• baker
    1k
    So might makes right. Some people become the winners, some the losers.

    It goes without saying that the winners are happy, convinced they are living worthwhile, meaningful lives.
    And that the losers, the underdogs are not. But they still live, somehow, they keep going.

    Is there a theory of how even the losers and the underdogs can have some peace of mind and some sense that their life is worth living?
    Is there a philosopher or other author who has written about this?
    (Or is philosophy, like history, written by victors?)
  • Wayfarer
    11.8k
    It being Easter, there was a famous underdog, born into lowly circumstances, died a horrible death, betrayed by one of his supposed friends. (Forgive me, I’m hazy on the detail.....)
  • frank
    6.7k

    It's easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.
  • Wayfarer
    11.8k
    I have heard, from critical scholarship, that the 'eye of the needle' was a gate in the wall of the Old City, and that the camel in the parable was fully laden. Which still illustrates the same point, but somewhat less hyperbolllically.
  • baker
    1k
    It being Easter, there was a famous underdog, born into lowly circumstances, died a horrible death, betrayed by one of his supposed friends. (Forgive me, I’m hazy on the detail.....)Wayfarer
    And his way of coping with his underdog status was to be convinced he is of divine origin with special powers and special rights.

    Hardly a heuristic that one could apply to oneself ... and still be able to function in the real world.
  • Wayfarer
    11.8k
    And his way of coping with his underdog status was to be convinced he is of divine origin with special powers and special rights.baker

    Jesus was not 'convinced of his divine powers'. When asked, he demurred - 'It is not I that is good'. And when he suffered on the Cross, he cried out 'why have you forsaken me?'

    That emporers and kings made Christianity an imperial creed is another matter. So too the victory of the institution that claimed to be his representative on Earth. But Jesus' victory, such as it was, was attained through complete self-abandonment.

    Anyway, that's my 'Easter thought', I'm not going to pursue this as a philosophical debate.
  • baker
    1k
    Jesus was not 'convinced of his divine powers'. When asked, he demurred - 'It is not I that is good'. And when he suffered on the Cross, he cried out 'why have you forsaken me?'Wayfarer

    John 16:28
    I came forth from the Father and have come into the world; I am leaving the world again and going to the Father.”

    John 6:38
    For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.

    John 14:31
    but so that the world may know that I love the Father, I do exactly as the Father commanded Me. Get up, let us go from here.

    John 5:19
    Therefore Jesus answered and was saying to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner.

    John 10:30
    I and the Father are one.”

    John 6:44
    No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day.

    John 14:28
    You heard that I said to you, ‘I go away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved Me, you would have rejoiced because I go to the Father, for the Father is greater than I.

    John 8:49
    Jesus answered, “I do not have a demon; but I honor My Father, and you dishonor Me.

    Source: https://bible.knowing-jesus.com/topics/Jesus-Christ,-Relation-To-Father

    Anyway, that's my 'Easter thought', I'm not going to pursue this as a philosophical debate.Wayfarer
    That's a shame.
  • frank
    6.7k
    I have heard, from critical scholarship, that the 'eye of the needle' was a gate in the wall of the Old City, and that the camel in the parable was fully laden. Which still illustrates the same point, but somewhat less hyperbolllically.Wayfarer

    I think that's supposed to ease the stringency of the saying so as to avoid offending rich Christians. The Jesus cult was very anti-establishment, so the obvious meaning is probably the right one.
  • baker
    1k
    On topic!
  • Tom Storm
    714
    It goes without saying that the winners are happy, convinced they are living worthwhile, meaningful lives.baker

    Can you provide an example of the kind of winner and situation you mean?
  • Pantagruel
    1.5k
    It goes without saying that the winners are happybaker

    This doesn't follow at all. People routinely do things they think will make them happy and end up doing themselves more harm than good. I doubt very much that the majority people who live by the might makes right credo qualify as happy. Are bullies usually happy people?
  • ChatteringMonkey
    832
    Is there a theory of how even the losers and the underdogs can have some peace of mind and some sense that their life is worth living?baker

    You redefine what constitutes losers and winners so it fits you, and convince yourself and others of that redefinition. Jesus is actually a good example of that.

