I assume that the philosophy of hakuna matata (Swahili phrase from The Lion King roughly translated as "no worries") has been studied, almost certainly under a different name. The type of philosophy I mean is one where you don't worry about possible ramifications of delinquent actions today. The idea that you just have to enjoy yourself and seek immediate gratification in all your decisions. I can't seem to know what exactly I should look for; any help would be appreciated.


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The "no worries" sans souci ethic is well supported, for instance in the Buddhist Pāli Canon and a memorable phrase in the Bible:-

Grasping and Worry SN 22.7

the well-instructed Ariyan disciple, who has regard for the Noble Ones, is skilled and trained in the Dhamma of the Noble Ones, ... Not being full of desire and attachment, he is not worried.

Matthew 6:25-27 : Do Not Worry

25 Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

These religious perspectives advocate for equanimity. Not only is a calm state of mind obviously preferable to a neurotically worried one, but it is also conducive to more organised living.

Nevertheless, this advocacy is concerned with worrying itself; not about failing to prepare for the future or being hedonistic. Delinquency 'today' is not ethically supported. Knowing the evolutionary reasons for wanting "all the jam today" leads to an understanding of what is required to compensate for that predisposition, and responsibly save some jam for tomorrow. These reasons were very well articulated by Nate Hagens on the Oil Drum, quoted below.

The ethical implication is that is it is ethical to compensate for the predisposition, and that excessive immediate gratification while knowing the causes and faults is unethical. Someone who doesn't know any better is unethically negligent.

Living for the Moment while Devaluing the Future (2007)


Everyone is familiar with the 'discount rate' in the financial markets. It's the rate that the Federal Reserve charges its member banks. Its also the rate that a stock analyst might use to handicap a companies future earnings stream back to the present. ... The higher a discount rate and/or the longer the time frame, the lower the discount factor will be. A discount rate approaching 1 means things in the future have no value at all in the present moment. A discount rate of zero means that $1 dollar in 2050 is worth $1 today.

The original neoclassical assumption was that the [human] discount rate curve was exponential, meaning that we discounted the same from period to period. Actual economic experiments however show that the shape of the discount curve is hyperbolic, or as Harvard economist David Laibson prefers quasi-hyperbolic. This means that the early periods have much steeper discount rates than later periods. Laibson's research indicates that people's discount rates are 12% during days 0-5 but drop to 4% in days 20-25. We REALLY prefer the present.

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Animals (and humans) have their own internal discount rates exogenous from the market on how they choose between the short term and longer term options offered them in life. Since many animals have short lifespans, they have been shaped through evolution to gather resources and reproduce quickly before they die (this is not a conscious motive – they innately pursue behaviours that were historically successful). Different species have different discount rates, though all are steep, much steeper than our financial systems rates. If you leave for the weekend and give your goldfish 3 days of food at once, you will probably return to a dead bloated goldfish - they have discount factors close to zero and discount rates close to one. One reason humans discount rates arent quite as steep is probably due to our sunk costs. If we didn't have mortgage payments and college funds for our kids, our discount rates might even be steeper. The origins of this behavior are quite logical – animals that deferred opportunities to eat, might come back and find their food stolen, or they might have been eaten themselves in the interim – the long arm of selection would have favored organisms that valued immediacy over those who preferred to wait. The way they were 'favored' is via the incremental crafting of biological neurotransmitter response pathways.

Also covered here:-

The Psychological and Evolutionary Roots of Resource Overconsumption Revisited (2009)


The Latin version of it is Carpe Diem (seize the day) taken from Horace's Odes. There is even a more ancient Homeric Hymn to Apollo about the brothers Agamedes and Trophonius who built Apollo's temple that hosted the oracle at Delphi.

"Once finished, the oracle told the brothers to do whatsoever they wished for six days and, on the seventh, their greatest wish would be granted. They did and were found dead on the seventh day. The saying "those whom the gods love die young" comes from this story".

More recent renditions include YOLO (“you only live once”) "live fast, die young", and "we want the world and we want it now", courtesy of Jim Morrison. Horace himself was a Roman Epicurean, and many of his poems reflect the "carpe diem" take on Epicurean hedonism. But Epicurus was a guru of moderation in pleasures. Aristippus of Cyrene, on the other hand, perhaps the founder of hedonism, considered instant physical gratification preferable to intellectual pleasures exactly because it was more intense.

The counterculture of 1960s largely embraced the "carpe diem" outlook, but without the moderation or traditional hedonism. Many of its stars even practiced what they preached, especially the "die young" part. And this reminds us of Nietzsche's amor fati, love of fate:

"Nietzsche was struggling with the question, driven by the specter of mortality, with how humans should live a good life. He had two extreme positions in front of him: the ancient ascetic position, which dictates that to live a good life you must forgo human desire, and the more hedonistic carpe diem philosophy that we see crop up in pop culture. But really, Nietzsche wasn’t arguing for either position. When he talks about amor fati, there’s a higher level of uber-morality going on there, that goes beyond carpe diem or asceticism, that’s really asking us to embrace our mortality rather than shy from it with regret."

See Keller's Psychology (and Philosophy) of ‘No Regrets’ and Instant Gratification by Roberts.


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