PHIL 1100 Lecture Notes - Lecture 18: Bertrand Russell

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25 Aug 2016
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Arthur Schopenhauer (1851), “On the Sufferings of the World
Defines pleasure as the absence of pain
“The enormous amount of pain that abounds everywhere in the world”
“Misfortune in general is the rule”
Compare the pleasure of an animal eating another, with the pain of its victim
oLion and gazelle: the pain outweighs the pleasure, regardless of whether it is natural
“We are like lambs in a field, disporting themselves under the eye of the butcher, who chooses
out first one and then another for his prey. So it is that in our good days we are all unconscious of
the evil Fate may have presently in store for us—sickness, poverty, mutilation, loss of sight or
reason”
oThere’s nothing pleasurable about being a lamb! Bottom of the food chain etc.
If we got everything we wanted (a “paradise of luxury and ease,” where “every Jack obtained
his Jill”), we’d either become “swollen with arrogance,” which leads to folly, even madness, or
we’d become horribly bored
oStamos thinks: people are foolish! Think of big lottery winners they spend it all in a week
and then they’re poor again
Perspective of young people: “In early youth, as we contemplate our coming life, we are like
children in a theatre before the curtain is raised, sitting there in high spirits and eagerly waiting
for the play to begin. It is a blessing that we do not know what is really going to happen. Could
we foresee it, there are times when children might seem like innocent prisoners, condemned, not
to death, but to life, and as yet all unconscious of what their sentence means”
Even if your life goes relatively well, Schopenhauer says “the longer you live the more
clearly you will feel that, on the whole, life is a disappointment, nay, a cheat
oToday we would use the word “rip-off”
He says, if two people who were friends in their youth meet again when they are old,
that’s the “chief feeling” they will have when they look at each other, “complete
disappointment at life as a whole”
oEither you could talk about all the good times, or maybe talk about all the ailments and
disappointments in life
Great topic for empirical psychology, any commonalities about seniors who agree? who
disagrees?
oWhat is common between people who have a positive view on life? What about negative?
Are people generally happy when they’re old? How did people deal with problems? Etc.
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