Nihilism sucks

I do not quite understand why, but the subject of nihilism has hung over me like a shroud in recent months. I realize this will be more deeply personal than intellectual, but I would hate for it sink into the sea of memory before I have the chance to get it off my chest.

I have, at various points, stopped to reflect on the question of why I was born, and sometimes I still do. Why was I born here, at this particular moment in time. In fact, I dare say that it is this moment in time – a period where we seem to be on the cusp of the end of an era, where we’re teetering ever closer to destruction, where some say we might be seeing the last generation of humans that won’t be almost completely immersed by the technological realm – that has made me feel this way the most. Why now, in this seemingly most chaotic of times? And I know that you might say “oh you were here because your dad fucked your mom”, and I mean, it’s not wrong, but it hardly answers anything, and if anything begs the question of why they were born too.

And often times, when I’ve reflected that, it’s accompanied by a different thought – actually, more often than that thought to be honest. The thought of entropy, of demise. Existential terror still creeps up on me. You know what that question people often ask themselves about how what’s the point of doing anything if it’s all going to be gone? I feel a lot of empathy for people who look a universe characterized predominantly by entropy, where we’re all here for a bang in the grand scheme of things and then fade out as though it were nothing, never to know the nothingness that may well await, or perhaps the truth of their fate. I say this because I sometimes feel something like that come over me, and I feel like “there has to be a reason why we go through all this shit”. The more I think about it, the more come to the conclusion that it makes no sense that there isn’t some reason for everything being the way it is is an absurd thing to contemplate, and hence I have trouble with the idea that there’s nothing about life be but born, eat, shit, get screwed over, have sex, have kids and then die for nothing.

When I say that there must be some meaning to the universe that we’re all sort of weaved into, I do not say this out of a conviction that there is a heavenly father watching over me, guiding my movements, judging me for a path that let’s be honest he’s ultimately responsible for me having taken in the first place. Instead, I say this out of the conviction that, in spite of how absurd and chaotic the universe often is, the universe we live in is in fact an ordered body of laws, that can be understood even to a limited extent by humanity through the capacity of his mind and his reason. Through the knowledge derived from this philosophical and empirical inquiry, mankind achieves liberation from bondage in a way that he does not do through faith of any kind. Of course, from an occultnik perspective, you could apply this to the idea that the spiritual realm, the “other side”, or indeed “God’s mysteries” in the sense implied by many classical forms of occultism, can be discovered, understood and systematized by humans. If you’re a nihilist, you believe in nothing and so must reject even this principle as possessing no legitimacy, for under nihilism all things are without any intrinsic meaning or value.

In fact, as I mull over the occasional feelings of existential dread and morbid questing, I feel more and more averse to nihilism. I see it as an empty framework, a childish rejection of all values and all meaning, leaving nothing to progress with, destined only either to give way to a more useful framework , as order can be said to emerge from chaos, or to be the basis of a lifelong quest of negation and perversion driven only by the will to power. The view that there’s nothing of value intrinsic within the universe strikes me as the view of one who is numb to meaning itself, one who can never access meaning, and characteristic perhaps of an existence that becomes more common as capitalism erodes all value that cannot be reduced to commodity. You might even say nihilism is reactionary in a sense, because in many instances it emerges purely in reaction to the death of God as the prime source of meaning and values.

I must stress that for me this has little in practice to do with the God question. An atheist need not be a nihilist, and indeed some theists can be very nihilistic (I’ve seen some young Christians defend the existence of God by insisting that nothing is actually real, not realizing of course that this should mean God isn’t real either). Indeed, for a non-theist seeking to combat nihilism, the mission is invariably to craft the world after God. In fact I believe it to be possible to render nihilism an infantile disorder by dealing with morality as an evolutionary concept, a tool subject to natural selection through its adaptability for the utility of large scale societies in response to emergent conditions.

All in all, the more time I spend alone on the subject, the more I just seem to feel like nihilism in a loose sense comes across pretty absurd, even if you believe the point of life is to get as much pleasure out of it as possible (for surely with nihilism the pleasure itself is meaningless).

3 thoughts on “Nihilism sucks

  1. I got like this recently. Oddly because of science rather than in spite of it. I know 1D-10D theory and that is enough for me to say maybe there’s something more to life, but it being a personal opinion and not a fact is rooted in my ramblings. However, I watched a documentary about a “time room” that contains all possible world, all worlds infinitely. It mathematically checked out.

    After that, I figured there has to be more meaning to this crap, this life we have, because that science is so impossible for me to believe, that I find the idea of the Christian god (I am pagan.) more believable than the time room.

    A smart Nihilist may say that “we apply meaning to life” (personal meaning)but me? I rather say that life is a “gift”, and a rarity. Especially, intelligent life. (Something science has also pointed out.) That maybe there is something more. We just don’t know what it is.

    Likewise, I tend to think that though an objective reason may exist for life as I explained above, I tend to think it’s not a mutual exclusive. There’s many subjective reasons for life, that one could apply. Another thing I tend to think and philosophize is that people have individual objective/subjective reasons and that it isn’t the same across the board for everyone.

    1. I don’t know what “1D-10D theory” is, but to be honest it sounds like you are kind of put off by science and I think that that’s not entirely necessary. In fact, it’s entirely possible to hold to religious faith as a source while rejecting any matrix of reality that could possibly contain meaning (Vedantic idealism and Gnostic Christianity are testaments of that fact in my view). If there’s any meaning at all in this universe, it necessarily comes as part and parcel of the universe and being within it, without needing to go outside of it. In that sense, it makes more sense

      Now this in my view need not conflict with your paganism as such. In fact, strange as it may seem you can find somewhat naturalistic concepts of the divine dating all the way back to the Stoics of Greece, who held that the divine/”God” (which they articulated as Logos) was both an immanent agent in the universe and essentially part of the universe. In fact the Stoics often identified their concept of divine fire with Zeus, who was the leader of the Olympian pantheon (in fact I’d hazard to guess that it’s probably *because* Zeus was the king of Olympus that they chose him for that purpose), which I suppose ties in nicely with the fire being stolen by Prometheus. From there, if the cosmos itself is divine, then we may consider that it is necessarily imbued with purpose.

      But as you say, the only question there is what, and the really painful thing about existential terror is the knowledge that it’s likely we may never have a concrete answer to this. Although it might be said, as Noam Chomsky did in one of his lectures, without limits you often don’t have scope.

      As a side note, a friend of mine told me that, during the 20th century, there were thinkers who were in the business of systematizing a kind of naturalistic take on polytheism, but so far I haven’t found any leads on who they are and what their ideas were. If I find them, perhaps I will apprise you of them.

      1. Oh no no. Quite the contrary! I love science! I even was looking to be an anthropologist.

        I do hold a naturalistic philosophy that is compatible to my paganism, if not, annoying to some pagans, to be honest. (Most of the time I get called the opposite because I am fairly pro-science.)

        I just separate facts from beliefs, is all. My beliefs are not necessarily scientific facts, that’s where I am coming from. So when I talk to people, while I base my opinions of most things on science and rationality, my religious beliefs in say the Goddess aren’t objective “facts” applicable to everyone.

        Thanks for the sentiments though. I’ve been looking into Stoics after their criticisms of Athenians in Greece and of some of Aristotle’s more irrational views. I like their ideas on trying to be natural; i.e. separating the sexes is not adherence to the natural.

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