• Thorongil
    3.2k
    Let me first note that I include anti-natalists and ascetics when I speak of pessimists. It seems to me that one motive for their general temperament is the feeling of being a traveler in a foreign land, or worse, a prisoner in a foreign land depending on how it is determined.

    As Zapffe says, "We come from an inconceivable nothingness. We stay a while in something which seems equally inconceivable, only to vanish again into the inconceivable nothingness." Hence, one's life has the quality of having woken up in a foreign country, where the language, customs, and goals of everything around us are indecipherable at first, and that, even upon learning them, an element of mystery still remains and eludes us, gnaws at us.

    Optimists throw themselves into every aspect of the foreign country with great zeal and interest, as if they've always lived there and were born to do so. Pessimists approach the situation they find themselves in with much more caution and forbearance. To them, the very inconceivableness of their existence, not to mention its origin and fate after death, is reason enough to refrain from leaving any deep footprints. Who honestly knows the full repercussions of our actions during our brief stay in this strange and often inhospitable world? In light of this ignorance, who could bring a child into it or more generally acquiesce to the direction of the crowd? They know scarcely any more than you do about why they're here.

    The pessimist, and especially the anti-natalist, is like Aragorn outside the walls of Moria, who witnesses Merry and Pippin throwing stones into the pond, and admonishes them, saying, "Do not disturb the water." The optimist seems content to throw stones all the same, though he has no need or reason to; that is, of course, besides his own delight in doing so. It's just a means of passing the time and holding off the ever encroaching advance of boredom and despair. Yet the pessimist will accept despair if they are still able to maintain what I shall call a praxis of humility. This involves never acting hubristically or in ignorance if one can help it, which is the only rational response to the situation of being alive.
  • darthbarracuda
    2.9k
    It seems to me that one motive for their general temperament is the feeling of being a traveler in a foreign land, or worse, a prisoner in a foreign land depending on how it is determined.Thorongil

    Or, as Cioran says: β€œIs it possible that existence is our exile and nothingness our home?”

    even upon learning them, an element of mystery still remains and eludes us, gnaws at us.Thorongil

    The universe is fundamentally irrational. There is no reason to believe we will ever know everything.

    In light of this ignorance, who could bring a child into it or more generally acquiesce to the direction of the crowd? They know scarcely any more than you do about why they're here.Thorongil

    I like this a lot.

    Yet the pessimist will accept despair if they are still able to maintain what I shall call a praxis of humility. This involves never acting hubristically or in ignorance if one can help it, which is the only rational response to the situation of being alive.Thorongil

    I would like to quote a song:

    "And if I claim to be a wise man,
    Well, it surely means that I don't know"


    -Kansas, "Carry on Wayward Son"

    I would add to your praxis, that one should act compassionately. We are all in the same boat, thrown out into sea, alienated, afraid, and on the edge of drowning. It's all that we can do to stop from capsizing or sinking our ship. So when you come across a fellow seaman, show them a few knots, help patch their ship, and send them on their way. Maybe someday they will help you.

    I agree with nearly everything you have said, Thorongil. Well said. (Y)
  • Thorongil
    3.2k
    Yes, I quite agree about compassion. That would be the positive aspect of my negatively worded definition. I should have specified that. Indeed, how could I forget!

    Your song quote also reminds me that partly what I'm getting at is Socrates' definition of wisdom: knowing that you don't know anything. Here, knowledge does not mean perception or cognition so much as certainty with respect to what is purported to be true. The latter we certainly don't have, which militates against the heedless extroversion of the optimist.
  • darthbarracuda
    2.9k


    I would like to add some more thoughts to why a pessimist may have a certain temperament.

    Society in general seems to be built upon a stack of lies, a stack of "feel good" tricks and impossible delusions. The perpetual existence of the human race is given to be intrinsically valuable, for example. Literature, films and shows, video games, political decisions, etc are filled with plots of an evil villain who is out to kill all life. For example, I just got done finishing a quest line in a mmorpg that required me to defeat an antagonist that wished to wipe out all life on a planet to feed his eternal hunger, and he would have later gone on to eat all life in the galaxy if I hadn't stopped him. The rational of stopping him was said to be the preservation of the galactic civilization. My priorities were that this antagonist would have caused a horribly large amount of suffering. But when the final battle was over, I was left with a happy-sing-song tune playing in the background while wondering if what I did was right, wondering if something like this happened in real life, would I be an active part in opposing it.

    This is just one example that shows the incongruency between my pessimistic outlook and the general outlook of society. Another would be birth, as well as the myth of progress, capitalism, religion, and politics. I am surrounded by a society that is fundamentally different than I would prefer it to be. It is comedic at best and despairing at worst. This is why I end up "escaping" from the world via books, video games, music, and philosophy, especially the latter two. And even the escapism sometimes doesn't work, as shown above.
  • Agustino
    11.3k
    Let me first note that I include anti-natalists and ascetics when I speak of pessimists. It seems to me that one motive for their general temperament is the feeling of being a traveler in a foreign land, or worse, a prisoner in a foreign land depending on how it is determined.Thorongil
    This is a passion Thorongil. Just like the optimists, these pessimists are governed by their passions. They don't see the world as it really is, but through the prism of their own feelings. They see the world with tinted glasses, and then they rationalise this seeing saying that it is because they really are, (transcendentally or in spirit, or bla bla) from a different country that they feel this way, instead of realising that they think as they do because they feel as they do. Another instance where feeling determines thought, instead of the other way around. Isn't it a pity that you diagnose the optimists so well for seeing the world through tinted glasses, and yet fail to see that the pessimists also see the world through the prism of their own feelings? The only thing which is different between the two is the tint of the glasses...

