I Don't Understand Nihilism.

Discussions that deal with moral issues. Key questions in ethics include: How should one live? What is right (or wrong) to do? What is the best way for humans to live?

I Don't Understand Nihilism.

Postby Jimbee68 on November 11th, 2016, 8:03 am 

I have no degree in philosophy as such. But I still try to stay informed. And I can't, for the life of me, understand ethical nihilism.

As I understand it, in my limited, uneducated-in-the-matter, way, ethical nihilists believe nothing is inherently good or bad. That is at least what the websites I have read, have said. (Although I suspect, some of them who say this, are very biased against it, when they report it that way.)

But most ethical nihilists believe we should still be moral. And that is what puzzles me. If there is nothing inherently good or bad, what motivation is there to be moral?

I also have been thinking about it. And I have a couple of arguments against ethical nihilism.

First, they say science can offer us no guidance, in moral matters, at least. But what about situations that call for action. For example, there is a little girl stuck in a well. So what do we do? Do we save her? Ethical nihilist say it makes no difference what we do. But the little girl is still stuck in the well! There surely must be some answer, that we can objectively arrive at, in such a case. (The answer, of course, is that obviously we save her. Which I think would be obvious, even to ethical nihilists.)

And what about the more disturbing conclusions, ethical nihilists arrive at. According to them, genocide is okay. Or at least, it is not any more inherently good or bad, than anything else. I think that is definitely not true! Genocide is ALWAYS bad, for all people, and in every situation. It must always be avoided, at any cost, and never condoned. Why would ethical nihilists disagree with me on this?

And lastly, they say nothing is universally good or bad. Actually, I think human (and animal) suffering is always experienced as bad. No person, would ever say, human suffering is pleasant. That seems pretty universal to me, at least. I don't know how you would build a whole ethical system on that alone, since it only leads to a crude form of ethical hedonism. It also begs the question, if pain is the sole bad, is pleasure the sole good. For the most part, I would disagree with that. It is not healthy to live only for pleasure--and I think most psychologists would agree with me (which I think also offers hope, to how science can be a guide, in ethics--i.e., the science of psychology).

Actually, at the present time, I am very open-minded. More so than most people, I think. I am very agnostic now. I believe in some form of God, still. But I don't, e.g., believe in an afterlife. And I am very open now to all theories, including ethical nihilism.

But where am I wrong in my questions? And why does ethical nihilism seem to go so contrary, to human life, and human existence? It is not the least important thing in human life. It usually is the MOST. And why do ethical nihilist seem to go against that fact?

:)
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Re: I Don't Understand Nihilism.

Postby Scott Mayers on November 11th, 2016, 9:12 am 

I call myself a "logical" Nihilist in hopes to convey the distinction but it still doesn't help since people still think you are certifying that you are some psycho- or sociopath.

Logically, Nature is 'nihilistic' in an ethical standard. You cannot think there is some 'universal' moral law without actually thinking religious somehow, regardless of what some may try to claim. Usually, the religious community calls this, 'ethical relativism', which is basically the same thing.

What feels 'moral' is just our personal biases to our emotional likes over our dislikes derived from a critical window of development that runs a type of generic "motivation" program that does something like,

Favor the following thing you see: X.

To many birds, this window is during their initial break into the world. They 'favor' that which appears to be moving regardless of what it may be in the environment. It may actually BE something that kills it. But where it doesn't have such a "assignment" program, our consciousnesses lack a motivation to SEEK or AVOID things in the environment. For humans, this motivational SET of programs opens more windows in various CHANGING environments making us able to adapt to novel places more than other creatures.

An example of a problem that can occur is to what some may think of as a 'disease': leprosy. The 'disease' is like a faulty assignment (or lack of one) to one's sensation assignment of pain. Because one lacks pain or is relatively numb to any sensation, they easily harm themselves without noticing and get infections until it kills you.

THIS is what and where a nihilist can reasonably argue they have such 'values'. This are based on early childhood development in which you CAN get an assignment that fits best to the environment.

