Why is nihilism considered a negative philosophical belief?

Discussion in 'General Philosophy' started by Plazma Inferno!, Jan 12, 2016.

  1. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    To me it's not like the recovering alcoholic, although I understand your analogy. To me it's simply an understanding, but not one that informs future decisions. It is simply a retrospective understanding.
    It is like having a drink and then realising, or being labelled, as someone who has drinks. Will that understanding or label change or influence what I do? No, it is simply something that, if I think about it, I agree with: I am someone who drinks.
    There may be other labels that one is more likely to react to: "drinks to excess too often" etc, e.g. the worldview taken is actually damaging to you, to your loved ones, to those you interact with.
    If, for example, I was a nihilist who the more I read about it the more anarchic I got due to that understanding of what it entails then perhaps I would address it, as it would clearly be influencing me. But it doesn't (or at least not that I am aware).
    But if it did then I could imagine that the analogy you used would be more apt... one would always be a nihilist, but would have to curb the influence that those thoughts have on you.
    This, however, is true of any philosophy the understanding of which leads us into such destructive behaviour, and it's possibly only prejudice / blinkers that lead some to suggest it is part and parcel of, or even exclusive to, nihilism.
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  3. Retribution Banned Banned

    Umm. Yeah, that's pretty good.
    You can be in a state of flux, too.
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  5. Schmelzer Valued Senior Member

    The classical philosopher of nihilism is, I would say, Max Stirner. For those interested in philosophy of moral, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Ego_and_Its_Own is obligatory reading. Whatever one thinks about it - a person who has not read it is simply incompetent in the domain of moral philosophy.
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  7. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

    Uh oh. Time to once again pre-empt speculations about Max Stirner being the source of Witt's set of rungs. There are an indefinite number of other [earlier] residents in the ladder's philosophical motherland:

    - - - - - - - -

    Re: [...] To attain autonomy, the individual must free himself from all forces, such as ideologies, religions, ethics, other persons and even their own desires. For [Max] Stirner, Eigenheit is the only good, and is incompatible with any moral, political and familial obligations ("the forming of a family binds a man.") [...] Stirner does not shy away from the radical outcomes of his worldview. He explains the relationship between the egoist and his objects or other persons as one of 'ownership'. For Stirner this means that there are no restrictions, moral or otherwise, on how an egoist can relate to other things and persons. The egoist views others instrumentally, they are "nothing but - my food, even as I am fed upon and turned to use by you." The consequences of this view is that he does not see murder, incest and infanticide as always unjustified. Stirner admits that this view affords little comfort to others but he states that his audience's concern is of no importance to him.

    He also asserted his own "doctrine" of self-interest to be neither a universal truth nor an established viewpoint, and likens his book to a ladder you throw away after climbing, a sort of self-therapy.
  8. kx000 Valued Senior Member

    Are you trying to say bad, and "no good" are different entities?
    Last edited: May 27, 2016
  9. wellwisher Banned Banned

    One of the reasons for Nihilism, was a lack of understanding for the purpose of morality. Morality was designed to optimize the needs of the group, not the needs of the individual. If the goal was to optimize the needs of individuals, apart from the needs of the group, than relative morality works better. But if the goal is to optimize the group, then not all relative morality is created equal. One can compare different relative moral option, based on the social costs. Not all will add the same.

    For example, marriage is better optimize to the needs the group than is divorce. However, divorce is often better optimized to the needs of certain individuals. If we compare the two in terms of the resource needs, divorce almost always requires more resources, since it will often involve the same two people supporting two households instead of one. If these two people can't afford all these extra costs; inner city, then the social group gets to pay the excess. Morality was designed to minimize social costs.

    Morality tries to copy nature, is the sense that nature is not wasteful and full of hidden costs. Nature and evolution is optimize to work with the least amount of resources; nature recycles. Morality tries to copy nature.

    Say the Nihilist squirrels decides that acorns no longer give their life meaning. Acorns are part of their role in the eco-system, but they wish they could eat fish and never touch an acorn again. This individual choice can have an impact on the entire eco-system; group suffers. The Nihilists were seeking their own ego centric optimization, at a time where moral choices were designed for the group. Moral system were needed since life was tough and most people poor. Cultures could not deal with all the extra hidden costs. The Nihilists was like the child who wants an expensive iPhone, but the family is poor and has other priorities. The Nihilists child sees no meaning to life, since he doesn't not grasp the impact on the group yet he cant afford to pay his own way.

