The philosophical consolation

The philosophical consolation

The human being is suffering. Nothing extraordinary or new there. It is suffering, more than animals, not only because it experiences bodily suffering, as do other species, but also because it experiences moral suffering, a sub-product of freedom and reasoning, those human characteristics, some consequences that can hardly be escaped. Now, if physical suffering is not permanently present, moral pain hardly disappears, or fleetingly. Whether it be through frustration, impatience, unsatisfied desires, disenchanted expectations, or any other concerns, suffering is there, more or less significant, more or less present, more or less bearable. The range of means by which it expresses or manifests itself, showing the diversity and the persistence of the pain, is wide. By the same token, many ways are found to reduce the pain, which we may call consolation, a consolation which we pursue endlessly.

Words themselves articulate the problem and offer some solutions, some panaceas, some painkillers, because words nest at the heart of man: they constitute his being. They capture his pain, generate it, treat it, heal it. In any language, through many forms, one can find words that are painful, words that hurt, even words that kill! Admittedly, before the words, through his organic nature, man has been experiencing pain. The one from the tearing of his body, from some brutal clashes, from illness. Through lacking, hunger, thirst or fatigue, the pain arisen out of a body deprived of its fullness, from a need robbed of its satisfaction, the one of a disturbed harmony, or just anxiety. Obviously, animals also know the fear that drives them to seek protection, to escape, to fight, sometimes they are even prepared to sacrifice themselves to protect their own. The ghost of death, a vague feeling of destruction or disappearance of the being, whether individually or collectively, seems to affect a certain amount of animal species. This is perhaps an anthropological vision, but could we speak of a will to live, apparently deeply rooted in the animal function, without speaking of a will to die? Especially concerning animals that kill, or those that run away from their predators, minimally those that recognise the difference. Not to mention the fear of losing close ones, dear or attached, whether it be through simple biological identification, like some societies of insects, or through a sort of emotional attachment, like family connections amongst mammals. Desire is at the core of the existence, under multiple forms. An infinite desire, an impossible desire, which goes way beyond our ability to reason or our understanding, because it depends more on the imagination, an endless power of representation. So desire is tragic, precisely because it is endless, without boundaries, without determination, in such a way that the overweening avidity of some people turns shapeless. Dissatisfaction is chronical, the anticipation and the frustration become unbearable. Nevertheless, these expectations, which we have in our bones, move us: they drive, motivate and structure our lives. But this process is far too shapeless to suffice, the “yes to life”, joyful and complete, dear to certain philosophers, is a construction that is too intellectual, too fleshless to satisfy us. We need to say “yes” to certain things and “no” to others, to be more determined, as we could not fail to make a choice, we could not be devoid of inclinations and subjectivity. Life in itself cannot fulfil us, we need to exist and not just be alive. We cannot fail to hope, want and desire. Therefore, we just couldn’t fail to experience lack and pain.

Consequently, for man, as we mentioned, pain is the object of a speech, which therefore turns the speech into the holder or the preserver of the pain, for himself or for the others. The speech is “pharmakon”, both poison and cure. In the same way that the speech encompasses illness, by its inherent power, it necessarily encompasses healing, and vice-versa. Now here comes what is interesting: the word that heals, the word that consoles. To start with, since we are not doctors, or psychologists, we will not endeavour to examine words as producing some somatic effects, of an unconscious nature, since the philosopher that we are cares mostly for the psychological, conscious or reasoned dimension of man. Moreover, for the same reason, coherent to our philosophical posture, the human subject is not here conceived as a disabled entity, unable to fulfil by himself his own psychological needs, but as an autonomous being, able to take responsibility for his own existence and to determine his own judgement criteria. However, the boundary that we are trying to outline is not as clear as we pretend it to be, although it seems to us beneficial to try to mark it out, as impressionistically as it may be. If only through the abuse made nowadays of a “psychological” type language, that turns a healthy adult into a person that is ill and unaware of it, in an era where all kinds of witch doctors proliferate. An era that preaches a childish ideology inciting people to be mollycoddled and spoon-fed, to confide their slightest indispositions, just because of an illusory quest for happiness, often at low cost. Admittedly, the good health of our bodies and our minds may have been far too ignored, but the idea is not to go to the opposite extreme of some unhealthy narcissism. And then perhaps the speech which confronts itself to the being and which constitutes it will play an unexpected role, more substantial than we would have thought or hoped. We could relate this to Spinoza’s injunction about happiness: best not to look for it to meet it.

