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    Thread: Schopenhauer, The Pessimist

    1. #1
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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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      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."

    11. #11
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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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      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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      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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    14. #14
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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
      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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