Ben, the attentive Hedonist

As I arrived at De La Concha Tobacconist an elegant middle-aged man was also arriving and we found our places in the corner with the only sitting furnishings which the street goers cannot see.

Ben at De La Concha Tobacconist, New York, NY / Leica D-Lux 4
Ben at De La Concha Tobacconist, New York, NY / Leica D-Lux 4

Pleasure is a commonly used word, hedonism much less, but it seems most creatures of the human race are aware of what it means. In addition, several individuals will know the term ‘Epicurean’ as well.

Epicure worked closely with Aristippos the Younger, who was the son of the first woman philosopher, Arete, daughter and pupil of Aristippos of Cyrene, pupil of Socrates. Aristippos of Cyrene (435 – 356 BC) initiated the Cyrenaic School of Philosophy and gave the initial thoughts and form to the philosophy of pleasure, known as Hedonism.

Today a life of pleasure seems for many to be closely connected with excesses. Some even take joy in referring to it as ‘getting wasted’. However, for Centuries we have been warned. Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin (1755-1826) warns in his epic compendium “The Physiology of Taste” that the educated mind will not succumb to drunkenness, nor to gluttony. Aristippos refers to hedonism as the lively involvement in a life of pleasures in order to elevate the soul – certainly not to waste it. For him the joys of life are a spiritual necessity.

With his attention to detail, to pleasure, but also to the importance of a developed mind, Ben reminded me of what hedonism was initially meant to encourage.