The Pessimism of Strength

Pessimism was brought up in another thread and it seems to me it’s worth it’s own. So here’s my intro. Since I’m not much of philosopher, I’ll let the pro’s start. See if anyone want to toss in any thoughts or corrections.

Academy Of Ideas_com/2014/09/pessimism-of-strength/FRIEDRICH NIETZSCHE, PHILOSOPHY, VIDEOS

Pessimism of Strength

Academy of Ideas | September 22, 2014


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uu5-E1dVzbc

 

According to popular thought, pessimism is an outlook which is necessarily associated with feelings of depression, despair, and hopelessness. However, as is often the case with popular thought, this idea is false. …

“The idea that a pessimistic philosophy is necessarily one of discouragement is a puerile[childish] idea, but one that needs too long a refutation.” (Albert Camus)

In this video we will briefly survey the ideas of some of the famous pessimists of the last few hundred years, and finish by defending a form of pessimism coined a “pessimism of strength” by the 19th century philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. …

… defined (pessimism), for the purpose of this video we will categorize the pessimist as holding one central conviction:

that being, that although human beings have been highly successful from an evolutionary standpoint – able to adapt to and survive in a staggering variety of environments – when it comes to the attainment of a life not dominated by suffering and dissatisfaction, human beings are failures.

Human existence is so ripe with suffering and misery, they maintained, because of the burden which our uniquely human awareness of time places upon us.

The 20th century Romanian philosopher Emil Cioran also pinpointed “the demonic character of time” to be a fundamental problem for human beings.

3:00

Nietzsche was especially sensitive to the burden which our awareness of the past places upon our being. …

As he in Thus Spoke Zarathustra: “the past is such a heavy weight on us precisely because it forever remains out of our reach, immoveable and unchangeable.”

“The future alone is our end. So we never live, but we hope to live; and as we are always preparing to be happy, it is inevitable that we should never be so.” (Blaise Pascal)

5:00

The second problem the pessimists saw with relying too heavily on the future stems from (the fundamental chaotic element within our otherwise ordered world.) … which can at any moment erupt into our life and either destroy or drastically alter all our plans, dreams, and expectations.

Finally, if the burden which our awareness of the past and future places upon our shoulders were not heavy enough, our awareness of time also grants us knowledge of our ever impending death.

7:30

Referring to the mode of life in which one lives for the present moment alone, Schopenhauer wrote:

“But you could just as well call this mode of life the greatest folly: for that which in a moment ceases to exist, which vanishes as completely as a dream, cannot be worth any serious effort.” (Schopenhauer)

“The perishability of all things existing in time”, as Schopenhauer put it, stimulates in one who lives for the present moment a haunting recognition of the transitoriness and fragility of all things, and a feeling of continual loss as the present moment continually vanishes forever into the past.


{Cc: This is where an overarching visceral recognition of and appreciation for Deep Time and Earth’s past Evolution comes in handy. Emotionally and spiritually handy.

We understand that her future recovery and rehabilitation from humanity’s grievous destruction is inevitable. She has centuries, and millennia and eons to work with.

We had our one miraculous moment in Earth’s pageant of Evolution, and we decided to make the biggest flash possible, thus guaranteeing the fastest possible self-destruction.

Me, I would have really loved to know my kids and grandkids might enjoy some of what I’ve experienced of our biosphere, as a young growing person. But it won’t be there, much is already gone and what’s left won’t be there much longer.

Still we know life on Earth will continue. Sort of staggering that this is what it’s come down to but iIm a pragmatic person, much as I wish the world were difference, I see what’s unfolding all around me, we must make due with what there is. Even when the really is truly terrifying.

Like a choking spell, when your entire awareness zooms right in on that next gasp of air and nothing else. So too sometimes one can only zoom down to the present moment, hunker down and remember it’s the journey, not the destination, and in the end there will be peace and a deep long sleep.}

9:00

Xian, this one’s for you,

“It is really the greatest absurdity to try to turn this scene of woe and lamentation into a pleasure-resort. . . . Whoever takes a gloomy view regards this world as a kind of hell and is accordingly concerned only with procuring for himself a small fireproof room; such a man is much less mistaken” (Schopenhauer)

9:45

In fact, Nietzsche wondered why it was assumed the pessimist necessarily had to give into feelings of depression and despair at all:

“Is pessimism necessarily a sign of decline, decay, degeneration, weary and weak instincts?…Is there a pessimism of strength?” (Nietzsche)

10:40

Those who adhere to a pessimism of weakness, he maintained, are really at bottom weak and impotent individuals, who cower from challenge, and thus utilize a pessimistic outlook to justify their inaction and refusal to engage in the sort of struggles that are necessary to face up to the burdens of life. …

Interestingly, Nietzsche thought that optimism too could be a sign of an underlying weakness, as the optimist is one who out of fear refuses to acknowledge or recognize the very real dark and terrifying aspects of existence. This realization led Nietzsche to call optimism “morally speaking, a sort of cowardice”.


