Ask a nihilist anything!

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I've thought I've seen an 'Ask a (______)' thread on the escapist forums so I've decided to represent probably the most ill written of people in any story - the token nihilist. However, I just wish to clarify this one thing before this train wreck gets started. Being a nihilist bares no relevance to how I act. Believing in the idea that life has no meaning doesn't make angsty or brooding, just pretentious.

lSHaDoW-FoXl:
I've thought I've seen an 'Ask a (______)' thread on the escapist forums so I've decided to represent probably the most ill written of people in any story - the token nihilist. However, I just wish to clarify this one thing before this train wreck gets started. Being a nihilist bares no relevance to how I act. Believing in the idea that life has no meaning doesn't make angsty or brooding, just pretentious.

what do you think of objectivist?

It is meaningless and has no meaning outside of meaningless nothingness. . . AND BLACKNESS!

Nah, I'm just kidding. Well, that's a tough one, actually. I'm not the greatest at forming coherent thoughts, but I'll try my best. It is inarguable that we all hold our own lives with certain value, but I don't think the value we hold our own lives gives it any true worth. I can certainly agree with Ayn Rand on the notion of our own self worth, but outside of that and a few interesting quotes she makes here and there I don't think I can agree with her on anything else. Which is actually kind of hard, because arguing against questionable business ethics while being a nihilist is hitting a brick wall. Logically, I can't argue against anything because my own belief dictates that nothing matters anyway. With that in mind though, I'm against absolutely any form of suffering. Not so much because there is any meaning behind it, but simply because I my self don't wish to suffer - therefor I shouldn't expect it of anyone else.

To clarify both points quickly:

Life has no meaning, but we'll attribute an abstract value to it because, well, death kind of sucks and having nerves certainly makes that part painful. Secondly, that I'm against suffering, despite doing so has no real purpose when we're all going to end up with the same fate anyways. (Well, that's what I think happens, anyway) So, I guess what I'm saying is that there is no meaning behind living or virtually anything we do, but there's no reason to stop living because of it. While we can actually feel, we my swell at least make the most out of it and be as awesome as we can possibly be.

Captcha - Genghis Kahn

Um, what?

I've already learned everything I ever need to know about nihilists.

You describe yourself as a Nihilist and say that life has no meaning.
Well, I think life has no meaning per se, either, but I don't call myself a Nihilist because I think we simply need to create our own meaning. There's not an objective one or one simply given to us.
Do you believe in "making your own meaning" as I do? If so, what makes our positions different? In that sense, can you still be a Nihilist if you think meaning can be created or don't you think in terms of meaning at all?

Skeleon:
You describe yourself as a Nihilist and say that life has no meaning.
Well, I think life has no meaning per se, either, but I don't call myself a Nihilist because I think we simply need to create our own meaning. There's not an objective one or one simply given to us.
Do you believe in "making your own meaning" as I do? If so, what makes our positions different? In that sense, can you still be a Nihilist if you think meaning can be created or don't you think in terms of meaning at all?

I think that the idea of creating meaning in our own lives is kind of self defeating. Technically if we have to give our own lives meaning, then doesn't that kind of imply that there is no meaning before hand, therefor making life meaningless no matter what? The second thing that comes to my mind is the parallel we've got between making our own meaning to life and how the Egyptians would just come up with gods to explain our existence and why. When they came up with all those gods, that never made them true. So likewise, I am very doubtful that we can create meaning within our own lives in an existence that is, well, meaningless. If there is an objective meaning, then there simply cannot be a subjective one behind that. And if there is no objective meaning, then a subjective one will never become true because subjectivity its self is very abstract.

I don't know a whole lot about Nihilism with exception to the core principle behind it, but if I'm correct there exist different forms of Nihilism. I don't consider you a Nihilist simply due to you not considering yourself one , but like I said, I'm not the most learned of it.

P.S - I consider my self a Nihilist if only because I don't believe life has an objective meaning and that any subjective meaning will bring intrinsic value to anything.

What's the point..

Suave Charlie:
What's the point..

Well, a Nihilist such as my self isn't the best person to ask because I can't give a great answer nor one that's uplifting. In my opinion there isn't a point, but we my swell at least be the best person we could be, regardless.

Suave Charlie:
What's the point..

cold brutal reality? its very different for every nihilist, depending on how nihilistic they are. in the end its all personal, some people feel its freeing, some the only logical and rational choice, others for many other possible reasons.

Donuthole:
I've already learned everything I ever need to know about nihilists.

Man, I was coming into this thread with the sole intention of making some crude Lebowski related reference. Looks like someone beat me to the punch.

