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Nihilism

Dhyana

Member
Nihilism, in the sense of not believing in God, any purpose of life, any absolute truth, or life after death; is a subset of Atheism: all Nihilists are atheists; but not all Atheists are necessarily Nihilists.
For example, the Buddha and Lao Tsu, were atheist, but believed in Absolute Truth i.e., they were Mystics

I was atheist at an realty age. Became nihilist in college reading Shakespeare, Camus, and Neitzsche. Subsequently, I became convinced that Absolute Truth not only existed, but is the core of everyone's identity and all religion, as understood and mystically experienced by the founders of all religions
 

Saint Frankenstein

From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free!
Premium Member
No, not all nihilists are atheists. Gnostic Satanists (who are polytheists) are hardcore nihilists. I have nihilistic moments, myself, and I knew a Christian who identified as a nihilist.
 

George-ananda

Advaita Vedanta, Theosophy, Spiritualism
Premium Member
Subsequently, I became convinced that Absolute Truth not only existed, but is the core of everyone's identity and all religion, as understood and mystically experienced by the founders of all religions
What is Absolute Truth?
 

Laika

Well-Known Member
Premium Member
Nihilism, in the sense of not believing in God, any purpose of life, any absolute truth, or life after death; is a subset of Atheism: all Nihilists are atheists; but not all Atheists are necessarily Nihilists.

Nihilism is common to a sub-group of atheists, rather than atheists as a whole. it is more typically associated with strong atheists (who believe there is no god) than weak atheists (who lack belief in a god). There may well be a relationship between Nihilism and 'Scientism' in which all aspects of existence, including our morality, society, etc are treated as something we can understand 'scientifically' and must therefore reject 'pre-scientific' concepts such as those that come from religion.But scientism is unusal because it establishes the possibility of deriving new objective truths and values from the world rather than being completely meaningless.

In the 19th century Nihilism was a movement in which people criticised existing ideas as illusions and rejecting what they didn't think was rational. This was originally part of the enlightenment tradition of philosophical scepticism and free thought but was taken to the absurd extreme of using reason to deny the rationality and existence of objective meaning. Consequently, nihilism is a self-contradictory and paradoxical belief that whilst all things lack meaning, we should still pursue rationalism to its logical conclusion that everything is subjective. it gained this negative assocation because of the terroristic and revolutionary movement in Russia in the 1860's, where political nihilism meant the rejection of all social institutions as irrational. The most significant work of this was Catchetism of a Revolutionary (1869) by Sergy Nechayev. To give you an idea of how it reads, here's the first four lines.

1. The revolutionary is a doomed man. He has no personal interests, no business affairs, no emotions, no attachments, no property, and no name. Everything in him is wholly absorbed in the single thought and the single passion for revolution.


2. The revolutionary knows that in the very depths of his being, not only in words but also in deeds, he has broken all the bonds which tie him to the social order and the civilized world with all its laws, moralities, and customs, and with all its generally accepted conventions. He is their implacable enemy, and if he continues to live with them it is only in order to destroy them more speedily.


3. The revolutionary despises all doctrines and refuses to accept the mundane sciences, leaving them for future generations. He knows only one science: the science of destruction. For this reason, but only for this reason, he will study mechanics, physics, chemistry, and perhaps medicine. But all day and all night he studies the vital science of human beings, their characteristics and circumstances, and all the phenomena of the present social order. The object is perpetually the same: the surest and quickest way of destroying the whole filthy order.


4. The revolutionary despises public opinion. He despises and hates the existing social morality in all its manifestations. For him, morality is everything which contributes to the triumph of the revolution. Immoral and criminal is everything that stands in its way.


Nechayev is remarkable in the extremism of his words, but also that he did actually put it into practice. He killed one of the students in his own organisation and was senteced to prison for it. He eneded up in the Peter-Paul fortress in St. Petersberg, the highest security prison in Russian empire, and was able to establish a revolutionary organisation within the prison by converting some of the prison guards to his cause by sheer force of personality and conviction. As political nihilism was essentially anarchist, he was freinds with the anarchist revolutionary Mikhail Bukunin who later rejected him as too extreme because Nechayev wanted to apply the standards of "revolutionary terror" not simply to the enemies of revolution, but also to its own ranks.

The Russian Nihilist movement may well have had an influence on Lenin and the Bolshevisks, and then later on the Communist movement (including Stalin, Mao, etc.) , but it is hotly debated precisely because the associations with nihilism are so toxic. additionally, nihilism is not a doctorine of complete meaninglessness but as Nechayev put it, that a person should be "wholly asorbed in the sinlge thought and single passion for revolution"- so it's not absolutely "meaningless", but is a very different definition of meaning to the one we are familar with in a judeao-christian understanding of objective truth and morality. it is more likely that communists reached similar conclusions due to their own ideas but it is an intresting and disturbing parallel to draw from the historians point of view.