It’s has some excellent closing paragraphs, but I want to entice you to check out the complete piece - you can read and listen to it. https://academyofideas.com/2014/09/pessimism-of-strength/ or you can listen to the entire video :wink:

What is the relevance of pessimism in your life? There are times when I am down, not because of clear and present danger, as in facing eviction from my home, or being told by the doctor that I have 6 months to live, or finding a dear John letter from my wife who has ran off with another man. I am just down for no rational reason. Feeling pessimistic for no reason is nuts. Perhaps, it’s because I am a New Yorker. I don’t live there now even though I identify myself as one, having been born in and grew up there like Donald Trump.

Thanks Lausten.

 

Sree: There are times when I am down, not because of clear and present danger,
Chemicals and hormones

Technology is pretty amazing, just sitting in a cabin in the frozen north, connecting to people all over the world

Yeah that little blurb towards me doesn’t mean anything because it doesn’t address anything. Also Schopenhauer agrees with me to an extent. Also the point made at 10:40 is a non starter. Why stand up to the challenges when you know it won’t change anything or why even bother at all. It contradicts his earlier stuff about meaning.

Lastly it should be noted that academy of ideas is a bad channel. Their closing paragraphs don’t address the actual problems at all. The pessimist doesn’t value growth and development (especially when Nietzsche wasn’t like that). So…wrong again.

Read a book Xain. One about life before people figured how to fight for their rights

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Triangle_Shirtwaist_Factory_fire

 

Still doesn’t answer my point. The amount of people who truly contemplate the meaninglessness of life is terribly low. Nietzsche couldn’t find an answer to nihilism and it frustrated him to no end, hence why CC’s post was rendered invalid.

Still doesn’t answer my point. The amount of people who truly contemplate the meaninglessness of life is terribly low.
Most people aren't that miserable.

I agree with oneguy. I rarely agree with him. That should give you pause Xain.

Xain,

Why is it important that we get what you’re saying?

In contrast to a pessimism of weakness, Nietzsche adhered to a pessimism of strength. A pessimism of strength, like a pessimism of weakness, acknowledges that life is burdensome, tragic, and realizes that struggle and suffering are intrinsic to the human condition and thus cannot be eradicated. However, instead of using this worldview to justify inaction, impotence, and resignation, one who adheres to a pessimism of strength tries to take joy in the tragedy that is human life.
Well, Nietzsche did go crazy.

It seems desperate, nonsensical and very German, but since I am generally an optimist and not philosophical, this whole line of thinking is just hard to understand. Being able to accept that life will have setbacks while not losing the will to live is not a groundbreaking thing – its normal; most people do it every day. This kind of extreme introspection is probably unhealthy to being with; it makes life struggles even harder to deal with and drives others away.

Being able to accept that life will have setbacks while not losing the will to live is not a groundbreaking thing
Very succinct, and true
thatoneguy: "It seems desperate, nonsensical and very German, but since I am generally an optimist and not philosophical, this whole line of thinking is just hard to understand. Being able to accept that life will have setbacks while not losing the will to live is not a groundbreaking thing — its normal; most people do it every day. This kind of extreme introspection is probably unhealthy to being with; it makes life struggles even harder to deal with and drives others away."
I agree 100%. I was going to bold the parts that are pretty much exactly what I'd write, but it turned out I'd have to bold the entire quote, so I didn't bother.

You see Xain, even folks who are usually in disagreement are coming together in opposition to your unsupported opinions.

That doesn’t prove we’re right, but it sure is a good sign you should take a long hard look at what we’re saying.

Sounds like neither pessimism nor optimism are ideal. Why don’t we advocate for realism? Don’t expect worse or better than what’s likely to occur, simply expect what is likely to occur, and you’re probably going to get it.

Or better yet, try to eliminate any expectations and accept what is as it is. You’ll shouldn’t be disappointed if you don’t have expectations to be met.

The problem is that when you walk around the back end of your truck and kick the trailer hitch with your shin and are in more pain than you’ve ever felt in your life, there’s no way you’re not going to curse and wish you could drive a D11 Caterpillar over it a bunch of times. So even having no expectations isn’t enough at times.

Sometimes you just gotta let go and let it out.

 

And yes I do feel a little better now, thank you very much.

:wink:

 

 

This actually belongs at the bottom of the previous page. :frowning: