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Thread: Optimism and pessimism are not merely emotional preferences

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    Veteran Member PyramidHead's Avatar
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    Optimism and pessimism are not merely emotional preferences

    Here I want to make a distinction between the common-sense way that people may be said to be optimistic or pessimistic, either looking forward to or dreading their future prospects, and the metaphysical/philosophical sense of those terms. It is sometimes said that this matter is totally subjective, and so no resolution about the value or disvalue of life can ever be brokered between the views. I think that's a dodge, a cop-out, akin to the slippery equivalence some would claim between religion and science. What tips the scales toward pessimism (again, not toward having a depressive attitude or hating everybody, but toward a negative evaluation of life as a whole) is recognizing the important difference between value IN life, which we are obliged to create and pursue, as opposed to the value OF life. I am setting out to dispel the myth that the latter is just a tally of the former, that life-in-itself is a forbidden or unintelligible concept that amounts to nothing other than a weighted sum of the good and bad things one experiences during one's life. We do not insist upon this dogmatic stance when evaluating other things: it is perfectly reasonable to talk about what makes a good or bad zombie movie in one discussion, and talk about whether zombie movies as a whole are good or bad in another; we can make rules and establish accords that govern the right way for nations to conduct warfare in one discussion, and talk about whether warfare should be conducted at all in another; we can compare the efficacy of anti-cholesterol drugs in one discussion, and talk about whether those drugs should be recommended at all in another; and so on. In each case, there is an "intra-" sphere of considerations that apply when evaluating elements within the thing, and a wider perspective that evaluates the thing as a thing.

    Optimism and pessimism are on equal footing in the intra-world of experiences. Good experiences may outweigh the bad for some, and the reverse may be true for others. It all depends on circumstances. It's common to go from being rich to being poor and then back to being rich again. A rough year can be followed by a peaceful one. Sometimes it rains, sometimes it shines. I'm not disputing any of that, and the position I'm defending doesn't either. It's the wider perspective that I wish to explore here, and I'll start by pointing out something immediately apparent: on this level, something about the balance of good and bad is different. We are totally accustomed to hearing about the see-saw of experiences IN life, such that today I feel sick but tomorrow I'll feel better, today I got all my work done but tomorrow I'll be distracted, etc. Yet, it is inconceivable to hear: today I am old but tomorrow I'll be younger, today I'm far from the onset of senility but tomorrow I'll be even further, today I'm moving into a risk population for heart disease due to my age and tomorrow I'm moving out of that risk population. The direction is one-way. Julio Cabrera calls this a "structural asymmetry." While the goods and bads within a given life may roughly balance out, the direction of life itself when viewed from a detached point is relentlessly negative. He describes it in this way:

    This is the fundamental asymmetry: while the facts in life allow alternation, the facts of life (of the vital birth-dying process) do not allow it. This, of course, is not bad in an absolute sense, but bad in relation to a being like the human being [...] it means that beings like humans, with their nervous system, their brain, their sexuality, their mechanism of desire, etc., can not see their own decay as being something good; they live it as a gradual and irreversible loss of the good (and even very good) that they can do and be; all positive values are generated within life, and are generated as a systematic opposition against the irreversible and “one-way” fall of the mortal structure of being.
    So, it's not that pessimism requires that all of the joys of life be ignored, or that we must look forward to our deaths; quite the opposite. It is the very fact that the joys of life are so beautiful that constitutes life's badness, for above and beyond the coming and going of experience is an inexorable depletion of those joys until they are gone. The very fact that we must cling desperately to life is evidence that we are placed in a terminal situation that does not respect our wishes. I would like to further emphasize this point, because if it is misunderstood then there can be no communication: optimism and pessimism of the common-sense variety (a happy or sad stance toward what goes on in life) are both attitudes that occur against the same backdrop, which can be described in fairly objective terms regardless of attitude: we are all situated in a state of constant decay, wearing down, languishing, attrition, slippage toward the universal indignity of old age, or interrupted by catastrophe before then. These facts cannot be disputed rationally, nor can it be claimed that they are not distasteful to beings like humans, who desire the opposite in all pursuits: flourishing, improvement, security, comfort, vitality, and success. That life can be enjoyed "in spite of" the backdrop of structural negativity means life would otherwise be suffered by virtue of it.