    Is there a philosopher or other author who has written about this?baker

    Nietzsche has, though not as an advocate of it evidently. Anyway this is more the purview of religion, of priests, the philosopher is typically the antipode of that... so they are probably not the best source for this kind of thing.
  • Harry Hindu
    4.1k
    So might makes right. Some people become the winners, some the losers.baker
    What do you mean by "right"? Winning something does not make one right. It simply makes one a winner. There is more than one way to win at something -brains can win out over brawn in many instances. Just look at humans vs neanderthals. Who is now extinct?
  • James Riley
    316


    I used to have a quip that went something to the effect "That which is consumed by the fittest must itself have been fit."

    That may not sound like any consolation to that which gets consumed, but simply making oneself worthy of consumption can be a good life. Live it it. And remember, with gratitude and grace, you too are consuming in the process.

    Consider the old adage that "You are what you eat." So we have an elk that breaths the cleanest air, drinks the cleanest water, eats the cleanest grass, climbs up and down mountains all day, and stays "on edge" in the predator-prey relationship. You can hone your edge on that, by stacking the odds of your success in hunting against you, with your hands, a knife, a spear, a bow, a rifle, artillery, or an air strike. You can do it on foot or riding a quad or whatever.

    Having the "luxury" of consuming the following frees up the choice of how you want to hunt the foregoing:

    Here we have a fat, stupid, bawling, shit-smeared, fly-covered, antibiotic-ingested, steroid-injected creature standing on three feet of it's own shit and piss, drinking putrid water, eating rotten corn silage, shoulder-to-shoulder and face-ass with neighbors whilst breathing their flatulence, only to be herded up a ramp, watching the peer in front get killed with a bolt to the head, and then "next."

    Be the elk.
  • James Riley
    316
    Or how about this: If you must be a stone upon which others whet their edge, be a hard one.

    In that case, you are doing everyone, including yourself, a favor.
  • Huh
    127
    Some want to learn, some want to teach, some want to do both.
  • Marchesk
    4.3k
    It being Easter, there was a famous underdog, born into lowly circumstances, died a horrible death, betrayed by one of his supposed friends. (Forgive me, I’m hazy on the detail.....)Wayfarer

    Granted, but the historical figure probably expected God to send angels to fight off Rome and restore the kingdom of Israel. He most likely didn't expect he'd get crucified and then worshipped as a savior for a new religion.
  • tim wood
    6.5k
    I used to have a quip that went something to the effect "That which is consumed by the fittest must itself have been fit."James Riley

    Just for fun. Henry David Thoreau:

    "One farmer says to me, 'You cannot live on vegetable food solely, for it furnishes nothing to make bones with;' and so he religiously devotes a part of his day to supplying his system with the raw material of bones; walking all the while he talks behind his oxen, which, with vegetable-made bones, jerk him and his lumbering plow along in spite of every obstacle."
  • James Riley
    316
    "One farmer says to me, 'You cannot live on vegetable food solely, for it furnishes nothing to make bones with;' and so he religiously devotes a part of his day to supplying his system with the raw material of bones; walking all the while he talks behind his oxen, which, with vegetable-made bones, jerk him and his lumbering plow along in spite of every obstacle."tim wood

    And woe to the blade of grass in the Oxen's belly. But it too, had to be fit, or the oxen could not pull the plow.
  • Joshs
    1.2k
    Is there a theory of how even the losers and the underdogs can have some peace of mind and some sense that their life is worth living?
    Is there a philosopher or other author who has written about this?
    baker

    Since everybody is bringing Christianity into this discussion as the salvation for the powerless, I can’t resist mentioning Nietzsche, who turned this notion on its head by performing a psychoanalysis of the drive to religion. Nietzsche claimed that all of humanity is motivated by one primary drive, the will to power. This doesn’t mean possessing power that we wield over others, but a constant becoming as self-overcoming and self-transformation. Christian piety arose as will to power becoming sickly and turning against itself, as a strategy of those who were oppressed to gain revenge against those who dominated them by elevating self-denial ( the ascetic ideal) to a primary principle.

    I don’t agree with everything Nietzsche said, but I do think Will to Power is a wonderful antidote to the repressive impulses of religious piety, which ultimately is used as a weapon to bludgeon non-conformists into submission.

