The March Philosophy Book of the Month is Final Notice by Van Fleisher. Discuss Final Notice now.

The April Philosophy Book of the Month is The Unbound Soul by Richard L. Haight. Discuss The Unbound Soul Now

The May Philosophy Book of the Month is Misreading Judas by Robert Wahler.

Reasons to be cheerful ?

Use this philosophy forum to discuss and debate general philosophy topics that don't fit into one of the other categories.

This forum is NOT for factual, informational or scientific questions about philosophy (e.g. "What year was Socrates born?"); such homework-help-style questions can be asked and answered on PhiloPedia: The Philosophy Wiki. If your question is not already answered on the appropriate PhiloPedia page, then see How to Request Content on PhiloPedia to see how to ask your informational question using the wiki.
Belindi
Moderator
Posts: 1942
Joined: September 11th, 2016, 2:11 pm

Re: Reasons to be cheerful ?

Post by Belindi » November 7th, 2018, 7:26 am

Georgeanna, by " his death would resemble a version of Christ's death" I refer to Alias's suggestion that perhaps Socrates seized the opportunity to die as a martyr.

There is no doubt that Socrates was a martyr to the cause of reason as opposed to the cause of traditional religion. It's quite possible that Socrates would be a hero martyr to the young who were ready to espouse reason.

Jesus Christ died , not only that " we might live" , but also that he sacrificed his life as he stayed faithful to his true Judaic ethics. The essence of martyrdom is dying for a cause.

Alias
Posts: 2653
Joined: November 26th, 2011, 8:10 pm
Favorite Philosopher: Terry Pratchett

Re: Reasons to be cheerful ?

Post by Alias » November 7th, 2018, 12:38 pm

Greta wrote:
November 6th, 2018, 6:52 pm
Not for me because, as I said above, we humans seem to be a phase and part of something that will be much greater. I do not see humans as the end of the story, not by a long shot.
That gives me no hope anymore. You and Jared Diamond convinced me, a couple of years ago, that whatever takes our place will be just as bad - that the evolutionary paths available on this planet inevitably lead to an apex predator. Even if it's ants, it will be army ants or fire ants, not leaf-cutters, right?
While there is still space for bushwalking, gardening, music, bad movies and learning about the cosmos, I'm okay.
Me too, but I.m comforted to know where the emergency exits are.
Belindi -- It [loss of hope] may be sufficient reason. Should I feel guilty for enjoying life?
Who mentioned guilt? I wasn't talking about how anyone should feel, only how I myself feel.
I have some empathy for another codger who made a sustained effort to lead people to reason and clarity, only to discover that it was all in vain; that unreason and cynical power always have the whip-hand.

Of course the young are more optimistic: I used to believe in and strive for a better world. That goes with inexperience, credulity and a false sense of one's own potency. That's why canny old men send eager young men to kill and die for whatever the canny old men want at the moment. Now they're sending girls, too, which improves nothing, not even the conduct of warfare.

Jesus and Socrates have little in common: one was young and probably fictional, the other, a grizzled veteran of real life.
The idea of martyrdom appeals to the young and optimistic, who believe something will be changed, someone will be saved. It means nothing to the old and disillusioned. The most we can do is cleave to our principles and retain our self-respect.

Of course, we can still be cheerful most of the time.

Belindi
Moderator
Posts: 1942
Joined: September 11th, 2016, 2:11 pm

Re: Reasons to be cheerful ?

Post by Belindi » November 7th, 2018, 2:10 pm

Alias wrote:
Jesus and Socrates have little in common: one was young and probably fictional, the other, a grizzled veteran of real life.
The idea of martyrdom appeals to the young and optimistic, who believe something will be changed, someone will be saved. It means nothing to the old and disillusioned. The most we can do is cleave to our principles and retain our self-respect.
Both the Jesus of history and Socrates clove to their principles. The status of martyrdom is sometimes sought by the martyr and sometimes unsought by the martyr. I don't know enough about the psyches and ideas of either man to claim that either of them sought martyrdom. I suspect that martyrdom as a means of influencing others is a comparatively new motive for seeking suffering or death.

