Hedonism... (By John Richmond)

Posted in: Core Values, Delphi tribe by Emma Knape on 23 January 2015
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Our work lies in the realm of that much maligned activity: hedonism.

People often think of this as a blind drive to happiness at its most basic, and in our current scientific parlance, would be characterised by the maximum release of dopamine for the longest period of time.

However, when you think about it this isn't really any kind of life at all as it could be achieved, well maybe in a few years, by a brain in a vat of some special liquid being stimulated by electrodes or maybe just getting a pipeline of dopamine supplied to it by some chemical vat next to the brain vat. Most people when asked if they would want this kind of life would probably pause and think - well, maybe not.

So, in hedonism what could we be considering?

Well, clearly I have an idea as that is the point of my writing this in the first place and it comes from Aristotle. His idea of the 'final cause', or telos, of us being a human at all is to flourish as human beings and by doing that we achieve happiness.

So the question of how to achieve a hedonistic lifestyle should be to consider how we can flourish as individuals. Again, back to Aristotle and Greek life in general from that time, it is not really possible to flourish as an individual unless one is part of a community. In that way the 'polis', or community takes precedence and is ultimately of higher value than the individual as without it the individual cannot flourish. In Homer's Odyssey the most pitiful character in it was pitiful just because he had no community or place to call home.

Of course, there's a lot of philosophical water under the bridge since then but it certainly resonates with where we are now on the treatment journey - and why wouldn't it?