The Philosophy of Pain
You might think it is obvious that you should seek happiness: after all, surely it is in the nature of happiness that one should want it. Indeed, it is obvious to a rational person. But just observe the life-suppressing, duty-bound, rationalist morality of Kant; the pathetic whining of his heirs, the Existentialists; the death-worship of the Nihilists: philosophies that are spoken of with respect, not laughed off the planet as they deserve. Then you will see how corrupt philosophy has become, how far from serving its proper goal of human happiness and how necessary an antidote is.
Nor is this a rot restricted to Western philosophy. Observe Buddhism. According to it, the fundamental nature of life is suffering: and the solution is to value as little as possible, to suppress what does the valuing (your ego), to squash your tool for achieving those values (your mind), and aim to achieve a gigantic zero, Death dressed up as Paradise, the complete destruction of your Self (Nirvana).
These are philosophies which worship pain: in that pain is their central and overriding concern, around which all else revolves. Pain as the defining characteristic of the world. Escape from pain as the central aim. Relief of pain as the central ethic. Suffering of pain as the origin of rights. The absence of values, of mind, of self death, zero, nothingness as the shining goal to be reached, as the means and the reward of escaping a life not worth living.
Such beliefs embody a deadly reversal. They see that failing to achieve a value causes pain: and their answer is not to discover how values are achieved, but to stop seeking values. But life requires values, and to give up values is to give up life, pleasure and happiness. They are philosophies of failure, of giving up before the fight by virtue of it being a fight. As such, one of their core assumptions is that man’s mind is not efficacious: for no-one who appreciates the efficacy of reason could preach such philosophies. And since happiness can result only from successful living in reality, which is only possible through reason, what they offer is not happiness but a counterfeit: happiness without values the source of happiness; bliss without self that which experiences happiness; joy without mind the source of both the choosing and the winning of values.
What they seek is not to gain values, but to avoid disvalues; not to achieve happiness, but to escape pain; indeed, not even to escape pain, but to numb the capacity to feel. But to value life is not the same as to fear death. If all that holds you in the realm of existence is the fear of death, not the love of life: then it is not life that is your aim. It is defining your life by a negative, by avoidance of pain: not by the positive, the achievement of values and happiness. It is the difference between living to avoid punishment, or living to achieve rewards; between avoiding death, and living life. It is the difference between a life of grayness punctuated by the occasional ray of sunshine and the joy of the living in life.
Perhaps there was some excuse for such a default on life when living consisted of labour from dawn to dusk at the mercy of random warlords, when century followed century with little progress except in the weapons of force and loot. But we live in an age in which the explosion of reason, science and technology has demonstrated, on an astounding scale, the power of the free human mind to understand and deal with reality, and thereby to increase the potential for human life and happiness without limit.
So I reject all philosophies of failure and pain, root and branch. I say: worship life, values and happiness. Not the world as a vale of tears: but as the wellspring of all values. Not escape from pain: but the pursuit of happiness. Not relief from pain: but the creation of values. Not a zero: but the full pursuit of life, the fullest use of your mind, the best values you can find, your life lived to the full for your own happiness.