I was going to post this as a response to a thread, but as I wrote it I realised that it no longer fit the discussion. What follows is my stance on Nihilism.
If there is no objective meaning to life, (objective as in existing
external to conscious, mind created values), that is called nihilsm.
Nihilism is not a belief, it either is, or it is not. The condition of
the universe is either that there is an objective meaning to life or
that there is none. Nihilism is like gravity. I arrived at the
conclusion through observation and reason just as I hold gravity to be a
condition of the universe.
I recognise that the universe is
nihilistic in the strict definition: Without objective meaning,
purpose, or intrinsic value. The only thing capable of giving meaning,
purpose and value to the universe is consciousness, particularly
intelligent consciousness. As consciousness is subjective, all meaning,
purpose and values it gives to the universe are subjective. Therefore,
the condition is still nihilism. The universe does not have meaning on
its own. I give it meaning. You give it meaning. But that meaning is
subjective whether it is private or shared.
Just because I recognise that man is mortal, and there is no afterlife,
does that mean I say: "Well then why bother to learn anything. Why
bother to love people, in the end they will die. Why continue
eating? I'll just die anyway. Why try to live as long and healthily as
possible in hopes of seeing medicine make man immortal?
I'll most likely die before it. Why even bother getting out of bed
today. I could be hit by a bus tomorrow and it would have all been
for nothing."? No. Even though the chances of me dying are almost exactly 100%, I choose to value the time before that happens.
This is important, because some argue that mortality gives life
meaning. I argue that it does not, further, that it jeopardises the meaning we give it.
I would like to correct the idea many hold, that property rights or indeed, morality is incompatible with holding that
there are no objective morals (what is being reffered to here as moral
I recognise that there is no objective morality, and that is that. But also I realise that if I create my own moral code to the best of my rational ability, I can improve my life experience with others.
There is no objective code saying that I have to eat meat from
animals that have no concept of death, that have lived healthy, good
lives and died quickly, without suffering. But my empathy with other
consciousness is such that in order for me to be happy, I must follow this subjective rule I have created for myself.
is no objective code stating what property rights are and that they
must be followed. I create or hold previously created concepts such as
property in order to interact with people in a mutually benificial way.
is no objective code saying I must not rape, murder or steal. But my
empathy allows me to share to a degree the experience of the victims of
these things and share the value not to have them happen. My
rationality allows me to see that I could not function and enjoy society
if I did these things. Likewise if everyone did these things it would
be horrible for me. I create morality, and/or I share it with others,
who too have created it. I behave in the way I wish others to, and encourage them to, that I can be more happy.
I once debated a socialist in a pub in another town. He had no
money left, but he was quite nervous and I wanted him to have a pint so
that he'd relax a bit and thus keep the conversation more enjoyable. I
bought him a pint of his choice. He said he would be unable to repay, I
said I knew. I asked him after he had taken a few swigs if he would be
upset if I took his pint back. He said he would be mildly upset, but
in order to remain true to his beliefs, he would not object. I likewise
told him that in order to remain true to my conclusions, I had to
insist acting that anything he posessed was his property, (unless
aquired without consent) regardless of his lack of belief in property. I
bought him that pint as a gift, it is now his property: I cannot take
it back at his expense without violating my code, the violation being
called the concept theft. We were both trying to achieve the same
goal: An enjoyable life in a functioning society, though our means
differ. There is no objective "thing" that said any of that was
necessarry. Nothing that said we had to have that goal, nothing to hold
us to our means and rules, nothing to punish any subjective moral
transgression on our part. Only our created values.
I think that there is a fear: that when a moral objectivist looks past man's campfires into the void and sees no guiding light,
he wrongfully assumes that his campfires have more power than he gave
them. That ideas, concepts and thoughts have solidity beyond his will
and the existence of his mind. That it is his fire which is eternal,
invulnerable, immortal and not the darkness and cold uncaring space
beyond. He forgets that it is his fire. He forgets that he and
it are precious and unique. He forgets that if he should die, the fire
will go out and all will be in darkness as it was before.
moral nihilsm, these are either states of the universe, or they are
not. I truly think they are. That position does not prohibit me from
creating, or sharing the created meanings, purposes, and values,
subjective as they are, with other individuals. I learn. I eat. I
make and keep friends. I love. I look forward to tomorrow. I need no
values or goals other than my own.
But I also have want for company.
The means justifies the end.