What's new

Death & The meaninglessness of life.

Jaded Dreams

Active Traveler
Awards
5
To begin, meaninglessness isn't a negative concept - it's neutral. I never really understood why so many people seek it out as if it's absolutely necessary to have. Meaning is an unnatural social construct...an idea, and nothing more.

I think the reason humans believe they have a need for meaning is because we have evolved to understand cause and effect. Understanding cause and effect has helped gain an advantage over other animals in that it helps us to identify patterns over time, understand the causes for occurrences, and enable us to capitalize on those patterns. We actively seek "why" things happen because that's the core of who we are as a species. But, this all breaks down in the face of death and our short time here. We simply can't explain why We are here, especially YOU who is reading this. It's the ultimate "why" question that cannot be answered. Yet so many pursue answers to this question until the day they die and with ultimately nothing to show for it.

The problem is that humans have difficulty dealing with unanswerable questions. Many will adopt a popular belief system (and some make their own up) in order to ignore the unpleasantries of contemplating how absurd it is to exist. My "why" question is "why can't people just try to find a way to deal with reality as it is without these meaningless crutches?" Acceptance is pretty key here.

This leads to probably the most fundamental human problem that most never really think about: the concept of "nothing". The state of non-existence and nothingness is incomprehensible to most people. Imagining space without absolutely any matter inside is angst inducing, just as imagining your own subjective state of non existence is incomprehensible. There is a timeless infinity before you were born and after you die, and so people scramble to find a timeless something while they are alive in order to hide their eyes from the abyss that lies mere moments away on the cosmic timescale.

From my perspective, asking "What is the meaning of life?" or "Why is life so meaningless?" at least philosophically, is like asking whether or not Santa Claus thinks you've been bad or good this year. I'm perfectly fine without objective meaning, because it was never anything to be had. Meaning is a phantom, an illusion...something taught to us, and I prefer to eliminate illusions in my life. Anyone who claims to know the meaning of life is delusional - and anyone who attempts to convince you that any objective meaning exists is simply trying to sell their idea to you, much like I am doing right now. The only difference with me is that I know that it doesn't really matter what you choose to believe.

During the course of my life, I've realized a few important facts that help support this view:

