• Raphi
    12

    I think our disagreement lies in the fact that I use a language like english to describe a hypothesis that, among other things, pretend that our human language is misleading and often does not represent accurately our reality.
    If you imagine a reality where my hypothesis is true and the absence of consciousness is the less worse state you can be in, there, humans would have evolded in such a way that they would not believe in an hypothesis like mine, since understanding that suffering is all there is leads you to seek death, which is far from evolutionary advantageous. In that reality, people would develop a perception of their reality that would help them survive. They would probably come to the same conclusions as us. Their brain would find a way to fool them and make them believe some of their feelings are better than death, better than the absence of consciousness, when in fact, they would just be feelings that makes your consciousness be less aware, less conscious for a certain period of time. They would observe that they experience time as flowing faster during those "positive" moments. They would not really understand that this altered perception of time is due to their altered level of consciousness.
  • darthbarracuda
    2k
    The way our brain misinterprets our reality leads to it stating “I feel good” when it feels less suffering.Raphi

    The problems is that the only thing that feels is you. There is no other thing feeling suffering. If you are feeling pain, but interpret it as pleasure, then you're not feeling pain. At least you're not experiencing the negativity of pain.

    Yes that is part of my whole hypothesis. I think the human brain would have evolved in such a way that it perceives some experiences as good, whether or not those good experiences really exist.Raphi

    This is exactly what is problematic, though. You can't know what a concept it unless you experience it yourself. Where does this good concept come from?

    I don’t claim anything about how you perceive your feelings; I claim something about what constitutes those feelings.Raphi

    Yes, but you claim that what constitutes them are more feelings, specifically suffering. There's the "illusory" feelings of pleasure and goodness, and then there's the "actual" feelings of suffering.

    If you sit on your hand for a while you will lose feeling. If you immediately poke your finger afterwards with a pin, you won't feel anything. Presumably you will say I did not feel pain when I did this, despite the fact that something has harmed by skin.

    You might argue that there exist independently positive experiences, which can arise when we don’t suffer, but to me it feels more like faith than anything else since my hypothesis seems complete without it.Raphi

    Yet your hypothesis is wrong. Completeness has nothing to do with accuracy in this case. If anything it is you who demands faith for their hypothesis, as you claim to know better than I do what I am actually feeling.

    Pleasure is any experience that we want to continue to feel. We prefer it over unconsciousness. To ignore the existence of pleasure is akin to ignoring the existence of suffering and claiming all pain is just less pleasure. This does the exact same work you theory does. We avoid pain not because it's actually painful but because it's less pleasurable and we want to maximize our pleasure. Both theories are inadequate.
  • darthbarracuda
    2k
    Can someone please explain to me how to quote ?Raphi

    Highlight the text.
  • Rich
    436
    Can someone please explain to me how to quote ?
    — Raphi

    Highlight the text.
    darthbarracuda

    On my my tablet, the mechanics of this site are a bit obscure, since some icons are hidden and not intuitively obvious.

    For quoting, I first highlight and copy, and then I have to scroll up and a Quote button appears, which I tap. It is very unorthodox.
  • TheMadFool
    554
    select text. ''Quote'' option will appear on screen
  • The Great Whatever
    1.9k
    I'm sympathetic to the idea. Definitely there's something to the pain-pleasure asymmetry, with the hypothesis that the latter is merely negative much more tempting than the hypothesis that the former is. If neither is negative relative to the other, then at the very least pain is far more powerful, persistent, common, and motivating than pleasure is. And I agree that all experience is suffering of a sort, and that all a human being 'does' as far as it knows is suffer. So at least 'for us' all there is is suffering, and life is just a bunch of suffering.
  • csalisbury
    948
    Humans don't always suffer tho (unless you pull some Kierkegaardian move where not knowing you're suffering is, in fact, its own type of suffering). I'd agree with what your'e saying, tho, if you replaced 'suffering' with 'undergoing'
  • The Great Whatever
    1.9k
    I'm not so sure. The notion of experience that isn't suffering seems to be an abstraction of some sort. It could be that other people just have radically different life experiences than me, but then, I wouldn't know how to evaluate that. All experiences I have seem to be some sort of suffering.

    Actually the bishop at one point said something like this, that secondary qualities are (pleasures and) pains. But the importance of pleasure, again, has a dubious status, whereas the importance of pain is obvious.
  • csalisbury
    948

    My life, at least post-10 or 11 years old, has definitely consisted more of suffering than non-suffering, yet there have been many times where I've been happy. I can't make sense of the notion that there is nothing but suffering, any more than I can make sense of claims that there is no such thing as subjective experience. Happiness happens sometimes.
  • The Great Whatever
    1.9k
    For me, anyway, I experience happiness as a reprieve from a greater suffering, generally accompanied by an anxiety that the suffering will soon ramp up again.

    And this seems to be a common way of thinking about the matter throughout history, e.g. in the Indian parable of the man drowning in a river and feeling pleasure at coming up for air before getting pushed back in. It may not be right, but it's one of the broad options out there, and the one that seems right to me.
  • darthbarracuda
    2k
    And this seems to be a common way of thinking about the matter throughout history, e.g. in the Indian parable of the man drowning in a river and feeling pleasure at coming up for air before getting pushed back in. It may not be right, but it's one of the broad options out there, and the one that seems right to me.The Great Whatever

    Deprivationalism is an attractive theory. All experience is some form of bad, maximizing at a neutral state of mind. But I don't think it's quite accurate. I won't argue against the observation that pleasure is almost always accompanied by some relief of discomfort. You eat cause you're hungry, you shit cause you're stuffed, etc.

