The Free Dictionary  
mailing list For webmasters
Welcome Guest Forum Search | Active Topics | Members

Life & suffering. Options
Ebenezer Son
Posted: Wednesday, March 22, 2017 4:52:42 PM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 5/23/2013
Posts: 683
Neurons: 3,245
I've really thought about this for many years, but each time I do I only think to my self. And that is that - is there any sense in living and suffering in ones' life? I personally don't think there is any element of sense in living and suffering in one's life.
What do you Say.
Thanks a ton.

I know only one thing - that is that I know nothing.
whatson
Posted: Wednesday, March 22, 2017 11:52:27 PM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 2/19/2016
Posts: 356
Neurons: 3,061
Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
You are better off suffering for the greater glory of God during your
comparatively short Earthly life, then gnashing your teeth for eons
in one of the Boiling Cauldrons in the Original Hell's Kitchen - before
being served up in the refectory to the Horned Horde of Horrid Devils.

Sometimes I wish there existed some kind of god.
vipin viswanathan
Posted: Saturday, March 9, 2019 6:09:59 AM

Rank: Newbie

Joined: 10/21/2018
Posts: 22
Neurons: 120
In christian view, suffering produces good results.

Jesus has suffered on the cross and his followers may suffer in a similar manner.

When we go through suffering call Jesus. Our suffering here for Christ would earn eternal glory in the future age. If you want more scriptures on it, pls tell me. I will share.
Romany
Posted: Saturday, March 9, 2019 6:59:25 AM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 6/14/2009
Posts: 15,380
Neurons: 48,295
Location: Brighton, England, United Kingdom

Not being a Christian I see suffering as part of the human condition. And I believe it's part of the devlopment process.

Teaching one's children that it's useless to rail about "It's not fair." - LIFE is not fair - is, to me, part of one's responsibility in preparing them to cope with adversity. I don't see a great "purpose" or 'design' in suffering: it just IS. It's not personal i.e. directed personally at them. It's not a result of them being "sinners", and it doesn't make them 'special' or deserving. Every person in the world - Jews, Christians, Islamists, Pagans, Atheists, all suffer in various degrees.

It's how one COPES with the inevitable suffering each of us is going to go through, that determines the course of one's life and, ultimately, one's well-being.

If one doesn't teach them to have "grace under fire" i.e. to accept adversity with grace, courage, empathy, determination, and no sense of "Why me?" (Why not you? What makes you different/special/better than any other human being on the planet?) they will never experience contentment. It's the way one learns to have empathy for ones fellows.

And how does one teach them - and perhaps others? Not with words, but with actions. They watch and observe our behaviour and take their cues from us, their elders.

No-one has the "right" to a carefree, problem-free life. That's an impossible, unrealistic dream. Everyone has a choice. They can choose to spend their lives full of self-pity, being bitter and miserable and demanding special treatment.

But OUR purpose is to demonstrate to those who come after us how to accept that adversity can result in contentment, strength of character, unselfishness, duty, and care for everyone else who is going through the same tribulations as everyone else.

But hey, that's just my personal ideology. It's what, to me, gives a purpose to life and can make us into better people and, thus, help balance our world.
progpen
Posted: Saturday, March 9, 2019 11:07:41 AM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 10/2/2015
Posts: 2,034
Neurons: 350,029
Location: Haddington, Scotland, United Kingdom
Suffering is such a relative concept that it would be fairly impossible for any of us to understand the suffering of others, even if we have gone through similar ordeals in our lives. Those of us who have lived lives relatively free from suffering cannot speak for someone who grew up in a war torn region, or was sold into slavery, or has lived their life without the necessary food or water to be healthy, or has lived a life of pain due to disease or accident.

Compared to any of the previous, my suffering has been a drop in the ocean. While living through some of my obstacles, though, they seemed quite large and imposing and only time and experience have given me the perspective to see them otherwise.

Nolite te bastardes carborundorum
Romany
Posted: Saturday, March 9, 2019 1:41:11 PM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 6/14/2009
Posts: 15,380
Neurons: 48,295
Location: Brighton, England, United Kingdom
Of course; the relativism of "suffering" in the OP prevents a truly usefull platform for debate, and can only be discussed in a miasma of generalisation - this was predominantly in my mind as I read the posts which preceeded mine. I was also very aware that a philosophical discussion, of necessity, cannot be discussed on a level playing ground here because of the language barrier. Those who had responded were at a linguistic disadvantage in expressing their convictions and ideologies.

What I was responding to was the generalised concept of "suffering" as being a destructive process one didn't deserve - from being grounded on the night of one's Graduation Ball to watching one's child waste away from hunger. Or "suffering" being imposed by a supernatural being as a pathway to reward. Which is why I substituted the word "adversity" in places.