    I suggest the terms of the OP’s query, in construing power as an opposition between those who are powerful and those who are powerless, already pre-suppose the ascetic ideal.
  • Outlander
    1.1k
    So might makes right. Some people become the winners, some the losers.baker

    It makes right if it benefits you. Conquest, besting or outwitting another, or otherwise doing something you would not wish to be done to yourself, etc. If not, it's wrong. Criminal activity, terrorism, cheating, etc. Hypocrisy is a pledge one takes and a lifestyle one embraces, one that can be sustained with adequate numbers and resources, but if ever placed under impartial and non-biased scrutiny won't stand for much.

    We've all won things, we've all lost things. Unless the winner decides to flip the game board over, perhaps out of fear, you just try, try again. Or perhaps you mean in the context of peoples and nations? Eh, the same applies. Unless you live in a dictatorship, of course. Which is the equivalent of flipping the game board over after a single victory.

    It goes without saying that the winners are happy, convinced they are living worthwhile, meaningful lives.
    And that the losers, the underdogs are not. But they still live, somehow, they keep going.
    baker

    Right so peoples and nations. A man without a conscious is no man at all, just another beast of the Earth. They will busy themselves with worldly pleasures, material pursuits, and other vain pastimes until they expire, at which point another will surely take their place. Going through the motions of life absent of a conscious or empathy for one's fellow man, what do you have? A purposeless, transient being who knows only to steal, kill, and destroy. One who will never truly know the finer things in life that do not come with a price tag or physical value, for he will be too busy defending that which does, with mind, body, and soul. A life with little more compassion outside of that which serves the self.

    Sure in a war scenario the losing party may experience great hardship, perhaps constant torment or even torture if not death. This is unfortunate. Not much redemption can be found in such a case. Save for the existence of a God and the knowledge, though often fleeting, that one will be rewarded for his good deeds and sacrifice, and so others punished for their misdeeds and disregard for human life. In which case, regardless of absolute existence, one knows they're right and with every breath and ounce of motivation they can muster, serve a cause greater than any enemy force on Earth. For the enemy will seek to demoralize, by refusing to be so, you fight the good fight, and show the enemy that the very enemy of God, is the man in the mirror.

    Besides. A cycle of violence is exactly that- a cycle. It doesn't end. Power is a pendulum, not a single stone tablet unchangeable. No winners have never been losers, and no losers have never been winners. Why would either have a motivation to make war if this was not true? We see "reality" as set in stone and able to be fully comprehended when in fact it is mere circumstance, a snapshot or photograph of how the state of affairs happens to be in that moment of time. Sort of like how we thought the Sun revolved around the Earth and those who disagreed were charged with heresy. Or like how the idea of men flying through the skies, communicating messages halfway around the world in an instant, or breathing underwater was pure and utter insanity. Things change. Those who are unprepared, complacent, or set in their ways, have the most to lose. Pride comes before the fall.
  • fdrake
    4.7k


    A few things you might want to read around: "ressentiment" in Nietzsche from the blowhards can use this to punch down angle. "bourgeoise morality" is a Marxoid concept for the blowhards to punch up with. The idea of a "justification narrative" is useful in that regard too.

    Also, a word of unsolicited advice, don't think you're above and untouched by these things just because you can recognise them for what they are. You're implicated, like I am. No values escape rhetorical context.
  • 180 Proof
    3.1k
    Is there a theory of how even the losers and the underdogs can have some peace of mind and some sense that their life is worth living?baker
    Yes. Non-religious "theories" that come to mind: Hellenic Cynicism, Epicureanism, Stoicism, Pyrrhonism ... Chinese Dàojiā ... Indian (non-Vedic) Śramaṇa tradition of e.g. Jainism, Buddhism, Charvaka ...

    (Or is philosophy, like history, written by victors?)
    The mainstream tradition of Western Philosophy (Plato-Aristotle-Aquinas + Descartes-Kant-Hegel) is "written by the victors" but there's always been counter-traditional writings by e.g. Hellenes, Nominalists, Immanentists (i.e. radical secularists), Freethinkers, Libertarians, Pragmat(ic)ists, Absurdists, etc ... Daoists and Śramaṇaists in China and India, respectively.
  • T H E
    147
    And his way of coping with his underdog status was to be convinced he is of divine origin with special powers and special rights.baker

    Here's another perspective on that:

