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JimD

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Learning How to Die in the Anthropocene
« on: November 25, 2013, 10:21:01 PM »
Op Ed from the NYT

I found this a very intriguing article and thought it might start some philosophical discussions.  I found it on a blog where someone was ranting about how messed up the authors opinion was.  Then I read the article and found out I pretty much agreed with all of it.  Comments?

http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/11/10/learning-how-to-die-in-the-anthropocene/?_r=1&
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

ggelsrinc

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Re: Learning How to Die in the Anthropocene
« Reply #1 on: November 25, 2013, 10:26:26 PM »
Op Ed from the NYT

I found this a very intriguing article and thought it might start some philosophical discussions.  I found it on a blog where someone was ranting about how messed up the authors opinion was.  Then I read the article and found out I pretty much agreed with all of it.  Comments?

http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/11/10/learning-how-to-die-in-the-anthropocene/?_r=1&

Dying is easy and living is hard.

Neven

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Re: Learning How to Die in the Anthropocene
« Reply #2 on: November 25, 2013, 10:59:29 PM »
Very well-written and thought-out article. Thanks, Jim.
Il faut comparer, comparer, comparer, et cultiver notre jardin

ccgwebmaster

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Re: Learning How to Die in the Anthropocene
« Reply #3 on: November 26, 2013, 04:26:22 AM »
Op Ed from the NYT

I found this a very intriguing article and thought it might start some philosophical discussions.  I found it on a blog where someone was ranting about how messed up the authors opinion was.  Then I read the article and found out I pretty much agreed with all of it.  Comments?

http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/11/10/learning-how-to-die-in-the-anthropocene/?_r=1&

Interesting and well written article - but I'm not quite sure exactly what it's trying to say in the last part?

Is it trying to say that as a warrior facing a battle you do not concern yourself with the outcome, but only with the fight?

Or that we should become familiar and accepting of our impending death, presumably on the basis it is very likely to be earlier and more violent than we would like (all the more true the younger you are)?

Or that in order to act effectively we must realise that the current system is already essentially dead? (a view which I effectively subscribe to in terms of the actions I take in daily life)

In other words - is it a piece calling for reconciliation with collapse and failure and acceptance - or a piece calling for meaningful action? (and I don't mean to prevent inevitable collapse, but the inevitability of collapse does not preclude meaningful actions for the ultimate long term benefit of our species and the ecosystem it needs)

werther

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Re: Learning How to Die in the Anthropocene
« Reply #4 on: November 26, 2013, 10:41:12 AM »
Thanks JimD and posters,

This is an interesting article and I perceive Roy Scranton as a good writer and scholar.  I have been lucky to pick up some thoughts and understanding of philosophy. During that time I’ve come (probably obvious but NTL important for me) to see two kinds of providence within time and space.

One is personal, the other general. On a personal level, I understand I will die. As life within time and space is constantly destroyed and created and the self is in my view illusive, there’s no reason for fear (although I have my moments...).
Within the parallel chains of consequences there are moments of choice. It is always possible to fill these on a moral level. Compassion and beauty probably are the value/quality that will bear with us until the end.

On a general level, I find it hard to accept an end. I’d like to think of this beautiful planet as a place where ‘chances will come’. But maybe, that will continue anyway. The Universe seems a large place. And humanity luckily won’t have the time or means to waste it all.

In Roy’s piece, there are some details bothering me though. On SLR he mentions a 3 to 10 foot rise in the next 100 years. For Pliocene-like climate he writes ‘a thousand years’. ‘Unprecedented climates’ are pinned down in the sentences referring to UoH studies and James Hansen.

I don’t want to see the effects of these details in my permitted lifetime. But I’m afraid Roy is even conservative in them. In my opinion the ‘rubber-band-effect’ within the biosphere is much more sensitive than it seems.
My estimate is the GIS contributing 1,65 feet by 2050, I’d describe the quality of the biosphere as ‘Pre-Cambrian’ instead of Pliocene and the unprecedences are already upon us, at least as weather-phenomena.
The parameters are almost in place. It is just the lag in time, for the life-supporting systems to align to these parameters, that lasts.

