• L'éléphant
    1.5k
    This is the social butterfly's view on life, who surrounds themselves with as many friends as possible. Do social butterflies live especially meaningful lives? This has not been my impression.hypericin
    I believe the field of psychology, or at least in the study of personalities, acknowledges that the pensive, quiet people (who often find life to be "not happy") are the ones who have a more accurate assessment of life. Not a good finding coming from this field -- but there you go.

    I'd say, do not dwell in the past no matter how beautiful or successful the past was. Keep it off your mind. Take care of what you have now. You can't be with your past anymore -- it's gone. Love the one you're with. This, coming from my own experience of dealing with all sorts of people.
  • L'éléphant
    1.5k
    Here is an article about "depressive realism" -- a term I just found out about:

    What Is Depressive Realism?
    Depressive realism is a psychological term describing the tendency of people with depression to have a more accurate assessment and perception of reality than those without depression. While people without depression tend to overestimate their successes, capabilities, and control over the world around them, people with depression generally have a more realistic view.

    Depressive realism is based on an overall tendency among depressed people to focus on negative aspects of reality. Because the world can be a difficult, unpredictable place, and because it is likely that bad events will happen at some point in life, depressive realists may be more prepared for those eventualities than people who overestimate their control and capability.
    — Arlin Cuncic, Very Well Mind

    Here's a link to the article:

    https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-depressive-realism-6891266
  • javi2541997
    5.4k

    Depressive realism is a psychological term describing the tendency of people with depression to have a more accurate assessment and perception of reality than those without depression. While people without depression tend to overestimate their successes, capabilities, and control over the world around them, people with depression generally have a more realistic view. — Arlin Cuncic, Very Well Mind

    So, depressed people have a clearer perception of reality than most of us, and they are more "prepared" for tragic events than the overall. Oh, come on... why is depression the main cause of suicide then? :roll:

    Suicide is the main unnatural cause of death in Spain, with 3,941 cases accounted for in 2020. That means that on average 11 people take their own lives every day in Spain. Statistics show that 5.8 percent of the Spanish population has anxiety, and a similar percentage suffer from depression. On top of that, at least 1 million Spaniards have a “serious mental health disorder” and only half receive treatment.
    Suicide.

    And imagine other countries such as Japan or South Korea...
  • Tom Storm
    8.7k
    Here is an article about "depressive realism" -- a term I just found out about:L'éléphant

    Interesting. In my experience people with depression are just as likely to get things wrong but the tendency is towards catastrophic underestimation and negative inferences rather than Panglossian overestimation.
  • Corvus
    3k
    Was it Socrates who said, "Unexamined life is not worth living.", and "the ultimate goal of human existence is not just to live but to live a good, meaningful and virtuous life."?
  • javi2541997
    5.4k
    Was it Socrates who said, "Unexamined life is not worth living.", and "the ultimate goal of human existence is not just to live but to live a good, meaningful and virtuous life."?Corvus

    Yes, exactly. It was Socrates who said it. The dictum is recorded in Plato's Apology.
  • universeness
    6.3k


    I think we agree regarding @niki wonoto and I wonder why he/she/they, have not so far, posted at least a brief rebuttal to the concern/claim I and @Mikie have posted. That in itself is rather bizarre. But still, @hypericin could still be correct. Chronic depression can cause many bizarre behaviours.

    We all struggle with personal meaning and purpose. Personal pathology and the experiences and level and style of nurture we have experienced as children, can affect each of us at such a deep, fundamental and very personal level. There is also the power that is 'addiction' and 'habit,' which can be extremely difficult to completely conquer, and few of us ever do, once such takes a strong hold.

    Personally, (and I have used this a few times now on TPF) the idea of choosing to live life as a blessing or a curse, is a very real choice. The most important consideration I have, for creating my own meaning and purpose in this life, exists around those words I have emboldened above.

    I learned, that I can choose, to allow a feeling of despair, to persist inside me from the moment it starts, for as long as it festers. The more I leave such unchecked and unchallenged, the more it grows and roots in my psyche. I realised, that if I choose to be apathetic and wallow in my own self-pity or I choose to fight and defeat my attack of despair, that the same time period, passes, regardless of which choice I make, for any particular duration of time. This became a vital understanding for me. So, I choose to fight, fight and f****** fight some more, against any and all inner risings of personal despair, and any feelings of lack of reason and purpose or lack of meaning to my own personal life.
    I now rarely experience such inner attacks. Sometimes all the bad news can bring one on, or the despair expressed by others, especially loved ones. But my inner question of 'well what's your choice here pal? Do you wanna keep living these precious moments of your life as a curse or a blessing? This is not a f****** computer game, you don't get to reset the gameplay to an earlier point, you don't get these moments back, EVER! So, I choose again, not to live my life as a curse and I re-establish and refresh all my personal meanings, causes and purposes that help me maintain, progress and enjoy my life. I simply will not be any other way, as I have lived, in the main, a happy life because of such.