    To them, the very inconceivableness of their existence, not to mention its origin and fate after death, is reason enough to refrain from leaving any deep footprints.Thorongil
    They only talk of a "fate after death" because they have rationalised their feeling of not belonging to mean something which it doesn't. There's no reason to rationalise that feeling. You feel that way, but why must the fact you feel that way really mean something about the world, and not about you?

    Who honestly knows the full repercussions of our actions during our brief stay in this strange and often inhospitable world? In light of this ignorance, who could bring a child into it or more generally acquiesce to the direction of the crowd? They know scarcely any more than you do about why they're here.Thorongil
    The question is non-sensical once you realise that your "self", sub specie durationis, is a combinatorial product, and just like other such products, it comes into existence fortuitously, and goes out of existence just as fortuitously. So if you accept that, then why ask the question?

    Your whole post attempts to be an apologetic. And just like all apologists, it seems you feel the need to justify why pessimists feel as they do. But do pessimists first justify and then feel, or do they first feel and later justify? Post-fact rationalisations are a cognitive bias which prevents you from seeing the causal link as it really is: from your feelings to your reasons instead of from your reasons to your feelings.

    A free man is neither pessimist nor optimist. He sees the world as it is. He is a seer; doesn't stamp himself all over the world.
  • Sentient
    50
    @Agustino

    once you realise that your "self", sub specie durationis, is a combinatorial product, and just like other such products, it comes into existence fortuitously, and goes out of existence just as fortuitously.

    A free man is neither pessimist nor optimist. He sees the world as it is. He is a seer; doesn't stamp himself all over the world.

    I find these statements highly contradictory, Agustino. If the self is a combinatorial product of 'chance' then how can this fragmented, random 'self' make sense of/pinpoint or 'see' that which you dub 'reality' (I assume you are a determinist and/or physicalist since you claim reality is an objective, stable entity which can be known)?

    Also, please define reality as that would mean defining the nature of consciousness itself in my opinion.

    It seems wholly impossible divorcing subjective experience from the nature(s) of realities. Everyone 'stamps themselves all over the world' in the same way the world stamps itself all over us. We exist and create within realities, aren't divorced from them while clinically observing them. We are the world.
  • Agustino
    11.3k
    If the self is a combinatorial product of 'chance' then how can this fragmented, random 'self' make sense of/pinpoint or 'see' that which you dub 'reality' (I assume you are a determinist and/or physicalist since you claim reality is an objective, stable entity which can be known)?Sentient

    I fail to follow what the self being created, fragmented, and random has to do with perception or understanding - the "self" is a construct, which means that it exists "in the past" as it were, while perception and understanding exist in the present. The "self" is the bundle of desires/beliefs, etc that one identifies with. To see "reality" means to attend to perception directly, without overlaying your "self" (ie. desires, beliefs, etc.) over it.
  • schopenhauer1
    2.8k
    @Agustino @Thorongil

    A free man is neither pessimist nor optimist. He sees the world as it is. He is a seer; doesn't stamp himself all over the world.Agustino

    Schopenhauer and Spinoza had more in common than some (even Schopenhauer himself) suspected. Schopenhauer's denial of "will" and Spinoza's "blessedness" have a very familiar final outcome of a sort of detachment into "ideas" (for Schopenhauer) and being content in understanding our being a "finite mode in an infinite number of causes" (for Spinoza). Whereas Spinoza thought by seeing the "necessity" of things in nature's complexity, and underlying laws, we would quiet our "passions" and realize we are just a tiny spec in an infinite realm of existence, Schopenhauer thought that by seeing the contingent nature of the world and understanding our restless unending pendulum of dissatisfaction and boredom that is our nature, we could achieve a certain non-willing state through asceticism.

    For Spinoza, our intellectual love of god and blessedness, is supposed to calm us and make us indifferent to our passions. I imagine here, he would think that contemplating geometric proofs, hypothetical chess games, and working on a new proof for advanced mathematical branches are our salvation and way into realizing "blessedness". In this regard, he definitely seems the "philosopher's philosopher"- triumphant ratione. That being said, much of their difference is a fundamental difference in the metaphysics of existence. Schopenhauer's conception is that the main principle of life itself is a Striving he called "Will". Will has a double aspect whereby Will is objectified into ideas, which are further individuated through the Principle of Sufficient Reason (space, time, causality) into the world of science which includes nature, which includes animals, which includes us. So here we are as this objectification of Will, playing out our life in space/time/causality. One way to get out of the "Veil of Maya" is to "deny the will-to-live" which is very similar to the dispassionate lessening of passions as Spinoza claims. The difference being that one is denying in Schopenhauer, and one is affirming nature in Spinoza. Also built into Schopenhauer's ethics is his idea of compassion being a vehicle to become less individuated, though this can probably parallel with some ideas in Spinoza.