CCGM, I take it Roy’s objective in the last part is exactly about what it says, it’s about the form, the quality of dying. On a personal and a general level.

wili

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Re: Learning How to Die in the Anthropocene
« Reply #5 on: November 26, 2013, 12:11:10 PM »
Thanks for this good discussion. For those interested, there is a further discussion of this provocative article here: http://peakoil.com/forums/learning-how-to-die-in-the-anthropocene-t68878.html
"A force de chercher de bonnes raisons, on en trouve; on les dit; et après on y tient, non pas tant parce qu'elles sont bonnes que pour ne pas se démentir." Choderlos de Laclos "You struggle to come up with some valid reasons, then cling to them, not because they're good, but just to not back down."

JimD

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Re: Learning How to Die in the Anthropocene
« Reply #6 on: November 26, 2013, 03:42:41 PM »
Wili

Sometime back I drifted away from that blog as I could not find many discussions which seemed on point.  I wandered over there and read all 5 pages of the posts on the thread you linked to and I did not find a total of 5 which even addressed the content of the article in part and none in whole.  It is disappointing in a way but not unexpected to me.  Even Rockman and Pops, who are normally pretty focused wander off in the weeds.

Please do not take this as a criticism as I learned more about how people react to fear of the future as evidenced in their posts.  And I did read them all so I must have found something useful there.  But not one poster even came close to Werther's post above in addressing the content of the article.  A lot of people there do not read for comprehension but for levers they can use to push their ideology.
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

JimD

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Re: Learning How to Die in the Anthropocene
« Reply #7 on: November 26, 2013, 04:27:08 PM »
Interesting and well written article - but I'm not quite sure exactly what it's trying to say in the last part?

Is it trying to say that as a warrior facing a battle you do not concern yourself with the outcome, but only with the fight?

Or that we should become familiar and accepting of our impending death, presumably on the basis it is very likely to be earlier and more violent than we would like (all the more true the younger you are)?

Or that in order to act effectively we must realise that the current system is already essentially dead? (a view which I effectively subscribe to in terms of the actions I take in daily life)

In other words - is it a piece calling for reconciliation with collapse and failure and acceptance - or a piece calling for meaningful action? (and I don't mean to prevent inevitable collapse, but the inevitability of collapse does not preclude meaningful actions for the ultimate long term benefit of our species and the ecosystem it needs)

ccg

All below is just my opinion of course, but having been in similar circumstances as he describes many times I think I understand what he is trying to say.  Not to say his way of dealing with the fear is the only one, but those who are most effective in the face of great danger all seem to have a similar mechanism to the one he described.

Great questions and clearly open to interpretation.

I think the author was intending to put readers in his shoes and to try and bring to them an awareness that, even though they do not consciously recognize it, they are actually in the same situation in their lives right now as he was rolling down the roads of Iraq waiting for the inevitable IED to rip through his Hummer.

Civilization is paralyzed by fear.  This is what he is talking about.  As a group, whether right or left politically, almost everyone is just frozen in place.  From the extreme doomers who think extinction is 25 years out; to Joe Romm over at Climate Progress who advocates a Green BAU based upon endless economic growth; to the evangelicals who pray for God to save them; to the hard core believers in the religion of technical Progress who think that god will save us; to Joe Six-pack on the street who does not understand any of the details, but understands deep down in his subconscious mind that the DANGER alarm bells of his primitive senses are going off and bad shit is coming his way; to the ultra-wealthy who know that disaster is coming and who understand that wealth is measured, and by implication survival, not in total terms but relative terms and so you get your hands on absolutely everything you can before the crash.  They are ALL paralyzed by fear.

The author is trying to teach the reader how to manage ones fear in order to remain effective and be able to accomplish what needs to be done.  We can't save ourselves because we are already dead, but we can salvage some part of the future.

We are dead men walking.  Civilization as described by any form of BAU has no chance of survival.  It is already dead.  Trying to save a dead man is a waste of time.   We do it because we are cowards. 

Over on the blog Willi linked to one or two posters repeated the old blurb about dying being easy and living hard.  Just the opposite is true.  The reason everyone does absolutely everything that they can think of to stay alive is that living is always the easiest choice.  Dying is scary.  Hero's are not those who kill most of the enemy as killing is not very hard to do I am sorry to say and the rage one feels when their life is on the line has great power to prompt action. Hero's are those who don't put value in their own lives (after all they are already dead) and do everything to ensure that others survive.

