Suffering/Survival Instinct - Intrinsic morality?

 The reality of suffering

Most of the times when you listen to a motivational speaker, it fills you with a temporary optimism, but you go home and the wiser part of you know that mostly it's the painting over of rotten wood with a fresh coat of paint and better we should know that our life is going to be difficult, and sometimes difficult beyond both imagining and tolerance. That it will definitely be in our future if it isn't already in our present. For most people it is already in their present and that can be unbearable enough to turn you against life itself, to corrupt, to corrupt also yourself, to drive you to nihilism, to drive you to suicide and worse, to drive you to thoughts of vengefulness of infinite scope.

To not only be turned against yourself and your fellow man, but to be turned against existence itself because of its intrinsically brutal in some sense nature; and that it is worse than that actually because it is not only that we suffer and that will necessarily occur; but that we will make our suffering worse because of our ignorance and our malevolence. And everyone knows that to be true. 

But then, despite that, we are remarkable creatures. We are capable of picking up the burden of that suffering and facing the reality of that malevolence voluntarily, we can actually do that. All of the psychological evidence suggests, and this is independent of your school of psychology. If you are a practical psychologist, if you are a clinical psychologist of any sort, the evidence is crystal clear that if people voluntarily confronts the problems that face them and the malevolence that surrounds them, that they can make headway against it, not only psychologically. So it is not only meaningful to do that psychologically; which it is to confront the problems that torment you voluntarily, that is meaningful psychologically, but it is also practically useful in that you can actually solve some of the problems that beset you. And God only knows how good we could get at that.

I do not know how much of human effort is spent on counter productivity. When I speak to undergraduates I ask them. How much time do you waste every day? The answer is somewhere between 5 to 8 hours. So I walked the students through an economic analysis of that; I said well, you know: Why don't you value your time at $50 an hour and calculate for your self just exactly what you're doing to your future by your inability to discipline yourself? It's worth thinking through. In any case people do waste a lot of time and they also act counter productively a lot of the time.

Regardless we do make progress and we can thrive under the difficult conditions that make up our lives; we can resist the malevolence that entices us. That is within our power and we do not know the limits to that. We also know that it is better to live courageously than cowardly. Everyone knows that and that is also what you tell people that you love and we know that we should pick up our damn responsibility and move forward. It is part of our intrinsic moral nature and that nature is there. It is not difficult to communicate to people about this like everyone know that you can let your life go off the rails, that you berate yourself for your uselessness and your cruelty and your failure to take off. To take the opportunities that are in front of you and if you were the master in your own house, in some sense the captain of your own destiny - if there is no intrinsic nature then well, that would never happen. You would just let yourself of the hook, The would be no voice of conscience tormenting you.

But no one escapes from that, and what that indicates to me is that at least psychologically we live in a universe that is characterized by a moral dimension and that moral failings have consequences and that they are not trivial. They destroy you, they destroy your family, they destroy your community and you can tell people that. They will listen because they know. They do not know they know! That is the thing and maybe that is the thing about being an intellectual, you have the opportunity to articulate, ideas that other people know they embody, but they can't articulate. And that is what people tell me. You know, they say well, you help me give words to things that I always knew to be true but couldn't say. Or they say I've been trying to put some of your precepts in to practice. Responsibility being the main one, vision and other honesty I suppose bringing up the pack and saying this is the remarkable part of doing all of this. 

 I have people telling me constantly wherever I go, it is so delightful that, you know, they are in a pretty dark place and they tell me why. And there are plenty of dark places in the world and they decided well, they are going to develop a bit of vision. Take a bit more responsibility and start telling the truth and start putting some effort in to something. And they come up and they say: You can't believe how much better things are.

I think the core religious message is the tragic nature of the world, the reality of suffering. But what emerges out of that properly conceptualized is a remarkable appreciation for what human beings are capable of. Like we are unbelievably resilient and able creatures and we do not have any conception of our upper limits...

Jordan Peterson

1 comment:

  1. EXTERNAL COMMENT: I realised in my lifetime that you must approach every new day first and foremost with appreciation of the gift of life that may last 90 years if you are lucky - There is nothing else even though many want to believe that, [ujt] if you accept your only life then you come to appreciate it more. The next step is to enter your day with vigilance to distinguish between good and evil because greed is a cancer that turns humans against each other for self gain. Drop your smart, drop your guard or refuse to fight and you will be fed to the dogs