    If you were rich, back then, and could cover your own tab, such as two households and alimony, then concubines were allowed as a compromise to divorce. The rich could often do things others could not since they added no extra social costs. The Nihilists lamented his humble station in life, which did not allow him self optimization.

    If you consider the new Transsexual fad, this choice of lifestyle represents a new huge outlay of resources as well as the loss of choices by the majority to accommodate a few. This is why it is immoral; not group optimized. It adds extra costs. The Nihilists transexual laments why can't everyone foot the tab to give life meaning. Many fall for the sentiment but fail to see the hidden costs to everyone. If one was a rich transexual who can cover their tab and not force the group to pay, then this is not immoral. But what will happen is the poor will also what this and expect others to pay. Then this is immoral.
  10. river

    If we were all nihilistic ?
  11. Retribution Banned Banned

    This, including what CC has mentioned below, sound very, very interesting. Thank you.

    This bothers me though:

    "He explains the relationship between the egoist and his objects or other persons as one of 'ownership'. For Stirner this means that there are no restrictions, moral or otherwise, on how an egoist can relate to other things and persons. The egoist views others instrumentally, they are "nothing but - my food, even as I am fed upon and turned to use by you." The consequences of this view is that he does not see murder, incest and infanticide as always unjustified. Stirner admits that this view affords little comfort to others but he states that his audience's concern is of no importance to him."

    I understand the sentiment completely, and am quite sympathetic to it.
    I'm wondering, however, what your thoughts might be as to its actual existence.

    "that his audiences concern is of no importance to him" is certainly true to one extent or another, and there are those who do indeed slide all the way out to the extreme end of the scale; but can it ever be "pure" without drifting into the realm of psychiatry?
  12. wellwisher Banned Banned

    Nihilism is ego-centric. It is not connected to the needs of the group, which benefits by selflessness. Morality helps to optimize the group, while relative morality is ego centric.

    It would easier, for many people, to steal for a living, instead of work. This is called immoral because too many thieves will impact the group. More resources will needed to compensate and counter this, with all the people in the group trusting each other, less. This strains the group. On the other hand, if we all put aside the impulse to steal, the group can bond better, and will need fewer resources to compensate.

    The Nihilist is ego-centric and might be one who would like to steal. He would prefer relative morality, so he can benefit, himself. But since most of the group has enough sense to see how this will result in less group optimization, stealing is prohibited. Without stealing on the table the nihilist feels like their life has no meaning. He can't do what his ego wants. He can't fully grasp the benefit of a strong and cohesive group. Natural eco-systems require the members of the group, benefit the group, not make it unstable. Morality copies nature.

    If you look at the ten Commandments, these all benefit the group, but not all benefit the ego Even the first commandment, which is about there being one God,is connected to how arguing over religion, can fracture a group. This may create more preacher jobs but it will fracture the group. If they all have the same belief, whoever that is, the group becomes a family. The Nihilist does not understand that. Or rather it does not extrapolate far enough away from its own ego.

    Abortion is immoral, mostly because the group has to pick up the tab; waste and inefficiency. Abortion is not a natural process, but a willful process that is made possible by science and medicine. This is not cheap. If each women had to play her own tab, but retained the right to have an abortion; no extra group costs, this would not be immoral. But the push is for others to pay through taxes and insurance premiums, makes it immoral. That adds a stress and division to the group; government and businesses steal more.

    Liberalism tends to favor relative morality. It also tends to be inefficient and spend more in taxes. These are connected to the fruit of immorality. Republicans prefer smaller government, lower taxes and more self reliance. This forces efficiency, requires morality and self sufficiency. If one can cover their own tab, more options are possible without harming the group.

    One way to have it both ways, is all the extra social costs due to relative morality; immortality, can be obtained with extra taxes on just the Democrats who encourage this. The Republicans get to pay less taxes, but will need to be content with fewer immoral choices, unless they can cover their own tab, and not be a burden to the group. Right now, the moral people are require to pay for half the tab of immorality. This does not make any sense, unless one is a thief; relative morality is not about the group.