    @Vera Mont
    @Tom Storm
    @Athena
  • Tom Storm
    8.7k
    I think part of the problem is that people sometimes write putative soul-searching OP's along these lines without us having the benefit of knowing whether they write in good faith or merely for effect. So, I am not sure whether a response is just going to fuel the fires of depression or narcissism. Or indeed both.

    I have never really understood questions about the meaning of life. There's a more pertinent question. Is life worth living? To a significant extent, as you say, this is up to us and what we make of it. But some people do live a hellish life for any number of reasons - chemical or situational. It may make sense to hate every moment and not see a way out.

    I suspect that those of us who 'make choices' to find our own meaning through work and social connection have the inner resources, in short the wherewithal, to take charge of things. I think it's the case that not everyone can do this.

    Ironcially @niki wonoto has written an OP drenched in meaning and strong principles. I just think they are the wrong principles.
  • unenlightened
    8.9k
    I would suggest that his formula is "@niki wonoto means nothing", and that the form of meaning is X means Y.hypericin

    It is your suggestion so the form of meaning is the form of meaning to you.
    Therefore,
    (The form of meaning is X means Y) to @hypercin.
    Whereas.
    (The form of meaning is X means Y to Z, seems a bit more complete) to @unenlightened.

    That you disagree seems only to emphasise the importance of Z that you merely remove and put at the beginning.

    Life, that is here proposed as meaningless, consists of a separation of the organism itself from the environment and the reproduction of itself. But the separation is only partial and functional, because the substance and energy for development, maintenance and the reproduction process is taken from the environment. So life consists of a partial separation and a relation of dependence and interdependence. Meaning arises in the organism's evaluation of the environment - food or poison - am I your dinner or are you mine? Such judgements are of import (meaningful) to an organism; thus meaning is the common term in a relationship. Gazelle means life to a leopard, and a leopard means death to a gazelle. Life and death are the beginning and end of meaning.

    As such, it becomes apparent that "life", considered as the whole of the environment and all organisms as a whole, cannot be in relation to anything else such that meaning can arise. Even God needs to create the other as creation, in order to produce the relationship that He calls 'good'.
  • universeness
    6.3k
    I think part of the problem is that people sometimes write putative soul-searching OP's along these lines without us having the benefit of knowing whether they write in good faith or merely for effect. So, I am not sure whether a response is just going to fuel the fires of depression or narcissism. Or indeed both.Tom Storm

    That's partly why I tagged you in my last post, as you have valuable experience with working with folks who have a history of mental struggle and addictions. Folks like yourself can at least offer an informed position on such a very important issue as nurturing personal meaning and purpose in life and combatting destructive notions of despair and anti-life. Even though you like everyone else, at some point in your life and perhaps still, face the same such inner turmoil at times.

    I suspect that those of us who 'make choices' to find our own meaning through work and social connection have the inner resources, in short the wherewithal, to take charge of things. I think it's the case that not everyone can do this.Tom Storm
    Is that because they as you suggest, 'don't have the wherewithal?' My question would then become, does it, in your experienced opinion, remain at least possible, that anyone, can be turned, away from complete surrender to utter despair?

    Ironcially niki wonoto has written an OP drenched in meaning and strong principles. I just think they are the wrong principles.Tom Storm
    Agreed!
  • universeness
    6.3k
    Life and death are the beginning and end of meaning.

    As such, it becomes apparent that "life", considered as the whole of the environment and all organisms as a whole, cannot be in relation to anything else such that meaning can arise.
    unenlightened

    What part (if any) does the notion of legacy via reproduction or via human memorialisation of a life now past, or perhaps both, play, in your notion of living a meaningful life?
  • Tom Storm
    8.7k
    My question would then become, does it, in your experienced opinion, remain at least possible, that anyone, can be turned, away from complete surrender to utter despair?universeness

    I don't know. I'd like to think so, but I imagine it's a combination of (not always available) protective factors that impacts upon a person's recovery - biological, situational, relational, etc, etc. I spoke to a guy who was about to kill himself and the thing that stopped him, he said, was seeing a happy Labrador running in the park as he was about to prepare the noose. It took him back to his own dog when he was a boy and the pleasant memory jolted him. Talk about timing and luck. I think there are a lot of people who never encounter that transformative moment.
  • universeness
    6.3k

    Serendipity certainly is a welcome existent.
  • unenlightened
    8.9k
    What part (if any) does the notion of legacy via reproduction or via human memorialisation of a life now past, or perhaps both, play, in your notion of living a meaningful life?universeness

    For humans, it seems to be very important, at least to most folk most of the time, and to some extent for other intelligent and particularly for social animals. Those who find they are unable to reproduce often feel a personal meaning void, as do those who do not know anything of their ancestry - foundlings.