  1. People say and do things as if they will care about the result when they are dead. Leaving a lasting legacy, caring about your grandchildren's future, serving your community, etc. It's pretty normal and "good" to be like that...I'm sure we all appreciate it. But, ultimately, nothing you do ever matters. Whether it's the homeless guy on the street or Elon Musk, nothing will last and none of it will be carved into infinity. When you are dead, you won't care, and the people you affected will die as well and not care. Eventually the planet will be engulfed by the sun, or, if we are lucky enough to evolve to be space faring, the universe will end one way or another. Everything will be erased, including all personal achievements. The great equalizer! So, I do what I need to do in order to be satisfied in life, but beyond that, all else is a waste of time and life. Don't do things that don't give you satisfaction. This is very important for me personally, and for you (maybe), but it doesn't matter in the end.
  2. Either the universe exists on its own and is meaningless or we are in a simulation. Or maybe both. Who knows? "Absolutely no one" is the correct answer. When you find the answer to how you subjectively exist, then you may be able to answer why the universe exists. The universe is this thing that became and now is, and it's mind boggling to think about. I realize that my attempts and latent desire to assign a purpose or creator to my own existence and the universe is just one of the many limitations of my own human mind.
  3. I highly suspect there is no afterlife. There is nothing more tragic than being born into existence only to grow thoughts and reflections on how someday you will stop existing....and then stop existing. That's where religion and "spirituality" come into play. Why can't we try to understand nonexistence instead? One way I can think how to observe and experience a null state is by observing your own blind spot. You stare straight ahead with one eye closed while holding up your index finger on the same side straight out in front of you. Keep staring straight ahead, as you move your finger to the outside towards your peripheral vision, it will pass through an area where it will disappear. This is your blind spot - the one place where nothing exists (at least visually), and your brain does a great job helping you to ignore it. It's not black or dark, it's a manifestation of your brain, where it fills in a blank. You can almost see all those nerves doing all they can to hide that place from you.
  4. Anesthesia is simulated, temporary death. In this state, you have no awareness or memory of anything. It's only oblivion, just like people who are in a vegetative state...their body is alive but they (what makes them them) simply aren't there. It's frightening to think about at first, but over time you get used to it. In August 2020, I had sinus surgery and went under anesthesia, making it a point to really focus on my experience of going under. It wasn't like being "deactivated" and then waking up...it was experiencing null. There was no discernible transition - one minute I'm laying on the table staring at a monitor, and then I sort of re-materialized immediately in another room 2 hours later. But the most important part of the experience is that there is no observable crossing point into nothingness - it was a spectrum of deactivation without the ability to monitor the deactivation. Again, the best way to describe this is with the analogy of your visual blind spot, except you can actually observe the "nothingness" of your blind spot - Anesthesia is fully experiencing it. The descent into nothing is real, and I'm pretty sure that death is an identical experience except with maybe some interesting additional virtual reality that your brain gives you as you fade away. So if your mind consciousness came from nothing and will become nothing, what are you?
  5. "You" are not one thing. You are just a vast set of neural pathways, processes, and stored memories that perform many different tasks both simultaneously and continuously and make who you are. You emerge from those processes (and you have been emerging from these processes since you were born), which is the single greatest thing in all of reality. But if you were to be able to shut off those processes one by one, you would fall to lower levels of consciousness and existence until (quite possibly) you reach a binary simplistic thought state made possible by only a few neural pathways. A series of blips and flashes with the null state in between. This is one area of neuroscience that is ripe for experimentation - the possibility of turning on and off specific parts of the brain that we know perform specific tasks (such as self reflection, risk assessment, meta thinking, goal creation, future state simulation, etc) and then objectively observing AND subjectively experiencing the effects. Surely, any person that goes through this study (and has a strong mind to deal with the realizations afterwards) would be much more informed on not so much "who" they are but "what" they are and "how" they are manifested in their own brain.
  6. Consciousness isn't a thing either - it's a phenomenon. I keep hearing new age people say that the universe is pure consciousness - it's not, because there is no such thing as pure consciousness as I've described above. It's like saying pure sight - the concept makes no sense at all. There are varying degrees of sight, from total blindness to eagle vision. Consciousness is the same.
  7. When you die and stop existing, the universe stops existing for you as well. The universe and the self are one in the same - one cannot exist without the other. "Of course" the universe doesn't really stop, but your experience, ability to contemplate it, and relation to it certainly does. So for all intents and purposes, from your perspective, the universe ends when you die.
  8. ...but it also began when you were born. And there's the twist; from your own subjective perspective and experience, there is nothing before you and nothing after you. You might even consider that you are the eternal being (just you) willing yourself and reality into existence into a reality that seems too simple to be true. You are essentially a god of sorts - the god of your own experience, and no one else's. A "god" who exists, experiences, and then doesn't. You are a god who can be powerless or powerful depending on your circumstances. You lurched into reality somehow, and now here you are. Your entire relationship with reality is you and nothing but you, and you will never know if everyone else you know is experiencing likewise. It's unprovable either way....this reality has plausible deniability integrated at the bedrock of all those unanswerable existential questions - everything is conjecture in the space between our ears.
With all that, what's the point? There is none. None whatsoever. At least not outside of your own experience. And what's wrong with that? Absolutely nothing is wrong. It's been this way all your life, and nothing has changed knowing this. You can give meaning to life if you want to. Although there is null infinity before and after you die, you also have an infinity between your birth and death. Take a minute, divide that in half, and again, and continue doing so to infinity. That's how much time there is in your life. Well, maybe that's not so great at providing solace. But, that's the space where you can make your own meaning and live your life the way you see fit. If you believe in god and experience it in a subjective way, just remember that it's just you. All you.

