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Self care is Earth care - will hedonists save the world?

 
gardener
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This is just a number of musings, in which I'll try to stay on the positive side.
I'm recently connecting the idea of permaculture with cooking gourmet food, and some ideas from people who aren't involved with either, but they seem to do the right thing in the hedonism department.
I looked up the word here on permies, and it's been used both in negative context (e.g.: "consumerism, materialism and hedonism"), and as a positive ("hedonism isn't necessarily selfish").
Seems like a lot of what I'm thinking about is in Paul's book "Building a better world in your backyard" - that doing the right thing can be easy, interesting, pleasant and ultimately very healthy.
Of course, sometimes people don't seem to know what's actually good for them and their surroundings, and make decisions based on fear, or their insecurities, and that leads to all the disasters... but those who do practice permaculture successfully - aren't they doing it mostly for pleasure?
It's been said many times, that a lot of "beginner environmentalists" seem to believe that they need to deny themselves things, such as certain foods or activities. But with permaculture approach, we actually get to have more of these things - better food, more activities, more time and energy to do things. We also get to have deeper and more meaningful connection with others, whether it's about helping to do some jobs, or teaching, or exchanging goods. And the intimate relationships, too - in all cases we just have to learn to say both "yes" and "no" in a healthy way, and to communicate what is it that we're into (or not), as well as care to hear it from others.
I remember an interview in which an actress was asked by the journalist: "What is your guilty pleasure?" and she said: "I don't think that pleasure should be guilty."... while it does sound controversial (and it's much easier to say when you're a living goddess), I do agree with her... from the perspective of a "hedonist permie". I wonder how far we can go with that idea.

One more inspiration came with a Quora answer that got emailed to me earlier today in a digest. Here is the link: If I am ugly, single, poor, unlovable and unhappy, is my only chance at happiness/inner peace in this life through attaining spiritual enlightenment and destroying my ego identity? A short summary of the coolest answer: no one is unlovable; "unhappy" is a temporary state, although uncontrollable - but the happiness conditions are not an unchangeable script; there are a veritable metric fuckton of good people, who don't care about someone's external appearance (I totally want to be counted as one of that fuckton of people, also my new favourite word!).
 
pollinator
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Shooting from the hip a bit here in my response.

I suspect if one were to draw two circles, one in which you accumulated behaviors that were 'wise' and the other in which you positioned behaviors described as 'hedonistic', the two would overlap partially, but not totally.  It would seem the discussion would get pretty murky in short order as one contemplates the notion of 'pleasure', the concept of which for each person will differ and undergo modification over time.  Added to this is the notion of "right thing to do", the culmination of which may bring some measure of satisfaction without really being experienced as 'pleasure'.  As an example, imagine sitting down to your favorite piece of cake, that you could immediately eat yourself (hedonism) or alternatively only a portion of as your mind and senses go over all of the positive and negative ramifications of saving some for other members of the household, family, tribe, etc.  By saving it, there may be myriad benefits to self and others, both tangible and intangible, which nevertheless would not be characterized as 'self pleasure' but might be construed more as 'the right thing to do' for family, community, tribe harmony and stability.  Possibly overly romanticized, many treatise on hunter-gatherers document(ed) the general satisfaction with a life that was robust in a sense of self, sense of community, and sense of one's place in the cosmos, without much focus specifically on the notion of pleasure (see an excerpt from Marshall Sahlins below).  The opposite of the hedonistic approach would be self-denial, a position going at least as far back as the Ascetics and why that notion has not gripped the planet's population is not difficult to comprehend.  I suspect that most of the younger environmentalists who may be taken by this fever eventually move away from it with time.  Nevertheless, one needs to be cognizant of the fact that "lack of" is not the same as what the Ascetic was seeking, and the phenomenon of simply 'not needing' can fall into a category loosely described as 'wise, thoughtful, comfortable, and possibly happy', without necessarily requiring a great deal of hedonistic engagement.

Although 'affluence' is not the same as 'pleasure/hedonistic', the modified passage below from the introduction to Sahlin's "The Original Affluent Society" is a view that agrees with many other observations on hunter-gatherer societies I've come across and seems to make sense to me.  Passage is from  https://appropriate-economics.org/materials/Sahlins.pdf
Affluence.PNG
[Thumbnail for Affluence.PNG]
 
Flora Eerschay
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John Weiland wrote: As an example, imagine sitting down to your favorite piece of cake, that you could immediately eat yourself (hedonism) or alternatively only a portion of as your mind and senses go over all of the positive and negative ramifications of saving some for other members of the household, family, tribe, etc.



Why only eating the cake yourself would be hedonistic? Sharing is caring! Imagine baking a cake only to watch others enjoy it, which would be your main source of joy, besides tasting it yourself, and any other pleasant contexts of the sitiuation.
Also, I remember some research which said, that giving gifts is more fun than receiving them (that can be for a number of other reasons, too...).

As for your qote - now a combination of Zen and hedonism would be bold, haha. But I think it can be doable... see simple pleasures of the day, for example?
 
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I consciously try to cultivate a hedonistic attitude, in line with the 'simple pleasures' link that Flora shared.  We worked so hard to acquire this land and build the house and plant the plants.  But we did it exactly so that we could live a hedonist life; pursuing the pleasures of eating berries off the bushes, watching chicks, playing with the dogs, observing the wildlife, admiring wildflowers, harvesting fresh veggies, reading, crafting.  Life is short (getting very short at our ages) and I believe that it is ethically correct to remember to enjoy it.  I try hard not to enjoy it at the expense of others, through exploitation of people or poisoning the land, destruction of resources.  Perhaps there is a conflation of hedonism and consumerism.
 
pollinator
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Similar to Joseph Lofthouse’s philosophy on “running in joy”, I believe we should pursue pleasure. Its natural, and we tend to do it anyway, although sometimes in very roundabout and inefficient ways!

