Saturday, July 4, 2020

On Medium: Godless Honour for Human Nature

This article compares ancient and modern enlightenment, Epicurean ataraxia and consumer-friendly happiness. Is science-centered secular humanism an improvement on the ancient's less optimistic perspective?


  1. Very good article. I would only add that modern humanism seems to have been hijacked by a very cyrenic interpretation of hedonism that posits pleasure as the highest good. Original humanism was much more concerned with actually improving human beings ethically & intellectually rather than simply making them happy; more in the spirit of Star Trek than Brave New World. What happened?

    1. Thanks. This is the second in my Godless Honour series. The first one, The Quest for Godless Honour, introduces the problem and briefly critiques the secularist's top values (human nature, reason, pleasure, power, and art). The next ones go into more depth on each of those topics. I've mostly finished the articles in that series. So I will be talking more directly about pleasure.

      Clearly, though, the self-improvement impulse has been hijacked by neoliberals and big business, as philosophy has become professionalized and sidelined. We're supposed to be improving ourselves by following the ads we see everywhere, making more money, buying more stuff. Instead of becoming better in the ancient or in any respectable way, by challenging ourselves with existential truth and becoming "enlightened," we've been exploited and infantilized ultimately by a culture driven by the psychopathic predators who naturally come to power in modernity. Consumerism is now the insane myth that prevails.