On human life


By the great pessimist.

He writes in one of his essays

That human life must be a kind of mistake is sufficiently clear from the fact that man is a compound of needs, which are difficult to satisfy; moreover, if they are satisfied, all he is granted is a state of painlessness, in which he can only give himself up to boredom. This is a precise proof that existence in itself has no value, since boredom is merely the feeling of the emptiness of life.
If life had in itself any positive and real value, boredom could not exist, mere existence in itself would supply us with everything and therefore satisfy us.

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About makagutu

As Onyango Makagutu I am Kenyan, as far as I am a man, I am a citizen of the world

59 thoughts on “On human life

  1. archaeopteryx1 says:

    But that’s what propels Humankind forward – the challenges ever-ready to be met – and that is responsible for every advancement that Humanity has made since the discovery that thrown rocks hurt.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. ladysighs says:

    I don’t know where I read it, but somebody wrote that man’s big desire or purpose is to avoid pain. Not necessarily to be happy but to not hurt. But if the reward of pain is something pleasurable, a person still will under go the pain.

    I repeat that I don’t know where/when/or who wrote this. But I think age might have something to do with avoiding pain.

    I used to wear very high heels. God they hurt my feet. But did I ever know how sexy I looked and I endured the pain. Today just give me my old lady oxfords.

    I used to do some sit ups and other exercise nonsense. God it hurt my muscles. But did I ever know how sexy it made me look and I endured the pain. Today I just wear a baggy shirt to cover the bulge.

    I have two children and God that hurt like hell. (and I sure didn’t look sexy) But I knew the pain would bring me loving children and I endured it. Today I give thanks for menopause.

    Did I really say “loving children” ? 😦

    Liked by 2 people

    • archaeopteryx1 says:

      Did I really say ‘loving children’ ? :(” – If they handed out awards for spot-on statements, I’d give you one. To paraphrase Forrest Gump – “Parenthood is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get.

      Liked by 1 person

      • ladysighs says:

        I’m always making comments that I am sure nobody reads. lol At least they no longer live at home. 🙂

        Like

        • archaeopteryx1 says:

          Are you kidding? i hang on your every word!

          At least they no longer live at home. 🙂” – Same here – now I’m raising the grandkids – not really, but sometimes it seems like it.

          Dogs to trip over. Tablets and iPhones blasting different Rap tunes simultaneously (Rap is to music as Etch-a-Sketch is to art). “I can’t talk to both of you at the same time, and I was talking to your brother first!” “I’m trying to write a comment about the mutation of the DNA sequence, and you want me to stop in the middle to watch a FaceBook video about a fat guy saying ‘Breakfast’ over and over and over?!!”

          But when I’m not doing that, it’s quiet in here. As they say in the B movies – “Too quiet —

          Parenthood is Nature’s way of making death not seem like such a bad idea.

          Liked by 1 person

    • fojap says:

      I never did wear high heels. When you’re young, shorts skirts look sexy too, and they hurt less. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • makagutu says:

      Schopenhauer in one of his maxims argues that avoidance of pain and not going after pleasure is the more meaningful way to live. So that at the end of life, it is how many of the misfortunes one avoided that makes life more bearable.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. john zande says:

    I like! Who wrote this?

    Liked by 2 people

      • john zande says:

        Thanks you, you clever thing.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Hariod Brawn says:

          “Not the least of the torments which plague our existence is the constant pressure of time, which never lets us so much as draw breath but pursues us all like a taskmaster with a whip. It ceases to persecute only him it has delivered over to boredom”.

          Liked by 1 person

          • john zande says:

            I’d like to drink five bottles of wine with this man 😉

            Liked by 1 person

          • makagutu says:

            Maybe you should drink more than five

            Liked by 1 person

          • Hariod Brawn says:

            He was both hilarious and a genius. That quote is from a constant companion of mine: “On the suffering of the world” – a Penguin mini-paperback from their Great Ideas series. He was tormented by his landlady all his life, and under whom he was obligated to suffer daily. When she died Arthur was asked to contribute an aphorism to mark her passing: “Obit anus, abit onus” – ‘the arsehole dies, the obligation is lifted’.

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          • makagutu says:

            He was brilliant.
            The thing I have against him is his treatment of women. For example he writes nature hasn’t given women the same reasoning faculties as the men so that she is always a child.

            Liked by 1 person

          • Hariod Brawn says:

            Of course OM:

            “One needs only to see the way she is built to realise that woman is not intended for great mental or for great physical labour. She expiates the guilt of life not through activity but through suffering , through the pains of childbirth, caring for the child and subjection to the man, to whom she should be a patient and cheering companion. Great suffering, joy, exertion, is not for her: her life should flow by more quietly, gently than the man’s, without being essentially happier or unhappier.”

            – from ‘Essay on Women’ v.2

            “Women are suited to being the nurses and teachers of our earliest childhood precisely because they themselves are childish, silly and short-sighted – in a word, big children, their whole lives long: a kind of intermediate stage between the child and the man, who is the actual human being, ‘man’. One has only to watch a girl playing with a child, dancing and singing with it the whole day, and then ask oneself what, with the best will in the world, a man could do in her place.”

            – from ‘Essay on Women’ v.3

            This is what I meant when I said ‘hilarious’ to John.

            Like

          • makagutu says:

            If you compare his ideas on women and then look at what Mencken wrote, these two men stand on opposite ends of a great chasm.
            I think Schopenhauer’s greatest undoing is his view of women. In most other cases I tend to agree with him

            Liked by 1 person

          • Noel, from what I understand, Schopenhauer had a strained relationship with his mother, which probably colored his view of women. He was also rejected by a girl he fell in love with when he was 43. She was 17.

