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Part 1: https://hedonix.wordpress.com/2008/12/08/equivocation/

Part 2: hedonix.wordpress.com/2008/12/11/practical-hedonism

by Lloyd H. Whitling – Updated 7/15/2013

Most aspects of human endeavor become populated by those who reside at the extremes of misunderstanding and misinterpretation that originate within the camps of the sticklers and their opponents, the mitigators.

In semantics, stickler extremists demand only one definition for all words, and that those definitions should be granted by whatever philosophical, political or religious creed they most favor. Extremist mitigators, on the other hand, favor loose interpretation for the working room it provides (wiggle room, if you’d prefer), often to enable the meshing of disparate ideas into a cogent form.

EXAMPLE: Does the phrase “kill the light” mean to stand in front of it to cast a shadow?– to shoot it dead so it will never light again?– or something in between?

SO, WHAT IS IT YOU ARE CALLING ‘HEDONISM?’ Hedonism originated in ancient Greece as a natural philosophy wherein pleasure versus pain serves to guide our moral senses. That is what we should build upon now, and not the psychological, commercial or religious depictions that serve up pleasure as a goal in itself. Much has developed in various fields of science that serve to enhance the value of hedonic philosophy for anyone who would bother to make all the connections. My effort is to try to spare others the basic work so that hedonic philosophy can advance into a modern form of wisdom minus all the artifices and blather both sticklers and mitigators have layered onto it. Hedonism, once understood as a wholesome natural program, does not need all of that. It can stand on its own.

You will find that hedonism, as a natural philosophy, suffers from sticklerism. People who talk and write about hedonism’s happiness/pain scenario seem too often to be sticklers, especially when writing against it, and write their criticism according to their one-sided definition of hedonism while avoiding its original philosophical intent. I have read far too many essays about the many conditions that cannot qualify as ‘painful’ or ‘pleasurable’, however bad or good they make one feel. They seem to want to deny that the threat of Hell evokes pain-responses, or that the promise of Heaven elicits those of pleasure, which are hedonic interests manipulated into serving centrist causes.

Others seem willing to grant that all kinds of physical pain can be sensed as such, but that mental responses are irrelevant, with the same to be said about pleasure. Such stickler claims emanate from the same origins, often with anti-sexuality as their basis, so that physical pain (such as from sexually transmitted diseases) and sexual pleasure (described as booze, carousing, orgasm) become all that hedonism is about, and so Heaven and Hell get denied relevance to that. They get mitigated into serving as after-death rewards or punishment in a manner that avoids any hope for verification. Even the religious disagree about their veracity.

Their sly ploy works wonders for their image among their semi-literate, gullible followers, and offers a hook that entices devils’ advocates to develop it for their own ends. As a result, the Internet fills up with misinformed BLOG pages about hedonism that cater to the commercial and religious views (even to the point of trying to develop a pleasure meter), only sparsely populated with pages from those whose studies allowed them to infer a picture far different from that commonly presented.

All of that gets mitigated by the “anything goes” crowd, usually in support of commerce. Pain gets forgotten by both sides in a distractive pursuit of pleasure that takes everybody off the main path and makes a side alley into the whole ball game. Pain and pleasure are not the goals of hedonism, but represent what is seen to be nature’s way of guiding us into evolutionarily beneficial behavior.

SO, WHAT ABOUT PAIN AND PLEASURE? It is correct to identify pain as a noun or verb referencing any condition or effect that signifies inconvenience, injury, distress or disease, whether mental or physical (the way you will find it in your dictionary). Let us oppose that with happiness and pleasure as synonyms (the same as our USA founding fathers and the ancient Greeks they favored in many remarks, and with which our handy thesaurus agrees without forcing it), and let that represent conditions opposing pain: soundness, tranquility and health, balanced by the efforts necessary to maintain them. I insist that a study of ethology, and hedonism from its very roots, will bear that out. I must also insist that a study of religious and commercial documents about hedonism will bear out that with which this essay began.

Using your favorite search engine to ferret out documents about such subjects as homeostasis, ataraxia or eudaemonia will enlighten the diligent student with still more information in support of all the foregoing. Then, look to ethology to find your bearings and your natural reasoning.

