Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Why I'm a Nihilist

(Just so you know, I wrote about this before, so you might be reading the same things again.)


1. Words you might need to know

Objectively -- Thinking of something without being influenced or biased by the human mind.

Subjectively -- Thinking of something and being influenced or biased by the human mind.

For example, if we lived 10,000 years ago, we'd look around us and the Earth would look flat. The sky would look like a big dome. Subjectively, the Earth is flat. Objectively, however, the Earth is still round, despite what we think.

2. What is Nihilism?

Nihilism can be broken up into several subcategories, but I'll be focusing on the two that aren't borderline New Age: Moral nihilism and existential nihilism.

Existential nihilism is the belief that nothing has any inherent value, meaning, or purpose.

Moral nihilism is the belief that, objectively, no action is preferable to another. Helping that old lady cross the street and eating kittens are not inherently good or bad.

(I know you might be thinking "lock this guy up; he's a monster!", but give me a few more paragraphs to really explain my position.)

3. Why do I believe it?

Existential nihilism

From my other article on nihilism:

Imagine that you're playing poker and you happen to get these five cards:

A♠ K♠ Q♠ J♠ 10♠

You, of course, put on your stoic poker-face and deftly win the whole game. You toss those five cards on the table, rip your shirt in half, make a bunch of primitive, caveman-esque grunting sounds and buy yourself a dozen cars, and maybe a house or two.

If you showed those cards to someone who's never played poker before, instead of to the people you were playing against, you'd be forced to repeat "really?! you don't get it?" about a dozen times before you walked away, wishing you could find someone who understood how awesome that hand was.


Objectively, those cards are just pieces of paper, but they subjectively have value. It makes sense that everything just is, and that we, the human observers, are pretending things have value.

There you go. Everything is meaningless!

"Meaningless", of course, is a very negative word, but it shouldn't be. Everything simply is. It has no meaning, either good meaning or bad meaning. It just is, and we subjectively assign value and meaning to things.

Moral nihilism

Naturally, we don't want to die. We don't want someone killing us. We don't like death in general. Subjectively, killing is a very, very despicable thing to do.

But is it despicable to pull the batteries out of your wristwatch?

Objectively, the only difference between a wristwatch and a human being is the complexity. A wristwatch stops working when you pull the batteries out, a human stops working when you pull any number of vital organs out, but, objectively, killing is neither right or wrong... it just is.

Why don't I just kill people, then? [Pending hyperlink to an article I haven't written yet]

4. Why do people typically oppose Nihilism?

"God is the originator of morals. To say there isn't an objective Right and Wrong is to say God doesn't exist!"


Demonstrate God exists and I'll be happy to agree to an absolute Right and Wrong.

"Why don't you just kill yourself, then, if you think life is meaningless?"


Life just is. It inherently has neither positive nor negative value. Everyone assumes "meaningless" implies reprehensibility, but it doesn't; it's simply a statement of neutral value.

But, to answer the question, I don't kill myself because I, against all objective reason, logic, and rational thought, love being alive and don't want to die.

"You're a music major! Isn't that hypocritical of you to be a nihilist and pursue a career in the arts?"


I guess it is. Objectively, music may be just a bunch of vibrations, but that doesn't mean I can't subjectively find it extremely moving, affecting, and beautiful.



5. What will it take to change my mind?

It's easy to demonstrate subjective value -- I'm a musician, after all, and I get intense emotional pleasure, meaning, and value from playing music -- but it's extremely difficult to demonstrate objective value. In order for things to have objective meaning, I think the only way you could do it would be to demonstrate that there is a God who gave everything inherent value and meaning.

Again, I can't think of anything else that would disprove the nihilist view, but that doesn't mean there isn't something out there.

1 comment:

  1. the thoughts that i've been having for sometime...thought i would share.

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    without the imaginary, reality cannot exist.
    without the reality, imaginary cannot exist.

    now i understand this may sound absurd, crazy even. and possibly downright insane.
    but hear me out.

    we understand the current dimension because it has testable properties based on certain laws. this we know because of observable and analyzable patterns.

    but do we know why?

    eventually the universe will get so minute and yet so expansive that we will never be able to test it all nor know the origins. well, to a certain extent.

    think of it as a simple mathematical example. yes, math, but very simple math.
    imagine an exponential curve. now apply that to real knowledge. the concept of what this dimension, universe, reality is will elude us to some degree. because our concept of reality is finite. we get ever closer to [truth = 0] but we never ever reach it. because it is not so much a curve but a convex or concave curve. i'll explain that bit a further down.

    now if you think about the imaginary world. it is infinite. of this exists in our minds. but we never think of it as a reality. the best example of this imaginary dimension is virtual reality. in this imaginary reality anything can exist.

    imaginary [i = √-1 i2 = -1 i3 = -√-1 *i4 = 1* i5 = √-1 ...etc]

    now when we think of a god. or at least i think of it. this reality is its imagination. energy is what it uses to create this realm. think of it as imaginary energy, yet it bound by math. because can both be real and imaginary.

    and god for that matter is [absolute knowledge = 0 = truth]
    at least in its own realm.

    but now imagine that we, humanity, created a realm based on math yet it is imaginary. this would be virtual reality. derived from our imagination based in math. in our own way, have we become some god-like? at least in the idea of creating a reality or multiple realities in which we could set the laws of that universe or multiverses and/or manipulate them. and eventually give rise to sentient life. in that case, artificial intelligence.

    what reality would that give rise to?
    and does god use the same principles?
    is it ludicrous to think that god is math?

    the truth is somewhere in the middle.

    http://www.ethanwiner.com/ModProp1.gif

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    originally posted on FB.

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    hopefully this does not mean i'm crazy...lol

    also i am studying to become a psychologist & consider myself a mathematical philosopher. i'm not really big on math, yet based more in its logic.

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