30 October 2012 4 Comments

The Pleasure Principle

We live in a world rife with temptation. Natural human instinct is to do what feels good, but what happens when these hedonistic urges for instant gratification are forced through the morality wringer and into the public conscious? Where is the point of separation between one man’s pleasure and another man’s sin?At what point does the concession of social living impede the individual’s right to pleasure? These questions of morality create a dichotomy, hedonist on one side and those reject pleasure in favor of moral supposition on the other. Early man survived much the same way the majority of the animal kingdom does today, by instinct. When the caveman was hungry, he ate. When the caveman grew tired, he slept. For the purpose of reproduction the caveman engaged in sexual activity. What drove the caveman to do such things? Instinct is the answer, deep inside the caveman he possesses the inheritable need to survive. Consequently, the gratification this achieved as a result of these instinctual actions constitute pleasure. Thus pleasure is a by-product of instinct. Where does morality fit into a life driven by instinct? Is morality inherent in the survival instinct? Or is morality, in fact, something that was invented and taught by man? As man evolved, language became more advanced, and social structure more civilized. Man seemed to be cognizant of the instinctual need for pleasure. The Pagans, the Northern Traditions, the Romans, the Egyptians, and the Greeks all recognized the important role of pleasure and integrated those principles into their everyday lives. The spiritual beliefs of these groups went with nature, instead of being a a hindrance to it. It is not until the introduction of Jahweh, the God of Abraham, that action on instinctual pleasures becomes an act of the pariah. A new morality is ushered upon man based on superstition and mythology that radically alters the thinking about what is natural. The introduction of Jahweh removes pleasure from the equation of life. If man is hungry now, he can eat, but if he does so to excess then he is a glutton and there for a sinner. And what of the caveman who engaged in sex for the biological act of human reproduction, are they sinners for participating in a sexual relationship outside of marriage? The hypocrisy of modern western religions, and the morality set they promote, are an integral part of the dismantlement of instinctual pleasure. The very human act of thinking has corrupted the process of instinctual pleasure. What modern religion has done is introduce and attach the concept of shame and guilt to those who follow through on what is a natural part of being a human. This creates a division of thought between those who follow a philosophical morality structure and those who are willing to give into their natural predilection toward pleasure. Can it be said, without prejudice, that knowingly suppressing these hedonistic urges is in the interest of the advancement of the species? Or, is it more likely that man, with his ability to think, is overlooking the fact that humans are animals and not as far removed from the rest of the animal kingdom as some would propose? The extremes of this dichotomy, being the pleasure seeker who’s bacchanalian ambitions revolve around satisfying their natural yearning inside to do so, and the devout religious type who often goes to great lengths, such as vows of celibacy, to reject pleasure on moral grounds. Everyone else falls somewhere in the middle, likely torn between their desires and the consequences, namely social implications, of succumbing to instinct. Because pleasure is part of the survival instinct, it becomes easy to argue in favor of a lifestyle that includes pleasure. The modern religious morality set that has been forced into public awareness, however, has no redeeming qualities. Of the multiple arguments to be made against modern religion, the one that pits the survival instinct by-product of pleasure against denying pleasure, defying nature, and forcing conformity is the easiest to make. Pleasure, being pure and natural, is part of the human condition. The morality imposed by modern religion tries to strip pleasure away from humanity by means of shame, guilt, and fear. For one to deny themselves pleasure in spite of the inherent inner need to do so is unnatural. Religion’s goal is to deny one inheritable and unalterable satisfaction derived from pleasure. Thus, religion is unnatural.

4 Responses

  1. Jessica Kamm 30 October 2012 6:01 pm #

    Very compelling.

  2. David 30 October 2012 6:45 pm #

    Kind of cerebal Isn’t it B.C.

  3. Patti Romano 30 October 2012 7:05 pm #


  4. Tony Carroll 16 November 2012 4:32 am #

    Interesting, thought provoking concepts. However, if I might suggest, what we term ‘morality’ probably started much earlier, a partner to our basic instincts, as it were. It made us stop, look around, and apply a little dose of reason and logic to the situation we found ourselves in as early hunter gatherers. I propose that morality grew out of the curbing of instinct as a way for the individual and tribe to survive. Don’t know, just conjecture on my part. But a little reason always helps, as does applying logic. Anyway, really liked your blog. Oh, and welcome to AN. Post this over there, and you will get some interesting hits. Peace, my friend.