Do what you want. Work. Or play. Or do nothing at all. Legacy is nothing but a sandcastle waiting for the tide. Live for your life...or live for someone else's. It doesn't really matter. Personally, I generally like life, have had a wide range of experiences, and wish it to continue indefinitely. Accepting non existence doesn't conflict with wanting to live indefinitely - it actually drives the desire for life more. One way to have a chance at extended life is to sign up to be cryopreserved knowing humanity is projected to have technology in the far future to revive you and enable near immortality. - I suggest checking out Alcor or The Cryonics Institute. Those are your only chances for now. The two things you definitely have are the will to make decisions/adapt and the ability to experience. And if you want to take it even farther, reflect upon oblivion....reflect on incomprehensible Null and be at peace with its incomprehensibleness. That most certainly helps me deal with it all. Finding meaning in the universe is nothing but chasing a rainbow. It appears beautiful and inviting, but the more you try to approach it, it will always be out of reach until it - and you - is gone.

So in short - "everything is ever changing in an unpredictable pattern that we try to understand (and may one day wit the advent of AGI understand) but can't and at the event of death it all ceases to matter and mean. The only thing that should subjectively matter to the individual is the present life. "
 
Virtual Cafe Awards

EtymonLegomenon

Well-Known Traveler
Awards
3
"Meaning is an unnatural social construct...an idea, and nothing more."
Unnatural? Where does nature end? The quest to interpret, define significance, and make meaning of things is a genetic, evolved instinct and one that has only been interrogated in the past 180 years or so. And you condescend to "social constructs" like they're nothing - is sanitation nothing? How about religion? Meaning sounds like a lot more than just "an idea."

"We simply can't explain why We are here, especially YOU who is reading this. It's the ultimate "why" question that cannot be answered. Yet so many pursue answers to this question until the day they die and with ultimately nothing to show for it."
Absolute nonsense - it's not clear that people have nothing to show for it (I think almost ANY religion with an explanation for creation would have to disagree with you there!), and most people do NOT question why they exist. It's not a question most people are equipped to grapple with, nor one they are interested in, because they aren't interested in challenging thought. Instead of attempting to answer the question, or any related question of existence, they simply follow everyone else's lead and say something like, "We simply can't explain why We are here."

"My "why" question is "why can't people just try to find a way to deal with reality as it is without these meaningless crutches?" Acceptance is pretty key here."
"Acceptance" is the opposite of "confronting an issue." I see why it's key!

"Anyone who claims to know the meaning of life is delusional - and anyone who attempts to convince you that any objective meaning exists is simply trying to sell their idea to you, much like I am doing right now. The only difference with me is that I know that it doesn't really matter what you choose to believe."
But surely if meaning is constrained within man, it should be entirely plausible to figure out at least some bits and pieces of it? That's not a very skeptical claim. It doesn't follow that, since you can choose to believe anything, it doesn't matter what you believe. If you have any kind of value systems greater than yourself at all - such as "pain is bad" or "procreating is good" - then it greatly matters what you choose to believe, such as whether to brush your teeth twice a day or to pick up women.

"People say and do things as if they will care about the result when they are dead. But, ultimately, nothing you do ever matters."
Then it doesn't make sense not to kill yourself. In fact it's manifestly intellectually dishonest not to. You assume that you are the actor of your decisions - not, for instance, your genes, which WILL, literally, live on after your death, and of whom you are merely an operation.

"Either the universe exists on its own and is meaningless or we are in a simulation. Or maybe both. Who knows? "Absolutely no one" is the correct answer.""
So you ONLY do things when you are CERTAIN about them?

"I highly suspect there is no afterlife."
Meanwhile: a paragraph ago "no one knows anything about the universe!"

"So for all intents and purposes, from your perspective, the universe ends when you die."
Did your parents never tell you "you mean the world to me"? Did you not get it? Was that meaning too meaningless, subjective and socially-constructed for you to get?