    One point of similarity between the two is the way that they both view ethics as an unfolding process. By this I mean they think that it happens through a process of sorts. In Spinoza, the philosopher sheds his passions and realizes that the lower passions are no longer needed as one cultivates an intellectual love of god. This is very Platonic sounding (to me at least). With Schopenhauer, we have an unfolding into the idea that our Will is ultimately what causes suffering and thus should be denied in a personal ascetic lifestyle coupled with compassion and aesthetic contemplation on art and beauty.

    However, a main difference I see is Schopenhauer's ability to take into account the intractable nature of suffering- that as long as we are alive, there is very little we can do to get around it. Life's eventual realities will confront us. We must seek goals while alive, this will lead to suffering in terms of the journey to obtain the goals, as well as the fact that we are "lacking" in the first place. When we get our goals, we quickly succumb to a sort of existential angst that reflects the instrumentality of existence in terms of the constant need to keep ourselves alive, comfortable, and entertained. Time presses on us and we feel its affects in our need for need and our existential angst when reflected on life itself without anything in particular to strive for. Schopenhauer's understanding is closer to home, it is the life we actually live, not a philosopher's dream of pure intellectual devotion. Schopenhauer's vision is closer to the reality of the human condition which takes into account the restless nature of the human psyche, the deprivation of contentment that motivates us all, and the contingent nature of existence impinging upon us. The contingent nature of reality along with our own inner restless nature is closer to what is going on.
  • TheWillowOfDarkness
    1.8k
    Schopenhauer's vision is closer to the reality of the human condition which takes into account the restless nature of the human psyche, the deprivation of contentment that motivates us all, and the contingent nature of existence impinging upon us. The contingent nature of reality along with our own inner restless nature is closer to what is going on. — schopenhauer1

    And that's what Schopenhauer gets so wrong. Such a condition only applies to those with a restless nature, to those who fear "becoming," who get riddled with anxiety about what is to come, who try to hold the future before its in reach. He is offering justifications, apologetics, for why every life must necessarily be restless, rather than seeing each individual for what they are. The contingent nature of life, the passing and emergence of restlessness and dissatisfaction, at different times, in different people, is what exactly he cannot abide, for it would ruin his explanation of life as necessary suffering. Schopenhauer, in the end, denies nature, life as it exists, because he is more interested in suffering being logically necessitated than he is in describing living people (even considering the fact they will, invariably, encounter some instance of suffering in their life).

    For Schopenhauer, the suffering of life is not enough. He wants suffering to be infinite, as a demonstration of how life consuming it ought to be.
  • schopenhauer1
    2.8k
    And that's what Schopenhauer gets so wrong. Such a condition only applies to those with a restless nature, to those who fear "becoming," who get riddled with anxiety about what is to come, who try to hold the future before its in reach. He is offering justifications, apologetics, for why every life must necessarily be restless, rather than seeing each individual for what they are. The contingent nature of life, the passing and emergence of restlessness and dissatisfaction, at different times, in different people, is what exactly he cannot abide, for it would ruin his explanation of life as necessary suffering. Schopenhauer, in the end, denies nature, life as it exists, because he is more interested in suffering being logically necessitated than he is in describing living people (even considering the fact they will, invariably, encounter some instance of suffering in their life).

    For Schopenhauer, the suffering of life is not enough. He wants suffering to be infinite, as a demonstration of how life consuming it ought to be.
    TheWillowOfDarkness

    That life is suffering is an argument that we are always deprived. This (I think) was Thorongil's point in one of his posts- the natural lack of something is constant and leads to the goal-seeking/boredom pendulum that Schopenhauer discussed. The contingent factors I was discussing are the particular mental, physical, social, and situational circumstances that lead to suffering that impinge upon the individual on top of the necessary suffering of always lacking something (usually related to survival, comfort, or entertainment goals).
  • TheWillowOfDarkness
    1.8k


    And that's the ignorance of the argument. We are not always deprived. More critically, we are not necessarily deprived. It is counter to the world. A falsehood.

    No matter how much suffering the world is (and there is inevitably a ton), the contingent nature of the world, of our lives, means we still experience things like joy, happiness and contentment. We are not always lacking something. Sometimes we are content with the present. Even in instances where there is something we want, we are sometimes content: happy to exist, waiting for it, until its time comes. We do not necessarily suffer. Nor do particular states of the world always impinge upon the individual. I'm happy to wait until my birthday to get my birthday present. I'm not restless with thoughts that I must have it now, even if it is something that I want.
  • Sentient
    50


    I fail to follow what the self being created, fragmented, and random has to do with perception or understanding - the "self" is a construct, which means that it exists "in the past" as it were, while perception and understanding exist in the present.

    If the self exists in the past as you claim, how can it 'keep up' and 'see' or realize the 'present' which you coin 'reality'? Wouldn't it then constantly be lagging while 'reality' forges ahead?

    The "self" is the bundle of desires/beliefs, etc that one identifies with. To see "reality" means to attend to perception directly, without overlaying your "self" (ie. desires, beliefs, etc.) over it.

