Some ideas either from or inspired by listening to Jordan Peterson podcasts

The one thing God lacks is limitation. Every being that exists is limited. Limitation creates suffering. I would add that overcoming current limitations involves suffering; but limitations will continue and thus suffering will continue. The trick is not to become angry and resentful due to the necessary suffering that existence involves. In the pathological, the anger and resentment at one’s own existence is directed at all of existence in toto, which makes a kind of sense since suffering and existence are coextensive; it’s nothing personal! Peterson sees certain dictators, among others, as ultimately infected with this nihilistic urge for total destruction.

So, suffering is not just part of the human condition, but at the heart of all existence. If it were possible to exist outside of actually being a limited creature, then upon hearing of the existence of a person with even the greatest blessings of health, wealth and beauty, one can imagine sending one’s condolences.

13 thoughts on “Some ideas either from or inspired by listening to Jordan Peterson podcasts

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  3. So, suffering is not just part of the human condition, but at the heart of all existence.

    To put it another way, it is logically impossible for God to create a world which does not include “suffering”, for it is logically impossible for God to create (another) God.

    • to tony s. – Yes. I think so. Though since the will to survive, fear and anger are biologically derived – not having those emotions and drives will probably make us a lot happier. They are necessary evils down here though.

      • The two of you (tony s. and Richard Cocks) are using the term ‘suffering’ to refer to different things. By ‘suffering’, tony s. means what people generally mean: pain, loss, death. But Mr Cocks primarily means the fact that we are not complete-and-self-existent; that is, that we are not God (*).

        According to Christianity, we will still be biological creatures “in Heaven” (as people say). The difference compared to our current lives is that we will be complete. We still won’t be self-existent — that is logically impossible for any being but God. It is the fact of our (present) incompleteness that is the cause of the suffering that tony s. has in mind. It is the fact of our contingency that is the cause of the “suffering” that Mr Cocks has in mind.

        (*) This, by the way, is what is really going on with the hypocritical condemnations of God for creating a world with “so much suffering” (i.e. so-called atheists) , and the “nihilistic urge for total destruction” (i.e. leftists … and Satan) mentioned in the OP — these persons, whether ‘atheists’ or leftists or both don’t give a damn about “suffering”, and certainly not about the suffering of others; what they are angry about is the truth that *they* are not God.

  4. Don’t you suppose that a certain dissatisfaction with finitude is a precondition of growth? This isn’t the same thing as the narcissistic rage you are talking about, but there is a third space between accepting one’s limitations and raging against the fact that one is limited. Maybe the difference between this third space and narcissistic rage is like the difference between healthy growth and cancerous growth.

    • To JMSmith: Certainly, I think suffering is a precondition for growth. That’s part of existence that one has to learn to accept in order not to simply rage against existence as you say. Agape (acceptance) and Eros (growth) – not just one or the other.

    • I think that’s a good point.

      Growth is change … and so is decay and death. Change, whether by growth or by decay, can occur only for entities which are imperfect (*). And for us, growth generally also involves decay; this is related to the ‘suffering’ Mr Cocks is speaking of.

      (*) recall that ‘perfect’ does not mean “maximally good”, it means “complete (and thus, unchanging)”; thus, ‘imperfect’ means “incomplete (and thus, changing)”

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