The Value of Truth

What is the value of truth?

I have determined that running away from suffering is the result of a delusion. This delusion consists in the belief that there is a separation between self and other which leads to will-affirmation and the intensification of willing which is inseparable from suffering. However, if suffering is essential to willing, and willing leads to the running away from suffering, the only way to attain the goal would be to run away from willing itself. However, this somehow justifies the initial impulse to run away from suffering. If it is true that this is delusional, then the only reasonable way to react is passivity. But, we seem to run into contradictions here and further clarification is required.

Suffering is a direct consequence of willing. This is indisputable in my mind as every conceivable instance of suffering can only exist if a requisite desire or aversion was present first and then subsequently subverted. So, suffering is by definition a result of volitional engagement. Well, this is only true if desires and aversions are the only possible instances of willing. I believe this to be the case but have not yet completely ascertained it. As I observe the content of my concept of willing, it seems empty of anything save desire and aversion. There seems to be no other way in which to will which is not a movement of desire – and aversion can be shown to be reducible to desire simply as a semantic opposite but conceptually identical in its essence. So, this argument seems to show that suffering is, in fact, a direct consequence of desire, which is just another word for will. I have employed the method of homogeneity in this argument but perhaps the method of specification has a role to play as well. The two concepts being identified here are desire and will and the claim is that any difference between them is semantic. This is because desire seems to require an object whereas willing does not necessarily. So, perhaps it is useful to characterise these two notions as lying along the scale of objectification or manifestation at slightly different positions and that desiring is a slightly more objectified notion of willing. However, is it actually possible to conceive of object-less willing? In fact, it seems impossible to do so and I am afraid that this might be my strongest contention against Schopenhauerian philosophy. Will is defined crucially by a particular thing being willed and if there is nothing that is being willed, how can will be said to be involved at all? And yet, Schopenhauer insists that the will which is the kernel of all manifest phenomena is purposeless and aims at no particular thing at all. But how is it to be called will if it is not willing anything? He derives this concept of the will from the discussion concerning knowledge of our own bodies, which he says takes place from two sides simultaneously, the side of the representation and the side of our willing. However, in this case, the willing is evident as such since it always orients towards particular results and particular things. How we go from this particular will, which is incontestably will, to the underlying ONE will, defined as aimless and purposeless, is not at all clear and fills my mind with immense conceptual difficulties. Perhaps one way to rectify this situation is to claim that the will simply wills existence and no more. Even though this goes against the claim that the will is aimless and purposeless, it seems to resonate correctly within the rational structure I have constructed in order to understand Schopenhauer. And perhaps it does not really go against the claim that the will is aimless since existence cannot truly be said to be an aim proper as it is the underlying condition for any aim, object, or purpose. So, we are back where we were, namely in the identification of will with desire, as this has now made itself clear to me.

Suffering is a direct consequence of desiring. And running away from suffering is the result of delusion. But, running away from anything can be seen as an instance of desire – in truth it is an instance of aversion but even as such it can be said to be a desire to be separated from a thing. And so, to run away from suffering would only bring more suffering. The delusion here is, as previously mentioned, the belief that there is a separation between self and other. This belief will always lead to desire because, if there is in fact such a separation, there will also be the need to protect and endorse this independent self, even at the expense of the other. And this need will manifest as a fundamental polarisation which is called desire or willing, which rests upon that primary need and makes everything else that is encountered relate to that need. And, since we have shown that desiring always leads to more suffering, we can easily see that a life lived in this manner will only bring greater and greater suffering. So, if one wishes to suspend the suffering that wreaks havoc which is sometimes unbearable, one must first suspend one’s desires. But the contradiction has become clear here and it is that the predicate of that conditional statement required an initial desire, namely the suspension of suffering. So, one must NOT wish to suspend one’s suffering, or anything at all for that matter, in order for one’s suffering to be suspended. The strange thing about this statement is that it is actually true, at least to the testament of my life as it has played itself out. Every time we stop wanting something, it appears on a silver platter. When we stop looking for our keys, we find them in the most obvious of places. Right at the moment that we stop searching for that damned word we can’t remember, it pops out of our mouths. However, this is a very strange state of affairs and seems to somewhat similar to a booby-trap laid in place for us by nature herself. It seems to tells us that if we really want something, we must just PRETEND that we do not want it for a time and then it will appear. But this is obviously not so; this law of nature is concerned with our innermost aspects and the true character of our volition. It seems to get right to the heart of our desires and watches until they are truly gone in order to reward us what we had previously wanted, but no longer do, almost as though it did this with a sneer.

What is the value of truth, then, in the wake of this formulation of the relation between willing and suffering? Well, the value of truth is to counter the delusion upon which this whole mass of suffering rests. Truth is what teaches us to relax our clenched fists. It shows us that suffering is, on a metaphysical level, unnecessary; it is only necessary insofar as we desire. Since it is ignorance that blocks this realization from us and keeps us locked in this cycle of suffering, then it will undoubtedly be wisdom which breaks those chains and releases us from all desire. However, this argument presupposes still the negative value of suffering and still seeks escape from it thereby running the risk of contradicting itself. But perhaps, in the most general sense, the negative value of suffering is, in fact, axiomatic to our existence. And, if this is so, everything will derive its value from how far away or close to suffering it brings us. And, in this way, the value of truth is clearly that it offers the possibility to eliminate suffering altogether.

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