Quora Answer: Is there a problem with radical hedonism as a means to happiness?

Oct 18 2014

Hedonism is a severe reduction of what it is to be human to pain and pleasure. Basically it says that pleasure equals what is good and pain equals what is bad, or evil which ignores all the invisible aspects of existence that are implicit in our humanity. Plato calls these people the men of earth who only believe in what they can hold in their hands, i.e. they only believe in the sensible aspects of the world. Nietzsche calls them the last men, whose who are always blinking at what they see because they do not understand anything beyond what is immediately visible. He contrasts these with the uber mench who are those who are to come, for whom Zarathustra is waiting. Fundamentally there is a contrast between the Ubermench and those that are lost in transcendentals which do not exist. The ubermench are those who believe in immanent realities not illusory transcendental ones. Hegel calls the hedonists those who cling to “sense certainty” and do not understand philosophy at all, because all philosophy is about knowledge and wisdom which are things that are invisibles. So there is in fact nihilistic opposition between those immersed in sense certainty and those who are lost in ideals of illusions or ideologies which have no basis in reality. Nietzsche’s uber mench is one who tries to find a middle ground between these extremes who has within himself immanently the basis for valuing things that he creates for himself. The only real answer to this question has to be nondual, i.e. which sees value as coming neither from the Immanent nor the Transcendental. But Nietzsche thought there was a possibility of a mutation in humanity itself that would produce an immanent valuation criterion without reference to transcendentals.  Deleuze develops the same sort of position. We might call such a position a reflective hedonism, but that would still be a severe reductionism and contradictory when we think of other criteria like order, right, good and fate which are significant in our tradition as sources of the explanation of values.

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