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InvisibleVeritas
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Epicurus: Types of Desires
    #5601327 - 05/07/06 05:00 PM (15 years, 6 months ago)

Quote:

Because of the close connection of pleasure with desire-satisfaction, Epicurus devotes a considerable part of his ethics to analyzing different kinds of desires. If pleasure results from getting what you want (desire-satisfaction) and pain from not getting what you want (desire-frustration), then there are two strategies you can pursue with respect to any given desire: you can either strive to fulfill the desire, or you can try to eliminate the desire. For the most part Epicurus advocates the second strategy, that of paring your desires down to a minimum core, which are then easily satisfied.

Epicurus distinguishes between three types of desires: natural and necessary desires, natural but non-necessary desires, and "vain and empty" desires.

Examples of natural and necessary desires include the desires for food, shelter, and the like. Epicurus thinks that these desires are easy to satisfy, difficult to eliminate (they are 'hard-wired' into human beings naturally), and bring great pleasure when satisfied. Furthermore, they are necessary for life, and they are naturally limited: that is, if one is hungry, it only takes a limited amount of food to fill the stomach, after which the desire is satisfied. Epicurus says that one should try to fulfill these desires.

Vain desires include desires for power, wealth, fame, and the like. They are difficult to satisfy, in part because they have no natural limit. If one desires wealth or power, no matter how much one gets, it is always possible to get more, and the more one gets, the more one wants. These desires are not natural to human beings, but inculcated by society and by false beliefs about what we need; e.g., believing that having power will bring us security from others. Epicurus thinks that these desires should be eliminated.

An example of a natural but non-necessary desire is the desire for luxury food. Although food is needed for survival, one does not need a particular type of food to survive. Thus, despite his hedonism, Epicurus advocates a surprisingly ascetic way of life. Although one shouldn't spurn extravagant foods if they happen to be available, becoming dependent on such goods ultimately leads to unhappiness. As Epicurus puts it, "If you wish to make Pythocles wealthy, don't give him more money; rather, reduce his desires." By eliminating the pain caused by unfulfilled desires, and the anxiety that occurs because of the fear that one's desires will not be fulfilled in the future, the wise Epicurean attains tranquility, and thus happiness.





This is posted by way of clarification, as there still seems to be some confusion about the philosophy of Hedonism. It seems to me that Epicurean Hedonism walks the line between philosophies which claim that we should deny all of our "lesser" desires, and those which encourage unthinking revelry and abandonment to the senses.


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InvisibleSkorpivoMusterion
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Re: Epicurus: Types of Desires [Re: Veritas]
    #5601895 - 05/07/06 07:37 PM (15 years, 6 months ago)

Vain desires include desires for power, wealth, fame, and the like. They are difficult to satisfy, in part because they have no natural limit. If one desires wealth or power, no matter how much one gets, it is always possible to get more, and the more one gets, the more one wants. These desires are not natural to human beings, but inculcated by society and by false beliefs about what we need; e.g., believing that having power will bring us security from others. Epicurus thinks that these desires should be eliminated.

I disagree with two of the three desires Epicurean ethics/philosophy advises to abandon: power & wealth. In my view, these two are a necessity for one to survive to their greatest potential. Having a wealth in many things is beneficial to our existence, because it hedges against the uncertain future.
If I didn't save up all of my money from working industriously, and instead only kept that which keeps my bare, essential functions that keep me alive from a day-to-day basis, then I would be sorely caught with financial hardship if I were hit by a drunk driver and racked up a medical bill that would give Bill Gates a heart attack. Similar scenarios can be applied to businesses as well. Wealth, which [typically] stems from productiveness and industriousness, is fundamentally an asset to our lives - providing that we are rational in our use of it. And if we are not rational in our use of it, wealth should not be to blame - it is One's own ignorance that is to blame. And of course, wealth comes in a variety of forms, not just money. Should a person not seek intellectual wealth as well? Or how about food? There are many things that one can, and should be wealthy in if they wish to live a secure and fulfilling life.

Now let's discuss power. First, and foremost, we have physical power. Should the woman who was raped by a man and nearly escaped, but couldn't because her strength gave out just before she was able to flee from the man's grips, not desire to increase her physical power by visiting the gym, engaging in a weightlifting/powerlifting routine? Or failing that, at least purchase a canister of mace - a device that gives her great power to protect herself from physical harm? Then there is intellectual power, as well. Should the student who is preparing for an oral exam, not diligently practice his rententive-memory skills and speech-skills, by virtue of assidous study?
And we also have financial power - should the single mother who is underpaid, underappreciated and over-worked, not seek out financial success by virtue of establishing a high-growth venture with her family members, which enables her to pursue her higher-potential developments, both inside and outside her family?