You claim to believe that life is inherently meaningless. Why do you identify yourself as a nihilist rather than an existentialist?

manic_depressive13:
You claim to believe that life is inherently meaningless. Why do you identify yourself as a nihilist rather than an existentialist?

Are the two mutually exclusive?

Danny Ocean:

manic_depressive13:
You claim to believe that life is inherently meaningless. Why do you identify yourself as a nihilist rather than an existentialist?

Are the two mutually exclusive?

No, but nor are they synonymous. You can believe that life is inherently meaningless without being a nihilist. People just like to say they're nihilists because it's the buzzword of the day for whatever reason.

So, is it the classic Nietzsche form that rejects all external sources of morality but those which might later spring from a secular human passion for self-improvement, or the more modern understanding that (at least objective) "morality" is inherently a meaningless/pointless concept?

My understanding of contemporary nihilism is that it view all "morality" and "values" - objective and subjective - as a simple misleading veil for one's subjective preferences. For instance, a nihilist wouldn't be ever call giving food to a starving child "good", and raping it to death "bad"; merely the result of diverging personal preferences on how to treat others. And while these other preferences might disgust him, make him want the other person to suffer/die etc. etc., he'd never call them immoral, as there is no such thing as morals to begin with.

So, nihilism as the rejection of "morality" by dissolution of it into simple subjective preferences and having the power to see them through. Yes or no?

lSHaDoW-FoXl:
I've thought I've seen an 'Ask a (______)' thread on the escapist forums so I've decided to represent probably the most ill written of people in any story - the token nihilist. However, I just wish to clarify this one thing before this train wreck gets started. Being a nihilist bares no relevance to how I act. Believing in the idea that life has no meaning doesn't make angsty or brooding, just pretentious.

.
What is the meaning of life, the universe and everything?

TheIronRuler:

lSHaDoW-FoXl:
I've thought I've seen an 'Ask a (______)' thread on the escapist forums so I've decided to represent probably the most ill written of people in any story - the token nihilist. However, I just wish to clarify this one thing before this train wreck gets started. Being a nihilist bares no relevance to how I act. Believing in the idea that life has no meaning doesn't make angsty or brooding, just pretentious.

.
What is the meaning of life, the universe and everything?

*Squeel* Otto Von Bismarck!

*Shakes hands* I'm a fan!

Kidding. Well, I'm a nihilist, so I think you already know the answer to that. There is no meaning to life, the universe, and everything. Maybe there is, but for the time being I'm content with simply believing that there simply is no answer nor meaning.

manic_depressive13:

Danny Ocean:

manic_depressive13:
You claim to believe that life is inherently meaningless. Why do you identify yourself as a nihilist rather than an existentialist?

Are the two mutually exclusive?

No, but nor are they synonymous. You can believe that life is inherently meaningless without being a nihilist. People just like to say they're nihilists because it's the buzzword of the day for whatever reason.

Don't forget that Nihilist just sounds a lot more cool. Really though, is there a particular reason why I'd sooner be an existentialist over a nihilist? And oh my, isn't it just a bit ironic that I'm the ones asking the questions now?

lSHaDoW-FoXl:

TheIronRuler:

lSHaDoW-FoXl:
I've thought I've seen an 'Ask a (______)' thread on the escapist forums so I've decided to represent probably the most ill written of people in any story - the token nihilist. However, I just wish to clarify this one thing before this train wreck gets started. Being a nihilist bares no relevance to how I act. Believing in the idea that life has no meaning doesn't make angsty or brooding, just pretentious.

.
What is the meaning of life, the universe and everything?

*Squeel* Otto Von Bismarck!

*Shakes hands* I'm a fan!

Kidding. Well, I'm a nihilist, so I think you already know the answer to that. There is no meaning to life, the universe, and everything. Maybe there is, but for the time being I'm content with simply believing that there simply is no answer nor meaning.

.
I'm sorry, but you're simply wrong. This video will provide the right and objective answer to the question - "What is the meaning of life, the universe and everything?".

So dark and edgy.

lSHaDoW-FoXl:
Technically if we have to give our own lives meaning, then doesn't that kind of imply that there is no meaning before hand, therefor making life meaningless no matter what?

Sure, but why would that matter?
I liken it to owning a car. A car will eventually be outdated, break down, rust through, stop functioning, whatever. Does that mean that the car is worthless now? Just because nothing matters in the end, why would that affect whether something matters now?

If there is an objective meaning, then there simply cannot be a subjective one behind that. And if there is no objective meaning, then a subjective one will never become true because subjectivity its self is very abstract.

