Vexen Crabtree 2015

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Sociology, Theology, Anti-Religion and Exploration: Forcing Humanity Forwards


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Vexen Crabtree 2015
vexen

Search for Happiness

Read essay online and leave comment here

Some excerpts:

When the truth is dangerous, is it more worthwhile to hide the truth? If ignorance is bliss, and those of Orwell's 1984 are truly happy, how is it that we think truth should be revealed even when they make people unhappy? Truth isn't inherent in happiness and vica versa: Who is better, they who promote truth over happiness, or happiness over truth? In society, in general, I would say that philosophers, mystics, materialists and freethinkers have pursued truth despite the danger to happiness, and the masses nearly always (sometimes ignorantly) pursued happiness whether or not they are also pursuing truth. The adoption of doubt as a central tenet causes the above questions to become mute, as will be shown.

[...] Colin Wilson's The Outsider concludes that those who are made unhappy through the search for truth are reconciled with happiness through peak experiences, random moments of happiness to which they hold on to and keep in their minds, and therefore that those who are naturally happy, such as me, are those who generate peak experiences. For me, these can include random solitary walks through London, computer games, online debates, creating web pages... these things also are what I consider to be some of the best reasons for my life, simple as they are.[...]

What are your peak experiences and points of life?


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Wow, Vexen. These are VERY BIG questions. (Maybe you should cross-post this to Philosophy?)

I personally haven't noticed that 'truth' per se makes me happy, necessarily. It can sometimes feel good to know the truth, if indeed whatever it is you've discovered actually IS the truth. Sometimes it's difficult to know, except in the most proveable instances.

I agree that even Buddhism, which purports a system for happiness, is really just a way of side-stepping the difficulties in life by somehow rising above it (psychologically), or just flat out AVOIDING them. I think people will find all kinds of ways to lie to themselves sometimes when they really want to *feel* happy.

Many books on 'how to obtain happiness' recommend "keeping your faith" because, I suppose, religion can make people feel comfortable/secure, etc., and maybe indirectly more happy, but probably in the way of just feeling less unhappy. Ignorance is a type of false happiness; finding real happiness through knowledge and truth can be so much more difficult.

Who is better, they who promote truth over happiness, or happiness over truth?
Good question! And yet you'd think truth would always be preferable. If that were the case, religion would probably disappear (eventually). TRUTH is not necessarily compatible with FAITH, obviously.

What are your points of life that generate your happy moments? And how do you reconcile the search for truth when it results in unhappiness, or when the truth looks dangerous to reveal?
I suppose peak experiences do count for a lot. :) But there are definitely moments of being a 'lover of life' as well! As far as having to decide whether to accept or reveal a 'truth' if it's dependent upon happiness vs. unhappiness? Well, I guess that depends upon whether a person is willing to accept the truth or hide/deny/ignore it and live with the consequences either way. Sure, sometimes the truth hurts, and sometimes it's better to know it so maybe things can be better later, even if they're temporarily painful.

I hope this is enough; I have to run off now! Great deep thoughts, btw. :)

Oh, I didn't realize this is one of the essays from your website! (thought maybe it was just off the top of your head ;))

Anyway, I forgot to add one these: definition of happiness? You mean happiness as in everyday content without a lot of negativity? Or actual "joy"? And I think many people confuse temporary satisfaction with real happiness, but I suppose it's easy to do. Peace of mind often provides a quiet happiness for me. There are many things that might *feel* good, but whether or not they lead to long-term happiness depends on other factors. (I'm sure I don't have to spell it out either!)

Peak experiences are hard to put into words. Just watching a beautiful sunset from a gently rocking sailboat, or petting my cat's luxurious coat and hearing her purr next to me, or taking a long walk through the forest/desert/mountains, etc. And of course music can be very transforming and hypnotic; poetry can be very moving. I can't think of much else to say right now. :)

It was off the top of my head... I wrote it, posted it, then decided to mark it up into HTML!

