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Discussion Starter #1
Hi! I'm not new to PC but it's been so long since I've been here that I've forgotten my login info, haha!

Anyways, something I've always found very interesting about people, and rather distinguishing between them is whether or not they have either hope or despair behind their motivations and psyche. In many people it is so subconscious that they might not detect it as such a huge influence in their life, but I always find it easy to detect even in strangers after a conversation. People I talk to are always shocked but pleased when I reveal to them the hypothesis that they have a lot of hope/despair dictating their way of thinking, and they feel more empowered to take control or be at peace with themselves.

That being said, there is so much to discuss in regards to hope and despair and human psychology. There is a lot of history behind hope driving individuals and communities forward to conquer impossible odds, but one can also say that hope is not real; maybe it's just an emotion. Others say that it's a virtue.

And what about despair? Does it cause depravity in the human condition? Is it purely a strong psychological state of listless mental death, the refusal to see goodness in life, or the awareness of nihilism? Or is it just a stagnant complacency that locks one away from progressing into a changed future? Is it acceptance of fate, or does it force you into an otherwise avoidable fate?

What are your personal experiences? How do you define hope and despair? Do you need belief in a higher being/force/reality to have hope?

I can talk about this literally for forever.
 

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I thought this thread would be about Danganronpa. lmao

I don't think I've ever even experienced real despair, so I don't know. My mind seems pretty hardwired for hope. There's no belief in a higher power driving it, it's just how I've always been.

I think the proclivity to hope/despair may be genetically coded, or maybe some people lose their ability to hope after a traumatic event. Because it's true that hope can cause pain, by causing more disappointment. Being resigned to "fate" can be a protective mechanism. If you don't expect anything better, then the current painful reality isn't as painful.
 

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Wow I'm actually a little surprised at these replies....so many people seem to be so cynical nowadays that something like hope is considered fantasy, or something baseless and childish that leads a person to nothing. Despair is considered a default and logical response to the supposed nothingness of life, the unending suffering of humanity and continuation of senseless violence and abuse.

Despair doesn't just come out of nowhere. I believe that one must suffer repeated defeats and abuses despite their best efforts to avoid them or rectify a situation (whether it's abuse from others, inability to overcome a personal flaw, etc) before they can really know despair. Some people put themselves in a state of despair by observing this kind of inability to escape in others - world hunger, violence, poverty, loneliness, etc. The only way, they reason, to cope with the enormity of non-sensical horror in the world is to accept it, and ridicule those who work hard against problems that can never be solved.

Personally I think its easy to accept suffering and depravity as a given in the world, and you can even accept the lowliness of oneself (if you tend towards self-depreciation) without despairing. Despair is about a lack of connection with humanity and the world, nothing you do can effect or change anything. Hope is a belief in the betterment of anything, if not your own situation at least someone else's. I've found that being useful for someone else's betterment or saving them from some kind of suffering makes all the depravity of my own life light as a feather.

But what about people who really do despise hope? What is it that they hate that makes them prefer despair? Thoughts?
 

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Why is there a consistent argument that "hope is fantasy"? Is it because the end goal of hope is often unattained or out of reach? Do people who despair think that goals that are too big must be achieved for hope to be worthwhile, as though disappointment makes hope impossible? Is it possible to acknowledge and accept the unchangeable suffering of the world or of a person's life and still be full of authentic hope?
 

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Why is there a consistent argument that "hope is fantasy"? Is it because the end goal of hope is often unattained or out of reach? Do people who despair think that goals that are too big must be achieved for hope to be worthwhile, as though disappointment makes hope impossible? Is it possible to acknowledge and accept the unchangeable suffering of the world or of a person's life and still be full of authentic hope?
If it's consistent, then it must make sense, right?
 

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Oh I meant consistent as in "reoccurring" and "common". Not so much as logically sound! Besides, sound logic can still lead to absurd conclusions :)
 

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Also I think one's own individual experiences might cause certain conclusions to unconsciously "make sense" to people, and such conclusions take extreme mental effort to explore honestly without bias and self-deception.
 

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Hi @Blinkandstare, this subject is very interesting to me as well. I think I know how despair and hopelesness feel like in a way very few people know.

