"Thus, brought before the tribunal of ethics, the cosmos might well seem to stand condemned. The conscience of man revolts against the moral indifference of nature." - Thomas H. Huxley
Thursday, June 23, 2016
The Eight "D's" of Pessimism
NOTE: this is ctrl+c ctrl+v from PF that I made a while ago.
I have consolidated eight adjectives, all beginning with the letter D, that I feel aptly describes the major points brought up by the various philosophical pessimists. They are listed in a kind of "chronological" order of manifestation in some sense, although they are not “required” to appear in these orders.
1.) Desire can be characterized by a feeling of incompleteness. When we desire something, we feel as though we are lacking something important in our lives. The feeling of dissatisfaction, the striving to “complete” the ego or fulfill a need, is what constitutes Schopenhauer’s conception of the Will, or the general idea of the Buddhist tanha. Accordingly, both philosophies recommended the ceasing of unnecessary desire, for to live a life of desire is to live a life enslaved by need.
2.) Decay is the inevitable destruction of things that we hold dear. The attachment we feel for these things “sets us up”, so to speak, for the feeling of loss. Time is forever thrusting things forward, and entropy is the result. This is why we have to continue to eat, breathe, sleep, fill up our automobile’s gas tank, pay for electricity, etc. The world does not care about your attachments to things; this is also why it is so difficult to let go of people who have died, or deal with the inevitable accidents that throw someone’s life into turmoil. Everything is impermanent and in motion.
3.) Discomfort is fairly straight forward. The consequences of desire and decay are a type of discomfort, but in addition to these are the various feelings of pain, as well as psychological discomfort (i.e. a “psychache”). From a pin prick to a broken femur, from embarrassment to a suicide attempt, pain is a univocal part of our existence. To rise above pain in some instances can lead to a meaningful experience. To succumb to pain and thereby suffer leads to a meaningless existence.
4.) Disgust is, I take it, to be the next emotional step once one has come to terms with the former three aspects of existence. Existence is not perfect, it is not a dream-world. With disgust comes compassion, though, which is something to be cultivated.
5.) Disillusionment is tied in with disgust; when one has “lifted the curtain” and seen life in all its glory and horror, the fantasies of life held before, the pretty little narrative that drives us all, begin to crumble. A feeling of dissatisfaction with what is seen becomes apparent. Man’s very existence becomes suspect; suicide becomes an option. The existentialists of the twentieth century seemed to focus primarily on finding meaning after the prior meanings had been lost. What matters here, though, is that the disillusionment is felt to be permanent.
6.) Despair can follow disillusionment. Perhaps no meaning is to be found, and life is absurd and potentially even malignant at times. With the loss of hope comes the experience of despair, a complete loss of any anchors, structure, stability or control.
7) Disinterest follows disillusionment, but is also its own slice of human existence. Disinterest refers to a feeling of apathy, or boredom, to life. Weltschmerz, or world-weariness, is a classic romantic adjective used to describe such a feeling. One could also say that our desires lead to a impermanent feeling of satisfaction, which inevitably decays into a general disinterest, or boredom with what we have, which leads back to another instance of desire to keep ourselves distracted and entertained.
8.) Death is the ultimate property of being alive. It is what motivates the creation of culture, aesthetics, and other forms of distraction. Death is an inevitable event for all living creatures. To avoid it is to live invalidly and to live in fear, to accept it is to nevertheless undergo the experience.