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Philosophy

114 STASHED IDEAS

Lao Tzu

“Difficult undertakings have always started with what is easy. And great undertakings have always started with what is small. Therefore the sage never strives for the great, And thereby the great is achieved."

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Epicureanism is about a psychological shift that life doesn't need to be as complicated as we make it. We're just animals with basic needs.

We have the tools to satisfy our desires and the resilience to endure hardships. When that fails and we're dead, we won't care.

Nihilism versus Pessimism

If optimism is hopefulness, then pessimism is hopelessness. Pessimism is dark and depressing. But it is not nihilism.

To be with a pessimist is to know that you are with a pessimist. But you can be with a nihilist and have no idea. Indeed you could yourself be a nihilist and have no idea. Such a lack of awareness is the point of nihilism, as nihilism is all about hiding from despair rather than dwelling on it.

In fact, optimism is more similar to nihilism. If optimism leads us to wait for something good to happen then optimism leads us to do nothing.  

Michelle de Montaigne

Montaigne's idea is to enjoy all the good things of life without taking any of them seriously. He gardens but he doesn't care if it's imperfect. He has a family but doesn't expect too much from them. This allows us to be a little bit more sane and happier.

Montaigne argues that imagination distinguishes us from other living beings. But the human imagination constantly leads us astray and is a thing we should be wary of. Humans tend to imagine more exalted forms of life that are not capable for us to achieve. This makes us miserable because we forget about living the life that we actually have. 

Naturalism and Human Nature

This claim(adopted by authors like Sam Harris) argues that we should use the tools of modern science to assess what human beings want and what their characteristics are, for instance, by looking at evolutionary biology or psychology and develop an ethical framework in accordance with human nature, which most people would accept. 

The flaws with this claim are-

  1. It evades Hume's argument that we cannot know what values we should accept. 
  2. Human beings may not be ‘naturally’ inspired to impartially doing what is good as genetic research indicates that humans are prone to being selfish and irrational.

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