The author has called us out.  He has shown us that we are standing here naked and that we are cowards.  Our fear of dying, of the end of what we know, has paralyzed us.  But there is no need to let our fear control us because we are already dead.  We can't be saved.  But, we can live on by our actions if we save others.  All men die, few men really live.  Life is not found in ones span of years but in ones actions and in the memories of those one gives the gift of life.
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

wili

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Re: Learning How to Die in the Anthropocene
« Reply #8 on: November 26, 2013, 06:09:27 PM »
Yeah, I'm afraid POForums suffers from regular troll swarms, and, as you say, even the best posters don't tend to stay on topic much. That's why I generally don't point people in that direction, but this time there was a thread devoted to the very same article, so I thought some people might be curious to see others' response. Sorry if it burned up time better spent in more focused pursuits.
"A force de chercher de bonnes raisons, on en trouve; on les dit; et après on y tient, non pas tant parce qu'elles sont bonnes que pour ne pas se démentir." Choderlos de Laclos "You struggle to come up with some valid reasons, then cling to them, not because they're good, but just to not back down."

ccgwebmaster

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Re: Learning How to Die in the Anthropocene
« Reply #9 on: November 26, 2013, 07:46:59 PM »
All below is just my opinion of course, but having been in similar circumstances as he describes many times I think I understand what he is trying to say.  Not to say his way of dealing with the fear is the only one, but those who are most effective in the face of great danger all seem to have a similar mechanism to the one he described.

I'm not sure I care much for his approach if so - which seems to involve familiarising yourself with the concept of dying in various ways? I mean - I do that automatically and don't find it helps manage fear, what I find helps manage fear is to isolate it and set it aside - dwelling on it makes it easier to amplify it (unhelpful in itself as it reduces effectiveness and inhibits the usage of mental resources).

In a few weeks, I expect to do something most people would call dangerous in which survival will depend at least to some extent on luck - factors beyond my control (given limited time and resources those factors are larger than I would like). While I might envisage all the things that go wrong in order to attempt to determine my mitigation strategies for those situations - that process ceases to be useful at the point at which there is no viable strategy. At that point - it seems expedient to say - OK - that might go wrong - and there is no strategy available to deal with it, no point to allocate mental (and emotional?) resources to it.

Death itself is not inherently scary (to me anyway), but the process that would lead to it sometimes can be (especially when you toss in major unknown elements and uncertainties). Perhaps there is some resonance with what you say in terms of it being easier to fight to survive and do the short term thing in this sense? Ie it is easier to go out and fight to survive than it is to accept death as inevitable? In this case however - my actions would be precisely the same (as far as I can tell) no matter what outlook I take - as the course of action is decided and will be followed (and it's pretty much as simple as that).

I think the author was intending to put readers in his shoes and to try and bring to them an awareness that, even though they do not consciously recognize it, they are actually in the same situation in their lives right now as he was rolling down the roads of Iraq waiting for the inevitable IED to rip through his Hummer.

This point is true perhaps - certainly many people (most?) do not contemplate such existential questions. It is easier to live a shallow life driven by football and beer and page 3 (non UK readers may not get that), than to think deeper (let alone to act accordingly). I am not sure though if this enhances the effectiveness of the soldiers (or other actors) in question to dwell on these points? Certainly for most people in the developed nations - they don't perceive an immediate threat in the way a soldier rolling along in hostile territory necessarily must. Their thinking would be very different one feels if they were placed into the shoes of the soldier.

Civilization is paralyzed by fear.  This is what he is talking about.  As a group, whether right or left politically, almost everyone is just frozen in place.  From the extreme doomers who think extinction is 25 years out; to Joe Romm over at Climate Progress who advocates a Green BAU based upon endless economic growth; to the evangelicals who pray for God to save them; to the hard core believers in the religion of technical Progress who think that god will save us; to Joe Six-pack on the street who does not understand any of the details, but understands deep down in his subconscious mind that the DANGER alarm bells of his primitive senses are going off and bad shit is coming his way; to the ultra-wealthy who know that disaster is coming and who understand that wealth is measured, and by implication survival, not in total terms but relative terms and so you get your hands on absolutely everything you can before the crash.  They are ALL paralyzed by fear.

I actually don't agree here - I think civilisation is paralysed by denial and greed rather than fear. I don't see any signs that people really engage with or even understand the oncoming threats surrounding them.