The fact that - in retrospect - you don't feel that your own problems or adversity can stand up against "true" suffering is still relevent to what I was saying though. At the time it was happening did you not feel negative emotions? Despair, anger, hopelessness, misery, stress, frustration or rage? As you said: "They seemed quite large and imposing..." at the time - you weren't able to dismiss them on some sort of scale of intensity?

You say it's only time and experience which have made you dismiss them as negligable because others have been through worse. But I still feel that this supports my point about "choices" in how to deal with adversity. You, obviously, looked around you and observed - and chose to re-categorise or minimise your own negative experiences so they didn't take over your life. Others choose to use any kind of adversity as giving them the right to demand recompense for the rest of their lives. And in so doing, often impact the lives of those around them - their children even - in such a way as to prevent their own coping skills to evolve.
progpen
Posted: Sunday, March 10, 2019 3:39:14 AM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 10/2/2015
Posts: 2,034
Neurons: 350,029
Location: Haddington, Scotland, United Kingdom
Hi Romany. I saw my post as being a kind of continuation of yours and agree that it's how we cope with adversity that molds our character and decides how we will affect those around us. Even though I was brought up Catholic, I learned the most (by far) as a youngster about suffering and dealing with it from J.R.R. Tolkien and his books. The Hobbit and then to a much larger extent, The Lord of the Rings, showed me characters that were considered soft and living a life of ease, who were then put through challenges and adversity that tested them to their core. Of course, those books are not the only ones that might teach about adversity. They just happened to be the ones that helped me. As I got older, the comic book Spiderman, taught me more about adversity and it is actually Spiderman that I consider to have taught me the most.

Nolite te bastardes carborundorum
Romany
Posted: Sunday, March 10, 2019 7:58:09 AM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 6/14/2009
Posts: 15,380
Neurons: 48,295
Location: Brighton, England, United Kingdom

Ah, gotcha. The word "suffering" has always been hyperbolic to me - though not a believer I also had a Catholic education and the word, somehow, seems to me to relate only to saints or Jesus-on-the-cross. Though I DID bring two kids up inside a war zone with all that entails, it would never occur to me to say we "suffered". We lived through adversity - of that and of other kinds too.

Something that has just occurred to me in light of both of our comments though, is that perhaps the reason so many people despise the really, really wealthy, is because we figure that they DON'T cope with adversity. A war breaks out where you're living? Just up-stakes and go somewhere else. If you do something bad you'll go to jail? Nah, you buy your way out of it. Your business fails and you go bankrupt? Not to worry, that gets rid of your immediate problems so you can start all over again.

The corrollory is that, without being forced to live through adversity a person's hollistic development of character is impaired. Such people become one-dimensional, un-evolved, and fail to reach their potentional to become useful to society - which we consider to be our..."duty"? "raison d'etre"?...thus they are "other". Not a part of "us" i.e. humanity as a whole?
Hope123
Posted: Sunday, March 10, 2019 12:32:30 PM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 3/23/2015
Posts: 8,615
Neurons: 49,353
Location: Burlington, Ontario, Canada
Hi Ro and Proggy.

Have I understood correctly that you both see suffering as a way to develop character? Similar to Christian talking points such as God only gives you as much adversity as you can handle etc.?

If so, I thoroughly disagree. I didn't need adversity to teach me anything. I could have done quite nicely without it and it can stop anytime. I get the lesson if there is supposed to be one. 😀 But it doesn't stop. I'd like to catch a break one of these times. (Right now I seem to be having allergic and infectious reactions to my six-month-old hip replacement - that mainstream says is not possible. Naturopath is trying to desensitize me to metals.)

Children can be taught how to handle adversity without needing to see a parent experiencing it. If they bang their knee as a toddler, sympathize a bit but tell them to get over it and get back up.

Of course there are many worse off than I am. I may feel sorry for them and be glad I'm not in that position. But it doesn't help me any to think that someone else may be worse off.

Unfortunately suffering is part of life the same as earthquakes, storms, and erupting volcanoes are part of nature. We all suffer - even those with money suffer. They may have more options but they lose their health and they lose loved ones just as everyone else does..They put their pants on one leg at a time as do we all.

It is purely by accident who suffer, how, and how much. Often it is only a matter of being in the wrong place at rhe wrong time.

Suffering is a part of life. Physical pain is there to warn us, so is useful at first but may turn chronic and useless.

Suffering is not a romantic or heroic idea as followers of Jesus make it out to be.

Humans could do quite nicely without suffering on this earth. Maybe that is why humans created the concept of a heaven with no suffering - something to look forward to because there will always be many kinds of suffering on earth.



"Do the people you care about love you back?" Warren Buffett's measure of success
FounDit
Posted: Sunday, March 10, 2019 12:38:59 PM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 9/19/2011
Posts: 10,648
Neurons: 54,758
Ebenezer Son wrote:
I've really thought about this for many years, but each time I do I only think to my self. And that is that - is there any sense in living and suffering in ones' life? I personally don't think there is any element of sense in living and suffering in one's life.
What do you Say.
Thanks a ton.


