Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 09-18-2019, 04:36 PM
CC is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: not elsewhere
Posts: 4,410

What's the root of the opprobrium against desiring pleasure?


In Wiki, I see references to this in early Greeks. (Walter von der Vogleweider says there were no late Greeks) The bible is full of injunctions about going too far. But why? How is pleasure seeking anyone's problem? Or is this the early notion that if you just play video games you won't do your homework? It takes you away from what you "ought" to be doing, i.e. praying? This goes way back. I don't get it.
  #2  
Old 09-18-2019, 04:55 PM
Thudlow Boink's Avatar
Thudlow Boink is online now
Charter Member
 
Join Date: May 2000
Location: Lincoln, IL
Posts: 27,537
Do you have some specific examples you could cite, from the early Greeks, the Bible, or other ancient texts?

I looked up hedonism on Wikipedia in case it might shed some light on your question. There's a fair amount on the pursuit of pleasure itself, but what little it says about criticism of hedonism is mostly fairly recent.
  #3  
Old 09-18-2019, 05:04 PM
PastTense is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2013
Posts: 7,726
Religion.
  #4  
Old 09-18-2019, 05:39 PM
Ulfreida is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2011
Location: pangolandia
Posts: 3,590
Wild guess: There is a constant tension/balance in any human unit larger than one, between the needs of the community (the greater good) and the desires of the individual. They are often quite opposed to each other, and yet without community humans cannot survive.

As the possibly apocryphal Navaho malediction against acting selfishly goes, "he acts like he has no family".
  #5  
Old 09-18-2019, 05:42 PM
DPRK is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: May 2016
Posts: 3,811
Quote:
Originally Posted by CC View Post
In Wiki, I see references to this in early Greeks. (Walter von der Vogleweider says there were no late Greeks) The bible is full of injunctions about going too far. But why? How is pleasure seeking anyone's problem? Or is this the early notion that if you just play video games you won't do your homework? It takes you away from what you "ought" to be doing, i.e. praying? This goes way back. I don't get it.
"Fat, drunk, and stupid is no way to go through life, son."
  #6  
Old 09-18-2019, 09:06 PM
mbh is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2000
Posts: 4,782
Quote:
Originally Posted by CC View Post
How is pleasure seeking anyone's problem?
If your pursuit of pleasure contributes to a STD epidemic, that's the community's problem.

If you are incapable of supporting your out-of-wedlock children, and your ex-lovers fall into poverty, that's the community's problem.

If you and your partner start fighting, and the police have to intervene, that's the community's problem.

If pursuit of chemical pleasure turns you into an addict who turns to crime to support his habit, that's the community's problem.
  #7  
Old 09-18-2019, 09:21 PM
Wesley Clark is offline
2018 Midterm Prediction Winner
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 22,334
Quote:
Originally Posted by Thudlow Boink View Post
Do you have some specific examples you could cite, from the early Greeks, the Bible, or other ancient texts?

I looked up hedonism on Wikipedia in case it might shed some light on your question. There's a fair amount on the pursuit of pleasure itself, but what little it says about criticism of hedonism is mostly fairly recent.
In modern times people can get very upset when people are slothful, gluttonous, lazy, play video games, etc. They want life to be an intentional, spartan, conscious effort.
__________________
Sometimes I doubt your commitment to sparkle motion

Last edited by Wesley Clark; 09-18-2019 at 09:21 PM.
  #8  
Old 09-18-2019, 11:05 PM
Roderick Femm's Avatar
Roderick Femm is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: On the cusp, also in SF
Posts: 7,256
Quote:
Originally Posted by CC View Post
How is pleasure seeking anyone's problem?
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ulfreida View Post
Wild guess: There is a constant tension/balance in any human unit larger than one, between the needs of the community (the greater good) and the desires of the individual. They are often quite opposed to each other, and yet without community humans cannot survive.

As the possibly apocryphal Navaho malediction against acting selfishly goes, "he acts like he has no family".
I think the problem is there even with just one individual. The question for me is not so much should you ever seek pleasure, but rather what else are you also doing with your life?

Pleasure by itself soon palls and wears.

If you are seeking pleasure in lieu of doing the minimum to keep your life together, you will not survive.

If you are seeking pleasure and only doing the minimum to keep your life together, you will not thrive.