Our hypothesis here is that man is suffering, and that his suffering incites him to search for remedies. On one side, the remedies which treat the objective dimension of his being, those that are the same or almost for everyone, and which therefore are a scientific, or magic, matter, and on the other side remedies which are a matter of subjectivity, of the psychological singularity, and which cannot be elaborated without the subject himself having to define the nature and the content of the problem, or at least to widely participate to define it, and the cure as well. We will call the first category medicine in a wide sense: let us remember that Freud, founder of psychoanalysis, tried to give his new practice a scientific value, so we fit psychology into this category. We will call the second category philosophy. It is up to people to understand in which framework their practice fits. But here again, such a blunt and marked distinction is bothering us slightly. However, we must try it in order to get out of this rut where nothing adds up, to avoid the pitfall of the undifferentiated scheme, this “night when all cows are black” as condemns Hegel. The “new age” spirit which, in reaction to an excessive scientism, extols a sort of “magical” vision of the being, is for us like jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire.

The general name we will give to this philosophical approach, for the need of our thesis, will be consolation. Because, despite the risk of a certain reductionism which a few will not fail to condemn, we will assume for all intents and purposes that philosophy or rather the philosophising, is nothing more than man’s attempt to heal his ills, his moral pains. We are reminded here of Plato who claims that philosophy is purely human, because gods don’t need it and animals can’t do it, or hardly need it, which is the same. Solely man, a hostage caught between the finite and the infinite, does perceive and conceive an urge for such a practice. Especially as this double nature of his is causing him additional suffering, since man is shared between the conscience of his immediate being and the hope or the illusion of what he could be, and torn also between empirical being and transcendental being. Now, it is at the core of this duplicity which is specifically human that the need to operate philosophising articulates itself, through some thoughts, through some words, words that constitute the thinking, words that are obliged by the thinking, both causes and remedies of the suffering which is affecting the mind. Yet, the body as a body can be thought as a generality, the mind as a mind, even though it can be thought as a generality, should as well be thought as a specificity, which we cannot avoid. The subject is singular and determined by its specific reasoning. The extended, or physical, matter is more common. We will be accused of being highly Cartesian or rationalist, and we will plead guilty, nevertheless as did our famous predecessor, and with some mitigating circumstances, we will admit a certain continuity, a certain important bond between these two aspects of man.

As a last attempt to mark out the extent of our sphere of action, a few words seem necessary with regards to the problem of pathology, and of diagnosis. Here again, two pitfalls appear, in this usual symmetry of the realities of the world, a recurrence whose frequency makes the dualistic scheme quite tempting. On one side, the claim of an absence of pathology, on the other side the formalism or the rigidity of pathology definition. The first instance deals with a radical relativism that entitles anyone to a full and total legitimacy of being and of thinking, all-mighty subjectivity that is legitimate solely because it exists. This “teenage” scheme claims that all thoughts are of equal merit, that people can think what they want. This could very well be a defendable thesis if only one can accept the consequences of such a vision of the world. For example, the fact here that neither logic, or reason, or morality, or consciousness are given a real status. Which would not be a philosophical problem in itself if this position was sustainable without any major obstacles. But unfortunately, what unknowingly the advocate of such a thesis would be professing here, is a discourse which glorifies the immediate, which certifies the sincerity of the moment, which annihilates the possibility of a critical perspective. A discourse which, at the slightest blow of reality or otherness, will not fail to generate various contradictions, cause of many ills. Our work as a philosopher is not here to propose a new scheme, but just to offer an opportunity of insight, to let the subject work deeper towards such a scheme, become aware of it, or let it go, as he prefers. Nonetheless, our experience allows us to recognise in such a discourse, through simple questions, not so much the pathology of the scheme, this in the absolute does not exist, but the torments of a singular being who is unable to take responsibility for his own existence, like in the case of the teenage years, those years of all dangers, of all anxieties and uncertainties.

