• khaled
    368
    yay. Someone who gets it and doesn't retort with "Oh why don't you just kill yourself" :up:
  • Wallows
    6.3k
    The former seems like a common sense philosophical position, the latter sounds more like depression than a philosophical position, I think.bloodninja

    I'm quite interested in trying to delineate the difference between philosophical pessimism and depression as a feature of that philosophical position. It would seem contradictory to state that one is a philosophical pessimist and yet happy, cheerful, and productive. It just seems too much like a cognitive dissonance of sorts.
  • khaled
    368
    The point of nihilism is to recognize the philosophical position and to recognize that ultimately, nothing matters and that it would only harm your own subjective sense of meaning to go around killing people. Objective meaning, meaning inherent in the objects, does not exist. People create meaning. It's a really liberating yet dangerous philosophy
  • Wallows
    6.3k
    It's a really liberating yet dangerous philosophykhaled

    Well said. In some sense, I feel that philosophy need trip sitters to quell the angst derived from many of it's professed beliefs.
  • schopenhauer1
    2.3k
    For a start, how did you come to the conclusion that beyond satisfying our hunger and the need for proper temperature and shelter, that human actions are nothing more than self-deception or pretending to do something meaningful? That we have a propensity for 'hope', or an urge to explore what's beyond, or even philosophize could be very well be on par with satisfying our biological need for food.

    I refuse to believe that human efforts and activities are, at best, a bullshit refinery that runs twenty-four hours a day to keep our mind at peace.
    Caldwell

    But look at what we can do. We can even have ideations of suicide. We can look at life and say, "I do not have to do anything. I can sit here and starve to death". What motivates us to do anything in the first place? Well, we usually have to have, at the last, a short-term/temporary goal in mind, and move towards that. Where does this goal originate? Well, that is where we put our fiat-value on something, to make us feel the impulse to move towards it. Further, this derives from preferences that we have cultivated over time. Hope is in the equation, perhaps for evolutionary reasons. It could just be a coping mechanism we happened to have developed in order to keep the goal-factory moving along. Unlike other animals, that simply move along, we move along in terms of goals. Some people are less aware of the very self-imposed nature of most of our goals... in other words, they believe they are THE goals that they are driven by, rather than what they have imposed on themselves as motivating factors. The deception would be to forget this fiat-like way we GENERATE goals.
  • Wallows
    6.3k


    I do have to ask. Do you live your life in accordance with your philosophy of life? How do you cope with so much pessimism and inherent angst that you seem to profess on these forums? Just asking out of curiosity, as I am deeply influenced by Schopenhauer myself, given that he was my first introduction to the art of philosophy. I have embedded some of his maxims into my own way of life. Such as the desire for solitude and contemplation. I find most of his philosophy derived from a particularly narcissistic conception of himself; but, there's nothing inherently wrong with that. I just try and distance myself from such fantasies that I am special or my solitude will contribute to my welfare, as it seemingly does.

    Yet, after all the angst and strife and coping is over with, I still feel some urge to be happy and content with my meager life. How about you?

    Just keeping it real.
  • schopenhauer1
    2.3k
    How can that be a deception? It is not a proposition, and only propositions can be deceptions. People either value things because they can't help but do so or they choose to value them. Either way, there is no proposition, so no scope for a deception.

    Are you suggesting that people tell themselves they value a particular goal, when they don't really? That would be a self-deception, but how could we ever guess whether somebody was doing that?
    andrewk

    The deception is believing the goals are anything but self-imposed. Sure, sometimes we are hyper aware of our own choice to be motivated in the first place, but often we go through the motions, letting our (also self-imposed) preferences drive us along. We don't have to do anything. A bird cannot say that.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    4.8k
    It's that they place value on goals in the first place. Nothing is really determined. We don't have to be motivated by anything, but we CHOOSE to. we conjure goals to work towards, but unlike other animals, we have no determined reason to work towards anything. A bird cannot help but do its thing, we can. We choose to conjure up motivation.schopenhauer1

    The difference between human beings and other animals in relation to this matter, is not that we place value on goals, but that we identify value, and we name it. So all the animals you describe in their activities act accordingly because they place value on the various things and so carry out those acts because they value them. Human beings recognize this as holding "values", and name it as such. Some of us, like you, want to create an artificial separation between human beings acting because they value something, and animals acting because they value something. That is self-deception.
  • schopenhauer1
    2.3k
    interesting discussion. Just wondering how it is possible to choose preferences? I feel it is more accurate to articulate preferences as something we are thrown into by way of our moods and our self-understanding.bloodninja