There is much joy to be gotten in the world, and relatively little of it comes from seeking pleasure. Example: you are having sex with the person you love, and you are both getting great pleasure from it. That pleasure derives from so much more than the physical act, it derives from the relationship and the work you have done to make it a good one. If all you look for in a SO is good sex, you are doomed to a life of disappointment.

From my perspective of 70 years, I look back at the events and deeds of my life, and those associated with pleasure-seeking for its own sake are among the least interesting and the least enjoyable to recall.

TL;DR version: there's nothing morally wrong with seeking and/or getting pleasure out of life, but there is so much more to life than seeking and/or getting pleasure. The last part of this, at least, has been taught in virtually every culture in one way or another.
  #9  
Old 09-19-2019, 12:22 AM
Flyer is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2012
Location: Colorado
Posts: 3,345
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wesley Clark View Post
In modern times people can get very upset when people are slothful, gluttonous, lazy, play video games, etc. They want life to be an intentional, spartan, conscious effort.
I had no idea that Sparta was such a modern city. Have you told them about this?
  #10  
Old 09-19-2019, 03:49 AM
Melbourne is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
Posts: 5,322
There is a thread in Christianity (which I'm too old and stupid to describe properly), in which things over which it is difficult to exert self-control, are bad. Not the only idea in Christianity, just one thread from some people in the history of the church.

So, say you think gambling is a bad idea, because you always loose money. But you can't stop. It's the can't stop bit which transforms it into a moral issue The more you fail to control you thoughts and actions, the worse you consider the thoughts and actions you can't control.

I'm not a scholar, but I think the reason St Augustine was so influential is because people agreed with him.

(In my branch of the church, nobody thought sex was bad. To be enjoyed to the glory of God.)

Last edited by Melbourne; 09-19-2019 at 03:50 AM.
  #11  
Old 09-19-2019, 05:48 AM
Chronos's Avatar
Chronos is offline
Charter Member
Moderator
 
Join Date: Jan 2000
Location: The Land of Cleves
Posts: 85,050
[Moderating]

A topic as subjective as this doesn't really fit in GQ. Moving to IMHO.
  #12  
Old 09-19-2019, 05:57 AM
Machine Elf is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Challenger Deep
Posts: 12,256
Quote:
Originally Posted by Flyer View Post
I had no idea that Sparta was such a modern city. Have you told them about this?
You've never seen "spartan" used this way?
  #13  
Old 09-19-2019, 06:53 AM
Manda JO is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jul 1999
Posts: 11,432
I tend to be in the school that says that raw pleasure is a poor purpose in life, and that a better life is one that has more meaning, more impact. I want to matter.
  #14  
Old 09-19-2019, 07:14 AM
Machine Elf is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Challenger Deep
Posts: 12,256
Quote:
Originally Posted by Manda JO View Post
I tend to be in the school that says that raw pleasure is a poor purpose in life, and that a better life is one that has more meaning, more impact. I want to matter.
It's fine for a person to say that hedonism doesn't work for them, but I think the OP is asking why people would be critical of others who seek pleasure.
  #15  
Old 09-19-2019, 07:46 AM
Thudlow Boink's Avatar
Thudlow Boink is online now
Charter Member
 
Join Date: May 2000
Location: Lincoln, IL
Posts: 27,537
Quote:
Originally Posted by Melbourne View Post
There is a thread in Christianity (which I'm too old and stupid to describe properly), in which things over which it is difficult to exert self-control, are bad.
I suspect it's a thread in any major religion or philosophy with a strong moral component.


To the OP: No one has to tell people, "Desire pleasure." It's natural, almost tautological, to desire what feels good.

