WTM FAQ 1.37  How much of our upset is caused by our own search for knowledge and how much is caused by the accumulated upset already in the world?


The following answer is an excerpt from paragraph 73 of Jeremy Griffith’s book Death by Dogma:

“In terms of understanding the non-superficial, real reason for the increase in upset from one generation to the next, which was the upsetting effects of humanity’s heroic search for knowledge, there were two components. Firstly, there was the upset each person developed from their own experiments in self-management when there was no understanding of how such experiments could lead to outcomes that weren’t consistent with what our cooperative and loving instinctive self or soul expectedwhich, without that understanding, were coped with by defensively attacking, denying and trying to prove wrong those implied criticisms of our experiments; which, again, is the upset that self-management caused while we didn’t understand that we weren’t bad to search for knowledge and make mistakes. The second, and by far the greatest reason for the increase in upset that has occurred from generation to generation is the soul-destroying influence of the existing levels of upset in your society from all the upsetting searching for knowledge that has taken place before you arrived in the world. Each generation is born expecting to encounter the all-loving and all-sensitive world we humans originally lived in, and the more upset/​soul-corrupted the world we actually encounter is, the more bewildered, hurt and damaged our soul became by that encounter. When the great psychiatrist R.D. Laing wrote that ‘To adapt to this world the child abdicates its ecstasy’ (The Politics of Experience and The Bird of Paradise, 1967, p.118 of 156) he was recognising how sensitive our soul is and how much it dies when it doesn’t encounter the love it expects. And the great playwright Samuel Beckett was only slightly exaggerating the brevity today of a truly loved, soulful, happy, innocent, secure, nurtured-with-unconditional-love-from-mothers-and-reinforced-with-unconditional-kindness-from-fathers, sane, human-condition-free life when he wrote, ‘They give birth astride of a grave, the light gleams an instant, then it’s night once more’ (Waiting for Godot, 1955)!”

So growing up now in a world that is already horrendously upset means that by far the greatest reason for the upset in our lives is the effects of encountering all that upset when we were infants and children.