PS the following shows that martyrdom has ancient precedents among the Jews.
Martyrdom in Second Temple Judaism

Most scholars consider the Hasmonean traditions preserved in 2 and 4 Maccabees as representing the earliest Jewish strata of martyrology. This depends on a definition of martyrdom that includes:

public declaration of one’s allegiance to God and Torah in the face of official demands to betray that allegiance or die;

the perception that this act fulfills a religious mandate (that death is what God demands when the alternative is apostasy);

the passionate commitment of the adherent to both God and Torah;[3]

these deaths serve a larger redemptive purpose, generally for Israel as a whole; AND

death (or near death experience of Isaac—as interpreted later—or Daniel).

www.bc.edu/content/dam/files/research_s ... index.html

http://theconversation.com/the-violent- ... ence-80989

Alias
Posts: 2653
Joined: November 26th, 2011, 8:10 pm
Favorite Philosopher: Terry Pratchett

Re: Reasons to be cheerful ?

Post by Alias » November 7th, 2018, 3:52 pm

Belindi wrote:
November 7th, 2018, 2:10 pm
The status of martyrdom is sometimes sought by the martyr and sometimes unsought by the martyr.
Thomas a Becket would be an example of one sought it. He defied his king to score points with his church and his god. (Though I suspect he thought his chances of getting away with it were pretty good. Had it been up to Henry to act directly, he probably would have.) He was immersed in the Christian mythos, at a time when saints were made every other day.
Socrates fell victim to a smear campaign when his method of teaching ran counter to the interests of the power elite.
For martyrdom to have any cultural meaning, there has to be an underlying belief-system that is perceived to benefit from the death of a central demigod. Such traditions are religious in origin, having their basis in human sacrifice, which did figure in Hebrew mythology - though they had learned to substitute farm livestock - (as well as several other cultures that the Jews didn't know about, but some of which the Romans would have come in contact with. Remember that the saviour story was ineffective in Judea and didn't come into fashion until it took hold in Rome, some two centuries on.) It wasn't prominent in Greek/Athenian culture.
I suspect that martyrdom as a means of influencing others is a comparatively new motive for seeking suffering or death.
Nobody's influenced by martyrs. Some admire them; some use them as good-luck charms or free passes to heaven; a lot of pilgrim/tourist centavos are extracted from the credulous through relics, effigies and monuments.
The notion of sacrifice is no stranger to politics - particularly the politics of militarism. You sure hear enough, this month about how "They laid down their lives for our freedom" and "lest we forget their sacrifice shall not have been in vain". Of course, that's all ********: every sacrifice of a soldier is made by his commanders, and every soldier's death is in vain - along with the uncounted deaths of all their civilian victims.
Militant revolutions use the murder - the more brutal and protracted, the more effective - of their leaders to concentrate the vengeful anger of the cadres in greater violent effort.
But nobody thinks any differently or behaves any differently just because some figurehead gets snuffed. The ones who are moved by the death already believed as the figurehead did (or as they were taught) and the ones who believe differently don't change their minds once he's dead.

User avatar
Greta
Site Admin
Posts: 7686
Joined: December 16th, 2013, 9:05 pm

Re: Reasons to be cheerful ?

Post by Greta » November 7th, 2018, 5:58 pm

Alias wrote:
November 7th, 2018, 12:38 pm
Greta wrote:
November 6th, 2018, 6:52 pm
Not for me because, as I said above, we humans seem to be a phase and part of something that will be much greater. I do not see humans as the end of the story, not by a long shot.
That gives me no hope anymore. You and Jared Diamond convinced me, a couple of years ago, that whatever takes our place will be just as bad - that the evolutionary paths available on this planet inevitably lead to an apex predator. Even if it's ants, it will be army ants or fire ants, not leaf-cutters, right?
Okay, I thought that would help.

If you believe that humans and other higher order animals have worthwhile qualities that simpler animals lack, then you will have hope.

If you see all organisms as equally vicious or if you think humans are the worst, then I expect you would never have no hope for the future or for anything at all ever again, if you ever did. That would be a shame, to rob yourself of happiness based on a delusion. The minds of humans and other higher order mammals are very similar, just that we somewhat smarter, have opposable thumbs and are we are terrestrial (big advantage over dolphins).

Expressions of disgust about the nature of humans are expressions of disgust about the nature of all higher mammals. Dolphins that toy with their food and rape and bully, elephants that tear up trees in its path and kill any unwanted animals that dars enter its territory, canines and their political pack aggression, and so forth. If any of these had humanity's mental empowerment, they would not show more wisdom and "harmony with nature" than us. If they had our empowerment they would suit themselves, just as humans do, because that's the nature of life - consumptive and acquisitive - at least at this point of its development.