But there are dangers and downsides to seeking pleasure, some of which have already been mentioned in this thread: neglect of what one needs to do for oneself or one's community to survive; the danger of addiction or loss of self-control; the paradox of hedonism (that actively seeking pleasure may not yield the most pleasure or happiness in the long run); et al. Hence, warning against such dangers and downsides. And if the wanrer or the warnee oversimplifies, such warnings can come across as condemations of pleasure per se.
  #16  
Old 09-19-2019, 07:51 AM
Inigo Montoya's Avatar
Inigo Montoya is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: On the level, if inclined
Posts: 16,100
Quote:
Originally Posted by Machine Elf View Post
It's fine for a person to say that hedonism doesn't work for them, but I think the OP is asking why people would be critical of others who seek pleasure.
Projection, plain and simple. The greatest morality critics seemingly always end up falling to the evil they've spent their lives preaching against. THEY think something is a problem for everyone because it is a problem for THEM.
  #17  
Old 09-19-2019, 08:06 AM
CC is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: not elsewhere
Posts: 4,410
Nope - I'm asking what is behind the age old prohibition or tendency to limit desire? It's old. (Thudlow Boink - one reference for you: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Temperance_(virtue)). So far, I see an indication that society may find individual desire objectionable because it may be seen as diverting attention from the common good. But it feels as if there's something deeper in most prohibitions or admonitions against desire - something that says it's...unseemly to have desire (for pleasure). It's apparently seen as inherently wrong, and I don't really understand what's behind that. I read that Buddha said that desire was the cause of suffering, but I wonder how he arrived at that notion. Why not, say, anger, or hatred?
  #18  
Old 09-19-2019, 08:13 AM
Inner Stickler's Avatar
Inner Stickler is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: Minnesota
Posts: 15,133
Quote:
Originally Posted by CC View Post
In Wiki, I see references to this in early Greeks. (Walter von der Vogleweider says there were no late Greeks) The bible is full of injunctions about going too far. But why? How is pleasure seeking anyone's problem? Or is this the early notion that if you just play video games you won't do your homework? It takes you away from what you "ought" to be doing, i.e. praying? This goes way back. I don't get it.
I think a lot of people divide pleasure into two categories. The first is what you might call venial pleasures: eating and drinking to excess, having sex, tripping balls, etc. The problem with these is that overindulging (or even just indulging) makes you feel worse - bloated, nauseous, headachy, riddled with disease and so on. The second set of pleasures are the, I dunno, intellectual pleasures: figuring out a tricky math problem, going for a brisk jog, taking an art class. These usually take more effort and may even in the moment not really be 'fun' but the pleasure of succeeding at them is longer-lasting and not usually something it feels like you can overindulge in. Antipathy to pleasure is usually directed at the first category because it's seen as a false path to happiness.
  #19  
Old 09-19-2019, 08:40 AM
monstro is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Richmond, VA
Posts: 20,713
Quote:
Originally Posted by Machine Elf View Post
It's fine for a person to say that hedonism doesn't work for them, but I think the OP is asking why people would be critical of others who seek pleasure.
I think it is because people in general believe that service to others is a virtue, and it is hard for many people to imagine a hedonistic servant. The person who lives to make others happy is a more remarkable person and than the person who lives to make only him or herself happy. The first is not necessarily more valuable than the second, but they are definitely more likely to leave a positive impression on those around them.

Sent from my moto x4 using Tapatalk
__________________
What the hell is a signature?
  #20  
Old 09-19-2019, 08:50 AM
Jasmine's Avatar
Jasmine is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jul 1999
Location: Chicagoland
Posts: 2,240
Hedonism

Actually, Hedonism goes all the way back to the Sumerians as seen in The Epic of Gilgamesh. However, the term is derived from the Greeks who viewed Hedonism as anti-intellectual, selfish, and shallow.


Quote:
Cyrenaicism deduces a single, universal aim for all people which is pleasure. Furthermore, all feeling is momentary and homogeneous. It follows that past and future pleasure have no real existence for us, and that among present pleasures there is no distinction of kind.[11] Socrates had spoken of the higher pleasures of the intellect; the Cyrenaics denied the validity of this distinction and said that bodily pleasures, being more simple and more intense, were preferable.[12] Momentary pleasure, preferably of a physical kind, is the only good for humans. However some actions which give immediate pleasure can create more than their equivalent of pain. The wise person should be in control of pleasures rather than be enslaved to them, otherwise pain will result, and this requires judgement to evaluate the different pleasures of life.[13] Regard should be paid to law and custom, because even though these things have no intrinsic value on their own, violating them will lead to unpleasant penalties being imposed by others.[12] Likewise, friendship and justice are useful because of the pleasure they provide.[12] Thus the Cyrenaics believed in the hedonistic value of social obligation and altruistic behaviour.
__________________
"The greatest obstacle to discovery is not ignorance -- it is the illusion of knowledge."
--Daniel J Boorstin
  #21  
Old 09-19-2019, 09:11 AM
bump is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Jun 2000
Location: Dallas, TX
Posts: 18,398
Quote:
Originally Posted by Machine Elf View Post
It's fine for a person to say that hedonism doesn't work for them, but I think the OP is asking why people would be critical of others who seek pleasure.
That's really it- there seems to be a contingent of people who are the No Fun Police, and have this viewpoint that if you don't just wholeheartedly embrace the unpleasant and stressful aspects of adult life as your primary goal, then you're somehow being childish and irresponsible.