"One way to have a chance at extended life is to sign up to be cryopreserved knowing humanity is projected to have technology in the far future to revive you and enable near immortality. - I suggest checking out Alcor or The Cryonics Institute."
ahaha the hypocrisy is unimaginable
"Everything is meaningless, everything is permissible, but life gives me dopaminergic titillation, so you should go to my website WWW dot GetFrozen dot Com, where I sell cryopreservation kits and also Frozen on Blu-Ray and DVD."
 
Virtual Cafe Awards
A

aga

Nihilism is boring.​

meaninglessness isn't a negative concept - it's neutral.
This could be true, but then what? You can call a newly minted dairy, a book; It has almost all the physicals characteristics a book has, and the only difference is one has meaningful words printed on the pages and the other has the empty pages. But a empty dairy is boring and a book, however boring, is more interesting.

Even if objectively Nihilism is the truth of the universe, but it is still too boring
Time passes whether you're bored or engaged. Why not engage yourself in something interesting.

plus, there is no way to become space faring species if we all embrace Nihilism
 

DKKHA

New Traveler
Meaninglessness is also a mental construct, since it's merely an inversion of another mental construct (meaning). If one fails to recognize this, they are bound to cycle through periods of meaning and meaninglessness in their personal life. Letting go of both is the key to balance if one wishes to reduce unnecessary stress.

Actions may not have meaning, but every action definitely has an effect. Even your tiniest actions may send cascading ripples across time and space in such a way that, with enough time, two timelines may look completely different. You smiling and saying hello to a person who looks sad may be the difference in them committing suicide versus continuing to live. In this view, no action is meaningless. A meaningless action would be one that would have no effect. Are there any causes without effects?

As to the question of afterlife, I find the nihilist view more hard to believe. If there was nothing before birth, out of that nothingess somehow came out this sequence of conscious moments that I call my life. If there is nothing after death as well, how come it cannot happen again? To me it makes more sense that if something can happen once, it can happen again. An infinity in such nothingness would feel like an instant, as you felt during your anesthesia. If the subjective passage of time is altered by the degree of perception, then even an infinite period of time with no perception would pass as an instant. Only my self view was born at birth and will die at death, but since the self is just another mental construct, its dissolution does not imply the dissolution of the mind stream. The stream of mind will most likely crawl its way out of nothingness just like it did before birth, in another place and time. An amnesic journey with no discernible beginning or end. In other words, samsara.
 
Last edited:

Jouissaint

Traveler
Awards
1
I think the reason humans believe they have a need for meaning is because we have evolved to understand cause and effect.
I like the argument you make here connecting causality to etiology. I think it's all fine insofar as you stick to the evolutionary usefulness of causal understanding and how that impressions us to see cause-and-effect everywhere (likely thanks to heuristics developed over millennia). But I think you don't quite bridge the gap between the physicalist sense of "What caused X?", whose answer would be something along the lines of "Y physical process did"; and the metaphysical sense of "What caused X?", whose answer would be something along the lines of god or eternal return or something. Lots of people look towards the latter, but why would they necessarily be motivated to do so by causality, which has no obvious metaphysical element irl? To simplify: I agree that humans have evolved to understand cause-and-effect. However, in the world as we know it, the causes we find (at least where we're just observing the world around us and not philosophizing about it) are only physical. I would argue the drive to meaning we humans experience comes less from causality and more a blend of a biological fear of death, a desire to fit into our in-groups and larger society, and even neurological structures which predispose us towards religion.

Meaning is a phantom, an illusion...something taught to us, and I prefer to eliminate illusions in my life.
Have you read Stirner? You sure sound like it! If not, I could not recommend a "philosopher" (and I use that term more loosely than should be possible) more.

At least not outside of your own experience.
Do you believe this sincerely? It seems, from the tone of all your preceding argumentation, more of a bone tossed to those who might respond poorly to what you've said. But I don't mean to analyze your intention, just this line; this month, the Journal of Controversial Ideas published its first volume. I was perusing it today, and an article stuck out to me, whose point is (very coincidentally) related to the current contention. Here's the relevant excerpt of its abstract:

"I further argue that ends lie separate from the acts and enterprises for which they provide a point. Since there can be no end external to one's entire life since one's life includes all of one's ends, leading and living one's life as a whole cannot have a point."

