Our species has evolved the ability to form language and subsequently the ability to self-reflect. (Meaning...this does not apply to humans who do not have the usual human capacity to learn and think in language).
This essay is about the "human condition" and why our unique evolutionary path has lead us to a condition of inherent suffering that cannot be avoided.
There are three broad categories to the human condition. The first has to do with our mere need to survive. We all know we must work to survive in some form. (In Westernized industrial societies, this of course takes the form of production and consumption via money to secure physiological comfort and stasis).
The second broad category is the need to escape the emotional state of boredom. Our complex neural processors cannot be fully satisfied with just maintaining physical metabolic functions and comfort levels. We humans must have a "goal" of some kind to keep our big brains occupied. After we have completed all the tasks required to survive (which again...takes place in some sort of societal context) our neural processors have a propensity to eventually get bored. This (I propose) is universal and cross-cultural for all human societies and individuals.
The third category is the never ending entertainment that we constantly conjure and create to escape the baseline boredom of existence. Our big brains, must formulate mini-goals and diversions to keep us occupied and entertained so as not to remain bored. These mini-goals get more complex and convoluted in an ever increasing attempt to keep our brains in a state of non-boredom. We try to cope with this unique human quality of "world-weariness" or ennui, but its always there laughing at us in way, forcing us to formulate a new goal to focus our time and attention on. We must place [insert any contrived goal] to give ourselves a meaning and direction. This could be any of the infinite activities we humans do to allay this baseline boredom. (Watching TV, telling stories, developing theories, dancing around the fire, mythology, religious expression and practice, art, sports, reading, planning on becoming a hermit, making furniture, starting a business, reflecting on the meaning of words, etc.. ANYTHING.)
"Well".. you might say (in a hint of pure cynicism), "I am an erudite middle-classer well versed in your brand of thinking. You are just rehashing trivial, senseless, existentialist garbage (ala French (yuk!) philosophers). I am past this juvenile stage in my life that you seem to dwell in. This stuff simply sounds like typical 'teen angst' and offers nothing profound. Yes, yes you are describing stuff that has already been written about a million times. Yes yes, its like Albert Camus' book The Myth of Sisyphus which told us to embrace the absurdity of our human attempt to find 'meaning' in a universe that does not 'care' about our longing for 'meaning, etc.. It has all been said before... go back to your fantasy world you pseudo-intellectual wannabe beatnik and leave the blog world alone!"
But the argument you make is not so open and shut you "oh so mature know-it-all middle-classer who is now beyond all speculation on existential thinking ;-)". The absurd that Camus discusses is just that…absurd, and the embracing of the abusurd cannot be maintained for long since we always struggle with survival, boredom, and our little diversions to escape boredom. You cannot have read Camus and truly agreed with his premise that we can just find comfort in the absurd. You must have had some moments of "world-weariness"/ennui in your contented-middle- class-know-it-all- past-the- juvenile- stage-of- asking- existential- questions- life.
So to reiterate again, the human condition is suffering and this is due to the inherent need to survive, baseline boredom, and contrived goals to escape from the baseline boredom that we must face as humans. All of these categories are negative (bad) and comprise the inherent suffering of the human condition.
As a result of our condition, we cannot "just be". We must continually strive for physiological survival and escape from the baseline boredom of existence. This may sound very Buddhist. Buddhism has great insight into the fact of life being suffering . It is only the mystical elements (taken from its predecessor religions Jainism and Hindu philosophy) that I have contention with. Concepts such as reincarnation, karma, and nirvana are unnecessary and do not provide a real solution to the suffering. The only way to truly end the suffering that is inherent in the human condition is to not procreate. Procreation perpetuates the suffering to a future generation.
Please help end future suffering by not procreating!