Nihilism, What It Stands For | Teen Ink

Nihilism, What It Stands For

March 13, 2019
By RBskull SILVER, Tirana, Other
RBskull SILVER, Tirana, Other
5 articles 0 photos 0 comments

Nihilism, the belief that all religious and moral values are baseless, and everything, including life is meaningless; a scary concept suggesting that nothing we do has any meaning. People who trust in nihilism are called nihilists and have no beliefs or purposes in life besides, maybe, an impulse for destruction. Nihilism is met with a lot of skepticism, and it is not hard to see why.

Referring to nihilism simply as an idea stating that life is meaningless, is a mistake. Over time, different cultures have interpreted nihilism differently. Today, nihilism is divided in the further categories: epistemological nihilism, political nihilism, ethical nihilism rejects, and existential nihilism ("Nihilism").

Political nihilism advocates the destruction of all existing political, social, and religious orders as a prerequisite for any future improvement. It is a source of anti- government groups and has created problems for more than a century now. This theory is met with doubts, because this political and religious structures are important to our society; there is the need of someone to look up to for answers, the need for laws, and punishments to enforce those laws ("Nihilism").

Ethical nihilism rejects the possibility of absolute moral or ethical values. Good and evil are vague, and related values are simply the result of social and emotional pressures. This view is especially explored in today’s philosophy. Human values have been vague since the very beginning of humanity. A hundred years ago we might have considered execution a proper punishment for criminals while today it sounds horrible and morally wrong. According to ethical nihilism, there is not such thing as good or bad. Despite not being received as completely wrong, this theory has proved dangerous, because of the lack of moral code people who believe it develop; sometimes going as far as to committing crimes without and conscience or possibility for their rehabilitation. Values are something that humans have created so that they can believe in something. There is a need a moral compass to guide humans in their lives ("Nihilism").

Epistemological nihilism denies the possibility of knowledge and truth, and is linked to extreme skepticism. It basically states that all knowledge is untrue and unable to be proven true. It is also linked to metaphysical nihilism which states that posits that concrete objects and physical constructs might not exist in the possible world. Both are trying to say that the rules and objects in this world are false. If somehow, it is true, which is really hard to believe, It won’t make any difference to us. We have lived in this world for thousands of years, and whether it is false or true our lives will continue to flow the same way ("Nihilism").
Existential nihilism, the most well-known interpretation, is the one stating that life has no intrinsic meaning or value. It is maybe the first version of nihilism. Its critic, Helmut Thielicke wrote that "Nihilism literally has only one truth to declare, namely, that ultimately Nothingness prevails and the world is meaningless.” Human have searched for a meaning behind our existence for as long as we have been able to think. Over time, some have found the answers in religion, the search for knowledge, building a perfect society, all the aspects of humanity that have previously been mentioned. However, some, after not being able to come up with a solid answer, decided that there was no true meaning to it (Pratt).

The German philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche, is most often associated with nihilism. In “Will to Power”, he writes, “Every belief, every considering something true, is necessarily false because there is simply no true world.” For Nietzsche, there is no objective order or structure in the world except what we give it. When looking at it from his perspective, and his perspective only, nihilism is not completely negative. Nietzsche stated that even though life did not have one definite meaning, we could decide the meaning of our life (Pratt).

Nietzsche shows how nihilism could prove positive; however, till today, it is still considered a ridiculous concept and received with extreme scepticism and currently we are unable to tell if it will expand any further.

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