Preface: I have started a game-of-sorts. AMA: Ask Me Anything.
This week’s question by Utsav Bansal, and my answer follow.
Whats your view on Hedonism?
TL;DR: I am a Hedonist.
Hedonism is a school of thought that argues that pleasure is the only intrinsic good.
Why do I call myself a Hedonist?
And why I believe you should be a hedonist, too.
Good and Bad are relative. Anything that makes me happy is Good, anything that makes me sad is Bad.
You may ask, what if killing people makes me happy? Is it good? Yes. Good for you, but may be not for others, and they may chose to punish you, their version of good deed. You may ask, “What about ethics? What about people who believe in ideals?”
I am someone who believes that the world is a battleground. Ideals, ethics, and the like are an elaborate set of hopelessly foolish ideologies whose primary objective is to ensure the survival of group.
Every individual likes to be happy, likes to live happily. With this premise, how do I explain the good samaritan who would sacrifice his life to save others’? How would I explain the man who held his ideals above everything else, even his own happiness?
Every action has a cost and a value, different in every observer’s perspective. I believe that a person does something only when the percieved value exceeds the cost. Which means to get some work done out of an individual, all you have to do is either make him believe the result has a greater value, or it incurs a lesser cost in his or her perspective.
A bank secures its perimeter with gaurds, fences, has a safe with thick metal doors, alarms, and multiple protection schemes. For my room, I use a lock that weighs a few grams on a aluminium handle that can be bent with ease. Why do I not have a dozen security systems guarding it? the question may seem ridiculous at first sight, but if you care to ponder, the simplest explanation happens to be the cost-value model. The bank sees a greater value in having all those security measures compared to the cost they incur, and I find the cost far higher than the value it provides. It also explains why a paranoid person might actually have a dozen security and alarm systems. That has a greater value in his view, great enough to offset the costs.
A soldier fighting for his country sees a greater value in being a warrior for the country, than the cost of losing life. A man of ideals believes upholding his ideals has a greater value than his own pleasures. You get the point.
I am someone who believes every action can be explained using the cost-value model. And to me, my own happiness has a value unmatched by anything else. I do go out of my way to help others, but the inconvinience in the process, I consider a lower cost than the value of seeing a bright, smiling face. I try to maximise the net pleasure. Yes, I am a Hedonist.