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    Thread: Schopenhauer, The Pessimist

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      Schopenhauer, The Pessimist

      SCHOPENHAUER, THE VINDICATED PESSIMIST

      Philosophy, in my view, is unlike the sugar-coating of baseless religious promises or the candies of the self-help industry—least of all, the thoughts of Arthur Schopenhauer! The only comfort that can be derived from his philosophical pessimism is its realism; describing things as they are, regardless of how you would like them to be in the realm of fantasy, reminds you of what kind of world you truly live in—thus letting you know where you stand in order to avoid delusion and, in my personal view, enable pragmatism.

      His psychological observations include the premise that there aren't any human affairs and endeavours worth stressing about. The anxiety experienced when embarking upon certain enterprises with high levels of expectation take root in the fact that matters of the intellect have come to dominate much of our consciousness.

      The brute is free from care and, in a sense, without hope as this type of creature is an embodiment of present impulses that depend on what lies before it. A point made by the philosopher 'on the sufferings of the world' chapter. The capacity to suffer is thus lesser in animals than man.

      The philosopher makes the case that if life was intrinsically joyous and thereby giving a sense of natural fulfilment, there would be no need to ward off boredom in a bid to fill the obviously inherent emptiness and meaninglessness of existence. If the optimist were right, life as it is would be sufficient for fulfilment.

      But the truth is that life is a struggle—another task to be endured and requiring biological maintenance. All living things exist in the realm of finality and in perpetual need of sustenance in order survive for as long as naturally possible, whereas inanimate objects have no experience and truly reside in the boundless, unchanging state of oblivion and eternity without experience, ergo, no suffering. The life of man is characterised by an ever-vanishing present moment with the prospect of death looming over him. This is Schopenhauer 'on the vanity of existence'.

      When the terrors of living outweigh the terrors of dying, man will take his own life. The act of destroying the physical body will immediately shrink his will to live, and then he will be free. This is Schopenhauer on suicide. Often, when faced with horrors in dreamful sleep, we wake up. The same is true when the dream of life becomes unbearable.
      THE PHASE = waking consciousness during sleep hybridisation at 40Hz of brainwave activity conducive to lucid dreaming and autoscopy.

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      I don't see the benefit in pessimism. Can't you be pragmatic and optimistic? It certainly feels better to be optimistic.

      Quote Originally Posted by Summerlander View Post
      His psychological observations include the premise that there aren't any human affairs and endeavours worth stressing about. The anxiety experienced when embarking upon certain enterprises with high levels of expectation take root in the fact that matters of the intellect have come to dominate much of our consciousness.

      The brute is free from care and, in a sense, without hope as this type of creature is an embodiment of present impulses that depend on what lies before it.
      I don't think there's anything wrong with hope; I think hope is good. The problem lies with expectations. I believe you can be hopeful without having too much expectation. Expectation is kind of like entitlement. And we all know, entitlement = ego. But, without hope, you won't achieve anything that is meaningful to you, and life will feel meaningless. The key is being hopeful, and humble.

      It may be beneficial to stay in the present moment, yes, but I wouldn't go so far to suggest being a "type of creature is an embodiment of present impulses that depend on what lies before it". That sounds like pleasure seeking over cultivating happiness. Life is a lot happier when you feel good about your actions, and when you feel like you're living in alignment with your own values.

      Quote Originally Posted by Summerlander View Post
      When the terrors of living outweigh the terrors of dying, man will take his own life. The act of destroying the physical body will immediately shrink his will to live, and then he will be free. This is Schopenhauer on suicide. Often, when faced with horrors in dreamful sleep, we wake up. The same is true when the dream of life becomes unbearable.
      Interesting analogy.

      I think one of the problems with people feeling suicidal is a lack of hope. They don't see how they can get out of their situation, and they also don't see how their choices may be making their problems worse. Truly waking up is seeing what you can do for yourself to get yourself out of the hole you are in. To me, that's like becoming lucid in the nightmare, and deciding to face your dream-monsters. (Edit: I do think people who are feeling this way deserve a lot of empathy, and not judgement. I hope that comes across.)
      Last edited by MoonageDaydream; 04-29-2021 at 11:07 PM.
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      Yes, absolutely.

      I was listening to Schopenhauer's book on audio and found myself thinking as you do, in particular, regarding Schopenhauer's hedonistic, 'brute' creature that does not care for the morrow and lives entirely in the present, albeit, unlike say, the Buddhist monk, completely driven by urges and impulses. I'm glad you made that distinction as the 'brute' lacks equanimity and reflection upon the contents of its mind unlike the meditator.

      I also thought about lucid dreaming at the time when listening to the chapter on suicide. Choosing to live is like becoming lucid, facing the nightmare, and making the effort to maintain the lucid dream. The empathy for people who commit suicide begins to flourish the moment we realise that the initial instinct is to wake up from the nightmare—to escape as fear alerts us to danger like a spider sense. It is natural and not something deserving of condemnation. Just as many who instinctively wake up from nightmares and never even heard of lucid dreaming, there are those who never knew they had it in them to face life.

      By the way, I found myself strongly disagreeing with him on the chapter called 'Of Women'. His gender distinctions today would be highly unpopular, if not scandalous and I bet he would have changed his mind if he met the women behind NASA's pioneering research, or the intellectual, and scientific revolutionary, Marie Curie. Not sure if at the time he'd be seen as less misogynistic, but my personal experience taught me that, contrary to what Schopenhauer said, it is my mother, and not my degenerate gambling father, that should be trusted with finance.

      The nicest thing he said in this chapter was how women are there for men from beginning to end. As mothers, they rear the little boy; as partners, they support and pleasure the adult male; and when they are dying—typically/ideally in old age—they are, again, consoled by the women who tend to outlive them.
      Last edited by Summerlander; 04-30-2021 at 07:44 PM. Reason: Additional
      THE PHASE = waking consciousness during sleep hybridisation at 40Hz of brainwave activity conducive to lucid dreaming and autoscopy.

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      Quote Originally Posted by Summerlander View Post
      I also thought about lucid dreaming at the time when listening to the chapter on suicide. Choosing to live is like becoming lucid, facing the nightmare, and making the effort to maintain the lucid dream. The empathy for people who commit suicide begins to flourish the moment we realise that the initial instinct is to wake up from the nightmare—to escape as fear alerts us to danger like a spider sense. It is natural and not something deserving of condemnation. Just as many who instinctively wake up from nightmares and never even heard of lucid dreaming, there are those who never knew they had it in them to face life.
      I love the fact that we are agreeing on a lot of this, however.. I have to amend my post on the suicidal bit. My guide last night explained to me that I am not seeing the whole picture - my view is very limited. I'm a pretty happy by nature person, so it's hard for me to understand or relate to someone who is suicidal. My guide said it's often a "lifetime condition" leading me to think that it's more than just not seeing one's part in a problem, but rather, more biological in nature (among other factors).
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      We are, of course, discussing a complex subject.

      The reasons for suicide can be varied and depend on the context. It might be seen as a brave or even heroic thing to do, such as the kamikaze aviators sacrificing their lives during WWII against the enemy or the religious ideology of suicide bombers such a Jihadists.

      There might be cases where a person lives in unbearable physical pain and will most certainly die slowly with no chances of recovery. They might want to end their lives quickly and euthanasia, or 'mercy killing', becomes the most humane solution.

      An extreme pessimist, or even a fatalist, might philosophically decide that life is simply not worth living and might want to end it prematurely before it gets worse, i.e., before they lose more loved ones or end up old and decrepit with nothing. So they opt for no experience and might even urge others to do the same as life, in their view, is an aberration of the universe that visits much suffering upon sentient beings.

      I think we have been referring to the type of suicide brought about by a sense of entrapment, as though death is the only way out—often taking root in depression rather than nihilistic thinking, existential angst, or the promise of a hereafter.
      Last edited by Summerlander; 04-30-2021 at 11:59 PM. Reason: Typographical
      THE PHASE = waking consciousness during sleep hybridisation at 40Hz of brainwave activity conducive to lucid dreaming and autoscopy.

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      Note that I find it difficult to try and contribute from a purely philosophical standpoint here. I don't like to make assumptions on the experiences of others if I can help it and this is actually a somewhat personal topic for me. In my view, nihilistic thought is not far from a feeling of entrapment either. Certainly I think that nihilism is the acceptance of this base state of (our conscious) existence. I should add, although I generally agree with MoonageDaydream on pragmatism and optimism, my dominant view of life is highly nihilistic despite the fact that I cannot detach myself from order. To me nihilism is therefore not mutually exclusive from positivism, pessimism or any other view that involves subjective value, because value is defined by personal experience and is not a part of the base state of physical reality.

      Nothing has inherent value, as value is a subjective property attributed to things by us as conscious beings, and those things can be either physical or metaphysical. I can only imagine that value in any sense of the word is probably the result of biological imperatives that are too complex to be fully understood at a conscious level without undertaking an immense study of the subject, which I'd imagine is part of why the value of life and morals/ethics have been such a long-standing branches of philosophical thought and discussion.

      My existence as a living entity is likely some bizarre coincidence of who knows what. Time-old questions are applicable; why this body, why this time or even, why these laws of physics? To me, this certainly gives me a strange sense of entrapment because this reality cannot be escaped. Is it even possible to dream a different reality? The limits of experience are primarily limited by the body in a biological sense. Speaking of my own experience only, even in the dream world, all the processes that take place there are still based off fact that one cannot really imagine a reality utterly different from ours because we exist in our reality and cannot truly see beyond it. In a way, there is some kind of existential bias added to all experience.

      Again, from my own experience mostly, but also based on some discussions, my view is that (pre-meditative) suicidal thought is a highly principled type of thinking which can happen to be seen as irrational by others. Truthfully I have found it distasteful in the past when I have heard certain people in my life criticise those who have committed suicide, because they clearly do not understand the motivation or think that the act is unwarranted regardless of the motivation. Impulsive suicidal thought and action is even more complex, I feel.

      Certainly, there have been many points in my life so far that have made me think that the "pain is too much" to handle and when I felt the only possible relief would be non-consciousness, but due to my own biases on pain, the thought of suicide in a traditional sense has never made sense as a solution of any kind, because it would involve pain, even if that pain was indirect and was just projected as the suffering of those around me.

