• Posty McPostface
    5.8k
    Well, I have a small update to offer as a result of my suffering that I self induced.

    I have to say that suffering might not be inherently meaningful; but, it sure makes life all the more worthwhile once it is over. Hence, my nagging suspicion that if one can endure suffering of whatever magnitude or degree, then life does become more meaningful in some regards. In my case it resulted in appreciating life more than usual.
  • Corvus
    83
    I think suffering is negative experience for life. It could destroy the soul of the sufferer, and it is not pleasant to have any type of suffering.

    Good life is about having longest and most possible comfort and joy. Hence I would say suffering is harmful and inherently meaningless.
  • JoliJoleen
    1
    Everything in life serves a purpose. And no, you are not obliged to do anything you do not wish to do...
  • Terrapin Station
    4.4k
    The problem with "suffering" is that people seem to use it for such a wide variety of things. And they always seem to want to use it with a negative connotation, but when you press what they're referring to in light of skepticism re the usual "everyone suffers regularly" shtick, they wind up saying things like, "One is suffering when one has any desire that's not met," but I don't see that as sufficient to be negative.

    Say I have a desire to be able to be invisible at will. Well, that desire isn't going to be met, but in my view it's ridiculous to say that I'm suffering because that desire isn't met.

    Or say, moving away from the realm of fantasy desires, that I desire to have a bigger home than I do. That desire might be difficult to meet, too, but if my home is more than adequate--enough so that I even have a ton of stuff that I don't really need, without my home being cluttered, then it seems ridiculous to say that I'm suffering because my desire to have a bigger home isn't met.

    Or even if I'm in some physical discomfort. Maybe I'm sore from an intense workout at the gym. I'd rather not be sore, ideally (even though I know that being sore means that I'm working out enough to build rather than simply maintain muscle and so on), but it's not something that bothersome. It's nothing like the pain of a broken bone or something like that--in fact, I wouldn't even say it's pain at all; just an awareness I don't usually have. So again it seems kind of ridiculous to me to say that I'm "suffering," as something negative enough that it suggests being addressed, just because I'm slightly sore from a workout.
  • Jake
    781
    ...and the consensus seems to be that life would not have meaning if it were devoid of suffering.Posty McPostface

    Suffering and meaning are two sides of the same coin. Meaning is a story that we like, and suffering is a story that we don't like.

    I would agree that some amount of suffering is inevitable, given that suffering arises out of the nature of thought, and we have to think to survive. But we are not required to think every minute of our lives.

    Many or most of us spend our lives wrestling with the good story vs. the bad story. But there is another option. Turn the story machine off, or at least turn the volume down.

    Wrestling with the good story vs. bad story can be a bottomless pit of endless complication. On the other hand, turning down the volume of the story making machine is a fairly straightforward mechanical matter.

    Which option is more logical?
  • Bitter Crank
    6.7k
    As the old-time (50 years ago) Catholics used to say about suffering, "offer it up".
  • Posty McPostface
    5.8k
    Everything in life serves a purpose. And no, you are not obliged to do anything you do not wish to do...JoliJoleen

    That's arguable. I think everything in life can serves a purpose. Whether they actually do is another question.
  • Tzeentch
    50
    "Inherent" is a dangerous term to use on a philosophy forum, but lets leave that discussion for another time.

    Suffering isn't meaningful unless one seeks the meaning of it. But is it worthwhile to look for meaning in suffering? My answer to that question is yes.

    The suffering is happening to you regardless. Looking for a meaning or a lesson to learn from it allows one to learn and turn it into something positive. Perhaps not all suffering, but a lot of suffering is caused by ourselves, so it's within ourselves to prevent it from happening again.
    Looking for meaning in suffering may make the suffering itself more bearable. If one looks at suffering as though it happens because the universe is against them and they carry no blame, that's not constructive and I can't imagine that mindset to be helpful. As the old saying goes "What doesn't kill you, makes you stronger". If one keeps that in the back of their minds when going through tough times, it may give them the strength to persevere and be a stronger person in the future.