    How can you divorce your experiences or 'self' from 'reality'? You are of the world, aren't you? It appears you propose ultimate objectivity is possible. It's as though you suggest you are divorced from the very thing/place/time you 'are' while simultaneously claiming your self exists within a given time frame in relation to what you believe is reality.
  • schopenhauer1
    2.8k
    No matter how much suffering the world is (and there is inevitably a ton), the contingent nature of the world, of our lives, means we still experience things like joy, happiness and contentment. We are not always lacking something. Sometimes we are content with the present. Even in instances where there is something we want, we are sometimes content: happy exist waiting for it, until its time comes. We do not necessarily suffer. Nor do particular states of the world always impinge upon the individual. I'm happy to wait till my birthday to get my birthday present. I'm not restless with thoughts I must have it now, even if it is something I want.TheWillowOfDarkness

    I do not think Schopenhauer meant by restless that we are anxious for a future event, but that each moment in time we are never fully satisfied or satisfied for long. He did recognize brief moments of satisfaction (happiness/contentment) from achieving a goal, but then the lacking feeling continues.
  • TheWillowOfDarkness
    1.8k
    I do not think Schopenhauer meant by restless that we are anxious for a future event, but that each moment in time we are never fully satisfied or satisfied for long. He did recognize brief moments of satisfaction (happiness/contentment) from achieving a goal, but then the lacking feeling continues. — Schopenhauer

    I know that. The stuff about anxiety about future events was directed at your argument about impingement on lives resulting from the mental, physical, social, and situational circumstances, at what you were supposing we had on-top of the necessary suffering as argued by Schopenhauer1.

    The problem with Schopenhauer's argument is the restless doesn't continue. New states of restlessness emerge. Each state of restlessness is a new state of existence, rather than a continuation of some infinite necessary foundation of life. The lacking feeling does not continue. It merely, sometimes, even frequently, exists. And then it, frequently, passes out of existence, to be replaced by a state absent restlessness (and not just in response to achieving goals. Sometimes people are just found without restlessness at a particular time). Then that will pass, maybe bring a new state of restlessness. And so on and so forth. What Schopenhauer fails to recognise is that states of restlessness are also brief moments, fleeting and contingent states of existence, which pass not only in death but also in life.
  • schopenhauer1
    2.8k
    The problem with Schopenhauer's argument is the restless doesn't continue. New states of restlessness emerge. Each of restlessness is a new state of existence rather than a continuation of some infinite necessary foundation of life. The lacking feeling does not continue. It merely, sometimes. even frequently, exists. And then it, frequently, passes out of existence, to be replaced by a state absent restlessness (and not just in response to achieving goals. Sometimes people are just found without restless at a particular time). Then that will pass, maybe bring a new state of restlessness. And so and so. What Schopenhauer fails to recognise is that states of restlessness are also brief moments, fleeting and contingent states of existence, which pass not only in death but also in life.TheWillowOfDarkness

    I can accept the totality of contingency, but I think he conveys a truth-like phenomena which is to say that we are never completely contented. He did recognize satiation and repose, but he also recognized that as long as we are alive, full contentment was, for all practical purposes, impossible for the everyday man living his life.
  • Agustino
    11.3k
    I imagine here, he would think that contemplating geometric proofs, hypothetical chess games, and working on a new proof for advanced mathematical branches are our salvation and way into realizing "blessedness".schopenhauer1

    I think you should read Spinoza's letter 12 (http://www.sacred-texts.com/phi/spinoza/corr/corr27.htm) :p Spinoza does not have a very good view of pure mathematics:

    Whence it is clearly to be seen, that measure, time, and number, are merely modes of thinking, or, rather, of imagining . It is not to be wondered at, therefore, that all, who have endeavoured to understand the course of nature by means of such notions, and without fully understanding even them, have entangled themselves so wondrously, that they have at last only been able to extricate themselves by breaking through every rule and admitting absurdities even of the grossest kind — Spinoza

    However, a main difference I see is Schopenhauer's ability to take into account the intractable nature of suffering- that as long as we are alive, there is very little we can do to get around it. Life's eventual realities will confront us. We must seek goals while alive, this will lead to suffering in terms of the journey to obtain the goals, as well as the fact that we are "lacking" in the first place. When we get our goals, we quickly succumb to a sort of existential angst that reflects the instrumentality of existence in terms of the constant need to keep ourselves alive, comfortable, and entertained. Time presses on us and we feel its affects in our need for need and our existential angst when reflected on life itself without anything in particular to strive for. Schopenhauer's understanding is closer to home, it is the life we actually live, not a philosopher's dream of pure intellectual devotion. Schopenhauer's vision is closer to the reality of the human condition which takes into account the restless nature of the human psyche, the deprivation of contentment that motivates us all, and the contingent nature of existence impinging upon us. The contingent nature of reality along with our own inner restless nature is closer to what is going on.schopenhauer1
    I see Spinoza accounting for suffering just as well - humans, as finite modes of nature, are bound to be destroyed in the end and replaced. But their death is the source of the birth of new modes - it is new life. In Spinoza, the suffering of the individual is necessary for the good of the whole. Once it is realised that it is the "eternal decree of God", one can becomes detached from one's selfish ego-centrism, and one realises that, sub specie aeternitatis, one is eternal - the present carries within it all the past and all the future.

    Schopenhauer's vision of reality doesn't take into account the whole, except from an anthropocentric point of view -> the Will must be denied by the individual because it brings suffering to him. But why should the whole care about the suffering of the individual in the first place? -> Although this latter is a bit of a facile reading - if I am to be charitable I would say Schopenhauer meant to say that the denial-of-the-will is really being most true to the Will as noumenon :p
  • schopenhauer1
    2.8k
    I think you should read Spinoza's letter 12 (http://www.sacred-texts.com/phi/spinoza/corr/corr27.htm) :p Spinoza does not have a very good view of pure mathematics:Agustino

    I will take this into account, thanks. Even if it is not math per se, his use of geometric proof and wanting to have an intellectual love of god indicates a preference for logic-related ways of internalizing nature (and thus being "blessed").

