• schopenhauer1
    2.2k
    Active, purpose-driven pessimism eschews aesthetic comfort and decadence for a prescription to end the problem once and for all. This entails participating in and supporting public institutions focused on maximizing welfare and making the world a better place, and actively advocating pessimistic philosophies, within the constraints of self-preservation.darthbarracuda

    This smacks a bit too much of religion- the Kingdom of God and whatnot. However, these apocalyptics were looking for redemption at the end of their actions- the more they helped, the closer the World to Come would be manifested. What is the Pessimist's incentive?

    The ordinary human experience is not to experience so much debilitating guilt that they just compelled at all seconds to helping the poor, the destitute, the downtrodden, etc.. So guilt alone does not impel the majority of people, or even the brilliant Pessimist intellectual, to work at all times for the welfare of others. Is it to impress his fellow man as to what a great person he/she is; in other words pride in how selfless he/she is? Most people do not have such hubris, and if they did, it is much too easy to use it to aggrandize themselves in less draining and more interesting ways. For Schopenhauer, perhaps being a compassionate saintly person was ideal, but he also had a view of character which seemed to indicate that only the truly compassionately "gifted" could ever reach such negation of their own will. Perhaps Schopenhauer was too vain to admit his defect of character, but certainly, he did not achieve this ideal and thus was not of a character of one who had the capacity to be so will-less. Perhaps this is a cop-out- some people have the right stuff, and others do not and thus did not give enough credence to free-will to justify why some people are more compassionate than others rather than everyone, especially the Pessimist, doing his/her part.

    There are two main points that I can add besides what was said above:

    1.) If the point of alleviating suffering is such that those who were alleviated from some of their suffering would then enjoy their lives more, it would be a contradiction of the very logic by not "indulging" in the very enjoyment of life (the positive goods) that were hoped for in the others' alleviation of suffering. Rather, if we were to only think of others' alleviation of suffering, life would be even more absurdly tormenting than it was originally, as not even its enjoyment, that which is the goal of alleviating others' suffering, would be enjoyed by anyone.

    2.) As others commented above, Pessimists inherently think that suffering cannot be eradicated. Much of the sentiments you display seem almost religious in character (Abrahamic religions, mostly). However, this religious exhortation to charitable action works in the context of religion due to the idea of an End of Times- that they are working to bring about the Kingdom of God. Without such a context, a cathartic metaphysical "something to show for it", it is essentially putting a band-aid over a mortal wound and then saying- you must be a good Pessimist, like they used to say you must be a good Christian.
  • TheMadFool
    2.4k
    This is a joke someone told me...

    A pessimist sees a dark tunnel.
    An optimist sees light at the end of the tunnel.
    A realist sees a train.

    The train driver sees 3 idiots on the tracks.
  • darthbarracuda
    2.9k
    What is the Pessimist's incentive?schopenhauer1

    Does there need to be an incentive?

    I think I've explained to you before how I hate guilting people, but all anyone has to do is imagine the suffering a wild animal feels while being devoured by its predator, or sympathize with the unknown nobody in Ethiopia who hasn't had anything to eat for two weeks.

    The guilt one feels is incomparable to the suffering experienced by these sorts of situations. As Peter Unger said, it's "living high and letting die."

    Is it to impress his fellow man as to what a great person he/she is; in other words pride in how selfless he/she is?schopenhauer1

    Not precisely, and I would personally feel bad about intentionally bragging about my adventures in altruism. Although I will admit that at times I feel a sense of superiority that I can only see as justified.

    Perhaps this is a cop-out- some people have the right stuff, and others do not and thus did not give enough credence to free-will to justify why some people are more compassionate than others rather than everyone, especially the Pessimist, doing his/her part.schopenhauer1

    I might be willing to argue that since nobody asked to be born, nobody has an obligation to clean up to the mess and do anything for anyone else.

    This of course conflicts with intuitions regarding drowning children, but it's at least coherent.

    Scheffler argues that there should be nothing preventing people from doing good, but there is no obligation to do so. Perhaps he's right. I'm not too sure, cases like drowning children make me believe we do have some obligations.

    And anyway if we eschew obligations then Schopenhauer and co. have absolutely no right to condemn those who have children, as they have no obligation to care about the welfare of their offspring. It's a double-bladed sword.

