• schopenhauer1
    Right, exactly. Some people seem to be missing this point. It's not about making the world a utopia, but making it comparatively better than it is right now. We have made progress. It's not perfect and it never will be, but progress has still happened. It's ridiculous, I think, to say we haven't progressed at all. Of course we have.

    No amount of passive lamenting is going to stop the machine of blind ambition from spreading to places where it ought not go. The active pessimist, then, is one who does not approve of this continuation, but nevertheless follows along to offer advice and clean up the mess made by these fools.

    Also I will point out that it's not just about anthropocentric suffering, but sentio-centric suffering.

    Pessimists focused traditionally on quieting the Will, the unrest that is the metaphysical kernel at the heart of existence. What you discuss is what I call "contingent harms"- they are circumstantial harms that humans face based on their biological/psychological/social/cultural/environmental circumstances. Traditionally, pessimists are concerned with the kernel. To admonish them for not focusing on contingent harms, is a bit misleading as Pessimists rarely focused on contingent harms- it is what makes a Pessimist a Pessimist. It is like admonishing a cat for not being a dog.

    However, one might characterize Eduard von Hartmann as an "Active Pessimist" as he thought we have to hasten the time when everyone can come to the conclusion that we should not exist anymore, which I would assume would mean providing material well-being so we are all to become aware of our own pessimistic situation. Although, one can be a pessimist about his pessimism- or at least a defeatist :).

    Because of the wisdom displayed in the action of the Unconscious, this is the best possible world; only this does not prove that the world is good, or that the world would not be better, the latter of which is true. Human life labors under three illusions: (1) that happiness is possible in this life, which came to an end with the Roman Empire; (2) that life will be crowned with happiness in another world, which science is rapidly dissipating; (3) that happy social well-being, although postponed, can at last be realized on earth, a dream which will also ultimately be dissolved. Man's only hope lies in "final redemption from the misery of volition and existence into the painlessness of non-being and non-willing." No mortal may quit the task of life, but each must do his part to hasten the time when in the major portion of the human race the activity of the Unconscious shall be ruled by intelligence, and this stage reached, in the simultaneous action of many persons volition will resolve upon its own non-continuance, and thus idea and will be once more reunited in the Absolute. — From the Karl Robert Eduard von Hartmann article on http://www.iep.utm.edu/hartmann/

    Also something to consider- leaving behind Pessimism and whether it should be utilitarian as you conceive it, your utilitarianism itself may be flawed. If everyone simply went off to help in whatever situation they can, that would leave little time to develop things and improve them in terms of technology, ideas, social change, etc.. There are so many ways that people create utility unintentionally. Who are you to decide which actions lead to the greatest good? The sports-watching couch potato could think of something on his spare time that immensely increases the utility of people and animals around the world, that he would never have done simply by directly providing aid/volunteer opportunities. In fact, if this guy volunteered, he would have not thought of that novel innovation that increased utility way more than direct aid. Further, the factors that lead to outcomes for greatest utility are so numerous, there is no reliable probability one can calculate to account for everything in terms of which action leads to greatest utility. Instead, direct aid would simply be following one's own notions of what's good, not bringing about the actual greatest good. This then would mean that one would simply follow one's own inclinations, neuroses, and etc. and not what is logically the best thing to do to increase utility at that particular time.

    This then brings me to another objection... You say your philosophy is not about intentions, but it clearly is now that we see that it is inefficient to not pursue one's own utility in the free-market. Thus any imbalance pursued in light of this, would be about our intention of action rather than the outcome. The outcome of direct aid unintentionally creates more inefficiencies and to continue on the path despite this, would be simply to place value on the intention of the action.

    Further, if you counter that we should do what we normally do, but on every waking free time, we should use it to "help" people, and thus provide utility ON TOP Of that which we like doing anyways, a) You would not know by any measure, whether this actually created DISUTILITY overall and b) you almost certainly would be creating a situation where life would be a tormenting robotic affair- where one does not even get to pursue the goods that are life's consolation.. Even the starving Ethiopian, if he/she was ethical himself would hope that you would also pursue a life with some happiness that goes beyond helping him/her.. even if he/she appreciates the immediate aid you gave him right there and then.. The hypothetical starving Ethiopian hopefully has ends THEY would like to pursue.. just like you or I.. Pessimists are under no more obligation to have a tormenting life of than others merely because they see life as unrest.
  • Thorongil
    Is this to say that one is both angel and devil?Agustino

    Metaphorically, it would seem so.

    Is the unreality of life equivalent with the fact that life's pleasures are deceitful, and the existence of suffering?Agustino

    This essay is taken from the PP, so I don't think Schopenhauer is speaking with the precision that your reply here is couched in. That being said, I think any idealist philosophy, properly so called, would hold that life is unreal (or less real).

    Why not?Agustino

    Because virtue cannot be taught. I know you think the opposite, but I, like Schopenhauer, have never been persuaded of that.

    Does one bad action guarantee numberless others will be committed when circumstances permit?Agustino

    It depends on one's character, naturally.

    What makes the difference between the two modes of perception?Agustino

    I don't understand the question.

    They don't live up to my ideals, true. But I have specifically stated that the actual argument here is that they don't live up the ideals of an active pessimist. They did not advocate what I have articulated to be active pessimism.darthbarracuda

    For what purpose do you try to distinguish them from so called "active" pessimists? I've asked you this before, and I think you will find that your answer circles back around to the fact they they don't live up to your ideals, in which case, my being "pissed off" or whatever you perceive that I am (I wouldn't use such language), is justified.

    Are you for real right now?darthbarracuda


    This lecture may be of some interest to the denizens of this thread.
  • Thorongil
    To admonish them for not focusing on contingent harms, is a bit misleading as Pessimists rarely focused on contingent harms- it is what makes a Pessimist a Pessimist. It is like admonishing a cat for not being a dog.schopenhauer1

    Very well said. This was one of my repeated objections in this thread. The rest of your post is excellently stated as well.
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