This topic could become very involved. It seems to me that the purpose of religion is just that - to explain suffering; a way to make some sense of it. And the only reason for the need to explain it is that fact that we have consciousness - the ability to view ourselves as an entity living in a body in an environment.

Consciousness gives us the ability to judge in relation to ourselves. Because we are supreme in our own estimation, we sometimes feel that the things that happen to us are not deserved, yet unpleasant things happen to every living creature. Most take them in stride for what they are without any judgement or evaluation. They cannot judge or evaluate as we can, so they are simply accepted.

We, on the other hand, don't wish to simply accept bad things happening to us as just random events. We look for causes. Sometimes the cause is a result of our own behavior, but sometimes it really is random - simply being in the wrong place and the right time, or an event that affects large populations as a whole. When bad things do happen, however, we often become angry and want someone to blame. Religions give us evil entities, and reality gives us our fellow humans.

It would appear then that you have a choice. You can choose to blame an evil entity, choose to blame you fellow humans, or accept that fact that bad things will happen no matter who you are, or where you live, and that there is absolutely no "sense" to it at all. It just happens. We are all in this life together and for as long as each of us live, there will be suffering of one kind or another in the lives of each person. All we can do is try to live in such a way as to minimize its happening to us as best we can, and accept the idea that we can't avoid all of it.


We should look to the past to learn from it, not destroy our future because of it — FounDit
progpen
Posted: Sunday, March 10, 2019 1:32:19 PM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 10/2/2015
Posts: 2,034
Neurons: 350,029
Location: Haddington, Scotland, United Kingdom
Romany, I never thought of the word suffering as being hyperbole or only something related to religion. I think the word fits in relation to people affected by catastrophic events and severe health issues, but since all of this is relative I can also see how much of its use can be considered hyperbole.

Hope, people who talk about suffering only as a character builder are truly missing the point. Dealing with issues, obstacles, and adversity does not automatically give you a better character, it can help you learn to deal with adversity in a healthier way. If that builds character then so much the better, but no one in their right mind would say that adversity is good just because it builds character.

Nolite te bastardes carborundorum
Romany
Posted: Sunday, March 10, 2019 3:28:07 PM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 6/14/2009
Posts: 15,380
Neurons: 48,295
Location: Brighton, England, United Kingdom
Hope -

Good heavens, no - that wasn't at all what I was saying! Nor Progpen.

At the time I posted there were only 3 posts - and look what they were saying!

The OP was saying it was useless... but I red-flagged the the fact that he asked "Is there any point to LIVING and suffering...?" while the other two DID appear to be saying suffering was GOOD - for religious reasons.

So I felt that, mostly, I was responding to Ebenezer's question as one never knows what exactly is behind anyone finding no point in life. That's why I presented it as part of the human condition: it's useless to rail against adversity because no-one is immune to it or gets a get-out-jail-free card. If anyone thinks life isn't worth living because suffering is part of it, I was trying to show that one can choose whether to use this negative but inevitable fact of life as a reason to find life worthless; or not.
Romany
Posted: Sunday, March 10, 2019 3:37:17 PM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 6/14/2009
Posts: 15,380
Neurons: 48,295
Location: Brighton, England, United Kingdom
Proggy -

Yeah, I guess what I really meant to say was that I, personally, find the word hyperbolic...in regard to anything I have ever been through myself. e.g. I never say "I suffer from a mental illness" - because I just don't believe I do: I HAVE a mental illness. Whether I choose to cope with it or sit in a corner dribbling is up to me. And, in fact, there have been times I've given in and done just that. It's hard to bring oneself out of that easy state of abrogating all necessity to get back up and go into the ring again. So it's necessary to fight and be strong...but I would still never call it "suffering". Do you get what I mean?
progpen
Posted: Sunday, March 10, 2019 6:01:47 PM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 10/2/2015
Posts: 2,034
Neurons: 350,029
Location: Haddington, Scotland, United Kingdom
Romany, I know what you mean and I agree. The word is something I wouldn't normally use for myself.

Nolite te bastardes carborundorum
Hope123
Posted: Sunday, March 10, 2019 8:14:55 PM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 3/23/2015
Posts: 8,615
Neurons: 49,353
Location: Burlington, Ontario, Canada
Rom & Proggy, the following quote is what I responded to and I'm glad I misunderstood. It is one thing to find a silver lining in adversity, but I've read where some people actually say that getting cancer was good for them because...

"The corrollory is that, without being forced to live through adversity a person's hollistic development of character is impaired. Such people become one-dimensional, un-evolved, and fail to reach their potentional to become useful to society - which we consider to be our..."duty"? "raison d'etre"?...thus they are "other". Not a part of "us" i.e. humanity as a whole?"

:::::

I too do not use the word suffering. I usually have a more mundane word. Or words. Whistle Whistle Whistle

Also, I never ask "Why" or "Why me". Those questions are as useless as the word "if".

