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    Thread: Do you agree more with Existentialism or Nihilism? Why?

    1. #1
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      Do you agree more with Existentialism or Nihilism? Why?

      I used to find myself being quite nihilistic when I was younger. As I've aged my views have naturally migrated toward existentialism.

      I think the principal reason for the switch is related to a change in world outlook, my attitude, and my mental health (because it improved and became more positive). Before the meaningless, monotony, and ennui of existence was such a pervasive influence on my beliefs that I completely abandoned my value system. This formed a feedback loop that guided all my thought patterns, mood, and outlook toward negativity and neuroticism. Without a value system or believing in any real meaning, nothing had significance in my life and all actions become permitted and justified. After all, I'm not religious and had no objective sense of morality (i.e. a value system); if I was going to die nothing mattered anyway because nothing would ever amount to anything in the end.

      Of course, despite believing nothing really mattered and nothing was actually that "real", I could not ignore the reality of personal suffering and pain. No matter how much you rationalize or justify how meaningless it is to care about anything (including personal suffering), you cannot escape these without turning to dangerously unhealthy forms of escapism (like drug abuse or obsessions). I had stripped myself of the ability to experience pleasure, joy, contentment, or happiness but could not strip myself of negativity, pain, and suffering. In the end I was still judging myself to be every bit of worthless and pathetic as I was viewing everybody and everything else, and that negative sense of self-worth only increased the suffering.

      Once I started to recover, I realized how important value systems are. I thought I had understood that any meaning anything had could only be created by me, but I was not able to actually create any meaning because my general outlook and philosophy at their core were preventing that from occurring. Once I reestablished my moral compass with thoughtfully constructed personal beliefs, my literal feeling of morality/right and wrong did not return in the way it used to exist when I was younger. At first this was dismaying, but I soon came to the conclusion that restoring that feeling wasn't necessary and my current sense of right and wrong was merely different, not deficient.

      So, despite the absurdity of the human condition and reality, I firmly believe in the good and overwhelmingly positive effect that forming your own meaning and a personal value system has on one's life. Outright nihilism, to my understanding now, is a very toxic, negative philosophy to base your sense of reality around.

      What about you guys? Which philosophy do you believe more in, and please explain why.

    2. #2
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      Definitely Extensialism. And why? Because you can talk about it our put it down and forget about it all as you wish and go on with what ever you do. That's not the case with Nihilism, because you get reminded all the time in how "pointless" everything is, and that is to make a point in and out of everything that might just be as it is.

      Anyhow, I dont feel that Nihilism more right or wrong really. But Nihilism do get contradictory up to a point where things do start to matter eventually, and I think that's why there is pain to that resistance of that there is to much meaning in everything. Just as everything in life matter all the time. Because all that life does, it matters. Even if we where to try to deny that it does matter, it merely changes in form.

      So nothing can eventually be totally meaningless, since it cant mean less than the meaning it originate from.
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      I think it is necessary in this world to be stoic. I would say my philosophy on life is to search for value. Which is not always apparent as to the degree of value in any given circumstance. It is outright necessary for me to be stoic and dissociate from having to have value. In other words not to cling to have value at all times. Since value is such an elusive concept and differs from person to person. We are searching for the right things to attach to I think. It helps to understand that nothing really matters. And feel ok with that. In that mode it is easier to see things for what they are.
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      I would say my waking here-and-now self agrees more with existentialism. Even though I would include shamanism in my value system, I don't see myself as particularly religious. I just feel what we are and what we do matters. We have the courage to define for ourselves what we believe in and what we strive for in this life. However I have also seen the side of nihilism, both in my high school angst phase and in certain extra-ordinary circumstances. There is a malevolent part of reality that appears to be pointless to the degree of everything seeming part of a big practical joke. So in those moments finding meaning can be a stretch for sure. Despite this, through self healing and my life experiences so far, I have made the choice for existentialism.
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      Nice to see your face Neo Neo
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      Likewise Dthoughts! I am a bit of a lurker again these days but felt like adding my two cents here lol.
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      Sorry guys, I forgot about responding to this thread. Good posts!

      Also, sorry in advance for the huge post, lol.

      Quote Originally Posted by Dthoughts View Post
      I think it is necessary in this world to be stoic. I would say my philosophy on life is to search for value. Which is not always apparent as to the degree of value in any given circumstance. It is outright necessary for me to be stoic and dissociate from having to have value. In other words not to cling to have value at all times. Since value is such an elusive concept and differs from person to person. We are searching for the right things to attach to I think. It helps to understand that nothing really matters. And feel ok with that. In that mode it is easier to see things for what they are.
      See, I agree, and for some time I thought that made me nihilistic. Ultimately I was then, although some of what I believed still fit more in line with existentialism. The reason I would still say I was more of a nihilist, though was because of how much precedence I gave the relativity of values and value systems, which led to me essentially reject any value something might have by default until I determined, as time went along, whether I valued it or not. Your post seems some what nihilistic, but I feel like you've got all the same ideas I do despite being an existentialist.

