Ecclesiastes / Qohelet and Hedonism

27 May

I recently re-read Ecclesiastes because it’s one of my favorite religious writings. It is part of the Christian "Old Testament" and part of the Jewish Talmud. I really feel this book advocates Hedonism as the only worth-while pursuit in life. of course, most religious scholars would disagree with me. As an atheist and enthusiastic subscriber to Hedonism, I see the idea come through clearly.

Hedonism is the philosophy that pleasure is of ultimate importance, the most important pursuit. The name derives from the Greek word for "delight"

Here are a few key verses I think support the idea that this particular ancient book advocates Hedonism, basically that life is meaningless, so have as much fun as you can while you can!:

Ecclesiastes 1: 11 – No one who lived in the past is remembered anymore, and everyone yet to be born will be forgotten too.

Ecclesiastes 2:24,25The best thing we can do is to enjoy eating, drinking, and working. I believe these are God’s gifts to us, and no one enjoys eating and living more than I do.

Ecclesiastes 3:19-22 – Humans and animals come to the same end—humans die, animals die. We all breathe the same air. So there’s really no advantage in being human. None.

Everything’s smoke. We all end up in the same place—we all came from dust, we all end up as dust. Nobody knows for sure that the human spirit rises to heaven or that the animal spirit sinks into the earth. So I made up my mind that there’s nothing better for us men and women than to have a good time in whatever we do—that’s our lot. Who knows if there’s anything else to life?

Ecclesiastes 4:7-8 – I turned my head and saw yet another wisp of smoke on its way to nothingness: a solitary person, completely alone—no children, no family, no friends—yet working obsessively late into the night, compulsively greedy for more and more, never bothering to ask, “Why am I working like a dog, never having any fun?"

Ecclesiastes 4:11Two in a bed warm each other. Alone, you shiver all night.

Ecclesiastes 5: 8-9 – Don’t be too upset when you see the poor kicked around, and justice and right violated all over the place. Exploitation filters down from one petty official to another. There’s no end to it, and nothing can be done about it.

Ecclesiastes 5:13-17 -Here’s a piece of bad luck I’ve seen happen:
    A man hoards far more wealth than is good for him
    And then loses it all in a bad business deal.
    He fathered a child but hasn’t a cent left to give him.
    He arrived naked from the womb of his mother;
    He’ll leave in the same condition—with nothing.

    This is bad luck, for sure—naked he came, naked he went.
    So what was the point of working for a salary of smoke?

Ecclesiastes 5:18-20 – After looking at the way things are on this earth, here’s what I’ve decided is the best way to live: Take care of yourself, have a good time, and make the most of whatever job you have for as long as God gives you life. And that’s about it. That’s the human lot

Yes, we should make the most of what God gives, both the bounty and the capacity to enjoy it, accepting what’s given and delighting in the work. It’s God’s gift! God deals out joy in the present, the now. It’s useless to brood over how long we might live.

Ecclesiastes 6: 6 – Even if someone lived a thousand years—make it two thousand!—but didn’t enjoy anything, what’s the point? Doesn’t everyone end up in the same place?

Ecclesiastes 7: 15-17 – I’ve seen it all in my brief and pointless life—here a good person cut down in the middle of doing good, there a bad person living a long life of sheer evil. So don’t knock yourself out being good, and don’t go overboard being wise. Believe me, you won’t get anything out of it.

Ecclesiastes 8:14-15 – Here’s something that happens all the time and makes no sense at all: Good people get what’s coming to the wicked, and bad people get what’s coming to the good. I tell you, this makes no sense. It’s smoke.

So, I’m all for just going ahead and having a good time—the best possible. The only earthly good men and women can look forward to is to eat and drink well and have a good time—compensation for the struggle for survival these few years God gives us on earth.

Ecclesiastes 9:3 – Anything’s possible. It’s one fate for everybody—righteous and wicked, good people, bad people, the nice and the nasty, worshipers and non-worshipers, committed and uncommitted. I find this outrageous—the worst thing about living on this earth—that everyone’s lumped together in one fate. Is it any wonder that so many people are obsessed with evil? Is it any wonder that people go crazy right and left? Life leads to death. That’s it.

Here is one bible verse you rarely hear at funerals LOL:

Ecclesiastes 9: 5 – The living at least know something, even if it’s only that they’re going to die. But the dead know nothing and get nothing. They’re a minus that no one remembers. Their loves, their hates, yes, even their dreams, are long gone. There’s not a trace of them left in the affairs of this earth.

This is probably the strongest verse in support of Hedonism due to life having no other meaning:

Ecclesiastes 9: 7-10Seize life! Eat bread with gusto,
    Drink wine with a robust heart.

    Oh yes—God takes pleasure in your pleasure!
    Dress festively every morning.
    Don’t skimp on colors and scarves.
    Relish life with the spouse you love
    Each and every day of your precarious life.
    Each day is God’s gift. It’s all you get in exchange
    For the hard work of staying alive.
    Make the most of each one!
    Whatever turns up, grab it and do it. And heartily!
    This is your last and only chance at it,

    For there’s neither work to do nor thoughts to think
    In the company of the dead, where you’re most certainly headed.

Ecclesiastes 11: 10 – Live footloose and fancy-free— You won’t be young forever. Youth lasts about as long as smoke.

Let me just add, Ecclesiastes is HILARIOUS in the lol cat bible


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