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Is Life Positive, Neutral, or Negative?

Discovery Demands 5TP


Existentialism Is Right: Life Is Neutral

“There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” —Shakespeare


The Existentialists are correct. Life is neutral and neither positive nor negative.

  • Events in the world are not personal or about you.
  • Events in life are neither positive nor negative.

What makes events positive or negative is human psychology. In this sense, human psychology includes personal reactions, emotional reactions, interpretations, intentions, expectations, and how an event is experienced as affecting oneself.

What makes events depressing is also human psychology. Humans often find events and experiences depressing when those events include the loss of important values, ideals, or principles.


INTERPRETATION MAKES POSITIVE OR NEGATIVE

For example, the movie Detachment is not depressing. However, the movie Detachment is about events that human psychology will categorize as negative. These negative events will further be categorized by human psychology to demonstrate a loss of human values, ideals, or principles; therefore, the events will also be categorized as depressing.

Still, the movie Detachment is not depressing because it is a slice of life, a detached view of events, an objective statement of some facts that are inherently neutral. The focus of the movie is on presenting events, not characterizing events from a personal point of view.

  • The movie is designed to increase awareness, not to have you vicariously live as or side with the characters in the movie. At its best, the movie is a call to social action.

ATTITUDE MAKES POSITIVE OR NEGATIVE

For example, the movie They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? is depressing. The movie is also about events that people will label as negative. The movie is also about the loss of values, ideals, and principles, and therefore is depressing to many humans.

  • So how are the two movies (Detachment and They Shoot Horses) different that one is depressing and one is not if they are both about content that can be interpreted as negative and depressing?

They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? is made from the personal perspective and experience of individuals and is not attempting to present events in a factual or objective manner in order to make you think and act as is Detachment.


FEELINGS DON’T PROVE POSITIVE OR NEGATIVE

They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? is an attempt to present events in a very personal and human manner in order to make you feel and understand the struggle of others as your own. And since the events are both negative and include the loss of values, the movie is depressing for the main characters in the movie and any audience members who empathize with them.

  • Moviegoers will then share these same depressing feelings with the characters via empathy and by vicariously living with or as the characters in the movie. At its best, the movie reminds us of the Universality of Human Nature.
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