a line of small islands with palm trees

About Suffering in the World (homepage)

Let us Deal with Suffering more Effectively
  Using a new concept: the algo-sphere

All major spheres of human activity are concerned in one way or another with suffering:

politics, religion, healthcare, social affairs, economy, law, art, literature, philosophy, ethics, news media, environmental studies, education, science, history, war, crime, work, sport, interpersonal relationships, personal life, etc.

More specialized fields also address the topic of suffering, although their overt or ultimate objects of concern are something else. For instance:

medicine, social service, social security, insurance, economic development aid, human rights protection, animal welfare, judicial punishment, the practice of torture, disaster relief, Buddhism, certain parts of the biological or psychological or social sciences, etc.

No specialized area of activity, however, is primarily focused on the topic of suffering itself, as such, per se. Oddly, despite an omnipresent concern over its existence across the millennia, the topic remains without a place where it can be addressed comprehensively, in its broadest scope.

An obvious idea is then to establish, next to the other areas mentioned above, a sphere of interest that includes everything related to suffering, which may be called the algo-sphere. The ancient Greek word "algos" means suffering. For now, let us simply define suffering as any unpleasant feeling, pain in the broad sense, the opposite of pleasure.

The "sphere of suffering" idea enables an approach that clearly distinguishes itself from any other way of dealing with suffering because the algospheric approach is "first and foremost" concerned "both specifically and universally" with that topic. This approach deals with suffering itself, with suffering first, and with the whole of suffering. Thanks to these characteristics, it allows us to go beyond three kinds of shortcomings against which other areas, for all their merits, are powerless when they deal with suffering.

1- First, other areas are inappropriate or inadequate insofar as their specific object of concern is not suffering itself, as such, per se. Only the algospheric approach allows us to acknowledge the particular reality of suffering, in all its guises.

2- Next, other areas are deficient or incomplete insofar as none of them deals in principle with everything that concerns suffering, physical or mental, human or animal. Only the algo-sphere allows to include within a common conceptual framework all forms of suffering, all causes, all remedies, all elements of the topic. If our goal is to understand and resolve the problems that the existence of suffering entails, these problems must be tackled not only one-by-one, or in narrowly defined contexts, but also in their entirety, in spite of the intimidating scale and complexity that this undertaking may represent.

3- Lastly, other fields of interest are misleading or inconsistent in the sense that when they deal with suffering, they always do so only in relation to their own specific topic of interest. There are countless people or groups who say that their concern is suffering, but in reality all of them are focused on concerns which are not suffering as such but rather, for instance, illness or hunger or injustice. Thus suffering has never until now been the first and only specific topic of interest for anybody and therefore, per se, it has been awfully neglected. From the perspective of the algospheric approach, all that is not first-and-foremost focused on knowledge and action about suffering represents a diversion, a deviation from what should be the primary and overriding interest.

To be sure, the algo-sphere idea has also its pitfalls which must be guarded against. For instance, it may give rise to the temptations of totalitarian benevolence or, even worse, universal malevolence. Within the algo-sphere everything is subordinated to its concern, but for those who practice it there is a responsibility to make sure that the question of suffering is appropriately related to other concerns. Often times, acting on suffering may be a priority, but at other times something else may have to prevail. For dealing with the extremely complex question of the place that the algo-sphere should have in the scheme of things, an approach such as that put forward in the Encyclopedia of World Problems and Human Potential could be useful.

To sum it up, let us establish the algo-sphere as a domain of interest with the following indispensable uses:*

  1. The algo-sphere allows a new methodical approach, useful for dealing with suffering in a general, universal, comprehensive, systematic, well-ordered, permanent manner, and for dealing with suffering as a primary object of concern, subordinate to no other.

  2. The algo-sphere allows new theoretical and technical learning, useful for studying all that pertains to suffering, as well as for developing practical applications for the control of suffering.

  3. The algo-sphere allows new strategy and planning, useful for designing systematic action about suffering.

  4. The algo-sphere allows a new kind of concrete action, useful for conducting interventions that address suffering as a specific phenomenon.

  5. The algo-sphere allows new communication possibilities, useful for sharing information in a more comprehensive context with relation to suffering.

* Below are examples for each of the 5 points. Please look at them with indulgence, as they are still in the exploration stage: 1. Using a new concept: the algo-sphere, 2. Algoscience, Suffering: the State of Affairs in 2024, Partners for a Global Management of Suffering, 3. Strategy for the organization of the alleviation of suffering, 4. Toward Systematic Mutual Assistance, and 5. AlgoMedia.

Last modification: 2023/11/07

Email: daoust514@gmail.com

a line of small islands with palm trees