While I hated most everything about my Philosophy class(namely that I had to take it in the first place), I did end up coming away with a lot of interesting philosophical perspectives…. and a lot of opinions about them(dun dun duuuuuuun)! So here’s a shower thought for you. Which might formulate itself into a full blown argument. Who knows. We’ll see how fast the blog bunnies in my brain are running on their treadmills.
So I have “Christian Hedonist” listed as my religion on facebook. This might seem to be a pretty insignificant detail, but I’ve had people(okay, like one person) question my salvation because I identify myself as a hedonist. Shamelessly.
For those of you who are in the know, you will immediately recognize that Christian Hedonism is a term coined by John Piper in his book Desiring God and is a philosophy which is widely held in reformed circles(or so I’ve been told by wikipedia. I am not in any reformed circles, although maybe I should consider joining one…)
Side note: Please don’t assume that I’m a Piper-follower just because I identify myself with Christian Hedonism. Seriously read Desiring God before you make that judgement. Christian Hedonism is surprisingly biblical(as is Piper for that matter). See also 1 Corinthians 1:11-etc.
The Utilitarian philosophy asserts that moral goodness is defined by happiness. A morally virtuous individual is one who is happy. However there are many philosophers who criticize this view, saying that it’s a “pigs philosophy”. Because of this utilitarianism has been refined to include mumbo jumbo like rational thought(so stupid, right?) John Stuart Mill famously said “It is better to be a human being dissatisfied than a pig satisfied; better to be Socrates dissatisfied than a fool satisfied.”
I disagree. I subtly disagree with almost everything about this.
What is moral goodness? Why do we care? Why do we even have a sense of morality?
Part of the reason why I hated philosophy class is because it completely ignored even the possibility that there is a God. Philosophers going on and on and on and on analyzing deep questions and trying to find deep answers about this fictional, atheistic world that they’ve imagined to be representative of real life. They create these situations and find these answers in this made-up place and then they transfer it to the real world which is crazier than they could ever imagine. Why do we have morality when every single one of us has cursed it at one time or another? Why do we care what is good? How do you even distinguish between good and bad? Who decides?(See C.S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity for a better argument.)
There is one thing the utilitarians got right: It is defined by happiness, but not human happiness. Imagine this. God creates human beings and he creates in them this internal law that requires them to do what makes HIM happy. Wow that’s just way to simple. That too perfectly explains morality. This can’t be philosophy, this is a trick. Just kidding! It’s entirely plausible. That is iff(and only if) you open your mind enough to even consider the possibility of a creating power.
So now that I’ve turned the entire field of philosophy on its head(not the entire field. There are some really amazing Christian philosophers out there. Pruss, Scruton, Aquinas, to name a few) I will give you my
this whole “better to be Socrates dissatisfied than a fool satisfied.”
Here I think we need to define “fool”. Because there could be two possible definitions here. 1. a fool is a person who makes unwise choices or 2. a fool is a simpleton(or like someone with a low IQ.) I’m inclined to think Mill is talking about the latter type of fool specifically because of his discussion on high pleasures and low pleasures and the test to find which is the greater good(for example, which is the better pleasure: that of listening to Mozart or that of an ice cold beer on a warm day. Mill would argue that because appreciating Mozart requires more reasoning it is the higher pleasure.)
Since I’ve already turned the argument on its head by asserting that goodness is defined by God’s pleasure and not ours, I will also turn this on its head. What pleases God?
Psalm 55:16-17 says “For You do not delight in sacrifice, otherwise I would give it; You are not pleased with burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.”
So what pleases God? A correct condition of the heart. Repentance. This is what makes God happy.
Well here’s the third catch. I love God. I really love God. And what do people do when they really love someone? They do everything within their power to make that person happy. Why? Because it makes them happy when the object of their love is happy(this is what all the parents in my life tell me, at least.)
So for me, I’m happy when God is happy. I’m a contented pig. I’m a satisfied fool.