I think you hit the nail on the head here:

Despair doesn't just come out of nowhere. I believe that one must suffer repeated defeats and abuses despite their best efforts to avoid them or rectify a situation (whether it's abuse from others, inability to overcome a personal flaw, etc) before they can really know despair.
Yes, it doesn't come out of nowhere. I don't want to get into details and open up completely here, but I've been once in a place so harsh I saw no way out. I couldn't see any improvement, any light at the end of the tunnel. I had been trying so hard to get out of that particular situation, but for a long time I didn't get any positive result. I felt completely hopeless, trapped, suffocated. I think a lot of people would have considered suicide if they were walking in my shoes at that moment of my life, but for some reason, I didn't. I made it out alive and because of some unexpected luck, I am now free of the burden from the situation I mentioned.

Now that I'm free from the hopelesness I experienced before, I can see how biased and distorted my mind was to think there could be no way out. Even if I hadn't escaped from that situation with the luck I had, I could get out of that situation through multiple different ways. At least, I could try way more than I was trying. I feel much stronger and empowered now, much more aware of the traps our minds can create to fuck us up when we face hardships. The threshold of my psychological endurance is way higher.

Anyway, I really hope NOBODY goes through what I went through. I really hope nobody feels hopelesness with the same strenght I felt it. It is the worst feeling I've ever felt for sure.
 
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I think people consider hope as childish due to it being overly idealistic in their perspective. Hopeful people are generally seen as overly optimistic, unrealistic or so. Conservatively cynical people are seen as negative,pessimistic or so. They are seen as unrealistically paranoid or so. People want to have a balance of the two to consider someone to be sensible. However most cynics(in this case lets define them as opposite of hopeful people) were once hopeful, the failures in repairing the problems or changing stuff for the better can cause hopeful people to feel despare at the end of the day. Also not everyone gets what they want That is what causes people to be less hopeful as they age further. They might have seen plenty of hopeful people to have failed besides them, if the said person isn't that much of a hopeful guy to begin with. However people usually don't consider the success of some of the hopeful people because failure far outweighs the cases of success. So in that sense, hope needs quite a lot of courage.
 

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@Aiwass , I think it is interesting that you mention bias and mind traps as a major element of your despair (the mental perspective you held during your experience). It seems then that one component of having a perspective of hope or despair during a trial is how we reason to ourselves what the ultimate conclusion of the experience will be - pain, loss, and entrapment that never ends and can lead to no good, or long time suffering that can end eventually and perhaps even with some salvific reward (strengthening of the mind, freedom from toxic relationships or habits, new paths opening up). So that would mean that hope and despair are entirely based on an individual's reasoning and what they chose to believe about the future, and is not a set in stone thing. This is probably pretty obvious to most people, but I like bringing it up because some people think that just because they are more predisposed to despair means that they can never truly have hope or more of it, but what's really going on is that they are trapped in a way of thinking and can overcome that.
 

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@Reginer do you think that it is reasonable to be hopeful even without any guarantee, or worse, absolute positive proof that failure is imminent? I am a generally optimistic person (more on that later) so even when I know I will be facing failure, suffering, loss, and entrapment I am able to weather through it (not like a cheery leprechaun or something like that). For me at least an automatic response of my mind is to immediately see a variety of possible outcomes and so instead of spending all my energy trying to survive the current situation, I ponder or begin to pursue a new path (even if it means giving up on old plans and relationships etc). I quickly accept loss and I can't ask for anyone's pity so the only choice is to find an advantage. What is it like for someone who is not disposed to optimism? Are losses difficult to accept? What if you can't see or absolutely refuse to find a new path?
 

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Hi! I'm not new to PC but it's been so long since I've been here that I've forgotten my login info, haha!

Anyways, something I've always found very interesting about people, and rather distinguishing between them is whether or not they have either hope or despair behind their motivations and psyche. In many people it is so subconscious that they might not detect it as such a huge influence in their life, but I always find it easy to detect even in strangers after a conversation. People I talk to are always shocked but pleased when I reveal to them the hypothesis that they have a lot of hope/despair dictating their way of thinking, and they feel more empowered to take control or be at peace with themselves.

That being said, there is so much to discuss in regards to hope and despair and human psychology. There is a lot of history behind hope driving individuals and communities forward to conquer impossible odds, but one can also say that hope is not real; maybe it's just an emotion. Others say that it's a virtue.

And what about despair? Does it cause depravity in the human condition? Is it purely a strong psychological state of listless mental death, the refusal to see goodness in life, or the awareness of nihilism? Or is it just a stagnant complacency that locks one away from progressing into a changed future? Is it acceptance of fate, or does it force you into an otherwise avoidable fate?

