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How to be a nihilist?

 
 
Reply Wed 12 Nov, 2008 09:13 am
I was reading through some past threads about nihilism and I've always been facinated with the concept. Taking a quote from an earlier thread (which was taken from a dictionary)-

"Nihilism is the belief that all values are baseless and that nothing can be known or communicated. It is often associated with extreme pessimism and a radical skepticism that condemns existence. A true nihilist would believe in nothing, have no loyalties, and no purpose other than, perhaps, an impulse to destroy. While few philosophers would claim to be nihilists, nihilism is most often associated with Friedrich Nietzsche who argued that its corrosive effects would eventually destroy all moral, religious, and metaphysical convictions and precipitate the greatest crisis in human history."

The questions I have are-

Why can't a nihilist be pessimistic and skeptical about existance but still lead a life with morals and principals (just to coexist with society)?

Why do they have to have an impulse to destroy? Just because in their view life has no meaning or value doesn't mean they would have an impulse to destroy. Why not have an impulse to create? (to pass the time)

It makes some sense to me that a lot can not be known or communicated, can a nihilist live among society and be a productive member?

Let me know what you think! I'm still wresting with the concept and it seems like great discussion material.:a-ok:
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Mr Fight the Power
 
  1  
Reply Wed 12 Nov, 2008 09:59 am
@The Dude phil,
The Dude wrote:
I was reading through some past threads about nihilism and I've always been facinated with the concept. Taking a quote from an earlier thread (which was taken from a dictionary)-

"Nihilism is the belief that all values are baseless and that nothing can be known or communicated. It is often associated with extreme pessimism and a radical skepticism that condemns existence. A true nihilist would believe in nothing, have no loyalties, and no purpose other than, perhaps, an impulse to destroy. While few philosophers would claim to be nihilists, nihilism is most often associated with Friedrich Nietzsche who argued that its corrosive effects would eventually destroy all moral, religious, and metaphysical convictions and precipitate the greatest crisis in human history."

The questions I have are-

Why can't a nihilist be pessimistic and skeptical about existance but still lead a life with morals and principals (just to coexist with society)?

Why do they have to have an impulse to destroy? Just because in their view life has no meaning or value doesn't mean they would have an impulse to destroy. Why not have an impulse to create? (to pass the time)

It makes some sense to me that a lot can not be known or communicated, can a nihilist live among society and be a productive member?

Let me know what you think! I'm still wresting with the concept and it seems like great discussion material.:a-ok:


Am I wrong here, but didn't that Nietzsche take that crisis to be necessary and good?

If I am right, all of those who most embodied nihilism generally felt that nihilism, the understanding that we are buried under mounds of nonsensical norms and values, was necessary for real creation.

Nihilism is analogous with clearing land in order to build a home.
The Dude phil
 
  1  
Reply Wed 12 Nov, 2008 10:43 am
@The Dude phil,
I never looked at it that way. Thats a very good interpretation. I was reading that statement and taking it for face value.

If that is the case, why aren't people warming up to nihilists? That analogy makes sense but nihilism still seems to get a bad reputation and gets related to laziness and sin.
jgweed
 
  1  
Reply Wed 12 Nov, 2008 10:44 am
@The Dude phil,
Nietzsche understood the crises to be real and a result of history, and realised that the adoption of Nihilism had two possible outcomes. Extreme relativism and criticism could result in a liberation of mankind to accept the necessity and responsibility of creating their own values, or to become diseased to the point of destroying everything and all values: in his words, Rather than be devoid of values, they would value the void.

To answer one question, it is certainly possible to be skeptical, even pessimistic, and to reject absolute values and truth, yet not be a destructive nihilist. Sartre's ethics, for example, rejects any absolute justification, but argues for an authentic existence in which the Self chooses his values and accepts responsibility for the consequences of his actions.

I should also point out that Nietzsche was a significant contributor to Nihilist thinking in that he questioned commonly assumed beliefs and prejudices of philosophers ("how to philosophise with a hammer") and he was aware of that, but was very far from being a Nihilist himself---just the opposite, as a matter of fact.
xris
 
  1  
Reply Wed 12 Nov, 2008 10:50 am
@jgweed,
It sounds like anarchy verging on lunacy for rebel philosophers..
0 Replies
 
Mr Fight the Power
 
  1  
Reply Wed 12 Nov, 2008 11:35 am
@The Dude phil,
The Dude wrote:
I never looked at it that way. Thats a very good interpretation. I was reading that statement and taking it for face value.

If that is the case, why aren't people warming up to nihilists? That analogy makes sense but nihilism still seems to get a bad reputation and gets related to laziness and sin.