      The irony is that in my nihilistic view I shouldn't need to care about what happens outside of me and that once I'm non-existent, as far as I'm concerned the rest of the universe ceases to exist too but I have never attached myself to this because every time I have contemplated such things I have always felt that under the possibility that I'm wrong, it could be a mistake that could lead to unnecessarily making others feel the same suffering I did, on some level. Perhaps this comes from my religious background of giving some priority to the lives and feelings of others. Of course there are (mostly) painless ways to end life but they are not simple and they are not without the possibility of error. And I certainly would not discuss them with anyone online, anyway.

      To make an error is always a possibility under any circumstance, even if that error can't yet be imagined or even fully understood.

      Quote Originally Posted by Summerlander View Post
      I think we have been referring to the type of suicide brought about by a sense of entrapment, as though death is the only way out—often taking root in depression rather than nihilistic thinking, existential angst, or the promise of a hereafter.
      Could you expand on this outside of what has been referred to so far? I think I can see how it is different under the promise of a hereafter but I think my biases limit me here and I just can't see right now how there may be a difference under the context of nihilistic thought or existential angst if it's not something I referred to myself in the above already.
      Singled out from some of my favourite quotes from Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri: "Risks of [Planet] flowering: considerable. But rewards of godhood: who can measure? - Usurper Judaa'Maar: Courage: to question."

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      Dark, from reading your post, I can see that you feel very strongly about this subject. It's hard for me to understand really, but your post is enlightening for me. I never really thought about it from the standpoint of someone who is living with chronic pain. That does shed new light. Anyway, thanks for sharing.
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      Hi, DarkestDarkness

      To me, nihilism is a perspective that we can all come to adopt in phases or in a prolonged life crisis—temporarily or permanently—which reminds us that as human beings we inevitably tend to tell a story; if it's not the story of our lives, it is the story of what happens in the world. Seeing the world through a nihilistic lens also begets its own existential narrative of meaninglessness! Thus, meaning is anthropologically ascribed to objective reality.

      If we ask about the world, 'What does it all mean?' or even, 'What is the meaning of life?' we must follow with a logical enquiry: 'To whom?' To the fictitious supercomputer of Douglas Adams in Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy it is, cryptically, the number 42; to a monkey, it might be eating bananas and copulating, to a rock ... Absolutely nothing. I do think one can be a nihilist—as a way to understand/apprehend/regard the world in this manner, or, in the least, have a suspicion that existence is intrinsically meaningless—and still be at peace with the status quo in the knowledge that storytelling can still occur, however pragmatic, and meaning can be derived even if its invention is fostered by intention. What we intend is undergirded by urges and desires and may lead to a sense of purpose.

      What I'm emphasising here for the sake of discussion is a distinction between nihilism and fatalism. A nihilist will not necessarily conclude that we are doomed or trapped just because, from said philosophical standpoint, meaninglessness is a brute fact of existence. Nihilism might even provide the impetus to create meaning as one realises that there is plenty of leeway for it—it might even be liberating! Hopelessness and despair don't have to consume the nihilistic mind any more than the atheist is consumed by malice and depravity in the view that we live in a godless universe. For example: A nun might be reluctant to undress in the shower until it occurs to her that perhaps there is no Yahweh watching and feel liberated.

      Let's consider what might occur in the pensive mind of a nihilist: If everything is meaningless, then so is suicide; therefore it is a choice like any other—not a sin, not a selfish act, not cowardly nor brave a move either—but a choice that is available nonetheless. The freedom, or possibility, to see it as a way to escape a cruel world is still there, even as a last resort. You don't necessarily have to feel trapped when you can morbidly check out. On the other hand, if you are the awareness of the world, that is all you will ever be, the perspective, and death is not really an escape to anywhere different but unconscious oblivion—suicide, then, is merely pulling the plug on your own perspective; true annihilation ... The cessation of being. Even this very act is open to interpretation, ergo, you create your own reality only in the sense of what story you are telling yourself or whatever narrative the mind concocts. But I have to push back on the idea that suicide is a choice when it occurs to me that, as much as one feels like it would be a relief in tortuous situations, the moral imperative of sparing loved ones of the terrible, insufferable corollary might be sufficient to impede self-destruction. It then becomes a matter of conflicting urges in the mind of the suicidal until a predominant thought for a course of action wins out.

      Exploring this further, I ask myself: Do those who go through with suicide disregard how their loved ones might be affected as a result? Not necessarily. They might try to convince their loved ones, through a suicide note, that it is for the best. They may even tell themselves that we all die in the end and bad news are bound to come regardless. Morbidly, they might even hope their loved ones do the same after arriving at the same philosophical conclusion: Life is not worth living.

      If things seem empty, one can always 'fill' them with one's creative mind. A nihilist might even consider the possibility of a scientific breakthrough that will do away with sickness and death—whatever this might mean to people in general and on an individual basis. The fatalist, on the other hand, is more likely to disregard it or see it as eternal boredom and mental torture. Of course, so can the most pessimistic of nihilists. We may all, in fact, live in a spectrum between optimism and pessimism, fluctuating between the two. Existential questions pertaining to our own perceived state of affairs (time/locality/structure/circumstances) can be deemed to have mysterious answers or the 'why' is simply meaningless to ask in the first place as the cosmos barely bothers to reply with a 'Why not?'

      Undoubtedly, you are the sum of all your experiences up-to-date and how they interrelate and, despite the power of imagination, we cannot know what we don't know. And trying to dream up something radically different will inevitably conjure the memory of what we do know as a point of reference. As William Shakespeare's Hamlet put it, 'There are more things in heaven and Earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.' Psychedelics may shake up this existential bias ...

      Depression is a despondency which can beget a strong and unbearable sense of entrapment that can lead one to conclude suicide to be the only solution. Although nihilism, if adopted, can contribute to depression in some individuals—just as some atheists, not all, miss the days when they believed in a Creator and are deeply upset about their de facto disbelief—I wanted to make the distinction that one can arrive at suicide without depression and solely based on nihilistic philosophy. Depression is not based on philosophy as it is a type of melancholy without apparent cause.

      Existential angst is another condition which can exist for both the nihilists and the existentialists—the latter often seeing it as a state of disorientation indicative that the sufferer is lacking direction for action as the overwhelming sense of freedom of choice (unlike animals which are driven solely by instinct) in an ostensibly absurd world is confusing. For people, as Sartre put it, 'existence precedes essence', meaning, we are born in a confused state and gradually we find purpose. For a manufactured object such as the kitchen knife, 'essence' (what the object is going to be essential for) precedes its existence. The purpose is already there as the reason to make the utensil. We, unfortunate souls, in a sense, are thrust upon the world to then find our way. We have to invent ourselves. Failing to do so, or not seeing any purpose ahead (so why carry on) is just another possible venue of exploration when we are dealing with the subject of suicide as distinct from the 'nothing feels good' of depression. These conditions can be experienced at the same time or are somewhat, to a degree, interchangeable and may contribute—alone or in combination—to self-destruction.
      Last edited by Summerlander; 05-02-2021 at 02:48 AM. Reason: Additional
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      I am a nihilist along with DarkestDarknest if nihilism is defined as he defined it: the worldview that there is no objective meaning/value.

      If pessimism is a worldview that the world is inherently negative and optimism is a worldview that the world is inherently positive, alone, neither is completely based in realism, the worldview that attempts to see reality as clearly as possible, because to do so, you must both see the negative and positive without becoming blind to the other and yet, if you are a realist, you must be a nihilist, that is, understand that the "positives" and "negatives" are subjective: Without consciousness, nothing matters. Value exists for consciousness and there is not only one consciousness point of view, so each person has their subjective values, their sense of negative and positive.

      If you are a nihilist and decide to be pessimistic about it, well, I guess you are forgetting that your negative outlook is not inherent to reality but only so to the perceptual lenses you chose or happened to have on.

      What's been true every time I have tried to be strictly pessimistic or optimistic is that it doesn't last long. I am quickly confronted to some sort of pain/emptiness or awe/gratefulness that rejects the simplistic view.

      Scientifically, having a positive outlook on your abilities is linked with improved learning, so let's say being better primed for learning and adaption matters to you, that's an insensitive to have a more optimistic baseline. A more optimistic baseline, not an obsession for optimism. The optimistic worldview is also a cause of stress if someone pressures themselves to always be happy and ignore their own pain and the pain of others. So it's like breathing. In and out. I care about being happy. Happiness is not the objective moral emotion. In and out. I enjoy being happy. I don't need to be happy. In and out. I know some ways that make me happy. Right now, I don't want to be happy. In and out. I know I will be happy again in the future. I know the happiness I feel now is transient and I'm going to allow myself to enjoy it now and then let it go. In and out...

      I don't think that what people think of as pessimistic nihilism is caused by believing that our values are subjective. I think it's because we want to believe that they are objective and since it's not true, the dissonance hurts us. When Nietzsche said "God is dead" and that we are now empty because we lost our values along with our belief in God, I just don't buy it. Belief in God (objective meaning) is not why we love the people we love, why we love the hobbies we love, enjoy the foods and small pleasures that we enjoy, thrive for the achievements that we thrive for. The biological motivators did not disappear. We still feel desire for pleasure, companionship, fulfillment. The only we lost is our ego thinking we were the elite. That we could know the objective truth, the Holy Grail, and that we were the one that would snatch it, join God and win life. Now, you just got to be humble and responsible with your life. Because you won't win or lose, but you will have an effect on yourself and others.

      So when I say there is no objective value/morality/meaning, I don't mean that there are no objective facts. There are many things that are objectively true but any one of us can only know them subjectively and some things we know might be more objective than others, but there is no book in the hand of God that says your purpose in life is to rescue cats and paint them in cute outfits. What's objective is that you, specifically, might enjoy doing that as well as other things, sometimes, and if you do, this action will interact with the cats you rescued and the people who look at your art.

      The main reason for my response here is that I am thinking quite a lot about values being subjective/nihilism and how it affects my dreams and I am kind of organizing my thoughts on the subject as I respond. At the onset of lucidity, mostly, I have been fumbling along hard brick walls. I think it's because in lucidity, I become aware of my endless subjective freedom and it's too much. I'm actually seeking something tangible, objective. So, I touch the walls as if they are greatly meaningful because they're so hard and they restrain my hand trying to push through them. Having written this post, I think this is my problem, that I am still latching on to some objective value, to some Holy Grail (and if you read my posts, you are probably seeing me repeat myself a lot haha). I guess I must further commit to nihilism, that there is no Holy Grail and my values will forever be subjective. So, any dream activity I embark on is valid. I will ponder this a bit longer, but it's feeling right. Hopefully, I can push myself off or through my precious dream walls and do some other subjectively valuable things.

