Hedonism and Misfortune

If the immediate and direct purpose of our life is not suffering then our existence is the most ill-adapted to its purpose in the world: for it is absurd to suppose that the endless affliction of which the world is everywhere full, and which arises out of the need and distress pertaining essentially to life, should be purposeless and purely accidental. Each individual misfortune, to be sure, seems an exceptional occurrence; but misfortune in general is the rule. […] A quick test of the assertion that enjoyment outweighs pain in this world, or that they are at any rate balanced, would be to compare the feelings of an animal engaged in eating another with those of the animal being eaten.

Arthur Schopenhauer (1850) On the Suffering of the World

In todays existence we are surrounded by an economic monoculture; which has driven hedonistic values as the norm. Our (western)  societies are continually pushing for instant gratification, always on, always connected, and focused solely on the ultimate pleasure. In amongst the theme where the only intrinsic good is pleasure, we forget that misfortune and pain goes hand in hand with pleasure, and that it is in fact, good. Without pain and suffering, we never grow, we stagnate. If we follow hedonism we never really experience life as it should be. Our society spends all of its efforts to extend life, and to bring everlasting life to our species – which only reduces the value of life itself. If we know we are going to live (forever?), we place little value on each moment, tragedy or joy, and fail to see life for what it is. Death has become taboo; or atleast the acceptance that death is part of the natural order. Without it, life has no meaning.  In this context, the same needs to be applied to suffering and misfortune, it is natural and required to give life, the moments of joy and pleasure, meaning.

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