    I am hoping the Trump presidency will reduce government costs. This means less money for immorality. This will lead to many Nihilists feeling life has lost meaning, since there is no "other" picking up their tab. But it will make the group stronger again because efficiency is closer to natural.
    Last edited: May 27, 2016
  13. Schmelzer Valued Senior Member

    If one reads Stirner carefully, one will find that his nihilism is something very different from Ayn Rand's egoism. Rand has egocentrism as a superior moral value. One is morally obliged to be an egoist. Nothing similar you will find in Stirner's writings. It is about priority. You decide what to do. If your decision is to throw away your life in favor of somebody you love, fine, no problem - it is your decision to love, your decision to throw away your life. You may be interested in cooperating with others, say, catching a thief, because he is a danger for your property too. Or in whatever other way. But such a cooperation is your decision, not some higher moral obligation.
  14. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

    Strange then that millions bow before Trump, a man so egocentric and vain he dreams of building a statue of himself in Washington next to Thomas Jefferson.

  15. Retribution Banned Banned

    A discussion on Nihilism derailed into politics, based upon an assumption having all the integrity of a piece of sting used as a tightrope to walk between two buildings.
  16. Bowser Right Here, Right Now Valued Senior Member

    My understanding of the term is that it rejects all social values--nothing really matters. One just as well become a criminal since there's no point in following the rules.
  17. wellwisher Banned Banned

    I agree with what you say. However, there is more than one way to be ego-centric. If all that mattered to me, was me; totally ego-centric, then I might decide I need to position myself, in culture. Ego-centricity could mean assuming a superior moral POV if this is how the power structure works. The reason I might pretend to be selfless, is more like a tactic to increase the cooperation and minimize the flack from the majority. This allows for a higher social positioning, to better exploit the system or the needs of my ego. Ayn Rand was in university in the 1920's, when moralism was the way to go, if you wished to move up the ladder. If you buck the system, things will get harder.

    This approach is also common in politics; morality of a private group, where boot lickers, tailor the boot licking to whatever boots need cleaning, so they can ultimately serve their own ego; from a position of power. In the case of PC, if you don't lick these boots properly, life is made more difficult for you; you are a hater. The true moralist is selfless and is not doing this for themselves; social positioning. They will often be at odds, with even those, who could make life easier, if they just went along.

    The Nihilist uses a different path leading toward ego optimization. In this case, they don't need the herd to be optimized. They often walk to the beat of their own drum. They only need to follow their inclinations, which often lead them away from the morality of the herd; optimization. They want the freedom to follow the path that leads to a sense of ego satisfaction. But if this choice conflicts with group optimization; morality, this may not be allowed. The result can be a sense of meaningless of life. This translates to the longing of an ego gone unsatisfied. Animals don't have this problem because they don't have an ego.

    Nihilism is not negative in the sense of making negative choices. It is about positive choices for the ego, at least at the front end. However, some of these choices can induce defensive negativity in the group. Since the group and power structure is stronger, this causes the negative crap to flow downhill, until the Nihilist is neck deep in negativity and hopelessness.

    Trump is unique because of the huge size of his ego. He was able to the take ego-centricity, to the limit. He is a billionaire in charge of two beauty contest, filled with the most beautiful women in the world; man's ideal. He did all those things that others only crave and dream about. He did not create inner moral conflict, because he was self sufficient. He did not harm the group, since he picked up his own tab. If anything, as a successful businessman, he helped to make the group stronger; provided thousands of good jobs.

    Hillary is still trying to get her ego up that hill. Once one reaches the top of the ego hill, it is not exactly what you thought it was going to be. It is merely the foothill, to another larger mountain; selflessness. This new journey is where one learns to become a force of nature. This force of nature is the appeal and the fear of Trump; comes from the inner self.

