Schopenhauer’s book “The Wisdom of Life”

Schopenhauer’s book “The Wisdom of Life” is pretentious garbage. Nietzsche’s assessment of Schopenhauer, which seemed altogether extreme, turned out to be correct. Schopenhauer was a nihilist of the most lamentable sort – you read that right: Schopenhauer was a nihilist that was more lamentable than traditional nihilism.

The framework of Schopenhauer’s “The Wisdom of Life” is by far the most idiotic principle that I’ve ever encountered. It can and should only be regarded as a piece that was contemporary to its own time from a buffoon. Critics and even agitators of philosophy would be able to use this as the stereotype for why people believe that philosophy is nonsense.

Schopenhauer’s principle is thus: That we should rescind the idea of commercial wealth because they’re just things and they will vanish eventually; if not by us then by our progeny. Thus, because our wealth will eventually disappear and is thus not the key to true happiness. He argues that other people are also not the key to true happiness because being around other people makes one stupid and he uses a very racist generalization of American blacks to support this point. Apparently, singing and dancing are acts of stupidity according to Schopenhauer and he felt that black people – whom he perceived as an inferior race – epitomized this idea of other people being a waste of time.

It actually becomes worse from there. He goes on to make spurious generalizations of women needing men to be rulers of the household – contemporary to how they were treated during his time period – and then talks about honor. He makes it quite clear that honor is just meant to preserve, even violently preserve, the idea of one’s public perception. Men shooting each other on the street in a duel is about honor in his worldview. This type of violence is seen as morally good and rational while he – and others of his time – condemn women for being too emotional because women “give into” gossip. The self-contradiction is for all to see in these modern times. It also shows that chivalry really was nothing more than self-aggrandizing given the veneer of self-respect in accordance with customs at that time. Dueling for “honor” was never some good versus evil type of affair as depicted in Hollywood.

I haven’t been able to finish it because the book was so terrible. I got about half-way through it before I had to put it down so feel free to give me any criticisms on this one. I just couldn’t endure the beginning half of the philosophical book.

An Atheist Manifesto by Joseph Lewis: An angry and ludicrous tangent

Let me dispense with the quick ad hominem that I’m sure will follow this review. I didn’t give such a negative review because of the argument that this book favors; I’m giving it a bad rating because I sincerely find no compelling reason to view the contents of this book as anything more than an ignorant rant about how Christianity is the supreme evil. It’s not a book about why Atheism is better but rather a book about why Christianity is stupid. That’s an important difference; so I don’t feel that this book really lived up to its expectations.

The first problem is that this book isn’t going to resonate with anyone outside of an audience of the most stringent atheists. It conflates modern Christianity as people understand it today with Christian Fundamentalism. This is already off-putting because the majority of Christians don’t hold such views about Genesis, Adam and Eve, or other fanciful tales. This book isn’t going to change the views of modern religious people about the bigotry of atheists and I find it less compelling that scholarly atheists will see this as anything more than a book riddled with strawman, ad hominems, and other logically fallacious reasoning in an attempt to depict Christianity as the supreme threat to civilization. It’s essentially a less sophisticated attempt at confirmation bias; similar to what Sam Harris attempts to do when he ridicules Islam as the most dangerous religion.

The rest of the book seems to be an attempt at going into the history of religion and how it came to be. Yet, this part is empirically false. It’s simply a less sophisticated attempt at the Genealogy of Morals; unlike Nietzsche, the author simply doesn’t have his facts in order. He goes from ranting about how stupid Bible is to ranting about how religion was formed without any clear transition on whether he’s talking about all religions or just Christianity. If it’s just Christianity, then it’s false. The author seems to believe that the concept of good and evil was a natural predisposition of religious faith but this is empirically untrue. Good and evil, as a concept, didn’t come into fruition until Zoroastrianism in Ancient Persia before it was adapted by Judaism and Christianity. Good and evil concepts were also subsumed by some forms of Hinduism during the period where this belief system began to spread to the East. In fact, the dualistic concept of God and Satan has strong similarities and probably did originate from God of Order and the God of Disorder: Ormazd and Angra Mainyu of Zoroastrianism.