"Do the people you care about love you back?" Warren Buffett's measure of success
Epiphileon
Posted: Saturday, March 16, 2019 4:29:46 AM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 3/22/2009
Posts: 4,142
Neurons: 128,987
I don't think suffering is always hyperbole, it is certainly a far more extreme state than it is commonly used to refer to, and in many instances, I do agree its use is hyperbolic particularly when used by drama kings and queens.

I think anyone who has endured acute depression, or prolonged acute debilitating pain can legitimately be said to be suffering, as well as a number of other conditions.

I can entirely relate to the tendency to not apply it to oneself; however, I think that is some weird form of self-deception that may even be adaptive but not in a particularly healthy way as so many of adaptations to cultural expectations are not.

I think that nothing of what any of us has to say about the use of suffering holds much water for the base reason that none of us have addressed it from an evolutionary perspective. I'm sorry for the bluntness of that appraisal and I hope no one is offended by it, I certainly do not mean to be offensive and apply the statement to myself as much as anyone.

I am convinced that many of the problems we have today are a direct result of a failure to understand that at the basis of all behavior there are ancient evolutionary strategies at play the ignorance of which leads to completely fallacious convictions about causation, and totally inappropriate response sets.

ETA You can immediately tell that this post is mostly, kind of like hyperbole, by seeing how entirely it relies on ""I" think"

Question authority. How do you know, that you know, what you know?
progpen
Posted: Saturday, March 16, 2019 6:12:25 AM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 10/2/2015
Posts: 2,034
Neurons: 350,029
Location: Haddington, Scotland, United Kingdom
I also think it is very interesting how, in this conversation, we each have gone out of our way to mention "I don't normally use this word for myself". The word 'suffer' does not have bad connotations, but each of us has distanced ourselves from it even though each of us has 'suffered' in some way. How can we discuss the use of a word like that if we are not even sure ourselves of what it connotes? Does it connote weakness or entitlement? If we can use the word for other people but not ourselves, it must have some nuanced secondary meaning.

Nolite te bastardes carborundorum
Romany
Posted: Saturday, March 16, 2019 7:55:56 AM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 6/14/2009
Posts: 15,380
Neurons: 48,295
Location: Brighton, England, United Kingdom
Proggy - well I think I already displayed my built-in bias towards the word: when I stated that it was a word I subconsciously appear to link to jesus-on-the-cross and saints walking round carrying their own severed heads!

Epi - while no-one may have MENTIONED it, I think that most of us commenting do take an hollistic approach to human - and human language - evolution. It's part of the way we evaluate any species. In the case of consideration and discussion of our own species, it becomes part of the framework within which we strive for factual evaluation of human behaviour, constructs and mores: and to our use of language.

Whether this is the case or not however, I can't see why this should be thought a "base" consideration, or come with a caveat that no harm is meant by referencing one of the paradigms through which we make evaluations? The objective presentation of salient facts cannot, by it's very nature, be offensive or hurtful. Scholarship obviates the use of subjective judgement, by presenting facts. Whether one is offended, upset, horrified or excited in response to facts has no effect upon those facts; it would surely be a failure of academia if certain factual information was not put forward when making a case, for fear of subjective reaction...as the history of our species has demonstrated time and time again.

Having studied anthropology and sociology years before I started formal study of the English Language, though, perhaps I'm wrong to assume that everyone reasons in the same way?(that's only occurred to me now, as I answer you). If so then, yes, I agree with you on that: the evolutionary perspective is integral to any exploration of human behaviour.

Hope123
Posted: Sunday, March 17, 2019 8:12:15 AM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 3/23/2015
Posts: 8,615
Neurons: 49,353
Location: Burlington, Ontario, Canada
Epi, I think I know what you mean but wish you would expand a little more with examples of what you mean by ancient evolutionary strategies.

Proggy, I don't think the word "suffer" has any bad connotation to it except for the idiom "I don't suffer fools gladly".Whistle

But to me it is just an old-fashioned word connected to Jesus "suffer the little children to come on to me" or as Rom says his suffering on the cross, but maybe that is just the Christian point of view.

I'm not sure what the original post meant: "is there any sense in living and suffering in one's life?" Does that mean is there any purpose for suffering?




"Do the people you care about love you back?" Warren Buffett's measure of success
progpen
Posted: Sunday, March 17, 2019 10:24:46 AM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 10/2/2015
Posts: 2,034
Neurons: 350,029
Location: Haddington, Scotland, United Kingdom
Epiphileon wrote:
I am convinced that many of the problems we have today are a direct result of a failure to understand that at the basis of all behavior there are ancient evolutionary strategies at play the ignorance of which leads to completely fallacious convictions about causation, and totally inappropriate response sets.


I'm going to admit right now, that I had to reread your post several times before I caught up to you. I'm not an academic, nor do I play on on TV, so I tend to fall behind a bit, but I get there eventually.