It's like they're making the assumption that if you choose to prioritize fun vs. responsibilty, that you're necessarily being irresponsible. Which isn't so; there's always something that needs doing (especially if you're a homeowner), but putting off replacing the fascia vents for a few months because you'd rather go fishing on summer weekends doesn't equate to irresponsibility as long as you're not somehow destroying your home in the process.

But they don't see it that way- they see someone who's shirking a responsibility in favor of fishing, rather than the (more sane, IMO) person who's weighing the consequences and deciding that fishing is the better option.
  #22  
Old 09-19-2019, 09:16 AM
Thudlow Boink's Avatar
Thudlow Boink is online now
Charter Member
 
Join Date: May 2000
Location: Lincoln, IL
Posts: 27,537
Quote:
Originally Posted by CC View Post
(Thudlow Boink - one reference for you: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Temperance_(virtue)).
As I understand it, temperance isn't about desire being bad. It's about moderation, and about you being in control vs. the desire being in control.

Quote:
I read that Buddha said that desire was the cause of suffering, but I wonder how he arrived at that notion. Why not, say, anger, or hatred?
Anger or hatred can certainly involve desire: desire for revenge, for example. Not all desire is pleasure-related.
  #23  
Old 09-19-2019, 09:19 AM
Thudlow Boink's Avatar
Thudlow Boink is online now
Charter Member
 
Join Date: May 2000
Location: Lincoln, IL
Posts: 27,537
Quote:
Originally Posted by bump View Post
It's like they're making the assumption that if you choose to prioritize fun vs. responsibilty, that you're necessarily being irresponsible. Which isn't so; there's always something that needs doing (especially if you're a homeowner), but putting off replacing the fascia vents for a few months because you'd rather go fishing on summer weekends doesn't equate to irresponsibility as long as you're not somehow destroying your home in the process.

But they don't see it that way- they see someone who's shirking a responsibility in favor of fishing, rather than the (more sane, IMO) person who's weighing the consequences and deciding that fishing is the better option.
And that's where temperance or moderation may come in. Are you always replacing the fascia vents? Are you always going fishing? Or are you finding a balance?
  #24  
Old 09-19-2019, 09:27 AM
thorny locust's Avatar
thorny locust is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 2019
Location: Upstate New York
Posts: 1,259
And heaven forbid that you might just lie down in the grass on a nice sunny day and let your mind wander for a while. Especially if you're an adult; but to some extent even if you're six.
  #25  
Old 09-19-2019, 09:31 AM
Machine Elf is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Challenger Deep
Posts: 12,256
Quote:
Originally Posted by monstro View Post
I think it is because people in general believe that service to others is a virtue, and it is hard for many people to imagine a hedonistic servant. The person who lives to make others happy is a more remarkable person and than the person who lives to make only him or herself happy. The first is not necessarily more valuable than the second, but they are definitely more likely to leave a positive impression on those around them.
This would support a position of indifference toward hedonists - not the hostility the OP sees.
  #26  
Old 09-19-2019, 09:56 AM
monstro is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Richmond, VA
Posts: 20,713
Quote:
Originally Posted by Machine Elf View Post
This would support a position of indifference toward hedonists - not the hostility the OP sees.
Well, if people are programmed with the notion that it is good to put others ahead of oneself, then the implicit message is that putting oneself above others is bad. And of course bad things invite hostility.