I don't care about objective meaning because I'm not an objective entity. I'm personally involved, I am a subjective entity. I care about objectivity in regards to how the outside world is, but this is about my subjective existence and what I mean to make of it. Why would I even want an objective meaning then? It'd only inhibit me, limit my options.

Unlike objective reality which will exist whether I live or die regardless, my subjective meaning will not. Meaning for my life is therefore entirely dependent on my own existence, the question of whether it is "true" or not - a question which definitely applies to how objective reality truly is - therefore makes little sense since it's not quantifiable like objective reality is.

P.S - I consider my self a Nihilist if only because I don't believe life has an objective meaning and that any subjective meaning will bring intrinsic value to anything.

See, that's where I'd disagree. If my subjective meaning in life is to create joy for myself, my family and - if I'm in that kind of position - maybe even the world, then my subjectively adopted meaning has empirical effects on the world around me, at least if I act accordingly. In that sense, I see a lot of value in subjective meaning where there would be none in objective meaning, as that would simply be an external aspect of reality. The fact that it's subjective is what makes it important because it's what we decide to do with our limited existence. There's no actual goal, but that doesn't mean that we can't come up with good ones that will have positive effects. And, yeah, "positive effects" is in itself subjective as well.

Why not commit suicide right now? Why would your death be problematic?

lSHaDoW-FoXl:
Don't forget that Nihilist just sounds a lot more cool. Really though, is there a particular reason why I'd sooner be an existentialist over a nihilist? And oh my, isn't it just a bit ironic that I'm the ones asking the questions now?

Because nothing about your description of yourself sounds particularly nihilistic. Nihilism is a state of existential despair. Believing that things don't have intrinsic value doesn't mean you're a nihilist. It just means you have acknowledged the obvious.

Are you aware that Nhilism is just pre school to Existentialism?

I think most people follow similiar paths of thought to you, they just don't see the point making a big deal about it...

manic_depressive13:

lSHaDoW-FoXl:
Don't forget that Nihilist just sounds a lot more cool. Really though, is there a particular reason why I'd sooner be an existentialist over a nihilist? And oh my, isn't it just a bit ironic that I'm the ones asking the questions now?

Because nothing about your description of yourself sounds particularly nihilistic. Nihilism is a state of existential despair. Believing that things don't have intrinsic value doesn't mean you're a nihilist. It just means you have acknowledged the obvious.

Be careful, you might offend the Christians :o. I'm just kidding. According to the free dictionary:

Existentialism is A philosophy that emphasizes the uniqueness and isolation of the individual experience in a hostile or indifferent universe, regards human existence as unexplainable, and stresses freedom of choice and responsibility for the consequences of one's acts.

I can specifically agree with 'responsibility for the consequences of one's acts' but I still wouldn't really weigh there to be a meaning for such.

According to same site nihilism is:

a. An extreme form of skepticism that denies all existence.

b. A doctrine holding that all values are baseless and that nothing can be known or communicated.

2. Rejection of all distinctions in moral or religious value and a willingness to repudiate all previous theories of morality or religious belief.

3. The belief that destruction of existing political or social institutions is necessary for future improvement.

4. also Nihilism A diffuse, revolutionary movement of mid 19th-century Russia that scorned authority and tradition and believed in reason, materialism, and radical change in society and government through terrorism and assassination.

5. Psychiatry A delusion, experienced in some mental disorders, that the world or one's mind, body, or self does not exist.

1. a complete denial of all established authority and institutions
2. (Philosophy) Philosophy an extreme form of scepticism that systematically rejects all values, belief in existence, the possibility of communication, etc.
3. (Government, Politics & Diplomacy) a revolutionary doctrine of destruction for its own sake
4. (Government, Politics & Diplomacy) the practice or promulgation of terrorism

** ** ** ** **

Don't agree to them all, but never the less I can agree with certain aspects of nihilism. Things like existential nihilism, moral nihilism, and political nihilism quite a bit. And I think I just found something out, that existentialism annoys me just a tad. I've been reading it again and again, and I honestly don't know what it's about. From what I understand it's like Nihilism but more inoffensive and with ADHD.

With exception to the bad reputation which nihilism has, at least it's straight to the point. Life is worth nothing. Our morals are worth nothing. And tradition has no value. And in certain instances, that existence its self doesn't exist. (which I disagree with)Whatever the case, my point is it doesn't waste your time. Existentialism on the other hand, I can't help but feel that it's just a little kid rambling on trying not to offend anyone.

