Thursday 25 April 2024

Every mortal life is a failure - Don't cope with it: solve it!

Every mortal life on this earth has-been and will-be a failure, whatever you do

Of course! 

This has been known since ancient days by whoever is most thoughtful and honest. So we should acknowledge this from the beginning!

And then...?

And then solve the problem - don't merely "cope" with it by some combination of ignorance, wishful-thinking, gullibility, and projection - tactics that are so, so common (on-line as well as IRL). 

Ignorance and wishful thinking combined are what make many people (perhaps especially young people) believe that some person, somewhere, is living (or once lived) a life that Is A Success. 

Well, if you don't know enough about other people, gullibly assimilate whatever illusions you are told, or desperately need there to be examples of life-success - then you can make yourself believe anything is real and true - or at least possible

(And yes - "I was that soldier!") 

Furthermore, there are plenty of people whose way of coping with their own inevitable failure is to try and convince other people of their own successfulness...

By variously dishonest and distorted forms of direct and indirect boasting/ hyping - whether by spoken word, verbally, by image, through publicity, propaganda &c.

And then there is projection of one's own failure onto others. I mean that whole tedious discourse of pointing and naming "losers" and "retards" etc. - as if it any kind of answer existential failure, to convince oneself (or persuade others) that Somebody-Else is an even bigger failure that you-yourself certainly are...  

Okay - we're all prone to one or other such lapses; but the way-out from such futility and sin is to recognize that your mortal life is genuinely justified only in terms of eternity; not justified over the next few hours, years, or decades. 

And the justification of your life will be different from that of anybody else alive or who ever lived; because your environment, nature and experiences are utterly unique; hence your life-tasks or quest must be unique. 

The Answer is therefore to frame the problem from the perspective of your own unique situation in the context of everlasting life to come. 

That's the only basis for a valid and effective "answer" to your own (otherwise inevitable) failure. 


NLR said...

Carl Friedrich Gauss was a mathematician who solved a problem (how to construct a regular 17-sided polygon with compass and straightedge) which had been unsolved since the time of the Ancient Greeks. That's a success that not many can claim. Yet, here's what he wrote in an 1846 letter:

"Its is the sad lot of old age gradually to see depart from us so much that was near and dear to us and to see ourselves more and more isolated, and there is no consolation in this, except the prospect of a higher world order which will some day balance everything."

agraves said...

Bruce, a timely article at least for me. I often, these days of serious illness in the family, forget my place in time and lose sight of the big picture, the really big picture. Losing someone has a way of making you focus intently on every moment and see only what is directly in front of you and what will be lost. Seeing one's unique situation helps to refocus and understand why you may be in the position you are in.

Bruce Charlton said...

Jogli has left a comment:

What advice would you give to someone who'd like to be a Christian but cannot get over the appearance that reality is either bottom-line evil or just physical contingency with no supernatural basis? ...

Bruce Charlton said...

@Jogli. I've discussed this many dozens of times on the blog over the years.

A short answer is to take person responsibility for your fundamental assumptions about whatever it is you regard as the most important aspects of reality.

Find out what your current unconscious assumptions are, and think about them. You'll soon find that your understanding of Life is based on little (or nothing) more than some vague impression of what "other people say.

For example, most people assume that ultimate reality is tiny (dead) particles randomly whirling around. If that is ultimate reality, then of course there cannot be any purpose or meaning to things, because you have already decided that.

But why do you assume that - and could you choose assume otherwise? Indeed, you might remember assuming otherwise when you were a young child.

And so on.