Nihilism is therefore often associated with extreme destructive behaviours based on this tyrannical application of reason. it is possible to argue that nihilism, far from being the product of atheism, is in fact the product of religion in that our belief in reason acts as a form of god to which we must sacrifice ourselves or are so oppressed that we wage war against the world in an act of destruction and self-destruction . This is what Fredrich Nietzsche argued (himself more of an anti-nihilist) who said that the "death of god" necessitated a "transvaluation of all values" derived from god. He was referring specifically to Christianity, and described himself as The Anti-Christ in rejecting christianity's perversion of what he saw as Jesus's true teaching: don't follow the Christ, become Christ.

However, it is both possible to have a belief in truth, meaning and purpose without the existence of god. The key is accepting that our belief in god and the sense of self are not identical, so that the destruction of religious faith is not the destruction of the self. The "soul" may not exist as a spiritual substance, but certainly the origin of the concept is related to our own subjective experience and our 'inner world' which can continue to have meaning even whilst we may strip it of supernatural attributes. Nihilism is however a major problem, particuarly in relation to Post-Modernism in which 'truth' is considered a social construct, and was itself influenced by a selective reading of Fredrich Nietzsches ideas.
 

ratikala

Istha gosthi
Namaskaram Dhyana ji

Nihilism, in the sense of not believing in God, any purpose of life, any absolute truth, or life after death; is a subset of Atheism: all Nihilists are atheists; but not all Atheists are necessarily Nihilists.
For example, the Buddha and Lao Tsu, were atheist, but believed in Absolute Truth i.e., they were Mystics

agrred , ...if I understand Ninilism , it is not beliving in any form of God or absolute truth , ....

this agreed , ....neither Buddha and Lao Tsu were nihilists as Buddha dedicated the first half of his life towards the purpouse of ataining enlightenment , and the second half to teaching others to attain the same understanding , ..the realisation of the true nature of reality .

Subsequently, I became convinced that Absolute Truth not only existed, but is the core of everyone's identity and all religion, as understood and mystically experienced by the founders of all religions

yes , we either reside in ignorance or bliss , none the lass despite our ignorance (our not knowing) there is still an absolute truth to be realised , ....this I beleive is the bliss of knowing experienced by all mystics .
 

Dhyana

Member
Shakespeare's character Macbeth succinctly summarized it thus:
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more.
It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.
 

Saint Frankenstein

From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free!
Premium Member
I think it is being ignored that there's various forms of nihilism.

"Most commonly, nihilism is presented in the form of existential nihilism, which argues that life is without objective meaning, purpose, or intrinsic value.[1] Moral nihilists assert that morality does not inherently exist, and that any established moral values are abstractly contrived. Nihilism can also take epistemological or ontological/metaphysical forms, meaning respectively that, in some aspect, knowledge is not possible, or that reality does not actually exist."

Nihilism and atheism/materialism are not synonyms. You can believe in gods, spirits, an afterlife, etc. and still be a nihilist.
 

viole

Ontological Naturalist
Premium Member
Nihilism, in the sense of not believing in God, any purpose of life, any absolute truth, or life after death; is a subset of Atheism: all Nihilists are atheists; but not all Atheists are necessarily Nihilists.
For example, the Buddha and Lao Tsu, were atheist, but believed in Absolute Truth i.e., they were Mystics

I was atheist at an realty age. Became nihilist in college reading Shakespeare, Camus, and Neitzsche. Subsequently, I became convinced that Absolute Truth not only existed, but is the core of everyone's identity and all religion, as understood and mystically experienced by the founders of all religions

The existence of an absolute truth does not negate nihilism. For instance, this absolute truth migh be that there is no purpose whatsoever in anything. Period.

Unless, of course, we arbitrarily declare and beg the question that Absolute Truths cannot be anything of the sort.

I make the assumption here that capitalizing truth does not make it any truer :)

Ciao

- viole
 

Dhyana

Member
The existence of an absolute truth does not negate nihilism. For instance, this absolute truth migh be that there is no purpose whatsoever in anything. Period.

Unless, of course, we arbitrarily declare and beg the question that Absolute Truths cannot be anything of the sort.

