Chapters Bookshelf

Utilitarian Union

Carriage and Aristippus

You step out of the carriage and are immediately greeted by a mouth-watering aroma. Is it chocolate cake baking? Is it bacon frying? A wave of deliciousness washes over you, and you automatically begin to follow your nose. You look up and see an ornate palace decorated with gold and other precious metals. This promises to be a great quest! As you enter the grandiose archway leading into the great hall of the palace, a rotund man waves at you. “Greetings, stranger. Welcome to our paradise,” he calls. “Have a seat. I was just about to play this new video game, and I need a partner. My name is Aristippus but you can call me Pip. Please join me.”

“Thanks,” you reply. My name is .” You grab a seat on the couch next to him, and sink into the cloud-like softness of the seat. You have never been so comfortable in your life. Great music is playing in the background, and there is a huge bucket of candy next to you with all of your favorites. This place is a feast for the senses.

“Grab a snack,” Pip offers.

“Wow, this is a lot of candy. Is this left over from Halloween?” you ask.

Pip looks at you quizzically. “No,” he replies. “We have candy here all the time. I like candy so that is pretty much all I eat. In this community of hedonists, we all eat whatever tastes best.”

Hmmm. That can’t be very healthy, you think. But you grab a piece of candy and the controls for the video game. Time seems to fly by as you play, and pretty soon there is a pile of empty candy wrappers next to you and, looking at the clock, you realize that hours have slipped away. “Wow. I have to get going. I’ve wasted so much time,” you tell Pip.

“What do you mean, wasted? You had fun didn’t you? Did the candy and video games give you pleasure? Then that is not a waste. Here, our lives are devoted to pure pleasure.”

“That’s interesting,” you reply. “But there is more to life than pure pleasure, of course. There are higher pursuits, and to be honest with you, eating candy and playing video games all day isn’t exactly healthy. Besides, I am on a mission to collect ethical knowledge to help rebuild a civilization.”

“Sounds boring,” Pip retorts.

“Well it isn’t. It is a noble pursuit. And besides, I have friends back at the library who are counting on me. Fulfilling my obligations to my friends is important to me.”

“Yawn!” Pip sarcastically says. “Friendship, duties, whatever. That doesn’t sound very pleasurable. I’m not interested.”

You look at him in disbelief. “If you don’t mind my saying this, your life sounds very shallow. I mean, sure it is fun for an afternoon but it isn’t a very fulfilling way to live.”

“Maybe,” Pip replies. “But thinking about alternatives doesn’t give me pleasure nor does this conversation. If you are interested in philosophy, there is a book in the corner that explains Hedonism. You are welcome to it. We are more into comic books these days. There is a guy who lives in the valley over there named Jerry something-or-other. He left our community a while back saying that there is more to life than pure pleasure. You’d probably appreciate his nonsense. Good luck in your journey.”

“Thanks,” you say as you force yourself up from the couch of clouds and reluctantly put down the candy bar in your hand. Wiping the chocolate from your mouth, you summon your will power and force yourself to leave this paradise – of sorts – and continue down into the valley to meet Jerry.