Jklint
Posts: 1315
Joined: February 23rd, 2012, 3:06 am

Re: Reasons to be cheerful ?

Post by Jklint » November 7th, 2018, 7:51 pm

With the way the world is going the question becomes superfluous simply because the answer is so obvious.

User avatar
Burning ghost
Posts: 3037
Joined: February 27th, 2016, 3:10 am

Re: Reasons to be cheerful ?

Post by Burning ghost » November 7th, 2018, 11:14 pm

Child poverty down.
Child malnutrition down.
Less war than ever before.
More access to education than ever before.
More access healthcare than ever before.

Five truths many refuse to believe because then they’ve got no excuse to moan like petty children. The five above points outway silly ideologies that fly around briefly before choking in their own ****.
AKA badgerjelly

Alias
Posts: 2653
Joined: November 26th, 2011, 8:10 pm
Favorite Philosopher: Terry Pratchett

Re: Reasons to be cheerful ?

Post by Alias » November 8th, 2018, 12:30 am

Greta wrote:
November 7th, 2018, 5:58 pm
If you believe that humans and other higher order animals have worthwhile qualities that simpler animals lack, then you will have hope.
That doesn't logically follow. A species may have dozens of interesting, amazing, admirable qualities and yet have one fatal flaw that leads to its demise.
If you see all organisms as equally vicious or if you think humans are the worst, then I expect you would never have no hope for the future or for anything at all ever again, if you ever did.
I did. Now I don't.
That would be a shame, to rob yourself of happiness based on a delusion.
I didn't rob myself; events did. Anyway, happiness based on a delusion may be pleasant, but you can't really expect it to endure. My happiness is based on a personal reality that has been - through sheer luck - better than most people's.
The minds of humans and other higher order mammals are very similar, just that we somewhat smarter, have opposable thumbs and are we are terrestrial (big advantage over dolphins).
I'm aware of that. That's why it was relatively easy to convince me that the other contenders wouldn't be much better as dominant species. While I retain my regard for Piers Anthony's observation that carnivores are more honest and herbivores are more peaceful, I also believe that omnivores are best placed for dominance - and they're like us.
Expressions of disgust about the nature of humans are expressions of disgust about the nature of all higher mammals.
There was no expression of disgust. Species go extinct all the time. More species go extinct in a year of the anthropocene than in ten thousand years of any other era. Things end. That's just brass tacks, regardless of how one chooses to frame the issue. The fact that any other species, had it attained dominance, would have grown just as destructive in time does nothing to mitigate the destruction.

User avatar
Greta
Site Admin
Posts: 7686
Joined: December 16th, 2013, 9:05 pm

Re: Reasons to be cheerful ?

Post by Greta » November 8th, 2018, 12:39 am

Perhaps we need to look at the situation more broadly? Most think that "less war" will probably be reversed in the foreseeable future and, while the other metrics posted above are encouraging, there are more considerations:
11 startling stats about Earth's disappearing wildlife: https://www.mnn.com/earth-matters/wilde ... g-wildlife

Aside from loss of biodiversity threats and extinctions, there's climate change, loss of coral reefs, deforestation, rapid desertification in Africa, loss of polar ice, increased wildfires, increased erosion, sinkholes and earthquakes caused by excavations, draining of aquifers and fracking, and so on. I don't lay blame; there's simply too many people for the surface of the planet to support in the medium term. The 68.5 million forcibly displaced people in the world, including 25.4 million refugees, also deserve a mention in context, along with the growing armies of homeless people or those residing in "people cages".

Ultimately, many seem to see nature and the cosmos as trivial, ignorable and expendable backdrops to the important business of human relationships. That approach, after millennia of morally dubious success, looks to have a limit that we are approaching.

User avatar
Burning ghost
Posts: 3037
Joined: February 27th, 2016, 3:10 am

Re: Reasons to be cheerful ?

Post by Burning ghost » November 8th, 2018, 1:04 am

Educate women. Attempts to focus on environmental problems are almost completely ineffectual.

Start with educating people, getting people out of poverty, and providing people with means to find meaning in life. Everything else falls into place after that.

The success of humanity over the past few decades has been mind blowing.