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      Thank you Summerlander, for the in-depth reply. It made sense to me and I found some of it to be quite helpful on some of the points where I don't have much formal knowledge on these subjects.



      Anecdotally I have known some people to not be nihilist in their views and also be locked in a semi-permanent and strongly pessimist (less commonly, sometimes optimist) view about the world, but from my discussions and observations of them, their behaviour stemmed from a bitterness, maybe a feeling of unfulfilment or some other due inner feeling within them becoming projected outwards as part of their acting physical outlook on life, if that makes sense. Whether their vision of the world could be changed in either direction by addressing their own internal issues, I do not know, but overtly present optimism or pessimism in a world view certainly seems to be somewhat self-consuming in one way or another, if no room is ever allowed for its opposite.

      It's funny you should mention Nietzsche's "God is dead" quote, as I have a painting I have very recently been wanting to go back to and maybe finish. The motivation for this work came to me over a year ago, as I found myself frequently finishing that quote in my mind with "...and He has been for some time.", having at that time recently been thinking about Nietzsche and other such thinkers mentioning God.

      In this sense, I am not reading Nietzsche's original quote under its own context/era and with his own motivations, I read and add to it under my own reframed context in that God can be interpreted as the Self within us all, which as you might say would exist outside of religion and belief, with all its own desires, be they vengeful or loving. Belief in God in a traditional sense is not required for accepting and using God as a symbol of some sort in a personal voyage, or even in entertainment; so many games use God(s) as part of their themes or stories, but there isn't a requirement of belief to play through such a story; only a requirement of suspension of disbelief, which is not the same thing as belief itself. In any case, I have been thinking about redoing that painting simply as a different version, back from the start and in a different symbolic language from what I was originally working with, which is certainly very "western religion" when I think about my composition.

      My feeling for bringing this up may be that I have often noticed myself to interpret things very rigidly in the past, like I was attempting to access some absolute truth I might have been missing about a segment in literature, feeling nobody was teaching me this hidden but "obviously absolute" element. I do repeatedly see you in a sort of pattern here, Occipitalred. For so many years of reading things, I had not given enough weight to the voice of my own interpretation, something I have come to understand that I should not take for granted, especially because it did not come automatically for me; for granted, now that was the fact that I would too often try to read things under a more literal sense. Imagine how confusing the Bible or any holy text must have been for me, under that context. It was incredibly confusing and didn't allow me to understand or even consider potential metaphor in something such as passages or commandments, also not allowing me to gain perspective on their own relevance within their own time.

      The objective value you mention is basically what I had always been trying to acquire all along, not giving room to my own "endless subjective freedom". Of course, it's not always wise to wield subjective freedom where it is uncalled for or unnecessary, such as in safety precautions for handling a blade or something like that...

      And under a context of personal exploration and creativity, there is an incredible difference for example in following and understanding a recipe for something as simple as cooking rice. In a cliche, following lets you understand, which then lets you break the original mould, so that you can reshape the very mould itself on your own, so as to cast your own creation from that mould. That is why in school I and others were taught to draw straight lines for no apparent reason, or draw bundles of fabric or scrunched up paper. The reason was intangible without first having experience and also because we had no concrete (but subjective) desires yet, because it is experience that eventually allows us to make up our minds on things, I suppose.

      Anyway, my mind is pretty scattered at the moment which is why I have wandered around here in a bit of a zig-zag.
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      Because philosophical suicide was addressed in this thread, I thought it would be interesting to share my dream from last night...

      I was sitting at a round table, high on a small but tall steamboat, having tea with two mature women and we were discussing empathy. These ladies claimed to have no empathy. I asked them to imagine that cats can actually feel the experience of pain in their subjective world, then, can they really say they don't care about a cat getting it's leg crushed at all?" The woman on my left sipped at her tea unbothered and responded "No, I don't care." Unable to accept this lack of compassion, I challenged them: "Then, will you care about this?" and I threw myself off the boat. My body landed on hard ice, leaving me incapacitated and slowly drifting down into the icy water underneath. For a moment, I realized the harsh consequence of my little tantrum and I hesitated, thinking, "I overreacted, I shouldn't have done that and the dream backtracked to before I jumped. But then facing the ladies again, I decided to accept my first choice and I went forward with me throwing myself off the boat, hitting the ice, and my body slipping away into the depths. The women did not care so much but they still came after me as if it were just a mere chore and by then I was a child pleasantly exploring the night life downtown, knowing the ladies were still looking for me.

      I woke up a bit shocked by my overreaction, It was perplexing that I chose to just pretty much kill myself twice (once impulsively, and then after reflection and understanding the consequences) in defiance to the lack of compassion from the people around me, but as surreal as it was, the event felt continuous with how I feel. Sometimes, I find that other people's attitudes really do remove my interest to participate in this world. Do I even want to live in a world where people don't give a **** about other people, other than for my natural survival instinct. Well, apparently not so much.

      Anyway, apart from making me think of this thread and think about how I need to maybe ground myself a bit more, I thought it was another example of a interesting pattern in dreams, where I have the instinctive knowledge that I can rewind and fast forward events in dreams.
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      Quote Originally Posted by Occipitalred View Post
      I woke up a bit shocked by my overreaction, It was perplexing that I chose to just pretty much kill myself twice (once impulsively, and then after reflection and understanding the consequences) in defiance to the lack of compassion from the people around me, but as surreal as it was, the event felt continuous with how I feel. Sometimes, I find that other people's attitudes really do remove my interest to participate in this world. Do I even want to live in a world where people don't give a **** about other people, other than for my natural survival instinct. Well, apparently not so much.
      I relate to the sentiment but I feel the need to challenge it, both for yourself and maybe myself. You say "apparently not so much" in regards to interest in living in such a world, but I think some part of you already challenges this thought or feeling by the childlike curiosity you exhibited in the dream afterwards, exploring "night life downtown", a highly social and human environment. It seems to me that part accepted that they weren't going to change and so that part just continued doing what it wanted.

      My own conscious challenge, putting aside the natural survival instinct too, would be to consider as someone said (I forget who, and I'm paraphrasing anyhow), that "the mark of a civilised (hu)man is the ability to have control over one's inner turmoil and base instincts". In a sense, those two women in your dream are very primal creatures, they don't feel empathy on any relevant level and any possible desire to "rescue" you may come out only because of a forced sense of duty. That is not civilised behaviour, which has to be a willing behaviour, by this paraphrase's definition. They are primal but conscious beings that do not require empathy to exist, like animals in a sense, with more complexities at some turns.

      To turn my reply more towards the scope of discussing some form of pessimism since that is part of the topic title... On the other hand, a highly conscious person may also control their own senses of empathy and sympathy at times. Life can become difficult on a more basic level by trying to care about/for every single living thing, especially other humans sometimes. Try to feel the suffering of all those around you and you may become overwhelmed, but suppress your empathy in its entirety and you may feel hollow. For example, should you be sympathetic towards those who lack empathy? Morally, it may be right to be sympathetic to them, but on a different level, will it make them better human beings if you are sympathetic towards them? It's likely not going to be a clear yes/no answer and will depend on a factor of time and also other unknowns. And perhaps more importantly to you as an individual, will it help you feel better and live your own life to its potential?

      Viewing the world in this way paints a sad picture, I think, but it is certainly part of how I see it at times, with a sense of pragmatism. I try to give the same chances of respect, civility and truth to pretty much all individuals I encounter, but if they do not accept, acknowledge or make use of those chances, is that not a lesson for me to discontinue that behaviour with those individuals? If I encountered this enough times that I stopped giving chances at all, I would truly have a pessimistic view of the world. But if I were to give someone hundreds of chances with a sense of optimism, then I am just being naive. Fool me once and all that. But despite all my negative encounters, no matter how stupid or uncaring someone "appears" to be, I will generally make the assumption that they are intelligent human beings, capable of forming informed and civilised choices that lead to behaviours that contribute to all in a positive way. If they prove me wrong, then I will adjust my own behaviour, since they cannot adjust theirs. This is overly reductive of a very complex thing, I think, but if I wanted to write more, I should be writing a book, right?

      In any case, I feel that to give no chances at all is to become one with a truly ugly view of the world: that there is no redeeming to the world and it is to consider that the bad and ugly quantitatively and objectively outweigh the good and beautiful things and that this outweighing matters most. Nevermind this being a negative worldview, it's potentially self-destructing in a way that could just lead to the same lack of empathy others seem to show.

      There's something partly related to this about animal behaviour I've been wanting to go into since I first read the original post by Summerlander but I will try again some other time. I never know what I'm actually going to type.

      P.S.: Also, this thread has gotten me thinking about D&D-style alignment tables but with philosophical worldviews instead.
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      Quote Originally Posted by DarkestDarkness View Post
      I relate to the sentiment but I feel the need to challenge it, both for yourself and maybe myself. You say "apparently not so much" in regards to interest in living in such a world, but I think some part of you already challenges this thought or feeling by the childlike curiosity you exhibited in the dream afterwards, exploring "night life downtown", a highly social and human environment. It seems to me that part accepted that they weren't going to change and so that part just continued doing what it wanted.

      My own conscious challenge, putting aside the natural survival instinct too, would be to consider as someone said (I forget who, and I'm paraphrasing anyhow), that "the mark of a civilised (hu)man is the ability to have control over one's inner turmoil and base instincts". In a sense, those two women in your dream are very primal creatures, they don't feel empathy on any relevant level and any possible desire to "rescue" you may come out only because of a forced sense of duty. That is not civilised behaviour, which has to be a willing behaviour, by this paraphrase's definition. They are primal but conscious beings that do not require empathy to exist, like animals in a sense, with more complexities at some turns.
      Right, interesting!


      Quote Originally Posted by DarkestDarkness View Post
      There's something partly related to this about animal behaviour I've been wanting to go into since I first read the original post by Summerlander but I will try again some other time. I never know what I'm actually going to type.
      I'm curious to see what you'll say about that. When, I was doing animal behavior tests, one way to measure "depression" or "despair" in mice was called the "forced-swim test" where you put a mouse in a cylinder filled with water so that the mouse can neither touch the bottom nor climb out. There are two strategies available to the mouse: struggle (hope) or immobility (despair). Behaviour despair is measured by the time it takes for the mouse to choose the immobility strategy. The reason this is useful is because with a depression model of mice where they favor the immobility strategy over a healthy mouse, known antidepressants can be used to treat this behaviour. Mice treated with antidepressents will struggle longer, as the norm. So this can be used to see if new antidepressant drugs have potential.