    Indeed, many of the greatest persons we know went through tough times during their lifetimes. I also believe it's very difficult to fully appreciate and experience life without having experienced hardship. Is it inherently meaningful? I don't think so. But it can bear a lot of meaning and life lessons and in my view it is certainly not an inherently negative force.
  • Valentinus
    71
    I have been lost between too many camps of epistemology to be sure what "inherently meaningful" means for me or others. So I think about it in terms of exchange. Is suffering a valid component in any kind of exchange?

    When I put it that way, I can strike a lot things off the list without hesitation:
    I cannot build up a reserve of the stuff to pay for better lodgings in another plane of existence.
    It is not valid currency that can be given in lieu of something else that is needed or desired by others, like affection or patience. Now, being patient can cause suffering but that is not what is given.
    People do suffer things so that somebody else won't but that needs to separated from Item #1. Martyrdom requires a certain currency.

    Suffering is a part of learning any art or trade. I have seen "geniuses" who somehow learned with greater ease than others but they too had their own baggage. In terms of currency, this does not have a one to one correspondence to receiving any particular benefit. I am an accomplished builder with many years of experience, it amazes me how stupid I can still be. There is a terrible expression some of us in the trade use when suffering does not confer much knowledge to a colleague: Rookie for Life.
  • Posty McPostface
    5.8k
    Suffering isn't meaningful unless one seeks the meaning of it. But is it worthwhile to look for meaning in suffering? My answer to that question is yes.Tzeentch

    So, suffering can be inherently meaningful if one professes a non-solipsistic view on life. Does a solipsist suffer?
  • Posty McPostface
    5.8k
    There is a terrible expression some of us in the trade use when suffering does not confer much knowledge to a colleague: Rookie for Life.Valentinus

    I'm a rookie for life, haha.

    But, is suffering inherently meaningful? I think so.

    Metaphorically it's a ladder everyone has to climb on.
  • Posty McPostface
    5.8k
    Say I have a desire to be able to be invisible at will. Well, that desire isn't going to be met, but in my view it's ridiculous to say that I'm suffering because that desire isn't met.Terrapin Station

    Analogically, people want things that are beyond the scope of their control.

    Hence Stoicism>?
  • Valentinus
    71

    But, is suffering inherently meaningful? I think so.

    Metaphorically it's a ladder everyone has to climb on.
    Posty McPostface

    I am trying to say it's value depends on situations and points of view. There is a way I can understand it as a ladder. But I have seen it as a kind of prison too.
  • Posty McPostface
    5.8k
    I am trying to say it's value depends on situations and points of view. There is a way I can understand it as a ladder. But I have seen it as a kind of prison too.Valentinus

    Oh, understood. I just see suffering as a noble feeling that everyone deals with and is a catalyst for further spiritual growth.
  • TWI
    97
    Some believe, as I do, that the one consciousness that is called God/Allah/Brahman etc is the only thing that is ultimately real, it is pure love but in order to know what it feels like to be that loving consciousness it has to experience the opposite to get some 'contrast'. But because that opposite doesn't exist it has to imagine it does, so it pretends to be everyone, forgetting what it really is for a while to make the 'dream' seem real. By experiencing the bitter and the sweet it doesn't harm anyone else because there isn't anyone else, it's only doing things to itself, 'you' 'me', the one consciousness sufferering in a dream and eventually waking up.

    This might help some to understand the possible meaning and reason for suffering.

    Only my belief of course.
  • Jake
    781
    But, is suffering inherently meaningful? I think so.Posty McPostface

    If meaning is a story we attach to certain events and situations then it would appear that suffering, or anything else, is not inherently meaningful.