    The feeling that no one cared for one's infant self or that there will never be an infant other to have that relation to can be devastating. These are matters of fact. for example

    https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2009/mar/28/adoption-foundlings-psychiatry-ian-palmer
    https://www.verywellfamily.com/signs-infertility-has-hijacked-your-life-1960006

    Meaning and caring are very close.
  • universeness
    6.3k

    Well made points that ring true.
  • BC
    13.4k
    Chronic depression can cause many bizarre behaviours.universeness

    True. I have seen this phenomenon in myself--not so much "bizarre" behavior as self-defeating and counter-productive behaviors which seemed like a good idea at the time. Perseverating is a feature of depression for many depressed people; it's the same idea repeating itself over and over again. Of course these perseverated ideas are never positive, up-beat, can-do phrases. Quite the opposite.

    Depression may lift on its own, or lives may change, or one might get therapy. The former down-beat negative ideas can fade away and the world has meaning, possibilities, and goodness again.

    I don't know if 'wonoto' is depressed. Maybe he, she, or it is trying nihilism on to check out the style--the philosophical equivalent of goth.
  • universeness
    6.3k
    Perseverating is a feature of depression for many depressed people; it's the same idea repeating itself over and over again.BC

    Yes, I have witnessed such, on occasion, in friends, work colleagues, even family. Even manifesting in idiosyncratic/obsessive compulsive disorders/behaviours.

    The former down-beat negative ideas can fade away and the world has meaning, possibilities, and goodness again.BC

    They really really can, its just getting an afflicted often hopeless person to realise it.
    I had a bipolar friend who was found dead in his house at 42. An open verdict was given as to his potential suicide. We had long debates about how he might better deal with his condition. But me and the rest of his friends did not know enough at the time to help him better. Now I think I know what I should have said to him way back then, 15 years ago, but who knows, perhaps there was not ever much chance of saving him from himself. Such a waste.

    I don't know if 'wonoto' is depressed. Maybe he, she, or it is trying nihilism on to check out the style--the philosophical equivalent of goth.BC

    :grin: I always thought the goth kids looked cool. One of my female pupils committed suicide due to being constantly bullied for dressing as a goth. 14 years of age. Again, what a terrible waste.

    I agree about Niki, somethings not right. I know of no other example of a TPF member posting the opening of threads only, and then not responding to any response.
  • hypericin
    1.5k
    Therefore,
    (The form of meaning is X means Y) to hypercin.
    unenlightened

    You misread, I said that this was the mistake OP was making.
  • BC
    13.4k
    I can chooseuniverseness

    The Free Will card is played.

    I can also choose, at least as far as choosing to believing that I made a choice. I do not believe that people 'choose' to be depressed (and all the stuff that goes along with it). What we can and do choose (or what we can not and do not choose) is an intricate puzzle. We don't have to get into all that. My theory (chosen or not) is that we are born with a predisposition towards optimism or pessimism. You seem to be a solid optimist. I'm not a despairing pessimist, but I'm closer to that than being a cock-eyed optimist. Rogers and Hammerstein, 1949, South Pacific:

    “I have heard people rant and rave and bellow
    That we’re done and we might as well be dead
    But I’m only a cock-eyed optimist
    And I can’t get it into my head"

    The "affective" aspects of human behavior don't seem to be a matter of choice. Aspects of our intellectual life, however, can (to a large extent) be chosen. Anyone might pick up a copy of the Communist Manifesto, read it, and chose to think of it as gospel or as heresy. Same with the Gospel, Ayn Rand, Mao's Red Book, Jefferson's Declaration of Independence, Thoreau, Hegel, or... whatever. Consequences usually follow when we make intellectual choices. Enthusiasm for Thoreau's Essay on Civil Disobedience influenced both Gandhi and M. L. King thinking (one out of a billion other examples). Thoreau influenced my thinking too. So did Uncle Karl. So did the Gospels. So did a lot of texts that I could have given a pass, but didn't.

