Saturday, March 19, 2016
In answer to your last statement, I do think humanity is inherently good. But goodness, moral or otherwise, isn’t at the core of our desire to seek pleasure and beauty.
“Pleasure and beauty” do not necessarily carry a positive or negative connotation or, at least, the experience of it can be so subjective that it appears this way. What is beautiful and pleasurable to one person, could be ugly and unpleasant to another. I was referring more to our biology, our chemical drive to seek more dopamine, oxytocin, and all those other feel-good chemicals that flood our brains and bodies when we eat, touch someone or are touched by someone who excites us, pray, watch a sunset, score, win, etc. Anything we do in life illicites a chemical reaction. Those reactions, either consciously or unconsciously undertaken, and our experience of them, regardless of who we are, is essential to our humanity. It’s what explains that we are not inherently evil. It is literally our biology to do so.
For example, for a meat eater, the meal they’ve worked hard to prepare will, at best, look like a thing of beauty to them, and they will experience a sense of achievement. For a vegan or vegetarian, that same image could repulse them or appear really horrific.
Dictators who commit genocide believe that wiping out a certain people is pleasurable or beautiful or desirable. The more they succeed, the more they get off on it. But our biology precedes our pathology, not the other way around.
For this reason, our seeking behavior, some (most) do not believe pleasure is the greatest good. That’s why so many religions, belief systems, and philosophies encourage abstinence or moderation of pleasure, at least in some regard, or the attainment and enjoyment of “higher pleasures,” like honor, duty, justice, and love. Those feel good, too, but often require sacrifice, rather than the instant gratification of “lower pleasures.”
That’s where the idea of choosing our own biology comes in. Our choices and experiences are encoded into our genes. We pass on our values and experiences, not only through how we raise our kids, but genetically. We can’t always know how those genes will express themselves (which is why parenting and education are so important), but they exist in our genetic line. So, if we want the coming generations to be moderate in their pleasure seeking, we have to be moderate in our pleasure seeking, have children with people who are moderate in their pleasure seeking, and so on. These expressions won’t be immediate and relationships and life circumstance are rarely cut and dry like that, of course, but it’s why children often resemble their parents so much in habit, inflection, personality, and values, rather than just appearance, and even when they aren’t raised by their biological parents. Moderating pleasure seeking behavior will be hard to do in the coming generations, since we get so much dopamine from technology and social media, though hard certainly doesn’t mean impossible. I wonder what Pluto in Aquarius has in store in regards to this. But the moderation of pleasure seeking behavior is just an example. We already do this with countless things, but I wonder what would happen if we collectively became aware of the extent to which we choose our biology. For one thing, I think it would bring more meaning to the life of the individual.
Thanks for your response! This is (clearly) one of my favorite topics 🙂
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Friday, March 6, 2015
My Housemate is, like me, in his late 50s. Pluto in Virgo age group, most (many, at least) of us learned a lot about nutrition, in particular vegetarian eating, in our teens & 20s. Housemate did, too, but, whenever he plans a meal, he follows his father’s method: which meat, first, then, what else to complete the menu. Kinda boggles my mind, sometimes – because like many, I prefer to eat meat only once or twice a week. Even so, I know that some individuals, for biological reasons, need animal protein more than other of us. It’s a lifelong discovery, understanding which foods best nourish us… what are our best fuels.
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