    Rather, if we were to only think of others' alleviation of suffering, life would be even more absurdly tormenting than it was originally, as not even its enjoyment, that which is the goal of alleviating others' suffering, would be enjoyed by anyone.schopenhauer1

    I would say that there this sort of enjoyment is not as important than minimizing the suffering these people feel. This goes back to distributive inequality issues. I believe that the angst and ennui that characterized pessimistic philosophies in the past is largely irrelevant when compared to the feelings experienced by those worse-off.

    Indeed it seems wrong to feel ennui because one knows someone else is being tormented, because this means one is viewing them as some kind of tarnish in a world they would rather see as good.

    2.) As others commented above, Pessimists inherently think that suffering cannot be eradicated.schopenhauer1

    Without such a context, a cathartic metaphysical "something to show for it", it is essentially putting a band-aid over a mortal wound and then saying- you must be a good Pessimist, like they used to say you must be a good Christian.schopenhauer1

    Yes, indeed, I have quasi-religious conceptions but they are only inspiration, not legitimate options I think. Like I told TGW, it's not about eradicating suffering, it's about minimizing it.

    Perhaps an argument against mine would be that we can never distribute altruistic care equally. There will always be someone "left out" wondering why they didn't get help. If you care about equality then perhaps this is important - maybe it's more important to preserve equality than to minimize suffering. I don't think it's very strong, though, because you yourself would be left out of the equation. And in ideal theory, those worse-off would still recognize that there are those who are equally as worse off as they are.
  • schopenhauer1
    2.2k
    I think I've explained to you before how I hate guilting people, but all anyone has to do is imagine the suffering a wild animal feels while being devoured by its predator, or sympathize with the unknown nobody in Ethiopia who hasn't had anything to eat for two weeks.darthbarracuda

    One can sympathize, but most don't go out of their way to take a plane to these impoverished regions to stop it. That does not seem to happen. It's not prescriptive but descriptive of what appears to be ordinary human behavior. The Pessimist, though shining a light on such sad situations, seems to also have no more innate impulse to take that plane either. Is this hypocrisy? I'll explain that with some of your other quotes.

    Not precisely, and I would personally feel bad about intentionally bragging about my adventures in altruism. Although I will admit that at times I feel a sense of superiority that I can only see as justified.darthbarracuda

    Perhaps there is a thrill in feeling a bit superior, but my guess is most people feel good when they help others. However, this diminishes over time, hence its commodification- almost as a lifestyle choice. The realization that they feel good helping others, makes it so they may volunteer, and perhaps during special times of the year (holidays for example). It's like getting a hit of oxytocin or serotonin. They may exercise, play some game, and then volunteer. However, as soon as it becomes a burden to themselves, whereby their own pursuits are being heavily diminished only to pursue others' welfare, this becomes a negative outcome for themselves and thus loses the incentive- the good feelings are no longer there associated with it.


    I would say that there this sort of enjoyment is not as important than minimizing the suffering these people feel. This goes back to distributive inequality issues. I believe that the angst and ennui that characterized pessimistic philosophies in the past is largely irrelevant when compared to the feelings experienced by those worse-off.

    Indeed it seems wrong to feel ennui because one knows someone else is being tormented, because this means one is viewing them as some kind of tarnish in a world they would rather see as good.
    darthbarracuda

    Again, people just don't work like that- even Pessimists. Let's take homelessness. It is a large structural problem. If you went to certain neighborhoods or regions, you may be approached every five minutes by those asking for food, a ride, and most likely money. You may help one guy, you may help two guys, but this goes back to the commodification that most people unintentionally place the act. It made them feel good- "Today I helped these two people by giving them $20 to eat for the day" each. As soon as it becomes a financial burden, the activity is stopped. However, the real cost to "really" help these people is actually in the tens of thousands of dollars and up to millions of dollars. There is mental health care, substance abuse rehabilitation, housing projects, etc. Even for one person, this is expensive. This actually takes political and community action to help solve, and even then the problems don't just disappear but are cyclical. Anyways, this is just one social ill that is way beyond one person's charity or volunteering or even a lifetime of a Mother Teresa lifestyle.

    Now, the Mother Teresa types are often religiously inspired- so they much of their actions are trying to model a religious ideal or mandate and even using it to proselytize. They are trying to get a metaphysical change from the action and save souls while they are doing it. The good deeds are bringing about the Kingdom of God or bring about a spiritual change. Some people might genuinely be doing these actions out of some sort of innate capacity for extreme altruism, but this is rare, as Schopenhauer pointed out.