      What's interesting is that the immobility strategy is actually better, objectively, because it uses up less energy, and they still float. Whereas the struggling is futile and will not get them out faster. There's also the "Tail-suspension test" where a mouse hangs by its tail and again we measure how long they struggle before they become immobile. Here's an article about this:
      The article

      Evidently, this test is not equivalent to human depression but it's an interesting food for thought.

      If I'm inspired by DarkestDarkness' description of primal (first thought) vs civilized (second thought) behaviour, maybe this struggle/immobile choice the mouse makes is interesting on the primal level. On the civilized level, immobility is the better long-term strategy. But what if you're first impulse is to do nothing and give up... Then, that's despair.

      About pessimism, what if it's based in the civilized level. Your first impulse is to fight but you intellectually decide that it would be futile and you better conserve energy by being passive until a real opportunity presents itself. But then, it's always the case, and now your first impulse becomes defeatist right away. And you're no longer a philosophical pessimist, you're depressed. I guess for pessimism to remain a pragmatic philosophy, you must always nurture the first impulse to struggle and only choose to be immobile with your second thought, not your first...

      Anyway, just some thoughts. I always found what these experiments say about hope and despair interesting if not very strange.
      Last edited by Occipitalred; 05-07-2021 at 06:04 PM.
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      Quote Originally Posted by Occipitalred View Post
      I'm curious to see what you'll say about that.
      It's mostly relating (loosely) to the following, about something I have considered for a long time:

      Quote Originally Posted by Summerlander View Post
      His psychological observations include the premise that there aren't any human affairs and endeavours worth stressing about. The anxiety experienced when embarking upon certain enterprises with high levels of expectation take root in the fact that matters of the intellect have come to dominate much of our consciousness.

      The brute is free from care and, in a sense, without hope as this type of creature is an embodiment of present impulses that depend on what lies before it. A point made by the philosopher 'on the sufferings of the world' chapter. The capacity to suffer is thus lesser in animals than man.
      I think we collectively live in this cycle that perpetuates matters of intellect but also of morality, which for better or for worse can deny us a simpler but possibly enjoyable existence. I think in this regard I share some similarities with this author's view that I'm quoting from Summerlander, finding that there is a certain level of anxiety for everything that involves some form of expectation, even if it is a medium-term and non-conscious expectation. I don't think a high level of expectation is even required for experiencing anxiety of some kind.

      As a practical example, I have never found myself going somewhere such as a forest, a park, a lake or anywhere at all really and finding myself truly appreciating being there, as a simple animal. As a child, my life was filled with the constant thoughts of others made verbal, certainly creating a certain level of expectation from my own part. My senses are often denied their full attention not only by my chronic pain, but also by thought; never-ending streams of thought that constantly cause a variance of focus on the primary sensory aspect of life. I can only imagine that there could be a certain level of pre-determined behaviour at a genetic level on this, but I am certain that a lot of this intrusive conscious behaviour is related to my experiences from when I was a child.

      So, I can be somewhere that I want to enjoy being in and find myself thinking, about anything. Of things relating to recent events, of unfulfilled desires, incomplete chores, having to return home, etc. Many times, but especially when I was younger, I may also think of bad things happening, i.e. being mugged, assaulted, shouted at, etc., even when at a conscious level I know that these events are unlikely at best, especially if I base my consideration off my own life experience.

      Sometimes I go by cattle on a journey somewhere and I often imagine how they can manage to sit down and do nothing, just absolutely nothing, only staring at the environment around them for certain periods of time. I think, they have received no further programming in a way, and are in an idle routine. As far as human culture and society goes, these moments just don't happen for many of us because of the general set up of things, I think. There are chores to do, things to prepare, people to talk to, things to think about. Life as a human is constantly lived in thought and the "when" of that thinking isn't even relevant in my view, because thinking about one's present situation can detract from the primary senses too.

      I know that I have essentially become programmed by human life around me as I developed, in an unchangeable way, much the same as how that cattle will likely never receive or be able to adjust to further training., I fear but accept that I may never know an idle moment truly in that animal way where life is just around you and there's nothing to do or think about. I simply do not know it and can't imagine I will have the opportunity to, even though I do attempt to do so more and more as I get older.

      In a cultural sense, it's logical to be so concerned about all the tenses, past, present and future, but especially future, because human life in many places is highly complex, because we are highly dependent on social structure for survival needs. If I want food, I cannot, or do not, simply graze like cattle might. I need to have completed a number of socially involved tasks to acquire means of acquiring food in a socially acceptable manner and so on.

      Our ends are just the same as all other living things; but our means are so incredibly complex and connect in a social web that goes beyond what we see or experience in everyday life.

      I should emphasise that this is my view, based on my life experience. I recognise that many humans likely will not lead lives at all similar to generic western lives. But I believe that it's very difficult as humans to enjoy the simplicity of life in the strictest sense of it. I'm not sure how this can fit into the rest of the discussion here though.
      Last edited by DarkestDarkness; 05-08-2021 at 02:26 AM. Reason: clarity
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      Thank you, guys, for making this thread rich! I have a lot to mull over and I'm glad I'm not alone here in thinking deeply about such subjects as nihilism, pessimism, Nietzsche, etc.

      Something caught my attention recently and I'd love to know how others take this ...

      ' "Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and unto God the things that are God's." That's the separation of Church and State in one sentence. That's a miracle.'

      That was the reply given by the psychologist Jordan Peterson when asked if Jesus Christ performed miracles. Peterson describes himself as a religious man, but it is clear that he is not your average Christian when he questions the meaning of belief and uses the words 'eternal logos' more than he says 'God' whilst defying the contention opined by Richard Dawkins that societies come about solely through biology and the integration of memes—a view that he feels neglects how much human interactions matter and how certain so-called memes attributed to modern civilisation were already in circulation in the Middle Ages.

      Peterson has made a psychological interpretation of Biblical stories—in particular, Genesis—but he affirms he's not a theologian. The professor contends that without religion, creating meaning out of the psyche—as Nietzsche had hoped it would happen after declaring that God is dead—is a doomed enterprise. He points out that Nietzsche predicted the catastrophic consequences of humankind adopting atheism, namely, the rise of Communism, nihilism, and a myriad deaths decades later. I do not share this view as it can be argued, as Christopher Hitchens once did, that Stalinism does not equate with atheism. Furthermore, as a Marxist ideology, it was closer to resembling a religion whereby the dictator was regarded as a superman and practically a human god to be feared and venerated—not to mention that atheists don't necessarily subscribe to the Communist agenda.

      Peterson also has to contend with the fact that the most dysfunctional societies tend to be deeply religious—as Susan Blackmore points out in the first episode of The Big Conversation series from the Unbelievable? podcast—whilst Scandinavian nations which are predominantly secular tend to have low crime rates. I do find that once challenged on assertions that Western societies are morally functional due to Judeo-Christian values and that nations necessitate religion in general, Peterson appears to conveniently play a semantic game much like a mayor downplaying the criminal gravity of his city, such as Sadiq Khan—who stated that it depends on how one defines 'robbery'—when presented with statistics showing that crime has risen in London. In the context of this conversation, Peterson makes a suspiciously casuistic distinction that one can be religiously dogmatic as opposed to spiritual which, in his view, certain Middle Eastern nations lack, thus creating negative states.

      Nevertheless, when asked if people need God to make sense of the world, Peterson gives an interesting, Jungian response:

      'God is what you use to make sense of your life by definition. You have a hierarchy of values—if you didn't, you wouldn't be able to act or you would be painfully confused. Whatever is at the top of that hierarchy (the highest value) serves the function of God for you. It may be a god that you don't believe in or a god you can't name, but it doesn't matter because it's God for you. What you think of God has little impact on how God is acting within you—whatever god it is that you happen to be following.'
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      Good way to get me rambling, Summerlander...



      The importance of religion within the communities I've lived in has always been obvious to me but despite my upbringing I do not share their belief in a way that requires physical places of worship. I am much as in that second and longer quoted part from Peterson and I find that God, as a spiritual concept, not a religious one, is an elastic and changing aspect of one's self, regardless of belief. I think there's an important distinction that isn't necessarily obvious between religion and spirituality but one may preclude the other depending on how a person was introduced to either. In my case, religion came first, spirituality gradually came later.

      The distinction I make between the two is that religion is almost necessarily a social arrangement and therefore an organised endeavour regardless of what religion it is. Spirituality on the other hand, something that is promoted within religions in many ways, is an individual aspect that cannot be organised quite the same, especially as people are diverse and form different individual opinions and maybe feelings. This is my personal observation.

      Consider that I'm not zealously religious like my grandmother, or even as deeply religious as my mother or father, both of which are not at the level of my grandmother. In my interpretation of some basic Christian stuff, the organised aspect of religion is in part going against the spiritual aspect it is trying to promote. Many churches I visit are indeed beautiful places that can promote a feeling of inner peace or contemplation given the right conditions. And they are almost necessarily filled with "false" idols, which to me not being as religious as those family members still seems blasphemous, but to them does not. How can this be, I always wonder.

      I define false idols here as objects that are given the appearance and estimation of being holy, but that under a secular lens are nothing more than objects that have no direct connection to the historical figures relevant to the religion, i.e. the cup of the blood of Christ is not actually what it claims to be in every church. It is what it claims to be for a symbolic purpose, which has an understandable aspect of course... Mosques (by extension, Islam) often approach the aspect of idols in a much more interesting way than Christian churches, I feel. But I'm talking mostly about Christian stuff here since that's what's around me and is what I know.

      Also note, I am not using blasphemous with a negative connotation, I simply mean to say that the teachings seem to be ignored at certain turns, for some historical or cultural reason, whatever that may be. I do not think there's anything inherently wrong with the objects found in religious buildings, they harm no-one in principle and are of course meant to serve some symbolic purpose. I simply find them to be a paradox.

