Epicureanism and America

This article is interesting for a number of reasons.

In the good ol’ USA, it seems to me that pleasure is the end goal of most things. At some level Jeremy Bentham was right about mankind being a slave to the 2 masters of…pain and pleasure.


Mr. Bentham says it best:

“Nature has placed mankind under the governance of two sovereign masters, pain and pleasure. It is for them alone to point out what we ought to do, as well as to determine what we shall do. On the one hand the standard of right and wrong, on the other the chain of causes and effects, are fastened to their throne. They govern us in all we do, in all we say, in all we think: every effort we can make to throw off our subjection, will serve but to demonstrate and confirm it. In words a man may pretend to abjure their empire: but in reality he will remain subject to it all the while. The principle of utility recognizes this subjection, and assumes it for the foundation of that system, the object of which is to rear the fabric of felicity by the hands of reason and of law. Systems which attempt to question it, deal in sounds instead of sense, in caprice instead of reason, in darkness instead of light.”

The article referenced above draws an interesting conclusion. It basically is arguing that “the poor” give their kids unhealthy/junk food because they can’t bring pleasure to them any other way. Or, they can’t “make their kids happy” in any other way.

This is interesting as it sort of begs the question: Why should our goal be to bring our children happiness/pleasure?

The article even states:

Honoring requests for junk food allowed poor parents to show their children that they loved them, heard them and could meet their needs. As one low-income single mother told me: “They want it, they’ll get it. One day they’ll know. They’ll know I love them, and that’s all that matters.” (emphasis mine)

Interesting right? That love should be aligned with a bodily pleasure.

Is it true that the goal of a parent/child relationship ought to be happiness in the form of pleasure?

I think this is an interesting thought, as I have never really accepted what Bentham thinks as truth.

The author of this LA Times article takes it almost as a foregone conclusion.

Presuppositions in Our Culture

A Presupposition: “is an implicit assumption about the world or background belief relating to an utterance whose truth is taken for granted in discourse…”

Our culture contains a number of presuppositions as sort of dogmas that plague us. Consider the following Presuppositions:

Education makes you more Money (true on average)
Money makes you Happy (maybe)
Happiness is the Meaning of Life (again maybe, depending on how you define it)
Look at it as an A=B, B=C, and C=D, therefore A=D type of Hypothetical Syllogism.
So, basically the conclusion would be:
Therefore, Education=the Meaning of Life
The funny thing is that I half agree with the conclusion. It is the premises that I have always thought of as flawed.
In the presupposition is the inherent fact that Money and Happiness must be part of our formula for the meaning of life. Specifically, in the article mentioned, happiness in the form of eating junk food.
It’s as if Epicureanism is a foregone conclusion as part of our way of life.
So, is this a foregone conclusion in your mind?
Could there be another path?
Or, has America got you on the hook desiring more happiness and money?
As Always, thanks for reading.

One thought on “Epicureanism and America

Add yours

  1. I never put much into what someone is telling me other people think. People can speak for themselves.
    The whole rise of civilization was caused by agriculture about ten thousand years ago. A natural balanced diet was replaced by cheap and abundant complex carbs. Complex carbs are just sugar molecules linked together. It seems to me that the poor feed their kids the cheapest food available because of budget constraints and not hedonism! With the swelling ranks of poor in America this makes the US the most obese society in the world!

    Liked by 1 person

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