Philosoph-Off: Jeremy Bentham vs. Fear of Missing Out

Blame it on the bucket list or any number of pinterest-y quotes about how awful it is to have things in your life that you regret not doing. It’s so much easier to make a mistake, hit the ground, and move on than it is to wonder how differently (better?) your life could have been had you gone option B. Fear of missing out (FOMO) is a ubiquitous 20something disease.

Jeremy Bentham developed an awesome decision making tool called hedonic calculus. Basically you just rate every potential course of action according to a static set of conditions:

  • the intensity of happiness it will bring you
  • the duration of the happiness
  • the certainty or uncertainty that the action will make you happy
  • whether the gratification will be immediate or delayed
  • fecundity
  • whether the action will have negative consequences
  • how many people will it bring happiness to?

I’m not trying to tell Jeremy how to philosophize but it really seems like this algorithm needs an eighth consideration: whether the absence of the action will induce FOMO. You could go through this whole list and determine that an action doesn’t sound like a really great investment. Things like moving to Brooklyn because you really want to make it as a writer, switching careers or getting back together with an ex have actually a negative guarantee of happiness. They are highly risky situations in which it’s realistic that you may end up broke, unhappy and living with your parents.

Adding potential for FOMO to Bentham’s hedonic calculus acknowledge that learning life lessons or benefiting from uncalculated risks are just as valuable than a safe bet. We have more options than people in Bentham’s time did. We also live longer and know that well have a long time to stew about a missed opportunity when we’re kept artificially alive in a nursing home. Act accordingly.

Newsflash: You Should Be Happy!!!

Matt Ridley has written an entertaining book: The Rational Optimist, detailing all the ways in which life is great for rich people. (By rich people I mean the fraction of humans who make ≥5 figure salaries in $.)

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For example Louis XIV had a hundred chefs make him 100 meals and throw away the 99 he didn’t want, but nowadays a New York City “peasant” has even more choice of dinner consumption, without needing to be king. (I’m not sure if this applies to the poorest person in NYC or the poor ones who can’t make it in … which is why I’m restricting the statement to ≥$10000 earners. Although maybe Mr Ridley would argue that even a subsistence farmer today has it better than Les Hommes de Cro-Magnon.)

But so, uh, why is this an interesting book? Nobody writes a book called Hey, did you know the sky is blue? Except at sunset when it’s pink or when it rains it’s grey. Isn’t that interesting?! Because everybody already knows that. The fact that Mr Ridley can sell a “provocative” book full of amazing facts and viewpoints about how prosperous we are sends a grave message the opposite way.

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Why is it that we need a book from Mr Ridley to remind us how good we’ve got it?

“On Hedonism:

Beauty makes me hopeless. I don’t care why anymore I just want to get away. When I look at the city of Paris I long to wrap my legs around it. When I watch you dancing there is a heartless immensity like a sailor in a dead calm sea. Desires as round as peaches bloom in me all night, I no longer gather what falls.”

- Anne Carson, Short Talks, from Plainwater

There is no such thing as a good influence, Mr. Gray. All influence is immoral – immoral from the scientific point of view. Because to influence a person is to give him one’s own soul. He does not think his natural thoughts, or burn with his natural passions. His virtues are not real to him. His sins, if there are such things as sins, are borrowed. He becomes an echo of some one else’s music, an actor of a part that has not been written for him. The aim of life is self-development. To realize one’s nature perfectly – that is what each of us is here for. People are afraid of themselves, nowadays. They have forgotten the highest of all duties, the duty that one owes to one’s self.
—  Lord Henry, The Picture of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde

“It is only shallow people who require years to get rid of an emotion. A man who is master of himself can end a sorrow as easily as he can invent a pleasure. I don’t want to be at the mercy of my emotions. I want to use them, to enjoy them, and to dominate them.” - Oscar Wilde.

Like so far I’ve been mostly posting reactions to various comic and outrageous moments but what’s really grabbing me in this route is how intensely romantic and involving this story is.

As the MC we’re given such a feeling of agency and importance, especially with some of the best choices in the dialogue selection. And at the same time you can feel Aurora going from casual and teasing flirting to realising how much she likes this intense and clever young woman she suddenly has responsibility for.

And from then on she puts so much energy into getting to know MC and carefully slowly wooing her, even in the middle of a very fucked-up period of her life.

And Aurora’s hedonism and flamboyance are very real parts of her and not some facade, and at the same time there’s so much of her we’re not seeing yet and she’s so obviously vulnerable.

This is really exciting and I should be asleep.


Epicureanism: The Original Party School by Existential Comics

The Epicureans, despite being avowed hedonists and the modern connotations of the word, weren’t really interested in the sort of sensual pleasure that we think of as hedonism. They believed that the most pleasurable life mostly consisted of avoiding pain and unpleasantness by leading a simple, tranquil life free or worries and suffering. The best kinds of pleasures were not excessive ones that could lead to displeasure down the line (such as intensely desiring it, or hangovers), but simple pleasures that fulfill basic desires (hungry, sleep, etc). Likewise you should avoid excess or unnecessary desires such as greed, lust, and domination over others. Their prescribed path might be viewed as boring to many modern and ancient readers: doing gardening, meditating, and avoid politics and conflict. Epicurus said that he could be satisfied with merely water, bread, weak wine and a “pot of cheese.”

Relax, Don’t Do It

Pairing: Jimin/Jeongguk 
Rating: Explicit
WC: 24K (finished)
Summary: Jeongguk likes to party. Jeongguk likes to party hard. When he wakes up half naked in a Denny’s parking lot, for the third time, he decides to commit to something for once and swear to be completely straight-edge for a full 90 days. That includes no partying, no late nights, and absolutely no sex. Easy until Jimin decides to crash land, literally, into his life.
Tags: college!au, art teacher!kookie, general hedonism, lots and lots of sexual frustration
Notes: Just in case any of you guys missed that I finished it!
Read it on Ao3.

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the signs' motives as villains (updated)

aries: addicted to the thrill of evil, violence and spite, especially when it means winning. acts out of impulse
taurus: wants a luxurious, comfortable life and will go to any lengths to get that. acts selfishly
gemini: wants to be in complete control. will sacrifice anything for knowlege and power. acts through calculation and observation
leo: wants to be famous and have a large amount of devoted fans, will even settle for infamy if it means theyre remembered. acts out of pride
cancer: wants safety and security, even if it means endangering others. acts out of fear
virgo: wants to make the world “perfect” to their own personal standards, even if those standards are evil. acts out of obsessiveness
libra: has a warped sense of justice and believes their actions are the right thing to do. acts by influence of others
scorpio: wants revenge for being rejected, betrayed or hurt. acts on emotion
sagittarius: wants true freedom and believes hedonism is the only option. acts without a care
capricorn: wants to be rich and successful so will use any means to progress. acts out of will
aquarius: wants to push the human race to achieve its best potential, even if that means devestation for humanity first. acts “for the greater good”
pisces: feels their actions are a good way to deal with emotions, even if thats extremely untrue. acts by reaction


It’s been about two years since I did a complete Steve/Loki recs list, and I decided it was about time I did that again and updated with all the new stuff that’s gone up since then! Because my pairing has grown and I’m so proud. 

I’m including my own fic on this because I’m a vain little creature in need of constant validation. :D 

Under a read more because I’ve read a fair amount of Steve/Loki fic and I don’t want to break your dashes.

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