Life has no meaning, but you can make up your own meaning!
Life has no value, but we can give it value!
Life has no worth, we need to have personal responsibility!
We need to have personal responsibility, but we're free to do anything! (complete contradiction to line above)

So, essentially it's 'Life has no meaning - but here's a moral code for you to follow anyway'

Nihilism is existentialism with a nice vanilla flavor.

Life has no meaning. Hmm, delicious. No additives.
Life has no value, and we can't give it value.
Life has no worth
Morality is worth nothing.

It's nice, simple, and cynical. I don't agree to everything that nihilism promotes, but from what I'm reading I agree to it far more than existentialism. I've looked about and not once have I read that it's about 'existential despair'.

I'd like to say a lot more, but I honestly don't have anything else in mind. I guess the most I can end on is that I still consider my self a nihilist, and in spite of what I consider my self and how I view the world I choose not to live under a rock and just wait to die. I just simply accept the idea that life is meaningless, nothing I hold value has value, and ultimately - what I consider to be the biggest difference between existentialism and nihilism - is that I cannot give life meaning when there is no meaning.

Svenparty:
Are you aware that Nhilism is just pre school to Existentialism?

I think most people follow similiar paths of thought to you, they just don't see the point making a big deal about it...

There's seven billion people, so it's certainly no surprise that people transition within their lives. The thing is though, I just don't agree to your logic. Basically what you're saying is equivalent to a republican saying 'I was a liberal when I was your age - there for you'll turn up to be a republican just like me'

Captcha - Burger with fries.

Um, what?

Maybe, but I'm sure those people didn't go through the same experiences as I did, during the same time as I did, at the same age as I did, holding the same values as I did. I'm not saying that I won't change, but I'm saying that at the time being I consider my self a nihilism and for the time being - be it for a short or long time - it's simply what works for me.

And I disagree with what you're saying on existentialism, because for me it's pretty much the other way around. I've probably switched between existentialism and nihilism at least three times by now.

I have one: How old are you?

lSHaDoW-FoXl:
I think that the idea of creating meaning in our own lives is kind of self defeating. Technically if we have to give our own lives meaning, then doesn't that kind of imply that there is no meaning before hand, therefor making life meaningless no matter what?

1) We give our lives meaning.
2) Life had no meaning prior.
In conclusion, life can never have meaning.

I don't get it what you're trying to say here. Isn't the in conflict with the first premise?

lSHaDoW-FoXl:
The second thing that comes to my mind is the parallel we've got between making our own meaning to life and how the Egyptians would just come up with gods to explain our existence and why. When they came up with all those gods, that never made them true. So likewise, I am very doubtful that we can create meaning within our own lives in an existence that is, well, meaningless. If there is an objective meaning, then there simply cannot be a subjective one behind that. And if there is no objective meaning, then a subjective one will never become true because subjectivity its self is very abstract.

Giving meaning to our living revolves around the premise that meaning is itself abstract(unlike, say, a physical, tangible being). If so, what's the problem here?

What the hell? You yourself even seem to describe your stance of Nihilism as a "cool thing" rather than something based on conviction. Are you actively trying not to be taken seriously?

EDIT:

keiskay:
I think your reading to much into his statement that the word nihilist sounds cooler then existentialist.

Eh, maybe, but it certainly doesn't add credibility when he talks like that even himself.

Skeleon:
What the hell? You yourself even seem to describe your stance of Nihilism as a "cool thing" rather than something based on conviction. Are you trying not to be taken seriously?

I think your reading to much into his statement that the word nihilist sounds cooler then existentialist.

lSHaDoW-FoXl:
Snip

How many hours do you spend angstingly brood a day?

Ok, more seriously, why are you a nihilist? What caused you to view life as pointless?

Did you read Lovecraftian fiction?

Not G. Ivingname:

lSHaDoW-FoXl:
Snip

How many hours do you spend angstingly brood a day?

Ok, more seriously, why are you a nihilist? What caused you to view life as pointless?

Did you read Lovecraftian fiction?

I know you're kidding, but to save someone else some time from assuming that I brood - I simply don't. I've never read Lovecraft fiction and I don't really know much of it with exception to Cthulhu. I am a nihilist simply because I can't see it being likely that our lives have meaning, that the world has meaning, and even that the galaxy has meaning. It just is. No lies and false promises and no disappointments.

The second reason why is because I truly believe the galaxy is better off assuming it has no value than any true value. To say it has value is to say that everything within it has different value associated with it: We are essentially judging the worth of other beings/people/objects which exist. By believing that absolutely nothing has value, I believe that absolutely everything is equal.

lSHaDoW-FoXl:
-snip-

Yeah, you're going to get an incredibly simplistic and innaccurate view of nihilism if you pull your definitions from a dictionary. A dictionary is a reference point, not a comprehensive surce of information. Have you read any Kafka, Sartre or Nietzsche? Have you studied philosophy? Do you know what you're talking about? I'm willing to bet the answer to all three of those is "no".