    —The fate of the Gospels was decided by death—it hung on the “cross.”... It was only death, that unexpected and shameful death; it was only the cross, which was usually reserved for the canaille only—it was only this appalling paradox which brought the disciples face to face with the real riddle: “Who was it? what was it?”—The feeling of dis may, of profound affront and injury; the suspicion that such a death might involve a refutation of their cause; the terrible question, “Why just in this way?”—this state of mind is only too easy to understand. Here everything must be accounted for as necessary; everything must have a meaning, a reason, the highest sort of reason; the love of a disciple excludes all chance. Only then did the chasm of doubt yawn: “Who put him to death? who was his natural enemy?”—this question flashed like a lightning-stroke. Answer: dominant Judaism, its ruling class. From that moment, one found one’s self in revolt against the established order, and began to understand Jesus as in revolt against the established order. Until then this militant, this nay-saying, nay-doing element in his character had been lacking; what is more, he had appeared to present its opposite. Obviously, the little community had not understood what was precisely the most important thing of all: the example offered by this way of dying,the freedom from and superiority to every feeling of ressentiment—a plain indication of how little he was understood at all! All that Jesus could hope to accomplish by his death, in itself, was to offer the strongest possible proof, or example, of his teachings in the most public manner.... But his disciples were very far from forgiving his death—though to have done so would have accorded with the Gospels in the highest degree; and neither were they prepared to offer themselves, with gentle and serene calmness of heart, for a similar death.... On the contrary, it was precisely the most unevangelical of feelings, revenge, that now possessed them. It seemed impossible that the cause should perish with his death: “recompense” and “judgment” became necessary (—yet what could be less evangelical than “recompense,” “punishment,” and “sitting in judgment”!). Once more the popular belief in the coming of a messiah appeared in the foreground; attention was rivetted upon an historical moment: the “kingdom of God” is to come, with judgment upon his enemies.... But in all this there was a wholesale misunderstanding: imagine the “kingdom of God” as a last act, as a mere promise! The Gospels had been, in fact, the incarnation, the fulfilment, the realization of this “kingdom of God.” It was only now that all the familiar contempt for and bitterness against Pharisees and theologians began to appear in the character of the Master—he was thereby turned into a Pharisee and theologian himself! — link
    https://www.gutenberg.org/files/19322/19322-h/19322-h.htm
    <emph added>
  • Bitter Crank
    9.3k
    Win today, lose tomorrow. That's one angle.

    Another angle: Don't take it personally. Just because the Boston Red Sox won, or lost, has no real bearing on you. Your country may have lost the war (or the race to the moon, or whatever...) and that may or may not have affected you directly. Even if it did, "you" didn't lose the war. The collective 'everyone' lost.

    Yet another: In the race to the top, most people are losers. There isn't much room at the top, so most people will not win, can not win. Who gets to the top matters on one scale, and doesn't matter on another. I'm content being among the losers (I could be closer to the bottom than I am, though, so to some people I am a winner).

    Still, it was probably pretty tough for the average Frenchman to be occupied by the Germans in 1940. It was tough materially, certainly, and it was tough psychologically. But then, who won WWI? France was on the victorious side, even though their northern industrial zone was wrecked, they lost a huge portion of their young men, and they were in bad economic straits. Germany lost WWI, even though their industrial zone remained intact. They also lost a lot of soldiers and fortune.

    The winners and losers can be hard to sort out.
  • Banno
    11.6k
    A better explanation is that the difference between "camel" and "rope" in written Aramaic is very slight. The camel entered via an inattentive scribe.
  • Wayfarer
    11.8k
    Makes much more sense as an image.
  • Banno
    11.6k
    But there was also something attractive, something almost human, in the Pythonesque reference to a Dromedary.
  • Wayfarer
    11.8k
    This blog page provides a credible account.
  • Banno
    11.6k
    Is there a philosopher or other author who has written about this?baker

    It was He of the overenthusiastic moustache who most famously pointed out that Christianity was for losers. He was also enthusiastic about Great Men, provided they were Germanic.

    I've found that the Bungled and the Botched are also happy and live worthwhile, meaningful lives.

    SO I take it that the premise of this thread is fucked.
bold
italic
underline
strike
code
quote
ulist
image
url
mention
reveal
youtube
tweet
Add a Comment

Welcome to The Philosophy Forum!

Get involved in philosophical discussions about knowledge, truth, language, consciousness, science, politics, religion, logic and mathematics, art, history, and lots more. No ads, no clutter, and very little agreement — just fascinating conversations.