    Schopenhauer's vision of reality doesn't take into account the whole, except from an anthropocentric point of view -> the Will must be denied by the individual because it brings suffering to him. But why should the whole care about the suffering of the individual in the first place?Agustino

    I'm not sure I quite get this the way you phrased it. The Will does not care for the individual, and I think that is Schopenhauer's point. Since it care not one bit for individual suffering, one must try to deny it, as that is the root of the suffering in his model.

    I would like to note, that a point of departure I probably have with @Thorongil and Schopenhauer himself (whom I agree with much of the time otherwise) in the fact that I do not think that suffering via contingent forces and our inner restlessness can be abated through ascetic practice. Once we come into existence, we are kind of stuck with our inner wills and contingent reality. I do not believe a Buddha or other mystic figure achieves any higher enlightened state that somehow overcomes this state. Antinatalism comes close to a sort of ethic that is realistic, as it isn't relying on metaphysical underpinnings (Will as noumena) but rather, is a concrete solution to ending future suffering. Although perhaps ascetic practices will help calm the mind, I don't see it as a final salve for all of the suffering from all psychological and contingent sources. We still have responsibilities and burdens of life, and unless one is asleep, this is simply what we were dealt when we were born.

    That being said, Spinoza's solution is also a non-starter. I don't see how understanding that we are one part of a bigger whole solves much of the suffering more than reading a good book about science satisfies us that we learned something new. We walk away from the interesting book with a bit of a buzz from the interesting insights we have learned, but then we are met with the problems of life. Nothing metaphysically changes.
  • Agustino
    11.3k
    @schopenhauer1
    I will take this into account, thanks. Even if it is not math per se, his use of geometric proof and wanting to have an intellectual love of god indicates a preference for logic-related ways of internalizing nature (and thus being "blessed").schopenhauer1

    It is very likely that Spinoza thought of the geometrical method as simply the best way to convey his philosophy - not that this was necessarily how his philosophy was conceived. But he did think that this was the best way to teach it to other people. Just like Schopenhauer said about his own philosophy - Spinoza's philosophy is a single thought, which requires going through all his propositions etc. in order to understand it.

    I'm not sure I quite get this the way you phrased it. The Will does not care for the individual, and I think that is Schopenhauer's point. Since it care not one bit for individual suffering, one must try to deny it, as that is the root of the suffering in his model.schopenhauer1

    And my point is that a priori, there is no reason that the Will should care about the suffering of the individual. You seem to think that it would be better if the Will did care, or more, that it is somehow tragic that the Will doesn't care. I'm saying that your demand/desire for the Will to care is nonsensical - we are not that important, we are specks of dust.

    I don't see how understanding that we are one part of a bigger whole solves much of the suffering more than reading a good book about science satisfies us that we learned something new.schopenhauer1
    It's not that which saves - but rather Spinoza's therapy of the emotions which diminishes ego-centrism and develops a love for the world which makes the self see itself as the production of Nature - Nature is more "the self" than the self itself is. Thus, when Nature chooses to destroy the self - the self loves this, for through its death, the triumph of Nature shows itself.
  • schopenhauer1
    2.8k
    Thus, when Nature chooses to destroy the self - the self loves this, for through its death, the triumph of Nature shows itself.Agustino

    This sounds a bit odd being that you accused Schopenhauer of anthropocentrism. It looks like here Spinoza is anthropomorphosizing "Nature". Why should Nature care about its triumph? Also, how does this realistically translate to the problem of suffering? I don't see the connection from A to C.
  • Agustino
    11.3k
    Nature doesn't care about its greatness. We do, because we love God. Remember God cannot love us back.
  • schopenhauer1
    2.8k
    Nature doesn't care about its greatness. We do, because we love God. Remember God cannot love us back.Agustino

    Now, this has gotten more convoluted. You must explain in non-self-referential language what you mean by "we love God".. and "God cannot love us back" and how this answers the problem of suffering directly. Again, even if this leads to some super interesting idea about being a "spec" in the "whole", it is no more noteworthy than a buzz one gets from reading about any number of interesting ideas about man's relation with the universe. What gives this particular idea (whatever that is really) anything more that solves the problem of suffering or is of extreme ethical import?
  • Agustino
    11.3k
    Amor Dei Intellectualis is one way - our love for God, without the expectation of any love back, simply because God cannot love us back.
  • schopenhauer1
    2.8k
    Amor Dei Intellectualis is one way - our love for God, without the expectation of any love back, simply because God cannot love us back.Agustino

    I don't think this adequately answered my last post which was this: You must explain in non-self-referential language what you mean by "we love God".. and "God cannot love us back" and how this answers the problem of suffering directly. Again, even if this leads to some super interesting idea about being a "spec" in the "whole", it is no more noteworthy than a buzz one gets from reading about any number of interesting ideas about man's relation with the universe. What gives this particular idea (whatever that is really) anything more that solves the problem of suffering or is of extreme ethical import?
  • TheWillowOfDarkness
    1.8k
    What gives this particular idea (whatever that is really) anything more that solves the problem of suffering or is of extreme ethical import? — schopenhauer1