If morals were actually universal to us through nature, we'd all have them without requiring experience and default to never doing anything wrong to each other except by accident. But even then, we'd still be understanding where certain paradoxes exist (like the Trolley examples.)

Some atheist tend to default to think that instead of some 'paradise' or god to appeal to, that the FUTURE or other reality serves this place. As such, their thinking that we might be biologically evolved to BE moral for the genetic reason to pass on genes to a future generation makes us 'feel' for that future. But this is faulty reasoning. Genetics just gives us those motivation programs that make us purposely deluded that there is some 'universal' morality. But it is based on each of our own LOCALIZED environmental experiences.
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Re: I Don't Understand Nihilism.

Postby Jimbee68 on November 11th, 2016, 11:17 am 

And yet there are still those who would argue:

"I have always found that mercy bears richer fruits than strict justice."
Abraham Lincoln

What's wrong with that? And where am I going with this?
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Re: I Don't Understand Nihilism.

Postby Braininvat on November 11th, 2016, 12:14 pm 

You're perhaps sensing that humans are social animals who progress by means of altruism, nurturing, and kindness - groups that promote those values tend to prosper. It is universal in the sense that conscious and intelligent lifeforms do better when they give and receive compassion...negative emotions like hatred and greed and fear, when given free reign, are destructive and block the personal growth of members of that society. Nihilism is a sterile and sad copout on our gift of sentience and empathy.
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Re: I Don't Understand Nihilism.

Postby Scott Mayers on November 11th, 2016, 4:59 pm 

Braininvat » November 11th, 2016, 11:14 am wrote:You're perhaps sensing that humans are social animals who progress by means of altruism, nurturing, and kindness - groups that promote those values tend to prosper. It is universal in the sense that conscious and intelligent lifeforms do better when they give and receive compassion...negative emotions like hatred and greed and fear, when given free reign, are destructive and block the personal growth of members of that society. Nihilism is a sterile and sad copout on our gift of sentience and empathy.

Only by assuming this dictates THAT one should simply toss their hands up in the air for their being no actual moral property external to our uses. Nihilism is NOT a way of 'life' as though one chooses to be an anarchist. "Altruism" does not explain why all species have not co-adapted to be this way. Why should this be particular only within some species? Cooperation in local groups is as much about getting together and killing other life competitively to survive as it is to being friendly. Morality is just a 'negotiating' function to which our governments that serve to create laws now represent. If morality was fixed, we'd need no politicians to create new laws because they'd be fixed to a mere constitutional form, like the "10 Commandments" of the Bible.
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Re: I Don't Understand Nihilism.

Postby Scott Mayers on November 11th, 2016, 5:28 pm 

Jimbee68 » November 11th, 2016, 10:17 am wrote:And yet there are still those who would argue:

"I have always found that mercy bears richer fruits than strict justice."
Abraham Lincoln

What's wrong with that? And where am I going with this?

I'm lost in your interpretation. If 'mercy' bears richer fruits, why do we have any wars? Why would even 'terrorists' exist if it is so obvious that they could have just as easily chose to be 'thankful'. If one is starving, does being kind suffice to survive? Why aren't bears, lions, and tigers, not all vegetarians?
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Re: I Don't Understand Nihilism.

Postby zetreque on November 11th, 2016, 6:30 pm 

Jimbee68 » Fri Nov 11, 2016 5:03 am wrote:And I can't, for the life of me, understand ethical nihilism.



To understand this perspective it helps to think in terms of greater time scales. When you consider life is 3.8 billion years old. When you consider the solar system is 4.6 billion years old. The universe is 13.7 billion years old... Then we arrive at a different way of looking at things.

It's easy to look at the current situation and what is right here and now around us, but to think in terms of something bigger than ourselves is not always that straight forward.

To bring up a cliche. If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?
Maybe a more modern way to say that is:

If the ice caps are melting, but no one is there to witness it, are they really melting? If we are burning gasoline in our cars but no one can see it enter the atmosphere, does it exist?

