Perhaps by dichotomising this issue I have made it seem overly simple. Either you choose option A or you choose option B for your life. This is not the case. The world is not a binary system of ones and zeroes but an infinitely complex set of multivariate, interconnected relationships. We try and model the world by making assumptions (economists!) or by over-simplifying complex issues (as above). When we model in this way, we risk losing the usefulness of the model, quite simply because it no longer represents reality. It is too far removed and abstracted from the real, complex system that the jump from the model to the real world is too large. I hope that my model (a binary, over-simplified model of the consequences of my choices) still has some usefulness, even after the oversimplification.
Very few people are entirely hedonistic, without a shred of redeeming character, and even less live completely godly lives. We are all some combination of these two options. The one advantage of the binary representation, I think, is that it symbolises that we cannot or rather that we should not dabble in one (the hedonistic option for me) every now and then and live mostly in the other, but should live wholly in one of these – either hot or cold, not some perverted mixture of the two (salt-water and fresh water, grapes and thorn bushes, figs and thistles for example). Wherever you find yourself, I think it is imperative that we are honest with ourselves – something I am trying to do.
It’s all good and well to know what we should do, but how can we actually do this? This is where my little model fails – it is descriptive and not prescriptive. I highly doubt that a prescriptive model of that complexity could be represented dichotomously, and my initial speculation is that we already have that prescriptive model…we just don’t follow its prescriptions….just a thought 🙂