes. 33% had Amerindian mitochondrial DNA and 28% African mitochondrial DNA. That finding reflected centuries of miscegenation and assortative mating, in which successive waves of Portuguese male colonists mated with Brazilian women who were the product of miscegenation between their Brazilian mothers, who, in turn, ultimately descended from African or Amerindian females and the previous wave of Portuguese colonists.[citation needed]. A survey in Rio de Janeiro also concluded that "racial-purity" is not important for a person to be classified as white in Brazil.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_Brazilian

IN America, the lines the "racial" lines are strictly drawn (and rarely passed) in Brazil, they are more fluid and more likely to be passed. Not to say race is'nt still a problem, but much less of one. At least when it comes to relationships.

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Hedonism, however, defined as the short-term pursuit of pleasure without regard for long-term consequences, isn't compatible with Objectivist ethics because it ignores the nature of man as a long-term living being.

Hedonism (rational variants) is not about the pursuit of pleasure without considering consequences, but the "maximization" of pleasure, whenever and wherever possible. Psychologically, this means seeking out pleasurable activities and goals and maintaining a pleasurable state of mind.

And "long term" and "short-term" are not moral considerations, as I stated above, so long as they do not hurt others. If a person chooses to live an intensely happy 30 years and then end his life, can you "judge" him for doing so? Is it your right to do so? Will it even make a difference what you think?

Moral judgement regarding short or long term actions are based upon your goals and subjective to the person.

It isn't proper to conflate happiness with pleasure, because they mean two different things to a man's life, even though they can both be classified under "good feelings."

Pleasure contributes to happiness. Happiness is complex phenomenon and its not even entirely understood.

We do know, however, that experiences lead to more happiness than money:

http://comp9.psych.c...1/VB_&_Gilo.pdf

The empirical research, supports hedonism (experience) and suggests that the accumulation of money and material things (something extolled in Objectivism) do not lead to happiness.

Knocking Objectivism because of its "hard to implement principles" (and this is definitely arguable) is like knocking a hard day's labor. The end goal makes both worthwhile.

A hard day's labor is still *doable*, so its a bad example. My point, as I made in numerous other threads, is that the evidence is leading to the fact that Objectivism is not.

That said, I support the "Open Objectivist" movement which is taking steps to re-vise and rectify some of the structural problems Objectivism has. Perhaps they can make it into a viable philosophy.

Edited by MarcT
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@ 2046

Argument by assertion

Can you disprove it or not?

If all the ends of action are mere means to an end, and there is no end in itself, then what is the end that the ends of action are a means to? As stated, this reasoning falls into an infinite regress, and is therefore invalid.

There is an in itself: pleasure.

Saying that your doctrine is self-evident seems like a convenient way to avoid providing any reasons for believing it. Saying that every sane person practices it seems to define yourself into victory and simultaneously claim that your opponents are insane

Ask yourself this question: If you were not living for the attainment of pleasure of some sort, what, ultimately, would you be living for? Remember "happiness" is a form of pleasure.

Edited by MarcT
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@ 2046

Can you disprove it or not?

This is your theory. When debating any issue, there is an implicit burden of proof on the person asserting a claim. Michalos, Alex. 1969. Principles of Logic. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall. p 370 - “usually one who makes an assertion must assume the responsibility of defending it. If this responsibility or burden of proof is shifted to a critic, the fallacy of appealing to ignorance is committed.”

There is an in itself: pleasure.
Can you prove it or not?

Ask yourself this question: If you were not living for the attainment of pleasure of some sort, what, ultimately, would you be living for? Remember "happiness" is a form of pleasure.

I don't know what I'm living for, it's your job to bridge the is-ought gap by proving to me what I ought to live for. Is happiness a form of pleasure? Are there no distinctions between psychological hedonism and classical eudaimonism? You've not demonstrated that they are the same.
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The problem, is that in Brazil, the lines between "black" and "white" is heavily blurred, (unlike in America) and so its not entirely clear how "white" the white people are or how "black" the black people are.

I'm not sure what you're trying to say. Are you basing your assertion that the tropical hedonistic paradise of Brazil is not racist because of a higher percentage of intermarriage and admixture than the US? If so, your link does not specify that.My understanding is that in the US, most "blacks" have significant percentages of "white" DNA, as high as 30% by some estimates with 10% having more than 50% white DNA. Not sure what Brazil's numbers are but they couldn't be much higher than that or there would be no clear visual division between the 48% self classified whites in the country.

Either way though, even if there was a much larger mixture rate, it's hardly an indication of there being no cultural racism, since the mixture was likely even more common in earlier days when Portuguese men took black wives who were slaves do to an absence of Portuguese women. I don't think it makes your point really, unless there is something I am misunderstanding.

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What is pleasure actually? Are you talking about a purely physical pleasure? If so, this sounds like a floating abstraction. Give an example if you think not.

PS: I assume you don't mean emotional pleasure, since your emotions follow from your evaluations. To say "X is good because it gives me emotional pleasure" begs the question of why you evaluated the thing as good in the first place.

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I'm not sure what you're trying to say. Are you basing your assertion that the tropical hedonistic paradise of Brazil is not racist because of a higher percentage of intermarriage and admixture than the US? If so, your link does not specify that.My understanding is that in the US, most "blacks" have significant percentages of "white" DNA, as high as 30% by some estimates with 10% having more than 50% white DNA. Not sure what Brazil's numbers are but they couldn't be much higher than that or there would be no clear visual division between the 48% self classified whites in the country.

Either way though, even if there was a much larger mixture rate, it's hardly an indication of there being no cultural racism, since the mixture was likely even more common in earlier days when Portuguese men took black wives who were slaves do to an absence of Portuguese women. I don't think it makes your point really, unless there is something I am misunderstanding.

