This question I struggle with myself as well. Many of times in the past have I passed out from drinking too much alcohol, or woken up with a sore throat because I smoked too much while I was drunk. Or perhaps even that time I ate 40 chicken nuggets because I was so stoned and drunk that I thought each nugget was only half its value in energy. But there is a life lesson to be learned in all of these situations: Stop doing it. LOL
In today’s society, judicial law has progressed into a state in which allows for major loop holes and sly deals. This has contributed to the overindulgence of human kind, but ultimately is up to the individual to curb their cravings and know what is best. But this also is not as simple as it seems, why though? Addiction.
Admit it. We are all addicted to life.
Addiction or Overindulgence is a vice for the Greek philosopher Aristotle. He says that anything in too much and anything in too little is a vice, and therefore must be changed into a virtue. But how do you know when what you’re doing is too much or too little? Empathy.
Take for the example of you are at home by yourself. You decide that you want to get drunk tonight so you can be happy. So you open a bottle of wine and start drinking. As you are drinking this wine you start to become drunk. Your spouse comes home to find you drunk. Here is where the deviation in individuals lie and why it is up to empathy to know your limits. If while intoxicated you start to become belligerent, insane, incoherent, etc. This for Aristotle is a vice. If while intoxicated you simply say hello to your spouse and inform them that you are intoxicated and to make you a sandwich please. That for Aristotle is a virtue. So you can see that in both cases they “indulged” but in the first case, their indulgence was a vice because it lead to bad habits. While on the other hand, in the second case, even though they indulged, they were able to maintain the peace around them.
Settle down there, sonny Jim!
So it could be understood from this that in order to know what a virtue is, you must first know thyself or understand your own limits and reactions. You must be empathetic to yourself first. Only after that, can you really know how much is too much for you. A little drinking and smoking here and there, as long as you maintain the peace around you and maintain your responsibilities as a human being. But there is just something about overindulging that makes it so addicting, what is it?
I believe that what makes overindulging so addictive is the science behind it. Our brains are wired to feel good when we do things we like, and feel bad when we do things we don’t like. So if we are always feeling good, we don’t ever want to feel bad. And that is understandable, but think of it like this: Even though you are feeling good now, you will feel horrible later. So would it not be better to simply enjoy responsibly without ever feeling bad, than overindulging and then later feeling bad?
I fully understand though, “Well what if I can’t even indulge because law says so otherwise?”. This is why I brought up the whole judicial law thing, because I believe that the laws in place in society today have been set without a moral code or understanding of the balance of virtues and vices.
Drugs for example, throughout antiquity human kind has been using drugs for all different types of purposes. However, we know that these drug user, even though the drugs they use are quite dangerous. They use it responsibly and don’t overindulge. They understand the balance of things and how they must work together in order for you to be happy. As long as you are maintaining the peace and well being of everyone (including yourself) you are acting in a virtuous manner, thus nothing you do in this way can be a vice.
For example, you are at a party and you see that there is a huge blunt (joint) going around. You think to yourself: If I smoke, I’m going to lose control of my mind and probably go crazy and drink some more. Aristotle would call this temptation a vice, because in doing so you are tainting your ability to be empathetic and lead a virtuous life. However if you think: If I smoke, I’m going to be so relaxed and have a wonderful time with my friends. Then Aristotle would be absolutely for this type of behavior, because not only are you making yourself happy, but you are making those around you happy as well.
Snoop Dogg is a wonderful exemplar, he smokes so much and yet still makes people around him so happy. Aristotle would have approved of his lifestyle. He simply is a nice person.
So then if we understand that overindulging is only subjective, then how can there be laws on this matter? Exactly! There should not be laws on this matter. The only thing that should be said about drugs and using drugs is the education and responsibility needed to take those drugs. So perhaps the solution to this matter would be to educate the population of this theory and perhaps then people will make responsible decisions.