Existentialism maintains that life has no objective value, but we give it subjective value. For example, the universe wouldn't care if your friend/sibling/dog died, but you probably would. Hence, we should take responsibility for our own actions and avoid killing people's friends/siblings/dogs, because even though we may not care about them, their lives have value to someone. The nihilist claims it makes no difference whether someone's loved one is killed. Letting them live is not preferable to killing them. Allowing someone to suffer is not less preferable than helping them. I'm not sure where someone who lives in a first world country, free from persecution, gets off claiming that people's suffering doesn't matter.

manic_depressive13:

lSHaDoW-FoXl:
-snip-

Yeah, you're going to get an incredibly simplistic and innaccurate view of nihilism if you pull your definitions from a dictionary. A dictionary is a reference point, not a comprehensive surce of information. Have you read any Kafka, Sartre or Nietzsche? Have you studied philosophy? Do you know what you're talking about? I'm willing to bet the answer to all three of those is "no".

Existentialism maintains that life has no objective value, but we give it subjective value. For example, the universe wouldn't care if your friend/sibling/dog died, but you probably would. Hence, we should take responsibility for our own actions and avoid killing people's friends/siblings/dogs, because even though we may not care about them, their lives have value to someone. The nihilist claims it makes no difference whether someone's loved one is killed. Letting them live is not preferable to killing them. Allowing someone to suffer is not less preferable than helping them. I'm not sure where someone who lives in a first world country, free from persecution, gets off claiming that people's suffering doesn't matter.

I already covered that existentialism is basically just nihilism with a moral code enforced upon it. And your first three sentences of your second paragraph are basically saying exactly that. It's literally 'life's worth nothing, but you should do this and act this particular way'. Oh, and I'm going to say it - it doesn't make a difference if someone's loved one is killed. Do not mistake a few nerves written on your skin for being more significant than what they actually are. They exist to serve a function, not to make you feel all warm and cuddly. I'm not saying that people aren't allowed to feel sad or that we shouldn't look forward to ending suffering, but I'm saying that it legitimately doesn't matter. What big picture is drawn from a dog dying on the basis that you felt attached to it? Here's the answer: There is none.

'I'm not sure where someone who lives in a first world country, free from persecution, gets off claiming that people's suffering doesn't matter.'

Say that to all the cows that are chopped up every single moment of the day. But here's the real funny part, while I'm being condemned for believing that literally nothing matters I've probably done more than you to actually take steps in ending suffering. Changed my diet and changed my shopping habits. The thing is, I just don't believe that giving anything value - even subjectively - has a reason to exist. It doesn't stop me from looking out to change a things, it just stops me from trying to associate value to things that don't have it. because simply put, subjective value is not valuable.

And finally, just because I'm a nihilist that doesn't mean I have to follow every single opinion that goes along with it. My morality isn't based around completely on one thing. Basically, what you're saying is that since I consider my self a liberal I should automatically subscribe to every single opinion and ideal which the party I'm associated with holds.

Yes, things have subjective value and yes, I think that any form of suffering is fucked up beyond all doubt. But outside of how I feel about an issue that doesn't change it. Letting people live isn't preferable to killing them, and ending suffering isn't preferable to causing it - especially as evident by all the suffering we've been causing both inadvertently and directly. I just don't pretend that we can give our lives meaning with some abstract goal of bettering the world, or that causing suffering is inherently evil when we do it literally all the time.

You seemed to have gotten a bit emotional on my notion that feelings don't matter, so I'll assume that existentialism doesn't believe in objective meaning (just like you said) but it tries to give subjective value meaning. Which, well, it doesn't.

Captcha - Smelling salt

lSHaDoW-FoXl:

The second reason why is because I truly believe the galaxy is better off assuming it has no value than any true value. To say it has value is to say that everything within it has different value associated with it: We are essentially judging the worth of other beings/people/objects which exist. By believing that absolutely nothing has value, I believe that absolutely everything is equal.

Ok, what caused you to become a nihilist. I was wondering what caused you to adopt this line of thinking. Something you read, something you heard that made sense, how you were raised, your own introspection, just what convinced you to be a nihilist.

eh-oh, nini-san!!! tell me tell me tell!.... do you kill hookers, sit in an angsty tower reading french philly and party all night long??? lolz. kthnxbaibai.

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