You said some great sounding peak experiences :-) I have a few... some memories of my favorite cat, as a kid, that used to curl up and sleep on my chest... very cuddly :-)

Happiness... I think the text was more speaking of the more long term, deep happiness than temporary joy, but it sounds like you pretty much knew that :-)

Merry Christmas!

Happiness... I think the text was more speaking of the more long term, deep happiness than temporary joy, but it sounds like you pretty much knew that :-)
Yes, I think I understood that. ;)

Merry Christmas!
Thank you! Same to you, although I suppose it's over with by now? :) Except........
I actually have another family get-together on Saturday. Yay, another Christmas! :D

On that note, beauty has also been called truth...

My take on this: imagine your entire life being ripped out from under you with a single word. Everything you hold dear, everything you believe in, everything you hold onto, suddenly disappearing from beneath you; the firm ground of meaning that defines your life just vanishing into meaningless darkness and bewilderment.

I think that's the danger of lacking an instinct for honesty, with yourself, with others, and with your experience of the world. Sure, if you delude yourself you can iron out a few kinks in life's rocky road, for a while. But when you hit a chasm don't be surprised when your carefully wrought bridge turns to vapour beneath you. Which is, I suppose, almost worse than not having a bridge in the first place.

Just a thought. Oh, and HAPPY CHRISTMAS by the way! I hope yours is genuinely beautiful - you DO deserve a nice one this year. Keep in touch and maybe even give me a call or something?

*huggle*

Happiness, Truth, and the Painfully Obvious

(Anonymous)
Hello, and Merry Christmas. Stumbled onto this site can't remember how. Interesting essay on the concepts of happiness and truth. And peak experiences, etc. Wondering how it all applies, when we are at some level, painfully aware, though we might not acknowledge it as such, that our lives, whether happy or sad, are very temporary. Nothing we do will last. It all turns to dust, as Kansas said so eloquently once in an old song. So on one hand, the pursuit of happiness is doomed from the start, unless one thinks that lying on the deathbed with the thought "I sure was happy" will carry us over into whatever comes next, without too much trauma. About the pursuit of truth, well, it seems what's true today was false 50 years ago. And what is false today might well be true tomorrow. Flash Gordon became John Glenn, etc. etc. So 'truth' changes, just like everything else??!! What's the comfort in that? I don't know about the Buddishts too much, but thought that 'freedom from suffering' was what it was all about. Didnt' know they argued for 'pursuit of happiness'. Mayber they're the same thing? What about all those Mystics that talk about Samahdi and Enlightment? And do you think there's a capital "T" Truth, that actually WOULD

Colin Wilson is an excellent author; my friend David is really into his works, and I've read The Outsider. The only thing I have against Nietzche? His oftimes misogynistic streak (some of his quotes include "The Germans are like women, you can scarcely ever fathom their depths -- they haven't any.")

Anyhow, about happiness, I don't think it exists. Anyone halfway intelligent will never be TRULY happy.

The reason being because the intelligent mind is always changing, and in order for change to occur, the intelligent person must always be ready to face new challenges and conflicts. Without such challenges and conflicts, there is no room to grow, mentally, emotionally, or spiritually.

As a psych major, that is why I'm very much against medicating people with antidepressants.


Nietzsche is a man of many spellings!

Nietzsche has a terrible misogynist streak, it's true. The barb I remember most well is something like:

"Women commit a feat of literature like a child commits a sin: to then look around to see if anyone noticed, but not really for the feat itself"

I'm happy! OK... admittedly, like confidence, I decided that the difference between faking it and really having it is quite small... I think I might, in reality, be only "medium happy" as opposed to the "endlessly happy" that I come across as! But then again, compared to educated people, I'm not exactly intelligent!

I think I might, in reality, be only "medium happy" as opposed to the "endlessly happy" that I come across as!

--"Medium happy" is sort of the way I'd express my state as well, because it comes and it goes so often.

From what I've read of your essays you seem like a very serious person who still has a "fun" side to him. I think that is a healthy balance of sorts.