Both of my grandmothers threw salt over their left shoulder if salt was spilt, but they were both very intelligent women. I have been fascinated by superstitions and rituals for several decades and love seeing how some of them still live on today, even with all of our technology and knowledge and experience that should have put an end to them decades, if not hundreds of years ago.

Sacrifices to the gods for a good crop were prevalent in Central America, Egypt and the Middle East, and are trying to make a comeback in India today. This practice likely goes back to prehistory and lasted for millennia even though there had undoubtedly been considerable observational data to show it didn't work. These civilizations made many important scientific discoveries and they displayed the ability for logical reasoning and were able to see cause and effect in nature. And yet they all participated in ritualistic sacrifices that were supposed to bring good harvests, weather, prosperity, etc. even though there own observations told them that the sacrifices did not work.

Today, we don't walk under ladders (mostly because it's dangerous) but also for superstitious reasons that go back to ancient Egypt, where a ladder against a wall created the triangle, which was a holy symbol. If you ask anyone today why they might avoid walking under a ladder, will any of them be able to tell you about the Egyptian holy symbol?

Or if someone breaks a mirror, do they know that the supposed 7 years of bad luck goes back to ancient Rome and human's 7-year cycle that mirrored the moon's?

Nolite te bastardes carborundorum
FounDit
Posted: Sunday, March 17, 2019 11:35:03 AM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 9/19/2011
Posts: 10,648
Neurons: 54,758
Epiphileon wrote:


I am convinced that many of the problems we have today are a direct result of a failure to understand that at the basis of all behavior there are ancient evolutionary strategies at play the ignorance of which leads to completely fallacious convictions about causation, and totally inappropriate response sets.


It seems to me that the only evolutionary strategy that could possibly be at work is one that either guards against, or protects one from, things that cause suffering. And again, consciousness is required for that evaluation and ability to strategize in order to forfend it.

That evolutionary strategy is the one that motivates for survival. For millennia, humans had no understanding of what caused so many of the things they saw and experienced, so they tried to attribute causes that they could then either seek to placate, or divert from themselves. The fact that they didn't always work made little difference since there were times when they appeared to actually work. But what other choice did that have?

Eventually, science came to be the means by which humans understood the real causes, and science helped us to find ways to either avoid, or divert, many threats, though it can never be perfect for everyone. That scientific process goes on today because science is never settled, but is always learning and increasing in knowledge and understanding.

But it appears to me that Ebenezer Son is looking at the situation from the perspective of consciousness and attempting to understand if suffering has any benefit, or more accurately, whether living has any benefit when it also involves suffering. This opens up a whole new set of ideas for discussion, involving how one views life itself, its value, if any, and to what degree life should be sustained. Each person has to answer those questions for themselves, although the opinions of others may have great influence. Since Ebenezer Son has asked the question, he obviously is looking for those opinions and ideas.

But without a personal knowledge of what suffering he may be referring to, and without any personal knowledge of his own value system, all anyone else can do is speak from their own values. This may, or may not, be of benefit to him.

Since each of us value our own lives and seek to avoid its end, we tend to value the lives of others as well (well, most of us, anyway. Some people place no value on the lives of others). Because we value the lives of others, we want to encourage others to continue to live. This, I believe, is the instinctive desire to see a benefit for ourselves from a social standpoint - perhaps another evolutionary strategy that is at work here. If the group does well, the individuals in the group do well.

But when an individual believes he or she suffers more than others, and can see no reason for it, that strategy may appear exceedingly weak in their minds. It is at that point that life may not seem worth living, and the body may, in their minds, appear as a prison, a prison from which they seek escape.

This is difficult for most to understand because it goes against the survival instinct, but our minds are very powerful, and how we direct them can lead us down some very dangerous paths. That is why it is so important to think clearly, and evaluate carefully, the things we think and believe.

Anyway, I didn't intend to ramble on so, but had the sense that Ebenezer Son might benefit from what others thought of his question. I'm not sure if anything we have written here is helpful, but I hope it is.

The main idea I would want to impart is that, for most of us, when things appear to be their worst, we know that nothing remains the same forever. The circumstances will change. There will always be both comfort and discomfort in life, and we move from one to the other constantly. We should never give up. Easy to say when one is comfortable, but good to remember when one is not so comfortable.


We should look to the past to learn from it, not destroy our future because of it — FounDit
progpen
Posted: Sunday, March 17, 2019 1:41:17 PM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 10/2/2015
Posts: 2,034
Neurons: 350,029
Location: Haddington, Scotland, United Kingdom
Hope123 wrote:
I'm not sure what the original post meant: "is there any sense in living and suffering in one's life?" Does that mean is there any purpose for suffering?


Hope, it doesn't look like his initial question was ever fleshed out, so each of us has only been taking a crack at answering what we think it means. It has turned into a very interesting discussion though.

