Minimalists

Those poets and thinkers, who do not restrict to human beings alone the notion that non-existence is a desideratum but rather extend,panempathically this notion to all beings capable of feeling pain or sorrow, since even the slightest negative sensation is, in the face of an option of non-existence, too much.

 

Büchner’s (1818–1837) Atomic Pain

For Büchner the existence of even the slightest physical pain documents not just the fact of Creation’s having turned out to be a failure but also puts atheism entirely in the right:  

“One can deny evil but one cannot deny pain (…) This is the rock on which atheism is built. The slightest twinge of pain, even if it occur only in a single atom, tears a rent in Creation from top to bottom.” (Werke und Briefe)

That such “atoms”, the simplest and most elementary component parts of the world, might possess psychichal properties, a kind of basic consciousness, is a notion that is still today defended by some “pan-psychicists”[1]. We might speak, then, with Büchner of the experiment of Creation’s having proven a failure from that moment on in which a living creature first felt pain or distress. But if Creation finds itself judged and condemned already with “the slightest twinge of pain”, then clearly condemned as well is every human perpetration of existence.

 

Zola, Émile (1840–1902)

„No, the only happiness is to be nothing; or, if one is something, to be the tree, to be the stone, even less: the grain of sand that cannot bleed under the kicks of men. “ (Germinal)

 

Hardy, Thomas (1840–1928)

„A woeful fact – that the human race is too extremely developed for its corporeal conditions, the nerves being evolved to an activity abnormal in such an environment. Even the higher animals are in excess in this respect. It may be questioned if Nature, or what we call Nature, so far back as when she crossed the line from invertebrates to vertebrates, did not exceed her mission. This planet does not supply the material for happiness to higher existences. Other planets may, though one can hardly see how.“ (Quoted in: Deborah L. Collins, Th. Hardy and His God)

[1] See, for example, Galen Strawson et al.: Consciousness and its place in nature. Does physicalism entail panpsychism?

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