A few weeks ago it occurred to me that I don’t feel as motivated by a lot of things as I had expected to be. More scarily I felt like I was motivated by almost nothing! Things that used to motivate me, didn’t feel significant any more. Even the motive of improving the world, because I used to suffer from its glaringly obvious apparent imperfections, ceased to make me feel motivated. It’s not like I didn’t care at all, but I didn’t care deep down below. I stopped caring, because the philosophical depths I’ve descended to gave rise to a nihilism and disorientation deeper than anything I have encountered before. This was connected to me pondering about a fiction idea about a very evil god, which might actually not be so evil after all. It seemed like that has broken something in me. Perhaps something that had deserved being broken, because it was wrong.
Anyway, I felt bankrupt in some sense. And so I searched for orientation. And came to the conclusion that on a very deep level I don’t have one. But this insight gave right to a weird kind of meta-orientation: The search for orientation. The search for wisdom. The love of wisdom. Philosophy. My old and deep passion.
My motivation is to seek wisdom. In order to have orientation. I want the wisdom to know what’s right; and the strength to do what’s right. Wisdom and strength are the attributes that I want to have – that I need to have. Even though I might have them to some degree, that degree is insufficient. I feel deficient in wisdom and strength. And I will probably continue feeling that way as long as I stay human, and possibly even far beyond that point!
This reorientation seems to have shifted something in me. The level of suffering I am willing to endure has increased. Far beyond the levels of suffering that I once considered being worth enduring. This is a very weird thing to say for a utilitarian. Which makes me question whether it’s still accurate to see myself a utilitarian. I feel unhinged, yet stronger and harder than before, more willing to become insanely relentless in my search for wisdom and strength, and my search for necessary knowledge.
My motivation has become more personal. It has become stronger. It has changed. It enabled me to adopt a hard morning routine – at once, and without failure! This has strengthened me. But has it made me wiser? I don’t know.
I don’t even know how I would recognize wisdom, or whether there really is anything like that. It’s just a belief that I believe in an entity I call “wisdom”. It’s the belief, the hope that I am building on right now. I’m not sure whether that belief is justified. But it’s a belief that I am willing to retain just for the sake of being motivated to go on and keep on searching.
I am deeply humbled. My years of philosophical inquiry have amounted to what? Disillusionment. But also a solidity of character. A kind of imperturbability that gives rise to a weirdly feeling equanimity. I’m less sure about good or bad than I have been, much less about good and evil. I feel like I understand so much more, and therefore can condemn so much less.
I understand that I can become everything. Now I actually accept it. And yet, I desire wisdom to increase my chances to choose a “good” way – whatever that may mean.
– wisdom and strength to you!