It seems to me that public perception of the problem is continuing to grow but at a rate substantially slower than the problem develops. The risk factor here, in my opinion, is that one day the perception of the risk must catch up to the actual risk - and that this will probably happen late in the process. That is to say people respond best to immediate risks and I think will rapidly gain the necessarily realisations at the last minute. I predict a very rapid and violent later stage of collapse when this point is reached, particularly as there are strong elements of positive feedback involved. The realisation of impending doom (consciously) may in itself be enough to trigger the final stages of collapse (if not a large portion of the whole process...). People do after all take decisions where they consider the future (near term at least) and the human response en masse may be very unhelpful to effective or useful action.

I suppose that ties back into the point about it being easier to fight to live than prepare to die and the inability to meaningfully grapple with the problem (as opposed to trying to solve increasingly short term survival problems which is when you end up eating your seeds).

For years I have tried at times to speak to people on these issues and it comes down to the same thing - virtually nobody is mentally able to absorb and retain the information presented to them. Even where a person has an open mind and doesn't retreat straight into denial, you can explain things to them clearly and logically and for a brief moment they see what you do - but then they inevitably recoil from it. They are unable and unwilling to focus on it and think about it and the next day it will be as though the conversation never happened. Occasionally one might detect that it left a subconscious mark on them, but usually it will be entirely gone.

It is this refusal (if not outright inability) with people to engage the issues mentally that is the problem - I don't think it's precisely fear? Not in the sense that people are later paralysed by anything they would experience as fear anyway - perhaps it is an instantaneous sort of fear that leads to the denial though? A fear so strong they are unwilling to confront it to the extent of even remembering it (I guess I don't really understand it, as I remember when I started to get into all these things - I was somewhat awestruck by the magnitude of the issues, but felt no imperative to retreat from them - perhaps other people are mostly wired differently somehow?).

The author is trying to teach the reader how to manage ones fear in order to remain effective and be able to accomplish what needs to be done.  We can't save ourselves because we are already dead, but we can salvage some part of the future.

It was my hope for some time - largely faded now I must admit - that people could be motivated even in the face of their impending demise to do the right thing for their children and/or grandchildren. To understand that they can still help those they owe a future to even if they cannot themselves make it. Unfortunately, this seems to make no practical difference in people's actions or willingness to engage the topic.

The author has called us out.  He has shown us that we are standing here naked and that we are cowards.  Our fear of dying, of the end of what we know, has paralyzed us.  But there is no need to let our fear control us because we are already dead.  We can't be saved.  But, we can live on by our actions if we save others.  All men die, few men really live.  Life is not found in ones span of years but in ones actions and in the memories of those one gives the gift of life.

That much I agree with - though I'm skeptical it will result in any appreciable actions being taken by people who have not already previously contemplated the issues in such depth (as he would appear to have - far moreso than most).

One of the most interesting things for me was his ability (very rare) to relate his experiences in war zones to climatically damaged regions of the US - to join up the dots to connect it all together into a coherent larger picture world view - something I think should be easy, but which so few manage to do.

JimD

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Re: Learning How to Die in the Anthropocene
« Reply #10 on: November 26, 2013, 08:18:26 PM »
ccg

A good read.

Quote
...I'm not sure I care much for his approach if so - which seems to involve familiarising yourself with the concept of dying in various ways? I mean - I do that automatically and don't find it helps manage fear, what I find helps manage fear is to isolate it and set it aside - dwelling on it makes it easier to amplify it (unhelpful in itself as it reduces effectiveness and inhibits the usage of mental resources).
...

My interpretation of what the author said he does would also be a form of isolating it and setting it aside.  He reviewed the threats every day to ensure he knew he was already dead and then he could put aside his fear (isolate it) and do his job effectively.  Sort of the same process you describe that you use.

Quote
...I actually don't agree here - I think civilisation is paralysed by denial and greed rather than fear. I don't see any signs that people really engage with or even understand the oncoming threats surrounding them....

I think that denial is primarily based upon fear.  I believe that there is so much evidence out there that we are screwed, much of it being subliminal, that it is triggering our animal instincts to put out the subconscious danger signals.  This generates fear and denial is one of the primary stages of dealing with great stress.  Perhaps one could adapt a similar argument to the tendency of some to resort to extremely greedy behavior.