What are your personal experiences? How do you define hope and despair? Do you need belief in a higher being/force/reality to have hope?

I can talk about this literally for forever.
People incline towards hope or despair based on their social standing and experience. I think in some cases it may be genetically related such as those who have brain chemistry imbalances.
Not only do you need to believe in a higher force to have hope, we all believe in one already, as evidenced by the fact that we behave as if there is a higher force (and I would absolutely argue that there is indeed a higher force).
Hope is the psychological state of mind in which you can mentally project yourself into a future situation where you are better than you are now and that you have justifiable reason to believe you can transform that mental projection into reality. Inability to meet those two criteria (the mental projection and its justification/confidence) will result in some sort of negative emotion to drive you toward changing your situation such that you will be able to meet that criteria. If you are consistently unable to do this, you will experience despair, a psychological state in which you are unable to imagine yourself in a better position either because you are over-saturated with negative emotion and/or you are unable to provide justifiable proof that you could turn that mental projection into reality.

My question to you is, in your experience, how do you see despair motivating people?
 

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I think there might be two ways that despair could motivate someone:
1) when you fully believe that there is no higher power or force to hope in, and that you are fated to remain in the state which caused you to despair (from being unable to escape), you might suddenly have nothing to lose. Nothing you do to yourself or others will matter anymore. No consequence could possibly add to your misery. Such a person might become very reckless or dangerous and do things they never would have if they thought there was an escape or a punishment worse than what they are currently suffering. They are definitely wrong about that but they won't see it.

2)
a) one might totally despair in themselves but be full of hope in regards to others. Personally I fall into this category, and because of that I can be a little reckless bc I don't have much fear for myself nor am I afraid of loss. However I have met some amazing people in my life who change communities and lives, and I am content to hope in them. In this sense I do still have some hope in myself that I might be able to help propel them forward in their success. Deep down inside I know I'm wrong about myself but I haven't ever been able to completely shake the remnants of despair still existing in my subconscious.
b) one might despair in the future of the world and humanity and give up on trying to contribute to the betterment of society. They may only hope in their own happiness and protect it fiercely. I see this a lot more often. It's a dark and twisted hope that ultimately dooms the person to feeling unfulfilled and agitated, unless they can realize that tiny efforts to improve even just one other person's life is still worthwhile.
 

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Hi! I'm not new to PC but it's been so long since I've been here that I've forgotten my login info, haha!

Anyways, something I've always found very interesting about people, and rather distinguishing between them is whether or not they have either hope or despair behind their motivations and psyche. In many people it is so subconscious that they might not detect it as such a huge influence in their life, but I always find it easy to detect even in strangers after a conversation. People I talk to are always shocked but pleased when I reveal to them the hypothesis that they have a lot of hope/despair dictating their way of thinking, and they feel more empowered to take control or be at peace with themselves.

That being said, there is so much to discuss in regards to hope and despair and human psychology. There is a lot of history behind hope driving individuals and communities forward to conquer impossible odds, but one can also say that hope is not real; maybe it's just an emotion. Others say that it's a virtue.

And what about despair? Does it cause depravity in the human condition? Is it purely a strong psychological state of listless mental death, the refusal to see goodness in life, or the awareness of nihilism? Or is it just a stagnant complacency that locks one away from progressing into a changed future? Is it acceptance of fate, or does it force you into an otherwise avoidable fate?

What are your personal experiences? How do you define hope and despair? Do you need belief in a higher being/force/reality to have hope?

I can talk about this literally for forever.
So, I love it! It's a new spin on a very old philosophical issue. There are hundreds of ways to say it. 'You are positive and she is negative!'. 'How do you see the world, glass half empty, or glass half full?' 'Are you a caretaker, or an undertaker?' Blah, blah, blah!

So, the thing about saying hope or despair is that focusing on either of these offers the person, ... nothing.

I left that sentence on it own. I think it's important. Without knowing WHY a person is given to hope and despair they are left unable to deal with the source. Psychologists abound who will offer various coping mechanisms and whole (ridiculous) philosophies exist that focus on the same sort of magical thinking and non-help. Example: The book, 'Hope is not a strategy.

So, obviously I am quite critical of these terms. But am I offering any ... hope? Is my position simply and annoyingly only one of despair?

