The Meaning of Suffering: An Interpretation of Human Existence from the Viewpoint of Time

The Meaning of Suffering: An Interpretation of Human Existence from the Viewpoint of Time

The Meaning of Suffering: An Interpretation of Human Existence from the Viewpoint of Time

The Meaning of Suffering: An Interpretation of Human Existence from the Viewpoint of Time

Synopsis

Suffering is a fact of human existence. In his interdisciplinary investigation of the causes, types, value, and outcome of human suffering, Adrian C. Moulyn has discovered a purpose in it. In The Meaning of Suffering Moulyn presents his thesis, (Suffering) heals the blemishes and the fractures in our problem ridden existence, in light of the binary nature of human temporo-spacial structure. Moulyn analyzes the source of suffering as a combination of the arbitrary nature of life itself (no one actually chooses to be born), and the dichotomy of the world as we see it (objectively) and the world as we want it (subjectively). While the melancholy of being thrown-into the world lays the groundwork, the discrepancy between desires and wants and the degree to which they are satisfied becomes a source of suffering. The value of suffering is in its healing powers. Suffering helps close the gap between what we desire and what we obtain. The outcome of constructive suffering is an increased ability to deal with the inherent contradictions of life, an enhanced awareness of the truly necessary and desirable, and a stronger, more secure conquest of happiness when it is achieved. Moulyn's thesis is an intriguing and optimistic analysis of human experience, and will be an asset to philosophy collections.

Excerpt

Inevitably all persons demonstrate to themselves the fact that they are human by seeking somehow to comprehend the two themes of this volume. They know that they have suffered and that they will continue to suffer as a result of physical and psychic pain, frustration, loneliness, and the anticipation of death. They are intrigued or dismayed by the experience of time: they look backwards and forwards, and they dwell in the present; they are convinced that on occasion time drags, or it may whip by. No one, consequently, is able or wishes to escape the problems raised by suffering and time. Each individual ponders over the eternal, cosmic questions associated with them. And every generation and every society offers its own replies.

Dr. Moulyn patiently, gently, and thoroughly explores two questions: What is the "intrinsic value" of suffering and "how do we human beings live in time?" His great achievement is to suggest again and again that the two questions are ontologically and psychologically related, inextricably so. Without confronting ourselves with suffering and time simultaneously, we are left with deep feelings of inadequacy which can produce philosophical and even psychiatric damage. The link between the two is not always easy to grasp, and therefore the exposition must move into more than a score of disciplines in order to produce the insight the author would provide.

Perforce his tapestry is large and diverse. He comes to the reader as a physician and psychiatrist, and hence he reports case histories out of his own experience. But he knows very well that suffering and time are not the exclusive property of the medical profession. He is a brave humanist in the great European, faustian tradition. He reaches into the realms of human endeavor related to suffering and time, beginning with architecture and art, with extended and pungent references to the great philosophers from Aristotle to Kant, and ending with both the natural and social sciences. He insists that we also peer at space, animal behavior, laughter, determinism, Freud, religion, and especially marriage. No, definitely no, this is not a random assortment of writers and topics: all, or almost . . .

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