Within my grade at school, certain people seek out (I'm not sure if they do it consciously or unconsciously) the negative aspects of other people in the grade, without seeing any of their good qualities (which I believe they, like everyone, have). I was wondering why people do this, not only at school but in society in general? Why must so many people spend so much time (and I mean A LOT of time) focusing on such insignificant and often superficial aspects of people?

Not all "why" questions are philosophical and I think yours isn't really. It's more a question about human psychology. That said, you seem to run "negative" qualities of people together with "insignificant" ones. They're not the same of course: some negative attributes are very significant. But either way, we can ask why people tend not to focus on the deeper, positive values of others. Well, often they do! Why don't they always do it? Oh, I don't know if you'll find just one or two reasons. But here's one that functions sometimes: when you find something deeply positive about someone, you can't help but feel connected or attached to that person. Any such connection makes you vulnerable to pain, to loss. People try to protect themselves from painful emotions. And so they tend, at least at first, to keep some distance by keeping the superficial or perhaps even the negative in full view.

Why bother living? Life is utterly pointless, meaningless, and futile. It's just an endlessly turning cycle of boredom and pain punctuated by brief moments of joy. What is the point of it all? Why bother?

It's not uncommon to work one's way into the perspective your questions suggest. It can be difficult sometimes to work one's way out of it. Usually, nothing anyone can say will be relevant. One's entire orientation on life has to shift and that's not something that can be brought about by being given any kind of argument — which is just what philosophers are well-trained to offer. So perhaps you might consider looking elsewhere, to art or literature for instance; to your local homeless shelter; or to a nearby park. The response to Question 390 might also be relevant.

Is feeling good the only thing that has value in itself?

This doctrine is sometimes known as ethical hedonism and itlies at the heart of some very grand traditions in ethics, inparticular, utilitarian ethics, first forcefully and extensivelyarticulated by Jeremy Bentham in the 18th century. Feeling good, orperhaps the net balance of pleasure over pain, was deemed to bevaluable in itself and furthermore the only thing that has value initself. That it is the only thing of value seems quite wrong at firstblush: lots of things that don't feel good, for instance education, aredeemed by many to be valuable. But utilitarians (for instance, JohnStuart Mill in his Utilitarianism ) argued that this wasillusory. Other things are deemed to be of value because they lead tohappiness, or because they've become so associated with happiness thatthey've come to viewed as part of happiness. Neither Bentham nor Millthought they could prove that happiness itself was of value -- that wassimply too basic a proposition to admit of proof. Mill argued that youcould only show...

Why should I care about life at all? I am on track to achieve financial and intellectual success. I will have the opportunity to serve humanity as well. I have a loving family. I am healthy and handsome. But if consciousness dissolves with annihilation; if the earth will ultimately become a cold, dead rock; if all of the science, wisdom, and art eventually cease to have meaning because no one will exist to apprehend them; why should I care about life at all? The only reasons I can think of are momentum, an ineffable sense of obligation to my friends and family, and fear of the undiscovered country. There have to be more and better reasons to care about life.

Usually, the question "Why should I care about X?" is asked against the backdrop of many cares that are taken for granted. Often we convince ourselves to care about something by showing that it's a means to getting or sustaining something we antecedently care about. I'd like to hold (but people disagree: see Question 127 ) that there are some things we care about immediately, without the need to have that care mediated by anything else we care about. But either way, if one gets into a state in which one cannot see why one ought to care about anything, life included, well then it's hard to see how to find the materials in that care-less world from which to fashion any kind of care. The theoretical expectation of this difficulty is borne out by examining case histories of the descent into what used to be called "melancholia". For instance, you might appreciate John Stuart Mill's Autobiography , in Chapter V of which he describes his nervous breakdown at the age of 20: he no longer attached...

Can we be right in viewing ourselves -- our lives, our decisions, our contributions to social issues -- as important, if that means important, period, not just important *to* someone? I mean, I'd feel meaningless if what mattered to me mattered only to me, or to any particular people...but is there a sensible way to view ourselves as important, with a capital 'I', to no-one in particular?

The thought that one is important to X won't endow our lives with value unless X itself has some value. (That I'm important to the tiny organisms living on my skin just doesn't make me feel all that important.) If X's value in turn consists in X's being important to Y, then we'd want to know in what Y's value consists. So it seems that nothing will really be important unless we can find something whose value doesn't consist in its being important to something else, that is, unless we can find something that is, as you say, "important, period". God? God's value goes without saying. And so perhaps we're important in virtue of being important to God. (I believe many people feel this.) But this is unsatisfying for two reasons. First, God's judgment is not arbitrary. If God deems us to be important, then that is because we are important . God doesn't make something important by judging it to be important — that would be to view God's judgments of importance as capricious and without...