The expectation of happiness in life is an attitude whose costs might outweigh the benefits. We tell ourselves that we can be anything we imagine, but this could be an increasingly cruel notion. In each phenomenon, we see what something is and also what it is not. Although thought may detect glimmers beyond the immediate, the practical path to thought’s realization is blocked, and only disintegrating images of other worlds linger before fading. It is painful to hold onto those fragments, and a meager defense offers itself to the injured: disregard anything that stirs the heart so that you might avoid the accompanying sadness. Is not blindness better for this life?1 Of course this is a Romantic reaction. Perhaps downcast eyes are more merciful, but such a resignation does not absolve us; it only defers our self-imposed suffering.

1. Nietzsche explores a similar question in On the Advantage and Disadvantage of History for Life.

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