    I'll give you that. I just feel in the mood for chocolate ice cream, for example. I'm proposing that we let things that are pleasing to us drive our motives, but it is still a choice to choose what is pleasing. It is the excuse leftover for why we are motivated, but we still choose to go for preferences. A more radical position is, that even preferences that seem pleasing to us, are something that we simply instilled in ourselves that we like due to habit. But that is a much more complicated position with a lot of psychological research to present in order to support it, I'm guessing.
  • schopenhauer1
    2.3k
    The difference between human beings and other animals in relation to this matter, is not that we place value on goals, but that we identify value, and we name it. So all the animals you describe in their activities act accordingly because they place value on the various things and so carry out those acts because they value them. Human beings recognize this as holding "values", and name it as such. Some of us, like you, want to create an artificial separation between human beings acting because they value something, and animals acting because they value something. That is self-deception.Metaphysician Undercover

    I think you are playing with terms here. If we delineate the term goal properly, this issue goes away. A goal, in the way I'm using it, is one where it is indeed something we identify and name. Animals have perhaps ends that it is achieving, but it is unidentified by the animal itself, and not intentional. It doesn't know it is following goals. Basically, it didn't CHOOSE its goals. It just follows its own directives. If there is a choice, it would be so binary as to be improper to conflate with human goals which are linguistically based and with a much higher degree of freedom of choice.
  • bloodninja
    301
    I think it's right to say that goals must be chosen. But i think it's wrong to suggest that goals accurately characterise the majority of human behaviour. A father might choose the occasional goal for himself and his kid, for example, but 99% of his fathering is not goal driven. 99% of the time he is just prereflectively coping in the meaningful space of being a father. He doesn't have a goal of being a father rather being a father matters to him which then makes it possible to choose goals. This mattering is basic and is not chosen.
  • schopenhauer1
    2.3k
    This mattering is basic and is not chosen.bloodninja

    Is it? It may be culturally-derived. The role of father, and caring about a particular preference, but ultimately it is a choice. There is no if/then behavior like a bird might have. There are plenty of examples of fathers who chose not to play that role.
  • andrewk
    1.7k
    The deception is believing the goals are anything but self-imposedschopenhauer1
    You can only speak for yourself here. Maybe you feel you are deceiving yourself, but you can have no idea whether others are. Neither can I or anybody else.

    My opinion is that a young person who loves animals, dreams of being a vet and studies really hard to qualify to enter the vet degree at uni, then works really hard in the aim of getting into a really good vet practice, is not deceiving themself at all. They dearly want something, and they strive to achieve that something.
  • apokrisis
    4.5k
    If there is a choice, it would be so binary as to be improper to conflate with human goals which are linguistically based and with a much higher degree of freedom of choice.schopenhauer1

    Maybe your mistake is to misunderstand the level at which language-based thinking, choosing and willing finds its natural meaning. You presume it is at the psychological level of the individual, and yet it actually happens at the organismic level of a culture and society.

    So sure, a worker ant granted some kind of self-awareness might suddenly question what it is all for. But an ant colony has a clearly evolved reason for whatever the worker ant generally does, or is.

    So your philosophical misstep is to fail to recognise the nature of meaning. The reasons for actions aren't ever to be found in the "self" when we are talking biology. That psychological self is always a biological or social construction. It arises embedded in a living context that determines its nature.

    As has been said before, your angst about the meaninglessness of life arises only because you vault that embeddedness in a social context to consider the human condition in the context of a random and purposeless Cosmos. You jump scales of being.

    But the irony is that that image of the human condition is itself a social construction - a product of a particular time in the development of the theories of physics, coupled to the romantic reaction that image of nature engendered.

    So your pessimistic lament is anachronistic - out of date with our understandings of nature and humans as socially-constructed creatures. Time to change the tune?
  • Wayfarer
    6.9k
    'Most folks are as happy as they want to be' ~ Lincoln
  • bloodninja
    301
    There are plenty of examples of fathers who chose not to play that role.schopenhauer1

    Because fathering does not matter to them. They are what we call bad fathers. Also, it's not merely a role, but a self-understanding, which is different to a role in that it is existential.