    Nothing. The point is not that it can solved. Rather the point is: the expectation it will be solved is nonsensical and only makes us needlessly anxious. It is to desire a fantasy world which will never be. Better to direct our attention towards mitigating suffering and enjoying the moments we are given respite from it. Pining for a suffering-less world which we will never (worse, a world we know we will never have; to expect a world without suffering is our own wilful ignorance about life) have only results in more suffering than there need be.
  • darthbarracuda
    2.9k
    Maybe it was just his accent getting in the way, but isn't Zizek basically defining eudaimonia? A "flourishing" of the spirit, a sense of poise, readiness, acceptance, an underlying sense of purpose and accomplishment? He describes becoming excited about a new idea and ready to suffer: but this is exactly what eudaimonia is. Aristotle thought happiness (eudaimonia) was the settling of the soul in the most appropriate spot.
  • schopenhauer1
    2.8k
    Nothing. The point is not that it can solved. Rather the point is: the expectation it will be solved is nonsensical and only makes us needlessly anxious. It is to desire a fantasy world which will never be. Better to direct our attention towards mitigating suffering and enjoying the moments we are given respite from it. Pining for a suffering-less world which we will never (worse, a world we know we will never have; to expect a world without suffering is our own wilful ignorance about life) have only results in more suffering than there need be.TheWillowOfDarkness

    The fact that we have to deal with life in the first place leads to philosophical pessimism. The fact that we are dealing with it, is just a given if we are alive and awake. The idea that we don't want to make new individuals have to deal with life leads to antinatalist stances. There is nothing wrong with taking account of the situation and explicating about it. If you don't want to see it, then don't engage with it. However, saying "stop writing about it and deal with it" doesn't make the statements any less true. Trying to ignore it won't make it go away. By definition, whether one acknowledges it in some cohesive theory or not, people must deal with life- its responsibilities, burdens, and suffering. People will also, whether they acknowledge it, seek positive experiences, pleasure, happiness, contentedness or what have you thus I am acknowledging people make do with what they are given.
  • Agustino
    11.3k
    The fact that we have to deal with life in the first place leads to philosophical pessimism.schopenhauer1
    I don't follow. It clearly doesn't for many people. Unless you can prove that this necessarily follows, then you are engaging in a hasty generalisation. Pessimism is an attitude, and as an attitude, it emerges from how one feels regarding life. But one doesn't necessarily have to feel repulsion when put face to face with life's inevitable difficulties. It may be a struggle to run, but that doesn't mean that one necessarily doesn't enjoy running, or doesn't look forward to it.

    Notice that pessimism does play a psychologically defensive role, just like optimism - in order not to be disappointed, one must avoid the world, through a variety of mechanisms: not engaging in so and so actions because they can lead to sorrow; not believing so and so, because one may be disappointed; not forming relationships because it creates vulnerabilities, etc.

    The idea that we don't want to make new individuals have to deal with life leads to antinatalist stancesschopenhauer1
    There are logical problems with this. It presupposes that new individuals could possibly not deal with life. It is impossible, it's not in the set of possible propositions. As such, it's opposite, is a tautology, and thus has no explanatory value compared to a mere restatement of a personal dislike towards bringing other beings into existence. Perhaps a projection of one's insecurities as a parent onto the world.

    There is nothing wrong with taking account of the situation and explicating about it. If you don't want to see it, then don't engage with it. However, saying "stop writing about it and deal with it" doesn't make the statements any less true. Trying to ignore it won't make it go awayschopenhauer1

    Well some of us don't have to ignore it, simply because we don't feel this way about the world. Just because you feel so about the world, doesn't mean everyone ought to feel so. I understand that there is a large temptation for those who hold minority positions to attempt to enforce them as necessary on others, in an effort to convert others to their own faith, and thus have more people whom they can relate with, and whom they can feel good around. It happens to me too. I much rather prefer traditional societies to today's overly liberal societies - what that means is that I would like to live in a community of people following these values - but that is not to say that I ought to convince everyone else to follow me. In fact, even if I tried, I would never succeed. Arguments do not convince people. I'm much better off looking for those few people who are already convinced, and learning to live without them until I find them. This is integrity, and courage.

    By definition, whether one acknowledges it in some cohesive theory or not, people must deal with life- its responsibilities, burdens, and suffering.schopenhauer1

    Yes, indeed. But some people like dealing with life's responsibilities, burdens, and struggles. Just because you don't, doesn't mean that everyone is like this. Personally, I much rather prefer a quiet life, as opposed to one with lots and lots of struggles. I don't like struggling, I'm lazy by nature, and I don't like getting a sense of fulfillment from overcoming challenges. It makes me feel as if I am lacking something, and I must struggle in order to obtain it. I don't like that. But it's something personal - I noticed that most people are not like me - for them, it's extremely meaningful to struggle - for them, this is the point of life.
  • schopenhauer1
    2.8k
    I don't follow. It clearly doesn't for many people. Unless you can prove that this necessarily follows, then you are engaging in a hasty generalisation. Pessimism is an attitude, and as an attitude, it emerges from how one feels regarding life. But one doesn't necessarily have to feel repulsion when put face to face with life's inevitable difficulties. It may be a struggle to run, but that doesn't mean that one necessarily doesn't enjoy running, or doesn't look forward to it.