Being able to extend our senses through real instruments helps us extend our ability to greater time and space scales and lends us a less emotionally attached perspective on the here and now.
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Re: I Don't Understand Nihilism.

Postby Scott Mayers on November 11th, 2016, 7:02 pm 

A related question to this concern would be to ask, IF everyone were to recognize that there is nothing to morality by nature with complete certainty, would it be better to 'pretend' that there is by fostering support for religion rather than the reality that might make many simply resort to anarchy?

I think Nietzsche raised this and what the Nazis used to opt for creating a 'myth' of the Aryan race to act as a consolidating force of the German 'aboriginals'. In this example, the OP here has a just concern. But is the 'truth' better to face? CAN the 'truth' still allow us to BE productive without being forced to create some myth to support moral laws?
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Re: I Don't Understand Nihilism.

Postby zetreque on November 11th, 2016, 7:09 pm 

The truth could scare people more than god. When people are held accountable to reality of their actions, then they must think about their actions.
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Re: I Don't Understand Nihilism.

Postby Scott Mayers on November 11th, 2016, 7:55 pm 

zetreque » November 11th, 2016, 6:09 pm wrote:The truth could scare people more than god. When people are held accountable to reality of their actions, then they must think about their actions.


Then this is Voltaire's reasoning: that "if God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him", correct?
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Re: I Don't Understand Nihilism.

Postby zetreque on November 11th, 2016, 8:01 pm 

Scott Mayers » Fri Nov 11, 2016 4:55 pm wrote:
zetreque » November 11th, 2016, 6:09 pm wrote:The truth could scare people more than god. When people are held accountable to reality of their actions, then they must think about their actions.


Then this is Voltaire's reasoning: that "if God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him", correct?


No

Life exists just fine without god. It's called reality.
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Re: I Don't Understand Nihilism.

Postby Scott Mayers on November 11th, 2016, 8:30 pm 

zetreque » November 11th, 2016, 7:01 pm wrote:
Scott Mayers » Fri Nov 11, 2016 4:55 pm wrote:
zetreque » November 11th, 2016, 6:09 pm wrote:The truth could scare people more than god. When people are held accountable to reality of their actions, then they must think about their actions.


Then this is Voltaire's reasoning: that "if God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him", correct?


No

Life exists just fine without god. It's called reality.

I'm already on that page. But this state without 'god' is necessarily "Nihilistic" and why Voltaire was questioning it. If the 'fear' of nihilism makes people feel justified to behave with absolute personal whim, then the concept of civilization is at risk. This makes those questioning this thing that it might be better to at least 'pretend' that some universal morality exists, in kind to a 'god' that serves to GIVE such commandments.
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Re: I Don't Understand Nihilism.

Postby SciameriKen on November 11th, 2016, 8:34 pm 

zetreque » Fri Nov 11, 2016 10:30 pm wrote:
Jimbee68 » Fri Nov 11, 2016 5:03 am wrote:And I can't, for the life of me, understand ethical nihilism.



To understand this perspective it helps to think in terms of greater time scales. When you consider life is 3.8 billion years old. When you consider the solar system is 4.6 billion years old. The universe is 13.7 billion years old... Then we arrive at a different way of looking at things.


I'll attempt to bring in another perspective on what Zetreque is saying here, referencing the book "A hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy".

To put it succinctly - Since time is infinite, if we take all of your accomplishments, call it X, and divide it by time (Infinity) then the total of your accomplishments would be 0. It doesn't matter what you do it is 0.

To raise an example, lets say you save a child from a burning building - this is a huge accomplishment that day. The next day still amazing. A week later - still pretty good, 10 years later - remembered, 100 years - maybe that kid's children are telling your tale, 1000 years? 1,000,000 years? 1,000,000,000,000,000,000 years humanity is gone anyways.

Thus, there is no good or evil in this world because it is all ultimately meaningless, time destroys all.