    The difference between Hillary and Trump is connected to how big of a group they wish to optimize. If you only can optimize half the people; one political party, the other half the group suffers; this is immoral and ego-centric. Selflessness will look for a path that helps people in all walks of life; all the group. No matter one's choices in life, a good job makes you an asset and less of a burden to the group. Trump sees good jobs as a way to be inclusive to the entire group; R &D. This is not for the ego, but is for nature. Morality copies natural. Mother nature does not make eco-systems for half the animals. Ego centricity will do that.
  18. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

    Basically an initial "unguided by scheme or belief" individual runs into the situation which free-will debates fester over: S/he's confined to the options which the reigning powers allow (the latter including the natural world and biological form, not just society and government). If s/he decides to go a non-conformist or anarchist route to ensure autonomy from invented ideologies and customs, then the consequences of stepping outside the human power structures will still intrude and affect her/his choices, behavior, and eventual range of destinations.

    For that individual to even become a radical rebel in either a propaganda or violent terrorist sense (or both) is to have allowed the stratum of systems and institutions to have manipulated him/her, to have goaded one into responding to its irritations and persecutions. Living in isolation upon a deserted island or other hermit-like situation is potentially a "freedom from schemes" extreme which likewise may have been fostered in response to the ubiquitous presence of other people's designs.

    There may arguably be brief periods of life where everyone is arbitrary in terms of what they do (not determined / controlled by regulating principles or traditions), but that state quickly dissipates as soon as public influences nudge a "plan" upon us or coerce us to formulate one in reaction to it. The notion of an ideal or non-compromised "nihilist" is as much pie-in-the-sky as the maximum liberty to do or become anything one desires -- of having limitless choices.

    Even an omnipotent god, though not constrained by relations to anything else, would still be enslaved to its own intrinsic characteristics: It's identity or what makes it such a being to begin with. As opposed to disorganized randomness (lack of any entity-hood). Accordingly, part of its own inherent conditions might be that percentage-wise it did have to acknowledge and lower itself to the level of contingencies, rather than be eternally aloof and absolute. Or put another way: Possessing order to begin with places a ceiling on what ideas like "omnipotence" and "freedom" can refer to.

    Plus, he does believe in ____ items, even if the concepts / rules / values aren't consistently or reliably maintained and adhered to through time and scattered situations. He's a strategic narcissist rather than the kind of autonomy junkie who claims to be riding one of the bulls in the philosophical spectrum of "nihilism". (Pulling the ladder up afterwards to pretentiously avoid the latter being an ideology itself -- cover up the arguments and reasoned tracks of how one systematically got there).
  19. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

    Jesus is unique because of the huge size of his conscience. He was able to take selflessness to the limit. He was a homeless vagabond in charge of a cult, filled with the most common-looking men in the world. He did all those things others avoid and excuse themselves from doing. He created inner moral conflict, because he was altruistic. He harmed the group, because he never picked up his own tab. If anything, as an itinerant cult leader, he helped make the group weaker, providing not one good job for anyone.
    Last edited: May 28, 2016
  20. Retribution Banned Banned

    Or at least that's what the book says.

    Has nihilism become a religious discussion now, MR?
  21. wegs With brave wings, she flies . . . Valued Senior Member

    Think the reason it tends to get a negative rap is that it's hard to imagine that one could find anything positive about life, if one's overall view of it is that it's ''meaningless.'' If something has no meaning, we tend to become indifferent towards it, and perhaps a bit unsympathetic? My one question is though, do nihilists believe that life has no inherent meaning? (like a religious person believes) Because if that's the case, nihilists can still form and derive their own meaning in life.
  22. Retribution Banned Banned

    On that, I'd read Sarkus in #2 and #21.
    Man has some good thoughts on the subject.
  23. paddoboy Valued Senior Member

    I live to enjoy myself as much as possible, to attend and care for those close to me, to help in other ways those less fortunate than I.
    Having fun and enjoying myself gets far easier as I get older, [the simpler things make me happy] like listening to good music, catching a good wave right to the beach, camping, our Annual Old Boys Reunion, and just plain relaxing.

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

    If that's a purpose in life then I have it.
    I aim to live forever and so far I'm doing OK: And I would dearly wish that my forever takes in our first inevitable manned Mars mission and ETL confirmation.
    I believe I'm here because the universe is here, and I'm a result of that chance as is everyone else.

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