• darthbarracuda
    2.4k
    The magnitude of suffering is so great that there is extremely little one can concretely do to alleviate it in any meaningful sense.Thorongil

    This is where you are incorrect. There are lots of effective altruism groups and other similar organizations that operate on donations from people like you and me.

    So you're a utilitarian. Great, but he wasn't. Nor am I.Thorongil

    I'm a welfare consequentialist, yes. And my claim is that any sort of active welfarism is what separates active pessimism from comfortable "not my fucking problem" pessimism.

    Even if this were true, again, so what? That shouldn't matter for a utilitarian. Also, what pillow do you sleep on?Thorongil

    I sleep on a pillow imported from the far east, with downy feathers and a silk cover. Some say the prince of Persia once rested his head upon its soft embrace.

    Adorno is an idiot. To not write poetry after Auschwitz is barbaric.Thorongil

    Adorno was being hyperbolic. I was using it to convey a point that you're missing here.

    Poppycock. If you really believed this, you would cease posting on a forum like this. Or perhaps you will admit to your own hypocrisy, in which case your criticisms of Schopenhauer et al lose all their force.Thorongil

    Eh, no, since I already said you can pursue these things, so long as you're not doing it exclusively. There's obviously a thresh-hold, I'm not saying we should all become altruistic slaves. I'm saying there were things that these pessimists could have done that would not have affected their lives in any unreasonable manner, and they did not do so.

    Because most college professors are optimistic, left leaning progressives. I will say that there is a certain kind of pessimism which some of them exude, owing to the influence of certain postmodernist hacks, which I absolutely abhor. It's not "classical pessimism," as you put it, but a pessimism about the merits and achievements of science, Western civilization, truth, reason, the enlightenment, democracy, and so on.Thorongil

    What about scholars of thinkers like Nietzsche or Freud? Don't they have to read Schopenhauer, for example? Or for that matter, Germany as a whole which sees Schopenhauer as one of the great minds of their history?

    I'm curious as to why someone we both see as accurately portraying the human condition could be so neglected. IIRC it was Schopenhauer himself who said most philosophers weren't actually doing philosophy.
  • schopenhauer1
    1.4k
    Right, this is why more "sophisticated" consequentialists typically advocate change through institutions and organizations. A mass effort. For the consequentialist, the state of affairs is what matters. What is moral is not always what makes you feel good. Of course, people are needed to actually go out and interact with those in need. But it's similar to a military campaign. For every soldier, there are ten support units behind him. The support units are necessary and important but don't get the "glory" so to speak. They are the units "behind the scenes".

    I have an acquaintance who decided to switch majors to social work because he wanted to "help people". True, social work will help people, but he was more concerned about human interaction and all that. The "good feelings" of helping people. But let's not forget that impersonal donations of money or labor can do just as much, if not more, good. Giving $20 to a homeless person might make you feel good. Donating this $20 to a food charity will help far more people, though, and it will guarantee this money will go to good use. But it doesn't "feel" as good...
    darthbarracuda

    Yes, this becomes a political and organizational question. This involves policy, appropriations, non-profit donations, collaboration- actions that actually are being done currently by groups and interested parties (whether effective or with as much revenue is another question). One can give to charity and seek to influence political institutions as an individual donor, but it will take a community of people and vision. Therefore, your consequentialism entails that many people should organize in old-fashioned grassroots politics and thus is a bigger issue than $20 contributions each year. Rather, it entails civic involvement by all concerned parties. In short, your ideas are really political more than anything. It is a more an appeal to "Get out the vote" and be more involved in the community.

    Some Pessimists might be at odds with especially utilitarian consequentialism altogether because utilitarian consequentialism assumes that improvements can take place when in actuality we are never really improving. The human condition is such that it does not happen. It is veiled utopianism, the most optimistic of optimistic ideas. It is to buy into the carrot and stick.. if we just work harder to live together better now, we can make it work for a future, more ideal state. That is just something you will rarely see a Pessimist say. So no, they are probably not breaking their own ideals- they probably never had them. If you want to REFUTE their ideals, that is one thing, but I do not think they are being hypocritical to their own ideals. So again, to entail utilitarianism with Pessimism is to unfairly tie two concepts together that are not necessarily entailed. Pessimism actually has very little in the way of ethics- it is mostly an aesthetic comprehension of the world. What one does about it is more open for interpretation. What it does have (i.e. Schopenhauer's compassionate ideal), is not necessarily utilitarian anyways.