There have been furtherances of such a natural understanding that have risen from recent developments in the fields of medicine (especially biological), psychology and sociology. All of it, taken together, can be assembled into a full-fledged philosophy of the kind the world needs that, widely adopted and practiced, subjected to refinements that could result from scientific study, would ascertain for all of us exactly what America’s founding fathers had visualized when they expressed our right for the pursuit of happiness. They had not seen Utopia, they had seen how to live, a natural way to understand how to live, and how to apply that barring interference from power-seeking groups with dominance agendas, the centrists who deny anyone other than themselves a right to set standards and values for all others’ strict adherence.

Feel assured that hedonism is a medically and socially sound, practical philosophy when practiced to its fullest, with all its components kept intact. In today’s terms, hedonism is about an ongoing quest for balance that is natural for life-forms capable of autonomous movement. It can be shown how evolution favors such a quest, and that self-destructive life would soon die out at its own hands (as have societies that favored cannibalism, especially of their own young, which should concern us about the immense willingness of advanced modern societies to send their own youngsters off to feed their war machines).

Neohedonism updates an ancient philosophy. The philosophy I have given the name ‘Equatarianism’ rounds out hedonism’s “happiness” message, and makes it practical and practiceable:


We can attain balance and still endure stress due to instability, as the ebook demonstrates. The happiest, healthiest individuals, whether puppies or people, are those who maintain the most stable balance, and those affected by their contagious attitudes. That applies to physical and the mental aspects as they affect each of us.

The Xians have their godly triangle (Father/Son/Ghost) and we hedonic secular folks now have our own in Balance/ Stability/ Happiness. The difference is, ours is real, tangible, and obvious because anyone can test it, demonstrate and verify it, and learn to predict the results of applying it. Compare that with the centrist strategies imposed on us now, that have resulted in a society’s normal daily suffering of injury, distress and disease.

Things that other people do and say, words they use, should not bother us. That is one of the results of my having adopted those described as ‘religious’ for my own use, and so I think about my own meanings when I hear them or see them. You can do the same, and gain the same benefit.

EXAMPLE: My brother asked me whether he could say “God be with you” to me without my getting upset. I told him, “Of course.” When some one says ‘God’ I think ‘love’ (as in [1 John 4:8]< 8. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.> I do use that approach as a standard for assessing Xians and their messages. If the Xians actually practiced their religion in that manner, I would still be one of them. They don’t. I am not. When they don’t, then I get bothered, and seldom fail to tell them why according to their own written creed.

EXAMPLE 2: the word ‘soul’ that the Xians use to label some aspect of a human that will live on after the person dies, does not mean a kind of ‘spirit’ to me. I regard all of existence as being constituted of events in processes. The chaos of existence can be (at any instant) broken down to its smallest components, which will always be events in every aspect of existence.

In other words, nothing exists except as a result of events. Combined events contribute to processes, and those processes are what we see as ‘objective reality.’ All the processes are members of parent/child relationships, in which child processes conjoin to form larger ‘parent’ processes (as in a family tree): Atoms form materials form objects which are, themselves, part of still larger processes. (Atom plus atom plus atom plus atom = molecule; molecule plus molecule plus molecule = compound; compound plus compound plus compound = thing, and so 2forth in a hierarchy of processes.)

In such a scenario, we are the result of a conglomerate of processes, and we are living out the events in which we are but components. Every event branches into new events as the chaos of events interacts within itself. As events, we eventually die out, but the events we initiated, or to which we contributed, continue on in a cascading fashion, like tumbling dominoes. That is one thing I refer to as ‘soul.’

There are others: for instance, the way black folks use soul (as in “She has real soul”) I find very acceptable as a reference to a person’s happily balanced image and the way it affects others. That joyous effect is invisible, intangible, but still very noticeable and desirable. Once you are onto this, you will find that an absence of it is just as noticeable (but undesirable), which will give you an image of my meaning for ‘zombie.’

That kind of way to understand existence seems essential to a full grasp of philosophical hedonism. All the events in which we perform result in processes that affect others. Our attitude while dealing with others throughout all the events in our lives puts the spin on how the processes will play out, long after our involvement has ended.