Mainly because those that are labeled nihilists are generally opposed to the critical values of those who are doing the labeling.

I don't think nihilism is a possible position to hold. I don't know how anyone actually denies all values. I do like the nihilistic temperament of questioning or rejecting all values that one can possibly reject.
OctoberMist
 
  1  
Reply Wed 12 Nov, 2008 08:44 pm
@Mr Fight the Power,
Mr. Fight the Power said:

Quote:

I don't think nihilism is a possible position to hold. I don't know how anyone actually denies all values.


I agree and it also seems that Nihilism is a self-contradictory premise: if one believes in Nihilism, then one is not truly a Nihilist. Right? Very Happy
0 Replies
 
Pangloss
 
  1  
Reply Wed 12 Nov, 2008 10:10 pm
@The Dude phil,
When I think of this hypothetical nihilist, a person comes to mind who is in a state of perpetual stupor or drunkenness. This seems like the mindset that would be required for someone to uniformly reject all principles.

An incredibly "drunk" person would not contradict himself being a nihilist, because he would not realize he is a nihilist, nor would he realize the possible existence of values that he is rejecting; it would be his natural state of existence, stumbling around in the void, knowing and caring to know nothing more than what he sees in front of him, valuing nothing. His very existence would thus be a rejection of all values, because as far as those around him can tell, he is governed by no values. In his own mind, "values" do not exist.

This may or may not be a good comparison, depending on your definition of nihilism. But it is what comes to my mind...
0 Replies
 
boagie
 
  1  
Reply Wed 12 Nov, 2008 10:12 pm
@The Dude phil,
Hay Dude!Smile

Yes I think someone has been playful, no one would idenitfy with the defination above unless they just wanted attention. To me the essence, and benifit of nihilism is in realizing that the physcial world is indeed without meaning period, it is without meaning in the absence of a subject which through the subjects biological experience of the physcial world and its feelings about that experience, the subject then bestows meaning on a passive world. Nihilism can be benifical, it can show us that as individuals we must create the meaning in our own lives, because ultimately that is the only way it happens. People get all excited about nihilism as defined above, it just silly. I think I am a nihilist because I know that it is up to me to bestow meaning and value to the things around me. I am the creator, I said there would be light, and there was light, and it was good, and it was good that it was good, and I stomped on that f---ing talking snake.
Pangloss
 
  1  
Reply Wed 12 Nov, 2008 10:24 pm
@boagie,
boagie;33097 wrote:
Hay Dude!Smile
Yes I think someone has been playful, no one would idenitfy with the defination above unless they just wanted attention. To me the essence, and benifit of nihilism is in realizing that the physcial world is indeed without meaning period, it is without meaning in the absence of a subject which through the subjects biological experience of the physcial world and its feelings about that experience, the subject then bestows meaning on a passive world. Nihilism can be benifical, it can show us that as individuals we must create the meaning in their own lives, because ultimately that is the only way it happens. People get all excited about nihilism as defined above, it just silly, I think I am a nihilist because I know that it is up to me to bestow meaning and value to the things around me. I am the creator, I said there would be light, and there was light, and it was good, and it was good that it was good, and I stomped on that f---ing talking snake.


Alright...except your "definition" is not Nihilism. As defined, Nihilism rejects all values. You are not a nihilist if you value your ability to "bestow meaning and value" upon things around you. The concept of Nihilism is "silly". The philosophy you just mentioned sounds like some type of self-empowerment program that you might read about in a book like "The Secret", where things become meaningful because you will them to become meaningful. :Not-Impressed:
Holiday20310401
 
  1  
Reply Wed 12 Nov, 2008 10:29 pm
@boagie,
Is that what nihilism is?! Wow! Surprised And the whole time I had for some reason thought it to be the belief in rituals to promote the mercy of the Gods and their love among the people, like some crazy paganistic extreme religion. :brickwall:Laughing

Now whenever my evangelical mom tells me anything is possible, well I'll tell her... trying reconciling fundamentalism with nihilism.
0 Replies
 
boagie
 
  1  
Reply Wed 12 Nov, 2008 10:31 pm
@Pangloss,
Pangloss,Smile

Well, if the physical world is indeed without meaning, and meaning can only be bestowed upon the world by a conscious subject, I think in realizing that, it is therapeutic. Children show know this at a very early age.
Holiday20310401
 
  1  
Reply Wed 12 Nov, 2008 10:34 pm
@boagie,
boagie wrote:
Pangloss,Smile

Well, if the physical world is indeed without meaning, and meaning can only be bestowed upon the world by a conscious subject, I think in realizing that, it is therapeutic. Children show know this at a very early age.