      I do not feel the need to attend church as many in my family do. Even though I do work in churches sometimes, which gives me the great opportunity of seeing them from a completely behind-the-scenes point of view, I do not feel that these wonderful buildings are required at all for the purpose they mean to serve. I think I cannot attribute the same value to "sense of community" from attending church as my family can. When I went to church with my family as a child, it all seemed mysterious and worthy of reverence, however bored I may have been, but having now stepped across otherwise "forbidden" thresholds for someone attending church, I understand that a church as a building is simply... A building, with maintenance, with costs, staff and so on. And this did further change my relationship with God as a concept.

      Of course, I always knew this truth to the buildings on some level, it's not like I didn't hear it mentioned or didn't study it in History and other classes. But to me, the mystery of it died only when I physically stepped across that threshold myself, to do something that doesn't require religion, which is repair and maintenance works on church stuff. Do I like doing that work? Certainly, it's different, interesting and most of all, typically fairly quiet and isolated. And I do not find that God is in the works I'm doing or the objects I'm touching. If you really want to stretch it, these are just channels if I'm in the right mood and mindset. I can and already do this at home, as actually I think many religious people probably do, with their own small idols, to a saint or Jesus or whomever is most relevant to them, whomever represents their own top priorities and values.

      So from my point of view, religion is not required for creating meaning, but it seems to promote the creation of a unified meaning that can potentially diverge as people explore it by themselves. The question really in my opinion is, with or without religion, will people explore this personal aspect of spirituality or will they just follow religion in a different way when presented with something that challenges their current assumptions, rather than exploring their individual spirituality? Again, consider this question under my above distinction between the two.

      I think it has become obvious in some sense that religion can be replaced by other quasi-religious phenomenons. As a very random example, people do sometimes make remarks such as "Sarah has an almost religious dedication to chocolate" and Sarah here (sorry to any Sarah) can be replaced by any other name and chocolate can be replaced by almost... Anything.

      To me, this has certain implications, but I'll stop here for now as I've taken enough thought-space for now.
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      If we all agree on the definition of nihilism as the worldview that there is no objective meaning/value, then am a nihilist, too. If we start discussing the phenomena that surrounds us based on likes, dislikes, and what it means to us as individuals, then we enter into the realm of subjectivity whereby what is true for some isn't so for others. If you think the existence of conscious life in the universe is a negative thing because suffering is abundant in the realm of experience and you're an ardent advocate for anti-natalism, then you lean on the pessimistic side of the spectrum. If you imagine the potential for life to be better than what it is and take into consideration the range of positively ecstatic experiences it can offer, welcome to optimism. The reality of the world, however, simply is what it is regardless of interpretation.

      One it comes to the concept of God, you will not find any objective evidence for His existence other than people behaving as though He exists. Forget about searching for the Abrahamic Creator of the universe from a rationalist perspective. For Jordan Peterson, there is a hierarchy of metaphysical, eternal truths regardless of how tenuously these might be conveyed through reality with its many anthropic contexts. Peterson's concept of God (or 'Logos') is closer to Aristotle's Telos, which is where the term 'teleology' comes from.

      By 'Telos', Aristotle referred to the full potential or inherent purpose of someone or something—the 'supreme end of man's endeavour' or the 'goal'. For Immanuel Kant, it was the summum bonum or the highest or ultimate good; for Plato, it was the Form of the Good; in Stoicism, it is virtue (moral good); and Cicero put it that that which is not itself a means to anything else, but which all else is a means, is what the Greeks termed the Telos, the highest, ultimate or final Good. This Telos for Aristotle can manifest in all forms of human activity: the Telos of warfare is victory; the Telos of business is the creation of wealth, and in this view a hierarchy of many Telos begins to form. Cicero provided political examples such as the Telos of the blacksmith being the production of the sword while that of the swordsman's is to kill or incapacitate the enemy with it.

      On the other hand, the Telos of these occupations are merely part of the purpose of a ruler, who must oversee the direction and wellbeing of a state. As one can see, the example illustrates a teleology subservient to an overseeing Telos manifested by the ruler. The ruler, in turn, must be exemplary and his best self in his subjective hierarchy of values. What he values the most as a ruler is what he'll try to impersonate as much as he can—one can interpret this personal ideal in a Jungian way by calling it the 'higher self'. Peterson would say that this metaphysical ideal that we all aspire to become—the very best version of ourselves—is God working through us. Peterson would go as far as to say that even humanistic atheists like Richard Dawkins or Sam Harris act as though God exists and therefore, are not really atheistic. According to Peterson, the only true atheist is the psychopath as atheism strictly defined or conveyed by Dostoyevsky's literature in his interpretation.

      I like to see someone like the philosopher and neuroscientist Sam Harris, pacing up and down like a modern Aristotle, whilst contemplating and articulating matters of morality and free will—or lack thereof—in his attempt to grasp how humans apprehend reality and create meaning in their lives. I'd like to do the same with what is solely mine: my own mind. The aim here is to observe mental phenomena, what it might inform, and record what is undeniably true in the epistemological sense.

      John Milton's PARADISE LOST—published a year after the Great Fire of London—is ostensibly the perfect poetic illustration of the concept of Eden symbolising a blissful ignorance that is lost once one decides to eat from the Tree of Knowledge—which stands for expanding one's mental horizons; feeding the ego with answers, rather than be content with appreciating what is from a simplicity devoid of labels and definitions, as one is bothered by the lack of power the unknown brings. Once you taste the apple, the insatiable thirst for knowledge begins as you aspire to comprehend the world, like a scientist, through a knowledgeable lens presumably closer to the vantage point of God.

      Satan is the Promethean rebel impelling you to satiate curiosity as the start of an exciting enterprise rather than observe it as just a sensation to be subsequently ignored. 'Paradise' is then lost forever and the curse of mapping reality begins—a quest where you no longer sit still, as it were, to simply contemplate the world, as the thirst for knowledge compels you to a promised world where everything makes sense and you're bound to move forever. This approach, however grim it sounds, can helps us appreciate the world in a new light—a kind of 'visible darkness' to borrow one of Milton's expressions. For Milton, Satan was the good guy who lead the way to uncovering forbidden knowledge. He opposed censorship and valued free speech for all as he argued that the only way we can formulate our opinions and beliefs is to hear from the opposition. Milton brought us the first known depiction of angel farts in English literature and he claimed his work was inspired by dreams! And he wasn't the only one to use them as a source of creativity ...

      Plato points to the sky and Aristotle points to the ground in Raphael's painting, The School of Athens. Aristotle was more grounded in pragmatism, concerning himself with introspection in order to discover how to best convey being good through behaviour and action as opposed to the Platonist approach of realising the conception of goodness in its purest form. But I can take pleasure from both viewpoints in the artistic context: I can realistically depict the world or I can play around with abstractions if I wish to break the restrictive notions of what I think I know about reality to freely swim in the absurdities of my imagination; I can manipulate both types of creation by subliminally distorting formulated archetypes, reifying on the canvas worlds that never were but can be when we dream.

      Mindfulness can be a great tool, not just in wakefulness, but also, during conscious sleep—manifesting itself as lucid dreaming—where I can potentially make contact with the subconscious and uncover what lies in the deepest recesses of my mind. There is a whole other phenomenal universe within which appears to be another place but is, undoubtedly, representational of thoughts, feelings, emotions, memories, concepts, aspects of self and imagination occurring in the same space where percepts come together to model reality. If my senses can reflect objective reality—if there is such a thing—so can interesting, alternate pseudo-realities emerge in the same field of consciousness which are unconventionally moulded by a creative force.

      The Salvador Dalí in me begins to manifest, for, if I admire the man as an artist, I begin to be inspired by his surrealism. But I do not wish to imitate him. I merely take on board what I have learned from Dalí, which I deem subliminally valuable, in order to create something original in my head. Like Dalí, I can also explore the borderland states of hypnagogia and hypnopompia. It is the creative force that drives me when I feel creative ...
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      I've been finding reading your discussion very interesting Darkestdarkness and Summerlander. You mentioned Sam Harris and I did read all his books and found them quite interesting. He wrote a book about secular morality in which he claims that science has the answer for objective morality. We can test what does good and what does bad for who and in which circumstances. I then went to see the criticism he received and I had to agree with the criticism: Even if we can acquire information on what increases the wellbeing of a certain person in a certain situation, how we define wellbeing remains a subjective pursuit. If you are interested, Sam Harris' mistake is ignoring the "is-ought" gap. I think he could fix his book by simply acknowledging that. Once wellbeing is defined in a subjective way, you can indeed use objective facts to support those subjective ends.

      And I think Jordan Peterson falls in a similar trap. Jordan Peterson is more about ideas and stories though. It's objectively true that specific stories exist (is). It's also objectively true that the authors had particular intents and that the readers interpret the stories in particular ways (is). However, he tries to erase the is-ought gap. Because catholic myths are popular, they must be right and valuable without question (ought). It seems to me Jordan Peterson is trying to have a strong worldview and reconcile it with popular worldviews (he doesn't want to face the uncertainty of life). Trying to make it all fit. Trying to explain every Christian myth in a way that is meaningful to HIM (and many others) and say this is the objective truth. I think that's where he fails. He could simply own up to the subjectivity. Say Christian myths are popular myths and he is putting in effort to make them meaningful to him. And others. I think he's trying to connect with the Jungian idea of a collective unconscious.

      Myself, as part of the book club, I'm trying to really focus on the sense of OTHER as I visit my dreams and daydreams. Aspects that might be representative of other people's ideas. This might seem like I'm reaching at an objective truth, but it's not because a subjective experience is shared by a collective of people, that it is true for everyone. Peterson thinks that because the Christian God connects with many people that he must represents elements important to everyone and I really think this is false. There are many values of Christianity that simply don't fit with others. For example, in Christianity, the bond between a woman and a man is very holy. And someone can take a lot of time pondering this and seeing how true it is according to their experience. But queer people know a different truth for themselves. And it is not simply that you can replace a man with a woman and vice versa and get the same story. The Christian idea of marriage insinuates many things about gender roles that might align with and/or not with heterosexual couples but the queer will need to connect with different values by definition (and all not the same values). The family values of the nuclear family is very attractive to a lot of people and a person can sit and think about it and say there must be an objective truth in this subjective experience. But the objectivity of it all ends where you say these values connect and are accessible to certain people. Other people don't connect or don't have access to that. A heterosexual person may be infertile or not desire children for example.

