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Pessimism is the only coherent life philosophy

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in this life of ours we are constantly denied, our desires thwarted, our life complicated by imperfect bodies or minds. Even if we somehow win the genetic lottery and are born with the requisite appendages, eyes, and apertures we face the ever-growing specter of death either through senescence, accident, or the malfeasance of other beings. Therefore the only approach that covers these disparate aspects of life is some form of pessimism. Is this approach logical or illogical in your opinion? 

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elizabeth17

how ya doin? I personally prefer existentialism to pessimism; it's much more fun! 

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AceAnimeFan

I think this is a logical approach to life, as it is my approach to life as well

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Moonman

Completely illogical.

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Guest

@elizabeth17 but isnt one of the main tenets of existentialism that we create ourselves (Sartre used those exact words if i remember correctly)? but how much of our self is under our control? i mean very little of our mind is under our control heck most of it is in the basement of our subconscious, our genes determine our body size and shape and as we have learned it can control for our very quality of life by coding for things such as cancer, diabetes, or mental illness. so i think that when it comes down to reality testing, existentialism fails in one of its core beliefs. 

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elizabeth17

ooo not super sure I'd have to read more. I'd say then maybe my life philosophy is kind of more postmodern (very into Deleuze and Guittari and Derrida). So maybe i don't need a life philosophy if it's unreal anyway haha

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RoseGoesToYale

Well, the way I see it, pessimism is the only way to possibly improve life, if you think about it. Optimism implies having a positive interpretation of current events along with the expectation that things will continue to be good or get better, however true this may be. With this attitude, why change yourself? Why change anything in the world? It assumes everything will work itself out regardless and is blind to reality.

 

Pessimism assumes that things are generally bad and will stay bad or get worse. For many, this realization can be enough to make changes, though sometimes for others it just leads to apathy/depression. Pessimism works best when combined with anger, because anger is energy and motivation, whereas depression will get you nowhere.

 

I think both work up to a point. It's pragmatic to be pessimistic about the things you can change (assume human action can/will have negative outcomes, attempt to minimize them as much as possible) and be optimistic about the things you have absolutely no control over (e.g. why waste energy assuming tomorrow it will storm? You can't stop it if one's coming).

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crazy ace

I figure that, seeing as we all have a time limit on life, just do whatever you want while you can and go out with a bang, seeing as no one'll remember in the next thousand years.

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Moon Spirit ☽

I don't think pessimism is what drives people to want to change things for the better - that's idealism.

 

Someone who is pessimistic looks at something and just sees what is bad about it, while an idealist can look at something and can see how it could improve.

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Moonman
9 minutes ago, ByeYall! said:

how so @Moonman?

This acceptance of pessimism, which I define as being the attitude that all possible outcomes are viewed as undesirable ones, is an absolute belief that you have no ability to control outcomes, or better, you see yourself as having no control to affect positive outcomes. I don't believe that we lack complete control over ourselves, to the degree that all attempts at anything are futile, rather I believe that we have the finite capacity to create better habits and productive patterns, to find hobbies that bring you joy and interests that keep you physically and/or mentally stimulated.

 

I skirt between embracing existentialism and stoicism, with the focus of my attempts being on whether I did the right thing rather than if things were right. If I acted correctly, in accordance with myself and with authenticity then I see it as metaphysically impossible to be pessimistic because there's no basis to the idea that I should have more, there's no evidence that I am a victim of circumstance. I'm realistic with my expectations, both of what I expected in a situation and I am working on being more realistic with myself as a means to decrease distress but I can attest to having a great number of positive "things" in my life that I have because I chose to pursue them. A pessimist wouldn't have made the sacrifices I have made in pursuit of these positives because they would have believed the attempts futile and pointless. To me, they weren't, because the optimist in me told me that these attempts could provide a degree of enrichment and the optimist, in hindsight, was correct about that.

 

5 minutes ago, ByeYall! said:

@elizabeth17 but isnt one of the main tenets of existentialism that we create ourselves (Sartre used those exact words if i remember correctly)? but how much of our self is under our control? i mean very little of our mind is under our control heck most of it is in the basement of our subconscious, our genes determine our body size and shape and as we have learned it can control for our very quality of life by coding for things such as cancer, diabetes, or mental illness. so i think that when it comes down to reality testing, existentialism fails in one of its core beliefs. 

Existentialism isn't just the idea that there is no pre-ordained purpose. It's also the idea that one should live authentically and exercise their freedom. The existentialist wouldn't complain about circumstance, nor let it define their existence, because they would remember they have the freedom to create an entirely different set of circumstances.

