Buddhism: Pessimism Before It Was Cool
This post is an informal response to an article recently published in the Buddhist magazine Tricycle, titled Buddhism According to Pessimism.
The piece begins with an introductory survey, albeit indolently cursory and somewhat dismissive in tone, of contemporary pessimist thought. “Pessimism”, the essay opens, “has been making a comeback lately”. It would seem, from the way in which the author presents the overview that follows, that thinkers such as the existential horrorist Thomas Ligotti (The Conspiracy Against The Human Race), or the anti-natalist David Benatar (Better Never to Have Been: The Harm of Coming into Existence), are lovingly embraced by the public at large. Despite this obvious but forgivable exaggeration, which I don’t see it necessary to spend too much time on, I would be much more inclined to bet that the popular social consensus around seriously pessimistic or nihilistic thought is more along the lines of “this may be cute and entertaining for some purposes, but no way in hell would we take these views seriously as pertaining to our every-day lives”. In any case…
While many pessimist thinkers “see a kindred spirit in the Buddha’s honesty about suffering”, the author argues that, in fact, these thinkers fail to acknowledge the essential optimism of Buddhism; that it offers a remedy for suffering as well should surely vindicate it of any accusations of pessimism. He concedes:
Continue reading at The Failed Buddhist
What do you think?