Hedonism M .A
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"Kiss & Lucky"
............................ Photo: Thomas
way to belief is short and easy,
the way to knowledge is long and HARD. "
Where does Ethical Hedonism come from? I wish I could say it sprang from my
mental loins fully formed, but the truth is I'm not that original. Its precursors
are all over the universe of human thought: in classical philosophy, the Bible,
the Tao, the Tarot, the Kama Sutra, as well as modern science and technology.
But the primary inspiration for Ethical Hedonism comes not from one of the
great intellects, but from one of the Great Apes.
Young Bonobos Make Love
......... Photo: Franz Lanting (from
Bonobo by Franz DeWaal)
extraordinarily special and highly endangered species of chimpanzee, the bonobos
are our kissin' cousins who swing from the trees, as well as with each other.
Classified as pan paniscus or pygmy chimpanzees in primatology circles,
I call them "the horniest apes on Earth." Like common chimps, they
are 98% genetically similar to humans. Unlike common
chimps, which can be quite violent and even murderous (though nowhere
near as murderous as humans!), bonobos are amazingly peaceful, and extremely
sexual. Not only do they partake in lots of different kinds of sex with multiple
partners in a variety of positions (including face-to-face sex, gazing deeply
into each other's eyes). But they also use sex to reduce violence.
females are unusually aggressive about sex, both with each other and with
the males, as well as socially powerful in bonobo communities, and this sexual
power structure seems to help keep the peace among all. Bonobos have never
been seen deliberately killing each other in the wild or captivity. That's
why they're called the "Make Love, Not War" primates. Primatologists
argue over whether or not bonobos are, in fact, the elusive "Missing
Link." But there's no question that they are the original Ethical Hedonists.
Female Bonobo Pleasuring Herself
Photo: Franz Lanting (Bonobo
by Franz DeWaal)
we humans are so much more--though in some ways, a bit less--than our simian
relations (more conceptual, less hairy). We need inspiration from fellow humans.
And when it comes to philosophy, it's best to begin with the Greeks, specifically
Epicurus of Athens
The two pillars of Ethical Hedonism are SEXUALITY and CIVILITY. Ethical Hedonists
value the erotic, but not when it infringes upon the rights of others. Sensibility
is vital. Like old Epicurus' philosophy of Epicureanism, Ethical Hedonism
springs from the clear evidence of our senses, what Epicurus called "plain
facts." Pleasure is primary, yet its pursuit is always tempered with
sensitivity, common sense, reverence for life and consideration for others.
pointed out, "We cannot live pleasantly without living wisely and nobly."
another of its forerunners, the Cyrenaic philosophy of another old Greek,
Aristippus of Cyrene, Ethical Hedonism posits that if we really want to maximize
pleasure and minimize pain in our lives, our pursuit of pleasure must be accompanied
by concern for the future and welfare of others. Aristippus, considered by
some to be history's first swing club operator, gathered adventurous Grecian
couples together at Cyrene for peaceful, erotic bacchanals to alleviate the
inevitable pressures of marital strain, much like the Ethical Hedonist salons,
shows and speakeasies held at the Dr. Susan Block Institute.
Enlightenment and the Good Life
hedonism also has roots in the European Bohemians
Love" movements of the mid-late 19th century, the philosophy of Victoria
Woodhull and Emma
Goldman, the poetic erotic visions of the Marquis
de Sade and Leopold
Von Sacher-Masoch, as well as the mystic revelations of Lao
Tzu, the theories of Jeremy
Bentham and John
Stuart Mill, the sensuous but practical enlightenment of Benjamin
Franklin, the Sexual
Revolutions of the 20th and 21st centuries, the Kabbalistic
branch of Judaism, and the Goddess
cults of multiple societies throughout human history.
Ethical Hedonists are not doomed utopians à la Thomas
More or suicidal idealists like Abbie
Hoffman. At least, we try not to be. We recognize the Ideal as the enemy
of the Real. We believe sex is complex, rarely black or white, truth or falsehood,
guilty or innocent. We support sexual diversity, tolerance (up to a point,
of course, and that point is not always easy to pin down), passion tempered
with compassion. As Gurdjieff noted,"the goal is the journey," and
the road to the Good Life is paved with compromise, imperfection, wrenching
heartache and dumb dirty jokes. We try to see sex for what it is: the essence
of existence. Freud
saw that. Darwin
too. So did the authors of the Bible.
Sex is as compelling as food, as mystical as death, as dangerous as driving
the freeways, as lovely as your lover's smile, and as valuable as life itself.
Hedonism Manifesto continued
"HORNY HOUSEWIFE" .
... . VIDEO SELF-PORTRAIT: DR. SUSAN BLOCK
Hedonism Manifesto continued
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