The author doesn’t have his history in order, even in regards to Christianity. It was formed during the Roman period and not as a consequence of nomads having delusions to answer the question of suffering or to explain the world around them. Some of the most ancient religions, such as those pertaining to Chinese mythology in Ancient China, were formed by the State to control the peasants so that they didn’t return to the nomadic lifestyle and the productivity for the new established monarchy didn’t weaken.

Overall, this book just seems like some rant from a high schooler. If you want a more compelling and intelligent argument regarding Atheist objections to religion then please look elsewhere. I’d recommend Nietzsche because of his unique viewpoints about religion and his objections to a religious society that apply even in today’s times. I admit to having a favorable bias towards his works though.

A change of perspective . . .

First, I would like to apologize for having gone AWOL so quickly after forming this blog. I’ve been delving into an assortment of different literature and I was unable to fully commit to a blog when going through a re-evaluation of my own beliefs and goals.

Although, I am sure that certain negative presumptions can be made about this change; I have decided to no longer stand for secular humanism to the degree in which I used to. I still like certain aspects of secular humanism but it’s inasmuch as political policies that don’t cause undue suffering or outright harm upon innocent people and that falls along the lines of common sense than the precepts of secular humanism.

The reason for my change in perspective is for multiple reasons. After delving into certain psychological factors and concepts regarding social groups, and attempting to question these norms to no avail, I’ve realized that there really is no avoiding the inescapable horror of moralizing detachment from world affairs. That is, the inescapable fact that we’re largely apathetic to the events of the world around us. Genocide, war, factory explosions killing innocents, and so many other issues. They’re largely treated the same as different weather patterns. The only world scale issue that this doesn’t apply to is natural disasters. Charities have shockingly increased over the number of years and more is being done to aid people in such crises than ever before. But the point is clear: the majority of people don’t care for others if they have a different culture, speak a different language, live under different socioeconomic circumstances, and aren’t observed within the periphery of what constitutes “normal life” for the majority of people. As such, there really is no point in hoping that people change.

Arguably, there is a contention to be made about how globalization is slowly supplanting this or that ignorance can be overcome but it doesn’t change the fundamental factors of why this apathy exists: it isn’t just because of “Otherness” but the fact that people don’t concern themselves with anything outside of their state of normalcy. Anything outside of their small community, whether a city; a village; a town; or an equivalent of those; is of no importance to the majority of people. Unfortunately, there is no changing this because most of these people just don’t have any goals in life. What do most people say is their purpose? Generally, it’s raising a family and getting a good job. To most people, a job is a commonplace circumstance because of the need to have an efficient economy to satiate needs and wants. While raising a family can be considered a goal; it isn’t your life’s work and the way in which people describe raising a family as a goal seems to be misapplied. I’ve noticed that many people carry this disingenuous notion that choosing to have a family is more important than having a successful career. And yet, the overwhelming majority of wealthy people across the world have families. Working on their career goals didn’t interfere with their family life and it is a myth that the majority of the wealthy have dysfunctional families. Celebrity children like Paris Hilton are the outliers and not the norm. People, more often than not, use their families as excuses to not follow their own dreams in life. I know that sounds terrible to say but it seems to be how people functionally describe what a goal is suppose to mean. I don’t see this issue with college educated people though.

Another reason, just as strong, for this change in my perspective is that I realized my value judgment was just plain wrong. I had presumed that because I could understand intricate social contexts about the world that the rest of the people in the world were just as capable and willing. Oh sure, they’re capable but they’re unwilling because they have put no value outside of the state of normalcy that is their daily lives. I’ve noticed that most uneducated people won’t value or even consider anything outside of the depiction of their country being a pristine and benevolent country of justice. But that is a normal development of human psychology through inculcated depictions in the news media, the film industry, and the gaming industry. Humans are groupist by nature and it occurs instantaneously.