Now, even though it is all meaningless, in the short timeframe of our lives (roughly 80 years) we can ascribe our own meaning and importance. For those ethical nihilist, that would mean maintaining ethics akin to one who doesn't think its all meaningless.
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Re: I Don't Understand Nihilism.

Postby zetreque on November 11th, 2016, 8:39 pm 

If we combine the concept of infinite space and time with the present of what we see in front of us. In other words being able to understand these massive scales while at the same time recognizing reality of our present situation. We then have an ethical foundation for nihilism. People think too much in extremes and then things seem hypocritical. We can recognize a balance. Life is meaningless, there is no right or wrong, but in reality for today, if I treat others with respect, I am better off and the world I live in right here and now is better off.

It does seem weird but it works.
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Re: I Don't Understand Nihilism.

Postby Scott Mayers on November 11th, 2016, 8:48 pm 

The 'problem' though is IF you happen to be sufficiently POWERFUL to get your way regardless, as this reality is true at least for some, then why SHOULD they personally 'care' to be sensitive to another's interest when it WORKS for them. (Think those like a Donald Trump, who is results-based....that 'winning is everything')
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Re: I Don't Understand Nihilism.

Postby zetreque on November 11th, 2016, 8:59 pm 

Scott Mayers » Fri Nov 11, 2016 5:48 pm wrote:The 'problem' though is IF you happen to be sufficiently POWERFUL to get your way regardless, as this reality is true at least for some, then why SHOULD they personally 'care' to be sensitive to another's interest when it WORKS for them. (Think those like a Donald Trump, who is results-based....that 'winning is everything')


lol, well if we are to look at present day society, we have a lot more factors to consider. There currently exists religious and non religious believes in a certain economic system, several cultures with some dominating more than others. We have to consider the history of how we got to this state. If we were to start from a clean slate, leveled the playing field, and had a different economic system... this topic gets back into the question of if greed is inherent to humanity or even evolution.

I think that if people saw the bigger picture and reality, they would realize the ecology of our entire ecosystem and realize that happiness isn't about money and power. If quality of life was met, people could pursue other interests and if they were aware of their actions on the ecosystem they wouldn't want to harm it because it goes against their current happiness in the now, and the survival of their offspring.

That idea you bring up about people that are powerful. If they were aware all of this, do you really think they would continue to screw everyone. Your example case has children. If he wanted his children, grandchildren, great grandchildren... to survive a happy life, he wouldn't continue to abuse our system for power and money. But there could and probably will always be some people who are just that selfish and don't care about offspring, and only care about their current here and now state. Hedonism.
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Re: I Don't Understand Nihilism.

Postby Braininvat on November 11th, 2016, 9:08 pm 

Altruism is in the DNA of other intelligent species like bonobos, cetaceans, et al. Sophisticated social adaptation that places more value on cooperation and altruism than internecine conflict will benefit the groups and promote survival and thriving. It is both genetic and memetic when there is language and complex social structure. This is the sense in which I suggest a moral imperative. No, of course there's no moral order "out there" inherent in the physical laws. It lies in the growth of advanced neural networks in certain species, who become, as mentioned above, creators of meaning and purpose. Just because we make mistakes and slide down into aggression doesn't validate nihilism. We ultimately regret such lapses because few of us are true nihilists. And that's what ol Abe was getting at.
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Re: I Don't Understand Nihilism.

Postby Scott Mayers on November 11th, 2016, 9:18 pm 

Yes. AND then even if ONE person (or a minority) are selfish, their means to 'prefer' control in their present state will ruin it for others in some way.

I don't have kids (that I'm aware of! ;) ) and so, even unlike Trump, if I had some magical 'power' all of a sudden, would I still concern myself with whether even some future matters. Even if Trump is not religious (more likely than his weak assertion of being 'Christian' for appeal), since he cannot actually EXPERIENCE his future children's fortune or not, what COMPELS him to care if there is no means to get some Justice for it?

