• schopenhauer1
    4.8k
    Claim: Most atheistic (non-religious/spiritual) forms of optimism rely on the collective knowledge and wisdom of humans going back to the dawn of time as some sort of mission statement. This is a form of naturalistic fallacy. Simply because humans survive via cultural propagation of ideas passed down in social settings, doesn't mean ergo, that is why we should continue on. Often, there is an implicit and hidden notion that indeed that is what we are doing. The academic types are especially prone to this fallacy being that they like delving into various minutia parts of this historically-based knowledge. It is the way we survive, sure, but does that make everything thus good because we have collective ideas that we pass on, in and of itself? Is that something of an existential mission statement?
  • TheMadFool
    7.9k
    I never understood the naturalistic fallacy. It just doesn't make sense seeing that morality, with its list of do's and don't's, represents a deep dissatisfaction with the status quo and the desire for change that follows from it. It can't be true that ethics can ever be about deriving an ought from an is for the simple reason that ethics is, at the end of the day, a reaction to precisely the is, these reactions taking the form of (our) impressions about how the world ought to be. Note, it's true that oughts follow iss but the relationship between them is actually acrimonius rather than harmonious, a state of affairs that suffices to debunk the alleged is-ought fallacy in morality. There's no such thing!. Am I off topic? Sorry if I am.
  • Coben
    1.6k
    Claim: Most atheistic (non-religious/spiritual) forms of optimism rely on the collective knowledge and wisdom of humans going back to the dawn of time as some sort of mission statement.schopenhauer1
    I guess I consider most forms of optimism as tempermental. Not that they don't have belief-support also. My beliefs are, at least, in the main optimistic, but my temperment is pessimistic and most people, especially my wife would consider me a pessimist (actually I think she would say 'a catastrophic thinker.'

    And I don't recognize the pattern of people being optimistic because of idea propagation. Not as a basis for people's outlooks. I think most people who are optimistic have less of an overview justificaiton for their optimism. Rather they are focused on day to day life, with a kind of built in sense/belief that their lives can (and probably will) get better. A kind of prognostic confimation bias. They can see the improved future, so they believe it is more likely than others. They are not, generally looking all the way down the pike at their own deaths, let alone at their children's deaths. They focus, if they focus beyond the near future, in the middle distance. I am not saying that people don't justify their optimism the way you say, and I think you are correct that it is more likely that academics think that way, especially since they are in the propogation of ideas game. Doing that well at that affects their salaries, their customers' (students', for example) respect for them, and they are reading and thinking about idea propogation all the time. Even there I think most who are optimistic are immersed in life and following what I describe above. I think the animal in us is also powerful. We are life, we want to live, if we are alive and not suffering immensely, we are looking for improvement/pleasure/connection/accomplishments and focused on shorter term acquisitions of these things, with some theater of the mind confimation bias. It is inherent, I think, in organisms to move forward with some positivity. They are counterpatterns and suffering and problems and frustration but even people living much worse lives than most people writing in an online philosophy forums generally are living often are pretty optimistic. They reset their goals, enjoy what they can, and try to improve via increments, some managing only the shortest term hedonistic versions of this, but still focused on that.

    So, I am not sure I buy the mission statement theory. My guess is people are much more cognitively messy than that implies and much more driven by specific goals and varied focus.

    I'd also like to hear more about the naturalistic fallacy. This doesn't quite sound like it to me. It sounds like

    People buy that mission statement X makes life worthwhile (presumably despite Z and B and H).

    It seems like a value conflict (with an anti-natalist, for example, who might evaluate the good based on suffering and final results).

    So, I see a value conflict and not one side having a naturalistic fallacy.

    IOW you can have a negative naturalistic fallacy also. Life is painful therefore it is bad. Bad feeling means bad life.

    I see jousting naturalistic fallacies if anything.