But then again, compared to educated people, I'm not exactly intelligent!

--Pshaw. Many geniuses were self-educated, so I have been told.

As for misogyny, well, it's too bad that some men feel the need to attack women instead of putting all their energies into worthwhile social causes, etc. There are still some good examples of this today, for instance, look at the quasi-intellectual site www.misogynyunlimited.com.

Then again, there are other sites which are made by women who hate men, like www.ihatemen.com.

Hatred like this is a waste of time, in my opinion, and these websites should be considered on par with hate crimes.








Everything you said here makes great sense to me. :) I don't think I want to bother checking out those websites, though!

But then again, compared to educated people, I'm not exactly intelligent!
--Pshaw. Many geniuses were self-educated, so I have been told.


I feel the same way sometimes (less intelligent because 'less educated'), but I have to agree on the self-educated point. There are different kinds of *smarts* -- no matter what the basic IQ tests say! Some people do better learning on their own; others fare better in a structured setting like college.

Thanks for posting! :)

I think Nietzsche done himself good by rarely talking about women... but what little he does let out is quite revealing!

In real life I am generally silly-fun or quiet, always happy sounding, and people just wouldn't guess that when I sit down near a computer my fingers write some of the most pretentious text ever written by any amatuer anywhere!... :-), Empiress says that I write "authoritively", as in the manner of someone who is stating the unquestionable facts of how it is... my old text used to be much much worse, Vexen even used to write in third person!...

Erm... related essays (Pretentious Mode):

http://www.dpjs.co.uk/doubt.html (Doubt is the most important intellectual value)
http://www.vexen.co.uk/disclaimer.html (a disclaimer...)
http://www.vexen.co.uk/human/humour.html (Nietzsche on the necessity of self-humour)

ooh~ I like the icon pic of that monstery figure sista vexen...it's so cute! :D~

I added you as a friend... I didn't know you were on here :-), hope you don't mind! I do write a lot of religious stuff so I don't expect you to automatically keep me on your list! :-)

What are your LJ Avatars from? I don't know enough to know which characters they are!

well one pic is me, the other two are from sailormoon.

the evil looking character is Viluy of the death busters from Sailormoon S.

the one performing an attack is Sailor Starhealer of the Sailor Starlights from Sailormoon Stars.

Gotta love their fashion styles...I'll try to draw some pics when I feel that I'm good enough heh~

yeah where was your winged demon character from?...he sure looks sexy.

He is sexy, you should see him in action! And hear his voice :-)

It's from a computer game, Warcraft 3, I can't remember his name, but he was a demon hunter who was judged to be dangerous, so they kept in blindfolded in an underground prison for 1000 years, but then there was a war and they needed to let him out to help them... and he quickly became a demon. His brother approached him and he said

"look what I have become"... and sounded sad.

His name is Illidan. He was not blindfolded, he was naturally blind. He had consumed the skull (I dont know the name) and become a demon. His brethren thought him as an enemy the fact that he is a demon, but what they didnt knew, the demon guy want to save the world by Arthas' domination. And so on...

Btw, I like your articles. Keep it up. Your an Idol of mine. XD

I was surprised to read this statement by a poster on this thread: "I agree that even Buddhism, which purports a system for happiness, is really just a way of side-stepping the difficulties in life by somehow rising above it (psychologically), or just flat out AVOIDING them."

It is only those who are either shallow in their religious/faith commitment or those who have only a shallow understanding of religion that assume this is the purpose of religious faith. Neither Christianity nor Buddhism at heart are systems for side stepping the difficulties of life. Christ promises his followers -greater- suffering along his path and one of Buddhism's primary objectives is to embrace reality rather than deny it. Buddha sees ignorance as the root of all evil. To say that in such an embrace one will find "peace" in the midst of suffering is not to side step life's difficulties. There is a world of difference between embracing pain and suffering and allowing oneself to be transformed by it and simply denying/avoiding it.