---

Most people are clearly a strong mix of whatever this hope and despair are. But I will quickly agree with you that most people BY FAR fall into one category or the other a lot of the time. Ask their three best friends which trait they have most and you will likely get a 3/3 result.

---

So what is the source of hope? What is the source of despair?

First, we need to define hope and despair. I think most people would agree that hope is a perhaps unreasonable expectation that things will work out in a good way, whereas despair is a perhaps unreasonable expectation that things will work out in a bad way.

We could also point out that both hope and despair are grounded in the past and the present. That is critical to understand. They are attitudes aimed at the future only. This is also quite critical to understand.

Also, pay attention to the way I framed each of these complex emotions. I framed BOTH of them as unreasonable. They are. Now, the thing is, you may disagree. That is ... typical. And if you do, you are being unreasonable. I will explain.

Ask any person from one group if the attitude of the people in the other group is reasonable. They will say resoundingly, 'NO'. And they are CORRECT.

Stable, well balanced people, will also tend to acknowledge that both hope and despair are at least a little bit unreasonable, even if they are both understandable as feelings humans choose or feel.

So, assuming you can see the point there, at least feel a part of it, WHY is that? Why are both these emotions relatively unreasonable?

Next, let's consider that a lot of you, a lot of people that will answer that question, will say consoling stuff like, 'No wait, HOPE is reasonable. It's despair that is not. Or even a lot of you will say, 'Nope, they are both reasonable' So those answers correlate nicely to me with a lack of wisdom, a lack of understanding, and an IMBALANCE weighted to one side or the other of truth, and then possibly, in the case of the person that would answer that both are reasonable, an inability to stay present in life, live in the now, which is wise.

All imbalances are unwise.

---

So all emotion is sourced in three primal emotions, fear, anger, and desire. BOTH hope and despair are equal parts fear and desire and most importantly not enough anger.

Anger is responsible for balance. It is responsible for staying present.

Fear will have hope when the current state and past experiences of a person are positive. Fear will tend in general towards despair because fear is linked to death, and death is something most people despair about. Fear is the ability to pattern match, and so fear is reasonable. So, using fear, one is matching the pattern of the past to show either hope or despair.

Desire will have hope when the outlook or WISH, what is desired, is positive. Desire will have despair when the outlook or WISH, what is desired, is negative. This is often referred to in psychology as Eros and Thanatos, life wish and death wish. Desire tends in general towards hope because desire is linked to life, and life is something most people have hope about. Desire is random and UNREASONABLE. So there is that word again. Something about desire is MORE important in the foundation of both hope and despair.

The common thread is delusion. Desire is delusional. Before you freak out on me, fear is also delusional, in general. But I just said fear is reasonable. How can reason be delusional? Reason is always delusional because it aims for certainty that cannot exist. Still, reason is reasonable, because it is CORRECT far far far far far far far far more often than desire could ever pretend to be.

So am I mad at desire? No, I am not. That would cause despair and I am balanced. Let's say it this way, 'I am JUST as mad at fear as desire and I am just as happy with fear as desire.' Any imbalance in either of those two equations is super dangerous to wisdom.

Over-expressions of desire are the cause of both hope and desire. All desire has a critical flaw. That is this: If you want something, it means you are insufficient as you are. This reflects upon you. It rots you. It will destroy you. This is the reason why addictions will rot you and feel empty. Desire, unbalanced by fear and anger, is immoral. It is unwise. If you can balance your desire you will ALWAYS feel great hope and great despair, but, in equal measure, and this will balance you and you will express NEITHER greatly. THAT is wisdom.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
@series0 haha I don't know why you'd assume any of us here would freak out on you about anything you said, especially when this is a debate and therefore is meant to be a platform for people to present, develop, and expose their thoughts on the topic. I myself am primarily interested in everyone's thoughts.

That being said, I'm very happy that you brought up such an interesting argument! I do want to challenge some of your central prepositions though to see what you've got in response.

