Weltschmerz - and the origins of religious succour

For those who are unaware this is German, and means literally world-pain, it describes the feeling experienced by an individual who believes that reality can never satisfy the expectations of the mind, resulting in a mood of weariness or sadness about life arising from the acute awareness of evil and suffering.

Now I know what you’re thinking, gosh the Germans are a comforting people, and I agree. Well when I worked there they were fab company anyway. However it occurs to me that the remedy for this the sadness caused by reality not matching our expectations of it, is of course to imagine that reality is not all there is, and make what we imagine exists beyond reality far far better than reality. Now does that idea remind anyone of anything?

All that is left is to fingfence it from too much critical scrutiny, say make the belief based on something other than facts, or evidence, but rather a strong conviction in the belief itself as evidence for itself, and the only problems remaining are convincing enough people, and protecting your utopian belief from the corruption of the real world, and cultures and politics.

I am of course simply speculating, but if many theists are to be believed, the sccour they receive is real enough, even if it is naught but a placebo. Now a far more interesting question, is would that idea have provided a survival benefit during our evolution, I think it might have, both as individuals and as societies.


Reality can not satisfy the expectation of the mind. “I love it.” It is also not reality’s job to satisfy anyone’s expectations. When comfort is not forthcoming, fantasy is a nice diversion. And fantasy comes in so many forms.


And soeth beganeth the cult of Sheldon, for he is our messiah, and has transcended the realms of the natural, with knowledge of how to hide oneself from the cognitive dissonance of being born with a death sentence.


Now all that is needed is for us to make a martyr out of him, so we can go global!

How shall we go about this? THC overdose? That would get some hefty media attention.

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Well this is precisely the rationale, from an evolutionary standpoint the human brain either adds a survival benefit or does not, if it does then on it goes, now the brain offers us imagination, and that combined with the ability to fashion tools is a massive survival benefit, but it comes with flaws obviously as the more the brain evolves the more self aware we become, and hence eventually we reach the stage where we see reality. and our position in it, and realise it will never really live up to what we imagine it should be.

…and that’s where powerful fantasies that are unfalsifiable and can lend succour would also provide a survival benefit. Religion is hardly unique after all, we draw succour from films, books, even games and comic books that are all fantasies we indulge because we enjoy the distraction from reality. Some of them though only provide succour if we believe they are true, religion for example. Now imagine an idea that allays some of our greatest fears, like the fear of death, not just our own, but the grief of losing those we love.

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This reminded me of The Life of Brian, the scene where Brian is fleeing a mob trying to proclaim him the messiah. :rofl: :innocent:


Reality presents us with the possibility of being extremely lucid. A world in which one is lucid is a world in which actions, livelihoods, and free time have purpose hard baked into everything we do.

LUCID: expressed clearly; easy to understand.

On what planet is the stuff you write on this site, 'Lucid." If reality presented you with the possibility of being ‘lucid’ when you went to pick it up you dropped it on the floor and smashed it to bits.

Fair enough. I’ve earned that assessment for things I’ve said in the past. But I can see clearly now the rain is gone. I’m a changed man, I tellz ya.

Won’t be a surprise to anyone here who learns that this exposition on weltschmerz resonates with much of my own thinking.

However, the German Romantics ran with this in numerous divergent directions, many of them not involving what we would regard as “conventional” mythologies and world views arising therefrom.

Though Isaiah Berlin penned an insightful critique of the movement and its underpinnings thus:

Indeed, Berlin’s critique extended to the movement’s rejection of rationality and concern for fact, being a springboard for fascism and other brands of authoritarianism.