Sunday, September 25, 2011

My friend, Jae, posted a quote.

“'I think, therefore I am' is the statement of an intellectual who underrates toothaches. 'I feel, therefore I am' is a truth much more universally valid, and it applies to everything that’s alive. My self does not differ substantially from yours in terms of its thought. Many people, few ideas: we all think more or less the same, and we exchange, borrow, steal thoughts from one another. However, when someone steps on my foot, only I feel the pain. The basis of the self is not thought but suffering, which is the most fundamental of all feelings. While it suffers, not even a cat can doubt its unique and uninterchangeable self. In intense suffering the world disappears and each of us is alone with his self. Suffering is the university of egocentrism.”

--Milan Kundera, Immortality

I replied,

I like it, but how do we know that we’re not exchanging, borrowing, or stealing pain in the same way that we exchange, borrow, and steal ideas?

Jae replied,

Touché. I guess it depends on if you buy into Orwell's theory that "the only thing you can desire in relation to real pain is that it will stop," to the extent of sacrificing even those you love to escape it. But that centres around a view of humans as inherently egotistical & solipsistic, & unwilling to ever deliberately take on legitimately awful pain for those they love, which I personally am quite sceptical of.

Also, I suppose that one could argue that pain only exists when we are conscious of it. An idea can start to sustain itself, if written down or transmitted to enough people, but pain can only be present to you when you are experiencing it directly. Any indirect form of it is once-removed, & therefore maybe not actual pain? Anyway, I don't think I'm making any sense.

I don't know if she's making any sense, but I'm getting a headache trying to figure it out.

...shit, did I just prove her point?

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