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From: "Dan'l Danehy-Oakes" 
Subject: RE: (urth) Gnostic Wolfe vs CE Wolfe
Date: Mon, 28 Oct 2002 09:19:14 -0800

A few fussy points for philosophical clarity.

> >> Gnostics (as far as we know) weren't all that pessimistic, really.
> Modern ones generally aren't.
> >> Compared to doctrines like Sheol and predestination, Gnostics were 
> >> positively euphoric.

Actually, one common meaning, and _the_ basic philosophical 
meaning, of "pessimism" is very much in line with Gnostic 
doctrine; see definition 2a. below (from 

   Main Entry: pes*si*mism
   Pronunciation: 'pe-s&-"mi-z&m also 'pe-z&-
   Function: noun
   Etymology: French pessimisme, from Latin pessimus 
              worst -- more at PEJORATIVE
   Date: 1815
   1 : an inclination to emphasize adverse aspects, 
       conditions, and possibilities or to expect the
       worst possible outcome
   2 a : the doctrine that reality is essentially evil 
     b : the doctrine that evil overbalances happiness 
         in life

To call someone a "pessimist" in common speech is to
say he's a glass-half-empty-ist. But to call someone
a "pessimist" in philosophical dialogue is to say that
they believe that "this world sucks." 

(Which, I might add, is _not_ a basic Christian 
doctrine; Christianity teaches that the world was made
by a good God -- this is the opposite of Gnosticism! 
-- and that, though fallen, it is in its basic nature
good -- "Good looked at" [everything he made] "and
saw that it was good.")


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