    As Cabrera says, both the love of life and the fear of death are perfectly compatible with philosophical pessimism, and indeed are predicted by it. In order to prevent ourselves from disappearing, which we fear and despise, we are obliged to live vividly and passionately, to establish and hunker down in strongholds of relative permanence amid the prevailing atmosphere of loss. These are all intra-worldly creations and can be fantastically pleasurable, and to the extent that they soften or otherwise ameliorate the harshness of life they may grant someone happiness in their time on earth. Pessimism doesn't say any different. All that is being acknowledged is that we cannot mistake these reactionary measures for inherent positives of life. We should see them for what they are, and life for what it is, without losing sight of the difference between the positive values we are forced to invent inside of life, and the deeply negative value of life per se that requires us to do it.

    I have not elaborated thus far on the full extent of the structural asymmetry of life, but it is not hard to imagine what it entails, and can be elucidated without sliding into the subjectivity of individual preference. One is "born terminal", already from the very start in a process of deterioration that must be regularly stemmed by interventions from others (at first) and oneself (later). The second law of thermodynamics guarantees this for us. Throughout life, we are visited by a gradual decline of all of the facilities that help us navigate the world, from disease, injury, and age. The possibility of happiness is only realized at some cost, but suffering can be gratuitous beyond all utility. Among all other animals, we possess the awareness of these factors, which gives us an advantage in making them easier to bear while simultaneously instilling a host of psychological disorders unique to our species. It is in this context, not on a neutral plane of perfect balance, that we conduct the business of developing projects to improve our situation. That many of these projects are relatively successful does not mitigate the need for them in the first place! The existence of the need, in the fiber of life as an inescapable magnetism, is what shows life's disvalue, and this is NOT refuted by the intra-worldly constructions we erect in defiance of it.

    I define philosophical pessimism as the recognition of the negative value of life relative to the preferences of human beings. I am not defining it as a prediction about what may or may not happen within a certain life, nor a sour disposition toward the things in the world that are genuinely beautiful; what separates the pessimist from the optimist is the cringe that accompanies the appreciation of beauty by the pessimist, for he knows that all the machinations of the universe are conspiring to dismantle everything beautiful eventually, whether by destroying it in a single violent act or by removing from the equation anyone who would appreciate it. Pessimism can therefore inspire a deep compassion, borne out of the knowledge that nobody has any more value than anybody else (because everybody has none!). But even if pessimism of this kind did not have such an effect on the conscience, it would still be difficult, if not impossible, to defeat on rational grounds.
    Last edited by PyramidHead; 05-25-2018 at 08:10 PM.

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    Sure. Your usual high standard of articulation is achieved again.

    I can't disagree with any of it.

    And, unlike with your 'Even if this is the best of all worlds, is it still better than no world at all?' thread, it is thankfully free of hypotheticals about gawd.

    Which would tend to (again) lead me personally into a related discussion about abortion (essentially making a case for cancelling a life before it effectively even starts properly). Which to me would feel like it's right on-topic, but you and others may not think so.

    But, if you would prefer not to discuss that tangent (which to me personally seems relevant) then I can't think of much to say. Except...perhaps......why do you say that optimism and pessimism are not emotional preferences? By inventing (or defining) 'philosophical pessimism'? Does that get you or us out of saying that emotion is still involved, or that pessimism is de facto an attitude? I would doubt it. We are not, after all, completely rational machines, however tempting it is to think of ourselves as capable of being such (arguably a perennial assumption in much philosophy).

    Though perhaps by saying they are not merely emotional preferences you are acknowledging that they are at least partly that?

    In which case I wonder if you are making a distinction between rational and emotional that might be a false dichotomy in some respects?
    Last edited by ruby sparks; 05-30-2018 at 02:14 PM.

