The Crow's Dream

Philosophy, geekery, and the meaning if life, and what I read this week…

The Principle of Pleasure

with 3 comments

What cannot be satisfied is not a man’s stomach, as most men think, but rather the false opinion that the stomach requires unlimited filling. Epicurus, Vatican Sayings

I love brain imaging. 

I was reading an article in NPR that illustrates my point about science having the ability to shed light on philosophical enquiry. The article basically explains that some people tend to gain weight because the amount of  pleasure they expect from food does not actually match the amount of it their brain ends up getting, so they continue to eat. The article recommends simpler pleasures as a way to avoid this tendency.

It seems to me like this goes right along with some of the ideas behind Teasim and even some of the philosophies of Epicurus. There are many other philosophers who argued for the middle way and the enjoyment of little things (e.g Zen philosophers, Thoreau). I’m not saying that we have to wait until science shows a clear picture of the universe to philosophize, but we must be willing to abandon those things which science conclusively shows to be unreal if we are to make responsible choices in life. 

This article reminded me of the way master-crafted sushi always surprises my senses. Each delicious morsel of creation satisfies me beyond measure. That is why I only eat sushi if it is made by a master chef. Not everyone can turn rice and raw fish in to pure bliss. Now that I know some of the science, I understand why 8 pieces of sushi are more satisfying than a fast food burger with fries. I can make better aesthetic choices with my food. 

The road of philosophy is about finding a better life with the cards we were dealt, and the sciences can help us to elucidate which cards are real and which imaginary. In psychology, brain imaging is bringing us closer to understanding the way we are, so that we can honor and develop our humanity.


Written by Hector

October 17, 2008 at 12:39 pm

3 Responses

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  1. Thank you so much for sharing this blog! It reminds me that extremes of any sort aren’t really good for us. Moderation and finding the balance is an effort, but it can help in finding appreciation what has been alloted to us.

    Andrej Kis

    October 17, 2008 at 1:48 pm

  2. Hee hee! I appreciate your nod at Thoreau (was that my doing?). :3
    But you’re absolutely right about better food not needing to come in such large quantities.
    I have found, as of late, that higher quality (i.e. better tasting) food is worlds more satisfying than large, mediocre meals.


    October 18, 2008 at 4:22 am

  3. @Andrej, thanks for your comment. I agree with you. I think the effort is worthwhile. 🙂
    @Flayrah, it was partially your doing. I guess my prejudice against Emerson kept me at bay from Walden. I need to reconsider, and re-read.


    October 18, 2008 at 5:05 am

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