Should the opposite occur, the one of the scientific formalism, the point would be to establish a list of thinking and being modalities, a priori defined as healthy or pathological, pathologies which would then require fighting or healing. If many philosophers have, without claiming it, written in this way, it cannot be the same for the philosophy practitioner, whose role is not to convey a specific philosophy and to teach it whilst considering that other forms of thinking are irrelevant or a “disease”. That would be for instance to teach a wisdom or a religion. The clashes between philosophers, doctrines, schools, trends, which mark and structure the history of thinking, show us the inclination of some thinkers to impose in some way a certain vision of the world, which they think is more assured, more true, vaster, more methodical, etc. Having said that, if they hadn’t had that pretention, perhaps they would not have perceived the interest of their specific contributions and they would not have been driven to keep up their writing efforts. Unlike the literary writers who generally aspire to some originality in their work and to some expression of what they care about, the philosophers are driven by an aspiration to truth, virtue, reality, in any cases to a certain form of universality, as vain and pompous as this claim may sound. A claim which is sometimes acknowledged, sometimes not, just like for any ordinary mortal. With that extra talent that the specialists of the philosophical technics deploy to evade the issue and claim a false humility.

But here we are, based on our work of negativity, critique or deconstruction and yet still of assertion, in our turn offering an axiology, offering to define a certain amount of pathologies, which we will conceitedly define as non-doctrinal, and to assert the possibility of a diagnosis. The point is not to establish a vision of the world – as much as it would be difficult for such a perspective not to show through within our words – but to identify what allows the thinking and what stops the thinking, insisting on the latter aspect more specifically, since the point is to implement the thinking, what actually nests at the heart of the philosophising. Let us acknowledge here a “personal” thesis, a vision of things that seems crucial for the rest of our text, although it is not claiming any originality. The thinking does think, very naturally, except when it is hindered. Therefore, the philosopher’s job, his technicality, to a great deal relates to the suppression of those obstacles, which allows us to state that we do not teach how to do philosophy, but that we are addressing the reasons for the non-philosophising. A bit like engineers fighting the natural obstacles that are stopping and hindering the stream of a river, rather than digging an artificial canal.

For those who may fear to move away from the topic, the consolation, let us start with proposing the work hypothesis which is that the so-called philosophical practice consists for a great deal in re-establishing the standard process of thinking that is undermined by “pain”, a concept used here in an extended and polymorphous way. A pain of which the main effect would be the fixation of this flow on a particular point, or several, in an obsessional and non-reflexive way. This pain becoming the anchoring point of the thinking subject, is acting like an astronomical black hole, a place of a disproportionate density that attracts everything to it, even light, a reason why nothing results from it anymore. As a matter of fact, some pains manage to mobilise the totality of one’s psychological life experience, to a point that it can make the subject radically impotent, except if he/she manages to channel or sublimate this pain, transforming it into a force able to move and drive him/her. To us and for that matter, this sublimation or this channelling form the core of the dynamics of the consolation, which we will endeavour to explain.


History of philosophical consolation

Rather forgotten by philosophy dictionaries, the word consolation has its importance in the history of philosophy. Although this idea seems to be of Mediterranean and western specificity, we meet it in other traditions: for instance, in the Bhagavad-Gitâ, where the god Krishna consoles and advises the prince Arjuna afflicted with a terrible moral dilemma, or in the preaches of the Buddha, where compassion and awakening aim at breaking the chain of causality that brings suffering. In western countries, the explicit role of philosophy has shown from the Antiquity, with the Epicureans (Epicure, Lucretius) and the Stoics (Seneca, Epictetus, Marcus Aurelius), especially with regards to death. This concern about man and his woes appears in Ancient Greek times, through a form of decadence of the noble and detached themes: metaphysics, gnoseology, cosmology. The human subjectivity had already been treated slightly by Plato (The Banquet) or Aristotle (Nicomachean Ethics) but always in the perspective to reach an ideal, as the transcendence or the divine still formed the essence of reality: the good is more sought for than happiness, happiness being far more fashionable nowadays. We can find this opposition between a complacent thinking and a philosophical nobility in The Consolation of Philosophyfrom Boethius. Unfairly condemned to death, he starts his book in prison where he writes poetry to complain of his woes. Soon enough, “Lady Reason” visits him in his cell to reprimand him and incites him to contemplate the “great truths”, so as to forget the suffering related to his fragile and miserable existence.

