June 2015

Hedonism: What is It?

Three interpretations of hedonism seem to prevail in today’s world: Commonest are the commercial approach and the misapprended misunderstanding derived from that, upon which the religious approach relies. Least common, but most true to hedonism’s origins are the various philosophical hedonisms, including my own Equatarianism and Gaian Ethics that attempts to update hedonism in ways the average person can grasp.

As true hedonism requires a high level of self-control and an advanced ability to cogitate, the philosophy suffers from the absence of metaphorical images available to the commercial and religious presentations, which enabled those to dominate from nearly the beginning of human life. Pitting Hell against Heaven, for a quick example, presents a more immediate pain/pleasure image than unspecified torment that may result from ill-considered questionable actions. Having a mean (tho loving) god to mete out specific dire punishment is far scarier than if Mother Nature threatens you with something that might affect you only if you live long enough. Rewards (pleasure) for good behavior are just as uncertain. You may never suffer obesity if you avoid overeating, and still die a miserable death from some other unforeseeable cause—or become obese due to defective glands. At any rate, those are not behaviors with which religion ordinarily bothers.

People of any organized belief system are left to find their own answers to life’s conundrums. Patriarchal religion’s main moral concern is about property: wives, asses, camels, land; worship and obedience: honoring the god, obeying the god (the priests), keeping holy days; and about relationships: punishments, the governing establishment (the church or equivalent), and the law.

Current forays by some scientists into moral questions are certain to perpetuate the centralism that takes control of morality away from the very people most affected by them, who will suffer most as a result of their inevitable wrong answers. People do not come in one size fits all packages of anything. We are individuals, not composites. We do nothing the same as everybody else. The tendency to establish power centers to control every aspect of existence was inherited from patriarchal religions and does not play at all in the moral interests of a truly free society.

Science must, instead, play an educative role by deducing all of the many links between behavior and the later damage or benefit. Much of that work may already be done, leaving science with a role it has never done well, which is to assure no person alive remains unaware of their findings, their universal importance, potential cost and savings by country and by individual. This ought to be something the church and its equivalents would deem worthy to join in on, for it would give them materials that increase or restore their social relevance, it is work they cannot and should not do, and would give them a voice backed by real, testable, evidence-heavy, constantly updated scientific data.


The Evolution of Evolution

Evolution presents a basically simple subject tainted with prejudicial and illogical equivocations and denials. The denials, whether from scientists or the religious, are expressed about whether we feeble-minded humans can understand certain aspects of how the universe developed, whether the Big Bang actually occurred, whether outside influences were involved, the age of whatever process(es) brought it about, conflation of some elements of it with others, the right to express an untestable guess and pose it where it can be compared to the grandfathered-in untestable guesses… on and on and on, the argument itself evolving with whatever wicked new hoax can buy its way in. Evolution is about one thing: development. Whether mechanical, cosmological, biological, anamorphosis or any other specific category, evolution is about the development of that subject within the confines accredited to it, perhaps relative to other categories but not to be conflated with them.

Conflation: Conflation results in equivocation, where data from one argument gets used to advance the other in an attempt to treat them as the same. Does not the greater portion of the disagreement cackled over evolution involve apparently purposeful equivocation between biological and cosmological evolution? “God exists; God created the heavens and the Earth” is a subject different from the development of biology. Whether a god named God yanked out Adam’s thirteenth rib to create Eve is a different subject from the Big Bang. To bounce back and forth to toss in arguments about both is conflation, that is wrong, and it happens from both sides. It happens on the religious side because they fear to not involve the god named God in their posits, and because some ancient guy thought the Bible recounted every single year of Earth’s history. It doesn’t. It only goes back to about when people figured out how to write, and how to make something other than a cave wall to write on. I suspect it doesn’t even go back that far.

Human behavior is as easily understood as observable events and processes as is anything else, and as subject to variable conditions that can be (have been) recognized and given data values. Desire, taste, pleasure, pain, stress due to imbalance, and any other sensory or emotion-based perception is as much a part of that as any other kind of stimulus. It is the results and the intentions that make something moral, immoral, or inconsequential. Rather than making contradictory statements, show why that one is wrong. Otherwise, accept it, draw some inferences from it, and then find some way to show them true or false. Don’t do like a dog chasing a rabbit around and around a tree. Stand still, and you will eventually “get it.” Stop, think, and the rabbit will run up your back.

As an evolved socially oriented species, we humans arrived in the present with intact, highly developed moral instincts that have become misdirected by powerful influences that have learned to turn us against our own best interests. We have been taught to suffer guilt and shame for innocent and innocuous actions and thoughts for which we intended no actions. We overpopulate our planet while millions starve to death for lack of sustenance because we inherited creeds that trample our innate sense of propriety to death. We have learned to reverse our understanding of good and evil and make it stick. We have learned live in ways that overwhelm the natural processes that govern biological support on our planet, so now we put ourselves at risk of environmental changes may go beyond our range of adaptability. That is a predictable result of global warming. When that occurs, the creedents will have lost the argument, but nobody will win.

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