Tagged: suffering

Helping

To the extent that we are social animals, we all have an urge to help. The problem is that we also have a common weakness — perhaps, paradoxically, an expression of our lust for power — for confusing helping with “making the problem go away.” Nietzsche observes, in The Gay Science, that the “religion of pity” thrives on the self-important air of the...

Gratitude

A student sent me a text message this morning with the following question: “Would it be good for me to feel grateful to a person who gave me pain?” Without knowing the specific context she had in mind, I replied: “If the person gave you pain while trying to help you, then yes. If the person gave you pain while trying to harm...

Tomorrow

It may not come. If it comes, it will bring disappointments, including the disappointment of reliving everything that disappoints you about today. Something will anger you. Someone will annoy or offend you. You will find yourself struggling to start a task you had hoped to undertake with enthusiasm, or you will start one but fail to complete it satisfactorily. You will fall short...

Philosophic Principles, Part Three

Reputation. The most important book in philosophy, Plato’s Republic, is at its core an elaborate answer this question: Who will have the happier life, the completely just man who is hated, reviled, punished, and dies without a friend, or the completely unjust man who is loved, respected, rewarded, and dies with a hero’s reputation? It is necessary to remind yourself of this question,...

The Pleasure Principle

Pleasure ameliorates pain. Pain is a condition of growth. Therefore, pleasure either interrupts or thwarts growth. The only possible exception to this conclusion would be a pleasure that was specific to the process or achievement of growth itself. This latter pleasure — the pleasure that accompanies or rewards growth as such — would thus be the only pleasure consistent with the life impulse....

The Uncomfortable Life

From Nietzsche‚Äôs Beyond Good and Evil. You want, if possible — and there is no more insane “if possible” — to abolish suffering. And we? It really seems that we would rather have it higher and worse than ever. Well-being as you understand it — that is no goal, that seems to us an end, a state that soon makes man ridiculous and...

Happiness by Comparison

A student who frequently writes to me about her efforts to overcome self-doubts and develop a more moderate, reasonable way of life, told me of an exchange she had recently with a friend who was trying to persuade her that she ought to be happier. The friend offered three specific arguments, which my student summarized as follows: 1. You have no disorder in...

Guidance and Independence

It is not weak, nor any contradiction of the desire for independence, to look to others’ opinions in assessing one’s own thoughts and behavior. The mistake or weakness is in looking to others’ opinions at random — looking to the crowd, or to the popular, or to the powerful. One has already made a great advance in self-knowledge and independence who is able...

A Few Personal Truths About Failure

I have failed at many things in my life — by which I mean I have suffered many outcomes which in their times, provisionally, within the horizons visible to me at those moments, appeared as failures to me, and probably would have appeared so to any sympathetic outside observer as well. I have learned through experience that what we term our “failures,” within...

It’s the end, but…

We are watching something remarkable, namely a civilization committing suicide. Those of us who see clearly what is happening have traveled, in the course of just a few short weeks, through several stages of realization: from bemusement at people’s susceptibility to media manipulation, to frustration at their deference to excessive authority, to alarm at their willingness to sacrifice societal foundations in the name...