We’re “wired” to be optimistic (neurological fact btw, not opinion) yet we act en masse with a negative attitude because our scope of understanding never hits a ceiling - all we can logicallu do is press on and challenge our own knowledge and do better than yesterday, to embrace mistakes rather than cry about them (or to cry if need be and then embrace them and put them to use.)

Humanity is not a single person so we shouldn’t expect humanity to act like a single person. That is where the negativity comes from; the misconception of a species frame as a childish, irresponsible individual.
AKA badgerjelly

User avatar
Greta
Site Admin
Posts: 7686
Joined: December 16th, 2013, 9:05 pm

Re: Reasons to be cheerful ?

Post by Greta » November 8th, 2018, 1:17 am

Alias wrote:
November 8th, 2018, 12:30 am
Greta wrote:
November 7th, 2018, 5:58 pm
If you believe that humans and other higher order animals have worthwhile qualities that simpler animals lack, then you will have hope.
That doesn't logically follow. A species may have dozens of interesting, amazing, admirable qualities and yet have one fatal flaw that leads to its demise.
Maybe, but they'd see the odds as okay.
Alias wrote:
November 8th, 2018, 12:30 am
That would be a shame, to rob yourself of happiness based on a delusion.
I didn't rob myself; events did. Anyway, happiness based on a delusion may be pleasant, but you can't really expect it to endure. My happiness is based on a personal reality that has been - through sheer luck - better than most people's.
You care about the big picture - "events" - yes? I do, which is why the fact that I see humans as merely transitional forms in an evolutionary path with almost unbounded potential is a reason to be cheerful. The idea that humans are the ultimate or final dominant species makes little sense to me, looking at evolution so far and how it's progressed.

Humans as the first deeply abstract thinking organism, destroying itself in its newborn moral turpitude is poetic, but not how nature seems to work. My money would be on rich bastards with their friends, cronies and intelligent machines will survive and thrive, moving to ever greater complexity, sophistication and empowerment. The rest of us will continue to feed on their scraps, for as long as the scraps keep coming.

Alias wrote:
November 8th, 2018, 12:30 am
The minds of humans and other higher order mammals are very similar, just that we somewhat smarter, have opposable thumbs and are we are terrestrial (big advantage over dolphins).
I'm aware of that. That's why it was relatively easy to convince me that the other contenders wouldn't be much better as dominant species. While I retain my regard for Piers Anthony's observation that carnivores are more honest and herbivores are more peaceful, I also believe that omnivores are best placed for dominance - and they're like us.
Yes, every species is ruthless. What offends us is that we have the capacity not to be quite so ruthless but internal competition kept us too insecure to ease off.

I like to consider the biosphere as a whole and its evolution from simplicity to sophistication. Now it's sending its stuff off world, looking to reproduce. As one does :) Damn annoying system, really. The microbes seemed to have a better idea - just split in two without all the fussing and fighting. I expect, though, that the process would be mightily uncomfortable for larger critters, hence the shift to breeding.
Alias wrote:
November 8th, 2018, 12:30 am
The fact that any other species, had it attained dominance, would have grown just as destructive in time does nothing to mitigate the destruction.
Nothing can mitigate the destruction aside from policies that the Kochs, Murdochs and others made wealthy on fossil fuels will not permit. However, knowing that if a species other than great apes had managed to be as dominant things would probably be no better, ideally reduces resentment about it.

Alias
Posts: 2653
Joined: November 26th, 2011, 8:10 pm
Favorite Philosopher: Terry Pratchett

Re: Reasons to be cheerful ?

Post by Alias » November 8th, 2018, 1:48 am

Greta wrote:
November 8th, 2018, 1:17 am
You care about the big picture - "events" - yes?
That reference to "events" was simply a response to what "robbed me of" - not my phrase; I prefer something less emotional, like what put an end to - my delusion of perpetual improvement. I still care, but it's been moved from the center to the periphery of my daily life. I take an interest, but no active part.
I do, which is why the fact that I see humans as merely transitional forms in an evolutionary path with almost unbounded potential is a reason to be cheerful. The idea that humans are the ultimate or final dominant species makes little sense to me, looking at evolution so far and how it's progressed.
That remains to be seen. With any luck, I won't see it. If we scrape every living thing off this rock, we'll have been the ultimate and final dominant species. If not, as i said, the next one isn't likely to be any better - and even if it were elephants or fruit bats, rather than hyenas or alligators, how does that cheer me when I'm long dead?
My money would be on rich bastards with their friends, cronies and intelligent machines will survive and thrive, moving to ever greater complexity, sophistication and empowerment. The rest of us will continue to feed on their scraps, for as long as the scraps keep coming.
Now that's a reason to be of good cheer!!
Yes, every species is ruthless. What offends us is that we have the capacity not to be quite so ruthless but internal competition kept us too insecure to ease off.
Why use freighted words like "disgust" and "offend" and "resentment"? Sure, we might have done better, if we'd been else than we are, but we're not, so we couldn't, so we haven't. That's just how it is.
Seeing things derosied - demystified, unhyped - is still considered a sin or a character flaw or whatever, but that, too, is just what it is.
I'm realistic and cheerful.