    However, are you committed to Schopenhauer's metaphysics whereby the saintly compassionate person legitimately lessens their wills? I do not think that is your position. You are trying a more consequentialist/pragmatic approach which is based on some sort of knee-jerk empathy reaction. This just does not happen. The absurd end goal of such a philosophy would be the logic whereby we all suffer equally in the slavish notion of extreme self-denial and altruism. Thus, the goods that ARE available in life are negated for all (or at least the Pessimist). The consolations of goods (especially long-term goods), may be seen as an addiction, but this too is part and parcel of the fact that we suffer. This addiction, while being an addiction (life is just okay enough to deal with), it is still a necessary component right there with the suffering. It cannot be annihilated from the equation. Thus the best one can do is make do with long-term goods, help out as much as possible without it becoming simply a negative slavish force for oneself and strip all long-term goods from one's life (thus making one's goals to help others more meaningful as they too can pursue long-term goods), and finally, to not procreate, and thus end the harm and addiction to the next generation.
  • darthbarracuda
    2.9k
    This actually takes political and community action to help solve, and even then the problems don't just disappear but are cyclical. Anyways, this is just one social ill that is way beyond one person's charity or volunteering or even a lifetime of a Mother Teresa lifestyle.schopenhauer1

    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...

    For Schopenhauer, then, its seems that he was committed to the view that there are some things you just don't do, like murder or rape, but generally being an altruist is entirely voluntary and only worthwhile so long as you experience some form of compassionate aesthetic. The "bonding" moment.

    Those who are consequentialists are given an unfair amount of responsibility, since reality is non-ideal and not everyone are consequentialists. For consequentialists, one does not necessarily need to feel sympathy all the time, but merely recognize that their cognitive faculties are preventing them from seriously sympathizing with those in need.

    Now, the Mother Teresa types are often religiously inspired- so they much of their actions are trying to model a religious ideal or mandate and even using it to proselytize. They are trying to get a metaphysical change from the action and save souls while they are doing it. The good deeds are bringing about the Kingdom of God or bring about a spiritual change. Some people might genuinely be doing these actions out of some sort of innate capacity for extreme altruism, but this is rare, as Schopenhauer pointed out.schopenhauer1

    True. Actually Mother Teresa once said that it's not about the people you help, but the relationship between you and God. She cared very little for the suffering of others, it seems. Rather it was merely a way of getting closer to God. Twisted if I say so myself.

    Thus the best one can do is make do with long-term goods, help out as much as possible without it becoming simply a negative slavish force for oneself and strip all long-term goods from one's life (thus making one's goals to help others more meaningful as they too can pursue long-term goods), and finally, to not procreate, and thus end the harm and addiction to the next generation.schopenhauer1

    Generally I agree. We're not robots that can just do something 24/7. Those who do typically do so because they like doing it or like you said they have a metaphysical redemption in mind.

    Now that I think of it the greatest threat to my view has got to be the fact that those who are better off could become very much worse off at the flip of a coin, perhaps in the process of doing altruism. I already recognize that one shouldn't be obligated to kill themselves for the benefit of others, that is too extreme of an obligation to be seriously expected. Yet every day we expose ourselves to life-threatening risks, even if we don't recognize it.
  • Thorongil
    3.2k
    Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Ciorandarthbarracuda

    Labeling these figures generically as "pessimists" is somewhat misleading.

    which there is an absent adequate prescription for its residents. In particular, an ethical prescription.darthbarracuda

    The validity of this statement hangs on the word "adequate," for Schopenhauer and Nietzsche do propose an ethic. Cioran may be different, but that's because his preference for obscurantism elides any attempt to extract coherent philosophical positions from his writings.

    He went out partying and auctioning and traveling. Not exactly the life of an ascetic.darthbarracuda

    Ah, this canard again. I suppose you were about due for an ad hominem attack on poor ol' Arthur!

    But wait, I see a shaft of light piercing through the clouds:

    But we have to make sure we separate the actions of the man with the theoretical prescriptions he provided.darthbarracuda

    Good, let's see if you succeed.

    This quotation shows his deep aversion towards the world in generaldarthbarracuda

    Really? I would say it shows his deep aversion to dying of cholera, a quite natural aversion for a person to have, surely.

    a sense of entitlement and superiority.darthbarracuda

    And entirely justified.

    he simultaneously seemed to care very little for itdarthbarracuda

    You're confusing "caring" with "acting." Schopenhauer undoubtedly cared about suffering a great deal. But did he perform heroic acts of altruism sufficient to meet the heavenly standards of a certain darthbarracuda? Perhaps not.