This is what keeps many who are religious more likely to appeal to an 'altruistic' behavior. But their 'altruism' would only extend to those they believe their god favors. As such, there is no end to the conflict unless we were all to 'reset' (like what you seem to suggest) and find a common BELIEF in morality. This ideal is intentionally good but of course harder to realize.

I had a 'signature' that asserted to challenge the 'curse' of wisdom of the Biblical Adam and Eve's story of biting into the "tree of knowlege". I NOW feel the 'curse'. To me, only 'death' itself IS the logical preference. [I think the secular origin of the Adam and Eve story may have intended to point this out. To KNOW the reality sucks when we realize that only in death do we 'come home'. The real curse may be that we might NOT be even able to die!!]
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Re: I Don't Understand Nihilism.

Postby Scott Mayers on November 11th, 2016, 9:22 pm 

Braininvat » November 11th, 2016, 8:08 pm wrote:Altruism is in the DNA of other intelligent species like bonobos, cetaceans, et al. Sophisticated social adaptation that places more value on cooperation and altruism than internecine conflict will benefit the groups and promote survival and thriving. It is both genetic and memetic when there is language and complex social structure. This is the sense in which I suggest a moral imperative. No, of course there's no moral order "out there" inherent in the physical laws. It lies in the growth of advanced neural networks in certain species, who become, as mentioned above, creators of meaning and purpose. Just because we make mistakes and slide down into aggression doesn't validate nihilism. We ultimately regret such lapses because few of us are true nihilists. And that's what ol Abe was getting at.

Would you at least agree that to aim for this, the best we could actually do is to focus on HOW we can assure our children have experiences which 'assign' values through Windows of critical significance?

I can't figure out any other possible means.

Since we are born 'unequal', how is it 'fair', for instance that some might be able to be defaulted to being desired over others? Should those that are born 'ugly', for instance, default to SACRIFICE their own limited comforts that others can by accident without simply trying to TAKE it?
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Re: I Don't Understand Nihilism.

Postby zetreque on November 11th, 2016, 9:28 pm 

Taking this on a global scale, it's all about the policies and system that lead culture toward a certain direction. It is also culture that leads policies and the system that they use to control their society.
A chicken or the egg situation.

Cultures swing back and forth on a pendulum and in the USA where we have office terms, the next person in office leads us to another direction. It's a constant struggle for our society to figure out where we are headed setting up the structure and policies.

The correct policies and direction would lead us to a system that doesn't need god to have morals and ethics and the concept of power could even vanish. It appears to be too late right now because things have progressed too fast and our population grown too much to keep us from heading to a world in which people are going to get crazier and suffer more.

There is a growing movement right now to take the powers of money out of the system. That would definitely help get a wrap around the dangers of nihilism.
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Re: I Don't Understand Nihilism.

Postby Scott Mayers on November 11th, 2016, 9:36 pm 

I propose setting a 'limit' on wealth PLUS a minimum on necessities for each person in some international level. Then, if we could somehow enable this technologically, find some means to prevent unplanned births until ready...and maybe even a licence to be even allowed to have children.

I'm doubting these things alone are likely possible though.
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Re: I Don't Understand Nihilism.

Postby zetreque on November 11th, 2016, 9:38 pm 

Scott Mayers » Fri Nov 11, 2016 6:36 pm wrote:I propose setting a 'limit' on wealth PLUS a minimum on necessities for each person in some international level. Then, if we could somehow enable this technologically, find some means to prevent unplanned births until ready...and maybe even a licence to be even allowed to have children.

I'm doubting these things alone are likely possible though.


Getting a bit off topic here.
It's difficult to balance freedom with justice for all.
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Re: I Don't Understand Nihilism.

Postby Scott Mayers on November 11th, 2016, 9:43 pm 

zetreque » November 11th, 2016, 8:38 pm wrote:
Scott Mayers » Fri Nov 11, 2016 6:36 pm wrote:I propose setting a 'limit' on wealth PLUS a minimum on necessities for each person in some international level. Then, if we could somehow enable this technologically, find some means to prevent unplanned births until ready...and maybe even a licence to be even allowed to have children.

