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Nihilism

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How is that nihilism, precisely? Are you denying the existence of emotions? What is the causal connection?

Introspection is the art of identifying your emotions, of asking "What do I feel?" and then "Why?"

If you're having difficulty with introspection, and you are forced to act in an emergency where your rational thinking clashes with your emotions, go with your thinking until you have time to go back and sort through the conflicting emotions. That's really all the advice I have.

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I apologize, I should have provided a definition. I am not a nihilist, nor do I think like one, but I have in the past. Nihilism is the belief in nothing, meaning nothing has value, purpose, or worth. So (hypothetically), if a person is stuck in that frame of mind, and is trying to "reason out" of nihilism, it becomes incredible difficult. As you try and provide reason and administer logic to your conscious mind, your subconscious keeps telling you that it is all pointless and ideas don't mean anything. You feel like you are stuck in a rut. Your emotions bleed into senses; meaning it becomes very hard to trust anything, not even yourself. It is very painful. At least that is the experience I've had.

(Removed quote of entire previous post. - softwareNerd)

Edited by softwareNerd
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It is impossible to reason with a person who rejects reason on principle. The best way to combat Nihilism is to ignore it, and to provide people with a better philosophy. If they tire of destroying themselves, they will begin to seek reason and to reject Nihilism. Otherwise, they will end up destroying themselves (which is no one's responsibility but their own).

As a way of externalizing their own drawn out suicides, Nihilists often turn to the initiation of force against others. In this scenario, the proper way of combating Nihilism would be retaliatory force. That's the exception to the rule of ignoring Nihilists.

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The best way to combat Nihilism is to ignore it, and to provide people with a better philosophy.
I don't really feel comfortable with that. Could you explain why?

As a way of externalizing their own drawn out suicides, Nihilists often turn to the initiation of force against others.  In this scenario, the proper way of combating Nihilism would be retaliatory force.  That's the exception to the rule of ignoring Nihilists.

I agree.

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You say (to paraphrase you according to my understanding) Nihilism is the belief in nothing. Or the belief that "nothing" has a value. I think this is what Ayn Rand refered to as the fallacy of "Reification of the Zero." It is the equivalent of saying that "nothing" is "something." Or that Non-A is A, at the same time and in the same respect.

If this is an accurate description of Nihilism, then it is a philosphy which openly and proudly rejects reason and logic as such (which seems consistent with all the Nihilists I've met.) That means that any attempt to argue with them, ie, to show that their claims are inconsistent, irrational, or do not follow logically from one another, are fruitless. Because they reject reason, so why do they care? They're Nihilists!

Of course, anyone who was a true Nihilist would not survive a day. A human can remain alive only as long as they accept some trace of reason. Therefore, you can deal with the "reasonable" in a person, but not the "Nihilist" in that person or those aspects of his philosophy.

You can never win an argument with someone who rejects the principles on which rational argument is contingent. Unless you somehow appeal to whatever it is that is really motivating them. But that varies.

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You say (to paraphrase you according to my understanding) Nihilism is the belief in nothing.  Or the belief that "nothing" has a value.  I think this is what Ayn Rand refered to as the fallacy of "Reification of the Zero."  It is the equivalent of saying that "nothing" is "something."  Or that Non-A is A, at the same time and in the same respect.

If this is an accurate description of Nihilism, then it is a philosphy which openly and proudly rejects reason and logic as such (which seems consistent with all the Nihilists I've met.)  That means that any attempt to argue with them, ie, to show that their claims are inconsistent, irrational, or do not follow logically from one another, are fruitless.  Because they reject reason, so why do they care?  They're Nihilists!

Of course, anyone who was a true Nihilist would not survive a day.  A human can remain alive only as long as they accept some trace of reason.  Therefore, you can deal with the "reasonable" in a person, but not the "Nihilist" in that person or those aspects of his philosophy.

You can never win an argument with someone who rejects the principles on which rational argument is contingent.  Unless you somehow appeal to whatever it is that is really motivating them.  But that varies.

Good points. Thank you!

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  • 1 month later...

Arguing with nihilists is mostly futile, but i like it anyway, maybe because I'm argumentative? :)

My personal way to argue with nihilists, is to agree with them, which is more deadly for them than anything i've tried otherwise. I see nihilists as promoting that nothing can be conclusively known, it doesn't exist for sure. i. e. how do we know A = A, if we can't trust our judgment.

So i agree, and say that they can't know anything, especially that they don't know anything, and hence are irrelevant to any informative debate. If they persist in talking to you, next step is to ask them if they exist. They might doubt it, so pinch them on the arm (so they can really feel it). Tell them that not only do they exist, and you exist, but they can know things, because they just yelped at the knowledge your pinch hurt.