Sent from my moto x4 using Tapatalk
__________________
What the hell is a signature?
  #27  
Old 09-19-2019, 11:26 AM
bump is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Jun 2000
Location: Dallas, TX
Posts: 18,398
Quote:
Originally Posted by Thudlow Boink View Post
And that's where temperance or moderation may come in. Are you always replacing the fascia vents? Are you always going fishing? Or are you finding a balance?
Well yeah, that's what reasonable people think. But there is a big contingent of unreasonable people out there who are... dour and all work, no play, and have this feeling that a responsibility unfulfilled is an act of negligence, no matter how small or inconsequential.
  #28  
Old 09-19-2019, 01:03 PM
monstro is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Richmond, VA
Posts: 20,713
Quote:
Originally Posted by bump View Post
Well yeah, that's what reasonable people think. But there is a big contingent of unreasonable people out there who are... dour and all work, no play, and have this feeling that a responsibility unfulfilled is an act of negligence, no matter how small or inconsequential.
There is also a big contingent of people who think there is something wrong with you if you aren't constantly pursuing pleasure. All the preaching to "do what you love" and "find your passion" sounds like mindless blahblahblah to folks who are OK with being somewhere in the gray swath between misery and ecstasy. Personally, I have to run into more smugness from pleasure-seekers than their opposites.

Sent from my moto x4 using Tapatalk
__________________
What the hell is a signature?
  #29  
Old 09-19-2019, 01:03 PM
StusBlues is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: Omaha, NE
Posts: 4,649
My assumption is that pleasure is downplayed because many if not most pleasurable things come at the cost of necessary things. One who pursues pleasure excessively may neglect things that are necessary for sustaining their own lives, preparing for retirement, and providing for their family. It's the grasshopper and the ant thing; if you spend $3,000 on a vacation, that is money you might need for your kids' college, home repair, or basic needs when you no longer have an income.
__________________
"I'm scared, sir." --Lieutenant George St Barleigh

"How much easier life would be if people asked outright and took no for an answer." --Annie Xmas
  #30  
Old 09-19-2019, 01:49 PM
CookingWithGas's Avatar
CookingWithGas is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Mar 1999
Location: Tysons Corner, VA, USA
Posts: 13,403
If you spend your life chasing hookers and blow, then you are not working. If you are not working, you are not making a contribution to the community. Some have extrapolated this to a moral extreme to suggest that all pleasure for its own sake is sinful.
__________________
Making the world a better place one fret at a time.
| | |會 |會 |會 |會 | |:| | |會 |會
  #31  
Old 09-19-2019, 04:00 PM
ftg's Avatar
ftg is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: Not the PNW :-(
Posts: 20,275
I think it's pretty simple from the viewpoint of people in the Middle Ages and such.

Throwing away your money on fun stuff? That's money that could go into the alms box.

Wasting time doing fun stuff? That's time you can spend working either to improve your own family's life or to help others.

And in particular, giving stuff/time to the church in some form or another was a good way to grease the way in the afterlife.

Note that these rules only applied to the hoi polloi. If you were the king or bishop, having gold all around and being idle most of the time was perfectly a-okay.
  #32  
Old 09-19-2019, 05:30 PM
PastTense is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2013
Posts: 7,726
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wesley Clark View Post
In modern times people can get very upset when people are slothful, gluttonous, lazy, play video games, etc. They want life to be an intentional, spartan, conscious effort.
Spartan?

Spartan means "showing the indifference to comfort or luxury traditionally associated with ancient Sparta."

In contrast modern times is heavily based on conspicuous consumption ("keeping up with the Jones").
  #33  
Old 09-19-2019, 11:56 PM
Flyer is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2012
Location: Colorado
Posts: 3,345
Quote:
Originally Posted by Machine Elf View Post
You've never seen "spartan" used this way?
You obviously missed the "in modern times" part of what I was quoting.
  #34  
Old 09-20-2019, 03:01 AM
Sangahyando is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2015
Posts: 2,457
Quote:
Originally Posted by ftg View Post
I think it's pretty simple from the viewpoint of people in the Middle Ages and such.

Throwing away your money on fun stuff? That's money that could go into the alms box.

Wasting time doing fun stuff? That's time you can spend working either to improve your own family's life or to help others.

And in particular, giving stuff/time to the church in some form or another was a good way to grease the way in the afterlife.