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    Veteran Member PyramidHead's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ruby sparks View Post
    Sure. Your usual high standard of articulation is achieved again.

    I can't disagree with any of it.

    And, unlike with your 'Even if this is the best of all worlds, is it still better than no world at all?' thread, it is thankfully free of hypotheticals about gawd.

    Which would tend to (again) lead me personally into a related discussion about abortion (essentially making a case for cancelling a life before it effectively even starts properly). Which to me would feel like it's right on-topic, but you and others may not think so.
    I think it's intimately related to the problem of procreation, which is one of my favorite topics because it is so infrequently discussed (although that seems to be changing lately). Abortion is just one aspect of that larger problem, but to the extent that it prevents a life from starting I would say I'm pro-abortion.

    But, if you would prefer not to discuss that tangent (which to me personally seems relevant) then I can't think of much to say. Except...perhaps......why do you say that optimism and pessimism are not emotional preferences? By inventing (or defining) 'philosophical pessimism'? Does that get you or us out of saying that emotion is still involved, or that pessimism is de facto an attitude? I would doubt it. We are not, after all, completely rational machines, however tempting it is to think of ourselves as capable of being such (arguably a perennial assumption in much philosophy).

    Though perhaps by saying they are not merely emotional preferences you are acknowledging that they are at least partly that?
    Bingo. Any value-leaden position is partly passionate, and partly dispassionate. "Common-sense" optimism and pessimism appeal to individual biases about which little may be said, but globally speaking, a neutral analysis of life as it is lived by everyone, not just the ones who are lucky or unlucky, provides more broadly applicable information.

    In which case I wonder if you are making a distinction between rational and emotional that might be a false dichotomy in some respects?
    Possibly, and I don't want to say that I'm claiming some kind of logical necessity to philosophical pessimism. All I am saying is that in order to deny it, someone has to craft apologies for *the system and the way it is arranged*, rather than for *the specific elements of that system*. The second category is easy to defend: life has ups and downs, suffering lets us enjoy pleasures, if we try hard enough we can succeed, there are ways to make peace with mortality, and so on. Defending the first category is not so simple, because it contains all of the excuses made for the second, and reveals them, embarrassingly, as negatives! It asks: why is it good that life has ups and downs? why is it good that pleasure has to be "bought" through suffering? why does success require so much effort? why is mortality something we must make peace with? etc. In all cases, the answers place more and more strain on a positive (or even neutral) evaluation of the "structure" or "setup" of life, the "givens" that everybody starts with.

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    Quote Originally Posted by PyramidHead View Post
    I think it's intimately related to the problem of procreation, which is one of my favorite topics because it is so infrequently discussed (although that seems to be changing lately). Abortion is just one aspect of that larger problem, but to the extent that it prevents a life from starting I would say I'm pro-abortion.
    Indeed. To me, the underlying justification for being anti-abortion is that any (human) life is, automatically, better than no life, and I would disagree. I suspect that a strong inclination against abortion is heavily influenced by a disposition which has evolved; possibly it is numero uno evolved disposition.

    Look at the facts. The potential person did not ask to be born, so life is being imposed on them by the parents (whose motivation is arguably selfish, as revealed by the phrase 'we'd like to have a baby' with its emphasis on what we would like). The life being imposed is going to involve a mixture of suffering and pleasure in whatever proportions (data suggests a higher proportion of suffering for those persons whose life was neither planned nor wanted, in other words often those who exist because the parents were prevented or discouraged from freely aborting), but ultimately there will be a suffering end, because pro-life is really only pro-temporary life. Death is inevitable (at least under current technology). At a pinch, I think I might even be able to construct at least half an argument that what is called pro-life might be better called pro-death (on the basis that the death of a 10-week embryo is not a death of the same sort as that of a person who has lived). Nor is yet another life required or even desirable for the continuation of the species (temporarily deeming that to be a valid or laudable aim) because there are now far too many people already.

    That said, I'm pro-choice (and for pragmatic reasons only up to a certain gestation), not necessarily pro-abortion. Perhaps you do mean the latter?

