On Natural Aversions and General Applications

The Natural Aversions :

1.  We of humanity have a natural aversion to our own discomfort on all levels..

2.  We of humanity have a natural aversion to the discomfort of others on all levels.

Our every thought and deed address our natural aversion to discomfort.  So preoccupied are we with our own personal comfort that a pebble in our shoe or a speck of dust in our eye will consume our thoughts until we act to remove the pebble or wash out the speck of dust.  We are naturally preoccupied with our own comfort, and we simply cannot experience peace of mind so long as we have to endure discomfort in any way.  A foul odor must be eliminated or avoided.  We dress so as to be comfortable with relation to the climate. We spice food to suit our taste.  Indeed we of humanity have such a natural aversion to discomfort that our every thought and deed are towards establishing our own personal comfort.  Bodily comfort and peace of mind being our naturally desired state, then it is clearly towards those ends that our thoughts are consumed and our actions are exerted.

Although we of humanity are indeed preoccupied with our own comfort, we likewise have a natural aversion of the discomfort of others as well.  No one can be comfortable while hearing an animal in pain,or while witnessing a person break down and cry.  In fact the suffering of others is yet another source of our own personal discomfort.  So natural is our aversion to the discomfort of another that when we witness such, we become naturally preoccupied towards the ends of eliminating the suffering at hand.  And so it is that we are as naturally preoccupied with establishing the comfort of others as we are with our own comfort zone.

The General Applications:

The natural aversion of humanity to our own discomfort, and towards  the discomfort of others leads me to the following thoughts:

1.  Being self-centered is not a sin; but a natural way of being.

2.  Being sensitive to the suffering of others is as natural as being preoccupied with our own concerns.

3.  The source of all written “do’s and don’ts” and “thou shalts and thou shalt nots” related to ethics and morals was inspired by the natural goodness of humanity rather than by a supernatural moralist.

4.  Genuine goodness is derived from within; rather than driven in from without.

5.  If we of humanity will but follow the the natural goodness which is derived from within; then natural goodness will follow.

6. The cultivation of our genuine goodness is the most natural of all experiences, and is the most noble of all endeavors.

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One thought on “On Natural Aversions and General Applications

  1. Davey!

    Enjoyed the blog … Not only do we exhibit aversion to the pain of other sentient beings but also when we are happy, others around us become happier and when we hang around happy people we also become happier so that our own happiness, our laughter, our smiles, and our good disposition is a gift to others. There is a growing body of research on how happiness and laughter are contagious.

    What this means for Epicurean theory and our cultivation of the pleasant life is that it is not self-ish like many people throughout history have claimed but collective. We Epicureans aren’t just seeking our own pleasure and happiness, which is completely natural, but we’re ALSO seeking to inhabit a society full of pleasant, happy people. If we’re surrounded by people who co-create a hellish existence, our task becomes difficult or impossible (hence the Garden had a boundary around it and needed a space separate from the Athenian polis). Our cultivation of the pleasant life must be collective. Ideally, we should have Epicurean Friends.

    This ’empathy principle’ by which we easily have a collective consciousness and experience as social beings (share the pain and joy of others) is a hugely important insight in the science of happiness, and it resonates with Epicurus and how he accentuates the importance of cultivating friends and wholesome, happy association with others.

    We always think of germs and viruses as contagious, but we don’t usually notice how laughter and happiness are contagious also. Laughter releases endorphins and helps to alleviate pain, in fact there are laughter therapy groups who even treat cancer. Some varieties of endorphin that our bodies naturally produce are stronger than morphine.

    One final thought on Epicurean consciousness and practice: if we were to act as if Epicurus was watching and to apply these insights to your scenario, by visiting those who are sick or suffering, we can experiment with suavity and with mastering the art of bringing joy to them with our association, helping them to laugh for a while and forget their pain.

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