Ascribing any importance to melanin levels in the skin is a sign of the lowest form of tribalism. The number of multi-racial couples and families is a meaningless factoid.

Tribalism is the lowest form of collectivism, and racism is just one of many flavors of tribalism.

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Ascribing any importance to melanin levels in the skin is a sign of the lowest form of tribalism. The number of multi-racial couples and families is a meaningless factoid.

Tribalism is the lowest form of collectivism, and racism is just one of many flavors of tribalism.

Just to be clear, I was not ascribing importance to it except to say that the OP is factually mistaken, which is important since he used Brazil as an example of how a hedonistic culture leads to lower levels of racism as defined by a larger rate of romantic involvement across racial lines.

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Ascribing any importance to melanin levels in the skin is a sign of the lowest form of tribalism. The number of multi-racial couples and families is a meaningless factoid.

Tribalism is the lowest form of collectivism, and racism is just one of many flavors of tribalism.

Yes, yes - you are right. Bit of a cheap shot, actually.

It's clear aequalsa was responding in kind to the other poster's premise.

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The pursuit of pleasure alone is not a coherent ethical theory.

You cannot feel pleasure without having values to begin with. Any system of ethics that begins and ends with pleasure ( aka hedonism) makes no sense.

The pleasure you feel reflects the values you have chosen. Hedonism doesn't address values, only the end result of achieving them.

One doesn't have to live a moral or productive life to merely achieve pleasure, if his values allow that to happen. For instance, one could acquire pleasure from cutting himself or torturing small animals because that's what he values in life. Sure, it gives him pleasure, but according to Hedonism this is a perfectly fine way to live.

Edited by Reason_Being
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What an interesting conversation. Odd premise, but interesting.

“And "long term" and "short-term" are not moral considerations, as I stated above, so long as they do not hurt others. If a person chooses to live an intensely happy 30 years and then end his life, can you "judge" him for doing so? Is it your right to do so? Will it even make a difference what you think?

Moral judgement regarding short or long term actions are based upon your goals and subjective to the person.”

If I do meaningless work so I can goof off and party hard for immediate gratification, it is morally equal to working hard for a long range goal that I desire? It is a non-issue that is subjective? Think hard, because your post says yes even though it is obviously not the moral choice to do so. It is not in your rational best interest to think short term this way, but what IS more interesting it also violates your own utilitarian concept of being justified by the results. Not in any degree can both choices be considered equal.

And yes, I have the right to judge the person. You judge someone for your benefit, not theirs. Whether they should live a certain way is very contextual, but if we assume for the sake of argument that this is a person who was capable of living a full life and tossed it away for a several decade sprint to nowhere, it would likely get a combination of sadness and contempt from me. Sadness because he focused on the want more than the I and live part of “I want to live”. Contempt because he didn’t bother to learn how to live, as in live like an adult in the real world, instead treated it like a game, then didn’t have the balls to stay in his game anyway when reality interrupted.

“The empirical research, supports hedonism (experience) and suggests that the accumulation of money and material things (something extolled in Objectivism) do not lead to happiness.”

Objectivism doesn’t extol the virtues of accumulating money and material things. It “extols” the virtue of gaining or keeping values since it is required to live like a human. This could be honesty, love, saving money, or my CD and vinyl collection. Money and material things are just one of many values, all which requires work to gain or keep. It’s the smearing of money and material things that we criticize since it is a symptom of an ideology that teaches people to either not value, or to value but not bother with the virtues (like work) necessary to gain those values. There is a reason that the mind that thinks you can accumulate “to much” money also demands compromise on principles. It starts with wealth but continues with your integrity and every other value. There is also a reason the minds that decry materialism demand the sharing of those materials. A mind that ignores the work required to value something ends up wanting to get the value without having to do the work.

I bring this up since, if you take the time to really think about the sentence I italicized, you will make an interesting observation between this and your example of the person who committed suicide after 30 years of “intense living.

Spoiler Alert: He didn’t value his life enough to do the work.

“Hedonistic societies are happier and simply don't care about "race" in any meaningful, day to day sense.

This is why sex (short term) is usually less discriminating than marriage (long term).”

Sex or any unthinking short term pleasure has nothing to do with philosophic ideals, except demonstrating the lack thereof. The desire of immediate gratification through short term sex acts is simply some dude trying to rub one off quickly to get the blood back to his brain, a condition it is in due to being left on auto-pilot. The idea of some noble social result is silly. If I accepted this premise as true then every teenage boy taking the SafeSearch controls off of Google Images is going to grow up to be racially colorblind…

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Hedonism (rational variants) is not about the pursuit of pleasure without considering consequences, but the "maximization" of pleasure

By what means do you distinguish between maximum and minimum pleasure? If you apply reason to decide on a hierarchy of values and then seek to achieve as many of those values in as great a quantity as possible without violating anyone's rights, then you probably don't have any real disagreements to settle here.

The empirical research, supports hedonism (experience) and suggests that the accumulation of money and material things (something extolled in Objectivism) do not lead to happiness

Somebody has been telling you some strange, misguided things about Objectivism, and I think that's the root of this conflict.

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I was responding to the premise of the argument itself, a fact which unfotunately was not made evident in my post.

Sorry I was sharp with you.

:geek:

Edited by whYNOT
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To the hedonist, Rand already refuted hedonism for its circularity. But she also pointed out another problem for hedonists, their failure to distinguish between the standard of ethics and its purpose. Happiness, pleasure, whatnot, are properly the purpose [motive] for human action. But such psychological experience cannot act as the standard [criterion] thereof. A criterion is necessarily prior to action. A psychological response [happiness] to an action is posterior thereto. Aristotle saw this much 2,300 years ago. How can someone read Rand, or Aristotle, for that matter, and not see what's on the very page before them is beyond me.

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