      I'll also say, about Peterson's idea that we all have God in our lives. I find this is a popular idea that is actually somewhat problematic. I had this discussion with a few religious people. I tried to say that despite having different believes, the feeling of presence of God is the same but in a different disguise. They simply did not agree. They have a specific idea of God and other gods are not their God. To say that my love for nature is equivalent to someone's love for God is blasphemy. It's literally the first Commandment, that you should not treat the rivers and mountains, the sun and moon, money, your friends and family, the universe, etc as God. These ideas are pagan ideas and in complete opposition to Christianity. In the end, Peterson' is being the best of Christians by reverting his awe for anything back to his awe for God. In the end, God is an aesthetic. It's all aesthetics. And the pagans were fine making rivers and each of the things that they interacted with a particular god. These gods were symbols, subjectively meaningful ones... But in the end, there is no particular need to grab everything you love or fear in life and call it God and make God the manifestation of all good and true things.

      I personally like to pray to Mother Earth or some similar figure but I realize that act is meaningful to me and not some objective truth that everyone needs to worship Pachamama or all systems of values in the world will fall apart and destructive chaos will ensue.

      People don't need the Bible more than Disney. Lots of people will find either of these things full of meaning and others will perhaps prefer other stories. Peterson was appalled at Frozen for not being a traditional story. His need for an objective truth of meaning is limiting his ability to be creative/imaginative. I didn't particularly love Frozen but nothing about it didn't speak to some people's experiences. The fact that Frozen was a story that valued the filial love between two sisters rather than the romantic love between a heterosexual man and woman and that this was offensive shows how limiting it is to strongly believe in objective meaning. For example, Peterson explained the Sleeping Beauty story as the story of a single woman, the prince (her own active self) waking up the princess (her passive self) is a really fun interpretation until you make it into an objective meaning. I loved that interpretation as I read it! But to go from there to say that Frozen goes against all good by not having the prince wake the princess up... I mean, he will say he is pro-LGBT and feminist obviously, but it really doesn't show in how he limits his interpretation of meaning (Here, I don't mean to say he is homophobic/sexist: I mean his values are overtly biased from the perspective of cishet man from western catholic society and the problem is he calls these ideas and values objective, which honestly is the source of a lot of covert homophobia, sexism, racism: claiming the values of yourself and your group should also be the values of everyone). Women don't have to be symbols of passivity. You can for sure have a princess wake up a prince and you are not destroying the fabric of the universe.
      Last edited by Occipitalred; 05-26-2021 at 07:12 PM.

    19. #19
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      Honestly I'm a bit of out depth whenever literary works are mentioned and I also had to look up the "is-ought" fallacy, as I wasn't familiar with this concept in a formal way. I don't know, my posting history on the site might not indicate it but I'm not really a person of "letters" as they would say where I grew up. Interestingly enough, I only really started to learn about Milton's "Paradise Lost" last year and I had heard of it for years and years. I have read parts of the text over the last year, though it's a bit of a thick read for me to get through; I'm simply not at a level yet that I can read such a thing other than bit by bit. Though my knowledge rarely gets consolidated properly into memory since I rarely get to talk about it.

      To perhaps continue on a little from my previous post and to address the point about how some religious people may think of a different (faith-like) love as blasphemous (I haven't encountered this in conversation myself, that I can recall, see below), the problem for me with religion at a conceptual level is that religions are (often?) naturally dogmatic, at the very least from the organisational sense of things. From my view this is one of the failings of it all, as I see dogma to be somewhat counter to free will and thoughtful discussion and this means that the divergence from the thought mainstream I mentioned seems to me to be less likely to happen when people are unwilling to challenge their own points of view. I think this may partly be why the examples you're giving, Occipitalred, about Peterson are the way they are; without knowing the author, it sounds as though he sort of adheres to dogma possibly for the reason I can imagine people doing so, for fear of feeling (being) excluded from something he's already a part of, in a way, whether he realises this or not.

      This is a primary reason I tell people of religion around me that I'm Catholic, well besides the fact that because by background I "am". However, if I'm honest with myself, I'm probably not so Christian in any traditional sense by my cherry-picking on the matter. It does make life easier and less frictional to put myself on the terms of others and the trouble is that views can hardly ever be changed when you're standing on the outside, rather than on the inside. How could I convince a friend to think about how their absolute beliefs may have flaws, if they think I have nothing in common with them in a theological sense? And I also cannot dogmatically accept a lot of statements or tenets within faith ideology simply because it's part of the religion, it's a bit like saying that because something was written down then it is good and holy, regardless of any negative impact it has on others.

      I don't really know though, since all I can do is guess about much of this. In this case of an author like Peterson, he would probably have to openly disclose why he said something in the way he did for me to really understand whether he is being dogmatic or not. I certainly hope I never come across that way myself and that I am challenged if I do. The questioning thought comes to my mind that if an author is living and writing books on a matter, is the author being constructively challenged? Is an author even aware that they may be receiving such a challenge to their own views? If I wrote a book (of any kind), on some level I'd be fearful of never hearing or reading such a discussion about me and my writing.

      If a person is overtly biased one way or another it may be that they are either not receiving crtical challenges or are not aware of them; or possibly worse, are receiving them, but not considering them or refusing any potential validity, because after all "why should I listen to Jim Bob about this? I know a lot more about it than Jim Bob with all my years of writing and research!" I don't mean to invalidate someone's efforts on their work, I just hope that authors can have the courage to admit they might be wrong or have a view that is actually subjective. Perhaps the trouble there is that books that are written don't necessarily change if their author does change. If I had written books on my thoughts when I was a teenager and they were still floating about, much of it wouldn't reflect my present self.

      This is making me think of the current reading on the book club here on DV, as I find the author's writing there to be too authoritative a style sometimes, so far anyway. I feel as though he's telling me how things are, regardless of my own subjective experience of the same concepts, if I have any! This is honestly an issue with authors for me sometimes, and I feel I very rarely see people admitting mistakes or admitting that what they are saying can just be their own opinion. This idea that people can simply speak as though everything they say is fact is difficult for me to handle, regardless of them meaning it that way or not and in some circles of everyday life I see that it is the cause of a lot of misunderstanding or ill-intent. This is why I often make it clear that something is my opinion, because as I see it, it is a statement worth repeating.

      P.S: I don't think I really have any specific point here with this, though I do want to say that I quite enjoyed reading both of your most recent posts here. There's certain bits I wanted to go into from both of you but not really sure how to. Certain bits, I just can't think of anything to add to, or question.
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    20. #20
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      Another related thing about Peterson that might be related to this topic is that he is part of the wave that pinpoints postmodernism as the greatest disease of modern western society. He never really defines it but as far as I understand it, his criticism is focused against relativism and toward objectivism. Putting Peterson to the side, there is this wave of people leaving Atheism toward Aesthetic Christianity. They are not traditional practitioners at all but they simply claim that Christianity and its values are crucial pillars of society. The values are really just: "Work diligently, Have a family. Be charitable. Work on yourself and your inner growth and let the society at large be: don't get politically involved unless it's to protect traditional values." And things like that. I really don't see why we need to latch on to Christianity to have these values for ourselves or society. They kind of come about on their own honestly. Anyway, sorry, for getting off topic again to criticize objectivism. I really wanted to talk about the attack against relativism. I think it's because relativism involves two activities: deconstruction and construction. (I'm really making this up so don't Wikipedia this).

      Deconstruction: Realizing that all social constructs (morals, language, attitudes, beliefs, norms) are social constructs. They are not objective (an immutable unchanging entity). As you acknowledge this, you can deconstruct these ideas. For example, if I am focusing on my concept of womanhood. I can say the meaning around the word "woman" is a social construct and in this act, the concept is deconstructed. I can criticize all the limitations of that word and take it apart. Like demolishing a building or undoing the seams of piece of clothing. And this is the part that really gets people mad about relativism. They hate to see the ideas they value deconstructed. It's also partly why Nihilism/relativism/postmodernism/etc... is associated with pessimism because it seems like these ideas can deconstruct everything we hold dear and it criticizes everything, seeing this problematic aspect in this social structure and here and there.

      But Peterson and the whole wave he is a part of are forgetting the other part:

      Construction: Once you've acknowledged that social constructs are constructs, you are free to construct. To be creative and analytical. Build better construct. Build more constructs. One for you, one for me. One to unite us. I can understand why my construct is really useful for me but very hurtful to you. I can wonder if there's a way to bridge the gap, if I need to make a whole new construct or if I can just keep my construct to myself and those it agrees with... etc. With postmodernism, as far as I understand, there's this idea that things can be seen from different perspectives.

      The idea that art is objective for example. The idea that a work of art can be objectively bad or objectively good. Well, some people want to be able to say "This is bad. This is good." And postmodernism doesn't take that way from you. You just have to add "from my" or "from our" perspective or "from the perspective of this model". So, a kid can draw a doodle. And you can say, "I feel so proud that my kid drew this that I find a lot of value looking at it. I brought it to work so I can look at it from time to time and it brings joy to me. It's one of my favorite pieces of art" whilst also saying "well, even if I love it, it clearly is representative of poor drawing skills and it really doesn't show an appreciation for any of the different schools of arts" Obviously, you don't need to say all those words and you can say "It's a bad drawing but I love it." and this still fits postmodernism/relativism ideas.

      Nihilism is kind of like the white void of dreaming. It's what allows us to construct (a dream, concepts, ideas, values). I know I am dreaming and I am free to manifest anything I choose (but I also realize I will still be biased by my perspective). I know all values are ideas are subjective and I am free to manifest any idea I choose (but I also realize I will still be biased by my perspective).

      _____

      I sometimes become pessimist. I sometimes feel overwhelmed by what I perceive as negative. And something that amplifies my pessimism is that these ideas I deem negative are so dear to many people. People latch on so hard to their constructs that those constructs seem more and more objective. More substantial. Like walls. Inescapable. And anyway, this feeds my pessimism. Because I know that these ideas and values that burden me are not "real" but still hurting me. But then, you can find havens of people who also agree with your values and ideas, that provide you with a certain sense of safety, belonging and confidence, and then the nihilism can become more optimist. Because it's no longer a fight against unreal ideas. You have the space to build and live in your own ideas.