I would agree with this line of thought. Moreso, however, I would be interested to hear your (or others') response to the idea that, since nothing exists beyond the scale of life -- fundamentally, at least so far as we know, consciousness and life are made of the same stuff as anything; consciousness, as you say, is entirely physical (disregarding "qualia" which confuse acquaintance and propositional knowledge in philosophy; more on that here: https://reducing-suffering.org/hard-problem-consciousness/#Phenomenal_experience_as_acquaintance_knowledge); and no "higher plane" can be proven to exist falsifiably -- there can be no end to our life. Even if we endeavor to make one, by nature we're attempting to, from the vantage point of someone who's lived our life, impose meaning on it, which is a classic example of Russell's Paradox.

And you condescend to "social constructs" like they're nothing - is sanitation nothing? How about religion? Meaning sounds like a lot more than just "an idea."
Ideas exist, but not independently of human minds and hands. What ontological value can a thing which 1) cannot assert its own existence by itself and 2) requires actual agents to carry out its designs have? I also recommend you read Stirner, but if you're not interested, here's a breakdown of his ontology, heavily predicated on the self-evident maxim of existence: "Might makes right"; and a formalization of much philosophical taboo.

Absolute nonsense - it's not clear that people have nothing to show for it (I think almost ANY religion with an explanation for creation would have to disagree with you there!), and most people do NOT question why they exist.
I don't think it's provable people have anything "to show for it", if by that you mean "a means of escaping the finality of death as Jaded Dreams would argue it". We simply can't know if one religion happens to be correct and its adherents go to heaven when they die. Still, judging even by the evidence of this life alone, no one does truly have anything to show for their devotion to some dogma which explains their role in creation. Peace of mind isn't valuable in the same way insight into the true nature of the universe would be -- if humans could attain it. Which I don't think they ever have. Also, would you say "sentience", murky a term as it is, implies metacognition? I don't know a philosopher who wouldn't. If you would, then how do you explain how an organism who can think about its own thoughts wouldn't question, even for the briefest moment, why it exists? To metacogitate implies to find patterns in one's own thinking, and if 1) you notice a pattern of fear of death in your thinking, or 2) you notice a predisposition to causality (like Jaded Dreams talked about), or even 3) you notice a shying away from "tough questions" like "Why am I here?", you're on the road to confronting those aforementioned tough questions. Don't tell me you never have.

If you have any kind of value systems greater than yourself at all - such as "pain is bad" or "procreating is good" - then it greatly matters what you choose to believe, such as whether to brush your teeth twice a day or to pick up women.
You're not far off here. Beliefs don't provide higher meaning, but you're right they provide instrumental value, though I get the sense that wasn't your full argument.

Then it doesn't make sense not to kill yourself.
I agree with you here again. However, I (and most humans in existence) have a paralyzing and overwhelming fear of death. Why confront that when you can go through existence, abetted by the amenities of modern life, "on autopilot"? That's surely easier than swallowing the most monumental pill of all time.

Time passes whether you're bored or engaged. Why not engage yourself in something interesting.

plus, there is no way to become space faring species if we all embrace Nihilism
This is basically my personal philosophy. Kudos to you for writing it so pithily, lol!

Letting go of both is the key to balance if one wishes to reduce unnecessary stress.
Are you a Discordian, perchance? That highly reminds me of the Anerisian and Erisian Delusions. Anyway, you're not wrong. There isn't "chaos" or "order" in life, or "meaning" or "non-meaning", just whatever there is -- we call that stuff the void of space, particulate matter, etc. but since induction can never be certain, and solipsism is unfalsifiable, it might as well be anything. Why bother imposing paradigms on that when it doesn't much matter either way?
 
