Life is above all a zero-sum game. A vessel capturing experiences, stimuli of sight, sound, smell, pleasure and pain. All adding up to what ultimately is the illusion of a self. We are only what we are in the moment we exist. “We” as individuals are only our biologically constructed phenomenological state of being. Asides from the pure physicality of our vessel, and labels that we and others give ourselves for utilitarian, existential and psychological reasons we are only what we experience from a moment to moment basis – Hume, some schools of the Buddhists and various others have acknowledge this truth.
Life is futile. It exists for no reason and is preserved typically at great costs to the organism. Every bone in our bodies, every fiber of our being(s) screams to the skies “live! Live you fucker!” But at great cost to the being that survives. Clearly death is the sweetest promise life has to offer us. The promise of death and the universal nature of such a promise is the only fundamentally good thing about life. It is not just. There is no inherent justice in life or this universe. But it is good – for clearly the alleviation of suffering is good. The Pro-Natalists, the naïve or immoral many who cling to optimism and faulty logic will say otherwise, but this brief paper is not about them. This is about the majority of our lives and how they are founded in nothing. Less than nothing as a matter of fact – they are founded in bull shit.
Most human beings are stupid enough to believe that what they spend the majority of their lives doing is of some significant consequence (this is done in various ways, but it typically doesn’t involve much rationalization and is more of a feeling; and though this feeling of significance obviously has cognitive descriptions and explanations I won’t be exploring such things in detail in this paper) whether it is for a greater good or some necessary chore to indirectly attain what they deem to be of value. Not only are they often incorrect about their reasoning behind their goals, they are incorrect about their beliefs that what they will do will bring about what they truly want or aim for. Regardless of what their stated aim is, all who wish to do something for their own good (rather than the good of others – i.e. egoistic motivations, which take up the majority of human consciousness) do it for pleasure, happiness or whatever term you’d like to use to describe the various forms of pleasant phenomenological states of being. If happiness is the goal of a person’s life (selfish self-gratification) then all of our lives ultimately fail of its aim as Schopenhauer points out. We not only will not likely attain what we want through our employed measures, there is even a more seldom chance (essentially nothing) that attaining what we desire will make us consistently satisfied or attain that sense of tranquil allievement of burden that life in its infinite injustice and cruelty denies us of. Only by abandoning the Ego and abandoning any and all value-judgments attached to our selves (self-gratification) can we be at peace. This is the wisdom of Schopenhauer the ethics of Negative Utilitarianism.
Only by focusing on others, and particularly other’s suffering can we detach ourselves from the Ego and therefore the petty meaningless attachments a feeble intellect assigns to this world. I want this. I dream of that. I desire nothing more than such and such. Craving and the dual of personal psychological attachment and identification are the greatest crimes Nature has inflicted unto Man. For while physical pain can be far-more horrific it does not afflict all and can (usually or as a principle speaking) be alleviated via medicine and general knowledge of the body and larger world. Yearning and psychological affiliation are aspects of every human life however, they are nearly as regular as breath, and are nearly as necessary to have multi-celled organisms such as ourselves survive. The lion copulates with the lioness. He doesn’t know why and it is for no higher purpose – he is compelled. The man mounts the woman and fornicates. It is done out of instinct and too has no higher purpose. Life is simply that scientific phenomena of chemical compounds that have “learned” to self-replicate itself and is prone to mutate from time-to-time.
There are other motivations for procreation that I will not delve into, partially because I have done so in a previous essay. This paper is meant to demonstrate the futility of personal ambition in-regards to attaining a regularly satisfied existence. If one is content with one’s lot, which is seldom the norm but to varying degrees can be somewhat of a regular sensation, it is because of one’s temperament – and has very little to do with what one does. Only the relinquishment of the Ego, acceptance of death as a blessing and the logic of Negative Utilitarianism has any chance of giving one a realistic, purposeful and ethical construct to base one’s life. The relinquishment of the Ego is crucial because if one simply accepts the futility of existence without it one will feel personally afflicted and cheated of what one irrationally feels they are owed or deserve (meaning a meaningful life and an eternal existence). This feeling is common among the Existentialists who being highly individualistic and in-a-sense believe only in the self – only in their subjective experiences and attitudes grounding who they are in some meaningful way – wish their existence to be meaningful and authentic rather than without the pain that the Ego’s need for meaning and identity creates. In this sense I am the Anti-Existentialist. It is this notion of “grounding” the Self in its own nature and the meaningless and petty trivialities of this fundamentally flawed existence that must be done away with.
When the Ego is relinquished we realize we are simply one being amongst billions. We realize other’s plight. We realize that they shouldn’t suffer – i.e. there is not a moral or logical validation for their suffering and that ending suffering is the main moral obligation and goal of ethics when properly understood. We then realize that there is no solution to this life within the spectrum of living. That is, the problem(s) of life cannot be solved by continuing it. We cannot cure all ailments of this condition as we have cured polio for example. We then recognize that we should never have existed, and if throughout the Universe there are beings only fundamentally like us then either the Universe should never have been.
Accepting this has brought me a great sense of melancholy (at-first), joy and feeling of purpose – ironically that thing Existentialists typically say doesn’t exist. I look forward to my death but until it arrives I recognized if I am to do anything I must help end the suffering of those who suffer the most and those who voluntarily wish to end their suffering in the most sure-fire way possible – by ending their lives. The Right to Die movement and the Assisted Suicide issue are the most important moral forces and topics respectively. Life most certainly can be aided within the context of maintaining biological functioning – clearly as a Socialist I believe we can do much to alleviate the plight of our fellow Man. However large-scale change is unlikely due-to social apathy and the invested interest of the Capitalist class to maintain the status-quo of suffering and submission of the working-class, human race and Earth as a whole to their bottom lines. Tranquility and universal justice will not arrive on this Earth, nor anywhere throughout the cosmos (or existence generally speaking) where a being such as the homo sapien exists. It is a far safer bet and a more considerate one to those who suffer the most to work in aid of death than of life. That is, to allow others a way out of the horror of their existence and to encourage it as an option to be taken if it is the true desire of the being in question.
It will be decades (most-likely) before I die. Until then I will enjoy my life (most-likely) on occasion and suffer for no greater purpose or for no higher joy. I choose not to commit suicide at this current time – though I’ve for years felt like I most likely will in old age – because I find my life bearable and capable of aiding others either in giving them some pleasure or far-more importantly helping them alleviate their pain – whether momentarily or forever. I will live peacefully if I abolish my Ego but as a human being I cannot permanently do this. I will develop attachments to that I cannot have or that which causes me pain in other ways. I will suffer needlessly because of this. But with rigor and dedication a true ascetic can completely banish pursuit of pleasure (which more so than hedonistic enjoyment of life should be the true definition of asceticism – this or there is required a word to describes not the person who banishes pleasure from this being but the yearning for it) at-least in his actions (perhaps) – but never entirely from his thoughts.
In conclusion, though the evils of pro-natal culture, belief in the evils of and the actual supposed existence of the Christian God and private enterprise will likely be with us our whole lives, they do not have to determine our fate fundamentally – at-least in some sense. Though the evils of Man and Nature have denied us the possibility of a decent life of dignity, they can never (unless we are determined to not commit suicide due-to internalizing pro-natal culture among other reasons) deny us the possibility of a dignified death. For though we never have total freedom of our lives or even who we are, we do have (and working towards this political realization should be any Negative Utilitarians life’s goal) total freedom of our deaths. We cannot fix the game but we can choose to forfeit from one that is fundamentally unfair and is not worth playing. And regardless of public opinion or referee’s calls retain (or obtain) honor.