      And I'm not talking as if it's a fight between two factions: a majority and a minority. In the world of thoughts/ideas/values, each individual is a minority in some aspect or aspects of their lives. Let's say I speak to my grandfather and my godmother. They are both highly spiritual people but if either talks of the other they will say the other person is a lunatic and maybe they can have people to agree with them. My grandfather especially because he sees the ideas he has constructed as objective. Whereas my godmother constantly feels the need to ascertain she knows she sounds crazy, but she is opinionated enough to disagree with my grandfather. Anyway, they both feel alienated from each other and objectivism is the problem, not relativism. And the attachment to objectivism is what makes these ideas look more negative and give people a more pessimist attitude.

      As someone rejects Christianity toward atheism, they might become pessimist because society claims Christianity is objective and the ideas are made oppressive. Those same people who defend objectivism (and Christianity) will criticize Islam. Christianity and Islam are both Abrahamic religions with the same Old Testament God, (just a different prophet really) but supposedly one contains the objectively good values and the other one is a threat. I do agree that there facts in this scenario. But the objectivists voluntarily blind themselves to multiple factors and claim that the problem is that Muslims are not Christians or Atheists. There are many other factors other than religion such as the historical, political, socioeconomically factors too.

      _____

      Anyway, I think this about all I have to say about objectivism/relativism. To conclude: Social constructs are constructs. Let's construct together, the fact that our values are constructed is not a negative fact. It's a liberating and creatively fertile one. Postmodernism will not destroy the world. You can enjoy your own aesthetic of spirituality and find people that share it still. It doesn't have to be the Christian God. It doesn't have to be gods. Maybe you just like rivers and rivers are just rivers for you. Maybe the structure of your family is not God, it's just your family and you love it! Have fun! You are free until the next time you feel oppressed and then you'll be pessimistic but until then, enjoy!

    21. #21
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      I'm glad this thread is fuIfilling its potential and people are taking interest in these philosophies, Occipitalred. I read The Moral Landscape a few years ago, now, and it covered a lot of ground which Sam Harris refined and welcomed anyone to add to it or challenge its premise. I did get the impression that Harris was doing his best using science and rationale to map out a coherent 'moral landscape' with its crests and troughs even if individuals are idiosyncratic and can hold distinct interests, values and beliefs.

      I like his approach in imagining the worst of all possible worlds, something close to it once depicted in the science-fiction movie Event Horizon , where most people would agree that perpetual torture in a dimension that seeks out one's deepest fears to play them out forever is totally undesirable. Since we are being asked here to imagine the worst case scenario playing out for the rest of one's life—or even forever—we must envisage a perpetuity of incessant suffering where aversion of that which is fearful and harmful never ceases; so forget arachnophobia being allayed by the constant exposure to hideous spiders for a prolonged period of time—in a hellish scenario, an evil force never admits your release from torment and agony, and since it begins with what you fear the most, it never allows you time to conquer the object of your fears as the fear that hell itself might go on forever is only intensified and ostensibly confirmed the longer such scenario plays out.

      In the book, Harris ponders over how far utilitarianism can take us and illustrated with moral dilemmas that it can only take us so far. In some instances, a psychopath proves to be more useful, which actually goes hand in hand with what Jordan Peterson has pointed out about heroes: To paraphrase, we need Superman to be a controlled monster against immoral supervillains in order for him to be a virtuous protector; otherwise what good is he if he's not prepared to commit murder against the murderous? Basic rationalism here confirms our intuitions without having to invoke DC Comics tales when we instinctively know the answer to what should be done in a scenario where a serial killer is about to hack your family to death and you can prevent this by pulling a trigger.

      I do think Sam Harris makes a strong point in stating that science can inform us on how to maximise wellbeing, especially in instances where an act is beneficial short-term but noxious long-term. An instance of this would be the alleviation provided by smoking when one is feeling melancholic after a stressful altercation. Nicotine may give the smoker a boost and lift his or her spirits, but continuous reliance on tobacco, with its numerous carcinogens, could mean the incurrence of a slow, painful and premature death. Science can certainly quantify the amount of tobacco it would take to ensure a life-threatening disruption of your organism according to your specific genome. Science could have informed people in the early 20th century about the dangers of smoking, especially when smokers subjectively equated wellbeing with the habit itself—but there was much to be discovered then about its unhealthy effects.

      The point here is that we can be intuitively wrong about what's really good for us and what is best avoided. I think Sam Harris pushes back against Hume's guillotine with a dose of ethical naturalism as he bridges the gap between facts and values with an anthropic medium. We inevitably view reality through a human lens, and this very subjectivity is undergirded by objective reality (brain electro-chemistry which is made up of molecules and these are made of atomic interaction)—understand this objective reality and you have the key to unlock a whole spectrum of positive and negative experiences; imagine uncovering flavours of subjectivity through brain manipulation which are impossible with the current anthropic default mode! You can get a taster by taking psychedelics, where conscious experience can be expanded to ab initio unimaginable realms.

      My point is that we cannot truly define the best of all possible worlds, as it were, from the limited scope of current default subjectivity as we don't yet know how good it could get. Experimentation with objective reality and garnering scientific knowledge by testing the unknown, however, can bring meaningful change and a whole new ball game. We are analogous to teenagers who have a tendency to believe they have life sussed out, think their parents are totally outdated, and have what it takes to decide what is good for them. Not so! As they mature with experience, they quickly humble themselves before the great unknown.

      Jordan Peterson deals in highly convoluted narratives full of, interestingly for us oneironauts, Jungian archetypes, and, like Sam Harris, will always have something valid to say. You may not like or agree with absolutely everything they say, but they are, undeniably, highly intellectual. But only human and error-prone. Peterson interprets the Bible—in particular, Genesis (as far as I'm aware)—through a psychoanalytical lens. It is often hard to tell whether his apologetics are casuistic or grounded in a kernel of truth where, contrary to what John Locke proposed, there is no such thing as a tabula rasa and Jungian innatism, with all its archetypal personifications, is real and a reflection of evolutionarily retained psychic traits.

      It seems that Peterson and Harris agree, more than disagree, in many ways. But where I initially likened the latter to Aristotle, the former appears to be a modern-day Plato. If Peterson is right about Judeo-Christian values, he should remember that the Biblical story is possibly only a figurative semblance of what happens in our lives—a reflection, like a dream, of how our personalities deal with life and its challenges. And, in agreement with the Canadian professor, stories do offer a lot of meaning and can remind us of what we value and aspire to—and we would do well not to be so dismissive of his work as he's not the first one to spot striking patterns in myths and folklore; James Joyce did the same with Ulysses and Joseph Campbell identifies the archetypal hero in The Hero With A Thousand Faces . We are not dealing with the likes of William Lane Craig when it comes to Jordan Peterson. We are dealing with a different approach that recognises people as storytellers and aspiring to something better than what they are.

      Peterson is really an atheist—and Sam Harris would say so—who fears nihilism and believes humanity requires the God archetype (the Telos) as an impetus for self-improvement. This imaginary, metaphorical god is an unattainable perfection which can only serve as inspiration for human beings in the present moment so that we can be 'shadows' of that grander virtue. God, for Peterson, exists only as a summum bonum archetype to guide a religious species. He exists only in our imagination as an archetype and our lives are far too short for this potential to be fully realised in actuality. Poetically, God is too far off in the future and we may never reach Him. From this standpoint, whether both intellectuals agree on the semantics or not, Sam Harris really believes in God and Jordan Peterson would say so.

      In a way, Peterson fears that Christian fundamentalism, which indeed is the source of many forms of prejudice, might be replaced by postmodernism, moral relativism and the Woke ideology as a whole. The problem with moral relativism is that it becomes taboo to criticise other cultures that differ from your own when there are a myriad things one can point to which indicate that some ways of life are better than others—the devil is in the details but it's not surprising that most Islamic nations are failed states or doomed to failure (and the level of human rights violations is appallingly high). You can rewrite the whole narrative on how to interpret the world but there is only so far you can go before you find yourself divorced from reality and living in delusion. Liberalism needs Conservatism to rein in the former's eager child lest this one gets carried away in dismissing the latter's entire repertoire of values and traditions including the reasons why certain social mores were adhered to for so long. In a similar vein, the highly creative nature of the liberal can help the conservative arrive at new ideas within reason. Once a balance between both polar opposites is established, progress occurs and society thrives.

      To be honest, I find all religions and cults to be pernicious and here is where Harris nailed it: the phenomenon of spirituality (which can manifest as profound psychical experiences) actually precedes religion; some of the oldest religions, like Hinduism, are mere interpretations of such mental phenomena in an attempt to define it with language and include it in an embellished narrative that makes sense. It has to make sense otherwise we are not satisfied. But the stuff of dreams and visions originates from a part of our minds that isn't as concerned with labels. It's less restrictive and more holistic. This is what the Abrahamic monotheisms have tended to hijack and append to their gospels as evidence for the authenticity of their dogmas and the existence of God.
      Last edited by Summerlander; 06-02-2021 at 03:28 AM. Reason: Typographical
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    22. #22
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      Quote Originally Posted by Summerlander View Post
      It seems that Peterson and Harris agree, more than disagree, in many ways. But where I initially likened the latter to Aristotle, the former appears to be a modern-day Plato. gospels as evidence for the authenticity of their dogmas and the existence of God.
      Hi Summerlander,

      There’s certainly a lot to digest in this thread, but there’s one point in particular I’m curious about concerning Jordan Peterson. I first heard of him a few years ago: back then, I watched a couple videos of his talks and came away with the impression that he didn’t have an especially deep understanding of either Nietzsche or Jung and lost interest.

      But now, he suddenly seems to be a popular figure on the larger cultural stage, and I’m hearing a lot of criticism. The general takeaways seem to be that he’s pretty effective at the self-help side of things but that he emphasizes personal responsibility to the exclusion of every other kind, which, together with an interpretive framework for myths and stories that reinforces old gender stereotypes, has gotten him mixed up with some of the current pushback against progressive social movements. I subsequently watched a couple more recent Peterson interviews and was even less impressed than before.

      I haven't read his books, but everything I've encountered so far has given me the impression is that Peterson has been very selective about what to borrow from the intellectual tradition he’s drawing from. (Which, ironically, is something that could also be said of Jung as well, with one of his sources of inspiration being the philosopher this thread is named after.) But you liken Peterson to Plato here, which seems to imply that you feel there is a coherent philosophy in his work. That's what makes me curious.