Last edited:
Virtual Cafe Awards

Bioluminescence

Well-Known Traveler
Awards
23
I like the argument you make here connecting causality to etiology. I think it's all fine insofar as you stick to the evolutionary usefulness of causal understanding and how that impressions us to see cause-and-effect everywhere (likely thanks to heuristics developed over millennia). But I think you don't quite bridge the gap between the physicalist sense of "What caused X?", whose answer would be something along the lines of "Y physical process did"; and the metaphysical sense of "What caused X?", whose answer would be something along the lines of god or eternal return or something. Lots of people look towards the latter, but why would they necessarily be motivated to do so by causality, which has no obvious metaphysical element irl? To simplify: I agree that humans have evolved to understand cause-and-effect. However, in the world as we know it, the causes we find (at least where we're just observing the world around us and not philosophizing about it) are only physical. I would argue the drive to meaning we humans experience comes less from causality and more a blend of a biological fear of death, a desire to fit into our in-groups and larger society, and even neurological structures which predispose us towards religion.


Have you read Stirner? You sure sound like it! If not, I could not recommend a "philosopher" (and I use that term more loosely than should be possible) more.


Do you believe this sincerely? It seems, from the tone of all your preceding argumentation, more of a bone tossed to those who might respond poorly to what you've said. But I don't mean to analyze your intention, just this line; this month, the Journal of Controversial Ideas published its first volume. I was perusing it today, and an article stuck out to me, whose point is (very coincidentally) related to the current contention. Here's the relevant excerpt of its abstract:

"I further argue that ends lie separate from the acts and enterprises for which they provide a point. Since there can be no end external to one's entire life since one's life includes all of one's ends, leading and living one's life as a whole cannot have a point."

I would agree with this line of thought. Moreso, however, I would be interested to hear your (or others') response to the idea that, since nothing exists beyond the scale of life -- fundamentally, at least so far as we know, consciousness and life are made of the same stuff as anything; consciousness, as you say, is entirely physical (disregarding "qualia" which confuse acquaintance and propositional knowledge in philosophy; more on that here: https://reducing-suffering.org/hard-problem-consciousness/#Phenomenal_experience_as_acquaintance_knowledge); and no "higher plane" can be proven to exist falsifiably -- there can be no end to our life. Even if we endeavor to make one, by nature we're attempting to, from the vantage point of someone who's lived our life, impose meaning on it, which is a classic example of Russell's Paradox.


Ideas exist, but not independently of human minds and hands. What ontological value can a thing which 1) cannot assert its own existence by itself and 2) requires actual agents to carry out its designs have? I also recommend you read Stirner, but if you're not interested, here's a breakdown of his ontology, heavily predicated on the self-evident maxim of existence: "Might makes right"; and a formalization of much philosophical taboo.


I don't think it's provable people have anything "to show for it", if by that you mean "a means of escaping the finality of death as Jaded Dreams would argue it". We simply can't know if one religion happens to be correct and its adherents go to heaven when they die. Still, judging even by the evidence of this life alone, no one does truly have anything to show for their devotion to some dogma which explains their role in creation. Peace of mind isn't valuable in the same way insight into the true nature of the universe would be -- if humans could attain it. Which I don't think they ever have. Also, would you say "sentience", murky a term as it is, implies metacognition? I don't know a philosopher who wouldn't. If you would, then how do you explain how an organism who can think about its own thoughts wouldn't question, even for the briefest moment, why it exists? To metacogitate implies to find patterns in one's own thinking, and if 1) you notice a pattern of fear of death in your thinking, or 2) you notice a predisposition to causality (like Jaded Dreams talked about), or even 3) you notice a shying away from "tough questions" like "Why am I here?", you're on the road to confronting those aforementioned tough questions. Don't tell me you never have.


You're not far off here. Beliefs don't provide higher meaning, but you're right they provide instrumental value, though I get the sense that wasn't your full argument.


I agree with you here again. However, I (and most humans in existence) have a paralyzing and overwhelming fear of death. Why confront that when you can go through existence, abetted by the amenities of modern life, "on autopilot"? That's surely easier than swallowing the most monumental pill of all time.


This is basically my personal philosophy. Kudos to you for writing it so pithily, lol!