Note that these rules only applied to the hoi polloi. If you were the king or bishop, having gold all around and being idle most of the time was perfectly a-okay.
(My bolding) -- while this is, unfortunately, the way human beings tend to "roll"; in fairness, a good and conscientious king or bishop or other person in high office, would spend a great deal of time working.
  #35  
Old 09-20-2019, 07:10 AM
WilliamWilsonsDoppelgaenger is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 2010
Posts: 26
I just wanted to note that this negative view of pleasure seeking has already been discussed and criticized in antiquity. As it happens, the "lorem ipsum" filler text is based on a some paragraphs from Cicero on exactly this topic:

Quote:
But I must explain to you how all this mistaken idea of denouncing of a pleasure and praising pain was born and I will give you a complete account of the system, and expound the actual teachings of the great explorer of the truth, the master-builder of human happiness. No one rejects, dislikes, or avoids pleasure itself, because it is pleasure, but because those who do not know how to pursue pleasure rationally encounter consequences that are extremely painful. ...
See here for the full text: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lorem_ipsum#Source_text
  #36  
Old 09-20-2019, 08:18 AM
bump is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Jun 2000
Location: Dallas, TX
Posts: 18,398
Quote:
Originally Posted by StusBlues View Post
My assumption is that pleasure is downplayed because many if not most pleasurable things come at the cost of necessary things. One who pursues pleasure excessively may neglect things that are necessary for sustaining their own lives, preparing for retirement, and providing for their family. It's the grasshopper and the ant thing; if you spend $3,000 on a vacation, that is money you might need for your kids' college, home repair, or basic needs when you no longer have an income.
Right- but some take it too far, and chop out the "excessively", and look at it like any moment you're not scraping to get ahead at work, or doing something "necessary", that you're de-facto performing an irresponsible act. I think we'd all agree that's a bit extreme.

That said, I do know where the attitude comes from- I recall my parents saying snide and grumpy things about some of my friends' parents who in their words "only want to play", when I was younger. At the time and for a long time after, I always had just ascribed it to sour grapes on my parents' part, as for a big piece of my youth, my parents didn't have a lot of money. But once my parents hit retirement age, they retired, and have enough money to live comfortably and cover all their needs. Meanwhile, some of those friends' parents are STILL working in their mid-70s because they didn't save adequately for retirement, presumably because they were buying boats, new cars, tricked-out hunting guns, hunting leases, etc... and going on long vacations, while my parents sucked it up and saved.

So I can see where the root of the attitude comes from, but I personally think there's probably an appropriate balance somewhere in there; my parents could have stood a little more enjoyment of their own along the line.
  #37  
Old 09-20-2019, 08:42 AM
thorny locust's Avatar
thorny locust is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 2019
Location: Upstate New York
Posts: 1,259
Quote:
Originally Posted by CC View Post
I read that Buddha said that desire was the cause of suffering, but I wonder how he arrived at that notion. Why not, say, anger, or hatred?
Coming back to this:

I'm neither a Buddhist nor an expert on Buddhism, and maybe somebody will chime in here who is. But it's my impression that the underlying idea is that if people didn't want anything, then there wouldn't be any suffering. If there's no food, but you didn't have any desire to eat, then you wouldn't suffer from the lack of food. If you're in pain or way too cold or way too hot, but you didn't desire to be comfortable, then you wouldn't suffer from the pain or the heat or the cold. If your child or parent or best friend died, but you didn't desire them to be alive, then you wouldn't suffer from their dying. And so on.