    But I hesitate to simply call pleasure merely an absence of pain, or merely a state of lesser-suffering. Back a few comments, I said how I saw pleasure as akin to the heat produced from friction. It's independent of friction but almost always closely tied to it, and it typically dissipates fairly quickly. And if you get enough pleasure from an activity, it makes up for the process. Hence why people climb mountains.
  • The Great Whatever
    1.9k
    But I hesitate to simply call pleasure merely an absence of pain, or merely a state of lesser-suffering.darthbarracuda

    Agreed. Maybe I should be more specific - pleasure is something like the motion away from pain, or relief from it, not a state. The state of no suffering at all would be being dead.
  • darthbarracuda
    2k
    Yes, I think I would agree with that for the most part. Very similar to my analogy to heat and friction. Pleasure is something produced through the process of alleviating discomfort. Not always, but in the natural sense, this is what it is.
  • csalisbury
    948
    So i experience not-suffering "happiness" - relief - more often than any other kind, by far. But there's also at least two other positive happinessess I sometimes experience. One's a kind of delight in things, a simple enjoyment that buoys me through the hours. The other is a kind of solemn, but serene sense of quiet majesty. They're rare states for me but they happen. The one thing i can see that they share is a kind of calmness.
  • The Great Whatever
    1.9k
    I think I know what you mean with the first kind, although it doesn't happen often. It may be that a priori this type of pleasure has as much possibility as pain, but that empirically life is just not good enough for it to be around often. Maybe a human with all of its material and psychological needs constantly met by external sources would see it as a regular thing. In that case the claims about pleasure and pain would be weaker, but would still work as practical empirical generalizations.

    As for the second kind, I'm not sure if I know what it is. It might be something like the sublime. I have felt something that is majestic like that, or cold and austere somehow, but it didn't seem to be merely 'pleasant' but rather something that transcended that. I don't have a name for it, and the sublime is not quite it. But usually this feeling, whatever it is, comes at times when I've somehow grasped or 'seen through' something in a deeply intuitive way. The problem is these seeings are usually associated with the nature of suffering etc. It strikes me more as a salvific element that points beyond the world rather than something that occurs as part of life within it.
  • darthbarracuda
    2k
    I don't have a name for it, and the sublime is not quite it.The Great Whatever

    Cathartic?
  • The Great Whatever
    1.9k
    Maybe. Although catharsis may in some fundamental way be linked to throwing off the world rather than living in it. I get it from the production of art, mostly.
  • dukkha
    206
    If pleasure is merely an absence or negation of suffering, then graveyards must be filled with the happiest people of all!

    Personally I think genuine pleasure exists. Granted, it's fairly rare though (too rare - this world could sure do with some improving!). I'd say our default state is suffering, suffering is a far more motivating force in our lives, suffering (and our evasion away from it) is what keeps us living, and not say our movement towards pleasure. Suffering is what our pleasure always fades away to. I don't buy this notion that "you wouldn't be able to feel pleasure without suffering", or "suffering is what makes the good times good", "nobody would know what pleasure was without first suffering". There's genuine pleasure in this world - which means there's genuine 'good', there's something of actual positive value.

    What about drug induced pleasures/euphorias? Surely these aren't just (entirely) the negation of some suffering or another? IV meth, or speedballs for example - it's self-evident these are genuinely pleasurable. Rolling on MDMA!

    I think I'd start genuinely considering suicide if all I did was suffer, and pleasure was some sort of illusion.

    The problem is not that pleasure doesn't exist, or that it's some sort of illusion, or that pleasure isn't actually positive in the way suffering is negative/bad. The problem instead is just it's rarity. A lot rarer than I think most people believe (or want to believe).
  • darthbarracuda
    2k
    I think I'd start genuinely considering suicide if all I did was suffer, and pleasure was some sort of illusion.

    The problem is not that pleasure doesn't exist, or that it's some sort of illusion, or that pleasure isn't actually positive in the way suffering is negative/bad. The problem instead is just it's rarity. A lot rarer than I think most people believe (or want to believe).
    dukkha

    Yes, indeed, true pleasure is so rare that it's hard to see how it could possibly still be seen as a good, that is, something that is good for us to obtain for its own sake. An analogy would be being dragged across a cheese grater.

    Suicide is generally out of the question unless one is suffering tremendously or has an abnormally strong will. Contemplating suicide may cause more suffering than would be if suicide was not an option. Personally I think the threat of annihilation is a major contributing factor to our suffering. It magnifies the suffering by making it unnecessary.
  • Terrapin Station
    2.7k
    Their brain would find a way to fool them and make them believe some of their feelings are better than death, better than the absence of consciousness, when in fact, they would just be feelings that makes your consciousness be less aware, less conscious for a certain period of time.Raphi

    The problem with this is that all there is to anything being better or worse than anything else is how an individual feels about it. It's not something they can be mistaken about, or where they can get facts (about what's really better or worse) wrong.
bold
italic
underline
strike
code
quote
ulist
image
url
mention
reveal
youtube
tweet
Add a Comment

Welcome to The Philosophy Forum!

Get involved in philosophical discussions about knowledge, truth, language, consciousness, science, politics, religion, logic and mathematics, art, history, and lots more. No ads, no clutter, and very little agreement — just fascinating conversations.