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RFD Optimist / Pessimist

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8/4/2016 10:25:42 PM
Posted: 2 months ago
Health Benefits
PRO contends that optimism is beneficial to one's well being, they tend to have a healthier life style, better recover from illness, have less stress and are more successful due to their optimistic view of hope and perseverance through failures. Their optimism carries through to the work place with job placement and promotions; financially beneficial. Optimist are constructive in solving problems and meeting goals. Optimist have greater level of contentment with life, are more pleasant to be around and develop better support systems.

CON rebuts based on PRO's citations the arbitrary usage of "pessimist" and "optimist" as they are philosophical positions of personal preference, medically don't have value as applied to causation of results. He further rebuts that the replication rates of psychiatric studies are very low, therefore validity is questionable; PRO's contentions are as shaky as the studies themselves.

Comment: PRO #2 cited was an article in a reputable medical journal. #3 was just an abstract. There was no means of analyzing how the data was compiled and results extracted. However, I won't negate PRO's citations since #2 is reputable and #3 has been cited in 61 other studies; one can logically assume it has peer reviewed and results validated. To attach a particular study is a valid approach for rebuttal, but to dismiss the whole field of psychiatric study is a bit of an over step; a debate for another time. But also, since CON used Dacher Keltner, psychologist as a cit. to give weight to his assertions, he is guilty of the same practice. CON's faulty logic on causation as a fallacy and problem of studies rebuttal is negated by this contradiction.

CON contends pessimists have control over their own mind and are not dependant on outside forces for fulfillment. They change one's reality to meet or exceed expectation or lower expectations to meet reality. Defensively, pessimistic people set low expectations, but move forward to analyze and plan what could go wrong.

PRO's rebuttal: In an imperfect world pessimist are despondent and avoid doing anything to make things better. In contrast, optimist can still be content and strive for better. Making things better fuels the optimist. Although pessimist avoids disaster, they also avoid rewards.

Comment: I find that PRO's rebuttal has greater weight; contentment and striving for better, pessimist don't take risks. Being in a defensive position and lowering expectations is not a positive trait; doing what needs to be done through planning although begrudgedly. CONs Cit#2, William James philosophy of pragmatism, looks to how to overcome pessimism via reason to believe there is a higher purpose and power and acting upon it by changing one"s reality. Although PRO wins this argument, she fails to pick up on the contradiction between the cit. presented and CON"s rebuttal material.

CON: Religion preaches pessimism towards human nature; desire is the root of human suffering. It's pessimism of philosophers and clerics toward the fallibility of human nature is what gives comfort; pessimism as a mood lifter. Optimism of man as exampled by the flawed view of the Roman Empire: virtue is held by those in high standing, failing is due to personal incompetence; meritocracy is just. In Augustinian philosophy, pessimism is an ethical system of charity and empathy towards others due to the intrinsic flawed nature of humanity itself.

PRO rebuts religion teaches man"s nature is flawed, but preaches hope for Nirvana or salvation through hope for salvation from original sin. It is hope for salvation through Christ that this can be achieved, an optimistic view.

Comment: CON makes a strong point on optimism and meritocracy as unjust and flawed, pessimism moves one"s ethics to charity. But extrapolates too far beyond cit. that it's pessimism toward human nature is what gives comfort. Desire as evil roots can be overcome through enlightenment. Hope is empowering toward salvation is the optimistic basis of religion"s premise as CON rebuts.

Social Vice

CON's contention using Huxley as reference, for a maximally happy society an optimist"s philosophy results in vice. Happiness negates action and domesticates. Anger disgust and fear compel to act against potential harm.

PRO rebuttal is that Huxley"s example is of the excess of optimism; by extension anything in excess is harmful. Overly optimistic can makes you sick, taken advantage, or vulnerable. Excessive pessimism can result in nihilism, apathy, and negative mental health effects. Preference to see the negative over the positive is self debasement/chastisement. With pessimism there"s nothing satisfying, inspiring or agreeable, Avoidance of life"s events is not a beneficial way to live?

Comment: Pavlovian conditioning of a populous to a mind set of happiness as with Huxley training the lower class not to like books and nature, keeping them content indoors and ignorant is a poor example of the relativeness of pessimism vs. optimism. The happiness quotient is artificially imposed, not a part of free will to exercise either side of the premise. As PRO points seeing the disagreeable is not a positive manner to live.

Overall a very good debate and an interesting read. PRO's positive life effects over CON's focus on inner peace by the power of one's own mind to alter one's mentality to fit reality wins the debate.