One of my favorite books on Christianity and Buddhism is "The Zen of Jesus" by Kenneth Leong (a Chinese Zen Buddhist with an Anglican background). I think a quote from his book fits well with your topic:

"Karl Marx once referred to religion as the 'opium of the people.' Unfortunately that statement rings true because that is how many people use faith...but if this is what we understand faith to be, then Master Jesus has some news for us. For he told his disciples, 'Do not think that I have come to bring peace on earth; I have not come to bring peace but a sword' (Matt. 10:34). The Zen master Hakuin echoes: 'Should you desire the great tranquility, prepare to sweat white beads.' There is no 'mellow' way to truth. Contrary to common understanding, true faith is more a challenge than a sanctuary. To have faith is not to be a sissy but a warrior. While faith has nothing to do with being a he-man with the associated aggressiveness, it does mean being courageous enough to face reality as it is, no matter how ugly it may look. ... Faith is not the pursuit of security; it is the acceptance of insecurity."

For Buddhists, there need not be a choice between "happiness" and "truth" because the only true path to happiness is through self-knowledge and the embrace of reality. The two are inextricably linked. Of course, the assertion of "absolute truths" IS an act of ignorance and arrogance because all we can assert with certainty is that we don't know absolute truth! A lovely paradox it is. Therefore faith is the acceptance of insecurity, of not "knowing"...or what Vexen may term "doubt": "Only with an underlying theme of doubt can happiness be found."


The way I interpreted Buddhism's "take" on my essay would be like this:... to say that Buddhists train themselves to be non-attached to the world applies not only to their bodies and materialism but more so to ideas and logic... so that a well practiced Buddhist will be well used to dismissing even the most common sense truth; as such their need for doubt isn't so apparent. We could read the essay with the words "non-attachment to ideas" instead of doubt... so that in order to avoid shock or unhappiness as a result of truths being overthrown, it is necessary to first have doubt a non-attachment to that truth.

I think...

It is possible that the non-attachment search for reality is actually superior to the doubt method (as they are not quite the same), however for most the Buddhist's way requires too much training (and would therefore fail for most as a solution to the problem of overly cherished truth), whereas the doubt way is quicker and dirtier.

(I'm going to add some of this as footnote and add some text about Santa Claus the next time I edit this essay!)

"There is no 'mellow' way to truth. Contrary to common understanding, true faith is more a challenge than a sanctuary"

I recognize that many great people have said this exact thing... of if they haven't, they should have! :-) ... Nietzsche said "You cannot go about the search for truth too humanely...", which I've always interpreted as advocating a kind of internal-holy-jihad-for-truth, against cosy (humane) truths... which is I think how truth should be approached: with impersonality and nonattachment, not with a view to finding prizes but more as turning the pedals of a long and difficult bicycle ride, where it is necessary to leave old truth (scenery...) behind if you want to get anywhere.

Oh... back to Buddhism... although lots of Chinese own bicycles I think that's enough about those and I can't really recycle my tyred metaphor any more :-)... I think the teachings of Buddhism (erm... the first two of the four noble truths? I can't remember)... are focused on looking at the most depressing truths about life, and starting from there is a good way to avoid not wanting to do truth-seeking due to the observations becoming unhappy. I see that trained Buddhists do not need to choose between truth and happiness, because they already view the former in a transitory and different way, so that the two are firmly seperated and don't affect each other, which is very not true for most people. I think...

Is there a list of "samsaric" things in Buddhism, and what is it called? Like 1) Disease, 2) Old Age, 3) Death, or something like that?

Is there a list of "samsaric" things in Buddhism, and what is it called? Like 1) Disease, 2) Old Age, 3) Death, or something like that?

Samsara is primarily linked to the cycle of rebirth and it's negative effect on the individual. Then there is dukkha which is ususally translated as "suffering" and which the Four Noble Truths discuss. There are three types of dukkha: ordinary suffering (sickness, old age, death, and death of loved ones), the suffering from impermanence (everything is temporary), and the suffering of one's conditioned states of attachment (this can be altered unlike the other two).