Nolite te bastardes carborundorum
Romany
Posted: Sunday, March 17, 2019 10:07:24 PM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 6/14/2009
Posts: 15,380
Neurons: 48,295
Location: Brighton, England, United Kingdom

Hope - well, as I said, it was the pairing of "living and suffering" which prompted me to respond. Whenever I come across people wondering whether life - with or without suffering - is worth living, training kicks in, I guess.

As the OP has never returned to the thread he started, however, it would seem that it wasn't a particularly fraught question - more of a passing, idle thought, perhaps?

Though, as Proggy says, we seem to have been able to amuse ourselves with answering it, regardless. So I guess (and hope) that the OP is not sitting white-knuckled and hanging on for answers!
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Tuesday, March 19, 2019 1:02:11 PM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 9/12/2011
Posts: 32,095
Neurons: 194,021
Location: Livingston, Scotland, United Kingdom
Romany wrote:
So I guess (and hope) that the OP is not sitting white-knuckled and hanging on for answers!

He seemed happy enough a year later! So I guess it wasn't so important.

He seems to visit the forum in March and April then wander off again.


Wyrd bið ful aræd - bull!
Epiphileon
Posted: Thursday, March 21, 2019 3:49:46 AM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 3/22/2009
Posts: 4,142
Neurons: 128,987
Romany wrote:
Epi - while no-one may have MENTIONED it, I think that most of us commenting do take an hollistic approach to human - and human language - evolution. It's part of the way we evaluate any species. In the case of consideration and discussion of our own species, it becomes part of the framework within which we strive for factual evaluation of human behaviour, constructs and mores: and to our use of language.

Good Morning Romany, or good whatever time of day you come to this.
Yes I agree most people who base their understanding of the world in reason acknowledge that evolution is part of the framework within which we interpret human behavior; however, just like we, at least for the most part, do not examine the individual support beams of our homes I do not think that we very often look specifically at the evolutionary processes that led to some specific human behavior.

That is not to say that we may, from a rationally informed basis for our understanding may not come closer to the actuality than a faith-based interpretation, but I do not think we are likely to get it as right as we might if a specific evolutionary examination was done.

On the other hand, I also believe that even with a well-informed understanding of the nature of modern human behavior we may actually get it considerably wrong as the actual roots of the behavior may be counterintuitive, or not in line with how we wish human behavior were, and this is a far more subtle and deceptive aspect of our mentality than I believe any of us is likely to acknowledge in an ongoing manner. This is why a meeting of minds to discuss such issues is so critical to examining issues, the fallibility of subjectivity is a huge obstacle to accurate understanding.

Basically, I'm saying we would need to specifically address the role that attitudes towards suffering have played in our cultural evolution and in what manner they have been adaptive or not.

Frankly, I'm not even sure how the question should be framed. I seem to think at the moment that one of the questions that should be addressed, and has already been alluded to, it whether suffering existing within the population in some manner is actually a necessary condition for the healthy development of the species. I would like to think that is doubtful but have no basis for that conclusion.

Much of what I have written here is off the cuff musings as I have recently come to the conclusion that I have for far too long been just riding along, so to speak, rather than continuing to actively investigate the nature of being human. I have a plan to remedy this and will be bringing that up soon here in hopes of gaining some assistance with that endeavor.

Romany wrote:
Whether this is the case or not however, I can't see why this should be thought a "base" consideration,...

I should have been more specific with that statement. What I meant to convey was that in the constellation of all things that contribute to modern human behavior, that any existant evolutionarily engrained strategies would be at the base level of the perhaps hierarchical construct of a model of that behavior.

Romany wrote:
...or come with a caveat that no harm is meant by referencing one of the paradigms through which we make evaluations? The objective presentation of salient facts cannot, by it's very nature, be offensive or hurtful. Scholarship obviates the use of subjective judgement, by presenting facts. Whether one is offended, upset, horrified or excited in response to facts has no effect upon those facts; it would surely be a failure of academia if certain factual information was not put forward when making a case, for fear of subjective reaction...as the history of our species has demonstrated time and time again.

This has not been my experience. I have found that it is better to be careful and avoid offending folks with objectivity, before having to explain why they shouldn't have been offended, which usually offends them more, and by then any chance of getting them to consider what I was saying has become very slim.

Romany wrote:
Having studied anthropology and sociology years before I started formal study of the English Language, though, perhaps I'm wrong to assume that everyone reasons in the same way? (that's only occurred to me now, as I answer you).

Yes, you are absolutely wrong about that. I'm sorry Rom but it seems to plainly be the case that most folks do not become as well informed, prefer to think as little as possible, and even fewer question their own conclusions once reached.

This reply has taken me far too long to post, sorry I'm out of practice, I hope to change that and see more discussions here on such topics.