    It may be culturally-derived.schopenhauer1

    Whether it is culturally derived or not is irrelevant as far as mattering is concerned. You never choose mattering. Think about it phenomenologically.
  • schopenhauer1
    2.3k
    My opinion is that a young person who loves animals, dreams of being a vet and studies really hard to qualify to enter the vet degree at uni, then works really hard in the aim of getting into a really good vet practice, is not deceiving themself at all. They dearly want something, and they strive to achieve that something.andrewk

    Again, the motivation is not given, it is created. It need not be a long-term goal. It can be very mundane goals.
  • schopenhauer1
    2.3k
    That psychological self is always a biological or social construction. It arises embedded in a living context that determines its nature.apokrisis

    So when we make decisions, we are making it on a species level? I don't compute. Sure, the goals are linguistic, thus derived socially via linguistic construction of meaning. However, who actually MAKES the choice? It is not the species, but the individual, who may be doing it in the backdrop of linguistically derived decision-making abilities.

    But the irony is that that image of the human condition is itself a social construction - a product of a particular time in the development of the theories of physics, coupled to the romantic reaction that image of nature engendered.apokrisis

    But how are the individuals not responsible for choices of motivation? At the end of the day, no matter how much social programming is at play, and I HAVE acknowledged the power of this in the thread (read back to the first few posts), it is still the individual who takes upon whatever role or goal to work towards.
  • schopenhauer1
    2.3k
    Whether it is culturally derived or not is irrelevant as far as mattering is concerned. You never choose mattering. Think about it phenomenologically.bloodninja

    I contend that we do choose mattering. We choose to care. I will say that the baseline factors on our choices are the pendulum swing of de facto conditions of survival (culturally-based), and boredom. This makes us choose something that matters, perhaps.
  • Jake
    917
    By this I mean that we have to deceive ourselves that what we are doing is meaningfulschopenhauer1

    We have to eat every day.

    We have to sleep every day.

    We have to go to the bathroom every day.

    The brain is just another mechanical apparatus of the body with it's own maintenance requirements.

    If we want to have a healthy life, we have to take care of business.

    Why complicate it beyond that?
  • schopenhauer1
    2.3k

    Yes as I said in the OP: Beyond the aversion to discomforts like hunger, heat/cold, and no shelter, we are in a constant state of having to believe that any move or decision is one even worth making.
  • bloodninja
    301
    I contend that we do choose mattering. We choose to care.schopenhauer1

    I think this sums up the fundamental difference between Heidegger and Sartre. You're on the side of Sartre and radical freedom, and I don't think it's a good side to be on. :wink:
  • schopenhauer1
    2.3k

    I'd like to think it's more nuanced phenomenologically. Rather, the substrate of all motivations are boredom and survival (mediated through cultural landscape). However, how we then go ahead and motivate ourselves to flee these two extremes is the radical freedom part. So its both.
  • apokrisis
    4.5k
    So when we make decisions, we are making it on a species level? I don't compute.schopenhauer1

    Social communities are smaller than the biological species. And "we" are the product of multiple levels of community. So let's not be simplistic. You have a family heritage, a peer group, a neighbourhood, a national, religious or ethnic identity.

    But the point remains. Language gains its meanings at a social level of development. And these meanings are what shape "us" in terms of some psychological set of habits of action. You can't analyse the individual abstracted from the social context as the social level is where the meanings are arising on the whole.

    However, who actually MAKES the choice? It is not the species, but the individual...schopenhauer1

    Do individuals actually make all their own choices? You are presuming a level of independent mindedness that is much talked about - in a particular cultural tradition at least - yet rarely enough exhibited even within that culture.

    Of course, people could call their physiological drives their own. Biology has its needs. And those are meaningful at that organismic level.

    But mostly folk are not making real choices - not about reasons, anyway. They are seeking to apply existing social meanings to the lives they happen to be living. So they might have to plan or make choices about how to achieve some purpose. But the purposes are readily to hand as part of their cultural environment.

    But how are the individuals not responsible for choices of motivation?schopenhauer1

    Nope. Why would you argue the unscientific and unnatural view that motivations should be a matter of individual choice. You are starting with a bogus model of psychology and so all your consequent philosophising is for naught.

    it is still the individual who takes upon whatever role or goal to work towards.schopenhauer1

    We can always recognise the fact that we are only responding intelligently and creatively to the embedded demands of our cultural millieu. And that - theoretically at least - raises the possibility of dissent.

