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Moderation and Desire

Written by jayson. No comments Posted in: Ethics, Philosophy

I was speaking with a good friend the other day about a personal crisis they were having. Without going into too much detail, it was about a certain emptiness that they felt, on occassion, that boiled over sometimes while doing the simplest of things.

I talked with my friend about this, and tried to put it in perspective (as is the case with reason), and we illustrated a few things that were lacking in their life. It was the routine of things that was both helping them and yet tormenting them. The boiling over happened when my friend realized that they didn’t know what they wanted. Eventually the question was asked, what should people want and how can you know what you want?

For the most part, as we’ve discussed, there is no “should”… to a point. If the satisfaction of desires is itself desireable, the best actions to take are those that will maximize your ability to go through the process. Finding those actions – the ones that satisfy immediate desires while still maintaining the ability to go through the process in the future – is the task of those walking the infinite spiral.

There can be too much of a good thing. While Aristotle lived 2400 years ago, and was heavily influenced by his culture when it came to metaphysics and ethics, he did illustrate something that just “seemed right” when it came to how people should conduct their lives. He called this the Golden Mean.

Aristotle focuses his use of the golden mean on what it means to be virtuous. It is no coincidence that it also happens to be very useful when looking to take actions that will satisfy desires while continuing to allow you to do so.

It is also no coincidence that people who have driven themselves into a “downward spiral” are not that happy. The mean applies to many things, including work, play, routine, lack of routine… eventually you are no longer engaging the process and must shift gears.

This “top of the bell curve” in the satisfaction of desire applies not only to our personal desires, but also to what it means to be “sustainable”.

That said, there is one thing that our old Greek friend missed out on – while we should try to ride the middle-ground, you should also ride the middle ground when it comes to riding the middle ground. The doctrine of the mean is largely based on the ego, which can cause a further loss of perspective on the will to power.

Everything in moderation, including moderation.

Sometimes we desire excess. Sometimes you must release as much energy as possible in as short a time as possible to express your desires. Sometimes reality demands reckless abandon. The candle that burns twice as bright may burn half as long, but puts out the same energy. As long as it creates the world in a way that can continue the Process in itself, we should not shy from these things, either.

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