I see that trained Buddhists do not need to choose between truth and happiness, because they already view the former in a transitory and different way, so that the two are firmly seperated and don't affect each other, which is very not true for most people.

But Buddhists view everything as transitory and impermanent in this existence. I would say that the two (truth and happiness) are linked rather than separate for this reason because truth (embracing reality) is a way to reach the other (happiness). Partly it depends on how one defines happiness however....happiness in my own view involves deep inner peace, contentment in all circumstances (whether painful or not), abiding joy, etc. If one means merely a shallow emotion of "happiness" then I agree, the two are not really linked. I assumed you meant more than that though.

I think it is the also those who have a shallow faith that seek this shallow "happiness." They are seeking ways to feel good about themselves and simply desiring to avoid pain and discomfort as much as possible. Honestly, that is the path I see the majority of Americans upon...no desire for challenge, merely a desire for comfort. The contemporary church's are built to be maximally comfortable and the teachings are essentially steps on how to be and remain "comfortable" above all else. Of course, this is the objective of most of those in the secular world as well. I am not making a moral judgment here on that driving motive (although I think it is problematic), but the point is that neither Buddha's or Christ's teachings are good paths to that kind of "happiness."

The more truths you Hide The more the probability that people will find cuses to doubt. I would venture that doubt leads to great uneasieness and as a result unhappyness.

As for Peak Exseriences I think you forgot Dancing till dawn to the kind of music that gets right in to your soul.

Doubt, even of the most consistent kind, does not lead to uneasiness. The essay attempts distinguishes between intellectual doubt, that I am talking about, and emotional doubt. I am not really talking of /hidden truths/ but truths that are simply unknown and unthinkable truths... like if your whole worldview and way of thinking makes it difficult to conceive of certain types of truth. All worldviews make it difficult to see some types of truth, and are better at seeing others. With doubt, no matter what your world view, you are more likely to find truth, as happiness is not dependent on the upholding of dubious intellectual truths. I believe that overdependence on personal truths leads to greater unhappiness and less control over your maps of "reality", whereas doubt frees everything up.

I've gone in to quite some extra depth with a Christian over on uk.religion.christianity on this, and will be updating the essay at some point with some examples and edits.

A peak experiences is a single memory, especially childhood ones and older ones, that have remained as very good, happy memories, and are small things that are quite random and sometimes even completely inexplicable. In the philosophy LJ community, many commenters have given some great examples of peak experiences, and in the edit of the essay I'll add them and also quote Colin Wilson directly on them, too.

"quite random and sometimes even completely inexplicable."

Well there have been times when my dancing would qualify as both of those [:

More seriously why should peak experiences Be one offs or seemingly unintensional. which seems to be the implication?

Dancing ++

I don't know why, really, this seems like a question for the cognitive psychologists!

hello, I started reading your page as a result of a google search for "internal happiness" I was agreeing with some of your statements before I realized that it was a Satanism page. I think it is unfortunate that a reasonable philosophy is given such a bad name that obscures what the philosophy is about. To me and most other people, non-Christians included, Satan does not represent doubt. Rather, he represents the obscuring of truth. If we take "God" as the symbol of truth, then Satan diverts people away from it. The connotation follows whether or not we are talking about a Christian God, or some other as-yet-unobtained truth or other representation of perfection. Of course this argument breaks down if you do not concede anything to be ontologically true. But in that case, the image of Satan does not seem to fit anywhere.

Yes, of course this is mainly semantics, but I think that semantics is a powerful tool for spreading the word. I prefer the marker of skepticism.

regards, martin

spawned

(Anonymous)
Satan is viewed as evil. Questioning is viewed as evil. But how can one know the truth if they don't question. It is all circular. The only way to accept religion is to check one's brains at the door.

I am convinced that if there is a god, he is sadistic. Perhaps Satan is not the evil one here.

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