1) hope and despair are essentially unreasonable assumptions about the future: I believe you are using the word "unreasonable" here not in a negatively charged sense but in the sense that there might not be cut and dry logical reasoning behind either hope or despair. I agree! I also agree with what you said about it being influenced by people's experiences, but ultimately I still think there is something incredibly enigmatic about hope and despair. For example, I have a relatively fortunate life and honestly an incredible amount of luck. Basically any time I'm caught in a really bad or seemingly inescapable situation, somehow fortune changes for me even if it doesn't for anyone else around me. It's actually quite ridiculous, to the point where others notice it. So, if I've had such a fortunate life, and always manage to escape dreadful situations, what exactly do I have to fear, or left to desire, that would spawn any kind of hope or despair in me? Despite my overwhelmingly positive life experiences and the fact that I'm pretty optimistic, I still have an unshakable despair that I can't really explain. I hope that triggers your intrigue a little.

2) About delusion and reason - I don't think you have the full picture here. First of all, correctness doesn't necessarily explain, drive, or contribute to life all that much. It is "correct" that a lack of oxygen will cause death in a human being, but plenty of people still desire to engage in oxygen depriving activities like mountain climbing, scuba diving, ect, and seem to have a greater quality of life than they would just obeying correctness and avoiding oxygen deprivation. Even human emotions, which can be partly explained by hormones and chemicals and receptors, seem to be impossible to fully explain in terms of pure logic, and all we can say is "well that's how it is". This is an entirely other debate that could be had over and over again, but for now I just want to make the very simple point that logic is merely mathematical and cannot clearly define every dimension of human nature and existence. Yeah its a helpful predictor for the reasonableness of one's hopeful expectations or descent into despair, but the mere fact that something "unreasonable" like hope or despair exists means there is a dimension to human existence that is entirely untouchable by logic alone.

3) Balance - you are certainly correct that one must have balanced desires to avoid self-inflicted discontent, but I don't see how that correlates to having a balance between hope and despair. Recognizing that you won't ever fulfill a certain desire doesn't mean that you are despairing - giving up on becoming wealthy enough to avoid fear and discomfort doesn't mean that you have despaired and given in to poverty. Giving up on a relationship doesn't mean despair, it just means you recognize that your desire is impossible to fulfill because the good you were pursuing in that relationship isn't there. So you can recognize that certain desires aren't conducive to your personal good, giving up on those desires but that can't possibly amount to true despair. If despair was something so simple as "seeing a certain future as impossible" then it wouldn't be such a heavy word.

4) Desires are flawed - well its rather obvious that everybody’s existences are incomplete and lacking in various ways, but that doesn't mean that wanting fulfillment will cause self-destruction. Some desires are flawed, based on whether they contribute to a person's true good or not. This can be observed objectively. For example, alcohol can help a nervous person gain composure that they are lacking at the moment, so drinking a shot of whisky to calm down doesn't violate their true good. However, if that person has a critical illness or develops an addiction, the alcohol is contributing more to the destruction of their body than to the calming of their mind, and is therefore overwhelmingly in violation of their true good.

I get the feeling that much of the way you are explaining hope and despair is in reference to every day expectations of life and events, rather than the more fundamental issue I'm hoping to get at - that is, in times of great suffering, or unusual circumstances, what is behind a person's hope or despair in reaction to the calamity? Especially in long-suffering. I don't really want to discuss the mundane hopes or despairs of a person who's life is at a point of normalcy, since their hopes can really only be about great and unnecessary life improvements (like luxury) given that they aren't being deprived of anything essential.

The question is, when greatly deprived of essentials, and in tremendous suffering, why does hope or despair appear?
 

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@Reginer do you think that it is reasonable to be hopeful even without any guarantee, or worse, absolute positive proof that failure is imminent? I am a generally optimistic person (more on that later) so even when I know I will be facing failure, suffering, loss, and entrapment I am able to weather through it (not like a cheery leprechaun or something like that). For me at least an automatic response of my mind is to immediately see a variety of possible outcomes and so instead of spending all my energy trying to survive the current situation, I ponder or begin to pursue a new path (even if it means giving up on old plans and relationships etc). I quickly accept loss and I can't ask for anyone's pity so the only choice is to find an advantage. What is it like for someone who is not disposed to optimism? Are losses difficult to accept? What if you can't see or absolutely refuse to find a new path?
Someone who lacks optimism would focus on how the things would fail rather than focussing on future potential. If the failure is imminent, I think it is still okay to be optimistic or hopeful, however just be prepared to deal with failure as in trying to minimise the emotional impact, losses from that failure.

As for excepting losses, well, pessimistic people generally expect failure, so they would rather have "I thought so/I told you" kind of attitude to failure. So due to all that building up, there can come a time when he refuses to act or consider potential opportunities.
 
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