    But could you expand on how you see their optimism as a naturalistic fallacy a bit more?

    i would guess that optimism is probably a positive survival trait, though it might help the herd/pack/group to have some scattered pessimists. IOW optimism may be kind of hard wired with beliefs as constructions made after to justify what is already there, and in the sloppy way most people (including me) organize their generally conflicting motely beliefs. So its like you have this animal that can think. Yes, thoughts can affect attitudes and emotions and temperments, but I think temperments lay a base, then the thinking animal finds thoughts that fit their temperment. I don't think most go all the way to make it all organized aroudn a mission statement. They are focused on the day to day. But I don't see them as getting a meme and they having an attitude like pessimism or optimism. I think causation runs both ways, but temperment (and the animal temperments benefis around survival high up there) leading to cognitions and also FOCUS choices and bias.
  • schopenhauer1
    4.8k
    I think most people who are optimistic have less of an overview justificaiton for their optimism. Rather they are focused on day to day life, with a kind of built in sense/belief that their lives can (and probably will) get better. A kind of prognostic confimation bias. They can see the improved future, so they believe it is more likely than others. They are not, generally looking all the way down the pike at their own deaths, let alone at their children's deaths. They focus, if they focus beyond the near future, in the middle distance.Coben

    Yes, I was mostly aiming this at the academic types. People who tend to hangout in these forums perhaps, or similar.

    I am not saying that people don't justify their optimism the way you say, and I think you are correct that it is more likely that academics think that way, especially since they are in the propogation of ideas game. Doing that well at that affects their salaries, their customers' (students', for example) respect for them, and they are reading and thinking about idea propogation all the time. Even there I think most who are optimistic are immersed in life and following what I describe above. I think the animal in us is also powerful.Coben

    True enough.

    I think the animal in us is also powerful. We are life, we want to live, if we are alive and not suffering immensely, we are looking for improvement/pleasure/connection/accomplishments and focused on shorter term acquisitions of these things, with some theater of the mind confimation bias. It is inherent, I think, in organisms to move forward with some positivity. They are counterpatterns and suffering and problems and frustration but even people living much worse lives than most people writing in an online philosophy forums generally are living often are pretty optimistic. They reset their goals, enjoy what they can, and try to improve via increments, some managing only the shortest term hedonistic versions of this, but still focused on that.Coben

    Ok.

    So, I am not sure I buy the mission statement theory. My guess is people are much more cognitively messy than that implies and much more driven by specific goals and varied focus.Coben

    Yes, they need to survive, get comfortable, and entertain themselves, an this takes a variety of nuanced and contingent forms. However, the mission statement was one that a lot of academic-types or science-oriented might take- its the humanist mission statement. It's the Star Trek themed statement: To boldly go where no man has gone before! But more importantly, its the haughty idea that because we have all these cultural ways of surviving, there must be some purpose to it. The fact that we have HVAC, physics, sewers, computers, refrigerators, engineering feats, arts, architecture, and every manner of technological, artistic, and cultural feat that we do, there is a purpose and meaning there. There must be a there there, because look what we can do!!

    So, I see a value conflict and not one side having a naturalistic fallacy.

    IOW you can have a negative naturalistic fallacy also. Life is painful therefore it is bad. Bad feeling means bad life.

    I see jousting naturalistic fallacies if anything.

    But could you expand on how you see their optimism as a naturalistic fallacy a bit more?
    Coben

    Yes, so negative views, aren't necessary thinking naturalistic. Life is painful, and pain is bad, not necessarily "therefore" it is bad. It is foundational for sure, but not because it is natural.

    What I mean with the positive views falling into this (in regards to technology, civilization, and our inherited knowledge) is that cultural transmission of information is our species' main way of surviving. We don't have many instinctual skillsets. Rather we construct of cultural artifacts, storing of past cultural knowledge, building on that, etc. This is our mode of survival. To be in awe of this as thus some mission statement: "Look what we can do, thus we must be here for a purpose!" is just being enamored with how we get by in in the first place.

    i would guess that optimism is probably a positive survival trait, though it might help the herd/pack/group to have some scattered pessimists. IOW optimism may be kind of hard wired with beliefs as constructions made after to justify what is already there, and in the sloppy way most people (including me) organize their generally conflicting motely beliefs. So its like you have this animal that can think. Yes, thoughts can affect attitudes and emotions and temperments, but I think temperments lay a base, then the thinking animal finds thoughts that fit their temperment. I don't think most go all the way to make it all organized aroudn a mission statement. They are focused on the day to day. But I don't see them as getting a meme and they having an attitude like pessimism or optimism. I think causation runs both ways, but temperment (and the animal temperments benefis around survival high up there) leading to cognitions and also FOCUS choices and bias.Coben

    Yeah, most people are just living in their social settings, trying to survive, get comfortable, and find entertainment. This is more aimed at those who think that because we can do what we do, there must be more to the picture.
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