    I am similarly disposed towards a related issue, suicide. I am not pro-suicide, but I am pro-suicide-choice.

    It is probably no coincidence that legal/societal denial of the right to abortion and the legal/social right to suicide are often seen in parallel.



    Quote Originally Posted by PyramidHead View Post
    Bingo. Any value-leaden position is partly passionate, and partly dispassionate. "Common-sense" optimism and pessimism appeal to individual biases about which little may be said, but globally speaking, a neutral analysis of life as it is lived by everyone, not just the ones who are lucky or unlucky, provides more broadly applicable information.

    Possibly, and I don't want to say that I'm claiming some kind of logical necessity to philosophical pessimism. All I am saying is that in order to deny it, someone has to craft apologies for *the system and the way it is arranged*, rather than for *the specific elements of that system*. The second category is easy to defend: life has ups and downs, suffering lets us enjoy pleasures, if we try hard enough we can succeed, there are ways to make peace with mortality, and so on. Defending the first category is not so simple, because it contains all of the excuses made for the second, and reveals them, embarrassingly, as negatives! It asks: why is it good that life has ups and downs? why is it good that pleasure has to be "bought" through suffering? why does success require so much effort? why is mortality something we must make peace with? etc. In all cases, the answers place more and more strain on a positive (or even neutral) evaluation of the "structure" or "setup" of life, the "givens" that everybody starts with.
    Personally, I do like life more than I dislike it. The positives seem to outweigh the negatives. This was not always the case. I had chronic depression for decades, between the ages of 20 and about 48, or thereabouts. So life since then feels like a reprieve, a big improvement. I know it (life) is temporary. I would like it to be the case that society would facilitate an option for me that I could obtain a painless suicide at some stage, if I ever feel otherwise.

    I realise I am being personal and anecdotal rather than strictly philosophical in the analytic, impersonal sense, and I can see that you are trying to be the latter. I suppose it occurs to me to wonder whether your personal disposition is leading you to try to dispassionately rationalise something about which you are not dispassionate. Perhaps you are, by emotional inclination, a pessimist, and are merely looking to a philosophical position to formalise/justify it.

    That is not a criticism of any sort, either of you or the validity of the argument. I am merely riffing on my previous point about how much of a potential false dichotomy it might be to treat emotion and rationality as separate.
    Last edited by ruby sparks; 05-31-2018 at 09:36 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ruby sparks View Post
    Personally, I do like life more than I dislike it. The positives seem to outweigh the negatives. This was not always the case. I had chronic depression for decades, between the ages of 20 and about 48, or thereabouts. So life since then feels like a reprieve, a big improvement. I know it (life) is temporary. I would like it to be the case that society would facilitate an option for me that I could obtain a painless suicide at some stage, if I ever feel otherwise.
    I'm the same! I have a nice life now, and I'm happy most of the time. I enjoy my hobbies, have a family that loves me, and don't have any serious health issues. This doesn't negate pessimism because nothing about pessimism says that this should be impossible. What pessimism suggests is the correct way to frame a good life. Instead of saying: "Since I enjoy my life and want it to continue, that means life in general is something good, something valuable that should be regarded as a gift!" I should say: "I was fortunate enough to be relatively successful in implementing strategies, interventions, constructions, mechanisms, and security measures to defend myself against the inherent roughness of life, but that does not change the fact that life is rough (by virtue of my needing to do so)!" It's a recognition of the difference between how my life is going and whether life is good or bad in general.

    I realise I am being personal and anecdotal rather than strictly philosophical in the analytic, impersonal sense, and I can see that you are trying to be the latter. I suppose it occurs to me to wonder whether your personal disposition is leading you to try to dispassionately rationalise something about which you are not dispassionate. Perhaps you are, by emotional inclination, a pessimist, and are merely looking to a philosophical position to formalise/justify it.
    I'm really not an emotional pessimist, actually. I'm enthused about a lot of things in my life, and appreciate simple beauty just like anyone else. I don't have any problem with happy people, as long as they don't mistake their personal happiness (which, again, amounts to a temporary victory, like having access to an effective medicine for a chronic but ultimately incurable condition) for an endorsement of the overall status of being human or something like it (akin to the chronic condition that requires remedy).