I'm doubting these things alone are likely possible though.


Getting a bit off topic here.
It's difficult to balance freedom with justice for all.

Yes. I'm curious to what Jimbee thinks considering this is his question.

Jimbee, are you satisfied with some of the responses or is it making you 'feel' the frustration of the intellectual contradictions involved?

I don't FAVOR the reality of "nihilism" as a FACT of nature. But do you have an alternative idea given the variety of beliefs in the world regarding competing moral ideals?
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Re: I Don't Understand Nihilism.

Postby Jimbee68 on November 12th, 2016, 1:15 am 

As I said, I am probably more open to the idea of total moral nihilism, than the average person. And all the things you all have posted here, has been very enlightening.

I do still tend to think there is one moral rule that is universal, and better than the rest. But I realize that may just my prejudices, based on the way I was raised (early childhood experience, etc.).

Also, that bring up an interesting argument. You have all laid down the case for relativism, and amorality (I think that is what you would call it). But some people might argue (just as I did to some degree above), that just because one static moral system hasn't been discovered, that it doesn't exist. Actually, though, even some moral nihilists wouldn't be totally opposed to this. They would disagree with what it is based on. But they wouldn't deny that what they feel is just and right, would indeed apply, to all people, in all places.

Also, FWIW, at the present time, my views (which are constantly evolving, as I said) are based on the theory called "non-naturalism", if I am using that term correctly. I agree with the naturalist fallacy. But I still there must be something objective to morality. And I also believe the ideal moral code, though not discovered, still exists.

As you can tell, I don't have an extensive education on philosophy, and even other sciences. But I am just a common laymen. And therefore if there is anyone who needs a discussion about this topic, it would therefore be me:).
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Re: I Don't Understand Nihilism.

Postby Scott Mayers on November 12th, 2016, 7:31 pm 

Jimbee68,

I think you CAN interpret 'morality' only in terms of literal laws based on physics that are themselves not what we'd consider morality. My example explanation of HOW we learn to 'feel' favor towards something and disfavor towards others in an assigned way where the chemistry at the lowest levels operates, explains the logic of what becomes 'moral'. But it proves to be relativistic. The collective or sympathetic assignments in common between whole conscious organisms are just a kind of negotiated set (ethics) that we are still deluded into thinking are universal because of our personal bias to 'feel' anything. Our consciousness FORCES us to have this delusion or we would not have a functional purpose FOR a brain that makes us aware of different values.

But I do believe that it is unique to (probably all) animals since these MOVE in the environment and have to 'seek' for its input, unlike plants.
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Re: I Don't Understand Nihilism.

Postby lichen on November 27th, 2016, 11:42 am 

Is it OK to add to this discussion? I'm new and this question inspired me to sign up.

For example, there is a little girl stuck in a well. So what do we do? Do we save her? Ethical nihilist say it makes no difference what we do. But the little girl is still stuck in the well! There surely must be some answer, that we can objectively arrive at, in such a case. (The answer, of course, is that obviously we save her. Which I think would be obvious, even to ethical nihilists.)


[emphasis mine]

"Ethical nihilist say it makes no difference what we do." I would like a reference for that, if possible. But I have not read such a statement anywhere, myself. And the statement seems a bit self-contradictory. At least, it makes the so-called "ethical nihilist" sound hypocritical, since it's a clear situation to which ethics should apply, since the outcome is so easily measured.

Personally, I've never heard of "ethical nihilism". So any more pointers in that regard would be appreciated.

On the other hand, perhaps I am an ethical nihilist. I subscribe to a nihilistic belief system, but I behave ethically all the time. Some of the other comments on this topic seem a bit confusing. The defences of nihilism, which I mostly agree with, don't seem to take practical ethics into account much.

