Nihilism

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Nihilism takes the tenants of Naturalism; that only matter exists, there is no god, and that death is the extinction of individuality and personality, and follows them to their natural conclusions.

 

Perfect Nihilism can be understood as a denial of all worldviews. Nihilists think that the universe, including their own thoughts, lacks any meaning whatsoever. The problem is that at every moment, at every step, Nihilists think (and their thinking has substance) so they cheat on their philosophy.

From meaninglessness, nothing (or anything) follows. If the universe is meaningless, then nothing is immoral, and any course of action is open. One can respond to meaninglessness by any act whatsoever.

 

Yet whenever we set ourselves on a course of action, even putting one foot in front of the other in a haphazard way, we are affirming a goal. We are affirming the value of a course of action, even if to no one but ourselves. Thus we are not living Nihilism, we are creating value through choice.

 

To make matters worse, every time Nihilists think (and trust their thinking) they are inconsistent, for they have denied that thinking is of value or that it can lead to knowledge. At the heart of Nihilism is a self-contradiction. They scream “Life has no meaning!” But that means only that their affirmation is meaningless, for if it were to mean anything it would be false.

 

Paraphrase: Sire, J. (2009) The Universe Next Door. 5th ed. (p. 113) IVP Academic

 

Survey Questions:

 

- What is Prime Reality? What is really real? – Nihilists describe reality as more of a feeling than a philosophy.

 

- What is the Nature of the World? – Nihilists assert that we can have questions about the world, or answers about the world; but not both. Questions and answers are mutually exclusive.

 

- What is a Human Being? - Human beings can be anything they want. But what they want is the result of past states of affairs over which they ultimately had no control.

 

- What Happens at Death? - People pursue knowledge of death that forever recedes before them. We can never know.

 

- Why is it possible to know anything? - It is not possible to know anything; including knowing that it is impossible to know.

 

- How do Nihilists know Right from Wrong? - Both Right and Wrong are absurdities. The imperative is to have something against which to battle. You slip into oblivion when there is nothing left to deny.

 

- What is the Meaning of Human History? - We are the products of an impersonal universe. We exist. There is nothing else.

 

- What personal, core commitments are consistent with your worldview? – The Nihilist worldview is meaningless. One can respond to meaninglessness by any act whatsoever.

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