A poor sense of reality
is what those people display
who have too much fantasy,
who overlook the actual constraints, and
who daydream until nightfall
about what certainly never will be:
they may be optimists,
they are not realists.

And a poor sense of reality
is what those people display
who have too little fantasy,
who overlook the possibilities, and
who cannot conceive of anything else
than what seemingly always has been:
they may be pessimists,
they are not realists either.

A better sense of reality
is what those people display
who know how to employ their fantasy
to make things which seem impossible today
the reality of tomorrow:
they are the real realists.


Let us assume that we are in a state of complete uncertainty and do not know whether there will be a happy, nanhappy or unhappy life after death. We are not sure either, whether there will be any life after death. Maybe these assumptions are ridiculous, or outmoded when they once will be reconsidered. But if so, then from the point of view of truth. We will now examine this issue from the point of view of neutrality, granted that we do not (yet?) know the truth. The question of whether there will exist a life after death (and whether there did exist a life before birth or conception), and if so, what kind of life, is in itself a scientific question and not a denominational one. Neither the neutrality principle in general nor the indifference principle in particular forces us to accept any belief concerning the question of whether a person or mental being remains in existence after 'er body has died (or did already exist before 'er body came into being). Nevertheless it is dead certain that the adherents of these principles are forbidden to adopt or readopt unneutral beliefs which have been religiously entertained by a great many previous generations. The unneutrality has always, or usually, been of the happiness-catenary type, and we will therefore confine ourselves to this aspect.

When looking at the logical future possibilities, the first choice is one between no life after death (noncatenality) and some life after death (catenality). To suggest that the first choice might as well be between noncatenality, happiness, nanhappiness and unhappiness, or between noncatenality and all proper predicates of the happiness-catena, is to forget that every proper or improper happiness-catenary predicate represents catenality, and that noncatenality has been defined as negation of catenality. (Noncatenality, nanhappiness and unhappiness also represent nonhappiness, but this is different, because they have not been defined as negation of happiness.) Therefore the principle of indifference in itself does allow us to assume that the chance of no life after death (and no life before birth or conception) is the same as the chance of a life after death (and a life before birth and conception). Both are 1/2. When considering the kind of life after death, we may suppose that there is an equal chance of having any of the, say, n predicates of the happiness-catena. But as the chance of having a happiness-catenary predicate is 1/2, the chance of having a particular happiness-catenary predicate is 1 / 2n. Since there is no reason to assume that the number of proper happiness predicates is different from the number of proper unhappiness predicates, the chance of having a happy life after death is then (n-1) / 4n ; this is the same as the chance of having an unhappy life after death.

Now, there are good reasons to assume that the chance of having a nanhappy life is greater than the chance of having an unneutrally happiness-catenal life, and certainly greater than that of having an extremely happy or extremely unhappy life, just as the chance that a totally unknown, adult human being is medium tall is greater than that 'e is very tall or very short. (This merely as an illustration, because an important difference might be that the shortness catena is a modulus-catena, whereas the happiness catena is not.) Whatever the construction, however, if we do not have the true and relevant ground-world knowledge the indifference principle does not allow us to assume that our death will be followed by a happy or by an unhappy life. It will either be followed by no life at all, or by a life which is nanhappy on the average. Given our premises this conclusion does even hold when the same chance is assigned to noncatenality as to happiness, nanhappiness and unhappiness, or as to every single, proper predicate of the happiness catena.

Extremist supernaturalism does not only promise the believer a happy life after death if 'he' abides by the commandments of 'his' ideology but no less than an eternally happy life; and it does not only threaten the believer with an unhappy life after death if 'he' does not abide by the commandments of 'his' ideology but with no less than an eternally unhappy life. 'Unfortunately', an eternally happy life, whether on Earth or elsewhere, seems even theoretically impossible, because it would require an eternal amelioration of the catenal's situation. This would eventually terminate in a good situation or in a state of well-being in which improvement would not even logically be possible anymore. Before this state, the threshold of happiness-catenary feeling would have been attained, and nanhappiness would already have set in. This situation could only be changed again by a deterioration accompanied by unhappiness. (Hence, supernaturalists who still expect an eternally happy afterlife by being nice to other supernaturalists are flogging a dead horse.)