The defence of altruism seems to be creating a dichotomy between altruism and nihilism. I'm not sure that such a thing actually exists. I suppose that's because some moral relativists (not necessarily under the guise of nihilism) have declared that altruism does not exist, but I don't believe that's very pertinent to the OPs original request to understand nihilism. Unless the intention was to dismiss nihilism as nonsensical.

Which is hardly fair, in light of the very well described primary justification for moral relativism, at least, if not strictly nihilism. Specifically, that justification being the ultimate irrelevance of human action in long time scales.

To the contrary (forgive the digression), the irrelevance of human action is both unproven and possibly disprovable, using the mathematics of chaos theory. Just because history doesn't record the actions of countless individuals through time, it doesn't follow that their actions were inconsequential. Is there any proof that the meaning of an action is tied to its consequentiality? How do you even measure the consequentiality of an action?

To me, nihilism is a tool to help one differentiate between actions made deliberately and consciously, by one's own choice, as contrasted to those made by instinct or whatever natural tendency cause us to imitate the actions of others. While many may justify their actions via so-called beliefs, it has been argued (Daniel Ariely, others) that human beings are inveterate rationalizers. In short, we devise the reasons for our actions after the fact.

Nihilism is a tool for drawing attention to this, in an effort to make people take responsibility for their own choices. Even if that choice is to follow the prescriptions of others, the *belief* of the nihilist is that you *should*, for your own sake as a free individual mind, make such a choice with awareness of the consequences. Bonobos may be "altruistic", but do we know if they are so because of their own choice? Or are they simply dumb beasts following their natural drives and desires?

Nihilism is a point of view which adopts extreme uncertainty. You cannot know the ultimate outcome of your actions for good or ill. Right and wrong are relative concepts that require a framework of belief to have any meaning. Such frameworks are constructed by human beings as a means to an end. Usually that end is their own benefit, and the means is usually the manipulation of others in order to change their behaviour. But while this all sounds very nefarious, most such belief system generation happens in a state of semi-awareness, fraught with half-truths and the fragments of beliefs acquired semi-consciously from other belief systems, dating all the way back to our pre-linguistic ancestors, like the bonobos, and their genetically—unconsciously!—evolved behaviours.

As to the OP's other statement: "According to them, genocide is okay". That's a harsh generalization and very vague and hard to address. Nihilism, I would like to think, considers only actions made by individuals. No individual can commit genocide. Now, an individual might choose to say "genocide is okay", but that person is not a nihilist, but follows some other belief system. A nihilist, on the other hand, would say something more like, "I cannot tell you whether genocide, in specific of general, will bring about more good or bad in the universe at large or in the life of any given individual, because I have no real means of measuring that." At the same time, most nihilists who aren't under the influence of some absurd racial bias would probably also say that genocide is likely to have negative consequences for a lot of people, not least of which the people being targeted for liquidation.

There have possibly been many genocides in history. Real ones, where the culture or civilization in question was actually completely eliminated from history (although perhaps not archaeology). Those are the ones you don't know about, unlike the famous ones that, while they caused deaths of millions, nevertheless failed in their ultimate objective. And who knows how much we alive today benefited form those ancient events? The fossil record is replete with the extinct species and races of the past, some of which no doubt were the deliberate target of your ancestors, and possibly would have destroyed them in turn, either deliberately or accidentally.

Ultimately, it's fine to have morality, to a point. Social behaviour has given us many things. But it's good to understand that human society is just one way of organizing the matter and energy of the universe. If you could take on the point of view of a god, detached from the need for social support, free of the fear of mortality, able to comprehend the truths of the universe directly, then you probably would not care one whit for the outcome of the human accident. But you aren't such a being. Your fate is tied to others. That is true. Doesn't mean that you are obliged to care for your own happiness or that of others, though. As long as you can accept the consequences.

More to the point, though, and this is the essence of nihilism: you don't know what those consequences will be, and to assert otherwise is delusional. Take responsibility for your own actions, and accept that you have limits. But also that you don't know what they are. Then proceed to find out, without letting the beliefs of others stand in your way.
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lichen
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