The attitude required to deny that steers us on a different course than would an attitude that would heighten a tendency to try to understand it. Each of us has that to be concerned with, and that to leave as out legacy, however large or small. That is our soul, not an object destined for a heaven or a Hell, but a condition we will leave behind us after our bodies have been buried or burned.]

WHY SHOULD WE WORRY ABOUT MORALITY IF THERE’S NO GOD NAMED GOD? While the balancing act depicted on the web page makes a point, most people would declare it impertinent to their own lives. By viewing pleasure as an aspect of sin-tainted endeavors, most people position themselves as though standing off-center at the brink of a cliff.

Our stress-filled lives indicate the truth of that. Avoidance of a hedonic awareness, whether intentional or the result of simple ignorance (by somebody else’s intention) does not position us to maintain an awareness about any long-term effects that will result from our actions and choices. We get taught to think in the short-term, and it catches up to us in the long run.

Thinking in the short-term, too, makes us less aware of consequences afflicting others, and of others’ past actions that later afflict ourselves. Whether or not we ought to be worried about others’ perceptions about us, we should be concerned with whatever influences that interplay within the processes that involve them and us, and the nature of any feedback from which we may benefit or suffer.

Morality in natural terms refers to the consequences of our actions as other human beings are affected by them—and as they affect ourselves, since we do ourselves harm at cost to others. We benefit in many ways as a result of having developed a reputation for maintaining high standards, and we suffer when we allow ourselves to fall into ill repute.

To take a stand that there being no god, or no god named God, to express an opinion wherein it gets said that no reason exists for moral behavior, that it is meaningless, tells more about the person issuing that expression than it ever will about anyone else. There either is a god or none, and if none exists, then it changes nothing about meaning nor morality to pretend otherwise. If morality depends upon a nonexistent god, there is no morality in it, for its reason and meaning is held by what is never there. It matters not what one pretends, for a fact remains a fact, and facts are what require demonstration to establish them.

If no god can be shown, if no god can speak to all for itself, if all the prayers ever issued have the same effect as all the curses, there is no god. Since there is no god, but only self-chosen spokespeople whose processes of living have harmed their reputations, there is no god named God, no god named Allah, no god named Buddha, no god of any name beyond what was whittled from wood or carved from rock.

We are then left with what we will do for and to ourselves and our communities. Our reasons and meanings then arise from what gets agreed upon as just and right, and that best when verifiable from nature. Then, the scope of its process becomes the size of the universe, refined understanding reaches to beyond all borders, and war becomes a stigmata of ancient history and the many contesting schemas of politics and misinformed ideals reinforced by systems of belief.

With gods, mankind’s ears have remained deaf and our eyes blinded. Without a god, we get to hear misery’s cries and know we must respond ourselves if suffering will ever end. Death may bring oblivion, but we are foolish to think we’ll care. Life gets offered to us once, and it must be we who give or take away its meaning, and we who foolishly choose to suffer stress when blissful balance, harmony and tranquility demand us to step away from the precipice we fear.

IN CONCLUSION, the human being may be the most foolish product of evolution. The greater portion of our population, across the face of the globe, works hard for the downfall of their own best interests. Masses starve in Edens, nations steal from each other, we slaughter each other wholesale, all in the name of short-range gains for a few and the long-range loss of the majority.

If made modern by incorporating recent information acquired by many important fields of science, hedonism provides a path into a calmer future that would enable human advancement that we already rocket toward in the desperate fashion of today. Our survival as a species most likely depends on our successful adoption of new paradigms wherein we take a longer, stronger view of the way our current events will prevail upon the processes of the future. It is for the wise among us to recognize how different philosophies and systems of thought interfere with or promote our current well-being while steering us into the foggy realm the future represents to us. Hedonism, understood according to modern knowledge, may well be the better choice compared with our current ships’ captains. We would be a credit to our species were we to adopt it as our own, and deserve our own extinction were we to not even consider it, or where we would fend it off.

Hedonism suffers at the hands of sticklers and mitigators with agendas to promote. If no god exists, it makes no difference what we pretend, no god exists and morality based on fantasy cannot be enforced by others nor upheld for long by oneself. Hedonism expresses nature’s path to moral values.