    This aesthetic comprehension, despite your protestations, does have to do with the ennui/instrumentality/vanity/absurdity of existence. It is the idea that there is an uncalmness to existence. With the animal, especially the human animal, this becomes its own self-contained suffering in the organism. There is the need to survive, and then this need to thrash about on the stage of the world with whatever entertainments we can pursue. We not only deal with present pains, but must anticipate future ones and worry about the past. What there is not, is ability for complete repose. This would be sleep. We MUST get up, we MUST survive, we MUST entertain. On top of this kernel of uncalmness, is the complexities of contingent harms that we must face. Is this the real metaphysical "truth" of the world, or is this just the product of a certain temperament? I brought that up in a previous thread, but indeed, there is a Pessimist aesthetic and a certain byline that runs through it.

    As you note, Schopenhauer's ethic came from lessening one's will by way of being less individuated- it was not necessarily about the outcome of compassionate acts. It is much more of a metaphysical problem he is working on. Each person, being a manifestation of Will in some illusory individuation that causes suffering, is supposed to extinguish one's Will by being less individuated and more concerned in others. However, Schopenhauer also thought that character was generally fixed, and only the rare individual had the capacity to be truly compassionate, or at least compassionate in a way that makes them less individuated. Compassionate acts are one step, but even this is not complete in his conception, to be complete everyone must be an ascetic and renounce one's will-to-live. This of course, is a tall order.

    Though I know you disagree with the execution of Benatar's consequentialism/utilitarianism in regards to his asymmetry logic, you may want to see what he has to say about ethics outside of antinatalism, as you can see where another antinatalist/pessimist that is consequentialist/utilitarian balances consequences and personal responsibility. I honestly don't know much else about what his ethics entails based on his premises. He is obviously most famous for applying his assumptions to antinatalism in particular. How he handles altruism in general would be interesting to explore.

    Personally, I do not think you have to go so deep as to finding starving children and drowning victims. I find it interesting to note that we humans can suffer so much from the minutiae of life. Working with other people, trying to overcome daily dilemmas, trying to deal with annoyances great and small, all the harms I brought up in previous threads- the problems we face are continuous in any economic circumstance- they just get more refined. Yes, water/food/basic needs are the foundation, but the problems do not end, they simply get pushed up the chain. I am not saying we should not work so people get to have less dire problems, but the problems will persist, they just get more nuanced. The Pessimist rightly sees that the problems do not go away. You can pat yourself on the back, have a secular "Kingdom of God" complex by working to end this or that problem, but the problems of existence do not go away. Existence itself does not provide a smooth existence simply because one's basic needs are met. If this was so, Pessimists would simply not hold the notion of Pessimism. There are more problems, especially for the complex human animal, than basic needs. Though this should be met, there are just so many subtle and nuanced ways people can experience harm, including the very instrumentality of existence itself. We have a mouth and an asshole.. stuff comes in, and shit comes. This is like instrumentality in the flesh! Add to the fact our big brains- we have complex social relations and technology. Thus we must deal with our own complex individual psychological/physical welfare, we have to deal with the complex and often negative social relations, we have to navigate the complex technological behemoth of our economy, all in the pursuit of survival and keeping ourselves entertained. We suffer in more complex ways than the animals, and we are aware of it! Bringing another person into existence is bringing another person into the burdens of life. It is literally giving another person burdens to deal with, so they can what? every once in a while feel the goods that life can offer?

    Also, there are goods that tend to ameliorate the general angst of life more than others, and, if one were a utilitarian/consequentialist, at the least, I would think that one would want to promote these goods for others. It is not just that one should have the basic goods of life, but if those basic goods are met, what then? It is to pursue some sort of content, even if, as I stated earlier, it just makes one addicted. It is at least a consolation people can have. Thus I see no need in bashing those who indulge in them- even while perhaps, wanting to promote others' welfare. Thus, long-term relationships, friendships, flow activities, being immersed in the aesthetic calm of music/art, and learning can be goods that may be worth promoting for others, or at least hoping they can achieve. Most importantly, if you do not indulge in those goods yourself, your very logic of helping people makes no sense- it becomes an absurd circular logic. We must help people so they can help people, so they can help people. At the least, you want to help people so they can get some enjoyment for life, and thus this implies, you should also get enjoyment of life, just as you want to see enjoyment from others. Now, this does not mean that these goods are worth it to bring new life. They are simply consolations for already being here. In fact, they are always imperfect goods- relationships can lead to strife, art/music can get old lose its luster, flow activities can be hard to achieve and the momentum one had can be lost, learning can simply become tedious.
  • Thorongil
    2.4k
    This is where you are incorrect. There are lots of effective altruism groups and other similar organizations that operate on donations from people like you and me.darthbarracuda

