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Far from being a necessarily dispiriting or defeatist doctrine, pessimism can be an 'energizing and even liberating philosophy' ix that provides a much needed counterweight to the varieties of philosophical optimism--liberalism, socialism, pragmatism--that dominate contemporary Western political thought.

What Is the Latest Thing to Be Discouraged About? The Rise of Pessimism - The New York Times

Or so Dienstag hopes to show. Chapter 1 gives an 'anatomy' of pessimism, identifying several central themes shared by its proponents.

Both pessimism and optimism, according to Dienstag, trace their origins to a transformation in time-consciousness --a shift to a distinctively linear conception of time--that occurred in the early modern period. But while optimists assimilate the idea of linear time to the idea Author: Elisabeth Herschbach.

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.


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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. Pessimism : Philosophy, Ethic, Spirit.

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What Is the Latest Thing to Be Discouraged About? The Rise of Pessimism

Joshua Foa Dienstag. Cioran effects eternal ethic existence experience freedom Freud fundamental future goal Greek happiness hope horizon human condition idea illusion imagine individual kind knowledge language Leopardi liberating linear lives means metaphysical mind modern moral Myth of Sisyphus narrative nature never Nietz Nietzsche Nietzsche's nonetheless optimism optimistic ourselves pain perhaps perspective pessimistic philosophy pleasure pleasure principle political theory possible pre-Socratics problem progress quest question Quixote's readers reason resignation Rousseau Sancho sche Schopen Schopenhauer Schopenhauer's sense simistic simply Socrates speak suffering suggests suicide temporal thing-in-itself things thought time-bound time-consciousness timeless tion tradition tragedy ultimately Unamuno unhappiness universe writes.

Pessimism and optimism are both seen in light of linear time, and the author addresses the evolution of various time matrices. Dienstag notes that optimism is often assimilated with progress, with the only remaining choice incorrectly being stasis.

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Pessimism is equally borne out of the modern time consciousness; however, while pessimism maintains a linear account of time and history, it finds no evidence that reason will lead to the melioration of the human condition. Pessimism is made up of three parts, eight chapters and an afterword.

What is PESSIMISM? What does PESSIMISM mean? PESSIMISM meaning, definition & explanation

Part three may be the most exciting section of the book, as it covers "Nietzsche's Dionysian Pessimism" and "Cervantes as Educator: Don Quixote and the Practice of Pessimism. The author gives an informed and balance presentation of Nietzsche's affirmative philosophy.


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Dienzag's affinity for Nietzsche comes through to the reader, and the chapter dealing with him "Dionysian Pessimism" maybe the books finest and most academic. With the exception of the chapter on Nietzsche, references are kept to a minimum, which is a double edged sword--general readers are able to move through the book quickly, though scholars may desire more citations. There were two issues that hung over my head while reading this text: the definition of 'pessimism' and the difference between philosophy and political thought.