1: Lest this be taken as an unpatriotic political remark, let me point out the way our militaries have developed, which enables a few casualties on the high-tech side to result in massive casualties among the enemy and those who harbor them. One mad suicide bomber might kill or injure tens of victims, which his comrades will regard to be a high ration. One aircraft pilot, or one ship lobbing smart bombs into a terrorist stronghold, can eradicate thousands of terrorists and those who give them a place to hide. By so stating, I do not justify war, but support that military cannibalism is most prominent where advanced technologies remain unavailable.

2: It may seem backward logic to describe a parent process as a product of its children, but then, think: Is not every parent a parent only because of the children?

It feels disheartening to discover how many prominent people seek to discredit Western culture by denying the role of self in anything of value, including members of it that deny self-interest as “selfish”, “self-centered arrogance”, “egotism” and the like, wrongly claimed to be the opposite of “altruism”. The self is important as what it is; our failure to understand that attests more to the powerful influences that come from religion, more than anything meaningful or real. That we should be told to “deny self”, that “selfishness is not a desirable condition”, that one’s thoughts get reduced to “monkey chatter” and so demeaned as undesirable, such as comes from sources found everywhere tells us more about the poor mental condition of those writers and talkers, than it does of any truth.
Self is not made to be banished, except to be taken over by hallucinations, unconsciousness, or invasive memeplexes. So-called “monkey chatter” may, in fact, serve as a natural barrier to protect us from the onslaught of parasitical ideas we get exposed to every day of our lives. Self is not made to be banished, it is made to be attached to something one finds desirable to have or accomplish, or to be or become. The self is what finds one’s purpose to be served as a lifetime aim, a cause to adopt, a task in which to become so involved as to lose one’s sense of self as separate from that. To write, to make music (especially as part of a group), to work a garden, nurture children, pan for gold or stare at the stars, are all such tasks according to their appeal to any individual.
It is that appeal that becomes important to this: Our circumstances, our genetic makeup, and the pressures bearing down upon us all work to lean us toward whatever will most satisfactorily involve us. No one else can make such choices for us. Parents who demand their children to follow their footsteps through life by adopting the means of livelihood they may have worked hard to develop, may doom their children to fiscally rewarding but very unsatisfactory and depressing lives. Priests and clerics who demand their followers abandon themselves to a god and service to the church may doom many of their congregants in that same way. (Could the resultant shallow lives contribute to a reason for why so many of the religious seem so willing to go on missions of suicide?) Businesses who assign people to slots of work within their organizations while paying no attention to (even demeaning) their natural talents and inclinations cannot claim to have the most productive and zealous workers. “Monkey chatter” will not let such persons alone to concentrate the best upon their less-than-desirable work; to “banish the self” at such times contributes to 1zoning, something that could endanger unhappy workers whose mentality seeks to escape the conditions imposed upon them.
When oneself is ‘attached’ to a task, oneself is wide awake, fully focused upon that task and aware of each action taken. When away from it, the attachment does not lessen, but oneself still ponders the immersion into it to which one wishes to return, or the needed rest one recognizes as being a part of the overall accomplishment. One will talk about the beloved activities and effects produced by them upon himself and coworkers also engaged in it. One will dream about it at night, and perhaps arise early to jot down ideas and sketches about how to make it even better. While others, uninvolved, may find it unsettling, oneself remains attached, not banished, except to accommodate their demands or one’s natural needs.
We may rightly refer to such a person’s engagement as “the advanced state of self,” wherein one has uncovered a reason, a virtue, to devote himself to in life, and unabashedly, wholeheartedy pursues that. Such a person has become “self-actualized”, to use Maslow’s term for the highest state one can achieve. He represented it as something to be accomplished only because one can, that one must first surpass the four lesser states of existence in order to possess the intellectual and financial security that enables self actualization.
Self-actualization does not mean in any way “banishment of the self” or instruct us to consider selfishness as something disgusting. No, it is an instruction about what steps are necessary to be completed before we can most effectively attach ourselves to that “bigger that ourselves” life’s aim that gives us sufficient reason to endeavor and from which we derive a meaning existence for ourselves. That does not occur through hallucinatory processes, zombification, nor the supplanting of self with something else.