My personal mental image when I hear the word “hedonism” is a rich, fat man on a beach surrounded by women, food, gold and whatever fun and pleasure he can find. This is a negative in my mind. My personal mental image when I hear the word “permaculturist” is a dirty, skinny person with little material possessions, surrounded by natural abundance of food, family and animals.

Obviously, these are both just my ideals, or stereotypes of the words and neither are necessarily accurate!

I think what is important, at least in my perspective, is sustainability. I had a revelation years ago and it brought me from depression into a deep love and appreciation for life itself. The results of that revelation were that I finally had a guiding arrow or a path on my life. I felt that life is a blessing and that we should participate in it in a way that is sustainable so that other generations of humans can continue to experience this life. So, with that in mind, i think hedonism is fine so long as it’s sustainable to a degree.

Also, I think balance and awareness are key. If you think eating sweets brings you joy and so you go buy some cake and eat it all, you have successfully thrown off the balance and are losing awareness. Due to our bodies being host to innumerable bacteria, yeast and other microorganisms, things like overeating, chronic sugar consumption, chronic drinking and drug use... these things help us to forget who and what we are and what we are doing here. The joy starts to separate from the things that we used to find it in and we’re left with bad habits, addictions and unsustainable lifestyles.

So, if food brings you joy and you like sweets, have a piece of cake. But dont eat the whole damn thing! And maybe try producing some of the ingredients yourself or constructing the oven its baked in, or making solar panels to provide the energy. Then we’re working towards sustainable joy!

Ive also found that joy can be had in unexpected and seemingly unlikely places and activities. You just need to drop expectations, be open minded and stay present. Even simple things like hearing, seeing, tasting, smelling and touching are regularly taken for granted. Becoming aware of these things and treating them as a blessing or privilege will bring joy. Unless your seeing and smelling my homemade fish emulsion... theres no joy in that!
 
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I recently finished Wheaton's "Building a Better World in Your Backyard" (which ultimately led me here), and he did a bang-up job in emphasizing that many of the topics/changes will effectively increase one's quality of life (sharp contrast to decreasing/sacrificing, ha).  Through my own life events, it's become clear to me that hedonism is certainly within the healthy side of the continuum BUT it requires one crucial component to be effective:  When making decisions to increase one's own happiness/lifestyle, do it in a way that uplifts others around you as well!  From what I've read here so far, not only have I encountered so much of this from others, but it's part of the definition of this community and, not surprisingly, the permaculture lifestyle as a whole.  Love this!
 
pollinator
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Hard agree--hedonism is good,.

Hedonism good, conspicuous consumption bad.

Conspicuous consumption is also not hedonistic, it's stressful and boring.  Kids don't do it, they have to be trained into it.

Hedonism as a philosophy originally was articulated as maximizing sensory pleasure in the here-and-now, and asceticism had the exact same goal of maximizing pleasure but in the (now-) anticipated future or in the mental worlds.  They are really just different approaches to the same thing fundamentally.  But they've become confused in translation.

Unfortunately, the hedonists didn't write nearly as much as the other philosophical schools did, so we're left today with less material to read.  There are some move recent living teachers of the hedonistic school, but they're not higly visible.

The other aspect of hedonism that Victor Baranco focused on more than any other philosopher and which I think is crucial is fun:
I want the "Tesla Roadster" of rocket mass heaters.

That's a paradox--the Tesla Roadster is high tech, not simple tech; it's a masonry heater (conspicuous consumption piece) not a rocket mass heater (poor-fellow's masonry heater).  But I want it.  Why? it's an impossible challenge, and a challenge is more fun than just doing the default.  

When I'm burnt out and tired, I don't care about fun as much, I just want to whack a problem over the head and get it out of the way so I can go sleep.  But if I'm in a basically OK space at any given moment, I want to find the more fun path.  

Continuing to survive on Earth and thrive and have delicious and nutrient-dense food and relations with my fellow creatures, that all looks like a hell of a lot of fun to me.
 
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You only have to look to the original Hedonistic permaculturists to find your answer. Spend a little time reading about Epicurus and Epicurean Gardens. I'm actually planning on building a Garden in Alaska, and applying to have Epicurean-ism recognized as a religion. Though I'm kind of in the middle of muddling through modernizing it abit. Though that may not be the right word for it, updating maybe. Would love to hear from anyone interested in talking more about it as talking through things helps me process sometimes.
 
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Joshua Myrvaagnes wrote:

The other aspect of hedonism that Victor Baranco focused on more than any other philosopher and which I think is crucial is fun:
I want the "Tesla Roadster" of rocket mass heaters.

That's a paradox--the Tesla Roadster is high tech, not simple tech; it's a masonry heater (conspicuous consumption piece) not a rocket mass heater (poor-fellow's masonry heater).  But I want it.  Why? it's an impossible challenge, and a challenge is more fun than just doing the default.  

W.



Aw, You dream "small" LOL (just kidding!)

I would love to own  the "whole 9 yards"  (forget the mass heater LOL) Saleen 7 (only in yellow color as it shows the best lines of this car and I don't even like yellow. This is an exception). Not obtainable for me but, there are small pleasures in "having some of it"  via big poster, picture, model collectable (or not) car :-)
But on a more serious note, to me, a challenge is something that is obtainable, financially possible, short or long termed. Anything else is just a dream but still , for me, fun in imagining it :-)
This is  definitely so UN-permaculture :-)


 
David Nick
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The difference between natural hedonism and materialism.
15. The wealth required by nature is limited and is
easy to procure; but the wealth required by vain
ideals extends to infinity.
Epicurus - the principle doctrines
 
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