My final contention, and this portion is largely based on my own anecdotal evidence but I strongly suspect that it’s more than just my personal observations, despite how conceited, bigoted, arrogant, and possibly spiteful I may sound . . . I believe that we, as a country, have made too many excuses for the absolutely disgusting behavior of lower income Americans. Some people might assume I mean minority groups who purportedly make-up a large percentage of welfare checks. I’d like to point out that such a claim is utterly erroneous to start with: the majority of welfare check recipients are white and my disgust is not about anyone’s skin pigmentation or a generalization against any specific minority group. Such stereotypes are false and only structured around racist codifications to begin with. The majority of any “racial group” in the United States is actually fairly well off except for Native Americans (Native Americans in certain areas still suffer from racist laws prohibiting their ability to have a quality lifestyle but that’s a topic for another time); what I find disgusting is specifically what I just said. The majority of lower-income people of any background are rude, racist, use magic thinking to explain the events of the world or just don’t pay attention, demonize wealthier people as whores or scumbags, play lottery tickets as if they’re actually going to “win big” because their family member’s birthday is the chosen sequence of numbers for the lotto ticket, and they’re more prone to physically threaten your life because they can’t get their way. Would they keep their promise of harm after threatening you? The correct answer is that they shouldn’t be threatening you to begin with.

To be clear, this isn’t unique to any specific skin pigmentation. This is just something that I had to endure from all backgrounds by people whose only similarity was that they were lower-income people. In my mind, I couldn’t help but juxtapose these numerous events with how wonderfully polite, amicable, open-minded, and intelligent my college friends and classmates – of all racial backgrounds – were. In college discussion and in my college clubs, everyone had a profound and insightful perspective or opinion to give on the subject matter pertaining to either the class or the club respectively. It was thoughtful, empathetic, and just so wonderful to be part of. Yet, I feel this shows what the actual reasons were: education from the desire of self-betterment. I always understood, to some degree, that Republicans were correct about how one’s economic circumstances were determined by one’s choices in life but it didn’t truly sink in until I had actually begun working. The visceral understanding is what made me realize that the conceited nature of Republicans wasn’t entirely wrong. As far as people in first world countries go, unless you’re a foreigner who can’t speak English well (a circumstance that should be given more sympathy as English is one of the most complex languages to learn and the history of English’s complexity is something most Americans seem unaware of) or in a high crime area, then you don’t really have an excuse for your economic position in life. Obviously, this doesn’t apply to children of lower income families but adults really don’t have an excuse. They chose how to live their lives.

Worse than that, we seem to give excessive excuses for their behavior. “They’re being duped by the corporations”, the “poverty trap” is getting them, “they were deceived by the banks”, and so many other excuses. But these apologist statements aren’t altruistic. In fact, they are patronizing because the implicit argument is that poor people are too dumb to think for themselves and make their own choices. People who self-identify as socialist, liberal, or Marxist should reconsider what they’re arguing regarding those contentions and understand that it isn’t true. They had the same opportunities as everyone else in a first world country; they were given benefits to make the leap into the Middle and Upper classes but they never did. The underlying reason, I’d argue, is that these people just don’t have a goal and this is what truly disgusted me: they have the potential to do better, to make everything in their life better, to rise above these fictitious shackles and they don’t try to. Poverty is a state of normalcy for them and they’re perfectly fine living this way. They’re content with reciting the phrase “I’m alive” when I asked how their day was. What truly shocked me, horrified me to the core, was the realization that Nietzsche wasn’t exaggerating when he predicted the coming of the Last Man. The Last Man is here and it is the everyday poor of American society. Yet, even this had a juxtaposition, speaking to CEOs at a seminar class in my college, I realized that some of Nietzsche’s ideas about a Higher type of people was basically fulfilled by the roles of passionate CEOs.

Do I still sound bigoted? The final nail in the proverbial coffin was this: I had been in a third world country, I had met and spent almost a week’s worth of time with third world country poor in India. To be perfectly frank, they’re actually quite pleasant and treated me congenially. You usually here about rapes in India through Western media sources but what I found was not a savage culture but a lack of resources, a lack of taxation, a lack of healthcare facilities, a lack of jobs, a lack of woefully needed infrastructure, and a virtual invisibility of these people’s plight from the broader public view that created a terrible crime rate and apathy to their circumstances. Similar to how Americans view Baltimore and Ferguson; problems seem to be “over there” in that troublesome city/village and the majority just go on with their daily lives without a care in the world. It seems socialist ideologies do serve a need and do help bring awareness to the plight of the disadvantaged; yet the poor in the part of India that I visited still try to be happy. They’re not happy with their lives but they desperately try to be whilst maintaining a difficult agricultural lifestyle. I couldn’t help but recall my late grandfather’s words about the U.S. being the best country in the world. I had asked him why and expected some remark about democracy or freedom. Instead, he stated quite plainly, that it was because nobody starves to death.

