Pessimism: Philosophy, Ethic, Spirit

Pessimism Philosophy Ethic Spirit Pessimism claims an impressive following from Rousseau Schopenhauer and Nietzsche to Freud Camus and Foucault Yet pessimist remains a term of abuse an accusation of a bad attitude or the diagnosi

  • Title: Pessimism: Philosophy, Ethic, Spirit
  • Author: Joshua Foa Dienstag
  • ISBN: 9780691125527
  • Page: 295
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pessimism claims an impressive following from Rousseau, Schopenhauer, and Nietzsche, to Freud, Camus, and Foucault Yet pessimist remains a term of abuse an accusation of a bad attitude or the diagnosis of an unhappy psychological state Pessimism is thought of as an exclusively negative stance that inevitably leads to resignation or despair Even when pessimism looksPessimism claims an impressive following from Rousseau, Schopenhauer, and Nietzsche, to Freud, Camus, and Foucault Yet pessimist remains a term of abuse an accusation of a bad attitude or the diagnosis of an unhappy psychological state Pessimism is thought of as an exclusively negative stance that inevitably leads to resignation or despair Even when pessimism looks like utter truth, we are told that it makes the worst of a bad situation Bad for the individual, worse for the species who would actually counsel pessimism Joshua Foa Dienstag does In Pessimism, he challenges the received wisdom about pessimism, arguing that there is an unrecognized yet coherent and vibrant pessimistic philosophical tradition More than that, he argues that pessimistic thought may provide a critically needed alternative to the increasingly untenable progressivist ideas that have dominated thinking about politics throughout the modern period Laying out powerful grounds for pessimism s claim that progress is not an enduring feature of human history, Dienstag argues that political theory must begin from this predicament He persuasively shows that pessimism has been and can again be an energizing and even liberating philosophy, an ethic of radical possibility and not just a criticism of faith The goal of both the pessimistic spirit and of this fascinating account of pessimism is not to depress us, but to edify us about our condition and to fortify us for life in a disordered and disenchanted universe.

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    1 thought on “Pessimism: Philosophy, Ethic, Spirit”

    1. Dienstag presents the case that a pessimistic worldview does not necesitate a pessimistic personal attitude, that, in fact, pessimism is a philosophically respectable 'ethic' or 'form of life' with an enviable history of adherents.Pessimism's basic foundation lies in the generally accepted change in time consciousness that occurred in the early modern period. THe modern notion of linear time produced two children: optimists (time is linear and progressive) and pessimists (time is linear and flat [...]

    2. A so-so to decent book that could have been so much betterOccasionally I'll penalize a book for having a good, even a great, concept and just not doing it full justice, and this is one of those occasions.This book rates at least five stars for its rehabilitation of pessimism and for its excellence at connecting the dots between different philosophers without an established "school of pessimism."It ranks less than five stars for not fulfilling its potential and overlooking three major areas.Diens [...]

    3. "Pessimism is. . .a freedom to cut yourself loose from a project that everyone insists you participate in. Pessimism cuts us free of an optimism that is demanded of us. Pessimism cuts us out of a social activity we were enrolled in without our assent."

    4. This is an excellent piece of political theory. Pessimism is the only "liberating" path, I agree (no matter how it may sound contradictory). But, to say the truth, I am still closer to Schopenhauer's way of pessimism, rather than author's favourite Nietzsche. Instead of Dionysus, I prefer his tutor Silenus, who says that "That the best thing for a man is not to be born, and if already born, to die as soon as possible.". A little bit more misanthrophic, perhaps."Temporarity creates barriers to fr [...]

    5. An excellent account of a maligned and marginalized philosophical tradition that rejects the hegemony of modern optimism, offering a welcome reminder that optimists are never pleasantly surprised.

    6. Dienstag offers the reader an interesting discussion of pessimism as a philosophical trend, exemplified in the writings of Rousseau, Leopardi, Schopenhauer, Freud, Unamuno, Camus and Cioran. Personally I found his discussion of Nietzsche and Cervantes' Don Quixote to be very insightful. I found the chapter entitled "Pessimism and Freedom" a bit tedious. I would recommend this work to friends and colleagues.

    7. Dienstag understands the centrality of time to human experience, the profound divide that separates freedom from happpiness, and the mistaken fallacy in expectations.

    8. A terribly interesting overview of the philosophical and political implications of what the author describes as an overlooked philosophical thread.

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