It might not hurt to explain this to them(no pun intended), but if you are sick to your stomach after this episode, just turn and walk away.

It might be considered initiation of force, but most people learn best by example.

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I have a question for you, because I have also felt that way from time to time when I muse about ideas. I was wondering if we shared those same thoughts based on the same ideas. The only time I have ever considered nihilism, or rather just failed to see the point in all things, has been when I thought about the universe. First, I thought about how big it is, and how small I am in comparison, much like an ant must feel. He may seem big in comparison to all the other ants, but really he is just an ant. Second, I thought about that the universe is composed of matter that can't be created or destroyed, which means that the universe has always been and will always be. In a sense, it will last forever, or infinitely long. Yet I am only a finite being whose time in the universe is finite. No matter how long I live, be it 5 years or 5000 years it will still be but one small point in the infinite line that is the universe. Basically, no matter when I die, there is still an infinite period of time after my death that I will not be around for, which makes this life seem very pointless in the overall scheme of things. This is much like a calculus problem, where all non-infinite numbers are unimportant to the equation and are just crossed off.

However, the important thing to notice is that you do have a life, that it is here now, and that the good is to live it. A philosophy of nihilism or apathy will not enhance your life and the quality of it, but rather ruin and destroy what little time you have here on this earth.

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Nihilism is the belief in nothing, meaning nothing has value, purpose, or worth.

In starting this thread. You have presented two main topics:

- What is the nature of nihilism philosophically?

- How can an individual uproot nihilistic premises, psychologically.

Philosophically, "nihilism" names a whole (but usually implicit) philosophy, at every level of the hierarchy:

- metaphysics/ontology (nothing exists).

- epistemology (nothing can be known, that is, skepticism).

- ethics (nothing has value).

- politics (the way to change the "system" is to kill political leaders).

- esthetics (splatters of paint on a canvas are art).

My favorite dictionary of philosophy and religion (W. L. Reese, Dictionary of Philosophy and Religion: Eastern and Western Thought) gives these example philosophers for each level of nihilism: Gorgias (for metaphysics); Pyrrho (for epistemology); Schopenhauer (for ethics, in part); and Bakunin (for politics). I don't know who would be a philosopher of nonobjective art.

Egalitarianism is likewise a whole (though often implicit) philosophy. Naturalism is, I think, an expression of nihilism in art, because naturalism in its extreme form is random, that is, a denial of any principles of selection -- only reporting. Political egalitarianism (ultimately, communism) is based on ethical egalitarianism (all of us, even mass murderers, are of equal value), which is based on a sort of epistemological egalitarianism (skepticism, nothing can be known), which is based, in turn, on a metaphysical assumption that "underneath appearances" things in themselves are pretty much all the same.

I notice in conversations with egalitarians that egalitarianism becomes more and more vague the further down the hierarchy it goes. The same applies to the very few nihilists I have met and could stand to talk with. Usually the further down the hierarchy the conversation goes, the more snarling the nihilists do.

Edited by Free Thinker
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I have a question for you, because I have also felt that way from time to time when I muse about ideas. I was wondering if we shared those same thoughts based on the same ideas. The only time I have ever considered nihilism, or rather just failed to see the point in all things, has been when I thought about the universe. First, I thought about how big it is, and how small I am in comparison, much like an ant must feel. He may seem big in comparison to all the other ants, but really he is just an ant. Second, I thought about that the universe is composed of matter that can't be created or destroyed, which means that the universe has always been and will always be. In a sense, it will last forever, or infinitely long. Yet I am only a finite being whose time in the universe is finite. No matter how long I live, be it 5 years or 5000 years it will still be but one small point in the infinite line that is the universe. Basically, no matter when I die, there is still an infinite period of time after my death that I will not be around for, which makes this life seem very pointless in the overall scheme of things. This is much like a calculus problem, where all non-infinite numbers are unimportant to the equation and are just crossed off.

However, the important thing to notice is that you do have a life, that it is here now, and that the good is to live it. A philosophy of nihilism or apathy will not enhance your life and the quality of it, but rather ruin and destroy what little time you have here on this earth.

I understand what you are saying, but we don't (didn't) have exactly the same context for nihilism. Basically, I would think -"What is the purpose of my existence, where did I come from, where did the universe some from, etc?". I would sort of think of that for a few seconds, then I would feel serious pain, almost a migrane - as a result of my nihilist views. In other words, I believed nothing had any value because it didn't have any implicit value, value unto itself.

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