Psyche. That’s not going to stop people from overindulging and putting peoples lives in danger. So how exactly do we combat severe indulgence in a society where drugs are okay? The first step would be to identify those drugs that are extremely detrimental to society. For example, meth and heroine, both drugs when taken induce certain effects in which don’t always akin to society. For example, if you have a heroine addict running around the street with a gun, that’s no bueno. But what about all those people that were once addicted and now off drugs? They would say no to drugs because they know the slippery slope it has.
But that is the thing, all of those people who were once addicted to drugs and ended up ruining their lives, lead a vice-filled life. Aristotle would have said something like, “If you can’t handle the heat, get out of the kitchen!”. If you can’t handle the drug, don’t do it. Because you are only causing harm to yourself and those around you. But if you can handle it, by all means enjoy!
All these people who have recovered from addiction, have ruined their lives, their social aspect of their life, due to these vices. If they would have lead a virtuous life, they would never have been admitted into the clinic. Because there would be no issue of their drug usage with their social life. But then what about those who group up and all do drugs and all just slowly wilt away in life?
Aristotle would have shunned them as well. The point of drugs is to make you happy, nothing more, nothing less. But remember that doing nothing for Aristotle is also a vice. If you are a part of that group, and you see someone doing too much, and you yourself do too much, and do nothing about it, that’s a vice. And I mean come on, that’s a drug house that is filled with gangsters and prostitutes who don’t care for anyone’s life. And that apathetic perspective, is exactly what is wrong with society today.
This is what I believed Aristotle was trying to do through his philosophy. I think he wanted to live in a place where everyone simply acted nice to one another because they understood that everyone just wants to live comfortably. And when everyone is thinking about other people’s feelings, they don’t over indulge.
For example, I’m at a bus stop. There are quite a bit of people but I want to smoke a cigarette. If I am an empathetic person, I would know and understand that some of those people might not want to be around second hand smoke. But I don’t know for sure. I can either smoke and not care about that half of the people. Or I can not smoke and care about every single person. So because I decide not to smoke, because some might be bothered, everyone is comfortable.
But then one might argue, “Well what about breast feeding?! It’s disgusting!”. For one: it’s not disgusting, you did it when you were a child, I did it when I was a child, and every child should be doing it because it’s how they eat? Breast feeding is natural. And two: you’re saying no to boobs in public, what is wrong with you? Lol. But really the argument here is that in the same case of the cigarettes, it’s making people in public uncomfortable.
But sorry I realized that I forgot to mention that second hand smoke can kill you. Someone feeding their baby on a park bench, is not going to be detrimental to your health. If anything it’s more beneficial because you get to learn how our bodies work. We all have to do it, it doesn’t hurt anyone, I don’t see the problem.
Wtf, I mean you can’t even see nipple, the sucker has got it all to himself!
So if you can’t even see the nipple, I truly don’t understand what people are going crazy about. That being said, I digress…damnit
Going back to how much is too much? The only way to know is to try, through experience do we learn empathy. From our mistakes we pick ourselves back up to become a more virtuous person. For example, when I started drinking I had no idea what was in store. Only was it when I drank too much did I realize that not only did it hurt the next morning, but I did not like the person I was the night I drank. Not having control over your actions is the worst vice you could have in my opinion. Because our minds are the most beautiful thing in the world and without control of our actions, that means we do not have control over our minds.
But some say, well it actually shows their true self. That is who they really are when they drink. How can you say that when the cause is a liquid and the effect is a person? It literally contradicts itself. Just because you ingest a liquid, does not mean that all of the sudden you become a different person. If someone becomes violent when they are drunk, it is because by nature they are violent. They might not seem violent when they are sober, but in fact they are in many other different ways. They may simply have a short temper, or have OCD about certain things. So when they are drunk, these attributes flow freely. But Aristotle believed that you must have control over your vices in order to live virtuously. And losing your mind is simply losing control over your vices.
So we have to always keep our vices in check, in order to live a virtuous life. And in doing so we get to understand, through our mistakes, what makes us a good person and how we can become better. So go ahead and drink and smoke, but do it responsibly, think about the people around you and how they would feel, and then party like a rockstar!
Thanks for reading.