As you might see, wealth and power tend to go hand-in-hand. Objectively, there is nothing wrong with having wealth and power. However, and perhaps this is what Epicurean philosophy really means to say, it does matter how One gains their wealth and power, insofar as One's own happiness is concerned.

Ultimately, it all boils down to goals and standards. Take monetary wealth, for instance. Money can be the goal of happiness, but not the standard of it. What should be the standard? Productively achieving One's own values that are consistent with their interests and reality. When people reverse this process, that's when things go haywire, and they become quite unhappy - and in failing to recognize their own ignorance and irrationality, will typically blame money [or anything, except their own faulty cognition] for their problems. Classic case of evasion via transference. In fearing to judge themselves as immoral or irrational, they hinder their own growth.




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Coffee should be black as hell, strong as death, and sweet as love.


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InvisibleVeritas
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Re: Epicurus: Types of Desires [Re: SkorpivoMusterion]
    #5601943 - 05/07/06 07:53 PM (15 years, 6 months ago)

I think that the concept of "enough" is important when dealing with what Epicurus called "vain" desires.  It seems to me that our idea of what constitutes enough is always just a little more than what we currently have, keeping that carrot just beyond our reach, postponing enjoyment of our circumstances, putting off happiness for that time when we have more money, more fame, more power.

I agree that security is beneficial, and can support the fulfillment of other "natural" desires, but without the limit of "enough," the pursuit of wealth, fame & power is an empty distraction from the simple enjoyment of being alive.

Quote:

And we also have financial power - should the single mother who is underpaid, underappreciated and over-worked, not seek out financial success by virtue of establishing a high-growth venture with her family members, which enables her to pursue her higher-potential developments, both inside and outside her family?




You've been paying attention to my posts...;)


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InvisibleSkorpivoMusterion
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Re: Epicurus: Types of Desires [Re: Veritas]
    #5602333 - 05/07/06 09:45 PM (15 years, 6 months ago)

It seems to me that our idea of what constitutes enough is always just a little more than what we currently have

And might I add, this seems to be the concept of "enough" to One who is aiming with no target with which to aim. But that isn't to say that One who does have a specific, attainable target of happiness, won't have further targets with which to aim One's own focus, volition and productive power towards. This is an inevitability due to the continuous motion of Life; of constant changes, however slow or fast. Reality necessitates the need for constant growth; and, providing One’s rational faculty is well developed, reality also facilitates constant growth. This doesn’t mean that One will never reach maturity, but rather that One’s maturity [when developed] can be sustained and stimulated.


I agree that security is beneficial, and can support the fulfillment of other "natural" desires, but without the limit of "enough," the pursuit of wealth, fame & power is an empty distraction from the simple enjoyment of being alive.

I am reminded of a dialogue that occurred between me and Jiggy. She said something along the lines of: “There is never enough flowers for me to enjoy. That is irrational.”

To which I responded: “You mean, you take endless amounts of selfish pleasure in viewing flowers? Nothing irrational about that.”

Now let’s apply this to wealth: Instead of viewing wealth as a static, zero-sum quantity, One can realize that wealth is actually produced, and that wealth, like love, is an infinite value to be earned [by virtue of productiveness]. One can take endless amounts of selfish happiness in earning and producing wealth, and by virtue of such, support his life and enjoyment of such. In this radical, fundamental shift in perspective, One’s enjoyment of being alive is fostered, rather than vitiated; supported, rather than neglected; enriched, rather than weakened. In regards to various kinds of wealth mentioned in this thread, I confidently speak from personal experience. :smile:


You've been paying attention to my posts...


I can't help but read quality posts.




--------------------
Coffee should be black as hell, strong as death, and sweet as love.


Edited by SkorpivoMusterion (05/07/06 09:54 PM)


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InvisibleVeritas
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Re: Epicurus: Types of Desires [Re: SkorpivoMusterion]
    #5602479 - 05/07/06 10:26 PM (15 years, 6 months ago)

Quote:

wealth, like love, is an infinite value to be earned




Do we need to earn love?


