Sunday, October 16, 2011

"Then you are an individualist, a materialist, and, logically, a hedonist."

"I wouldn't stand for that," he replied. "Couldn't see the necessity for it, nor the common sense. I cut out the race and the children. I would sacrifice nothing for them. It's just so much slush and sentiment, and you must see it yourself, at least for one who does not believe in eternal life. With immortality before me, altruism would be a paying business proposition. I might elevate my soul to all kinds of altitudes. But with nothing eternal before me but death, given for a brief spell this yeasty crawling and squirming which is called life, why, it would be immoral for me to perform any act that was a sacrifice. Any sacrifice that makes me lose one crawl or squirm is foolish, —and not only foolish, for it is a wrong against myself and a wicked thing. I must not lose one crawl or squirm if I am to get the most out of the ferment. Nor will the eternal movelessness that is coming to me be made easier or harder by the sacrifices or selfishnesses of the time when I was yeasty and acrawl."

"Then you are an individualist, a materialist, and, logically,
a hedonist."

"Big words," he smiled. "But what is a hedonist?"

He nodded agreement when I had given the definition.

"And you are also," I continued. "a man one could not trust in the least thing where it was possible for a selfish interest to intervene?"

"Now you're beginning to understand," he said, brightening.

"You are a man utterly without what the world calls morals?"

"That's it."

"A man of whom to be always afraid —"

"That's the way to put it."

"As one is afraid of a snake, or a tiger, or a shark?"

"Now you know me," he said. "And you know me as I am generally known. Other men call me 'Wolf.'"

(The Sea Wolf by Jack London, Chapter 8)


Larry said...

This excerpt is enough, in itself, to refute so-called "Christian Hedonism." Christian Hedonism is a devotion to the greatest pleasure no matter what, and -- at the present moment, which the Christian Hedonist must concur, is all that the estimate of the greatest pleasure can cover -- the greatest pleasure happens to be God. In fact, the "leading" Christian hedonist says, that it is "immoral to worship God for any other reason than the pleasure to be had in him." Therefore, if the estimate of the greatest pleasure changes, even mistakenly, the hedonist follows a different means to the end of pleasure.

Bill said...


Thank you for commenting.

My intent in posting the quote from Jack London's novel "Sea Wolf" was as an illustration of what the logical end of secular materialism is. Wolf Larson epitomized secular materialism in his life and philosophy. The novel itself sets Wolf Larson's amoral materialism in contrast to Humphrey Van Weyden's moralistic materialism.

My concern was more philosphicaly broad then the more narrow scope of the theology of Christian hedonism... I have not spent a lot of time on that as a theological issue and will have to leave it to others who have more closely examined it to respond on how or how not this quote from London relates to that issue.