I think it would be hard for you or I to write an article like this (assuming we are that articulate) in that we are more jaded due to our experience of many more years of observing the world around us than the author is.  He is pretty young and the young have not had their optimism (yes I think he is still optimistic) beat out of them yet.
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

wili

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Re: Learning How to Die in the Anthropocene
« Reply #11 on: November 26, 2013, 10:54:33 PM »
ccg wrote:

Quote
In a few weeks, I expect to do something most people would call dangerous in which survival will depend at least to some extent on luck - factors beyond my control (given limited time and resources those factors are larger than I would like). While I might envisage all the things that go wrong in order to attempt to determine my mitigation strategies for those situations - that process ceases to be useful at the point at which there is no viable strategy. At that point - it seems expedient to say - OK - that might go wrong - and there is no strategy available to deal with it, no point to allocate mental (and emotional?) resources to it.

What? Are you getting married or something? ;D

There is no question that Americans, at least, have a great deal of personal fear about interacting with others. We lock our doors, own guns, and show other fear-oriented behaviors far above most other countries. I think this is both an accidental product of news coverage dominated by 'if it bleeds, it leads' priority, but also I can't help but think that it is part of a planned strategy to keep us in line. People who fear each other because of race, class, religion, ideology...can easily be prevented from joining together to fight for common interests.

On the general point, though, I can't decide, but I tend to agree with Jim hear. We all spend a good part of our (mostly unconscious) psychological energy deciding what to focus on and what not to. When, on some level, people have decided they can't handle facing certain possibilities, no matter how well supported is the probability of them happening, that's when people really start putting a lot of (again, mostly subconscious) energy into choosing not to look at it.

To choose as rather stinky analogy, we're all up to our eyeballs in shite, but most are doing all they can to avoid looking down at the mire and have convinced themselves that they are basically living in a rose garden (although one plagued with a lot of flies, for some reason--who let those in, anyway?).

Trying to convince someone to stare into the mire is trying to convince them to do exactly what they have spent much of their psychic energy avoiding doing--look firmy into the depths of the mire that they are wallowing in. 

I've mostly given up on trying to get people to stare into the mire, but I do drop hints, and I wont to point out an occasional particularly bizarre fly buzzing by...

"A force de chercher de bonnes raisons, on en trouve; on les dit; et après on y tient, non pas tant parce qu'elles sont bonnes que pour ne pas se démentir." Choderlos de Laclos "You struggle to come up with some valid reasons, then cling to them, not because they're good, but just to not back down."

TerryM

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Re: Learning How to Die in the Anthropocene
« Reply #12 on: November 26, 2013, 11:09:11 PM »
ccg
He is pretty young and the young have not had their optimism (yes I think he is still optimistic) beat out of them yet.
His optimism was what leaped out to me on reading the article. What strikes me as different about the Anthopocene is that we can contemplate the inevitability of the death of not just ourselves, our village our country and our culture, but the death of our species.
I was born ~10 months after Hiroshima. Everyone born to my generation or after has faced this knowledge throughout his adult life. It takes deliberate self delusion to believe that a nuclear "accident" won't happen, quite possibly before we've reached the natural end of our span. The addition of annihilation due to climate change isn't so much a game changer as a case of piling on.


I shook Khrushchev's son's hand a few weeks ago and sincerely thanked him for the sacrifice his family had made which resulted in us being alive at this point in time. I think many have drawn back from the long term planning and the delayed gratification evident in some older cultures simply because we've learned to live as though this day well may be the last.
Planting an orchard with the thought of sustaining future generations may be no more realistic than amassing a hoard of munitions so that our village will be able to repel tomorrow's invaders. We praise the arborists and decry the hoarders, but can anyone justify anything other than a hedonistic philosophy calling for maximizing the pleasures available now rather than denying ourselves to ensure a decent life for those who may never even be born?
If I read the above from the pen of someone living before the age of Mutually Assured Destruction I would be appalled. Today I'm not so sure.
Terry

ritter

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Re: Learning How to Die in the Anthropocene
« Reply #13 on: November 27, 2013, 12:37:19 AM »
That's very interesting, Terry. Thanks.

wili

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Re: Learning How to Die in the Anthropocene
« Reply #14 on: November 30, 2013, 11:26:22 PM »
Joe Romm at CP just quoted from the article in his latest post:

http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2013/11/29/2997011/black-friday-climate/
"A force de chercher de bonnes raisons, on en trouve; on les dit; et après on y tient, non pas tant parce qu'elles sont bonnes que pour ne pas se démentir." Choderlos de Laclos "You struggle to come up with some valid reasons, then cling to them, not because they're good, but just to not back down."