    Regarding abortion and suicide, I agree that they are certainly linked in the social mindset. The same author I quoted in my OP has a lot to say about what he calls "affirmative" ethics, which is basically all of ethics as we know it, in that it starts from a place where life is already affirmed as a "given" and just tells you how to behave IN life. We have already decided (though never demonstrated) that more life is good, we want to have as many people as we can sustain, it's always better to be alive than not, everybody has the right to defend their life and property, etc. these are all affirmative norms. Economies need an affirmative foundation in order to grow. The species needs affirmative principles to continue perpetuating itself. Laws are based on some form of affirmative ethics in all functioning societies. Even when there are policies that allow abortion or assisted suicide, they are always rationalized in an affirmative way (abortion as a way of reducing poverty, reducing overpopulation, assisted suicide to provide a painless exit for people who are no longer productive) with the overarching goal of finding more efficient and equitable means of perpetual human expansion. Philosophical pessimism is not something that can be integrated into affirmative structures like civilization, but that doesn't make it false, it just shows how warped those structures are.

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    Interesting.

    Well, we are probably bound (inclined, as a species, generally) to be 'affirmative'. We probably wouldn't be here otherwise. So in that sense, it is correct to call it 'warped'?

    I don't think you and I disagree on much.

    Life is essentially an event (or series of events) which we have been forced to attend, and which is temporary, and our options are limited. We can leave (but almost certainly not end up at any other event), we can stay and try to make the most of it, or we can stay and not try to make the most of it. I guess.


    Perhaps the topics of death, abortion, suicide and other not-very-affirmative matters are unappealing precisely because they are not affirmative enough for our preferences. But personally I do generally agree that acknowledging the brute fact of eventual death (and/or the merits and demerits of non-existence generally) is by and large important, and possibly useful and life-enhancing too.

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    Quote Originally Posted by PyramidHead View Post
    Here I want to make a distinction between the common-sense way that people may be said to be optimistic or pessimistic, either looking forward to or dreading their future prospects, and the metaphysical/philosophical sense of those terms. It is sometimes said that this matter is totally subjective, and so no resolution about the value or disvalue of life can ever be brokered between the views. I think that's a dodge, a cop-out, akin to the slippery equivalence some would claim between religion and science. What tips the scales toward pessimism (again, not toward having a depressive attitude or hating everybody, but toward a negative evaluation of life as a whole) is recognizing the important difference between value IN life, which we are obliged to create and pursue, as opposed to the value OF life. I am setting out to dispel the myth that the latter is just a tally of the former, that life-in-itself is a forbidden or unintelligible concept that amounts to nothing other than a weighted sum of the good and bad things one experiences during one's life. We do not insist upon this dogmatic stance when evaluating other things: it is perfectly reasonable to talk about what makes a good or bad zombie movie in one discussion, and talk about whether zombie movies as a whole are good or bad in another; we can make rules and establish accords that govern the right way for nations to conduct warfare in one discussion, and talk about whether warfare should be conducted at all in another; we can compare the efficacy of anti-cholesterol drugs in one discussion, and talk about whether those drugs should be recommended at all in another; and so on. In each case, there is an "intra-" sphere of considerations that apply when evaluating elements within the thing, and a wider perspective that evaluates the thing as a thing.