I make the assumption here that capitalizing truth does not make it any truer :)

Ciao

- viole

The notion of a so called Absolute Truth (capitals intended) is quite distinct from absolute truths. 2+2=4 is a absolutely true, but is not a solution for what reality is and where our minds fit in. That is what is sought in a pilgrimage to discover Absolute Truth
 

viole

Ontological Naturalist
Premium Member
The notion of a so called Absolute Truth (capitals intended) is quite distinct from absolute truths. 2+2=4 is a absolutely true, but is not a solution for what reality is and where our minds fit in. That is what is sought in a pilgrimage to discover Absolute Truth

And what epistemology do you possess that makes you certain to have found the Absolute Truth? Is fitting with your mind, or giving you peace of mind, reliable enough?

Ciao

- viole
 

Rick O'Shez

Irishman bouncing off walls
The notion of a so called Absolute Truth (capitals intended) is quite distinct from absolute truths. 2+2=4 is a absolutely true, but is not a solution for what reality is and where our minds fit in. That is what is sought in a pilgrimage to discover Absolute Truth

It's a philosophical can of worms, but I suspect that truth always has a subjective component.
 

Willamena

Just me
Premium Member
Nihilism, in the sense of not believing in God, any purpose of life, any absolute truth, or life after death; is a subset of Atheism: all Nihilists are atheists; but not all Atheists are necessarily Nihilists.
For example, the Buddha and Lao Tsu, were atheist, but believed in Absolute Truth i.e., they were Mystics

I was atheist at an realty age. Became nihilist in college reading Shakespeare, Camus, and Neitzsche. Subsequently, I became convinced that Absolute Truth not only existed, but is the core of everyone's identity and all religion, as understood and mystically experienced by the founders of all religions
That's a very selective nihilism.
 

ajay0

Well-Known Member
Nihilism, in the sense of not believing in God, any purpose of life, any absolute truth, or life after death; is a subset of Atheism: all Nihilists are atheists; but not all Atheists are necessarily Nihilists.
For example, the Buddha and Lao Tsu, were atheist, but believed in Absolute Truth i.e., they were Mystics

I was atheist at an realty age. Became nihilist in college reading Shakespeare, Camus, and Neitzsche. Subsequently, I became convinced that Absolute Truth not only existed, but is the core of everyone's identity and all religion, as understood and mystically experienced by the founders of all religions

Nihilism is based on the philosophical argument that all values are relative and do not have an independent existence in itself.

As per Nietzche ,"Nihilism is…not only the belief that everything deserves to perish; but one actually puts one shoulder to the plough; one destroys.”

It was through destruction that all relatives vanished and only that which had an independent existence in itself would survive. And that would be the Absolute.

I personally found the antidote to nihilism in the Advaita Vedanta, in the form of both intellectual and experiential understanding.

Nihilism was the philosophical cause for the second world war as all values were rejected and strength and conquest were chosen as the valid ones.

Viktor Frankl, holocaust survivor and famous psychiatrist had this to say regarding nihilism...

"If we present man with a concept of man which is not true, we may well corrupt him. When we present him as an automaton of reflexes, as a mind machine, as a bundle of instincts, as a pawn of drives and reactions, as a mere product of heredity and environment. If we do that we will feed the nihilism which modern man is in any case prone. I became acquainted with the last stage of corruption at my second concentration camp, Auschwitz. The gas chambers of Auschwitz were the ultimate consequence of the theory that man is nothing but the product of heredity and environment, or as the Nazis liked to say 'of blood and soil.' I am absolutely convinced that the gas chambers of Auschwitz, Treblinka and Maidanek were ultimately prepared not in some ministry of defense or other in Berlin but rather at the desks and in the lecture halls of nihilistic scientists and philosophers."
 

Nietzsche

The Last Prussian
Premium Member
Nihilism was the philosophical cause for the second world war as all values were rejected and strength and conquest were chosen as the valid ones.
Misconception.

National Socialism had values. In fact, it was extremely clear on its value-set. Very black & white. It's just, those values were monstrous.
 

ajay0

Well-Known Member
Misconception.

National Socialism had values. In fact, it was extremely clear on its value-set. Very black & white. It's just, those values were monstrous.

Yes, I had mentioned the values chosen by the Nazis. Nihilism could explain why the other values taken for granted in other societies was discarded by the Nazis. Values like compassion, non-violence,generosity and civilized behaviour with respect to women and children.

For example even Mussolini refused to transport Jews residing in Italy to concentration camps upon Hitler's request, and protected them during the war years and this was a reason why the Italian Jews had the highest survival rate after Denmark and Bulgaria.

Hitler's greatest general, Erwin Rommel himself directly disobeyed Hitler's orders to transport Jews in his jurisdiction to Hitler's concentration camp, in accordance with the highest martial values.

It is a soldierly code of conduct in civilized societies to keep way from harming civilians , women and children but the Nazis in general, openly violated this by brutal acts towards them.
 
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