I agree. It might prevent depression, and stop the trend of kids playing video games 24/7. Would you recommend nihilism to a bipolar, or is there really any kinda "commitment"?
boagie
 
  1  
Reply Wed 12 Nov, 2008 10:48 pm
@Holiday20310401,
Holiday20310401 wrote:
I agree. It might prevent depression, and stop the trend of kids playing video games 24/7. Would you recommend nihilism to a bipolar, or is there really any kinda "commitment"?


Holiday,Smile

Well, I think we must be careful and not let people get the wrong impression, Pangloss said that my outlook was not nihilism, and he is correct, if one goes by the destructive defination used in the previous post. If one knows that one is the creator, giving value and meaning to the world around you, is it not better than thinking that it is something that must be chased down and captured, or that it is just a matter of happenstance------luck. No it is to give one a stability in the world of samsara--the whirl-wind, I do not have to chase anything, I can create what I want, giving meaning and value is what I do best. Oh the bipolar thing, well, I believe that is due to a chemical embalance is it not, but, chemical embalance or no, one is better off realizing that this control of the world lies in their own hands, a healthy realization under any circumstance, one is less the victum so to speak.
0 Replies
 
OctoberMist
 
  1  
Reply Wed 12 Nov, 2008 10:52 pm
@boagie,
boagie said:

Quote:

Well, if the physical world is indeed without meaning, and meaning can only be bestowed upon the world by a conscious subject, I think in realizing that, it is therapeutic.


That sounds more like Existentialism than Nihilism.
boagie
 
  1  
Reply Wed 12 Nov, 2008 11:14 pm
@OctoberMist,
OctoberMist wrote:
boagie said:



That sounds more like Existentialism than Nihilism.



OctoberMist,Smile

You may be right, I am not real well versed in existentialism, but it is a nihilistic realizatin is it not, certainly it is the only place I had come across this realization. Another thng nihilistic realization can do for you, is to make you realize that this is a relational world, with a nihilistic realization the only thing left standing is the fact of the basis of all reality is the relation between subject and object.
0 Replies
 
jgweed
 
  1  
Reply Thu 13 Nov, 2008 07:26 am
@The Dude phil,
Nihilism is a descriptive term. I don't think anyone wakes up one morning and says, "I have decided to be a Nihilist."
boagie
 
  1  
Reply Thu 13 Nov, 2008 09:20 am
@jgweed,
jgweed wrote:
Nihilism is a descriptive term. I don't think anyone wakes up one morning and says, "I have decided to be a Nihilist."


Jgweed,Smile

:)One has to question as to why anyone would adopt a label that defines them as a negative, distructive and disturbing force in the world. I do believe nihilism has aspects about reality to teach us, these aspects are as a boon to us if we do not fail to fully appreciate them. They teach us that it is we who are the creators, giving meaning and value to the world. It teaches us that the essence of reality itself is relational, so, in creating a meaningful life, one needs to nurish the meaningful, valueble relations we have created, if they are to substain us through our lives--------not bad for a supposed negative philosophy.


"Nietzsche understood the crises to be real and a result of history, and realised that the adoption of Nihilism had two possible outcomes. Extreme relativism and criticism could result in a liberation of mankind to accept the necessity and responsibility of creating their own values, or to become diseased to the point of destroying everything and all values: in his words, Rather than be devoid of values, they would value the void." Jgweed quote


:)These are both very true, but, they are already true at the voicing of concern, that man is creator is apparent, what he is stating is that when it becomes consious knowledge to the majority of the population then self-distruction is possiable. I do not agree, I think it an evolutionary step to realize your own creative potential in the world, meaning and value are not accidential, or handed down from some imaginary friend in the cloudy executive flat.
0 Replies
 
Deftil
 
  1  
Reply Fri 14 Nov, 2008 08:53 am
@The Dude phil,
Considering that this is a thread about nihilism started by someone named The Dude I feel obligated to say "We believe in nussing. We cut off your johnson."
0 Replies
 
Dave Allen
 
  1  
Reply Fri 14 Nov, 2008 09:16 am
@The Dude phil,
One of my favourite authors is BS Johnson who, when asked to sum up his credos for a television show admitted that he thought "everything is just chaos really, but even if it is just chaos why not celebrate the chaos, after all there is still love and there is still humour" (I might be paraphrasing here).

I always felt, perhaps incorrectly, that that was a rather lovely way to look at nihilism, and managed to shoot it through with some positivity despite facing up to it's somewhat austere mindset.

Mind you, BS Johnson did kill himself shortly after making the remark, so it's probably not as lovely and positive a way of looking at the world as I think, but I still reckon it's a great line.
 

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