Is Life Worth Living?

Is Life Worth Living? asks William James

In Is Life Worth Living? by William James (1896), James says: “Pessimism is essentially a religious disease.”

He clarifies thusly: This “is why I call pessimism an essentially religious disease. The nightmare view of life [arises from] the contradiction between the phenomena of Nature and the craving of the heart to believe that behind Nature there is a spirit whose expression Nature is.”

The “disease” is the “craving of the heart to believe” that Nature is saying something; that it has a spirit; that there is a benevolent and caring God; that all is not pointless.

This thought can be compressed thusly:

Life is worth living if you are undisturbed by pointlessness.

James is right. But if belief – cognitive appraisal – is at the root of the matter then pessimism is a purely chemical phenomenon.

Proof: Smoke some marijuana and life becomes worth living. What happens is that the chemical produces a change in philosophical outlook!

Taking the word, important, to mean “worth undertaking,” that chemically induced philosophical shift may be characterized as follows:

From depression, where nothing is important
to elation, where anything is important.
And sometimes
to anxiety, where everything is important. Pressingly so.

Pointlessness is vanquished by chemistry.