    Optimism and pessimism are on equal footing in the intra-world of experiences. Good experiences may outweigh the bad for some, and the reverse may be true for others. It all depends on circumstances. It's common to go from being rich to being poor and then back to being rich again. A rough year can be followed by a peaceful one. Sometimes it rains, sometimes it shines. I'm not disputing any of that, and the position I'm defending doesn't either. It's the wider perspective that I wish to explore here, and I'll start by pointing out something immediately apparent: on this level, something about the balance of good and bad is different. We are totally accustomed to hearing about the see-saw of experiences IN life, such that today I feel sick but tomorrow I'll feel better, today I got all my work done but tomorrow I'll be distracted, etc. Yet, it is inconceivable to hear: today I am old but tomorrow I'll be younger, today I'm far from the onset of senility but tomorrow I'll be even further, today I'm moving into a risk population for heart disease due to my age and tomorrow I'm moving out of that risk population. The direction is one-way. Julio Cabrera calls this a "structural asymmetry." While the goods and bads within a given life may roughly balance out, the direction of life itself when viewed from a detached point is relentlessly negative. He describes it in this way:

    This is the fundamental asymmetry: while the facts in life allow alternation, the facts of life (of the vital birth-dying process) do not allow it. This, of course, is not bad in an absolute sense, but bad in relation to a being like the human being [...] it means that beings like humans, with their nervous system, their brain, their sexuality, their mechanism of desire, etc., can not see their own decay as being something good; they live it as a gradual and irreversible loss of the good (and even very good) that they can do and be; all positive values are generated within life, and are generated as a systematic opposition against the irreversible and “one-way” fall of the mortal structure of being.
    So, it's not that pessimism requires that all of the joys of life be ignored, or that we must look forward to our deaths; quite the opposite. It is the very fact that the joys of life are so beautiful that constitutes life's badness, for above and beyond the coming and going of experience is an inexorable depletion of those joys until they are gone. The very fact that we must cling desperately to life is evidence that we are placed in a terminal situation that does not respect our wishes. I would like to further emphasize this point, because if it is misunderstood then there can be no communication: optimism and pessimism of the common-sense variety (a happy or sad stance toward what goes on in life) are both attitudes that occur against the same backdrop, which can be described in fairly objective terms regardless of attitude: we are all situated in a state of constant decay, wearing down, languishing, attrition, slippage toward the universal indignity of old age, or interrupted by catastrophe before then. These facts cannot be disputed rationally, nor can it be claimed that they are not distasteful to beings like humans, who desire the opposite in all pursuits: flourishing, improvement, security, comfort, vitality, and success. That life can be enjoyed "in spite of" the backdrop of structural negativity means life would otherwise be suffered by virtue of it.

    As Cabrera says, both the love of life and the fear of death are perfectly compatible with philosophical pessimism, and indeed are predicted by it. In order to prevent ourselves from disappearing, which we fear and despise, we are obliged to live vividly and passionately, to establish and hunker down in strongholds of relative permanence amid the prevailing atmosphere of loss. These are all intra-worldly creations and can be fantastically pleasurable, and to the extent that they soften or otherwise ameliorate the harshness of life they may grant someone happiness in their time on earth. Pessimism doesn't say any different. All that is being acknowledged is that we cannot mistake these reactionary measures for inherent positives of life. We should see them for what they are, and life for what it is, without losing sight of the difference between the positive values we are forced to invent inside of life, and the deeply negative value of life per se that requires us to do it.

    I have not elaborated thus far on the full extent of the structural asymmetry of life, but it is not hard to imagine what it entails, and can be elucidated without sliding into the subjectivity of individual preference. One is "born terminal", already from the very start in a process of deterioration that must be regularly stemmed by interventions from others (at first) and oneself (later). The second law of thermodynamics guarantees this for us. Throughout life, we are visited by a gradual decline of all of the facilities that help us navigate the world, from disease, injury, and age. The possibility of happiness is only realized at some cost, but suffering can be gratuitous beyond all utility. Among all other animals, we possess the awareness of these factors, which gives us an advantage in making them easier to bear while simultaneously instilling a host of psychological disorders unique to our species. It is in this context, not on a neutral plane of perfect balance, that we conduct the business of developing projects to improve our situation. That many of these projects are relatively successful does not mitigate the need for them in the first place! The existence of the need, in the fiber of life as an inescapable magnetism, is what shows life's disvalue, and this is NOT refuted by the intra-worldly constructions we erect in defiance of it.

