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Hedonism and Stoicism – The Tree of Life, and the Branches of Happiness

Hedonism and Stoicism – The Tree of Life, and the Branches of Happiness

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Published by Dustin Cassell

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Published by: Dustin Cassell on Jun 21, 2011
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Hedonism and Stoicism – The Tree of Life, and the Branches of Happiness (Part 2)Dustin Cassell7/7/2011
Part 1: Introduction
“Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence” -Aristotle
In the first paper
Hedonism and Stoicism – The Roots of Happiness
, wedefined Hedonism as the pursuit of “immediate” pleasure, and Stoicism as thephilosophy where the eschewal of pain emerges as the centrality of one'sexistence. The long-term goal of both the hedonist and the stoic is happiness.Very few people in the world would disagree in this fact, and due to the brevity of the paper we will disregard the views of those who do not wish to be happy. Alsoin the first paper it was stated that both the pure hedonist, and the pure stoic lackforesight. The hedonist will live only for today seeking pleasure, and down theroad may end up with a very unhappy life as a result. The stoic lives only fortomorrow, never experiencing the happiness of today, and thus both extremeslack the foresight and mixture to achieve the end result – i.e. the serene reverie of a happy life. In this paper we'll examine briefly just a few keys to happiness.
Part 2: Family, Friends, and Community
“Without identity we are an object of history, an instrument used by others, like a utensil. Identityis an assumed role; it is like being in a theater where everyone is given a role to play.” - Joseph Ki-Zerbo
Happiness for most people relies to some extent on love, whether that lovecomes from a wife or husband, a mother or father, a son or a daughter, a friend orGod – matters only insomuch as the happiness in which each creates is unique in
the sense that if one is lacking, a person will hold it to be the most significant of them all, and in trying to fill the void, the individual will focus so intensely on thatwhich is missing, unhappiness will engulf the very essence of their thoughts andbeing. Each character in one's life has a role to play, but sometimes in theabsence that character, we lose our identity and simply become a broken utensil,a relic of a history of what could have been, and an unrealized potential lookingfor answers in the void left by what is missing, instead of seeking refuge inremembrance of what is left.According to Bertrand Russell one of the fundamental keys to happiness isfamily, friends, and community – essentially your extended social network.Examining the first, that is the family, there are two ways it can be constructed.On the one hand, you are born into a family of which you have no control over,and on the other hand regarding majority of the modern world you are free tochose the family your marry into. In this section we'll examine the case regardingthe family you are born into, making the general assumption that the family youare born into is not broken. In a later section we'll also examine both marriageand love.In general, for a child be to “liked” or to be labeled as a good child, he orshe must at least follow what is laid out for them by his or her parents, which mayinclude following rules, obtaining acceptable grades, adhering to a particularreligion, or other things of this nature. At the same time however, often a childwill want to rebel, become their own person, and find their own identity. If thechild is to be fond of his or her parents, he or she will demand this and demandthat, demand to stay out late, go on a date, or engage in a plethora of other
activity that could potentially lead to trouble. So naturally what transgresses is apower struggle between the child and the parents. The only way to find peace isto find an equilibrium between the hedonistic wants of the child and the stoicdemands of the parent. As an outlet for these hedonistic demands, the parentshould find extracurricular activities for the child to participate in, giving the childthe independence and freedom he or she needs to progress healthily throughtheir adolescent years. At the same time the parent must not allow the child toget so caught up in these activities that it begins to threaten their future, asimmediate happiness often does not translate into lifelong happiness, and so thestoic demands of learning must be remembered. Finally, in the words of BertrandRussell “I think, that parenthood is psychologically capable of providing thegreatest and most enduring happiness that life has to offer.”In the developed world, the friends we have, and the community in whichwe reside are usually chosen, given the individual lives above the poverty level.However for those that live in poverty, and in nations that are still under-developed, often the people born in one town, will live, work, marry, and, at theend of it all, die in that one town. In a previous paper, these vast differences inwealth, technology, and living standards were dubbed unnatural parities in nature(Dualities in Society and Nature). In theory, the people in the first group couldmove to places where like minded people exist, giving them a greater sense of community and friendship. However this is often offset by an ideology in themodern world that materialism is happiness, and that happiness is bought, notfound freely between friends and family. In these regions often the number of acquaintances and casual contacts outnumber the number of friends and family a

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