What is that name symptomatic about, if anything? Let’s look at the word “hobby” first.

Decades ago, my spouse told me that the late Rev. Sun Myung Moon once had said that people should live their lives as a hobby. It then sounded intriguing to me, and I wondered why anyone would say so, especially a man so dedicated to his God as the Rev. Moon was. Should religious people or people of faith not live their lives as martyrs, as existential philosopher Søren Kierkegaard suggested, or perhaps simply as ascetics or in some other esoteric kind of mode?

My hunch then was that living one’s life as if a hobby would offer a lot more joy than living a life as if being a mere sacrificial lamb or means to an end. I have not found myself to be wrong yet.

Moritz Schlick  (1882–1936), German philosopher, physicist, and founding father of logical positivism and the Vienna Circle, bears that attitude out in his remarkable essay entitled “On the Meaning of Life.”

Quoting Wendell O’Brien in the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy:

“Schlick was aware of Schopenhauer’s musings and was concerned to escape his dire conclusions. Schlick found his answer in (his interpretation of) Nietzsche’s ‘Thus Spake Zarathustra.’ The answer is that life can be meaningful only if it is freed from its subjugation to ends and purposes. The suggestion is radical: a life has meaning only if it does not have some end or purpose to which everything is subordinated.

Schlick argued that the meaning of life is to be found not in work but in play. Work, in the philosophical sense, is always something done not for its own sake but for the sake of something else, some end or purpose that is to be achieved.  Most often that end is the survival and perpetuation of life—that is, more work functioning only to perpetuate the life of the species. But it is absurd to take the meaning of life to lie in the continued survival of the species, or in the work required to make that survival possible.”

Wendell O’Brien in
The Meaning of Life: Early Continental and Analytic Perspectives,
Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy

A hobby is, in my estimation, an activity engaged in for its own glorious sake or joy and not necessarily for the furtherance of some further end or goal. This approach to life will offend the many people of faith who believe in Aristotelian teleology and that ends justify means and orient their lives exclusively around that imperative.

Schlick, in his essay, also makes the point of differentiating pleasure and “joy.”

“Yet let us beware of confusing joy, on which life’s value depends, with its surrogate, mere pleasure, that shallow enjoyment of which Schiller said that it smooths the empty face of mortals. Pleasure wearies, while joy refreshes; the latter enriches, the former puts a false sheen upon existence. Both indeed, lead us away from daily toil and distract us from care, but they do it in different ways: pleasure by diverting us, joy by pulling us together.”

There we now have it: HobbyJoy

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