    Wait a minute, if your solution to the world's suffering is charity, then Schopenhauer's giving his money to charity upon his death is more effective than anything either of us could or likely will do. I have substantial student loan debt, a microscopic bank account, very few possessions to my name, and no desire to be extremely wealthy, so I'm not the sort of person for whom these organizations operate.

    But think of the ridiculousness of your suggestion. The existence of charities at all begs the question of what underlying features of society, human nature, and the world are broken and corrupt enough that they necessitate their existence. If humans were capable of alleviating suffering through charity, then they would be capable of solving the problems that necessitate charity. But they are not and so you are chasing a fool's dream.

    I'm a welfare consequentialist, yes.darthbarracuda

    But this means your criticism has been meaningless from the start, since you have been assuming an ethic contrary to those about whom you criticize. In order for your criticism to stick, you would first have to show how their ethical systems are false.

    I sleep on a pillow imported from the far east, with downy feathers and a silk cover. Some say the prince of Persia once rested his head upon its soft embrace.darthbarracuda

    So you're a hypocrite.

    I was using it to convey a point that you're missing here.darthbarracuda

    Which was?

    since I already said you can pursue these things, so long as you're not doing it exclusivelydarthbarracuda

    And why should anyone listen to what you think other people should do? More importantly, what makes you think they will?

    I'm saying there were things that these pessimists could have done that would not have affected their lives in any unreasonable manner, and they did not do so.darthbarracuda

    Like what? Selling their pillows for crappier ones? Come on, man.

    What about scholars of thinkers like Nietzsche or Freud? Don't they have to read Schopenhauer, for example?darthbarracuda

    Some of them do, but if you look for scholars who do work on Nietzsche, then more often than not, they ignore Schopenhauer. The simple fact is that, in academic philosophy at present, Schopenhauer is estranged from both the analytic and continental camps. He doesn't belong to, nor founded, any "school," and for this reason is ignored. The analytic camp follows a line of influence from Hume to Kant to Frege, Russell, Wittgenstein, and the logical positivists. The continental camp follows a line from Kant to Fichte, Schelling, and Hegel, then to Marx, Nietzsche, and Freud, and finally to the postmodernists of the last century.
  • Agustino
    8.4k
    But think of the ridiculousness of your suggestion. The existence of charities at all begs the question of what underlying features of society, human nature, and the world are broken and corrupt enough that they necessitate their existence. If humans were capable of alleviating suffering through charity, then they would be capable of solving the problems that necessitate charity. But they are not and so you are chasing a fool's dream.Thorongil

    'But my nose is running!' What do you have hands for, idiot, if not to wipe it? 'But how is it right that there be running noses in the first place?' Instead of thinking up protests, wouldn't it be easier just to wipe your nose?

    What would have become of Hercules, do you think, if there had been no lion, hydra, stag or boar - and no savage criminals to rid the world of? What would he have done in the absence of such challenges? Obviously he would have just rolled over in bed and gone back to sleep. So by snoring his life away in luxury and comfort he never would have developed into the mighty Hercules

    [...]

    Now that you know all this, come and appreciate the resources you have, and when that is done, say, 'Bring on whatever difficulties you like Zeus; I have resources and a constitution that you gave me by means of which I can do myself credit whatever happens!'
    — Epictetus

    Some of them do, but if you look for scholars who do work on Nietzsche, then more often than not, they ignore Schopenhauer.Thorongil
    This is correct.

