The Principles of Pleasure
What better life could there be than a life dedicated to pleasure?
Just listen to the words that describe pleasure: happiness, delight, joy, euphoria, ecstasy, contentment, satisfaction. Pleasure is a transformative, positive state in which pleasurable feelings lead us into our happiness.
Hedonism after all is the philosophy that pleasure is of ultimate importance, the most important pursuit. It was founded in ancient Greece and can be traced back to the 5th century BC. The principles are based on the belief that our sole human purpose should be the pursuit of happiness...
I believe in ethical hedonism. Henry Sedgwick an English philosopher from the early 1900s describes it best: 'Ethical hedonism defines the highest good as the greatest amount of happiness that is attainable by an individual or by a society'.
Within ethical hedonism there are two strains, it is essential that we follow them both and practice them side by side. The first is egotistical hedonism, the second is universal hedonism. Both philosophies are cemented with strict ethics and codes of conduct.
Simply put, egoistical hedonists believe that each one of us should aim to promote our own individual happiness, while universal hedonists believe that the each of us should promote happiness for all.
One of the major principles of hedonism is not only the pursuit of pleasure but also the avoidance or limitation of pain. From a larger perspective universal hedonism states that our collective goal is to make choices that maximise collective happiness and minimise collective pain, for the good of us all.
Let's face it; if our governments adopted the principles of universal hedonism vs. the egotistical hedonism that they are currently following the world would be a better place. We would measure our political success on mass happiness rather the power and control of the few. War would be seen as a political failure.
Maybe instead of torture camps we would have camps of seduction where we would use the power of persuasion in preference to the infliction of fear, using the Stockholm Syndrome as our greatest weapon of infiltration, rather than the sick reality of physical brutality.
If world governments were to adopt universal hedonism within their political agendas civil rights would dominate over corporate rights, poverty would be seen as a travesty. In fact the whole underlying equation of economics would change to value happiness and sustainability over growth and added value; after all, added value relies on poverty existing in order for economic gain to happen.
Multinationals would be responsible for their manufacturing, making sure that their workers and their environment were providing the maximum amount of happiness. Slave labour would not occur; a handbag would never be worth more than a human life. Fair trade would be the norm, transnationals could not would not invest in cruel dictatorships, the environment which we all depend upon would be preserved. After all, our sole purpose would be the pursuit of pleasure, rather than the infliction of pain.
Both pleasure and pain are a transformative state - the experience of true unbounded pleasure is like touching true beauty. However the unnecessary infliction of pain can easily lead to destructive behaviour, in both a personal and global sense. Unnecessary pain damages us as individuals and in a society becomes a self perpetuating circle of abuse.
There are many philosophers who believe that pursuit of pleasure is ingrained within the psyche of all human beings, but the question is how do we release ourselves into 'pleasure' being a freedom and not an entrapment, this the fundamental key to a better future for us all.
As a society we have demonised hedonism, misinterpreted its core meaning, and moralised pleasure. We have advocated the importance of self denial, we associate hedonism with an unethical pursuit of temptation and indulgence.
While pleasure does include sex, does include food, does include drugs, it is not limited to these; true pleasure is satisfaction. Whereas endless unsatisfied desire drives us into a state of unhappiness confusion and frustration.
True pleasure is not about excess, excess is imbalance, excess is addiction. I think we can all agree that addiction is a personal and a global prison.
A balanced intake of the obvious sensual delights like food, sex and drugs can propel us into a transcendental state of self love - it can open the mind, it can help us to connect. However in excess what once was pleasurable becomes a weapon of self loathing and a mask for unhappiness.
Our western society continually feeds us the notion of excess; we need more than we can consume. The tool used is unsatisfiable desire, this is what advertising companies sell so well. False promise that consumption will lead to happiness whereas the truth is it will lead you ultimately into addiction. Unsatisfiable desire is the drive behind consumerism, a social financial addiction. Our economic system is built on irrational growth, it is non-sustainable and it is globally destructive.
We need to change our collective understanding of what is achievable and how we wish to live as a global community.
Pleasure and happiness is almost a taboo, however pain and tragedy are the common states we live in within our society. We find happiness an unreachable, unrealistic goal. Why is it that global and environmental destruction is imagined as an unavoidable reality and the notion of living within a utopian society is seen as a fluffy ridiculous fantasy?
Look at how many movies are made about the end of the world compared to the number made about the possibility of global happiness and it becomes unarguable.
So my point is simple: hedonism needs to be our universal religion. It needs to be the foundation of all our philosophies. As individuals we need to follow the ethics of egotistical hedonism, and as a community we need to follow the ethics of universal hedonism.
The desire for satisfied, balanced pleasure and the limitation of pain must be the driving force of our existence, and as a community we must drive our society into collective happiness.
My next sermon is focused upon fulfilling egoistical hedonism and hopefully after reading it your personal drive will be fucking yourself into believing god resides between your thighs.