Artist: Philosophy Bites
For a while now I’ve been enjoying the brief philosophy-for-dummies sort of podcasts at Philosophy Bites. In this one, David Eagleman discusses how cognitive science discoveries are shedding some light on moral issues involving a person’s freedom to choose. I really enjoy a lot of what Eagleman has to say, but he probably overstates the importance of the new scientific research (as scientists are wont to do…). Still, I find it interesting how cognitive science and ancient theological topics are starting to intersect. In this clip he talks about the human temptation to choose a short term pleasure that is ultimately destructive over a choice that, though harder in the short term, ultimately brings more long term pleasure.
Isn’t this basically for moral choice that has faced humans since they became human? I find this theme to be absolutely central to my own moral life, and over such a broad portion of my life. Lots of cake and ice cream would be more pleasurable than healthy eating, but not in the long run. Lots of new sex with lots of different people looks like it might be fun in the short term, but I’ll never build a great marriage and a happy family by going that route.
You can basically apply the same principle to any appetite - food, sex, money, power, you name it. Immediate over-indulgence of your appetites is good in the short term, but it doesn’t bring about lasting health, wholeness, love, community - all the stuff that is really considered “good.”
There’s a theme that runs throughout Lewis’s works about humankind emerging from its animal origins, toward a divine endpoint. It’s a God-ordained progression - that of course involves a lot of freedom - but one that is ultimately intended to invite humankind to God-likeness. To ignore self-denial and always just give in to your appetites is to remain in the realm of the animal. To reign them in, finding balance in the enjoyment of creation while not being controlled by its pleasures, is to move in God’s direction.
Listen to the whole episode (and subscribe to the podcast) at the link below.