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Nihilism vs Existentialism

Discussion in 'Philosophy' started by SomeRandom, Jul 8, 2020.

  1. SomeRandom

    SomeRandom Still learning to be wise

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    Can we have a battle of the pontificating philosophies about existence?

    I only really know of Nihilism through shows like Bojack Horseman but it seems rather bleak to me. Existentialism is seemingly more optimistic, to me. Or at least seems to take on the revelation of a lack of meaning of life/universe with a “challenge accepted” attitude.

    What are the virtues and faults of these two?
    Which camp would you fall into?
    Bonus question, any favourite philosopher quotes?
     
  2. Power Stone

    Power Stone Unknown Member

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    Nihilism isn't my cup of tea.
    Making rational decisions through existentialism sounds o.k.
     
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  3. Shadow Wolf

    Shadow Wolf Rival's Wife

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    Nihilist - the "life is meaningless and without purpose" thinking that many thought Nietzsche promoted.
    Existentialism - the philosophy of grabbing life by the horns and holding on for the ride and thrills and accepting the goring at the end as a part that comes along with the territory of living because that is a good life sort of philosophy Nietzsche did promote (though probably more Hunter S Thompson in imagery - Nietzsche was would have been more dance until your knees ache and play music until your fingers give out).
     
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  4. MonkeyFire

    MonkeyFire Well-Known Member

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    The great conflict is whether or not non-violence a nihilist or are double negatives like compassion truly a positive thing and not a anti-christ.
     
  5. Shadow Wolf

    Shadow Wolf Rival's Wife

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    Violence and anti-Christs have nothing to do with existentialism or nihilism. Other than both criticize Christianity, and really such religions are the real nihilism, giving one's life and potential for the hallucinations of ancient people with psychotic disorders and hallucinations.
     
  6. VoidoftheSun

    VoidoftheSun Necessary Heretical, Fundamentally Orthodox

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    I think there is an irony that modern Nihilism itself came out of Christianity, which itself is already Nihilistic.
    While I'll leave why I see Christianity itself overall as Nihilistic out of the picture, I will say that it's view of the material world definitely is - and falls in line with Mazdakite, Sethian and Manichean views on the same thing.
    Aka the world is so terrible and meaningless, led by the Demiurge/Satan, flesh is evil, yada yada.
    Modern Nihilism skips all the steps with the afterlife and basically holds up the rest of the cosmology.
     
  7. VoidoftheSun

    VoidoftheSun Necessary Heretical, Fundamentally Orthodox

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    Though the Epicureans were really some of the first true "nihilists" though they were of a very very different nature and style to the modern post-Enlightenment Atheistic Nihilists.
     
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  8. MonkeyFire

    MonkeyFire Well-Known Member

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    Nihilism is a nature.
     
  9. Shadow Wolf

    Shadow Wolf Rival's Wife

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    Not unless you concede that nature itself is nihilist.
     
  10. MonkeyFire

    MonkeyFire Well-Known Member

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    It doesn't have to be a nature but you wouldn't understand unless you believe. You should only be positive, and perfect "all things."
     
  11. Shadow Wolf

    Shadow Wolf Rival's Wife

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    I used to believe. That understanding didnt *poof* away and magically vanish.
     
  12. MonkeyFire

    MonkeyFire Well-Known Member

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    The dead in Christ will rise first
     
  13. Shadow Wolf

    Shadow Wolf Rival's Wife

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    That means nothing to a non-believer. Its your faith, your religion, your beliefs. Nothing more.
     
  14. MonkeyFire

    MonkeyFire Well-Known Member

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    Faith is truth, truth is knowledge. God doesnt need science He just wants to be your friend.
     
  15. Shadow Wolf

    Shadow Wolf Rival's Wife

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    Faith is faith.
    And your god doesn't want to be my friend. He wants me dead.
     
  16. Tambourine

    Tambourine Well-Known Member

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    Nihilism isn't really a coherent philosophy, in my opinion. As far as I see it, calling yourself Nihilist is effectively a declaration that you don't actually want to think about what you're doing, or why.


    Existentialism bases itself on the premise of a fundamentally nihilistic universe - there is no intrinsic meaning, no Divine Plan, nothing that would ultimately reveal itself as having a point. Instead, all meaning derives from the individual. To an existentialist, our life does not have meaning because of some objective or external value system that validates it, but because we ourselves give meaning to our life - even the search for meaning is already an existentialist value that affirms life.

    I think one of the greatest strengths, but arguably also one of the biggest weaknesses, of Existentialist philosophies is how they center on the individual and the ethics of choice and responsibility. I find little more empowering than e.g. Camus' declaration that we must forge our own life goals inside an uncaring universe, that we "must imagine Sisyphus a happy man".

    The drawback to this point of view is that its hyper-focus on the individual and its choices neglects the social component that creates individuals in the first place, that shapes our decisionmaking and our beliefs in which choices are better or worse than the others.

    As a philosophy of life, I find Existentialism an immensely empowering one, but it is not something that would give much comfort in times of emotional hardship.

    Indeed, one of the centerpieces of Kierkegaard's existentialism, for example, is that the freedom of choice that an existentialist individuum faces is reason for deep fear and despair that can only be resolved by giving oneself to a divine entity.
     
    #16 Tambourine, Jul 9, 2020
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2020
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  17. Shadow Wolf

    Shadow Wolf Rival's Wife

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    That I dont accept. One need not give themselves to a divine entity to ease that anxiety, and indeed some religions and religious have taught there is no afterlife. And for some, the thought of facing a god after death deeply terrifies them.
     
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  18. Tambourine

    Tambourine Well-Known Member

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    I actually find Kierkegaard's reasoning in this context rather compelling, even if I do not share it.
    The existential despair he claims individuals face is one of being torn between choices, which he simplifies into a decision between egoism (i.e. selfish goals) and moralism (i.e. community or socially focused goals), a duality which cannot be resolved because every decision can only ever be made once.

    The only way to not be conflicted in such way would be to sidestep that conflict altogether - by, essentially, moving beyond the rational state of mind, into one that does not follow rational reasoning alone, and therefore is no longer torn between these conflicting choices of rational individuals.

    So, religion, to him, is a viable choice because it is fundamentally not rational - a non-choice to any rationally thinking individual. I like this reasoning because it acknowledges that in reality, there is no compelling rational reason to be religious, but that this does not change the value (or lack thereof, if you will) of a religious life, as that one follows its own logic that cannot be pierced by rational thinking.

    Your mileage may vary, of course.
     
  19. Shadow Wolf

    Shadow Wolf Rival's Wife

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    Those are basically the reasons I quit believing. I had no rational reason to continue believing in any of it (my response to death).
    And I vehemently disagree with any position that posits religion as a means or prerequisite for morality. If you need religion to teach you how to be a moral person, you're probably not a moral person to begin with. This includes deciding individual wants and desires and weighing them against the collective need. Utilitarianism and communitarianism are two philosophies that do such a thing without appeals to higher powers.
     
  20. Shadow Wolf

    Shadow Wolf Rival's Wife

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    One of the several existentialist anthems given to us by the Human League. (I especially love the Nietzschean flair "since I was young" and "just a bored kid."):D
     
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