“Dolorism, the ‘philosophy of struggle’, and the polar opposite to Hedonism…” - extracted from my personal diary
A while back, I felt that I had made a very interesting discovery. One day, at some point last year or so, I was thinking about Hedonism, and my novelty-seeking brain asked me, if the prefix dolor- denotes pain, suffering and struggle (the opposite of hedon-, basically), then is there a school of thought called Dolorism, or a philosophy where people embrace hardship, discomfort, and challenging situations for growth, evolution, apotheosis, if you will? And of course, there is! My brain released the joyful neurotransmitters I get when I find something new and novel, particularly if it’s part of or related to a subject I am already highly passionate about, like Hedonics, the Abolition of Suffering, Bioethics, and so on. I was born very high on the novelty-seeking spectrum, and so it shall remain until the day I die. I like to celebrate the complication of a topic I care about, rather than give in to frustration. One could argue that the satisfaction one feels when a difficult challenge is overcome could still be filed under Hedonism, but just a far more nuanced and sophisticated version of it than what most people associate that word with, that which is called Folk Hedonism (which is, of course, wine, women and song, and so on). Later, I no longer felt that I had made an interesting discovery after realising that the word Dolorism was already in circulation within certain circles ("...there is nothing new under the sun." - Ecclesiastes 1:9, The Bible). Here is a quote attributed to Blaise Pascal to illustrate the complication of hedonics I mentioned earlier:
“I would prefer an intelligent hell to a stupid paradise” - Blaise Pascal
Suffering-abolitionists, particularly first-generation suffering-abolitionists, could be categorised as dolorists; pioneers who stoically try hard to abolish involuntary suffering, knowing full well that the task will not be easy, that they are likely to face merciless ridicule, and that part of the course will be to confront disturbing content (videos, audio documentation, and written descriptions and testimonies of cases involving extreme suffering during the necessary research one must conduct in order to more effectively contribute towards the bioethical abolitionist project), such that risking one’s own physical and mental health (like with martyrdom, for instance) are considered to be necessary sacrifices in order to help usher in a new age of paradise engineering that will benefit ones descendants greatly, even if the first generation do not live long enough to benefit from it themselves (planting seeds for trees we will never sit under ourselves). First-generation pioneers, frontiersmen, explorers, innovators and inventors accept that they are probably the people who will suffer the most, so that their descendants may suffer radically less so! How noble, non? How ironic the inclusion of the term ‘Dolorism’ here really is when it’s used in a framework with manifestos with such titles as ‘The Hedonistic Imperative’ [pioneered by fellow Brit David Pearce]. How ironic it is that suffering (from and caused by being on the receiving end of ridicule, laughter, controversy, exile, anger, physical confrontations, splenetic outbursts, disownment) can be an effect endured by those trying to abolish it for all else and forever more, most likely because of the stress caused by such a massive, astronomically large superproject that is biblical in its scope!?
"If there is to be a brave new world, our generation is going to have the hardest time living in it." - Chancellor Gorkon, Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country
Helping to minimise involuntary suffering by necessarily sacrificing some of one’s own stability, health, wealth, comfort and adherence to the status quo, and other pleasurable distractions, means that the project is costly, requiring great personal effort and teamwork fuelled by all available resources, reservoirs and stores. Sacrifices inevitably result in suffering - whatever it takes to usher in a truly pain-free future as soon and as widely available as possible. To fight against suffering by using the suffering from one’s own past (and the trauma it caused) as fuel to fight with, and watching and reminding ourselves about just how cruel and bloody nature really is becomes very effective at firing up adherents such as ourselves even more; this noble crusade to end suffering will leave us feeling exhausted quite frequently along the way.
Is the subjective experience of pleasure and hedonia usually more deep, meaningful and/or intense before or without knowing (all) about dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin, receptors, downregulation, upregulation, neurotransmission, hedonic hotspots, nucleus accumbens, mu opioids, neurology in general, and so on? Does this meta-awareness of pleasure, hedonia, positive affect and valence, et cetera, diminish some of the characteristics needed to enjoy them to their fullest? How much of a difference could there be in the enjoyment of pleasure before knowing about all this when compared to after knowing about all this? Across different cultures and time periods, there are numerous tales and proverbs warning people of the burden of knowledge, the dysphoric price one must pay for certain knowledges hidden, secret and occulted, no? If we consider the awareness and knowledge about how euphoric systems in the human brain work (including, or especially, one’s own brain, for instance), could that then become knowledge that eventually leaves one subjectively dysphoric, or neutral (especially for certain, sensitive personality-types), despite the actual subject matter (euphoria, pleasure, happiness, positive valence etc); what a cruel joke, indeed! Alan Watts’ ‘Backwards Law’ strikes again...