    I sleep on a pillow imported from the far east, with downy feathers and a silk cover. Some say the prince of Persia once rested his head upon its soft embrace.darthbarracuda
    It seems we have a millionaire in our midsts! :D
  • Terrapin Station
    3.7k
    Discussdarthbarracuda

    tl:dr version: folks are hypocrites.
  • Agustino
    8.4k
    tl:dr version: folks are hypocrites.Terrapin Station
    >:O
  • Thorongil
    2.4k
    EpictetusAgustino

    I don't see the relevance of that quote.
  • Agustino
    8.4k
    It underlies the difference between the pessimist and the Stoic - the pessimist is like the person who asks why there are running noses in the first place. The Stoic is the one who deals with it. The Stoic doesn't take the underlying principles of any kind of society to be broken.
  • Thorongil
    2.4k
    The pessimist's response is that there is no "dealing with it," in the sense of solving it. Stop immanentizing the eschaton. There will not be, and more importantly, cannot be a utopia on this planet.
  • Agustino
    8.4k
    The pessimist's response is that there is no "dealing with it," in the sense of solving it. Stop immanentizing the eschaton. There will not be, and more importantly, cannot be a utopia on this planet.Thorongil
    There is no dealing with it at a social level, I agree with that. No perfect society. But the pessimist takes a further step than saying just this. He complains about it - as if such a society should be possible but isn't.
  • apokrisis
    2.6k
    There will not be, and more importantly, cannot be a utopia on this planet.Thorongil

    There is no dealing with it at a social level, I agree with that. No perfect societyAgustino

    But that still leaves the natural philosophy argument that "perfection" involves only a constraint on variety in pursuit of some global goal. So the goal could be achieved "perfectly" - as in some system level flourishing measured in natural terms, like growth or entropification - and yet individual variation in terms of achieving that goal is not a problem. It is not evidence of some imperfection or failure, but a necessary feature of it being a natural system we are talking about - the "requisite variety" that underpins adaptive tracking of said goal.

    Now human society may have sufficient freedom to decide it wants to pursue loftier global goals - like happiness, freedom, creativity, religiosity, military prowess, or whatever. Within the constraints of physics and biology, it can self-define its own cultural utopia.

    Yet still the same systems logic applies. The cultural system needs variety to actually be capable of tracking its goal adaptively.

    So pessimism fails because it expects reality to be unnatural. Or supernatural. Perfections and utopias are defined in ways that are brittle and mechanical, not fluid and organic.
  • Agustino
    8.4k
    I think we're talking about something different - I'm talking about the fact that no society can be eternal - societies grow and die, and necessarily so. Why do they ultimately die? Because things are such that, statistically, in the long-run things decay - or tend towards entropy in your language.

    Now you (the individual) can be a sage all your life. But the whole lot of mankind can never be sages - there's always a tendency towards what is low. You can build that perfect society - only that it too shall disappear.
  • apokrisis
    2.6k
    I think we're talking about something different - I'm talking about the fact that no society can be eternal - societies grow and die, and necessarily so.Agustino

    There is the long-run issue too. But a "perfect" society - that understood itself in these organismic terms - would understand such lifecycle issues and thus know how to guard against them.

    The necessity of rise and fall of negentropic structure in nature is due to a three-stage natural sequence of developing organisation. A system develops from immaturity to maturity to senescence.

    In the beginning it burns bright and grows fast because it knows little and so is highly adaptive. Young bodies heal fast because they grow fast.

    Then you have the mature phase where there is a steadier balance between stability and plasticity.

    Then comes senescence which is in fact the highest state of adaptedness to an enviroment. The cleverness of youth has been replaced by the wisdom of age - a collection of habits that have the best fit with the world.

    But the drawback of being so well adapted is the rise of a matching brittleness. Now if something big and unexpected happens - a perturbation like drought, war, disease, climate change - the system is so locked into one way of living that it can't adapt to the new situation. That is what leads to the inevitability of collapse.

    But a self-aware society - one informed by the science - can strive to maintain itself in the mature stage of development. It can avoid becoming too stereotyped or over-adapted as part of its "perfect way of life".

    I'm not saying it wouldn't be difficult. But in fact modern society does a pretty good job at planning for pandemics and climate resilience. It is exactly this kind of organic lifecycle thinking which is starting to be applied (if perhaps not nearly quick enough to actually save our particular neoliberal/globalised/fossil fuel based "utopia"). :)

    Now you (the individual) can be a sage all your life. But the whole lot of mankind can never be sages - there's always a tendency towards what is low.Agustino

    But this is the point I query. You are saying that perfection is defined by the statistical outlier - perhaps the freakishly athletic, intelligent, beautiful, empathetic, or whatever.

