Perhaps the answer is more psychological than philosophical. — TheMadFool
I suspect this may be the case.
Perhaps there's an absence of the implication of a personal defect in a general statement. — TheMadFool
Yes, interesting point. It is quite strange that we normally would be insulted by an attack on our personal dignity (say, if someone proclaims I am an insect (metaphorically)), but are not insulted when someone attacks the human race as a whole (we're all insects).
Say a super powerful race of aliens zooms into our atmosphere and proclaims that the human race is quite a sorry lot and that we should stop expanding our civilization. Although I normally
would actually agree with that statement, I nevertheless would be quite insulted by such a statement. Like, who are you to tell me that my life is not worth living, that's my
But if the super powerful race of aliens comes with a message that all sentient life, not just human life but the alien life as well, is such-and-such and what have you, the sting goes away. It's as if, if someone admits that their own
life is generally not worth living, it's no longer a serious transgression. It's more like a confession.
How an idea like this is presented seems to be important, too. If I present empirical, factual accounts of the human condition but leave out any substantial value-laden claims, I'm not really doing anything wrong. But this also is a bit too open-ended; the pessimistic conclusion
from the data is not presented. But if the conclusion is presented too forcibly, it suddenly becomes way too aggressive. It's as if sometimes philosophical accounts like this have to be presented in a certain way. There's an art to finding the right balance between honesty and respect.
Perhaps a defining feature would be a passive evaluative claim. If I say "human existence is such-and-such", I am saying that I believe that human existence qualifies for whatever predicate I use. But there seems to be an element of passivity that prevents me from enforcing
this evaluation. From my perspective I obviously believe I am correct in my evaluation, but I can't treat
it as a factual claim, even if it is
. For some reason there seems to be an ethical requirement that evaluative claims like this are held on a person-by-person basis, even if they objectively aren't subjective
Although this is a big blow to heart and mind it also opens up the possibility of finding a personal fulfilling, enjoyable subjective meaning to life. As an added bonus we also, despite the suffering that is real and unavoidable, find moments of happiness, no matter how fleeting how small, that make us feel our lives worth living. — TheMadFool
I agree, a certain aesthetic surrounding the paradoxical nature of human existence can be cultivated to make a pessimistic life meaningful. Perhaps there is no logical connection between the value of life and the factual descriptions of it. Without trying to be cliche, it would seem to be that life is what life is, but the interpretation of this, the essence
of life, is up to the individual to decide.
This also seems to be a decent argument for antinatalism - if I'm not morally allowed to tell people whether or not their lives are personally worth living, then surely nobody is allowed to force someone to live a life they may or may not feel is personally worth living. Of course, this is kind of a mask for the more fundamental issue, the disvalue of suffering, the same disvalue that I just said potentially isn't objectively shown to be of disvalue. Confusing.