“To now live in a universe where suffering has been permitted to exist at all, for all of time across that which was infinite before my conception, or before anybody’s conception - well, that is deeply, existentially unpleasant: that is a meta-suffering. That is meta-suffering. I suffer knowing suffering exists, and it has done before I was born, and there was nothing I could’ve done for those who suffered terribly before me, for it was dark. If suffering lasted for an infinitely long time before I (or anybody) was created, I fear it will last just as long after I (or anybody) will die…” - extracted from my personal diary
I wish to use this opportunity to introduce, and expand on, the term ‘meta-suffering’, or the suffering involved on the road towards it’s abolition, endured by suffering-abolitionists such as ourselves along the way. For example, the fight against suffering can be fuelled by using the suffering from one’s own past (and the trauma it caused) as fuel to fight it with, as well as by watching how cruel and bloody nature really is, which is very effective at providing even more fuel to fire adherents up with; that is meta-suffering. Another example is how the road to pioneering the minimisation of suffering, and beyond, will be achieved by way of travelling on a road involving being on the receiving end of events that cause suffering to us abolitionists nonstop, like: ridicule, persecution, bullying, isolation, to name just a few. As the old maxim goes, an artist must suffer for his or her art; the craftsman or craftswoman must suffer for their craft. Suffering is everywhere, so suffering-abolitionism must be similarly all encompassing; may it be a craft, an art, a science, may it be all. Thus, the inevitability of suffering for our art (the art of the abolition of suffering, in our case) must be accepted, as the most effective route to this goal is full of negative valence - in fact, the only effective route to that goal will be full of negative valence. There will be no shortcuts, ever! And yes, by negative valence, I do mean, again: ridicule, persecution, bullying, isolation, considering how suffering-abolitionism has already become one of those subjects that provokes venomous pushback from normies being fed these concepts far too quickly with not enough time for them to acclimatise. That is what I mean with the term ‘meta-suffering’, which can be neatly summarised thusly:
“I don’t want my descendants going through what I had to go through…” - extracted from my personal diary
“The ‘Abolish My Suffering’ effect; the name I have given to the phenomenon where so many people involved in Suffering-Abolitionism are themselves troubled souls burdened with their own personal suffering, and thus their own private reasons for becoming involved in the movement alongside the shared goals common to all fellow abolitionists.” - extracted from my personal diary
My Father once gave me some advice about dealing with traumatic memories and experiences, thusly: “you take that memory, put it in a drawer or cabinet, close it, lock it, throw away the key, and leave it in the back of your mind forever, never to be re-opened”. That’s how he dealt with his own bad experiences. I believe, without Googling it*, that this technique is called ‘compartmentalisation’(?) - the opposite of the gloriously-named ‘memory palace’ technique, used to massively enhance memory capabilities. I think traumatology studies and therapeutics for PTSD have not caught up with a certain demographic yet, one who could benefit greatly from them: namely, the children of the Internet generations, like myself for instance (my first taste of the wonders of the Internet were given to me courtesy of Windows 98 and either Hewlett-Packard or Packard Bell, I cannot remember which exactly**). Before the online censorship we are now more familiar with today, the Internet was a Wild West of anything and everything, where disturbing content, even on what we call the Clearnet (the normal, surface-level Internet, as opposed to the Dark/Deep Web) was just a combination of curiosity and a few clicks away. Even now, the Clearnet is a risky minefield for those hypersensitive personalities that are destined to follow whatever rabbit holes they allow their curiosity to take them down, only to find suffering, regret, nausea, trauma and misanthropy waiting for them at the bottom of each and every single one. And now, the Dark Web and the Deep Web pose risks that need no explanation, and we will have more generations of sensitive and soon to be/doomed to be desensitised young people with developing brains exposed to more traumatic and disturbing sensory input by the time they hit 20 than a 75 year old combat veteran dealing with PTSD from when he was deployed in ‘Nam. I also think that a specialised counselling service tailored towards helping suffering-abolitionists, bioethicists, effective altruists, and so on, should be set up; it would deal with the kinds of psychological impact endured by those working to abolish involuntary suffering. It is inevitable that they will have no choice but to face the reality of some of the worst and most horrifying forms of suffering in the world. Many enthusiasts come into suffering-abolitionism as troubled souls already, only to come out of it even more troubled than when they first became involved, after hoping that joining the movement would help to alleviate some of the suffering they were experiencing themselves since long before and all the way up to joining the bioethical abolitionist movement and beyond…
*I would rather try and write from memory, and ask or answer questions with real people, family, friends and acquaintances, over using search engines, even if I risk being mistaken and corrected more by doing more of the former rather than the latter. Ancients lamented the dawn of literacy because they were upset that people would no longer bother to memorise and then tell entire stories from memory, and then have them passed down orally. For decades, people have lamented jobs where machines and automation have replaced human workers and the arts of craftsmanship, apprenticeship and mentorship. And now, I lament the takeover of using search engines rather than interactions and conversations with other people, real people, even if they are correcting you on a mistake you made.
**I just felt a bullet of nostalgia after writing down and reading back the names Hewlett-Packard and Packard Bell. Ah, the beauty of being a very young person around late-90s and early-00s computers. Y2K indeed! How hedonic!
Meta-hedonia! Deriving great pleasure; from being involved in active abolitionist/utilitarian communities like The Hedonistic Imperative; from working alongside incredible people such as David Pearce; from reading about all the different schools of Hedonism, such as the Cyrenaics, Carvaka, Epicureanism, and so on; from encountering complications and paradoxes (such as Noble Suffering and Evil Pleasure) which serve to make this journey richer and more interesting and compelling.
“I would voluntarily step into Robert Nozick’s Experience Machine…” - Unknown