Are you a Discordian, perchance? That highly reminds me of the Anerisian and Erisian Delusions. Anyway, you're not wrong. There isn't "chaos" or "order" in life, or "meaning" or "non-meaning", just whatever there is -- we call that stuff the void of space, particulate matter, etc. but since induction can never be certain, and solipsism is unfalsifiable, it might as well be anything. Why bother imposing paradigms on that when it doesn't much matter either way?
My philosopher-senses are tingling! It's nice to know a philosopher has joined this board, welcome to this wonderful forum!

Nihilism interests me, but for different reasons than the theme of this post. Have you personally encountered a very convincing or profound argument in support of nihilism, be it metaphysical nihilist, ethical, metaphysical, epistemological, ontological, etc?

Also how do you feel about Nietzsche's later writings, namely how convincing do you believe his ideas are at warding off nihilism?
 
Virtual Cafe Awards

Jouissaint

Traveler
Awards
1
My philosopher-senses are tingling! It's nice to know a philosopher has joined this board, welcome to this wonderful forum!

Nihilism interests me, but for different reasons than the theme of this post. Have you personally encountered a very convincing or profound argument in support of nihilism, be it metaphysical nihilist, ethical, metaphysical, epistemological, ontological, etc?

Also how do you feel about Nietzsche's later writings, namely how convincing do you believe his ideas are at warding off nihilism?
Thank you for the kind welcome to this forum! It's only been a short while, but I can already tell this place has a strong sense of community -- as well as some interesting characters. Taking the term "philosopher" as a compliment, let me say thank you, again! You flatter me. Really, most often, I'm regurgitating; more rarely, recombining; and very, very rarely, rejiggering; ideas I've ingested from those more insightful than I. Anyway, I'll try to address your questions to the best of my ability.

Nihilism, as it seems you know, has been argued for in practically every discipline. Sometimes this gets a bit silly: fringe elements asserting that nothing truly exists (pure metaphysical nihilism), and I say "asserting" to denote these elements' extreme confidence in a position humanity may never be able to prove. But maybe I overplay my hand; if it's not clear by now, I don't pretend to be well read on every subject, and I don't pretend to be privy to flashes of genius which lay out the universe neatly before my eyes. I'm a weak agnostic when it comes to religion and a Pyrrhonian skeptic in most other matters; I don't take a position if I haven't been presented a strong logical argument for it. Given that fact, I've only found some nihilistic arguments compelling, though some are interesting as mental exercises -- I suggest looking up the Problem of the Many and mereological nihilism. I'll list the ones that have convinced me below:

Existential nihilism (commonly referred to as existentialism, incorporated into absurdism and the like): I think most people in the modern day and age agree with this one. The universe seems, no matter what humanity does, indifferent to it. It operates according to rigid mathematical rules and it applies these indiscriminately, so far as we know (even accounting for quantum mechanics, which merely attempts to discover and interpret rules at scales where Newtonian physics breaks down (I don't want to get into a philosophy of science tangent here, but I could talk more on it if you're interested)). I've also never been presented any believable evidence that the universe has anything resembling a consciousness, a purpose, etc. The arguments for nihilism here thus rest on appeals to common sense and a track record empty of any serious disproofs. That's more than enough for me.

Epistemological nihilism: like I mentioned before, I consider myself (at least close to) a Pyrrhonian skeptic. Really, I think the best argument for it is so short and sweet you have to look into it yourself.
I have some personal thoughts on the trilemma, but I don't want to overload the thread. As always, feel free to message me personally.