    No. I'm arguing that perfection is defined in terms of the whole society, and thus its averages.

    So who could argue with a modern society that is producing ever smarter, fitter, better-looking and civilised folk - on average?

    And IQ scores, life expectancies, plastic surgery and PC values certainly seem measurably on a steady rise in recent world history.

    Of course, we could also say that there is an ever increasing polarisation or inequality about such outcomes. The dumb seem excessively dumb these days. The fat excessively fat. Isis may exceed the past in terms of thinking barbarity.

    Yet still, natural science allows us to quantify that also in terms of complexity theory. There are two primary statistical attractors in nature - the bell curve of the central limit theorem and the scale free or powerlaw distribution of log/log growth. So rightful levels of inequality, and excessive levels, can be clearly defined in those terms.

    My point is that we now have a sophisticated understanding of natural systems and the reasons that drive them. We can model these things in mathematical detail. So the claims of pessimism can be quantified - so long as it is first agreed that humanity is indeed a natural system and not something else, like a failing divine creation or a fall from Platonic grace.
  • Thorongil
    2.4k
    There is no dealing with it at a social level, I agree with that. No perfect society. But the pessimist takes a further step than saying just this. He complains about it - as if such a society should be possible but isn't.Agustino

    No, the pessimist merely acknowledges this, because he also knows that complaining about what cannot be changed is a foolish waste of time.
  • darthbarracuda
    2.4k
    Wait a minute, if your solution to the world's suffering is charity, then Schopenhauer's giving his money to charity upon his death is more effective than anything either of us could or likely will do. I have substantial student loan debt, a microscopic bank account, very few possessions to my name, and no desire to be extremely wealthy, so I'm not the sort of person for whom these organizations operate.Thorongil

    That's unfortunate. Remember I did recognize that Schopenhauer donated all his money to charity. So once again you're taking this personally and assuming I'm attacking the virtues of Schopenhauer and co. directly when I'm really not. If anything, you getting all riled up about this effectively has proven my point. I am using these men as examples of passive pessimism - far from being just about their general hypocrisy, I'm trying to show how they didn't go far enough. They weren't radical enough to see their already-radical philosophical views actualize.

    But this means your criticism has been meaningless from the start, since you have been assuming an ethic contrary to those about whom you criticize. In order for your criticism to stick, you would first have to show how their ethical systems are false.Thorongil

    No, it's not meaningless, as I have argued that welfare consequentialism is the inevitable next-step after pessimism is accepted. Problem-solving instead of simply problem-acknowledging.

    So you're a hypocrite.Thorongil

    No, apparently you missed the sarcasm. I sleep on a pillow I got from Target.

    And why should anyone listen to what you think other people should do? More importantly, what makes you think they will?Thorongil

    Well presumably because I think I have offered reasons why I am to be believed.

    Like what? Selling their pillows for crappier ones? Come on, man.Thorongil

    Actually Schopenhauer is a better example of an active pessimist than any of the other ones. He still was decadent and self-centered but at least he did donate the charity at the end of his life. Didn't really do much else, though. Thought it was good enough to just talk about the suffering of the world.

    What makes a man great is not just the work he produces but what he does with it. Part of my argument, then, is that Schopenhauer (and co.) felt Truth was still "important" for some reason in a world as harsh and violent as the one their perceived. Truth or bust. They maintain an affirmation of something that is "alien" to the rest of the world - this is what I called their "bubble of security"; philosophy is a sort of reassuring comfort of perfect rational structure that isolates someone from the rest of the dirty, wild world. We see the first thinking on this arise in people like Freud and Peter Zapffe.

    I have argued that understanding the world this way should lead one to see absolute Truth as something secondary in importance. Sacrifices must be made. That is what ultimately makes the difference between active and passive pessimism.

    The simple fact is that, in academic philosophy at present, Schopenhauer is estranged from both the analytic and continental camps. He doesn't belong to, nor founded, any "school," and for this reason is ignored.Thorongil

    This is unfortunate. I get how some people might think Schopenhauer's metaphysics is a Kantian cul-de-sac, but goddamn are his observations of the human condition on point and shouldn't be ignored.