    Perhaps you have some other understanding of meaning?
  • Posty McPostface
    5.8k


    I thought you had the correct reasoning but wrong conclusion here.
  • Valentinus
    71

    Isn't Jake asking you a question?
    If you are putting on shoes, it is time for the other foot.
  • Jake
    781
    I thought you had the correct reasoning but wrong conclusion here.Posty McPostface

    Ok. Why?
  • Posty McPostface
    5.8k


    I answered with a positive in terms of his premises but not conclusion. In other words what is there beyond certain events and situations. In my opinions they are what make life intelligible.
  • Posty McPostface
    5.8k


    See my reply to Valentinus.
  • Valentinus
    71
    It looks like there is some disagreement about what is "inherent."
    Maybe I am slow and I am certainly new here but I am not getting a self-evident experience here.
    Help an old guy cross the street.
  • Posty McPostface
    5.8k


    I mean to say that if all what is intelligible in life which are certain events and situations, then suffering, which stands out from such events and situations therefore makes life more meaningful. How can one know joy without sadness?
  • schopenhauer1
    2.2k

    You are always at odds with something.
    First, you are born in the first place. You must contend with the basic animal imperative- survive or die. This takes a tremendous amount of energy in terms of enculturation, learning, and cultivating ability to maneuver the socio-economic sphere.

    Then, you must contend with the broader social and power structures of your society. You must contend with those who control various means of resources- employers, governments, tribal leaders and traditions, or what have you.

    What to do about it? There is nothing you can do regarding the first problem. Antinatalism and suicide both represent pseudo-solutions. One only prevents future suffering- an ethical principle but not a solution to your own problem. The other stops suffering, but also stops the realization of the end of suffering.

    The second problem may be solved in several ways. Perhaps take ownership of the social or power structures. This is tremendously hard- whether in some political socialism or simply individual ownership of capital means of production. Either way, you are going to have a hard time attaining each- though some people manage to do the latter. The former has never really accomplished much in terms of any realization of a socialist utopia- just inefficiencies of large command economies. Smaller communes have only ever worked within the comfortable confines of a larger capitalist society that protects it.. but I digress.

    To step back a bit. Go to an abandoned parking lot with one broken down car in it early in the morning. Then come back and look at that abandoned car in the evening. Nothing much has changed. That is more or less the world as it is. Our frantic wills, characterized by our survival needs/wants and inability to simply be, is what causes all the drama. That cannot be prevented though. Small insights like the parking lot example, or dreams of utopia may be the only thing you have.
  • Posty McPostface
    5.8k
    To step back a bit. Go to an abandoned parking lot with one broken down car in it early in the morning. Then come back and look at that abandoned car in the evening. Nothing much has changed. That is more or less the world as it is. Our frantic wills, characterized by our survival needs/wants and inability to simply be, is what causes all the drama. That cannot be prevented though. Small insights like the parking lot example, may or dreams of utopia may be the only thing you have.schopenhauer1

    One always has a home, though, to park one's car. Isn't a "home" an important concept in our daily lives?
  • schopenhauer1
    2.2k

    Maintaining a homeostasis is just what we tend to do. It isn't just home though. It is the cost of keeping the home, the time spent maintaining the home, and the boredom felt if one does not find an activity of some engagement- something to go out and do so you can go home and rest. Again, the frantic survival, comfort, and entertainment needs. We cannot just be.
  • Posty McPostface
    5.8k
    Maintaining a homeostasis is just what we tend to do. It isn't just home though. It is the cost of keeping the home, the time spent maintaining the home, and the boredom felt if one does not find an activity of some engagement- something to go out and do so you can go home and rest. Again, the frantic survival, comfort, and entertainment needs. We cannot just be.schopenhauer1

    But, doesn't the joy of owning a home or apartment override such negativism's? To have a place you can call "home" is a magical experience.
  • schopenhauer1
    2.2k
    But, doesn't the joy of owning a home or apartment override such negativism's? To have a place you can call "home" is a magical experience.Posty McPostface

    There's a lot of stuff to maintain that magic. I am guessing you don't rent or own your own place?
  • Posty McPostface
    5.8k
    There's a lot of stuff to maintain that magic. I am guessing you don't rent or own your own place?schopenhauer1

    No, does that deny my logic?
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