“There are others too…that pretend to be pleasures, such as gambling and pointless parties; as time goes on, it becomes clear even to the victims of their seduction that they are afflictions disguised as pleasures….”
Socrates, in Xenophon’s The Estate Manager, I

It’s a tale of two parties. At the first party people party for the sake of partying. We hear lines like ‘we don’t need a reason to party,’ ‘seize the moment,’ ‘just have a good time.’ Partiers immerse themselves in … Read more of this Wednesday Quote with commentary at Bacon from Acorns.

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John A. Cuddeback is a professor and chairman of the Philosophy Department at Christendom College in Front Royal, Virginia, where he has taught since 1995. He received a Ph.D. in Philosophy from The Catholic University of America under the direction of F. Russell Hittinger. He has lectured on various topics including virtue, culture, natural law, friendship, and household. His book Friendship: The Art of Happiness was republished in 2010 as True Friendship: Where Virtue Becomes Happiness. His writings have appeared in Nova et Vetera, The Thomist, and The Review of Metaphysics, as well as in several volumes published by the American Maritain Association. Though raised in what he calls an ‘archetypical suburb,’ Columbia, Maryland, he and his wife Sofia consider themselves blessed to be raising their six children in the shadow of the Blue Ridge on the banks of the Shenandoah. At the material center of their homesteading projects are heritage breed pigs, which like the pigs of Eumaeus are fattened on acorns, yielding a bacon that too few people ever enjoy. His website dedicated to the philosophy of family and household is baconfromacorns.com.

2 COMMENTS

  1. What makes a party pointless? Certainly a holiday without the holy is rather silly, but what of playing cards with friends, of good conversation at a bar, of the play of children, of board games? What of a silly costume party for fun or silly accent party? What of the study of plants or of literary theory? Are such things pointless? I am probably reading too much into this but it seems like the best, a festival based upon divine worship, might be getting away of the good, a regular party-a fine, fun evening together with friends. Perhaps it would be worthwhile to distinguish between a “festival” with its divine connotations and the more everyday “party” or game, or evening together with friends and family.

  2. Chris,
    You ask precisely the right question: what makes a party pointless? And you proceed to note, again rightly, that there are many different good ways of spending quality time with friends and loved ones. The gatherings to which you refer are indeed not pointless. They are various wholesome ways of being-together with those we love. Yes, there is a hierarchy among them, but we can say that there is a ‘point,’ in all them: real personal communion of some sort is put first. That of which Xenophon speaks is something different–and I think something very common in our society. I would suggest that pointless parties are especially characterized by putting a premium on bodily pleasure, as though that is what most of all constitutes a good time. The over-emphasis of bodily pleasure usually goes hand in hand with an effort, albeit often an unconscious one, to escape the present, rather than be-in-it, with those we love. Both higher festivities, and lower instances of wholesome parties, actually share something very important in common: that they are ways that people experience a real communion with one another, rooted in the truth about the human person. You are surely right that the highest of festivals are directly connected with things divine. Wholesome parties too, I think, have a connection to and a presence of the divine, even though more remotely.

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