Moral nihilism: again, to anyone reading this thread, I recommend reading Max Stirner. Anyway, he's not integral to the argument here, but I love his work, and I think his disproof of morality (insofar as it's a geist; it wasn't much of a targeted disproof) rivals anything in history. Anyway, morality -- and, for that matter, ethics, its permanent bedfellow -- are self-contradictory and quite obviously convince no one in and of themselves. Why has every society developed a slightly different code of ethics, and inculcated its members with slightly different mores, if objective morality or ethics exists? Why is killing in self-defense permissible, but killing in cold blood not? I view morality and ethics together as means for societies to maintain cohesion, and for humans to avoid the uncomfortable feelings wrought in our reptilian brain by evolutionarily harmful behaviors -- murder gets you excommunicated from the tribe, or targeted by those who knew the victim; stealing sows distrust in the community; being too selfish makes you a pariah and impoverishes the local ecosystem; etc. Seen this way, the eccentricities of our moral-ethical systems become clear. Further, arguments like the axiological impossibility theorem (I highly suggest looking this up too!) make much more sense.

I would say that's probably it. Hopefully everything I've said makes sense, but if not, let me know. Moving on to Nietzsche...first, let me apologize. I really haven't read enough Nietzsche, in my opinion, even though I've been moaning about the fact for a while now. I'll just go off of what I know well enough to have some confidence in.

namely how convincing do you believe his ideas are at warding off nihilism?
This is an interesting question. I'm not alone in thinking this, but Nietzsche comes off to me as a reluctant nihilist, like so many modern individuals raised in our anomic world. He wants there to be meaning in life, but recognizes that the universe is bereft of meaning -- and that his peers are engaging in hollow rituals as a means of distracting themselves from the horrible truth! Cue the dramatic music. As a sort of antidote, or at least prescription to more productively engage with the nihilism inherent to our reality, he recommends we embark on a personal journey to become übermenschen and develop our own values, independent of society and creation. I'd say that kind of project is inspiring, though we return to my objections further up in the thread about how any purpose we create for ourselves will necessarily be insufficient to cover our entire life. Nietzsche, from what I can tell, doesn't discuss the implications of such an idea very much, though I recall much of his work actually being about re-evaluating Christian influences in secular value systems. Digression aside, I think the übermensch framework is an important one for self-development, though I've personally integrated it into my own horrific mishmash of Daoism, dialectical egoism, and various other influences as a sort of method by which I can self-improve metacognitively (that is: without bouncing my ideas off of other people). I would say it works best that way. It's sort of ironic, given that Nietzsche helped donate to my own personal philosophy...maybe that's the real goal of his work? I'm not sure.
 
Last edited:
Virtual Cafe Awards

piemomxo

New Traveler
The problem is that humans have difficulty dealing with unanswerable questions. Many will adopt a popular belief system (and some make their own up) in order to ignore the unpleasantries of contemplating how absurd it is to exist. My "why" question is "why can't people just try to find a way to deal with reality as it is without these meaningless crutches?" Acceptance is pretty key here.

This leads to probably the most fundamental human problem that most never really think about: the concept of "nothing". The state of non-existence and nothingness is incomprehensible to most people. Imagining space without absolutely any matter inside is angst inducing, just as imagining your own subjective state of non existence is incomprehensible. There is a timeless infinity before you were born and after you die, and so people scramble to find a timeless something while they are alive in order to hide their eyes from the abyss that lies mere moments away on the cosmic timescale.
Have you heard of Camus' idea of Absurdism? While a bit derivative of Nietzsche, absurdism is all about injecting your own self worth and meaning into the idea that life is meaningless in itself. The existence of what is inherently human is inherently ridiculous, so why care if your being is worthless? When one accepts that life in general is very absurd, it can be quite freeing.
A little more hopeful than nihilism if that makes any sense :)
I would recommend you read 'The Myth of Sisyphus' by Camus, he explains it much better than I ever could.
This video is also especially enlightening, if you don't want to read (understandable, because books are for nerds.)
View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=35s4-3T5dJY&t=434s
 

Shi_dawg

Vaporwave's #1 Dumb Fuck
Awards
5
tl;dr

I think life's meaning is the meaning we give it. its as simple as that. what we like to do, our relationships, our story and legacy, thats our purpose. we'll find out the end goal when we get there.
 
Virtual Cafe Awards
Macintosh Cafe.FM
Help Users
  • No one is chatting at the moment.
    TribalNightmares: a cow is stinky