Question authority. How do you know, that you know, what you know?
Epiphileon
Posted: Thursday, March 21, 2019 10:41:53 AM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 3/22/2009
Posts: 4,142
Neurons: 128,987
Hope123 wrote:
Epi, I think I know what you mean but wish you would expand a little more with examples of what you mean by ancient evolutionary strategies.

Good Morning Hope, or like I said to Rom, good whatever time of day it is when you come to this. I'm going to have to come up with some more diurnally neutral salutation; however, "good day" doesn't feel right. Anyway...

As I thought about this topic more I realized that this issue would not have as ancient of underlying strategies as say, mating, aggression, or racism, and that what I should have said was, "that none of us have addressed it from the perspective of the co-evolutionary roots of our attitudes towards suffering and their development.

I think this would be a fascinating exploration; however, I'm thinking that at this point I am ill-equipped to begin it. I haven't read FounDit's reply yet although I noticed he mentioned consciousness. I find it particularly intriguing to wonder what if any preconscious behaviors influenced our earliest attitudes towards suffering, it seems to me there would have been some influence from the manner in which members of our social group treated those who were perceived to be "suffering". I also suspect that is an unanswerable question without a time machine.

I am fairly familiar with the Judeo-Christian origins of attitudes towards suffering, but unfortunately not so much of other western mythologies and have no understanding of eastern traditions. I think it would be an extensive study though.

Being a co-evolutionary phenomenon the mutability of the characteristic would be subject to a far greater rate of change than a strictly genetic characteristic.

Question authority. How do you know, that you know, what you know?
FounDit
Posted: Friday, March 22, 2019 7:44:41 PM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 9/19/2011
Posts: 10,648
Neurons: 54,758
[quote=Epiphileon]

Frankly, I'm not even sure how the question should be framed. I seem to think at the moment that one of the questions that should be addressed, and has already been alluded to, it whether suffering existing within the population in some manner is actually a necessary condition for the healthy development of the species. I would like to think that is doubtful but have no basis for that conclusion.

As to whether suffering is actually a necessary condition for the healthy development of the species, it seems to me that without it, no progress would have been made at all.

If we had lived in a paradise like the proverbial Garden of Eden, there would have been no need to invent, to find new ways to do things. These became necessary as a direct result of suffering.


We should look to the past to learn from it, not destroy our future because of it — FounDit
Epiphileon
Posted: Sunday, March 24, 2019 5:07:36 AM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 3/22/2009
Posts: 4,142
Neurons: 128,987
FounDit wrote:
It seems to me that the only evolutionary strategy that could possibly be at work is one that either guards against, or protects one from, things that cause suffering. And again, consciousness is required for that evaluation and ability to strategize in order to forfend it.

Pleasant diurnal greetings FounDit, your statement makes it clear that we have been too ambiguous in what we are addressing here. I think I alluded to this in one of my other replies but I'm trying to get back to replying quicker to responses to my posts so I'll reiterate and expand on what I may have meant if I actually did allude to this earlier. I would point out as well that this is a symptom of the question not being rigorously defined. I think what we are addressing is the emotional response to sustained pain and methods of coping with that. I think I am safe in saying that avoidance of pain is instinctual and also predates consciousness by hundreds of millions of years. Suffering, on the other hand, is an emotional response, one that I do not think requires consciousness many animals that one would be hard pressed to argue possess consciousness can be observed to be suffering. Strategies to avoid things that cause suffering are not suffering, the strategies that I would be interested in are those that have developed that allow humans to cope with suffering.

FounDit wrote:
That evolutionary strategy is the one that motivates for survival. For millennia, humans had no understanding of what caused so many of the things they saw and experienced, so they tried to attribute causes that they could then either seek to placate, or divert from themselves. The fact that they didn't always work made little difference since there were times when they appeared to actually work. But what other choice did that have?

Indeed they had none, the psychological imperative for explicable causation is very strong in human beings and is a highly evolutionary strategy in many cases, but one side effect of it was the development of mythologies and religions, and superstitions. One amusing vestigial example of this last can be seen in baseball players coming up to bat

FounDit wrote:
Since Ebenezer Son has asked the question, he obviously is looking for those opinions and ideas.

Yes I think he was; however, he hasn't been back in nearly a year, so, for now, I think we are good pursuing the question more generally.

FounDit wrote:
Since each of us value our own lives and seek to avoid its end, we tend to value the lives of others as well (well, most of us, anyway. Some people place no value on the lives of others). Because we value the lives of others, (and others are necessary to a stable, safe, and thriving, environment [we want to encourage others to continue to live. This, I believe, is the instinctive (probably not an instincet but a coevolutionary strategy) desire to see a benefit for ourselves from a social standpoint - perhaps another evolutionary strategy that is at work here. If the group does well, the individuals in the group do well.

The underlined is a true statement; however, it must be kept carefully as an observation and not generalized to an actual aspect of the selection process within evolution, it can lead to the erroneous conclusion that selection is driven by the good of the group rather than the good of the individual. This is a technicality but an extremely important one.