    He contemplated getting a wife later in his years. After he died, he left all his money to charity - a noble gesture, yet neither did Schopenhauer have any close friends or family in which this would go to.darthbarracuda

    So, he's damned if he tries to marry and damned for not having a family to give charity to. He cannot win on your terms.

    one in which he no doubt thought himself as residing in the upper echelonsdarthbarracuda

    And justifiably so. "What is modesty but hypocritical humility?"

    Schopenhauer was able to enjoy himself in a surrounding world of suffering.darthbarracuda

    I would hesitate to say that Schopenhauer "enjoyed" living. What do you know of the man's inner life? You're just armchair psychologizing here, creating an image of Schopenhauer suitable to reject, for reasons you have yet to make fully clear.

    Considering Schopenhauer saw married couples as the ultimate conspirators to the continuation of human suffering, I believe I am justified in criticizing Schopenhauer himself as an inactive bystander (passive accomplice) to a world he otherwise saw as horrible.darthbarracuda

    But he didn't marry and never desired to have children, so he is not an "accomplice" to human suffering at all, given that, as you admit, its origin is found in procreation.

    Schopenhauers’ ethics would seem to largely consist in “not my fucking problem”.darthbarracuda

    No, his ethic consists in treating other living beings with compassion. You're still desperately trying to paint him as "uncaring," but that impression simply does not stand up to the facts. Another aspect of his philosophy you have neglected to consider, but which is relevant to this discussion, is his determinism. Even if I granted to you that he were an uncaring individual, he could no more change this aspect of his character than the saint could cease to be holy. As Voltaire says, which Schopenhauer quotes somewhere, "we shall leave this world as foolish and as wicked as we found it on our arrival." The truth of what Schopenhauer describes of the world is not made false by the life he lead, decadent or not.

    romanticization of something that really is not romantic at all, but dirty, painful, narrowing, and bad.darthbarracuda

    There may be some romanticization going on, but these men also realize that "suffering is the fleetest animal that bears you to perfection."

    True altruists.darthbarracuda

    Only if you buy what they're selling! In any event, the "help" consists in being reborn as a monk or a lama ad infinitum, which, given the drift of your comments addressed above, you would likely be dissatisfied with as not being "altruistic" enough.

    Excessive individuality and self-centeredness, manifesting as isolation and a sense of entitlement/superioritydarthbarracuda

    Excessive in comparison to what?

    Acknowledgement of others’ suffering, but a general indifference to itdarthbarracuda

    False.

    Schopenhauer’s plush pillows and poodledarthbarracuda

    Yes, for we all know that whoever advocates asceticism but does not sleep on a cement block next to a charnel ground in the howling wind is the vilest of hypocrites. And, obviously, to hell with animal companionship.

    Thus I believe that the “comfortable pessimist” betrays their own descriptive foundations by failing to follow-through and pursue their pessimism to a prescriptive end.darthbarracuda

    In other words, as per usual, you're disappointed that Schopenhauer et al haven't lived up to their own ideals to the degree that you would like. But this is of no surprise to the pessimist, if we must use that term. Would that the world were a nice and pleasant place! Would that all men behaved like saints and lived up to the highest ethical ideals! But they do not, and it is precisely this realization that makes one a pessimist, generally speaking. Your criticism is therefore entirely impotent because it fails to understand all of what pessimism logically entails.
  • darthbarracuda
    2.9k
    You're still desperately trying to paint him as "uncaring," but that impression simply does not stand up to the facts.Thorongil

    Please don't psychoanalyze me, I'm not "desperate" to prove these people as devils.

    But he didn't marry and never desired to have children, so he is not an "accomplice" to human suffering at all, given that, as you admit, its origin is found in procreation.Thorongil

    Not having children isn't too impressive. He was an accomplice to suffering in the same way standing by while a child drowns in water is criminal neglect. Once you know what life entails, sitting on your plush pillows is neglect. With the stakes as high as they are, allowing becomes rather similar to simply doing.

    Excessive in comparison to what?Thorongil

    In comparison to what he could have done.

    False.Thorongil

    True. X-)

    Yes, for we all know that whoever advocates asceticism but does not sleep on a cement block next to a charnel ground in the howling wind is the vilest of hypocrites. And, obviously, to hell with animal companionship.Thorongil

    It's pretty obvious visiting a whorehouse is not the ideal of an ascetic.

    Would that all men behaved like saints and lived up to the highest ethical ideals! But they do not, and it is precisely this realization that makes one a pessimist, generally speaking. Your criticism is therefore entirely impotent because it fails to understand all of what pessimism logically entails.Thorongil

    And so what does it "fully entail"? Please enlighten me.

