When I think back on my arcade philosophy that I talked about in this post, it seems that hedonism is the center of my thinking back then. I mentioned before that this life is like an arcade. “There are a lot of games that we can try as long as we have the means to spend.” It seems that I’m implying human as a bunch of pleasure-seeking creatures, only care about having fun by playing games in the arcade.
I’m a bit disappointed at first when I realized this. Why do I define my species as creature who only care about pleasure? Am I like that? Are we all like that? But when I dig deeper into this analogy, I come to realized that it’s actually not that simple.
Oxford dictionary define hedonist as “a person who believes that pleasure is the most important thing in life.” So the real key here is the term “pleasure”.
So now, the question becomes what is pleasure? If we refer to Oxford dictionary again, it define pleasure as “a state of feeling or being happy or satisfied.” This time, I’m not sure if I’m satisfied with Oxford’s definition. Being happy or satisfied seems like a broad definition of state of being. So in this case, let’s turn to Epicurus who said that “pleasure is nothing but the absence of pain.” This way, it’s clear now that the when pain exist, we’re not in the state of pleasure.
We may agree here that most of us regard hedonism as something bad. We condemn people who seek for constant pleasure as if it’s not a noble way to live this life.
But the paradox emerged from there. If most of us believe that hedonism is bad, shouldn’t we all embrace pain and the various emotion it comes with? Should we all welcome agony, sufferings, sadness, or any other forms of pain?
In that case, why do we tell kids not to cry when they stumble and fall when they just learn to walk? Why do we tell our friends not to cry over a broken relationship? Why do we take Prozac to ease our depression?
Does that mean that I suggest people to succumb to their state of pain and let it just be? Well, not really.
We all come into this world without knowing the deal. Some of us maybe even believe that life itself is a suffering. That’s no shame to feel that way, the same as there’s no shame for people who believe that their lives serve a special purpose.
By writing this, I meant to question our view about hedonism. Why do we think bad about people who only live for the pleasure?
In the lens of empathy, if we all agree that life itself is a suffering, then I guess, hedonists are only those people who constantly try to ease their sufferings. Are they wrong? Maybe not. It seems only logical considering the state where they come from.
But, empathy aside, I will say the hedonists are also a bunch of denials for ruling out all kinds of suffering and pain that should be natural for them (remember that we came from a notion that life itself is a suffering).
But should we condemn hedonists? I will say no. Then again, we all have a bit of hedonist trait. As human, it’s all natural to seek for pleasure and happiness in this miserable life that we can’t control or foresee.
But, does that mean if I endorse hedonism now? Not exactly. And if that’s the conclusion that you imply from reading this far, I’m afraid you should re-read from the beginning.
Pleasure is good, embracing pain is brave. Choose whatever helpful for you with the capacity that you have.
Coming back to my arcade analogy, we should question ourselves, are we only looking for pleasure when we play games?
The answer could be whatever. It could be yes. But you could also be looking to master an expertise. You could also play a game to help someone else. Or maybe, just simply to kill the time. Who knows?