If people didn't want anything, I think that there would in short order be no people. But that's a different issue.
  #38  
Old 09-20-2019, 10:35 AM
CC is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: not elsewhere
Posts: 4,410
In my way of understanding the use of the terms, there has been for a long time an implied dishonor in the pursuit of pleasure, and it has been my interest in understanding how such a sentiment developed. One suggestion here is that such pursuit is seen as selfish, in that it redirects efforts away from the common good, just for the pleasure of the individual. It's anti-social. I'm more intrigued by the implication here that there is inherently something indecent in pursuing or even in desiring pleasure. One poster, and reading about temperance, has suggested that it is related to the notion of self-control. I take that to mean that "You shouldn't think about those things because if you do, you might lose control and not be able to check or regulate your impulses." But that, itself, may only betray someone else's lack of trust in his own self-control. And that just brings the question back to the original question - so what? Why would anyone care? Is there some sense of guilt embedded in desire? It's hard to make sense of this.
  #39  
Old 09-22-2019, 10:03 AM
thorny locust's Avatar
thorny locust is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 2019
Location: Upstate New York
Posts: 1,259
Quote:
Originally Posted by bump View Post
That said, I do know where the attitude comes from- I recall my parents saying snide and grumpy things about some of my friends' parents who in their words "only want to play", when I was younger. At the time and for a long time after, I always had just ascribed it to sour grapes on my parents' part, as for a big piece of my youth, my parents didn't have a lot of money. But once my parents hit retirement age, they retired, and have enough money to live comfortably and cover all their needs. Meanwhile, some of those friends' parents are STILL working in their mid-70s because they didn't save adequately for retirement, presumably because they were buying boats, new cars, tricked-out hunting guns, hunting leases, etc... and going on long vacations, while my parents sucked it up and saved.
Coming back to this one: I agree that a certain degree of providence for the future is a good idea. But I find it interesting that many people seem to take it for granted that one ought to trade roughly forty years or more of doing something one quite possibly detests, during all of one's young adulthood and middle age, in order to be able to do what one wants in old age -- for an unknown but almost certainly shorter length of time, during at least part of which one stands a good chance of no longer being physically able to do some of what's desired.

If I've traded a financially comfortable and financially unworried old age for doing the work I want to do during the years I'm able to do it: I think that's also a reasonable trade. If your parents' friends traded being able to go on vacations and go hunting and boating while they were young and healthy for being able to do so in old age, when possibly they're also healthy enough to do so but they might not be and/or easily might not have been: maybe they think that was a reasonable trade.

(The new cars I'm inclined to give you. But then, I think of cars purely as transportation.)
  #40  
Old 09-23-2019, 08:26 AM
bump is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Jun 2000
Location: Dallas, TX
Posts: 18,398
Quote:
Originally Posted by thorny locust View Post
Coming back to this one: I agree that a certain degree of providence for the future is a good idea. But I find it interesting that many people seem to take it for granted that one ought to trade roughly forty years or more of doing something one quite possibly detests, during all of one's young adulthood and middle age, in order to be able to do what one wants in old age -- for an unknown but almost certainly shorter length of time, during at least part of which one stands a good chance of no longer being physically able to do some of what's desired.

If I've traded a financially comfortable and financially unworried old age for doing the work I want to do during the years I'm able to do it: I think that's also a reasonable trade. If your parents' friends traded being able to go on vacations and go hunting and boating while they were young and healthy for being able to do so in old age, when possibly they're also healthy enough to do so but they might not be and/or easily might not have been: maybe they think that was a reasonable trade.

(The new cars I'm inclined to give you. But then, I think of cars purely as transportation.)
Oh yeah, personally, I advocate a balance. I think my parents were maybe a bit on the unyielding side when it came to that sort of thing, but my friends' parents were a little too similar to the Grasshopper in the fable as well.
  #41  
Old 09-23-2019, 06:48 PM
DPRK is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: May 2016
Posts: 3,811
Quote:
Originally Posted by CC View Post
In my way of understanding the use of the terms, there has been for a long time an implied dishonor in the pursuit of pleasure, and it has been my interest in understanding how such a sentiment developed. One suggestion here is that such pursuit is seen as selfish, in that it redirects efforts away from the common good, just for the pleasure of the individual. It's anti-social. I'm more intrigued by the implication here that there is inherently something indecent in pursuing or even in desiring pleasure. One poster, and reading about temperance, has suggested that it is related to the notion of self-control. I take that to mean that "You shouldn't think about those things because if you do, you might lose control and not be able to check or regulate your impulses." But that, itself, may only betray someone else's lack of trust in his own self-control. And that just brings the question back to the original question - so what? Why would anyone care? Is there some sense of guilt embedded in desire? It's hard to make sense of this.
I suppose a yogi might say something to the effect that there is nothing bad about seeking pleasure and enjoying life, but that such behavior will use up energy that you could otherwise spend meditating, and distract you from your personal spiritual development. It could be a personal thing, not necessarily some macro societal consideration.
Reply

Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 11:28 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2019, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: cecil@straightdope.com

Send comments about this website to: webmaster@straightdope.com

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Copyright 2019 STM Reader, LLC.

 
Copyright © 2017