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Marrow

I really don't see one being more optimal than the other they're all just different tools for the job. Some people can get through life being optimistic, others can with pessimism, whatever works for you is the most optimal.

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Anthracite_Impreza

I'm an optimistic pessimist, mostly because I keep trying and hoping despite knowing everything will likely go to shit, everyone's gonna get ill and die and there's probably no afterlife to look forward to (I have to think there is, and I really want there to be because I'm shit scared of dying, but I'm pessimistic about it...).

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daveb

I'm an optimist, because my experience has been that, yes, bad things can happen, but so can good things (especially if you plan/work towards good things). That doesn't mean there won't be disappointments. It doesn't mean everything is always cheerful, happy, etc., and doesn't mean things can't happen that are beyond your control. But if I think I can change things for the better and they won't always be bad I always feel more motivated to work towards that.

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Sally

It's neither logical nor illogical; it's simply your personal approach to life.  Mine is realism, which some see as pessimism, especially those who are optimists.  

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Gloomy

I'm neither an optimist nor a pessimist (personally I'd describe my life philosophy as nihilism with a healthy dose of hedonism). I can't speak for others, but the way I see it my life has both good and bad aspects so I think it would be illogical of me to say it's all good or all bad either way.

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E

Not an easy answer to that one. I've always believed in sanity and balance. To maintain balance and sanity, you can't have a boxxed in approach or mindset. Pessimism and optimism, depending on how you use them are both constricting and for better or worse create self fullfilling prophecies. I choose instead to measure everything carefully. It isn't my job to see the good or the bad and get tangled too far into it. It's my job to get to the objective at hand and look beyond them.

 

The main problem with pessimism I find, is the creation of self fulfilling prophecies and downwards spirals. It's far too easy to stray into a negative mindset, sit down, and not fight when confronted with an otherwise negative problem.

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German User
On 11/16/2019 at 1:49 AM, ByeYall! said:

in this life of ours we are constantly denied, our desires thwarted, our life complicated by imperfect bodies or minds.

This is only true if you see yourself as having a goal that you are being denied.

 

On 11/16/2019 at 1:49 AM, ByeYall! said:

Even if we somehow win the genetic lottery and are born with the requisite appendages, eyes, and apertures we face the ever-growing specter of death

Is death really that bad? I'd say, because I don't care about any gods, either there is nothing, which is fine, or an afterlife, which would be mildly annoying but manageable.

I reiterate. Death is only bad if you have a goal.

If that's the case, if you have a "Purpose" pessimissm won't help you reach that goal as you'll always see it out of reach. Pessimissm will help you fortify yourself against setbacks though. "Wear your deformities like an armor" and all that.

 

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Guest

Being an individual with mental health issues I would say that having a mind that functions properly isn't a goal but a good in-itself. Just like I would imagine that anyone with a physical deformity would see that having a perfectly functioning body would be a good in-itself. 

Pessimism isn't a teleology its an epistemology or a way to know things. It is simply saying that life isn't a net positive because thought discloses that everything we do and everything we think has no essential, lasting meaning. We can say that meaning is self given or that we endow things with meaning isn't to say that meaning actually exists. So in that sense pessimism is the objective truth. 

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Iridium

I don't think it's possible to call either optimism or pessimism objectively true.  Yes, there's a great deal of suffering in the world.  And yes, there's always the possibility that things will get better.

 

My approach to life centers around doing what I can to improve the world while I'm in it.  I know it sounds corny, but, in my opinion, it's the most logical approach.

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German User
29 minutes ago, ByeYall! said:

So in that sense pessimism is the objective truth.

Do you belive that we are capable of objectivity? As a pessimist one shouldn't. Objectivity is flawless and, as you correctly point out, we all are flawed unless we win the genetic lottery. And even then life throws us curveballs.

Objective Truth, in my opinion, cannot be defined by a worldview that ascribes value. If I am not mistaken, pessimism is the expectations that bad things will invariably happen. There is nothing wrong with this mindset. Only that one who follows it can't find "The Truth".

29 minutes ago, ByeYall! said:

It is simply saying that life isn't a net positive

Definition of pessimism

1 : an inclination to emphasize adverse aspects, conditions, and possibilities or to expect the worst possible outcome
 
It's not all negative as well. You know, just for fun I've looked up the definition of nihilism as well, and I think that describes the issue with optimism, realism, pessimism etc. pretty well

Definition of nihilism

1a : a viewpoint that traditional values and beliefs are unfounded and that existence is senseless and useless

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Guest

If you're looking for some definition that would include a scientifically rigorous type of objectivity then no I don't believe we will ever get there. But for a human objectivity I think it is very difficult to dispense with. It is simply two different levels of being. 

