Sunday 21 January 2024

What are the good things of life? (i.e. of this mortal life.)

The good things of life are not about pleasure, they are instead about Love. 

That is the fundamental insight. 

For those who do not already know it; this insight is something which we can (and are intended to) learn from experience and memory; but that-learning must freely be chosen - such knowledge cannot be forced-upon us.

And such "knowing" can only arise when supported by valid metaphysical assumptions; and insight can be undercut and thwarted by false assumptions: such that Love must be (ultimately) an emotion-merely, a product of material causes. 

(Which is a common falsehood nowadays: i.e. a false, incoherent, metaphysical assumption. Another common falsehood is that the ultimate-true meaning and value of our life; comes from the intensity, preponderance, or current domination of pleasure/happiness versus suffering/pain.)

Perhaps only if we understand (if we know) Love to be primary; if we know that Love is the cause of creation - and also know our-selves to be living in that love-caused creation; can we then really understand that life is about Love: literally and ultimately. 

(And that every-thing has an essentially spiritual being and meaning in that context of loving-creation - even pleasure!... Which is indeed a secondary, caused phenomenon.)


Francis Berger said...

Well put!

That fundamental insight formed one of the core themes in my only book-length foray into fiction. The following lines are spoken by a character who rejects the fundamental insight that love is primary:

"What can one do in a world where words wane and the spirit dies? What is left for higher, more sensitive souls like ours? Nothing except pleasure and pain, my dear Béla. Eros and Thanatos. Since we are not men of violence, the only moral imperative open to us is pleasure. The only thing we can aspire to is enjoyment.

Understand this, and understand it well -- there are no high things left. We are all trapped within ourselves. We are all damned regardless of what we do. The sooner you accept that, the happier you will be. So stop denying yourself. Enjoy the pleasures of this world while you still can."

Bruce Charlton said...

@Frank - I'm very familiar with that character's perspective, for much of my adult life! It was always resisted by something that seemed irrational within me; yet I felt that I *ought* "logically" to live in a more hedonic way that I already did.

As I now see it, I felt I ought - rationally, on the basis of reality as I understood it to be - an even worse (more selfish, more short-termist) person than I already was.

This - on a cultural level - is what The West in general has unleashed upon itself; and it gets worse with every generation removed from the primacy of religion.