    But you are ignoring the corollary. If we also recognise the fact that "we" are a social construction, then we can't claim there is some other "us" that exists free and independent of that cultural millieu.

    Now we can imagine cutting ourselves off from our fellow humanity so entirely that we become your atomistic individual, alone in its cosmic sea of burden and futility. Indeed, there is whole genre of culture where you can learn to take precisely that attitude. You can find "yourself" among the like-minded by sharing the right texts and manuals.

    But at the end of the day, you can't escape the reality that being socially constructed comes first. If you want to construct some absolute kind of psychological individualism, that is going to come after the fact. And considered sanely, what could be the point?
  • andrewk
    1.7k
    Again, the motivation is not given, it is created. It need not be a long-term goal. It can be very mundane goals.schopenhauer1
    I am not disputing that. What I am questioning is what support you have for the belief that everybody is deceiving themself. I don't think the average animal-loving vet student has an opinion, or cares, whether their goal is given or created. They just want to achieve it. The same goes for short-term mundane goals like 'I want to go for a bike ride'.

    I want to go ride my bike now for half an hour or so. And I will. Do you believe I am deceiving myself? How so?
  • Jake
    917
    we are in a constant state of having to believe that any move or decision is one even worth making.schopenhauer1

    Why is this any more interesting than being in a constant state of needing access to food?
  • schopenhauer1
    2.3k
    Now we can imagine cutting ourselves off from our fellow humanity so entirely that we become your atomistic individual, alone in its cosmic sea of burden and futility. Indeed, there is whole genre of culture where you can learn to take precisely that attitude. You can find "yourself" among the like-minded by sharing the right texts and manuals.

    But at the end of the day, you can't escape the reality that being socially constructed comes first. If you want to construct some absolute kind of psychological individualism, that is going to come after the fact. And considered sanely, what could be the point?
    apokrisis

    So when a person makes a decision and choose to do something, what do you call that? That is society making the decision?
  • schopenhauer1
    2.3k
    I am not disputing that. What I am questioning is what support you have for the belief that everybody is deceiving themself. I don't think the average animal-loving vet student has an opinion, or cares, whether their goal is given or created. They just want to achieve it. The same goes for short-term mundane goals like 'I want to go for a bike ride'.

    I want to go ride my bike now for half an hour or so. And I will. Do you believe I am deceiving myself? How so?
    andrewk

    It's the implication, not the origin that I care about. The implication is that we arouse in ourselves a state of WANTING to follow a goal. We CONJURE the goal from fiat. We use goals to fill the void. Nature abhors a vacuum and so do humans. It's not that we move along unwittingly. Rather, we want to make something up to move us along.
  • schopenhauer1
    2.3k
    Why is this any more interesting than being in a constant state of needing access to food?Jake

    My guess is once we have our basic needs worked out, our minds need to fill the void of something to do.
  • apokrisis
    4.5k
    I call it you continuing to frame the situation atomistically and thinking you've said something worthwhile.

    Social construction is about the informational constraints that shape the individual psychology. So it is not about society making you decide anything, it is about society being the meaningful framework within which any personal autonomy is exercised.

    My model accounts for the reasons or motivations that are so lacking in your model.

    You are complaining the reasons don't exist in us, and they don't exist in the cosmos, so they don't exist anywhere. You've searched high and low, and you can find no point to any particular choice.

    But I am saying this is a failure of naturalism on your part. The reality is that "we" are socially constructed. So meaning was never going to be intrinsic to "us" - beyond the kind of biological motivations that are natural to just being alive. A larger purpose in life is the social purposes to be found all around us. Society is the organismic level of organisation here. It is the locus of the kind of meanings that are necessary to social creatures living a social lifestyle.

    Now you can of course have all sorts of thoughts and disputes about that. No one is going to pretend that society as it stands, or ever was, is a completely perfect or rational animal.

    But as a departure point for moral philosophy, that is the reality from which to start a discussion. It is not unnatural to be behaving like socially constrained creatures if it is social constraint that is constructing us as the particular creatures we are in the first place.

    We are already plunged into that historical flow of existence - the human story. You may wind up appalled or delighted. But it is philosophically unreasonable of you to distort the basic facts. And that is my objection.
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