|Epicurus (photo: Interstate295)|
The problem with hedonism is that it's so self serving. If you're constantly thinking about how you can maximize your pleasures there's no time for anyone or thing that isn’t an immediate source of pleasure. Here's a quote from a new Showtime series called Submission, which has an S&M theme that's obviously trying to capitalize on the popularity of Fifty Shades of Grey. “sometimes losing control has it’s own kind of power.” But though "submission" in an S&M context camouflages itself as a kind of surrender of the self, it's merely a technique of creating sexual excitement and ultimately of maximizing the intensity of the orgasm. Though such surrender camouflages as a spiritual pursuit, it's totally egocentric. Epicurus is a philosopher whose name is associated with pleasure by virtue of the fact that epicureans, or would be followers of the dictates of Epicurus might be devoted to the cultivation of taste—at least in so far as food is concerned. But Epicurus was a proponent of moderation and the pleasure he proslyetized for was characterized by the diminution of pain. It was not based on a raging need to increasingly gratify urges, but a more even-handed ability to define sensibility, something which is ultimately a social phenomenon in which other peoples’ needs and desires are taken into consideration. But let's employ what might be called a "last supper test," something like one of those conundrums in ethics, in which, in this case, the condemned prisoner gets anything he wants. Imagine yourself hypothetically occupying your own death row. It’s your last day on earth and you sate your desires for wine, women (or men), song and of course glazed donuts. Every orifice is stuffed. Unfettered by the fear of consequences you have satisfied all your desires. But are you happy?