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New Projects Seminar Series: On the Virtues of Cosmic Pessimism

Murat Kok GSSR PhD candidate

April 20, 2021, 16:00, Staszic Palace, Nowy Świat 72, Warsaw, room 232


Friedrich Nietzsche likened pessimism to cholera precisely because just like cholera pessimism resurges from time to time. We can see that Nietzsche was not exaggerating as increasing amount of publications, television series and movies attest, there is once again an increasing interest in pessimism as a philosophy. Eugene Thacker is one of the most popular names in this trend as he not only produced impressive books on pessimism but he also inspired one of the most interesting and truly pessimistic character on television. Thacker named his brand of pessimism Cosmic Pessimism and he has been working on the concept through various publications. In this presentation, I would like to focus on Thacker’s cosmic pessimism. I will argue that despite the rebranding, Thacker’s cosmic pessimism rests on Arthur Schopenhauer’s metaphysics to a great extent. The two of the three aspects of the threefold world Thacker proposes in his cosmic pessimism are Schopenhauer’s Vorstellung and Wille. After having established that, I will argue that Thacker leaves Schopenhauer behind for the third aspect of the world and must indeed do so. I will show that in order to be able to do that Thacker resorts to another prominent pessimist who is also a more radical misanthrope than Schopenhauer and that is Emil Cioran. Following Cioran, Thacker maximizes his misanthropy to be able to envision this aspect of the world and while doing so he also refers to contemporary problems which he takes to justify such misanthropy. After this exposition, I will criticize Thacker’s cosmic pessimism on two accounts: misanthropy and resignation.

Event supported by NAWA Welcome to Poland.