With Saint Augustine, Christian philosophy experienced an important inflexion in the relationship between the consolation of human pains and the presence of an ideal, since from his own acknowledgement, the origin of his conversion was a personal despair linked to scepticism and an absence of truth. Besides, the relationship between the biblical message – used to the consolation principal – makes this illustrious Latin Father an important founder of the existential philosophy. A double Christian contribution grounds this twist in philosophy: the incarnation of God in man and the historical dimension of mankind, two grounding elements of an eschatological doctrine of salvation. The Augustinian insight will then allow us to envisage the hypothesis that any metaphysical, cosmological, sociological or other scheme is nothing more than an attempt to give meaning to human existence and to soothe the moral pain associated to the conscience and feeling of finiteness. As a matter of fact, transcendence can only find its meaning through and for the human nature, without however denying any a priori revelation or truth. The mystical tradition stating that God is first and foremost subjected to a personal relationship (Teresa of Avila, Eckhart, Hildegarde de Bingen…), just like the Christian existentialism (Kierkegaard, Berdiaev, Simone Weil, Mounier…) are in their own ways the continuators of such a tradition, for whom thinking and faith inscribe themselves above all at the heart of the personal and social experience. This is how the divinity articulates itself within its comforting and redeeming mission. In parallel to the Christian tradition, let us mention the Cathar tradition, where consolation is a simple ceremony for Manicheans from Albi on the brink of death, without any constraints of punishments, that allegedly would erase lifetime sins, offering the faithful a chance to reach salvation before dying, sort of redemption that changed life.

Another route for the study of consolation: the development of psychology – which until Descartes was dominated by metaphysics – which will slowly thrive, and emancipate itself, and through Freud will separate from philosophy in an attempt at setting itself up as a science. However, despite this effort of scientificity and its medical dimension, one can still consider that modern psychology keeps deep within itself the traces of a philosophical work destined to compensate for the deficiencies and the griefs of the human soul. The point is not anymore to understand the world but to help man live, although the main traditional currents of philosophy tended to abandon this concern. Besides, the advent of psychology is one of the many cases where the principle of a practice aimed at ordinary mortals is problematic for the philosophy, because, if the classical philosophy of systems finds itself more or less outmoded at the end of the 19th century, it continues to be a scholarly and elitist activity where the primacy of abstraction and concepts rules. Montaigne’s work, his Essays, where he declares having no other concerns than himself throughout his writing, or Rousseau’s very personal meditations, are practically excluded from the referenced philosophical publications. The fact that one engages in a work on himself seems to be contrary to the universality of the philosophical field, and to assimilate more to literature. Besides, when philosophy deals with the singular, it is dealing with nothing more than a concrete universal, and certainly not with a singular existence. This is probably why the existentialist philosophers, for whom the existence and its woes are the essential problem, did engage in novels and short stories: Sartre, Camus, Unamuno…

So the activity of philosophy can qualify as a consolation when, within it, a personal problem linked to a proper existence is enunciated, and in general when a specific solution is supplied to this problem. It remains to be seen whether this problem requires to be enunciated in an explicit, personal and confessed way for this process to be entitled consolation. Or, as says Unamuno about Spinoza, the latter establishes his philosophical system solely as “…an attempt at consolation which he built up because of his lack of faith. For some it is the hand, the foot, the heart or the head that aches, for Spinoza it was God that ached.”. Which could let us consider that any philosophical work – or any other work – is only just an attempt at consolation.

The various paths of consolation could therefore be placed in several categories: expression of pain, speech of sorrow or acceptation, high demand or ethical highlight, appeal to reason, discovering of reality or truth, contemplating divinity, inscribing into some meaning, dissolving into the negligible, the nothingness or the absurd, sublimation in the work, oversight through action or entertainment, relating to others, social commitment, so many paths allowing in general to reduce or suppress the anxiety and the pain, or permitting the search for happiness.

In those recent times, referred to as postmodern, where great established schemes have theoretically lost their aura or have crumbled, we are seeing philosophy coming back as a consolation through new practices such as the philosophical consultation, the philosophical café conceived as a collective dialogue, or the publishing of philosophical books aimed at a large public so as to help them to live.

The figure of a Socrates questioning someone has become emblematic of an individual quest for truth or happiness. In this regard philosophy gets its personal and comforting dimension back which we could then oppose to pure science, or to vain knowledge.

Gymnastics and medicine

Let us get back to our own conception of consolation. As we mentioned earlier, consolation finds its meaning solely through pain. However, pain, a necessary condition without which consolation has no reason of being, is not its sufficient condition. This is about treating the pain, not only its existence, or even its expression, although yet, by the action of expressing, we may consider that there is something else than just the pain; the Freudian innovation for instance, the ‘talking cure’, falls somehow within this aspect, but even goes beyond it.

