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The man’s world and the evil

The illusion of advancing towards the worst

Peinture renaissanceThe humanity is destined to reach its perfection.

Definition of pessimism :1. A tendency to stress the negative or unfavorable or to take the gloomiest possible view: "We have seen too much defeatism, too much pessimism, too much of a negative approach" Margo Jones.
2. The doctrine or belief that this is the worst of all possible worlds and that all things ultimately tend toward evil.
3. The doctrine or belief that the evil in the world outweighs the good.

According to our thinking, the humanity is destined to reach its perfection.

There are naturally points of view opposite to this optimistic vision of the human future.

- Some people consider the humanity stationary. The man condemned to remain a wolf for the man.
- Others imagine us in regression towards the worst, dedicated to our own destruction.

In spite of the disasters arisen from the human greed, in spite of the sum of fears spread by the media, the optimism is dominant in the world. The faith in a positive evolution seems more natural in the spirit than the opposite.

The human majority seems to situate its point of view in the optimist side.

From the sophists to Montaigne, to Nietzsche

Pessimism and philosophy

Luis BunuelPessimist theories and teleologies seem very rare in philosophy.

The darkest (I think of those of Sade) not only dispute the idea of God but they neither care at all about the human purpose.

And when the atheistic doctrines are interested in the purpose of the humanity (like the Marxism) and place the responsibility in the heart of their reflection, (like the existentialism), they are in the optimist side.

1/ The sophists

We can find some forms of pessimism in a few sophists’ point of views.

Indeed, for certain sophists, everything equals, the good as the evil. So, the reason cannot base on clear realities to assert some truths. For a certain sophistry, there is no absolute, no virtue to be taught. No universal and timeless standard can guide the action. No solid anchor point can avoid the absurd visions of the world.

These arguments, under a certain angle, seem solid.
It is easy to find examples in which the good hurts somebody and the evil does somebody good.
Really, this kind of dialectic is above all useful for justifying anti-moralities in which perverse dominants legitimize their perversities and their misdeeds. “The man is a wolf for the man”… “Too kind person, too stupid person”…” If I don’t do it (such or such embezzlement), other one will do it in my place”, etc.
This kind of arguments just represents impostures. They allow marginal attitudes to be perceived like normal in the human culture.

In the culture, the majority of the men are not wolves for the men. 90% of the human beings do not behave as wolves to their fellow men. At least, only one minority enough pervert and narcissist can, without complex, neither remorse, nor regret, behave as wolves in this humanity to abuse others.

The human majority do not think that to be too kind is to be too stupid. On the contrary, they place the generosity in the top of their value system and demonstrate it when solidarity is needed.

And even by considering the good and the evil from a pragmatic point of view, in other words by considering the evil so indispensable as the good for the human evolution (thus equivalents theoretically), all the values of the humanity guides the man to choose the camp of the good.

Certain sophist argumentations just allow justifying the indefensible. It is the ideal instrument to normalize abusive behaviors. It is moreover the privileged tool of the narcissistic perversion to justify itself. In fact, if there is no universal standard to guide our actions, then it seems natural to value the primary and unfair drivings instead of privileging the big human values.

For the most part of the sophists the power is a question of strength and the happiness a question of pleasure. In answer to the values of Socrates, the justice, the truth, the reason, the sophists claim "to say out loud what everybody silently thinks”.
"The justice is a false value; everybody knows that committing the injustice without being catch is an excellent thing. What is good, simple and natural, it is the free exercise of its own power. It is normal that big fishes eat smallest ones. The law corrupts the true values of the nature and in this business, the democracy is the worse than everything. "

“The true life, the human excellence, it is to give free rein to the passions, to live them completely; to look always and everywhere the pleasure and its maximization.” (Michel Puech?)

But the man did not misunderstand.

In spite of attempts (understandable but desperate) to restore the sophistic atheism, the world philosophic study hoists in its summit (and for a long time) the moralist philosophers (Socrates, Plato), the philosophers of the sense.

2/ Montaigne, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche

Regarding to the pessimistic thoughts, we could also quote the individualistic point of view of Montaigne or that of Voltaire (when he opposes to the leibnizian idea according to which everything is better in the best of the worlds). Certain pessimistic aspects can be revealed in Schopenhauer, in Nietzsche or in the existentialism.

Both Schopenhauer and Nietzsche present the world as will. Their conclusions end nevertheless, in two completely opposite ways.

Schopenhauer, discouraged in front of a human will irresistibly that is decided to assert itself at the cost of others, recommends the destruction of this instinctive power. By studying the Hinduism and the Buddhism (through their idea of nirvana) the philosopher of Dantzig proposes the whole and simple extinction of the drives.

Nietzsche dreads to see the will extinguished. Refusing his own sensibility, hostile to any psychological introspection, he fights the softening of the customs that the spiritual world and the development of the psychoanalysis bring gradually.
This denial of him even, urges him to idealize the power, to venerate the natural dominant, the warlike aristocrat, the caste system, etc...

If the will for power (the authority of the dominant) was, and still is, on certain ways, necessary to build the world, it is not a purpose. It is dedicated to be gradually replaced by the democracy (in other words, the sovereignty of the dominated).

The will for power generates some pleasure and not happiness. It is also at the origin of all the sufferings endured by the humanity. As the man aspires, above all, to the happiness, the will for power is intended to perish gradually.
After that, the humanity will find the wisdom, the full spirituality, the bliss, the rapture. It is a question of due time.

In summary, Schopenhauer is right to think that the nirvana is conditioned by the destruction of the drives. But the man has to build his world, thus he needs his drives. Excluding some rare exceptions, the nirvana is for later.