    It seems we have a millionaire in our midsts! :DAgustino

    If only ... looks like mac and cheese is back on the menu, boys!

    (whether effective or with as much revenue is another question).schopenhauer1

    Very true, this is why we have to be careful and deliberate about who we donate money to. An unfortunately large amount of charities are scams.

    Rather, it entails civic involvement by all concerned parties. In short, your ideas are really political more than anything. It is a more an appeal to "Get out the vote" and be more involved in the community.schopenhauer1

    Yes, indeed, however I made the caveat that we shouldn't feel obliged to put our lives or general well-being at risk. Try advocating AN to a college crowd. That'll go over great...

    If you want to REFUTE their ideals, that is one thing, but I do not think they are being hypocritical to their own ideals. So again, to entail utilitarianism with Pessimism is to unfairly tie two concepts together that are not necessarily entailed. Pessimism actually has very little in the way of ethics- it is mostly an aesthetic comprehension of the world. What one does about it is more open for interpretation. What it does have (i.e. Schopenhauer's compassionate ideal), is not necessarily utilitarian anyways.schopenhauer1

    I'm glad you recognize the aesthetic component of pessimism, I entirely agree. I don't agree that consequentialist theories necessarily require things to reach this utopia. It simply has to acknowledge that things could be better, all things considered; 9 sufferers is better than 10 sufferers.

    We MUST get up, we MUST survive, we MUST entertain. On top of this kernel of uncalmness, is the complexities of contingent harms that we must face. Is this the real metaphysical "truth" of the world, or is this just the product of a certain temperament? I brought that up in a previous thread, but indeed, there is a Pessimist aesthetic and a certain byline that runs through it.schopenhauer1

    No, I completely agree with all this. The unfortunate ironic truth is that this aesthetic can make living altruistically more difficult than had the aesthetic never been accepted.

    Though I know you disagree with the execution of Benatar's consequentialism/utilitarianism in regards to his asymmetry logic, you may want to see what he has to say about ethics outside of antinatalism, as you can see where another antinatalist/pessimist that is consequentialist/utilitarian balances consequences and personal responsibility. I honestly don't know much else about what his ethics entails based on his premises. He is obviously most famous for applying his assumptions to antinatalism in particular. How he handles altruism in general would be interesting to explore.schopenhauer1

    Indeed I have been interested in picking up a book on everyday ethics by him.

    You can pat yourself on the back, have a secular "Kingdom of God" complex by working to end this or that problem, but the problems of existence do not go away. Existence itself does not provide a smooth existence simply because one's basic needs are met.schopenhauer1

    Right.

    Bringing another person into existence is bringing another person into the burdens of life. It is literally giving another person burdens to deal with, so they can what? every once in a while feel the goods that life can offer?schopenhauer1

    Exactly. It makes you wonder whether or not you should help prevent more than just your own children from coming into existence.

    Most importantly, if you do not indulge in those goods yourself, your very logic of helping people makes no sense- it becomes an absurd circular logic. We must help people so they can help people, so they can help people.schopenhauer1

    Right, there must be a balance. And a threshold. Once people can take care of themselves, they can do what makes them "happy" or whatever that is and also help more people get above their threshold.

    Honestly, though, with all the political and social entanglements in the world, helping humans on a large scale is practically impossible. It's why I focus more on non-human animals. Under-represented victims.
  • darthbarracuda
    2.4k
    So pessimism fails because it expects reality to be unnatural. Or supernatural. Perfections and utopias are defined in ways that are brittle and mechanical, not fluid and organic.apokrisis

    On the contrary, pessimism succeeds as it recognizes sentience to be "unnatural" and ill-equipped to deal with the oppressive forces of nature. Instead, sentients have to pretend reality is different than it actually is. To be sentient, then, requires one to live in a fantasy. Everyone has their crutch.
  • apokrisis
    2.6k
    On the contrary, pessimism succeeds as it recognizes sentience to be "unnatural" and ill-equipped to deal with the oppressive forces of nature. Instead, sentients have to pretend reality is different than it actually is. To be sentient, then, requires one to live in a fantasy. Everyone has their crutch.darthbarracuda

    Yep. That would be the counterfactual that my position makes possible as its antithesis.

    And history shows sentience evolves.

    So your pessimism loses if that is what you believe is its proper basis.

