As most know, or at least some, I'm still in high school and I still do high school stuff on the regular. What I don't think a lot of people know is that I regularly take anti-depressants, no no not because I'm suicidal or anything (though there could be an argument for me being depressed), its mostly because of my extreme anxiety. It allows me to function without having attacks where I pass out because of hyperventilation. I've come to live with the fact that I am extremely anxious, anywho, I did not take it this morning. I'm not quite sure why, probably because of a mix of being in a rush and oversleeping, but I wasn't able to take it.
I had an awful day, though I managed to avoid passing out on someone, yay, and as soon as my mother was available I asked if she could bring me the medicine (I most certainly don't trust myself to drive in the state), and my mother quickly brought it to me, much to my gratefulness. I excused myself from class and settled on in a corner so that I could take the pill (again, very anxious in general, but even more so about taking pills in public), but as I brought the small capsule to my lips a thought crossed my mind. Why? It would be of the utmost arrogance to assume that such a question was original or even pertinent, but it stuck all the same.
Why was I taking this pill? To curb my anxiety? Why was it necessary? Because I could barely function without it... what about the people with a lack of medication and similar shortcomings? I knew them to exist, did they just weather on? Did they just die of a heart attack one day? Why did I want to function? The answer seems obvious, but for the life of me, I couldn't think of an answer that wasn't inherently axiomatic or circular. Perhaps I was being exceedingly silly, but I resolved to not take that medicine until I could think of an answer. So, I went to the restroom and did a small amount of mediation, tried to center my breathing, and calm myself, I wobbly, but surely, returned to class.
My college arithmetics professor was going on about solving systems of inequalities and graphing them, but I was far from attentive. My mind was on the questions I had provided to myself. Why? Why did I want to avoid suffering? Because it was evolutionarily instilled in me? That was perhaps an answer, and it fit my naturalistic worldview quite well. That did, of course, lead to another question, well why then did I evolve to avoid suffering, that answer was even more obvious because if my ancestors hadn't then they wouldn't have lived. The answer was not new, it was not revolutionary, I had known it beforehand; however, it did not satisfy me.
I was not looking for some metaphysical understanding or explanation, nor some appeal to a god or great figure, I simply wanted a philosophic reason of why I avoid pain. I've argued at length with other debaters on the site about subjective morality, but my answers were usually all scientific in nature. I wanted to go further, to think deeper. Before I knew it I was hyperventilating, I laughed, in my pursuit to find out why I was suffering, I had perpetuated my suffering. That reminded me of the phrase, "ignorance is bliss", which of course made me think, "And knowledge is cursed", and despite the, frankly, biblical undertones of such a message it still resonated inside of me.
Would the answer to why I wanted to avoid suffering bound to cause me endless suffering. That thought, that realization, sparked another question. Why did I care? Why did I care that I wanted to avoid pain and suffering - it should be enough to know that I want to, no? Well, no, not if I want to explain why you ought to others. That made me realize that the question came from external sources, not internal ones. I was asking myself the question, not in response to my suffering, but in my attempt to explain the concept of suffering to others. I would not call myself an altruist by any means, though I attempt to help others all I can, it is certainly not all I can.
That made the realization surprising. I cared about my own suffering because other people suffered. Ah, when its put like that, I suppose its just empathy huh? Let's tie it allll up, bring it back to the very beginning. Why did I want to avoid suffering? Because I wanted other people to avoid suffering. Although it doesn't seem quite a sequitur yet, it is where I am currently. Thanks for reading this long rambling post, if you did. I'm marking this my journal of sorts. All of you get to be subject to my inner thoughts during the day, whipee, I need to cope with stress somehow.
PS: I did end up taking the pill like an hour later