sidd

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Re: Learning How to Die in the Anthropocene
« Reply #15 on: December 01, 2013, 05:21:06 AM »
"While I might envisage all the things that go wrong in order to attempt to determine my mitigation strategies for those situations - that process ceases to be useful at the point at which there is no viable strategy"

heheehee

From the computer world: Never check for an error condition you don't know how to handle.

sidd

JimD

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Re: Learning How to Die in the Anthropocene
« Reply #16 on: May 06, 2014, 08:47:18 PM »
I am bringing over a link from the Decline of the Empire blog I mention occasionally.  I consider it one of the preeminent blogs I have ever found.  This post is about Hope and how it is misused/misunderstood, and how it holds us back from solving our problems.   I strongly agree with that part of the blog post and think it is very relevant to our discussions - the video is just illustrative of his point and does not add to the point so I would skip it.

I post it here  because it reinforces the point of the original post in this Topic.  And also because I think that original article and this Topic is one of the top 5 most important topics we have ever covered here and it needs to occasionally be brought to the front of the que.

Quote
Hope Changes Nothing

First, what is "hope"? Common definitions include—

wanting something to happen or be true and thinking that it could happen or be true

or

a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen
 
Clearly, wanting or thinking (believing) something could happen or be true is not the same as a derived reasonable probability that something could happen or be true. In the latter case, where we have good reason to believe that something could happen or be true, "hope" would seem to be justified, but quickly reduces to something we might call "reasonable expectations" that some desired goal is achievable, etc.

Hope is therefore always reserved for those cases in which miracles are required—no reasonable probablility exists that the desired goal will be achieved, etc. Hope replaces rationally derived probabilities with emotionally-laden fantasies....

....But we must distinguish between these cases. In the former, "objective" case, hope is a positive response which often creates benefits for the sufferer. In the latter "subjective" case, hope is a poison, for it blinds us to what is potentially real (probable) and what is not.....

....Hope is not only natural (and thus oligatory) with humans, but is also perhaps the most limited and limiting response to big human-created problems. Hope (in these "subjective" cases) is merely an ephemeral emotional state, a counterfeit and spurious feeling, an ersatz replacement for reality-based thinking and action which might have the potential, however remote, to intiate small changes toward some desired goal (preserving life in the oceans, re-distributing the wealth in the U.S.)........... 

From one of the comments to the blog post.

Quote


Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning. - Albert Einstein

Hope in reality is the worst of all evils because it prolongs the torments of man. - Friedrich Nietzsche

I find these two quotes about hope interesting. Einstein, the scientist, allows for hope, but requires that we question everything. Presumably, this includes the need to question our own hopes.

Unfortunately, as most humans are not so self-aware, we are not able to question our hopes, and it stops us from being able to recognize the reality of our problems and predicaments. Instead, we are left to "prolong our torments".

Perhaps there is a glimpse of human reality in the contrast between the scientist and the philosopher. The scientist, having observed human limitations, offers the warning that might, if heeded, allow humans to better deal with reality, and the philosopher, having also observed human limitations, offers the likely outcome when the warning, inevitably, goes unheeded.

Somebody once said, "Hope is not a plan." Unfortunately, we tend to treat hope as if it were not only a plan, but the only and obviously correct one.

Torments indeed.
 
Posted by: Brian | 05/05/2014 at 02:44 PM

Re: "Hope is not a plan" I think is paraphrasing Elennor Roosevelt who once said "It takes as much energy to wish as it does to plan."  We spend all of our time wishing/hoping that BAU approaches will save us when, if we replaced those hopes, with reality based thinking we might have a chance. 

Or in the terms of the original post, we accept that our 'hope' to survive ( a manifestation of our fears) is foolish and paralyzes us and that we need to accept that we are dead men walking, calm down, and do our job.  And our job is to save the future not ourselves.

http://www.declineoftheempire.com/2014/05/hope-changes-nothing.html#comments
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

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Re: Learning How to Die in the Anthropocene
« Reply #17 on: May 06, 2014, 10:50:39 PM »
Or in the terms of the original post, we accept that our 'hope' to survive ( a manifestation of our fears) is foolish and paralyzes us and that we need to accept that we are dead men walking, calm down, and do our job.  And our job is to save the future not ourselves.

But virtually nobody acknowledges that we're fighting for the future and not ourselves?

Even in this (and my) forum I could dig up examples of people prepared to actually say so much - and it's a frequent theme one encounters on speaking to people.

It's irrational, in the sense that we all die sometime anyway - but if we were essentially rational creatures we wouldn't have created this mess anyway.