Now, let us call upon a distinction which Plato makes and which seems favourable to enlighten any attempt at treating pain. Amongst the many “divisions” found in the dialogue The Sophist, often dualistic, there is one which is of specific interest. So as to heal the interior of the body, to purge it, he writes, or to correct its ailments, two techniques can be distinguished: medicine which fights illness, and gymnastics which fights ugliness. And as usual with this author, what works for material entities must apply to immaterial entities, therefore the soul. He explains that those two techniques have in common to be assigned to the care of both the body and the soul, which they both correct harshly and painfully, but he prioritises them, specifying that gymnastics is the rule, whereas medicine is the exception. He therefore establishes a hierarchy with a supremacy of gymnastics over medicine. The first reason to explain such an axiology is Plato’s concern for the quality and the status of the soul. In the Phaedra, Socrates declares that the soul is “what is moved by itself”, thus by moving itself, the soul is both moving and moved; it is both the being and what drives the being. We do not wish here to go into detail about Plato’s idea of the functioning of the soul, but let us examine the idea that the soul has to be powerful and autonomous. The power of being of the soul, its autonomy, relates to what is of celestial nature, whereas its heaviness, its resistance to movement, relates to its terrestrial nature. Now, it is possible to understand how exercising the soul can make it stronger, more autonomous, just like with gymnastics, whereas medicine considers it as dependant, since this is an outer intervention. The ill person is impotent, whilst the gymnast is powerful. Now, power is an essential manifestation of the being for Plato, “power of being” as Spinoza would call it. Medicine brings back the possibility of exercising to those who are deprived of it, to the injured, the disabled, but it is initially designed for the ones that are impotent. For instance, the injured athlete must be treated before he can exercise again. And so we can start seeing two treatments for the soul: cure and exercise. For this reason, the philosophy practitioner, just like any sports coach, makes sure to check that the subject is in a condition permitting to engage into the rigorous practice, the exercising. If not in a minimal good shape or condition, the latter would be unable to complete the required task. It would then be a matter of referring him/her to a “medical” practice. Without a minimal capacity for reasoning, the philosophical practice is meaningless, so it would make sense to refer the person to a psychologist, unless the philosophical work can be adjusted to the person in question. Just like the psychologist should be able to recognise the capacities of his patient, and incite him to a more demanding work with a philosopher, when he shows some aptitudes. For it would be counterproductive to maintain a person in a psychic regression state, a childish and victimising position, when it is possible for him to step out of it. Which is unfortunately often the case, in our world of consumption and of subjective indulgence.

Pain and consolation

For the soul, pain, a feeling of unbalance, is linked to desire and fear, a phenomenon which in its extension or moral amplitude is peculiar to man. Animals experience mainly biological needs. The human soul moves permanently, yearning to complete itself, so as to find back what is missing to it, feeling separated from a sort of primal unity, deprived of infiniteness or totality. The Platonic anthropology rests on a quest for a better life, on the release from a relentless desire. It implies a progressive purification of the soul, by a work on desire itself, on its nature and its functioning, and through reason. The chronic pain inhabiting us relates to the infinite nature of desire, especially to that thirst for terrestrial objects, such a pleasure, possession or recognition. This desire is infinite, unquenchable. The true need – physical for example – is easily satisfied, but human desire goes way beyond, it is disproportionate, and for this reason it generates ill-being. The point is here to treat both the causes and the symptoms.

Desire cannot disappear, it always wants more, it endlessly moves from one object to the other, each satisfaction generating a new desire. Just like a child, desire relies on the sparkling things out there, and on those which are imagined to be sparkling. It bears the evidence of a lack of unity, of an heteronomy, and of a chronic dissatisfaction. It is aware of its own thirst but it ignores that the nature of the objects sought for are unable to quench it. In order to show this, Plato uses the myth of the Danaides’ leaky barrel, this container which requires endless filling. Thus, there is a tyrant in each man, desire, which becomes manifest when it finds favourable conditions for its expression. At the same time, just like the “last man” of Nietzsche, Plato makes us contemplate the terrible perspective of a man whose desires would be fulfilled, and whom he compares to a soaked sponge, metaphor symbolising the death of the soul. The point is not to satisfy the desire, but to educate it, to purify it, to make it conscious by lifting the spirit towards celestial desires, towards the contemplation of one’s own primary nature, sort of reconciliation with oneself. But this cannot occur without agôn, without a confrontation between the self and the outer world, as The Myth of the Great Cave tells us. As a matter of fact, unlike various wisdoms which invite us to plainly contemplate the absolute, if one wants to escape the illusion of the senses, one must confront oneself to others, and therefore to its own self, which must necessarily occur through a symbolic and violent death. This is why a fine speech or a plain conversion of the soul to great ideas will not suffice.