Nietzsche is right when he anticipates the emergence of the sensibility, but it is not a matter to dread.

Observed separately and in a basic reading, these two points of view are quite extreme and hardly create an optimistic vision of the world.

Nietzsche’s point of view contains an archaic return to Greek and Roman aristocracies. Concerning Schopenhauer’s point of view, it is too progressive; he wants to impose on the present a future purpose, which has to build itself little by little.

2/ The existentialism

We also find a certain form of pessimism in the existentialism. Some of the existentialists reduced their vision to the individual. They did not worry about the future of the humanity in general. This conception joined necessarily with the absurd (thus with the pessimism).

But finally, these thinkers cannot be considered as real pessimists. Generally, their works reflect no true despair regarding to the humanity. They simply represent their natural sentimentality - one of the major qualities of the philosopher.

Here were some cases of philosophy where we can find a small number of pessimistic ideologies.

The philosophies of hope

From the Milesians to Theilhard de Chardin

MalevitchOn the contrary, most of times, the philosophers are optimistic.

They trust the human nature, and they plan the best destinies for humanity for many reasons:

1/ On of the reason is that the authors learn their work by studying other authors full of enthusiasm, curiosity and creative joy since the origins of this matter.

Among Milesians, Pythagoreans, Plato and Aristotle followers, Epicureans, Stoics, Christian, Jewish, Moslem, Buddhist philosophers, all the medieval, until Descartes, then Pascal, Malebranche, Spinoza, Leibniz, Berkeley, Smells, then Rousseau, until Kant, Hegel, Count, Mill, Proudhon and Marx, then Freud, Bergson, Theilhard de Chardin, Bachelard (and much more), all believed in the man, all worked for the man and for his evolution.

In spite of the sufferings, doubts, self-abnegation, sacrifices, attacks, all drew from the philosophy, not only the biggest enjoyments of their existence, but also the vision of a world making sense, the positive sense for the whole humanity.

2/ Another reason is that the philosophers are Men, and most of the Men live with the intuition of a better world to come. Most of the persons carry the hope of positive future.

Pessimism and humanity

Most of the Men are optimistic.

The optimism is the state of mind which is most harmonious with the principle of life.

If the human majority is optimistic, it is above all because a majority of human beings are connected with one of the main religions (Hinduism, Judaism, Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, Pantheism).
And all these faiths offer to their followers a sense to the world and a positive purpose (individual or universal).

These religions also give a sense to existence of things which can seem absurd (as the suffering or the death).

The pessimism on the contrary, disputes these answers and considers the world as absurd, deprived of sense.
This thought is minority but it really exists. It has its own sense and represents a certain power, indeed beyond the number of its followers.

This pessimistic ideology is at the origin of several mechanisms.

At the source of pessimism

It can involve a movement of revolt, resultant in hypersensitive human beings, demoralized by the unconsciousness, the egoism, the compulsivity and the attitude of clans of certain powers. Disgusted in front of dominant capable of the worst atrocities to lose no privilege, it becomes then a positive, critical pessimism, a pessimism that makes people fight against these situations.

There is also the "usual" reactionary attitude, defending that the previous world, the world of its youth, was much better than the current one.

And then, there is a form of pessimism used by the narcissistic perversion. As we saw in previous chapters, it serves for justifying the indefensible. We find it in this kind of comment: “the man is a wolf for the man and it will be this way for ever! ", or “the man is fundamentally bad “or” if you do not eat the other one, you will be eaten by him!”

The morality and the human reality are quite other. The majority of the men are lambs for the other men. The wolves of the humanity are rare and they lean exactly on this anti-morality to justify their attitudes.

In summary, the human majority is rather optimistic on the human future. The pessimistic minority also works, indirectly, on the positive evolution of the humanity.

The pessimism as an engine

MotherwellThe world can be comprehended by the measure of some generations around ours or on the scale of the history of the whole humanity.

Under the narrow vision of a few decades, the human violence can give an image of a meaningless world or a world evolving towards the worst.

This uncomfortable feeling leads a big part of the people to fight against the selfish and regressive attitudes of certain systems and to oblige them so to evolve.

In fact, even if punctual periods of unbearable inhumanities, of cruel egoism or ethical and moral decline exist effectively (the examples do not miss for a century), on the scale of the history and globally, the humanity does not stop improving.

The human specie is not more and more badly. It is the man who becomes more and more sensitive to the suffering of its congeners.

The evolution of our specie joins in a self-managed and self-fertilizing mechanism of progress. From the moment the man made laws and make them progress, the evil met itself prisoner of a system which condemns it to move back ceaselessly and to disappear completely forward.

The mechanics is simple:

The evil expresses itself, breaks the morality and the prohibitions. It engenders suffering … The law intervenes. It makes retreat certain drivings, it reassures little by little the society. By becoming surer and surer, the humanity develops its human sensibility, its empathy, its comfort and is afraid of losing these values. The desire of always more peace and safety creates new protections, new laws, and new systems of protection. The more the safety and the peace increase in the society, the more the sensibility of the being develops. The more the sensibility of the man develops, the less he tolerates his suffering and his congener’s pains. The more the man becomes sensitive to the evil, the more he requires new laws, an intensification of the morality, the justice, the equality, the education, etc.

We are once again in the presence of the “guile of the reason”, dear to Hegel.

The malpractice, by obliging the society to require always more laws and protections, builds all the instruments intended for its own extinction.
Our sensibility, by progressing, makes our confrontation to the evil more and more intolerable and traumatizing.
We are then condemned to fight against the evil under all its forms until its complete disappearance.

The development of the sensibility is thus a fundamental condition of our evolution.


Charles Darwin caricature evolution