    Notice that pessimism does play a psychologically defensive role, just like optimism - in order not to be disappointed, one must avoid the world, through a variety of mechanisms: not engaging in so and so actions because they can lead to sorrow; not believing so and so, because one may be disappointed; not forming relationships because it creates vulnerabilities, etc.
    Agustino

    I am not proving it necessarily follows necessarily. I was more reiterating what Thorongil was mentioning in his initial post for why philosophical pessimism as a concept exists, However, as someone else was explaining on these forums, people also tend to say certain things and feel differently when they are actually living their life. For the sake of argument, for an "official" banner, they will embrace an optimistic stance when in these type of debates. This doesn't necessarily mean that people really live optimistically. That is not to say people don't fully have a positive outlook at all times and let nothing get to them, but me suspects this ain't the case in many cases. Actually, I think people's attitudes are generally in a flux depending on a number of physical, situational, and mental factors. Someone can be happy now making hand puppets and then break their leg walking down the street. They can feel miserable and hate their situation and then they can recover and feel the joy of friends at their bedside, but then get bored in the hospital room and have a moment of existential ennui, in which case they crack open a book and read about their favorite philosopher, by which time they get thirsty, and they can't get comfortable in their bed, but then they get used to it, but now something itches, then they worry about the work they are missing, some anxiety takes place and heartbeat quickens as they see in their minds the work piling up, then they think of that person they work with that really makes their day not so good, then they think of strategies to try to deal with it, oh wait the nurse came with a more comfortable pillow and some juice, great.. oh wait the juice is really watered down and kind of nasty, but wait, the nurse left.. come back, I still want more.. oh well, I can press the button but I don't want to be a nuisance, oh the philosopher book, I forgot about that. I'm going to read that. Oh crap, I have to go to the bathroom, I'll just get up myself.. oh crap my leg really hurts and I have a headache..


    Agustino thinks:
    There are logical problems with this. It presupposes that new individuals could possibly not deal with life. It is impossible, it's not in the set of possible propositions. As such, it's opposite, is a tautology, and thus has no explanatory value compared to a mere restatement of a personal dislike towards bringing other beings into existence. Perhaps a projection of one's insecurities as a parent onto the world.Agustino

    I did not say they could not "deal with life" but rather that they have to deal with life. Let us say there is a middle position between your assertion of people enjoying every aspect of life and my assertion that there are many aspects of life that people would otherwise not want to deal with but have to anyways. Let us say that there are some things people don't mind dealing with and others that people do mind. Is it like a mission to create people who will deal with life? To be frutiful and multiply? No, it is not. So, if there is a mix in each life, and some more negative than others in terms of their subjective preference for dealing with life, than why try to put someone (another individual with their own attitudes and thoughts towards society, the world, themselves) into the world in the first place?


    Well some of us don't have to ignore it, simply because we don't feel this way about the world. Just because you feel so about the world, doesn't mean everyone ought to feel so. I understand that there is a large temptation for those who hold minority positions to attempt to enforce them as necessary on others, in an effort to convert others to their own faith, and thus have more people whom they can relate with, and whom they can feel good around. It happens to me too. I much rather prefer traditional societies to today's overly liberal societies - what that means is that I would like to live in a community of people following these values - but that is not to say that I ought to convince everyone else to follow me. In fact, even if I tried, I would never succeed. Arguments do not convince people. I'm much better off looking for those few people who are already convinced, and learning to live without them until I find them. This is integrity, and courage.Agustino

    So, all things being equal, just because someone likes dealing with burdens and responsibilities they should put this onto another person?

    Also, you didn't answer my question regarding Spinoza a few posts back.
  • TheWillowOfDarkness
    1.8k
    The fact that we have to deal with life in the first place leads to philosophical pessimism. The fact that we are dealing with it, is just a given if we are alive and awake. The idea that we don't want to make new individuals have to deal with life leads to antinatalist stances. There is nothing wrong with taking account of the situation and explicating about it. If you don't want to see it, then don't engage with it. However, saying "stop writing about it and deal with it" doesn't make the statements any less true. Trying to ignore it won't make it go away. By definition, whether one acknowledges it in some cohesive theory or not, people must deal with life- its responsibilities, burdens, and suffering. People will also, whether they acknowledge it, seek positive experiences, pleasure, happiness, contentedness or what have you thus I am acknowledging people make do with what they are given. — schopenhauer1

    Philosophical pessimism is its own particular state of discourse. It is the existence of a particular experience. An idea in someone's head which is actually distinct from their other states (and so the many instances of suffering in their life). The fact people are dealing with life does not necessarily result in philosophical pessimism. Philosophical pessimism is a certain state in addition to all other states (including suffering) of their life.

    I'm not arguing anyone should needs to stop writing about the inevitable suffering of life and "just deal with it." My point is that Schopenhauer's philosophy turns philosophical pessimism into a state of anxiety. Rather than accept that suffering is an inevitable part of life, he ties himself up in knots over our inability to avoid it. To Schopenhauer we are failures because we cannot compete the task of eliminating suffering.

    I am specifically arguing Schopenhauer's philosophical pessimism is a state of needless suffering.

