What is suffering, on balance?

George Orwell, in his essay “Lear, Tolstoy, and the Fool” tosses in almost casually and as if it needs further elaboration or defense, the following remark.

Most people get a fair amount of fun out of their lives, but on balance life is suffering, and only the very young or the very foolish imagine otherwise.

Call this the Life is Suffering principle.  Intuitively, I find it very appealing.

But how would we know if on balance life is suffering?  Life has good things and bad things in it, so how would we balance them?  Allow me to advance a conjecture:  if your life is characterized by a deprivation, such that if you had the opportunity to accept a wager on a fair coin, such that if the coin comes up heads that deprivation would be removed, and if tails then immediate annihilation, then on balance your life is suffering, fellow sufferer.

This heuristic for figuring out whether one’s life is on balance, suffering, we might call the Break-even Heuristic.

2 thoughts on “What is suffering, on balance?

  1. As Schopenhauer said, you can get a feel for the proportions if you consider the relative emotions of 2 animals, one currently engaged in eating the other, then multiply by 10,000 per second. This world was designed by a maniac, and it is the most degenerate type of sophistry to insist in ‘balance’. The taijitu has misguided untold generations as regards the harmony of our prison of matter.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *