I just read this piece of journalism and thought it was BS from top to bottom. Then again I am from the stone age of sexually expression that is, according to the article, the US of A in company with Great Brittan. What are your thoughts?
Hedone is just Greek for pleasure. It does not say you should be a pig, which is the kind of insult manly men think to sling, come to think of it.
It might be that for a human being, identifying the good with the pleasant might well be the rational thing to do. Certainly pleasure is spontaneous, whereas marriage has always depended on laws. Pleasure might therefore be more natural without the laws. The relative ranks of different pleasures, their costs & their contribution to happiness might be within the power of reason to calculate. At any rate, the original hedonists were all rational atheists, like Epicurus & Lucretius. They were not pigs.
It might be necessary to argue against them, & to do that you would have to argue that there is a problem with identifying the good with the pleasant, but it's not as easy as you make it seem.
1. I do not see why Epicurus would have distinguished base desire from noble desire. - You agree that noble is the opposite of base. - I do not see any basis for nobility in Epicurus' atheistic philosophy, because the equation of the pleasant & the good leads to a calculation of pleasure, which may reasonably be argued to have led Epicurus, as well Lucretius later, to conclude that philosophy is more reliably pleasurable than orgies. I do not expect this opinion to become incredibly popular...
But Epicurus does create a massive challenge for marriage. All the men who have answered here imply that there is a moral high station for marriage. Epicurus would simply deny that, partly because marriage is conventional, whereas sexual impulses are spontaneous & natural, partly because marriage brings a lot of suffering, whereas the reasonable man would choose pleasure, specifically those pleasures least alloyed with pain. I think you must allow, for the time being, that there is a desire for philosophy, just like there is for sex, & that philosophy is pleasurable, at least to the philosopher, as reasonably as sex is to human beings in general. It seems also obvious that different pleasures are to different extents dangerous, uncertain, subject to change, alloyed with pain - & therefore the safest is the truest. That may turn out to be philosophy, as Epicurus suggests.
2. How would marriage exist without a law providing for it? In what would marriage consist? How would anyone know it exists? I am aware that religious marriage & civil marriage are at odds in various ways, but this seems like the sort of strange thing to expect from latter-day liberalism. But throughout modern times, marriage was a matter of legislation. Mormons had to give up polygamy for Utah to come into the Union, I am advised... At the same time, laws about property & the rights of the people that come into marriage are obviously a matter for the law, to say nothing of the children born to married people.
1. All I can tell you is that I never see a point in deceiving people about philosophy; however, I am not a philosopher, so there are limits to what I see... It's good that you want to learn about these things. When you come to it, we could talk; until then, we can very well leave the philosophers aside.
2. The difference between the pleasurable & the painful is much more obvious & much less subjective than the difference between the noble & the base. First, all human beings are subject to pain & pleasure, but I am not sure all are aware of nobility, & therefore of baseness. In fact, I would start by saying that nobility is connected to the city, to politics, to heroes & gods in a way in which pleasure & pain is not.
3. About philosophy, you are plainly wrong. It is not true that humans are always already within ideology. The most you can say is that people are brought up in the conventions of their particular city; that seems obvious. But there has never been a city where the opinion of either rulers or ruled was that the greatest thing is philosophy. There probably never will be. The reliability of a pleasure is a matter of reasonable argument. Can a man secure it by himself, or does he need others, or other things also? Can he access it in a predictable manner, or is it beyond any control of his? Does it lead to pain or death or not? All these are reasonable questions & they form an obvious framework for the way of thinking of hedonism. But of course proving to a glutton that philosophy is more pleasurable may well be impossible; I would caution you not to mistake ideology or popular opinion or any such thing with the opinion of a man who thought for himself, because that is exceedingly rare; further, it is unreasonable to make the unreasoning the judges of reason, therefore only those people who reason about the question - how man ought to live - are, even provisionally, apt to discuss which pleasures are of highest rank.
4. You are right, I think, that desire & anger are natural & occur spontaneously in the human beings. Anger is the basis of jealousy; the necessity for laws about marriage is the necessity of preempting jealousy by giving a legal right to each spouse to each other's faithtfulness. The law is required because desire is not entirely reliable. A man may desire however many women in whatever succession. To trust to his reasonableness or his honor is only possible when it is reasonable to assume that some man or another in particular is honorable or reasonable. In order to avoid judging in each case, there is a law that protects all spouses. The problem you would face in defending marriage is considering whether it is not natural for desire to be aroused & then to disappear, satisfied or not. Also, there is nothing implied in sexual desire that carries on to children. A man may very well not love a child. There are laws to protect both women & children for that reason. Look at any community where sexual mores & the raising of children have abandoned the laws, the counter-example might be enough to chastize you, & then you might see the necessity of these laws.
5. The variety of the laws puts them into question, because they contradict each other. This is not to say none are good; but they must be tested reasonably in order to know which are good. Were there only one law, there would be nothing of which to think...
Excellent dialogue... a fine example of why I read AoM :)
I'm heartened to see I'm not the only one who finds this to be loopy avant garde wannabe tripe.
I'm so glad Righty never lets me down. Let's take a step back for a second. If any of us were in a position that allowed us to convince people that boning us regardless of marital status would make everyone happier, can we honestly say we wouldn't do the same?
I don't think we would. As has been pointed out, hedonism has been tried repeatedly throughout history and has proven a dismal failure; recently in the Decadent movement of the late 19th century and the Hippie experiments of the 60's for examples. Even the hero of that lifestyle, Oscar Wilde, came to realize toward the end of his days that such a life is ruinous to man and converted to Catholicism. So, despite what the shallow thinkers would have you believe, finding fulfillment in life is a bit more complicated than using ones pecker as a navigational device and the truth they abhor is that satisfaction actually comes from restraint and respecting conventional boundaries, marriage being one of the greatest.
Playing Devil's advocate a bit here, but the author seems to be arguing that marriage and commitment are good things, but that occasionally sticking it somewhere new and exciting should not be considered such a grave breach of confidence because it helps everyone.
How about we all agree to allow gay marriage as long as men are not allowed to marry other men and women are not allowed to marry other women.
But sticking it somewhere else is in violation of the concept of fidelity in marriage and by its very definition a breech of commitment. So it is only a good thing until it becomes tough then the author suggests you change the rules to make life easier.
Even if you take out the sexual betrayal of the marriage -- which you can't -- you're still dedicating time, money, affection, and attention to another woman rather than your wife.
Maybe you wouldn't need to go elsewhere to find affection if you were dedicating as much time and attention to your wife as you are to the other girl. Every time you're spending limited resources on her (time, sexual attention, money) ... you're taking something away from your marriage. Romance the girl you already have.
Just an altogether bad idea.
Even if you take out the sexual betrayal of the marriage -- which you can't
Betrayal requires a mutual agreement of fidelity. If the wife has no expectation of fidelity (e.g. if the terms of the marriage allow for both partners to have sexual encounters with others), there is no betrayal. That doesn't mean it is a good idea, however.