Now we are getting slowly to what distinguishes the various types of “consolation”, especially one significant division. To outline it, let us remember the beginning of the famous text from Boethius, The Consolation of Philosophy. The author, Boethius himself, unfairly condemned to death and in prison, is overcome with the fate that awaits him. To comfort himself, he writes poems, where he can express his suffering, so as to soothe it. There comes Reason, in an allegorical form, who gives him a good scolding: “You have always cultivated me, and now, just because you are going to die, you are letting yourself down, you are being complacent with yourself.” And it undertakes with Boethius a long thinking pilgrim, true consolation, requiring him to exercise his mind. Poetry is gentle, reason is harsh. This can be compared to the Nietzschean ethics which refuses the gentleness of the Christian consolation, love, empathy and compassion, so as to defend the Greek idea of exercise, the principle of confrontation: “no philosophy without agôn”, says Nietzsche, or “to philosophise with a hammer”.

Therefore, the philosophical consolation does not conceive the subject as a patient, as a vulnerable person, as someone in difficulty, as a weak helpless being to protect, help or save, but as a training athlete, as a wrestler preparing himself for battle. The subject is a priori “strong”, he just needs to practice, whilst for other “therapists”, he is weak and must be taken in hand until he is “back on his feet”. The subject must determine himself, through himself, rather than depend on an exterior authority. And when there is authority, if any difference of experience or of knowledge, there is scarcely any difference of status. There is here no priest and his faithful, nor a psychologist and his patient, but two philosophers who are speaking, one of them having slightly more experience or skills than the other, but yet of equivalent status. There may be some asymmetry, through the difference of skills, but no disparity in terms of legitimacy. But the priest does not invite the faithful to become a priest and the psychologist does not invite his patient to become a psychologist, whereas the philosopher invites his interlocutor to become a philosopher. First of all because being a philosopher is not a status or a function, but an activity: to philosophise. Secondly because philosophising, taken in a broad sense, to a minimal degree, seems to be a necessity that one needs to accept, simply because one is a human being, a thinking being, and it doesn’t seem to relate to a specific practice associated to some conditions, a culture or circumstances. We wish to defend the universality of the philosophising, of its practice and of its necessity. Furthermore, the origin of any philosophical act can only be found within oneself, within one’s own reason, and not within a doctrine or other given paradigms allowing or determining an interpretation. Thirdly, both the priest and the psychologist want to “save” their interlocutor, almost against himself, whilst the philosopher wants to practice his thinking with his counterpart. The philosopher acts first and foremost for himself, by necessity or desire, whereas the two others act for the other: they are both beyond this necessity. Fourthly, the philosopher takes an interest in the humanity of the person, whilst the two others are mostly and almost exclusively interested in the specific individual, his soul or his psychological health: the person is scarcely its own finality, which would be a reductive vision of the subject. It is true that each one of those criteria can more or less apply to the two other functions, according to the conception that each one has, but let us state that, globally, this set is more a specificity of the philosophical practice.

The human being experiences pain; its forms, its names and its symptoms are innumerable. The being is driven by pain, he may complain about it and not accept it, but he may also contemplate himself complacently in it and become impotent. Without pain, man would be nothing, he would not be what he is. Without lack, he would not be aware of his own humanity. Just the gap between his own finiteness and the surpassing of this finiteness, forms his identity. Life already is an unbalance, or an unstable balance, creating there a momentum, a tension, a permanent urge. Existence is an amplification of this principle of living, taking the biological principles to a moral and spiritual dimension, along with the necessary distortion implied in the passage from materiality to non-materiality. Yet, it is difficult to avoid the desire for stability, the tempting illusion of homeostasis is watching out, sort of endless stability, immutable and permanent balance, guarantee of eternal happiness. This would mean not accepting ourselves as humans, but maintaining a perspective that is both childish and ideal: a nostalgia of a lost terrestrial paradise or hope for a celestial paradise. The whole point here lies in the consciousness of this pain, in the means implemented to treat it, in the appreciation of the difficulty that this treatment represents, in the meaning given to both the pain and its cure. There lies the problem of consolation.


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