    I'm not surprised that these people didn't live up to ethical standards. But I'm disappointed that they didn't even seem to try given what they obviously understood about life.

    Funny how you seem to focus only on Schopenhauer when I mentioned other pessimists, like Leopardi, who intentionally isolated themselves from everyone else.
  • Thorongil
    3.2k
    I'm not "desperate" to prove these people as devils.darthbarracuda

    So what are you trying to prove, hmm? That you're "disappointed that they didn't even seem to try given what they obviously understood about life?" That's it? That's a waste of breath to point out. If in your estimation they didn't "try" hard enough, then so what? They might agree with you on that point! We all fall short, every last one of us. To be disappointed in what one cannot change is foolish.

    Not having children isn't too impressive.darthbarracuda

    The claim isn't about its impressiveness.

    in the same way standing by while a child drowns in water is criminal neglectdarthbarracuda

    I don't recall any incidents in his life that are in any way comparable to this.

    Once you know what life entails, sitting on your plush pillows is neglect.darthbarracuda

    The pillow one sleeps on makes not one iota of difference, positive or negative, to the sufferings going on in the world. If a rock were his pillow, is he suddenly absolved? If he went down to the Main river, found a nice stone, and replaced his "plush" pillow with it, is the world suddenly a better place? What pillow do you sleep on? Judge not lest ye be judged.

    In comparison to what he could have done.darthbarracuda

    Which would have been what? The kind of free will you seem to be attributing to Schopenhauer he would reject: "Let us imagine a man who, while standing on the street, would say to himself: It is six o'clock in the evening, the working day is over. Now I can go for a walk, or I can go to the club; I can also climb up the tower to see the sunset; I can go to the theater; I can visit this friend or that one; indeed, I also can run out of the gate, into the wide world, and never return. All of this is strictly up to me, in this I have complete freedom. But still I shall do none of these things now, but with just as free a will I shall go home to my wife."

    True.darthbarracuda

    The figures you mentioned were not "indifferent" to suffering. One would be hard pressed to find a more false claim one could make about them.

    Funny how you seem to focus only on Schopenhauer when I mentioned other pessimists, like Leopardi, who intentionally isolated themselves from everyone else.darthbarracuda

    It's not funny, since the vast majority of your post was about Schopenhauer.

    And so what does it "fully entail"? Please enlighten me.darthbarracuda

    I don't have any interest in trying to define pessimism here. I'm content simply to point out that one of the things it entails is that humans do not behave as they ought or would like.

    But I'm disappointed that they didn't even seem to try given what they obviously understood about life.darthbarracuda

    So why dwell on what cannot be changed? Focus on living morally in your own life, which is the only one you have any control over.
  • darthbarracuda
    2.9k
    The claim isn't about its impressiveness.Thorongil

    Rather it's about effectiveness and direction.

    I don't recall any incidents in his life that are in any way comparable to this.Thorongil

    I'm not saying there were any incidents like this. I'm saying location and distance have no bearing on our knowledge of suffering. What difference does it make if the person is next door or down the street? What about a few miles away?

    The pillow one sleeps on makes not one iota of difference, positive or negative, to the sufferings going on in the world. If a rock were his pillow, is he suddenly absolved? If he went down to the Main river, found a nice stone, and replaced his "plush" pillow with it, is the world suddenly a better place? What pillow do you sleep on? Judge not lest ye be judged.Thorongil

    Well actually technically it would make a difference, as he could have used that money for better use. But that's not really the point. The point is that Schopenhauer and co. all seemed to focus on their own comfort more than anyone else's. And I argued for this by pointing out his plush pillows and poodle, his want for aesthetic and his love of nature.

    Which would have been what? The kind of free will you seem to be attributing to Schopenhauer he would rejectThorongil

    So not only was Schopenhauer a determinist, you're saying he was a fatalist as well?

    The figures you mentioned were not, in any sense, "indifferent" to suffering. One would be hard pressed to find a more false claim one could make about them.Thorongil

    Well, remember the point of the OP, man. You're the one who is taking this personally and claiming I'm attacking these people in an ad hominem fashion.

    I'm not, at least not directly. I'm pointing out how it can't really be denied that they were, in some sense, limited in what they accomplished to actually do something about the suffering in the world. They were not bodhisattvas. The claim is that their pessimism was comfortable/convenient because, as I see it, they did not follow through with their pessimism. One wonders how much they actually accomplished to reduce suffering in comparison to all those comparatively-optimistic social workers who didn't know two things about metaphysics but were more effective in reducing suffering as a whole than any one of these great thinkers.