So why have this bigoted notion? Because the third world poor are nothing like the first world poor. The first world poor pretends to act like the third world poor by suggesting that they have no opportunity to move up in life. That is false; they have neither drive, nor dedication, and have no ambition to move up. We act like the poor in America have it the worst but that is absolutely false. If being “preyed upon” is getting them to smoke too much, drink too much, and gamble too much then we’re just trying to excuse their idiotic habits. The poor in third world countries really don’t have any opportunity to improve their lives. It’s disingenuous to say the poor in America have it so bad when people in actual need of charity in third world countries have it so much worse and yet get less attention from us because we think of them in a abstract and not as real people. You could argue that their own country should be helping them but that’s just a patronizing and self-centered viewpoint made to alleviate our own guilt for our inaction and thoughtlessness. We can actually do more for third world country poor because of the exchange rates of first world to third world countries.

I’m sorry, but I just don’t see the validity in it anymore; we just give too much leeway to the lower income of society. Even if you were to argue that certain zones in the United States were similar to third world countries, it still doesn’t change the fact that the majority aren’t living under such standards. Socialists and advocates of the poor may serve a positive purpose in society by highlighting issues that people should be aware of but that’s really it. Their solution is bogus because they’re not defending some hardworking, honest, kind, and brave group of people. I can believe that some lower income people are like that but the vast majority are xenophobes, racists, ignorant of economics yet acting like experts, ignorant of mathematical computations yet acting like luck is true, use pattern recognition to judge things too often, and have no self-control over their terrible habits.

The majority of the rich – regardless of political affiliation, religion, skin pigmentation, gender, and so forth – are the kindest people that I have ever met. Even if they have racist inclinations, the majority will try to hide it – not out of secret hate but out of respect for you as a human being – and you know what? I prefer that. Which would you rather have as your typical social setting? A bunch of strangers shouting obscenities, racist slurs, and threatening to attack you or people who respect your opinion, listen to you before giving a rebuttal to where they disagree (and doing so respectfully), and still like you as a person despite the fact that you have completely different viewpoints about important social views like the value of religion? As an atheist, I can make friends with Christians and have no yelling contests over debating religion with them. Do you think that’s possible with the less educated people of society? Good luck. You’re more likely than not going to be called a conspiracy theorist once you start talking about any abstract complexities in economics, philosophy, science, or politics. I stand by that statement after various amounts of trial and error yet I never had that issue with my college friends or professors. College friends, if they feel like they have an ignorant question, usually ask to excuse their ignorance before they politely ask a question about foreign countries from people who live in foreign countries or have family there. Yet, these interactions were always pleasant for me.

You can gain so much from social settings in college and gaining an education. I don’t know how I got the notion that people are equal regardless of education in high school but I am so glad to have been wrong when I was younger.

There is just no point in feeling discouraged by the masses being apathetic to human suffering or ignorant of how corporations or the government act in certain ways that people may not realize are detrimental. When we know better, it’s because we have put in the time and effort to make it our business to be aware of those respective issues. If you really want to make change, you have to stop treating power as some abstract evil and making excuses for your life goals. One contention that Zarathustra had in Nietzsche’s novel was that if the majority could do otherwise then they would have already done so. I couldn’t see how this statement was false. I cogitated over it and I just couldn’t see a flaw. Maybe I’ve become too biased but I think it holds true. The majority just don’t want to get out of their habitual lifestyles. What else can be said? They’re to blame for their choices in life and nobody else in a first world country. They’re not victims either. Unless they’ve suffered psychological damage from neglect or some form of abuse, I don’t see how they can’t be argued to be living perfectly healthy and emotionally stable lives.

Why have the value judgment of defending the poor of the first world? You’re better off by improving your own life. If you really care about issues of poverty, then help the third world because they’re the ones who are suffering. Go to Bangladesh, the poor regions of Africa, of India, or South America. Those people are the ones who truly need help. By the measures of countries around the world, our poor would be considered either middle class or rich.

From now on, I’m a Secular Elitist and I’m going to be proud of my elitism because it is earned.