      Jung himself, to my knowledge, did not consider archetypes to be prescriptive in any way. To my mind, they really couldn’t be – they’re not even the right kind of thing. They’d be too indefinite to play that role until “filled in” with various cultural patterns. And while I think it's fair to say that Jung did believe in something absolute, since he really does seem to have been a Christian in his own idiosyncratic way, one thing you notice when reading him is that he never assumes from the beginning that a given framework is the correct one to apply: he assesses the situation (e.g., a client’s dream) before deciding which one would be appropriate.

      That right there is pretty much the defining move of postmodernism. I have the impression, reading him, that Jung himself didn’t fully appreciate how important this approach was – it doesn’t seem to have made it into any of the models and frameworks he constructed, although it was key in constructing them. Again, as far as I know – I’ve read quite a bit of Jung, but far from all of him. And one reason I’ve been universally disappointed in Jung’s modern interpreters so far is that they haven’t seemed to have picked up on this particular point.

      To me, that was his real genius – not what he built, but how he went about building it, in as theoretically open a way as he could manage. I don’t think he did a perfect job of it, and a hundred years or so down the line, some of the places where he didn’t manage to set aside his own cultural givens are rather noticeable. But anyway. I am curious as to what you see in Peterson that, say, Jung himself, or anybody whose work he’s drawing from, didn’t do better. Jung was selective about what he borrowed from other thinkers, but he took it and made an original contribution in his own right. Nietzsche also created a theoretical model that, essentially, concerned the interplay of order and chaos in The Birth of Tragedy, and everything I've heard attributed to Peterson on the topic seems like a step backwards from that. If Peterson were just positioning himself as a self-help guy, that would be one thing, but he seems to be positioning himself (or possibly just being framed in the broader discourse) as an original thinker. And I'm just not seeing it.

    23. #23
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      Hi, Leaningkarst,

      Welcome to this discourse and thank you for adding a different angle to it. We have mentioned many great thinkers throughout history, starting with Schopenhauer and eventually deriving some meaning from the contemporary ideas of acclaimed public intellectuals such as Peterson. But their philosophies are not, irrevocably, the be all and end all. There is always more because they are only human:

      'Don't be afraid to be thought arrogant or selfish. Picture all experts as if they were mammals. Never be a spectator of unfairness or stupidity. Seek out argument and disputation for their own sake; the grave will supply plenty of time for silence.'
      ~Christopher Hitchens

      Jordan Peterson is like marmite and, apart from what I've heard about him and having watched some of his lectures and debates he took part in online, I haven't read his books either—so forgive me if I've given you the impression that he is of the same caliber as the great Plato and thus misleadingly reviving your curiosity of him. We may all be ill-equipped to write Peterson off completely if there is a current paucity of knowledge about his literary opus.

      However, listening to the man speak for a couple of hours against a worthy opponent like Matt Dillahunty can certainly warrant an audience member to claim they've heard enough. It is fair for Occipitalred to say, for instance—and I'm only paraphrasing here in a crude way—that the specious, psychoanalytical babble of the professor is derived from fictional stories and that, however one chooses to interpret them, they are just that: stories. I only likened Peterson to Plato in the context of teleological hierarchies and the concept of God as that greatness which people are often encouraged to aspire to, as his metaphysics seem to align with the abstract idealism of Platonic realism; but that's where the comparison ends. In the self-help arena, with his twelve rules for life, Jordan Peterson is closer to Aristotelian pragmatism—or even Stoicism—than anything else.

      I do think that Peterson knows far more about the psychological and subliminal power of Dostoyevskyan narratives than he comprehends Nietzschean philosophy in relation to the realpolitik post-deicide—a disparity betrayed by his fallacious assessment that atheism is responsible for the horrors of Stalinism and Nazism as I pointed out earlier when I made the case that such dictatorships and their ideologies had more in common with religious dogma than a simple disbelief in an omnipotent creator of the universe. But if you can elaborate on the impression that the man lacks depth in Jungian psychology, please fire away because his Instagram account boasts a video on where he thinks Carl Jung was wrong. Perhaps he has a lot more in common with Jung in relation to Schopenhauer than he himself realises! After all, like Jung, Peterson often appears to be a Christian in an idiosyncratic way without using the word 'belief' like the theologian and religious apologist William Lane Craig.

      On the other hand, I don't think Peterson portrays himself as an original thinker as he has said numerous times that what he espouses has been pointed out in ancient philosophy. I have also heard him say that the psychoanalyses of his patients are not based on a glove that fits all, but rather, tailor-made to them on a personal basis. His work as a psychologist aside, I can't really fault him on his political concerns regarding postmodernism and his issue against the concept of systemic racism in society; there isn't really much to pick a bone with when he says that equality isn't always framed in a positive light: while equality of opportunity is something that should be championed and cherished in society, equality of outcome, on the other hand—where the same number of ethnicities and genders should be seen all the time within every institution—is an unsustainable fallacy that actually undermines evaluation based on individual merit and likely to breed something akin to the college admissions scandal which involved Hollywood stars such as Felicity Huffman.
      Last edited by Summerlander; 06-06-2021 at 01:01 AM. Reason: Typographical
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      I just thought of something else regarding the value of storytelling and I couldn't pass up an opportunity to add a bit more to this discussion. But I'll make it worthwhile by including a challenge that will involve exploration ...

      We have a tendency to speak of stories as just harmless fun, but they can be quite powerful and influential. If they weren't we wouldn't rate them or censor them according to sensitive audiences. Even in fiction people relate because there might be a meaningful element about the narratives which renders the story real enough to the recipient. If you think this is a load of tosh, consider the psychological impact Goethe's The Sorrows of Young Werther had on its readers—the 'Werther effect' is chillingly real enough for journalism having to adhere to publication codes of conduct in order to preclude suicide contagion.

      And then there are those archetypal stories whose motifs reflect our psychical evolution or, on a more personal level, development. For instance, Jean-Jacques Rousseau submitted that humankind fell from a primordial state of savage Grace, which is redolent of Milton's Paradise Lost and the prelapsarian Garden of Eden story itself, where a precursor to Communism, in the Genevan philosopher's belief that private property was the source of inequality, was the solution.The story is ancient but eternally unalterable. Curiosity will make you want to translate the following text in Latin, because, even though you can appreciate the mystique of this particular unknown, you still want to know. You will become preoccupied enough to decipher this message, and once you do, you will have 'fallen', as it were, for the meaningful implications you derive from it will make you philosophise for some time until your head spins:

      Et satanas velit edere ex arbore scientiae. Eo magis discere magis de hoc mundo tu scis quia multum curare de quam scientia potestas est.
      Iam Deus non curat pervenire uterque reliquistis omnia et Paradisum. Prohibitum monitu dei, dum una omnes vos aemulor Dei humana conditio.
      studium cupiditate non se omnino maledicti.
      imo animalis, qui est ab ecclesiastica hierarchia est enim gaudium, quod non intelligere, ignota est. Invidia id consequi quod angeli non cecidit de caelo lucifer. Quando vos es certus ut omnino non peregrinatione vis, potes ascendere scala Iacob.
      Ego si vis pascis ut usque ad profundum inferni descendent. Quia infinitum putei abyssi tenebras mundi. Solum est quod facit vitam amoris sanctus est pretium vitae. Cherub unum in terris peregrinatur a meridianam caeli et ubique aptera. Sine caritate maximum nisi occurrant quae non invenient eam et inane permanet intolerabilis. A spatium expertes esse sine caritate non potest esse obscura atque ad inanis. Vitam non habet proposita, et tam plures significatione mortem bonum. Diabolus habet regnum super vita et in morte recipit vos Deus.


      Enjoy unravelling its meaning!
      Last edited by Summerlander; 06-07-2021 at 10:12 PM. Reason: Additional
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    25. #25
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      Quote Originally Posted by Summerlander View Post
      Jordan Peterson is like marmite and, apart from what I've heard about him and having watched some of his lectures and debates he took part in online, I haven't read his books either—so forgive me if I've given you the impression that he is of the same caliber as the great Plato and thus misleadingly reviving your curiosity of him.
      Hi Summerlander,

      I wrote this post up before seeing your latest post from yesterday, and so it doesn’t address anything there, except purely incidentally.

      When I say ‘curious’, there’s also an element of concern in that, and one that goes far beyond Peterson. I believe that stories do enrich life with meaning, but that grand narratives pretending to immutable capital-T truth impoverish it. Or, to explain it in a different way:

      He who binds to himself a joy
      Does the winged life destroy
      He who kisses the joy as it flies
      Lives in eternity's sunrise

      -William Blake

      Stories have a ‘winged life’ like the one Blake ascribes to happiness. They’re the shifting interface that mediates our interactions with others and with ourselves, whether in dreams or waking life. They grow with us if we let them. But there seem to be quite a lot of people out there trying to pin the butterfly, so to speak. Or, possibly, turn it into a dragon to be slain. If we take stories too seriously and let them control us - which freezing them into unchanging 'truths' is one way of doing - then we’re basically in the position of a lucid dreamer who’s still finding gravity a hard habit to break.

      Putting my philosopher hat back on, though: I’m not familiar enough with Peterson’s work to be positive that that’s what he’s doing, but what I’ve seen is enough to make me wonder whether he’s part of a broader trend I find worrying. I value the Western intellectual tradition; I don’t want interest in it to simply become a watchword for ‘I consider my own opinions to be objectively true, the way people used to’.*

      If I ask myself whether this sudden interest in Peterson’s work is more likely to represent a turn towards genuine soul-searching and introspection in the midst of a fraught cultural moment or a bunch of people realizing that some guy with a degree is providing a framework they can safely hunker down in alongside their current set of opinions and weaponize to make life unpleasant for other people without feeling guilty about it because they're saving Western Civilization – well, I’m not optimistic. What’s actually expressed in Peterson's books is far from immaterial (although it would probably be better not to comment on it when neither one of us have read them). But the more immediate point, to paraphrase Andrew Lang, it’s whether or not it’s being used the way a drunken man uses a lamppost: as a source of support rather than illumination.

      ---

      *It occurred to me after making my last post that, really, I don’t know for sure that getting beyond this kind of view isn’t a significant part Jung’s concept of individuation. It may be that I just haven’t read the right books, or I did, but it was 10 years ago, and he just threw it in somewhere as a passing aside. It would make a lot of sense if that was the case, and would help explain how that sort of attitude came to permeate his writing in general. I do think highly of Jung, but trying to find commitments to definite metaphysical stances in his books is like trying to find a needle in a haystack.

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