    To summarize, then, I'll quote Adorno: "To write poetry after Auschwitz is barbaric." The natural world as a whole is like an Auschwitz. Pursuing things like philosophy or art that have no real contribution to the rest of the world as a whole, exclusively, means to prioritize oneself over another.

    Again, like I mentioned earlier, Leopardi was a loner and an egoist, who thought being true to himself was all that mattered. Cioran obviously was not a public figure, just more of a shadowy outsider. Schopenhauer didn't just run away from cholera like any rational person would, he went further and called himself a choleraphobe, as if nobody else was, and focused on his own career and fame (especially later in life). Nietzsche was all sorts of crazy, maybe he can be given a break in this case. Camus didn't put two and two together to realize it is birth, and not just suicide, that are true philosophical questions. Even Zapffe decided to stick to climbing mountains all day and for some strange reason found ecology to be very important.

    There is nothing wrong with my statement that these men could have done more. Whether they were obligated to do so is a totally different argument, although personally I think they were.

    So why dwell on what cannot be changed? Focus on living morally in your own life, which is the only one you have any control over.Thorongil

    ...Because I find this to be important and know that my own influence extends beyond my own body in the sense of persuasion.

    -

    Off topic question: if I remember correctly, you are at university, no? Do you have any thoughts on why pessimistic thinkers typically don't get taught as much as other thinkers? Or generally, why do you think pessimism is not as widely accepted as presumably you might wish it to be?
  • Thorongil
    3.2k
    What difference does it make if the person is next door or down the street? What about a few miles away?darthbarracuda

    The difference is that I may not be able to do anything to help the person miles away. This ought to be obvious. If one sees a child drowning, then one if obliged to save it, as the figures you mention would no doubt try to do. But children likely drown by the thousands each year, all over the planet. One cannot hope to save all of them. The magnitude of suffering is so great that there is extremely little one can concretely do to alleviate it in any meaningful sense. And why should the alleviation of one's own suffering somehow count for less than the alleviation of someone else's? Suffering is suffering, so if you are some kind of consequentialist, as I am wont to assume about you based on this discussion, then it shouldn't matter the person from whom suffering is taken away.

    as he could have used that money for better usedarthbarracuda

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

    The point is that Schopenhauer and co. all seemed to focus on their own comfort more than anyone else's.darthbarracuda

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

    So not only was Schopenhauer a determinist, you're saying he was a fatalist as well?darthbarracuda

    You dodged my question here.

    One wonders how much they actually accomplished to reduce suffering in comparison to all those comparatively-optimistic social workers who didn't know two things about metaphysics but were more effective in reducing suffering as a whole than any one of these great thinkers.darthbarracuda

    Again, you're judging them on utilitarian grounds, which they would reject.

    I'll quote Adorno: "To write poetry after Auschwitz is barbaric."darthbarracuda

    Adorno is an idiot. To not write poetry after Auschwitz is barbaric. The existence of poetry is a sign and consequence of civilizational and cultural health. Barbarism is the antithesis of civilization and so the antithesis of the arts and poetry. Auschwitz was therefore an enemy of poetry, such that a legitimate repudiation of the former would be to write the latter.

    Pursuing things like philosophy or art that have no real contribution to the rest of the world as a whole, exclusively, means to prioritize oneself over another.darthbarracuda

    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.

    There is nothing wrong with my statement that these men could have done more.darthbarracuda

    Yes, you're a utilitarian.

    Because I find this to be importantdarthbarracuda

    Why?

    if I remember correctly, you are at university, no?darthbarracuda

    Unfortunately, I am.

    Do you have any thoughts on why pessimistic thinkers typically don't get taught as much as other thinkers?darthbarracuda

    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.
  • darthbarracuda
    2.9k
    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
    2.2k
    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
    3.2k
    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
    11.3k
    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
    11.3k
    tl:dr version: folks are hypocrites.Terrapin Station
    >:O
  • Thorongil
    3.2k
    EpictetusAgustino

    I don't see the relevance of that quote.
  • Agustino
    11.3k
    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
    3.2k
    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
    11.3k
    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
    4.3k
    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
    11.3k
    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
    4.3k
    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
    3.2k
    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
    2.9k
    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
    2.9k
    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
    4.3k
    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
    11.3k
    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
    11.3k
    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
    3.2k
    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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