AT - I heard an anecdote tonight. Students were conducting a science test. They put a piece of apple and two fruitflies in a jar. Next day, they had a dozen fruitflies. The following day, hundreds of fruitflies. The third day, the jar was literally filled with fruitflies. The fourth day, the rotting apple was gone and all the fruitflies were dead. The penultimate edition of Fruitfly Daily sported the headline: Never Before in History Have Fruitflies Been so Successful.

User avatar
Greta
Site Admin
Posts: 7686
Joined: December 16th, 2013, 9:05 pm

Re: Reasons to be cheerful ?

Post by Greta » November 8th, 2018, 2:48 am

Alias wrote:
November 8th, 2018, 1:48 am
Yes, every species is ruthless. What offends us is that we have the capacity not to be quite so ruthless but internal competition kept us too insecure to ease off.
Why use freighted words like "disgust" and "offend" and "resentment"? Sure, we might have done better, if we'd been else than we are, but we're not, so we couldn't, so we haven't. That's just how it is.
Seeing things derosied - demystified, unhyped - is still considered a sin or a character flaw or whatever, but that, too, is just what it is.
I'm realistic and cheerful.
Not any more. The bifurcation of societies fits neatly here - with those offended by lack of rosiness and those offended by lack of judgement.
Alias wrote:
November 8th, 2018, 1:48 am
AT - I heard an anecdote tonight. Students were conducting a science test. They put a piece of apple and two fruitflies in a jar. Next day, they had a dozen fruitflies. The following day, hundreds of fruitflies. The third day, the jar was literally filled with fruitflies. The fourth day, the rotting apple was gone and all the fruitflies were dead. The penultimate edition of Fruitfly Daily sported the headline: Never Before in History Have Fruitflies Been so Successful.
You neglected to mention the fruitflies that built biodomes and lived on cleverly processed random biota while building machines that were far more intelligent, capable and robust than fruit flies. These were capable of flying through the lid and settling on new cores.

Back to our scale, the alternative to high tech progression is that, every large animal on Earth simply dies in the next million years ago anyway due to the heating Sun, and then that's the end of the story. IMO it is short-sighted to treat the future technological possibilities as unrealistic, very much akin to those sensible folk who were so certain that the Milky Way was the only galaxy in the universe or sure that humans could never send a craft to the Moon.

These future projections are not unrealistic but, failing asteroids, supervolcanoes and suchlike, much more probably than not. The very least likely option is that humans will kill off the Earth and that will be game over. That is genuine, wildly speculative sci fi straight out of the Max Max playbook. That humans will continue both life's and their own journey via intelligent machines in space is not only certain, but might have already happened via accidental contamination.

Belindi
Moderator
Posts: 1942
Joined: September 11th, 2016, 2:11 pm

Re: Reasons to be cheerful ?

Post by Belindi » November 8th, 2018, 11:17 am

Alias, I really liked your post of 7 November about martyrdom.

Alias
Posts: 2653
Joined: November 26th, 2011, 8:10 pm
Favorite Philosopher: Terry Pratchett

Re: Reasons to be cheerful ?

Post by Alias » November 8th, 2018, 3:19 pm

Greta wrote:
November 8th, 2018, 2:48 am
The bifurcation of societies fits neatly here - with those offended by lack of rosiness and those offended by lack of judgement.
If you insist on being offended by something, it will be harder to remain cheerful.
You neglected to mention...
It wasn't my joke to change. And it wasn't about progress or evolution - it was about perception.
That humans will continue both life's and their own journey via intelligent machines in space is not only certain, but might have already happened via accidental contamination.
That's the galaxy's problem, not mine.

Post Reply