Origins of Pessimism

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Origins of Pessimism

Postby Inrealtime87 on August 10th, 2018, 9:02 am 

Where does the origin of pessimism lie, with Socrates or somewhere else?
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Re: Origins of Pessimism

Postby Reg_Prescott on August 10th, 2018, 9:30 am 

Hahaha!!!

I can only assume pessimism goes back a bit. You guys know Henri the existentialist cat?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0M7ibPk37_U

Henri part II is funnier:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q34z5dCmC4M
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Re: Origins of Pessimism

Postby Braininvat on August 10th, 2018, 9:42 am 

Big fan. I hope (in spite of everything) that the OP will use modern internet search engines and research this topic a bit. There's SEP, Wikipedia, IEP, and various other sources.
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Re: Origins of Pessimism

Postby Inrealtime87 on August 10th, 2018, 5:55 pm 

I guess this post might seem unfounded, but the outcome of Socrates' engagements in a few of Plato's books is very pessimistic. In Thaetetus knowledge is unattainable, in Meno virtue is unattainable (accept when gifted by the Gods, as it cannot be taught and it is not innate), in The Republic justice is only when everyone does their job, in Parmenides the ending line is that if one is not then nothing is, although it is not Socrates speaking the idea that nothing is seems a necessary conclusion in a world without knowledge and it is similar to Socrates saying "all that I know is that I know nothing." Socrates' last words can also have a pessimistic meaning of life as a disease cured by death.

I guess this may seem like a question that should be googled but why would pessimism have begun with Schopenhauer, or Leibniz and Voltaire (they come up when googling the first pessimists or the origins of pessimism), when Christianity which borrows heavily from Socrates had such an influence on them? Why wouldn't you look to Socrates as one of the first pessimist when so much of what he says can be taken that way? So can the origin of pessimism be found in the findings of Socrates or further back? Or, if you don't see Socrates as a pessimist why not?
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Re: Origins of Pessimism

Postby Katrin on August 11th, 2018, 12:37 am 

the origins of pessimism is the bible.
The bible conveys fear, competition, oppression, injustice, abuse, cruelty,...
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Re: Origins of Pessimism

Postby henriette on August 18th, 2018, 1:38 pm 

Dear Inrealtime87,

Heraclitus, Fragment 30
Clement of Alexandria, Stromata, V, 14, 104, 2.

"This world, which is the same for all, no one of gods or men has made; but it was ever, is now and ever shall be an ever-living fire, with measures kindling and measures going out."

No chance for a meaning : pessimism.
You may find cheerfull pessimistics and sad optimistics...
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Re: Origins of Pessimism

Postby Serpent on August 18th, 2018, 2:56 pm 

Do we have a commonly-held definition of pessimism?
This one?
A belief that this world is as bad as it could be or that evil will ultimately prevail over good.

That notion applies to societal issues and almost certainly originates with a philosopher of some kind, though I should imagine well before Plato and probably before written chronicles. He only had to live through the decline of an early civilization - anywhere! - to conclude this. Periods of decline are generally accompanied by civil polarization, futile militarism, political corruption, economic opportunism, disparity of living standard, distrust, anxiety, internecine strife, manipulative propaganda and spreading despair.
At the same time, there may be popular delusions and deceptions alongside the chemical means to oblivion: people will buy anything that makes them feel better, however temporarily. These are the most favourable historical moments for new cults to take root and proselytizers to gain a receptive audience.
To the mystic, such times offer a vision of some Larger Truth.
To the philosopher, they offer a different vista. From this perspective, it's impossible to ignore a cycle of growth, stagnation, decline and dissolution. It's hard to resist generalizing the condition of one's own environment to the whole of history, to the whole world.

Optimists are usually the product of progressive times: the rebuilding of a republic that's just prevailed against a foreign occupation, or a post-war economic boom in a victorious nation. Those are periods of civic confidence, tolerance, intellectual expansion, personal liberation, bold ideas, experimentation in art and science, progressive legislation. This is when the visionaries come of age: the innovators and reformers. These are the periods when people believe in their perfectibility and the unlimited potential of their race.

As the period draws to a close, the optimistic generation becomes increasingly protective of its rosy image of the world. Nearing the end of the cycle, as decline becomes so precipitous that it can longer be denied, they desperately cast about for scapegoats, for fingers to stick in the dyke - anything but give up their illusion. This is when they malign realists, burn witches and label the dead canary a traitor.

or this one?
A tendency to see the worst aspect of things or believe that the worst will happen.

That one is a personality trait operating in private life. It probably start with an innate inclination, which is then reinforced by life experience. There is no cure - but then, it's not a disorder, except in the eyes of obdurate reality-deniers.
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Re: Origins of Pessimism

Postby Braininvat on August 18th, 2018, 6:40 pm 

...they desperately cast about for scapegoats, for fingers to stick in the dyke - anything but give up their illusion...


A most unfortunate misspelling of dike. Hehe. Or you were making a clever allusion to homophobia.

Good analysis - pessimism and optimism seem to attach to social cycles. The whole preoccupation with the Singularity (Vernor Vinge, Ray Kurzweil -- not black holes) seems sometimes to be freighted with a sort of pessimism about the potential of mere humans... with hopes for a "geek Rapture. " Or the UFO cultists, another variant of "superior minds will rescue us. "
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Re: Origins of Pessimism

Postby Serpent on August 18th, 2018, 8:37 pm 

Braininvat » August 18th, 2018, 5:40 pm wrote:
...they desperately cast about for scapegoats, for fingers to stick in the dyke - anything but give up their illusion...


A most unfortunate misspelling of dike.

It wasn't a misspelling; it was an oversight. I'm just old and learned English back when it came from England, not the USA.

A long wall or embankment built to prevent flooding from the sea.

If I can't change it, would you, please?


Good analysis - pessimism and optimism seem to attach to social cycles.

Yes. We seem to swing madly between the equally unfounded slogans: "Yes, we can!" and "No you can't!"
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Re: Origins of Pessimism

Postby A_Seagull on August 19th, 2018, 12:38 am 

The origin of pessimism lies in envy. The envy of what other people appear to have combined with laziness and incompetence lead to the conclusion that one can never have what others have... this then leads to despondency, pessimism and depression.
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Re: Origins of Pessimism

Postby BadgerJelly on August 19th, 2018, 2:59 am 

Marriage? ;)

For a more honest and annoying answer I’d have to say without any doubt that it lies in optimism. It’s a tail chaser if you willingfully ignore the opposite.

All is nascent from the void and appeciation of this can become either pessimism or optimism; not that the void likely cares which way our minds fall, but nature has certainly shaped us upon binary principles up to now.
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