Morning Saplings (Week 5)

I was sitting on my upstairs porch with a cup of coffee Saturday morning and noticed a tree beginning to bud.

Winter sapling

sprouts beneath snow


This week’s discussions on Hedonism were particularly interesting to me. Birthed from the rigid structure of Japanese Edo period social hierarchy and the emerging “mono no aware” identity of Japan reflecting a “sentiment of sadness,” Hedonists attempted to maximize the pleasures of life (Takahito, 1). In almost direct opposition to the Buddhist concept of “anatman” or there is no such thing as self, hedonism seems to embrace the concept of self to the fullest (Inouye, 31). Inouye rationalizes the concept of Hedonism by saying, “If the end could come at any time, why not have as much fun as possible.” However, I have a different way of rationalizing Hedonism (which is a concept I like to believe in). Pleasure can be thought of in terms of evolution. Pleasure is adaptive. We feel pleasure because it is linked to some behavior that gave our ancestors millions of years ago some sort of advantage over others, so why not embrace it? Sex is one of the most obvious examples of pleasure, and its immensely adaptive value is coupled with intense pleasure. There is some point, however, when exaggerated pleasure seeking can become maladaptive. Analogous to an alcoholic’s addiction, The Woman Who Loved Love let her yearning for pleasure get the better of her. She exclaims in a dramatic final scene at a temple reflecting on her lifetime, “How wretched and shameful of me to enjoy such a long life” (Saikaku, 216). Ultimately, moderation has to play some role. Living purely and extremely by one ideology is rarely the answer. That being said, I enjoy looking at life through a Hedonistic point of view occasionally and can see great merit in its practice.


-Nicholas Economos


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