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          • archaeopteryx1 says:

            He was also rejected by a girl he fell in love with when he was 43. She was 17.” – I can’t count the number of 17-year olds who rejected me at 43, you know you don’t have a shot when they address you as ‘Sir.’ He must have been easily influenced.

            Liked by 1 person

          • LOL — yeah, influenced with his other head.

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          • archaeopteryx1 says:

            There’s another head?

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          • archaeopteryx1 says:

            What I meant to say was ‘overly sensitive.’ I’ve never let a little rejection cause me to have a negative opinion of the objects of my attraction – it just increases the challenge.

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          • makagutu says:

            Haha. He should have looked for a 20something year old, maybe he would have a chance

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          • makagutu says:

            He had big women issues

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          • Not me. I LOVE plus size women!

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          • makagutu says:

            That’s strange given your size 🙂

            Liked by 1 person

          • I just get all wrapped up in em and I feel safe and secure. Lightening bolt sometimes causes issues, but I’m working on that.

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          • makagutu says:

            I can only imagine the trouble the two of you must go through

            Liked by 1 person

  4. Who wrote this? I likes it, too. I say life is about critiquing things I know nothing about; to believe I’m right all the time, and to say silly things like, “the pyramids were built by Joseph to store grain,” and then to get deeply offended when people refuse to take me seriously. Thanks for your time, and remember, it’s always darkest just before you pass out. $Amen$

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  5. “That boredom is immediately followed by fresh needs is a fact which is also true of the cleverer order of animals, because life has no true and genuine value in itself, but is kept in motion merely through the medium of needs and illusion. As soon as there are no needs and illusion we become conscious of the absolute barrenness and emptiness of existence.”

    Reality is not for the faint of heart.

    Great post, Noel.

    Liked by 1 person

    • makagutu says:

      It brought to mind the argument by most believers that without god, life is meaningless. Why do they suffer boredom? Why are they always striving towards some unknown end?

      Liked by 1 person

    • Barry says:

      I read the chapter by Schopenhauer you linked to above. A lot of it went right over my head, but he seems to paint a rather bleak picture of life. He says “no man is happy“, but I have no recollection of being otherwise, or at least content in myself, and I’m not sure if there’s any difference. Perhaps my happiness is just an illusion, and I’m really quite miserable?

      And can someone explain what boredom is. I honestly have no idea of what being bored means. I acknowledge that I have no awareness of the passage of time, so this might be an explanation. Schopenhauer implies that the cleverer order of animals sense boredom. Does that mean I’m not one of those?

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      • makagutu says:

        Schopenhauer was pessimist per excellence.
        A great Greek said no man can be counted happy till after his death, because then there are no more misfortunes that can befall him/ her.
        If you have no awareness of the passage of time, I am almost certain you can’t experience boredom

        Liked by 2 people

        • Barry says:

          That great Greek was wrong Misfortunes part of life. Let’s see: I’ve been struck down by several life threatening illnesses, including polio. I’ve had severe migraines since puberty. I have been assaulted on several occasions, and am frequently abused because my migraine symptoms are often mistaken for extreme intoxication. I am forcefully taken to hospital at frequent intervals when a migraine is mistaken for a stroke. I have been abused and assaulted because some people have been offended by my social ineptitude due to autism.

          I don’t foresee the migraines or autism going away, so the abuse is likely to continue, but I don’t see why that should affect my happiness. But after death, I’m darned sure I won’t be happy. In fact I won’t be anything – I won’t exist.

          Liked by 2 people

          • makagutu says:

            This article, I think explains Solon’s thought better than I could

            Liked by 1 person

          • Barry says:

            Ah. Now I understand

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          • makagutu says:

            you can forgive my poor attempts at explanation

            Liked by 1 person

          • Barry, the brain evolved so we could delude ourselves in order to survive the realities of life. Also, our reward neurotransmitters trick us in order to survive. No woman, using her rational mind, would voluntarily get pregnant, and go through agonizing pain, with a great risk of injury and death, then spend the next 18+ years taking care of her offspring, except for reward chemicals that trick her. Same goes for men. Without reward neurotransmitters, our species would die out. Novelty counters boredom. Novelty is very dopaminergic. So, Schopenhauer was right about illusion (more like delusion) in this regard.

            Liked by 1 person

  6. nannus says:

    If that guy feels bored it is his own fault. This planet is a nasty place in many respects, but there is more interesting stuff here than one can stuff into one single life. Only uneducated people can feel bored. And that is a condition that can be treated by studying (which also removes boredom).

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    • makagutu says:

      He says reading is using someone’s else brain to think.

      Like

      • nannus says:

        🙂 Laziness results in boredom. He could try adding some of his own thoughts while reading or after reading. General education is the key to not being bored. Initially, it is strenuous. It is like doing weight lifting to strengthen your muscles. Initially it hurts. After some time, you become able to lift something you could not initially, and then it starts becomming fun. Its the same with books. If he does not make an effort and feels bored, my pity for him is rather limited.

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        • makagutu says:

          You are right my friend, to start reading is the hard work, thereafter it becomes easier and one can find a book for any mood

          Like

          • nannus says:

            Or a thought that is interesting, or an observation that is interesting. Being bored is a moral fault.

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          • makagutu says:

            But I think it is a terrible tragedy if one can’t read nor think. They live their lives closer to the brutes than the child

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          • nannus says:

            One can also think without reading. People living in traditional village cultures are often educated inside their tradition. But if you have lost that and on the other side you fail to accquire modern education, you are indeed mentally poor. In west African pidgin such people are called “habbook” (derived from “halv book”).

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          • makagutu says:

            That is quite true. Don’t you think ,though, that the size of their vocabulary would limit the extent of their thoughts, especially in abstract matters. Such people think of what is practical only

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