is the denial of self a better way to live than the pursuit of pleasure and contentment?
is control of ones’ mind and emotion healthier than seeking happiness?
what is a better end: virtue or freedom from pain?
Stoicism and a virtuous life is best. Freedom from pain is impossible. Pain is inevitable, and if you spend your life trying to avoid and resist it, it’s going to make it that much worse when it comes. Constantly chasing pleasure leads to burnout, because we weren’t made to feel pleasure constantly. It’s like tolerance to a drug: the more you use, the more you need to feel good.
Forget about pleasure and pain. They’re transient feelings that come and go like clouds in the sky. Living a life for something higher than yourself is the best and most noble thing a person can do.
Constantly chasing pleasure leads to burnout, because we weren’t made to feel pleasure constantly.
Living a life for something higher than yourself is the best and most noble thing a person can do.
but why? says who? according to what?
I think the proof of the points I made can be found by simply observing reality. Everyone I’ve ever known or encountered whose main focus in life is “finding happiness” or chasing constant pleasure is miserable. They become so singularly focused on feeling good and happy that when the slightest thing throws them off, they lose their minds.
It sounds cliche to say this, but every pleasurable thing used or done or taken in excess becomes a source of pain. Heroin feels really good when you use it. Heroin users are chasing the pleasure of the high so they can feel good all of the time and never have to feel bad, and they disregard everything else that might distract them from that pursuit. Is that good for them? And is that a lifestyle one should aim to imitate? Sex is very pleasurable, too. So porn stars should have great lives, right? So why do so many of them commit suicide?
The single minded pursuit of pleasure and avoidance of pain is not feasible. It truly is impossible to avoid the less pleasurable, more “negative” emotions in life. You are 100% going to feel sadness, grief, pain, anger, frustration, and loss. The more you try to avoid these emotions, the harder it will be to deal with them when they inevitably come. Stoicism teaches to not worry about the things that might cause you to feel this way, but to control your reactions to your emotions. When you realize that pain is just as fleeting as pleasure, and vice-versa, you can let go of your attachments to all these feelings, which leads to a deeper inner peace that no feelings of pleasure can match.
I think the proof that living for a higher purpose is the best way to live can be found in observing the world around you as well. Compare the life of a woman who lived to be 91 years-old, had a large family, including great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren, and died surrounded by people she loved and who loved her, to the life of a used up porn star slut who committed suicide at age 23. The woman who had a large family concerned herself with giving her children and husband a good life filled with happy and meaningful memories, even through the painful and sorrowful times, and the other chased the pleasure of sex with lots of people so she could always feel good and never feel bad. Do you think the porn star lived a better life? If chasing momentary pleasure is so great, why did she commit suicide? I feel the answer is obvious.
this is anecdotal though. ive encountered people who were miserable because of their pursuit if virtue. that doesnt mean stoicism ought to be thrown out.
going directly to heroine is slightly absurd and unfair. the key point of epicureanism is pleasure with sound judgement in the pursuit of tranquility while enjoying freedom from want. read the philosophy. youre describing hedonism, not epicureanism. having your shit pushed by a team of mandingos, developing an STD at 28, and killing yourself has nothing to do with sound judgement or a tranquil life. also “every pleasurable thing used or done or taken in excess becomes a source of pain” is not self-evident.
but what about the people who havent found deep inner peace in the pursuit of virtue? and why is it better to react (or not) to pain rather than minimize it? again, read the text. it’s not about the avoidance of pain, but the minimization of pain. who doesnt want to minimize the amount of damage or potential for damage in their lives? moreover, what if i dont want to detach myself from my emotions? what if i enjoy the roller coaster?
again this is an absolutely absurd hypothetical. how does stocism lead a woman to live to 91 with a rich full life, while the other doesnt? you’re positing hedonism again btw. epicurus did not peddle hedonism. i mean, what about islam? they live for a higher purpose. are you going to tell me a muslim is happier and more virtuous than me or whoever because they serve some shitty iron age diety and i dont?
btw, you can pursue a higher purpose while still pursuing pleasure. life is not binary or black & white. nothing prevents me from serving in the military or starting an NGO. you seem to be confusing and mixing ideas. please elaborate without shitty hypotheticals that are anecdotal or unverifiable.
don’t fight, come on
it’s not fighting. it’s deconstructing ideas.
I see them as two sides of the same coin. Each reacts to the inevitable suffering of life. Epicureanism attempts to overcome suffering by cultivating a greater amount of pleasure that will outweigh the pain of life. Stoicism attempts to redirect suffering by giving it a purpose viz. the cultivation of virtue, which will itself inculcate rationality and thereby resilience towards the pain of life. Ultimately, the both of them failed to transform their culture and died out.
Now they are each experiencing a resurgence because they are well-suited both to materialism and individualism. Western culture has forgotten how to resolve individual suffering through community; without the harmony of the community a person is left to write their own resolution. This is really, really difficult to do. It is a laborious and time-consuming process that will involve a substantial amount of suffering in and of itself. What is a person left to do with their pain then? There are only two options: suck it up, or stay the hell away from it, i.e. Stoicism and Epicureanism.
Stoicism and Epicureanism have had their day in the sun, and any attempt to revive or sustain them at this point is lifeless and decadent. Neither address the peculiar suffering of our age or offer any way forward. It is not surprising, then, to see so many opting for the unspoken third option: the lulling numb of opium/alcohol/sex etc.
“Who still thinks there is some device (if only he could find it) which will make pain not to be pain. It doesn’t really matter whether you grip the arms of the dentist’s chair or let your hands lie in your lap. The drill drills on.”
What about cynicism - stoicism’s cooler older brother?
The sad part is that i think someone like myself is more likely to fall into that unspoken third option than someone who sees the word like HeartAche. But i still don think stoicism is necessarily the right reaction to life.
So is there no perfect reaction to life? stoicism, epicurean, atheism, theism. does all leave one unsatisfied? is life ultimately one big let down devoid of satisfaction or fulfillment? obviously with the exception of a many Few.
absolutely, spectacularly, unbelievably, out-of-this-world B A S T E
This is essentially the conclusion I came to when thinking of a reply. You’re right. Life is not binary (except for genders of course, LOL.) You don’t have to pick one or the other.
It doesn’t have to be that way. You are what you think. You weren’t born to take the third option, you just feel that way now because you think that “someone like myself is more likely to fall into that.” You can see the world any way you choose. I wasn’t born feeling the way I do now. Ten years ago, I wanted to die before I turn 35. I didn’t like feeling that way, so I set about changing it. I’m now 29 and I feel like the best part of my life is just beginning.
There is no one-size-fits-all, perfect reaction to life. But there is something that works best for you. You have to learn to know yourself to know what works for you, and that takes a lot of time.
All of these philosophies, and many more, have varying amounts of gold and lead within them. For a lot of people, especially the normies, just choosing one of them will work just fine. If you’re a thinking person, you’ll need to study them closer and choose the parts that work for you, or make sense to you, and discard the rest to form your own views on life.
I think the stoic/virtue one is the most accepted