    I define philosophical pessimism as the recognition of the negative value of life relative to the preferences of human beings. I am not defining it as a prediction about what may or may not happen within a certain life, nor a sour disposition toward the things in the world that are genuinely beautiful; what separates the pessimist from the optimist is the cringe that accompanies the appreciation of beauty by the pessimist, for he knows that all the machinations of the universe are conspiring to dismantle everything beautiful eventually, whether by destroying it in a single violent act or by removing from the equation anyone who would appreciate it. Pessimism can therefore inspire a deep compassion, borne out of the knowledge that nobody has any more value than anybody else (because everybody has none!). But even if pessimism of this kind did not have such an effect on the conscience, it would still be difficult, if not impossible, to defeat on rational grounds.
    I tried to parse this post and reply but I don't know if I get the gist of it. Can you boil it down to a few sentences?

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    What is this thing that says there is value in life?

    Something with a life?

    Probably not a disinterested opinion.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rousseau View Post
    I tried to parse this post and reply but I don't know if I get the gist of it. Can you boil it down to a few sentences?
    That could be a challenge, but I'll give it a shot. I've outlined the general ideas below.

    i. The value of life per se can be considered independently of what happens during this or that particular life.
    -In the same way that the value of war itself can be considered independently of whether a particular war was waged according to international conventions.
    -What makes life valuable or not in this sense is not its contents but its "structure", the way it is set up, how it relates to what human beings need and want for themselves.

    ii. In the structure of life, there is an asymmetry with regard to what human beings need and want for themselves.
    -Life spontaneously provides many things humans find intolerable (death, sickness, injury, decline, pain) in a gratuitous way (beyond what may be required for some other gain).
    -Many things humans value (security, health, permanence, variety, mobility, freedom) are either impossible to attain, subject to irreversible decline over time, or must be acquired through struggle.
    -From the very beginning, a human life is subject to the same physical inevitability as everything else in the universe--without added effort, it will naturally wither and fail.
    -To the extent that humans wish to behave ethically, life thwarts this desire by situating humans in a limited space where conflict and the violation of others' interests is unavoidable.
    -None of these tendencies hold true for the positive aspects of life; if they ever arise spontaneously, they are fleeting and vulnerable, while the negatives are more often chronic and enduring.

    iii. These structural realities show that life is not valuable relative to the basic preferences of human beings.

    iv. Everything valuable in life is an "intra-worldly" creation, a strategy to improve a bad situation, to make the predicament we are in more tolerable, or to distract us from it.
    -The existence of happy people leading fulfilled lives is not a counterexample to any of the points raised so far; such people are just successful at partially overcoming the badness of life.
    -That life can be enjoyed in spite of the problems listed above implies that it should be negatively evaluated by virtue of them.
    -Recognizing the lack of value in life is not a glorification of death, as death and life start simultaneously, death is what makes life so lacking in value!
    -The fact that we have to conceal or ignore the facts of life to enjoy it shows that life is basically a dilemma, rather than a "neutral" backdrop for good or bad events.

    Therefore, even though the subjective everyday attitudes of optimism or pessimism about life's contents are up to individual preference, on the plane of rational arguments all of the evidence favors global pessimism, i.e. the stance that life as a whole is not something good and we should re-evaluate the giving and taking of life in light of this idea.

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    Veteran Member PyramidHead's Avatar
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    I will let Mr. Cabrera summarize it better than I perhaps did:

    Philosophers and people in general should understand that what they call “value of human life” is not value of human life in its being at all, but that they are already pointing to the values which we are obliged to create precisely because life, in its being, IS NOT GOOD. (We do not need to give value to something already valuable). Our defensive or vindicatory actions try to make life something good (or at least tolerable), and these actions are confused with the being of life itself, which is so bad that obliges us, precisely, to create defensive values. Human life is, in any case, a conjunction of structural disvalue and positive intra-worldly invented values. And the persistent tendency is to take the seconds as if they were refutations of the first. (I call this the “fallacy of the way back”). The existence of positive values is not the refutation of the disvalue of the being of life, but, on the contrary, its powerful confirmation: the worse are the rigors of being the more intense and dazzling are valuing intra-worldly inventions.

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