    The really tricky part of this is where the affective and intellectual influences mix. Some people clutch the Manifesto to their heart, other people drop it like a hot potato. What our intellects are attracted to and which we choose to read are influenced by what we like before first contact.

    So getting back to Nikki Wonoto, he, she, or it may not have "chosen" nihilism as much as fallen into it and found its odd fragrance pleasant. You don't like its odor, I don't like the smell of it, but some people do. Taste is destiny?
  • universeness
    6.3k
    So getting back to Nikki Wonoto, he, she, or it may not have "chosen" nihilism as much as fallen into it and found its odd fragrance pleasant. You don't like its odor, I don't like the smell of it, but some people do. Taste is destiny?BC

    I try to go for 'hesh' rather than 'it' as my probably poor attempt to find an acceptable intersex pronoun. I do also use 'they' but do find it confusing, due to it's plurality.

    I do not believe that people 'choose' to be depressed (and all the stuff that goes along with it)BC

    Neither do I, but I simply wish folks would believe more in their own ability to fight back.
  • Jamal
    9.3k
    I try to go for 'hesh' rather than 'it' as my probably poor attempt to find an acceptable intersex pronoun. I do also use 'they' but do find it confusing, due to it's plurality.universeness

    They is a bit awkward, but it’s probably the best option because we already used it to refer to people whose gender we didn’t know. As in, “Mildred, if a tax inspector comes today can you tell them I’m at a conference in Hong Kong.” I think what’s happening now is that the usage is just being expanded.
  • universeness
    6.3k

    Yeah, I tend to watch things like the transatlantic call in show on youtube, now and again, It is ran by trans folks and I try to see what terms are acceptable to them. They have never used 'hesh,' so it's probably a dead duck. Having said that I have never phoned in to ask them. :yikes:
    If 'they' becomes the 'most acceptable,' then I will use it when it seems appropriate to do so.
    I don't think it's a big imposition to use the pronouns any particular person asks for? Do You?

  • Hanover
    12.4k
    I believe the field of psychology, or at least in the study of personalities, acknowledges that the pensive, quiet people (who often find life to be "not happy") are the ones who have a more accurate assessment of life.L'éléphant

    I agree that depressed people are not happy, but I don't believe they have an accurate assessment of life. When they suggest there is no meaning to life and no reason for our existence, they are wrong and that's what makes them so unhappy.
    I'd say, do not dwell in the past no matter how beautiful or successful the past was. Keep it off your mind. Take care of what you have now. You can't be with your past anymore -- it's gone. Love the one you're with. This, coming from my own experience of dealing with all sorts of people.L'éléphant

    I think of sentimentality as the romanticized cousin of regret. The sentimental harken back to the past in a futile attempt to relive some perfect moment that never existed, like the time when their family was gathered around the Christmas tree welcoming a new puppy into their lives, as if that moment wasn't as complex, troubled, wonderful and significant as the present moment.

    The regretful harken back to the past in a futile attempt to relive that critical moment where things went wrong, so as to change them so that today wouldn't be as complex and troubled as it is right now. It's like the time you wish you could take back those words, continue that pursuit, or see that relationship through. What is missed is that today is as it is supposed to be, not just from casual necessity, but from teleological necessity

    Regret and sentimentality come from not believing one has a purpose that is constantly being fulfilled. If we accept that the driver for our acts aren't the causes that precede them but are for the purposes we are to fulfill, then it's hard to find a reason to focus on yesterday and try to run backwards in time and away from our intended destination.

    This is my philosophy of radical purposefulness, which is no more or less reasonable than the more typically accepted radical causation theory, where all events are explainable from their cause.
  • Patterner
    698

    I see two different types of meaning in what you two are saying. I don't know what to make of it, and maybe it isn't important. But it occurred to me, so I figured I'd mention it.

    First is something that's wrapped up in a biological imperative. such as being a parent. The plants and all the other animals can't contemplate these things. For them, there is no meaning of life in the way this thread is primarily focused on. Only a human would, or can, say a biological imperative is the meaning of their life.

    Second is the kind of meaning that only humans can have. Not because we’re the only thing we are aware of that has any concept of meaning, but also because we're the only ones who do most things that are not biological imperatives. Like devoting your life to music, religion, linguistics, philosophy, literature, or any of a number of other things. most of us seem to be talking about.

    The first type might be easier to find. Or might feel more natural. It seems like it would be great fortune if what you thought the meaning of your life is was also something you were biologically driven to do. Of course, if you think the meaning of your life is, say, to have children, but you cannot, it might be a pretty serious problem for you. Hopefully, people in that kind of predicament are able to change their way of seeing things in time. Adoption, or other ways of caring for people.

