Wednesday 13 March 2024

Hedonic pragmatism is not Christian morality

It is understandable that people would want to do practical and maybe-effective things intended to make themselves (or other people they care about) happier, or suffer less - this could be termed hedonic pragmatism.  

Understandable... But this isn't Christian morality - it's just what any animal would do. In an appropriate environment, either instinctively or by learning from experience; animals will tend to do what gives pleasure or avoids pain.

This Not Christian Moral status is unaffected by translating hedonic pragmatism to politics and social policy - e.g. by discussing how to make ourselves (or those we care about) happier, more functional, wealthier, more secure, higher status, more attractive (to those we desire to attract) etc etc.

...I emphasize that hedonic pragmatism is not Christian morality; but it is the moral basis of materialistic leftism in all its many varieties - which include socialism, feminism, antiracism, environmentalism, healthism - also (supposedly "right wing") conservatism, republicanism, libertarianism, nationalism - and indeed all liberal-Christianity and (de facto, if not in theory) all mainstream Christian churches. 

(Thus all the large, powerful, wealthily, or high status Christian churches prioritize Not Christian Morality above Christian aims: they run their churches within, and supportive-of, most of the core strategic priorities of materialistic leftism.)

All of these isms and weak-religions place this-worldly gratification as first priority. 

And therefore all the rival forms of hedonic pragmatism - such as the debates, battles and wars of mainstream politics - are just inter-departmental infighting about the best methods to reach the same general goal; or else about the priorities within that general goal; or sometimes disputes about who ought we most ought to cared about.

Only a very few individual persons (not institutions) who are serious religious people, of whom only some are Christians, have as genuine life-priority something that is Not hedonic pragmatism. 

And these are focused on life-beyond-life, life after biological death - the fate of the soul/spirit following the death of the body.  

Jesus's Kingdom is not of this world

Note: This post was stimulated by a couple of satirical rants from Frank Berger!


Luke said...

I really appreciate reading again that Christianity and Christian morality is about life after biological death. Sounds simple to hear it. Though a person could probably spend their whole life - me included - as a Christian and not realise it and live it. And it properly gives force to the term 'Good News', a term that sort of swims around the mind without having much grounding or explanation most of the time but is supposed to be about Christianity.

I struggle with incorporating the various strands of Christianity that I think are true. I do think social Christianity, and living in a Christian community, and living out the ethic of obedience (which includes personal discernment) are one strand that Jesus gave us and are good and true. Yet I lean towards your argument that Christianity is a much more simpler case of choosing to follow Jesus to resurrected, eternal life. As with ancient Judaism there was the Law and the prophets, maybe within the Christianity that I regard as true there is the Law (of the Christian community and it's authority) and the prophetic spirit of Christianity which is interior and simply accessed - repentance and faith. I'm not sure yet how to resolve these.

Thank you for reminding me yet again about the focus on eternal life. Good news indeed.

Francis Berger said...

I appreciate your fleshing out the theme of my satirical rants here. Good comment from Luke, as well. Sheds light on what Christians are "up against" if, and only if, they take the time and make the effort to think about this.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Luke - I'm glad you found it helpful.

@Frank - I don't really claim to flesh out what you were implying - rather it is a case of what you wrote stimulating what I wrote, in some way.

Francis Berger said...

Well, whatever the process, it expanded the dimension and helped flesh it out for me.