    Why chastise ourselves for being incapable of a life without suffering? Do we not already suffer enough, without adding restlessness and anxiety over our inability to avoid suffering? Why not a form of philosophical pessimism which recognises we cannot escape suffering, but avoids the practice of beating ourselves up for that inability?

    In the most profound way, you do not acknowledge people make do with what they a given. You utterly reject the idea of being comfortable with what we are given. Is life, suffering, something we can accept as inevitable? You don't think so. In your heart you are still desperate to avoid it. You think the world owes us a way to avoid suffering, even when it is impossible. Supposedly, we are miserable failures because we lack the ability to end suffering. You are not comfortable with idea suffering is an inevitable part of life (which is what we are given).

    Schopenhauer's philosophical pessimism is a manifestation of pining for this impossible world. It is not a description of how life is suffering. It is a demand for extra suffering; that we ought to be restless and anxious, on-top of any (other) states of suffering we might encounter, because there is suffering we can't avoid.

    That being said, Spinoza's solution is also a non-starter. I don't see how understanding that we are one part of a bigger whole solves much of the suffering more than reading a good book about science satisfies us that we learned something new. We walk away from the interesting book with a bit of a buzz from the interesting insights we have learned, but then we are met with the problems of life. Nothing metaphysically changes. — schopenhauer1

    It doesn't solve much suffering at all. Maybe it might change someone understanding of the world such they experience a little bit less suffering, such as replacing anxiety over not belonging to the finite, but it is a description of ourselves and the world, rather than a means which will necessarily resolve suffering in the world. With respect to preventing most suffering, it has no role. Spinoza isn't even a "non-starter" with regards to solving the inevitable suffering of life. Such a goal was never the point and isn't attempted by the argument.

    And of course nothing "metaphysical"changes. "Metaphysics (i.e. logic)" never changes. The metaphysical is the infinite, unlike any state of suffering, which is of the world, which is finite.
  • schopenhauer1
    2.8k
    Philosophical pessimism is a certain state in addition to all other states (including suffering) of their life.TheWillowOfDarkness

    I don't mean that philosophical pessimism automatically comes about, I am saying that the idea is a result form dealing with life's problems, not that it is a necessary conclusion from it. The reason it came about is the problem of suffering for those who come to that conclusion.

    I'm not arguing anyone should needs to stop writing about the inevitable suffering of life and "just deal with it." My point is that Schopenhauer's philosophy turns philosophical pessimism into a state of anxiety. Rather than accept that suffering is an inevitable part of life, he ties himself up in knots over our inability to avoid it. To Schopenhauer we are failures because we cannot compete the task of eliminating suffering.

    I am specifically arguing Schopenhauer's philosophical pessimism is a state of needless suffering.
    TheWillowOfDarkness

    I think you have it backwards. Philosophical pessimism is the ultimate version of the idea that suffering is inevitable. Your contention should not be with phil. pess. but with the more "optimistic" worldviews that overlooks suffering or tries to downplay it in official rhetoric. However, as stated with Agustino, this doesn't mean they don't deal with it just because they spew out optimistic rhetoric..after the dust is cleared, they still have to live the down and dirty business of life like the rest of us lesser fortunate souls.

    Why chastise ourselves for being incapable of a life without suffering? Do we not already suffer enough, without adding restlessness and anxiety over our inability to avoid suffering? Why not a form of philosophical pessimism which recognises we cannot escape suffering, but avoids the practice of beating ourselves up for that inability?TheWillowOfDarkness

    Again, I just read this as "just deal with it and stop talking about it".

    Schopenhauer's philosophical pessimism is a manifestation of pining for this impossible world. It is not a description of how life is suffering. It is a demand for extra suffering; that we ought to be restless and anxious, on-top of any (other) states of suffering we might encounter, because there is suffering we can't avoid.TheWillowOfDarkness

    He is just describing what goes on on a meta level, like stepping back and trying to look at the situation from afar. Whether one "knows" the situation from the meta level or one is actually just living out the situation, that doesn't change or amplify the suffering. One person is just living through the suffering and the other is just recognizing what is going on.
    It doesn't solve much suffering at all. Maybe it might change someone understanding of the world such they experience a little bit less suffering, such as replacing anxiety over not belonging to the finite, but it is a description of ourselves and the world, rather than a means which will necessarily resolve suffering in the world. With respect to preventing most suffering, it has no role. Spinoza isn't even a "non-starter" with regards to solving the inevitable suffering of life. Such a goal was never the point and isn't attempted by the argument.

    And of course nothing "metaphysical"changes. "Metaphysics (i.e. logic)" never changes. The metaphysical is the infinite, unlike any state of suffering, which is of the world, which is finite.
    TheWillowOfDarkness

    I don't think so, Spinoza's whole "Ethics" is trying to lead the reader from a metaphysical premise of monism through a bunch of proofs that gets to a sort of conclusion about the intellectual love of god and blessedness. He discusses passions and trying to constrain them, and the more we realize we are part of a whole, the less we will be guided by lower passions. At least, that is my take on it. From what I know of Spinoza, he was a great thinker and system builder and his use of the geometric proof was unique and very interesting. His Tractatus Theological-Politicus anticipated a lot of the Enlightenment's view of religion and seemed ushered in modern criticism. I have complete respect for Spinoza. I just don't see what the intellectual love of god really means in practical terms.
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