    But what really strikes me is that humans are the only things in the universe that we are aware of that can choose to do things that aren't biological imperatives. I feel there's something... Difficult to find the right word. I think "human" might be it, although that doesn't convey the specific feeling that I can't seem to name. There's something appropriate in people doing things that only people can do. Not many animals walk on two legs. Not many have opposable thumbs. It would be strange if someone refused to take advantage of either.

    Although it doesn't necessarily have to be your meaning of life. Maybe Bach would have said the meaning of his life was being a father.
  • Patterner
    698
    They is a bit awkward, but it’s probably the best option because we already used it to refer to people whose gender we didn’t know. As in, “Mildred, if a tax inspector comes today can you tell them I’m at a conference in Hong Kong.”Jamal
    I wish they would choose one of the alternatives that have been used in sci-fi. Like ze/zir. As you say, we use "they" when we don't know the person's gender. Which, historically, is because we don't know the person at all. If we know the person, I don't like using the pronouns of ignorance. We aren't ignorant. We know the person. I don't like how impersonal it seems.
  • BC
    13.4k
    its just getting an afflicted often hopeless person to realise it.universeness

    Some people have counterproductive thoughts. A lot of afflicted often hopeless people are afflicted by their circumstances. Their social/physical environment may be of low quality; bad housing, violence, not enough food, rats / roaches / bedbugs, dirt, poverty, chronic physical illnesses, isolation -- and more, all leaving the afflicted angry, hungry, lonely, fearful, frustrated -- very unhappy for months and years on end. What these afflicted people need are immediate and significant physical changes in their circumstances. They may be diagnosed as "depression" cases and they may well be depressed, but what they really need, and what will be curative, is a better life.

    Or, sometimes living with someone who has a combination of intractable problems -- let's say a terminal physical illness and is maybe bi-polar, may stress a partner very severely until they are themselves dysfunctional -- depressed. In that case, the situation will resolve (the terminal illness will result in the partner's death. But sometimes people are in relationships that are chronically stressful, but to which both are committed. That too can lead to depression and the cure may well be separation.

    I don't want to diminish the importance of maintaining healthy thinking about one's choices, but sometimes circumstances have to change rather than coming up with new ideas. And yes, sometimes people are--for all practical purposes--STUCK in the situation they are in.

    Maybe Wonoto is 'stuck'.
  • wonderer1
    1.8k
    Maybe Wonoto is 'stuck'.BC

    And there, but for the fortuity of my circumstances, go I.
  • L'éléphant
    1.5k
    agree that depressed people are not happy, but I don't believe they have an accurate assessment of life. When they suggest there is no meaning to life and no reason for our existence, they are wrong and that's what makes them so unhappy.Hanover

    So, depressed people have a clearer perception of reality than most of us, and they are more "prepared" for tragic events than the overall. Oh, come on... why is depression the main cause of suicide then? :roll:javi2541997

    nteresting. In my experience people with depression are just as likely to get things wrong but the tendency is towards catastrophic underestimation and negative inferences rather than Panglossian overestimation.Tom Storm
    I have no objection to the above comments. I did not read the scientific study to support that article. I also find that glorifying the dark perception of life by depressed people is biased -- serious looks do not entail deep meaning.

    Regret and sentimentality come from not believing one has a purpose that is constantly being fulfilled. If we accept that the driver for our acts aren't the causes that precede them but are for the purposes we are to fulfill, then it's hard to find a reason to focus on yesterday and try to run backwards in time and away from our intended destination.Hanover
    Because we have adopted the meaning of "purpose" as something that's got to be grand. Anything less than grand is just existing. And existing is easy to do. Rocks exist. People can't picture themselves serving a purpose if they make a minimum wage and cannot pay the rent. Or if fuel price increases and everyone is bothered by it. How can we think of the grand purpose in life if we're annoyed at the pump?
  • Corvus
    3k
    Yes, exactly. It was Socrates who said it. The dictum is recorded in Plato's Apology.javi2541997

    I feel Socrates was right in saying that. He was the first philosopher in history who turned the philosophical focus into human life i.e. what is life, what is better life, and how one should live, from the wonders of the universe topics which were philosophical trends at the time.

    I read the OP as just a topic of Philosophy of Life rather than some outcry of personal problems.

    Humans have reasoning abilities as well as highly developed linguistic capabilities (which no other species have), hence they do think about life and death, and ask these questions, and philosophers debate on the topic from speculating attitudes.
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