Question authority. How do you know, that you know, what you know?
FounDit
Posted: Sunday, March 24, 2019 12:06:03 PM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 9/19/2011
Posts: 10,648
Neurons: 54,758
Epiphileon wrote:
FounDit wrote:
It seems to me that the only evolutionary strategy that could possibly be at work is one that either guards against, or protects one from, things that cause suffering. And again, consciousness is required for that evaluation and ability to strategize in order to forfend it.

Pleasant diurnal greetings FounDit, your statement makes it clear that we have been too ambiguous in what we are addressing here. I think I alluded to this in one of my other replies but I'm trying to get back to replying quicker to responses to my posts so I'll reiterate and expand on what I may have meant if I actually did allude to this earlier. I would point out as well that this is a symptom of the question not being rigorously defined. I think what we are addressing is the emotional response to sustained pain and methods of coping with that. I think I am safe in saying that avoidance of pain is instinctual and also predates consciousness by hundreds of millions of years. Suffering, on the other hand, is an emotional response, one that I do not think requires consciousness many animals that one would be hard pressed to argue possess consciousness can be observed to be suffering. Umm, I agree that "suffering" is a psychological/emotional response, and though most any creature may indeed experience pain, only a human can give it the label of "suffering", and for that we need consciousness. Strategies to avoid things that cause suffering are not suffering, the strategies that I would be interested in are those that have developed that allow humans to cope with suffering. I agree with this also. And since the OP was apparently concerned with human suffering, I went with the conscious/social aspects of strategy development.

FounDit wrote:
That evolutionary strategy is the one that motivates for survival. For millennia, humans had no understanding of what caused so many of the things they saw and experienced, so they tried to attribute causes that they could then either seek to placate, or divert from themselves. The fact that they didn't always work made little difference since there were times when they appeared to actually work. But what other choice did that have?

Indeed they had none, the psychological imperative for explicable causation is very strong in human beings and is a highly evolutionary strategy in many cases, but one side effect of it was the development of mythologies and religions, and superstitions. One amusing vestigial example of this last can be seen in baseball players coming up to bat

FounDit wrote:
Since Ebenezer Son has asked the question, he obviously is looking for those opinions and ideas.

Yes I think he was; however, he hasn't been back in nearly a year, so, for now, I think we are good pursuing the question more generally.

FounDit wrote:
Since each of us value our own lives and seek to avoid its end, we tend to value the lives of others as well (well, most of us, anyway. Some people place no value on the lives of others). Because we value the lives of others, (and others are necessary to a stable, safe, and thriving, environment [we want to encourage others to continue to live. This, I believe, is the instinctive (probably not an instincet but a coevolutionary strategy) desire to see a benefit for ourselves from a social standpoint - perhaps another evolutionary strategy that is at work here. If the group does well, the individuals in the group do well.

The underlined is a true statement; however, it must be kept carefully as an observation and not generalized to an actual aspect of the selection process within evolution, it can lead to the erroneous conclusion that selection is driven by the good of the group rather than the good of the individual. This is a technicality but an extremely important one. Agreed.



We should look to the past to learn from it, not destroy our future because of it — FounDit
jacobusmaximus
Posted: Sunday, March 24, 2019 5:51:37 PM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 4/17/2009
Posts: 12,022
Neurons: 491,459
Location: Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom
Here's my tuppence worth: take two people; one has been raised an only child - never wanted for anything. Always got the best. Daddy's pet kind of thing. The other person has had to learn to do without - to learn patience and consideration for others. Which of these will normally be the better human being? The most reliable friend or employee? The answer is obvious - the one has learned in the School of hard knocks. You may say that that is hardly suffering,but it's all relative.

I remember, therefore I am.
FounDit
Posted: Sunday, March 24, 2019 8:13:47 PM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 9/19/2011
Posts: 10,648
Neurons: 54,758
jacobusmaximus wrote:
Here's my tuppence worth: take two people; one has been raised an only child - never wanted for anything. Always got the best. Daddy's pet kind of thing. The other person has had to learn to do without - to learn patience and consideration for others. Which of these will normally be the better human being? The most reliable friend or employee? The answer is obvious - the one has learned in the School of hard knocks. You may say that that is hardly suffering,but it's all relative.


True enough. It's a bit ironic, but grinding a blade against a stone improves it, sharpens it and makes it useful. But grind it too much, or the wrong way, and it becomes useless again. So it seems to be with humans, too.


We should look to the past to learn from it, not destroy our future because of it — FounDit
Users browsing this topic
Guest


Forum Jump
You cannot post new topics in this forum.
You cannot reply to topics in this forum.
You cannot delete your posts in this forum.
You cannot edit your posts in this forum.
You cannot create polls in this forum.
You cannot vote in polls in this forum.

Main Forum RSS : RSS
Forum Terms and Guidelines | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2008-2019 Farlex, Inc. All rights reserved.