    (And if you believe in suicidal penguins, aren't you taking evolutionary continuity to a much greater extreme than I would ever argue for?)
  • Agustino
    8.4k
    There is the long-run issue to. But a "perfect" society - that understood itself in these organismic terms - would understand such lifecycle issues and thus know how to guard against it.apokrisis
    The point I'm making is that understanding such lifecycles does not help prevent them at all. Human nature (or human folly) if you want is such that the said society, will at one point, not act according to such an understanding. It's already starting not to in fact. You think technology can overstep man's morality. But it can't. Technology is of no use in such matters because it cannot alter the CHARACTER of human beings. Too much good and people lose motivation. The Roman Empire didn't disappear because of natural disaster and pandemic - it disappeared due to internal reasons. Internally it became unstable. Why? Because of depravation and loss of moral values - loss of the virtues.

    I'm not saying it wouldn't be difficult. But in fact modern society does a pretty good job at planning for pandemics and climate resilience. It is exactly this kind of organic lifecycle thinking which is starting to be applied (if perhaps not nearly quick enough to actually save our particular neoliberal/globalised/fossil fuel based "utopia"). :)apokrisis
    Except that pandemics and the like aren't the biggest danger. The biggest danger is within man's own heart.

    So who could argue with a modern society that is producing ever smarter, fitter, better-looking and civilised folk - on average?apokrisis
    I think people are actually more dumb than ever before on average. Sure, they have more knowledge than ever before, but certainly not more intelligence - too much comfort dulls down their intelligence, and all that is left is mere knowledge.
  • Agustino
    8.4k
    No, the pessimist merely acknowledges this, because he also knows that complaining about what cannot be changed is a foolish waste of time.Thorongil
    Hmm then what about all the talk of "it would be better if there was no suffering"? The pessimist is still engaged in thinking how things could have been better, how they could have been different - instead of being engaged with the world as it is.
  • Thorongil
    2.4k
    far from being just about their general hypocrisy, I'm trying to show how they didn't go far enough. They weren't radical enough to see their already-radical philosophical views actualize.darthbarracuda

    You must like being coy, because you have continually refused to give me concrete examples of what they did wrong, what they ought to have done, and why.

    as I have argued that welfare consequentialism is the inevitable next-step after pessimism is accepted. Problem-solving instead of simply problem-acknowledging.darthbarracuda

    1) You haven't argued that here. 2) These figures, or at least Schopenhauer, would say that the problem CANNOT be solved, outside of abstaining from procreation. This is part of what makes them pessimists.

    I sleep on a pillow I got from Target.darthbarracuda

    Yes, you're a hypocrite. Think of all the drowning children you could have saved if you slept on a rock and used the money for that Target pillow on them.

    Well presumably because I think I have offered reasons why I am to be believed.darthbarracuda

    Which you haven't done here.

    but at least he did donate the charity at the end of his life.darthbarracuda

    A good deed, but in the grand scheme of things it did absolutely nothing, as is the case of all forms of charity. Human misery is as rife as it ever was, if not more so. Throwing money at the problem will not fix it, for the condition is terminal and permanent. It will merely act as a fleeting and minutely effective band-aid. I am not saying not to give to charity or that I wouldn't if I had the means, I am only pointing out the sheer idiocy and folly in suggesting that it will make any substantial difference.

    Thought it was good enough to just talk about the suffering of the world.darthbarracuda

    But in some sense it was, since you and I are now talking about it in large part due to his eloquent observations and arguments. That you're not grateful to be so informed by such a man doesn't negate his value.

    Part of my argument, then, is that Schopenhauer (and co.) felt Truth was still "important" for some reason in a world as harsh and violent as the one their perceived. Truth or bust.darthbarracuda

    And I believe this too. What's wrong with seeking the truth? Presumably the harshness and violence of the world is true and requires pointing out and defending as such.

    philosophy is a sort of reassuring comfort of perfect rational structure that isolates someone from the rest of the dirty, wild world.darthbarracuda

    So surely we should be advocating for more of if it's a means of obtaining comfort. Or do you not wish comfort on your fellow men?

    I have argued that understanding the world this way should lead one to see absolute Truth as something secondary in importance.darthbarracuda

    Well you haven't convinced me of this I'm afraid. I shall seek the truth above all else.
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