And what do you mean by objectivity being flawless? I'm not sure I understand. 

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German User
17 hours ago, ByeYall! said:

And what do you mean by objectivity being flawless?

Objectivity: The quality or character of being objective.

Definition of objective

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : expressing or dealing with facts or conditions as perceived without distortion by personal feelings, prejudices, or interpretations
 
Note how pessimism is either feeling, prejudice or interpretation.
 
 
17 hours ago, ByeYall! said:

But for a human objectivity I think it is very difficult to dispense with. It is simply two different levels of being.

Could you please define what you understand to be objectivity?

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Guest

Objectivity is merely the concept that things exist independent of mind. Its the second definition in the Miriam Webster dictionary. There is nothing, not even the most widely held scientific belief, that isn't an interpretation, in fact that is what a theory is, an interpretation of facts. Now if you want to eliminate all science from consideration in your worldview that's fine but you are setting up a world that isn't just bleaker than mine, its a world where nothing not only doesn't exist but can't exist, using the word in its Greek origin as ekstare or as standing out from the background. If you don't have an interpretation of some sort then you have nothing at all. So it appears to me that your attempt to eliminate pessimism on the grounds that it is interpretive eliminates everything. 

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German User

Oh, so you want to express that pessimism is one material truth. The key word would be "one". You've used "The" which has a very different connotation. 

22 hours ago, ByeYall! said:

So in that sense pessimism is the objective truth. 

That sense being, as far as I understood it, that pessimism acknowledges the perception that life "Isn't a net positive". But that's not the entirety of pessimism. The word is generaly used to define a  worldview that expects bad if not even the worst possible outcomes and a wordview that is positioned antagonistic towards optimism. So in comparison I could say that "Life isn't a net negative" as well and stand contrary to pessimism and the truth that you have found, couldn't I?
 

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Guest

Well you could but its been my contention that it would be logically incoherent to do so. Optimism stands in direct contradiction to the empirical facts. 

Plus I would also like to say that pessimism isn't one monolithic idea that everyone shares who professes to be a pessimist. It seems that you are stuck on the dictionary definition that misses the subtleties of the wealth of thought behind the word. 

I would also like to ask why you moved from questioning objectivity to claiming that pessimism is one material truth. Just because I claimed that interpretation is a central aspect of life doesn't mean that there can't be an interpretation that is better than others. 

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German User
3 minutes ago, ByeYall! said:

Optimism stands in direct contradiction to the empirical facts.

Optimism and pessimism is not compatible with empirical reasoning. There is no empirical fact that ends on the note "An that's just bad" as there is no fact that ends on the note "Hooray, great".

 

7 minutes ago, ByeYall! said:

doesn't mean that there can't be an interpretation that is better than others. 

But it's up for interpretation which interpretation is better isn't it. I havn't heard a compelling argument for pessimism thus far, only that we all die one day, we are all born unequal and we all suffer. Those might be arguments against some worldviews but not ones that uphold pessimism as the only coherent life philosophy.

 

14 minutes ago, ByeYall! said:

why you moved from questioning objectivity to claiming that pessimism is one material truth.

Because I came to understand that there was a misunderstanding of the word "Objectivity". The way I understood it, it refered to a judgement without bias and the way you used it was to refer to the existance outside of our thoughts.

Is the rephrasing  "The objective truth" to "One material truth" not reflective of what you meant to clarify when you said that there is nothing that is not an interpretation?

1 hour ago, ByeYall! said:

So it appears to me that your attempt to eliminate pessimism on the grounds that it is interpretive eliminates everything. 

Yes. Spot on. Though I do like to discuss other concepts and conceptions of reality nontheless.

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Guest
1 minute ago, German User said:

But it's up for interpretation which interpretation is better isn't it

This is where I think we diverge. I believe that there are objective ways to determine which interpretation is better.

 

4 minutes ago, German User said:

Is the rephrasing  "The objective truth" to "One material truth" not reflective of what you meant to clarify when you said that there is nothing that is not an interpretation

OK I get you. I don't believe pessimism is a part of material reality though but and interpretation of it. 

 

8 minutes ago, German User said:

Yes. Spot on. Though I do like to discuss other concepts and conceptions of reality nontheless.

So by denying the interpretive nature of reality, you think its okay to deny the reality of everything? Then you are at best a nihilist and at worst a solipsist, and in either case why did you waste my time arguing when you not only do not believe my position, your stance against it, or basic reality at all? I think I'm done here sir you've wasted my time. 

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German User
24 minutes ago, ByeYall! said:

why did you waste my time

Because it was fun and educational. For me at least. Sincerely: Sorry and have a good night. I was wondering for how long this could go on anyway.

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