Theoretically an eternally unhappy life seems possible, but this would require a perpetual deterioration of a sentient being's situation (on the relative view of the relationship between happiness-catenary and situational catenality). It appears that such a deterioration does in actual fact always issue in decatenalization. The most plausible moment of decatenalization is, then, the moment a happiness-catenal's body dies. (This is not to say that such a catenal must die under unhappy circumstances.)

When a religion or other ideology tries to win people over to its side by promisory and comminatory means it does not only violate the norm of neutrality but usually also the principle of truth and people's (especially young people's) right to personhood. What such a religion or other ideology also often heavily draws on is the confusion between hope and expectation. We may hope for anything desirable, even tho we do not think it will actually happen, but we may only expect to happen what certainly will happen, or what probably will happen on the basis of the indifference principle in combination with the relevant experience. For but too many people, however, hope and expectation have been, or still are, synonyms. The things such people hope for, and the things they expect, are often or too often the same. The difference between hope and expectation tends particularly to fade away in emotional times, for example, during a competition or war. It is then that an exceedingly unrealistic, optimistic belief may manifest itself in which the intensity of the expectation is extremely high or much higher than can be justified on the basis of the probability of the occurrence hoped for.

Some people seem to believe that optimism is expecting something good and then like to consider themselves optimists. If this is 'optimism' at all, it is not necessarily 'optimism' as a mode of unrealistic thought. What makes 'optimism' in the sense we shall use it here, unrealistic and unneutralistic is that it is a belief in the best possible outcome or the inclination to always expect good outcomes, regardless of the facts or in contradistinction to the indifference principle. Even the doctrine that this world would be the best of all possible worlds is a product of such optimism. The antithesis of optimism, pessimism, is then the belief in the worst possible outcome or the inclination to always expect bad outcomes, again, regardless of the facts or in contradistinction to the indifference principle. Specimens of pessimism are the doctrine that 'reality is essentially evil' or that 'unhappiness overbalances happiness'. A 'real' pessimist should not only believe that unhappiness must outweigh happiness in life, that is, before death but also after death, for a 'real' pessimist is also someone who is never optimistic. In practise tho, there are but too many people who are pessimists today and optimists tomorrow: unrealistic pessimists and unrealistic optimists are certainly not known for their equanimity. But whether they are staunch pessimists, staunch optimists or fluctuating between pessimism and optimism, for none of these people there is a neutral vantage point from which they can take the right decision.

The type of realism founded in the principle of indifference which preserves the nanhappy mean between unrealistic optimism and unrealistic pessimism is decision-theoretical realism. If the facts or experience show that a good outcome is more probable than a bad one, and if we do have expectations at all, this decision-theoretical realism requires us to expect a good outcome. Yet, this is not optimism, for if the facts or experience showed that a bad outcome were more probable, we would have to expect a bad outcome; and this is not pessimism either.

Decision-theoretical realism centers primarily round the principle of neutrality, whereas non-supernatural realism (as we have provisionally called it in I.6.2.1) centers primarily round the principle of truth. In spite of this, they are plainly two strands of one realist attitude. This could be a reason to argue that the principle of indifference, like the principle of truth, is not a ground-world principle. To this argument it can be replied that truth may play a role in the cognitive component of the realist attitude, while decision-theoretical indifference plays a role in the affective, and particularly the conative, component of this attitude. Moreover, one can implicitly adhere to the neutralist principle of indifference in practise without ever talking or even thinking about this principle and about what one is doing or choosing. Indeed, one can adhere to it without being involved in thinking at all, something that can definitely not be said about the principle of truth.

©MVVM, 41-67 ASWW

Model of Neutral-Inclusivity
Book of Fundamentals
Neutral-Inclusivity, Truth and Personhood
Truth and Neutral-Inclusivity