Duality and Enjoying the Abomination
Even with full knowledge of the horrors of life we can still derive pleasure from it.
Schopenhauer made a big deal of the division between subject and object. The subject is you and the object is everything else. And so we get a division into subjective (the way we see things) and objective (the way things are independent of our experience). There are those who would insist that there is no difference between our subjective experience of things and the way they actually are. This is the ignoramus approach to the issue since it only requires common sense and no analysis whatsoever - such people are called realists (and idiots). Others might insist that since we only know the world through our subjective experiences of it, we can say nothing of objective reality itself, and some might go so far as to suggest that objective reality does not exist. Such people are called idealists, and there are different shades of idealism.
It would certainly be my contention that dividing the world into subject and object is an unnecessary step. The inevitable result of this division is that we only know the subjective and can say nothing about the objective. However if we simply spoke of “experience” in all its flavors - sensual experience, emotions, desires, thoughts, then we have a single concept that embraces all we know of the world, since nothing falls outside “experience”. There is no self experiencing and nothing experienced - there is just experience.
It is also convenient to equate experience with consciousness - no consciousness no experience, and vice versa. In such a way all of dualism is swept away in a single stroke and we have a single concept for our building block of all analysis - everything is experience. No need for complex and often tortuous philosophical arguments - everything is experience, and experience is synonymous with consciousness. The whole issue is not reducible, and need not be considered further.
And now for something completely different. Despite the fact that corporeal existence ultimately boils down to something resembling meat consuming meat, even so it can be enjoyed. However, this enjoyment rests wholly on a full and frank appreciation of life. Without such an appreciation we might sit around complaining because the horror of it all surprises us. As the saying goes “the sage sleeps soundly in the graveyard”, and it is quite possible to see the great abomination while taking what it has to offer. None of this can be done without understanding, and when things are favorable we need to understand that our power is being enhanced in some way. Spinoza has something to say about this:
E4P45 “Certainly nothing but grim and gloomy superstition forbids enjoyment. Why is it less fitting to drive away melancholy than to dispel hunger and thirst? The principle that guides me and shapes my attitude to life is this: no deity, nor anyone else but the envious, takes pleasure in my weakness and my misfortune, nor does he take to be a virtue our tears, sobs, fearfulness, and other such things that are a mark of a weak spirit. On the contrary, the more we are affected with pleasure, the more we pass to state of greater perfection; that is, the more we necessarily participate in the divine nature. Therefore, it is the part of a wise man to make use of things and to take pleasure in them as far as he can (but not to the point of satiety, for that is not taking pleasure). It is, I repeat, the part of a wise man to refresh and invigorate himself in moderation with good food and drink, as also with perfumes, with the beauty of blossoming plants, with dress, music, sporting activities, theaters, and the like, in which every man can indulge without harm to another. For the human body is composed of many parts of various kinds which are continually in need of fresh and varied nourishment so that the entire body may be equally capable of all the functions that follow from its own nature, and consequently that the mind may be equally capable of simultaneously understanding many things.”
Of course, Spinoza is speaking here as though life is just one pleasure after another and in his “happy chappy” way is painting life in a somewhat unrealistic way. But as long as we know how to process the emotions, and have a mature understanding of the nature of this abomination called life, we can often have a fairly good time of it - until we don’t. But whether life is being kind or cruel we can always derive pleasure from understanding its mechanisms.