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InvisibleSkorpivoMusterion
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Re: Epicurus: Types of Desires [Re: Veritas]
    #5602532 - 05/07/06 10:40 PM (15 years, 6 months ago)

If we are to define or describe love as admiration, respect, affection, honor, and deeply personal bond with and for another, then yes - I most certianly view love as something to be earned, not given out to all and anyone. On the extreme end, one who attempts to destroy my life, is not someone I love. In the more common end, one who is a total stranger, is not one I love either - but, that doesn't mean that I don't respect that individual either. In those cases, I give them the respect of "tabula rasa", yet at the same time, the tentative judgment that they are a rational individual - a form of justice. In the other end, there are those who are directly involved in my life, whom, by virtue of living their own lives in their own rational way and in accordance with their fruitful values and virtues, offer a great presence in my life. Hence, over time, they've earned my love for them, in a myriad of respects - and vice versa, as well. Our love is strengthened by our harmonious interactions with each other, which can [and does] create a special bond between us that no one else shares - otherwise, it wouldn't be special. The essence of what I'm saying can be summarized as: I love my close ones not for what they say or think, but what they do.




--------------------
Coffee should be black as hell, strong as death, and sweet as love.


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InvisibleIcelander
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Re: Epicurus: Types of Desires [Re: SkorpivoMusterion]
    #5602596 - 05/07/06 10:55 PM (15 years, 6 months ago)

I see clearly what you are saying. Veritas I predict will not view love exclusively in that way nor do I.

Maybe there are levels at which on perceives love. There is a type of love that is based on what I would call Taoist principles. That type of love is constant and extends to everything in the world good and bad, only because it sees the greater reality beneath the surface. Energy/Love, flowing (expressing fulfillment) or stagnant (expressing discord), but energy none the less. Eternal, Ultimate, Tao.


--------------------
"Don't believe everything you think". -Anom.

" All that lives was born to die"-Anom.

With much wisdom comes much sorrow,
The more knowledge, the more grief.
Ecclesiastes circa 350 BC


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Invisibledblaney
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Re: Epicurus: Types of Desires [Re: Veritas]
    #5604329 - 05/08/06 11:31 AM (15 years, 6 months ago)

My criticism of epicureanism is as follows. With epicurean thinking, one tries to minimise misery and suffering through a few rational means, such as not following "vain and empty" desires. As a result, one is less miserable and is suffering less. And so one feels, relatively speaking, happier. But this is the problem! Happiness that is relative/depends on something else (such as the lack of much suffering) is not true happiness. True happiness is constant and independent of everything. Everyone has true happiness, but not everyone unveils it. If one is truly happy, then no matter what happens, one will be truly happy. In sickness, one will be truly happy. In health, one will be truly happy. In suffering, one will be truly happy. True happiness is the natural state of our being, just as is health. You don't go to the doctor and ask him why you're healthy, but you do go to the doctor when you are unhealthy. Not being healthy is unnatural. Not being happy is likewise unnatural.

True happiness and contentedness do not lead to stagnation and doing absolutely nothing. This is a very important point. With true happiness comes true compassion, which means that one strives to help others unveil their true happiness. Which means that one takes care of themselves and of others.

Happiness that is caused by something or that depends on the fruit of action is only a small glimpse of true happiness.


--------------------
"What is in us that turns a deaf ear to the cries of human suffering?"

"Belief is a beautiful armor
But makes for the heaviest sword"
- John Mayer

Making the noise "penicillin" is no substitute for actually taking penicillin.

"This country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit it. Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing government, they can exercise their constitutional right of amending it, or their revolutionary right to dismember or overthrow it." -Abraham Lincoln


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Offlinefireworks_godS
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Re: Epicurus: Types of Desires [Re: dblaney]
    #5604345 - 05/08/06 11:34 AM (15 years, 6 months ago)

Good points. :thumbup:

:headbang: :sun: :headbang: :satansmoking:
Peace. :mushroom2:


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If I should die this very moment
I wouldn't fear
For I've never known completeness
Like being here
Wrapped in the warmth of you
Loving every breath of you

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Invisibledblaney
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Re: Epicurus: Types of Desires [Re: fireworks_god]
    #5604358 - 05/08/06 11:41 AM (15 years, 6 months ago)

Thanks :grin:

This actually works out really well because we're just finishing up discussing ancient cynicism in my philosophy class and we're about to start epicureanism.

Frankly, ancient cynics sound pretty funny.


--------------------
"What is in us that turns a deaf ear to the cries of human suffering?"

"Belief is a beautiful armor
But makes for the heaviest sword"
- John Mayer

Making the noise "penicillin" is no substitute for actually taking penicillin.

"This country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit it. Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing government, they can exercise their constitutional right of amending it, or their revolutionary right to dismember or overthrow it." -Abraham Lincoln


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