March 10, 2014

Unhappy when working - unhappy when workless

John Gray is a political philosopher and author of False Dawn: The Delusions of Global Capitalism
The title is the contrast and tension that has struck me most in my adulthood. That people are ever unhappy when they're working. Just as they're ever unhappy when they're out of work. I have come to the conclusion that it's all an illusion - there is only now. Life is a struggle. It is no utopia and there is no utopia but chasing that illusion is what gets us through. There is only labour and laborious occupations and there is not getting around them. George Bernard Shaw said in Misalliance:
"The secret of being miserable is to have leisure to bother about whether you are happy or not. The cure for it is occupation, because occupation means pre-occupation; and the pre-occupied person is neither happy nor unhappy, but simply alive and active. That is why it is necessary to happiness that one should be tired."
Or putting it another way:
"The only way to avoid being miserable is not to have enough leisure to wonder whether you are happy or not." 
John Nicholas Gray, said in 'Straw Dogs: Thoughts on Humans and Other Animals':
Nothing is more alien to the present age than idleness. If we think of resting from our labours, it is only in order to return to them. In thinking so highly of work we are aberrant. Few other cultures have ever done so. For nearly all of history and all prehistory, work was an indignity.
There is never an end. Always something that agitates, motivates and mobilises us. As George Bernard Shaw said in 'Overruled':
"As long as I have a want, I have a reason for living. Satisfaction is death."
John Nicholas Gray has also said:
"Humans cannot live without illusions. For the men and women of today, an irrational faith in progress may be the only antidote to nihilism. Without the hope that the future will be better than the past, they could not go on."
More about John Nicholas Gray here:
"John Gray is a British philosopher best known for his critiques of humanism and Utopian thinking. He has written several influential books on politics and philosophy, including False Dawn: The Delusions of Global Capitalism (1998), which argues that free market globalization is unstable and is in the process of collapsing, Straw Dogs: Thoughts on Humans and Other Animals (2003), which attacks philosophical humanism, a worldview which Gray sees as originating in religious ideologies, and Black Mass: Apocalyptic Religion and the Death of Utopia (2007), a critique of Utopian thinking in the modern world. Gray sees volition, and hence morality, as an illusion, and portrays humanity as a ravenous species engaged in wiping out other forms of life. Gray writes that 'humans ... cannot destroy the Earth, but they can easily wreck the environment that sustains them."

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