Martin Seligman, PhD, Fox Leadership Professor of Psychology, in the Department of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, shows he understands this after thirty years of practice: “…there is one thing we know about meaning: that meaning consists in attachment to something bigger than you are. The self is not a very good site for meaning, and the larger the thing that you can credibly attach yourself to, the more meaning you get out of life.” <http://www.edge.org/seligman_index.html&gt; Richard Russell, in an email dated 9/23/2006 and posted to a yahoo group, shows he, too, understood that when he wrote, “An important psychological factor that Maslow identified is that a satisfied need is no longer a motivator. That is, you don’t much worry about food if you’re accustomed to 3 square meals a day and know where the nearest grocery store and restaurant are.”
Rather than banishment, self-actualization is only acheived as a result of self-awareness and self-confidence. Heightened senses of self-awareness enable the perception of one’s inherent needs. Heightened self-confidence results from the accomplishments at a lower level that provided the time for pondering insights, and so allowed the individual to gain a sense of direction. Accomplishments at lower levels affirms confidence in oneself, and so provides the drive needed  to aim for ever greater heights. Self-actualization is taught by the process through which it is gained, while the individual is also strengthened to follow through. The small pleasures gained along the way provide motivation and a sense that something great lurks around the horizon that can be had just by one’s arrival there.
This most advanced form did not result from self-denial, but from self-confidence, self-awareness, and self-actualization. It did not result from lurking for months amidst the guano at the back of pitch-dark caves, from accepting anecdotal dogma from ancient times as current truths, nor from marching in lock-step to a drummer different from one’s own internal beat. It is a pity that the poorest members of the world’s social orders will never gain an understanding of that, nor even be exposed to the high concepts for which it stands. It is a greater pity so many of us lucky enough to have been exposed to decent educational systems devalue those systems and deny the good they do, and never make use of our ability to read and write to do more than study advertisements and read the screen blurbs passing our eyes by. In our time, information of this nature is readily available but, for all kinds of reasons, seldom sought by such as those who have been enable to make use of it to lead better lives with greater happiness, joy, pleasure, and balance.
Ah: Balance!
Balance is a rather recent addition to all of this. Ataraxia (mental balance), of course, was a topic of interest in Epicurus’ time. Homeostasis (physiological balance) is rather new by comparison to that. Both work together and affect each other as a system, to maintain (or fail to) a balanced person. What works for individual persons works also for individual groups, individual nations, individual worlds: a balanced existence is most pleasant; imbalance is unpleasant and undesirable at all levels.
Imbalance results from all kinds of adverse conditions: it is present when food supplies are less than needed to feed the person, the group, the nation, the world. It is present when income is not high enough to pay the bills, at any social level. It is present when knowledge is not enough to secure correct approaches to omnipresent problems, including when that lack results from conditions imposed to prevent the gaining of it. You will find it in superabundance where daily stress cannot find pleasures capable to relax it, but only drugs and drink, or religion, that actually act for its increase.
Balance is easy to achieve, once you get past all the hogwash that keeps you from discovering life’s simple secrets. Gaylord Maxwell, longtime columnist for Motorhome Magazine, told his secret in the April 2008 issue: “The objective of being useful is part of my general philosophy that our lives have to have purpose….Although the idea of purpose is often used in a religious context,” he wrote, “I use it in a worldly sense. Having purpose can mean many kinds of goals. Some people focus on self-improvement; others focus on bettering the lives of others. Both are comendable goals, but the latter is by far the most important. Doing things that make life better for others is undoubtedly the most important and satisfying of all purpose goals.” Mister Maxwell makes a fine example of the balanced kind of person that can result from answering the need to attach one’s self to a purpose one finds to be meaningful, and then focus on that task.
©2008 Lloyd H. Whitling

1) Zoning, as hinted in the dictionary, is a way in which the mind divides itself into regions, and by which it enables itself to ponder other thoughts while the body continues on in a somewhat automated fashion at whatever well-learned task it is engaged in. Rather than attaching itself to the task, the self disengages and dangerously seeks other things with which to become involved.