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aesthetic vs. hedonistic

hedonism - as defined by the OED:
aesthetic - as defined by the OED

The etymology, clearly, shows the connection between these two words - and, to an extent, the modern application of them. The question, which was brought up in a previous post by bruteforcemethd, is the following:

Which of these two "philosophies" is closer to hitting the mark of the "meaning of life" insofar as living it to the fullest is concerned?

Clearly, one needs to have a desire to pursue beauty or sensual pleasure to create it - but should that pursuit be for the sake of the creation and its process alone, or the selfish desire to attain that creation or process for ones-self?

How does your answer to this question relate to your own personal moral code, especially in regards to how you prioritize your goals in life?

I have written a great many of my best things, then deleted them shortly thereafter. Why I continue to do this is not totally clear to me, but I do. I guess that puts me more in the aesthetic camp my action, but, in thinking, I would love to be able to make a living off my writing, or a creative process similar to it.

Response to this post, obviously, is not compulsory, but I guarantee it will get more interesting the more people who throw their hats into the ring.


Nov. 10th, 2003 12:38 pm (UTC)
i'm not certain your deletions make you an aesthetic camp - quite the opposite. you write, and from what i've seen, write quite well, but i would say it's more of a hedonistic tendency that has you deleting them - those writings are for you, and you alone, and you display your refusal to share something beautiful with the world by deleting them.

of course, i might just be argumentative.
Nov. 10th, 2003 01:04 pm (UTC)
well, as i said, I am not sure precisely why i do this. I attribute it more to the aesthetic camp simply because it is the cathariss of the process and end result which lead me down this trail of habit, rather than seeking satisfaction or enjoyment of my work once it is done, or offering that to others.
Nov. 10th, 2003 08:20 pm (UTC)
Re: hmm
Aesthetics or an appreciation of beauty in life is what adds “color” to what would otherwise be a drab “black and white” life lived solely for survival. Hedonism, on the other hand, is a life lived solely in the pursuit of pleasure. Life needs some balance. We need to do certain things simply to survive, but since in our society we rarely need to work at survival 24/7, we have some time for more pleasurable pursuits. Walking on the beach for the pleasure of feeling the warm sand under our feet and watching and listening to the water lapping at that sand would, I suppose, technically be hedonistic since it would have no purpose other than the pleasure it gives us. I doubt that such a walk would be considered hedonistic by most people, but it is simply for the pleasure as an end in itself. Of course, aesthetics are present here also – the enjoyment of the beauty. None of this has anything to do with survival – or so it would seem. Perhaps the person taking this walk has just survived some traumatic experience and is “taking a break” to get back his bearings in life. In that case what seemed hedonistic and/or aesthetic might be survival. Trying to separate things is not always easy. A true hedonist would seek pleasure for the sake of pleasure every chance he got. An aesthete would not necessarily always be seeking pleasure but would take pleasure in the beauty of life when it presented itself; two very different things. Most people probably fall somewhere in between those two extremes. Most of us need to spend a good deal of our time working to survive and so have little time for the pure pursuit of pleasure for its own sake, and because we always seem to keep ourselves so busy, most of us miss much of what’s beautiful around us.

Why do you tear up some or much of your writing? I don’t know the answer to that. From what I’ve seen you write very well. You say that your writing is often a catharsis for you in which case the writing itself was important rather than the finished product. I would not call that either hedonistic or aesthetic but a means of survival for you. If you think carefully about what you tear up and what you do not tear up, it may very well be that the first was never intended to survive, only to allow you to survive; and the latter was written to be something beautiful for all the world to see – your contribution to what’s good in this world.


Steam Escaping!
The Son of the last of a long line of thinkers.

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