      Instead of rejecting all value systems and selectively reevaluating things outright, I've recognized the value of value systems and hierarchies in themselves, even if I believe there to be different value systems or hierarchies with greater merit than a particular value system or hierarchy in question. As a result, I no longer outright reject established value systems and hierarchies and simply modulate them or rank them. I think the significance here is that a) I'm not trying to constantly reinvent the wheel, b)I'm not as chaotically disorganized in my belief system (as a result of everything being equally worthless until I've personally inspected and evaluated something), and c)I am not vehemently possessed by the idea that systems that already exist and have been around (and obviously worked, even if not as good as they might potentially in my opinion) are flawed and, worse, corrupt enough and limiting enough of progress that they should be flippantly considered for dissolution and replacement... and that as someone who has only existed (at the times I started thinking about these things 16) 25 years, I somehow knew well enough that my new system could outperform the current one.

      In particular, I've grown to be much more in favor of changing a given system from within it and modifying it rather than destroying it and rebuilding one from the ground up. Since everything's value was so volatile and easy to change for me before, I could change my opinion of something to be entirely worthless any time I wanted. In a way that was freeing, but it's also more dangerous and great potential for destruction with out a redeeming enough potential for creation afterwards that I couldn't justify being that way before. Whether we're talking about a societal structure, a moral code, a daily routine, etc., I was placing so much importance on flexibility that anyone operating the way I was in life was infinitely more likely to find themselves aimless, without motivation, incapable of functioning properly in existing systems, and otherwise just a mess. The mess I've been in for a while only promoted the nihilistic core of my decision making and idea generation, and made the existing systems seem all the more corrupt and contemptible (further bolstering and motivating thoughts of tearing them down).

      I definitely believe there needs to be a sort of stoicism and openness that we view life and the things in it with, it allows for a more balanced perspective. I feel going full nihilism is the unbalanced end of that spectrum though, because ultimately you know your reality exists for you, and no matter how meaningless it may be to you or even to any other kind of being (intelligent or otherwise), you can't ignore your suffering. No matter how pointless it is, it's there, and it's real. How much meaning it ultimately lacks does little to blunt the pain, but how little meaning your or others' (all things considered, short-lived) joy or happiness has can certainly cleave all or most of the positive feeling from those. When you choose to view the world through nihilism, you are condemning yourself to an existence of suffering without really any positive emotions, feelings, or experiences to speak of.

      Truthfully, it's not really illogical to be a nihilist. This fact in itself is a merit toward the philosophy, it's definitely a perspective structured around reason. Personally, I find that an existentialist is just a nihilist who continued to reason and refine their beliefs some additional steps further because the soul crushing reality one faces when embracing a nihilistic outlook is thoroughly dissatisfying. To top things off, the mind and our societies function naturally by establishing multiple hierarchies and value systems, and these systems have been around and in development and been refined by nature itself for many years preceding our own existence. There's no need to throw all that out when it seems perceiving reality and each other this way arises naturally as a function of or biology.

      This ties into my whole idea regarding working within a system and modulating it to suit your needs rather than trying to annihilate the current system and some how start from scratch. We simply cannot function properly that way, whether we're talking about how we interpret reality on a personal level or how we establish societal norms and cultural and spiritual belief systems. The systems have arisen and firmly established themselves within our functionality as individuals, groups, and a species, and to work against it, without it, or from outside it (like nihilism does) results in profound and deeply troubling and disturbing issues in functioning properly within our homes, communities, and even as individual people.

      The latter's how some people come to hate everyone and everything, especially if it relates to society and mankind. People that can function within the system, people that can find happiness or success, etc. wind up judging disgruntled and unsuccessful individuals like this merely through their existence . The natural course for somebody with this mindset is to seek to destroy the system and to inflict pain and suffering on others. This is how you wind up with mass shootings, especially where they target younger or otherwise more "innocent" people and things like children, and then finish it all off by killing themselves. The grotesque act is meant to send a message to people who find success, are well adjusted within, or benefit from the system in some way that even that which they consider of the highest value or even holy is meaningless, and to further drive the point home, they take their own lives too, which in many ways can be considered what an individual might value most. Part of it is some level of cowardice, but part of it is to say their life and struggles were all as pointless as the innocent lives and struggles of the people they killed or otherwise affected.
      Last edited by snoop; 06-01-2017 at 06:27 AM.
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    8. #8
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      Most people come to take up nihilism subconsciously wether they know it or not in this day and age. Simply because societies standard Atheism provides nothing of a value. And without any meaning the mind gravitates towards nihilism in the moments of meaningless. I think there isn't much meaning to be found in most average people's life and when there is meaning found it is in raising a kid or family. But there it stops. I think most people don't go any further than that and hope that it's enough. But there needs to be better value systems really. Something to build a society on. The giants before us such as the greeks and whoknowswhat literature there is around. There is where it's at. Our ancestors made big progress in this department

      Without guidance this is what happens. You start from scratch and there's real issues. At some point ime you start asking why you live at all and there doesn't seem to be an answer coming from inside anytime soon. I suppose (judging by the name) existentialism is a philosophy that revolves around the existance. And tried to formulate a reason for existance. Even though there isn't any initial reason apparent.

      I have trouble finding meaning in life. Which is very lonely where when you look around people seem to have meaning in life and seem infinitely motivated to serve their needs. And as an isolated individual it's like looking through a glass window at something you do not understand. Likewise the motivated person cannot understand you either. It's easy to condemn each other. They should hold hands. lol.

      I know it's short but wanted to muster something
      Last edited by Dthoughts; 06-18-2017 at 12:47 AM.
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    9. #9
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      Quote Originally Posted by Dthoughts View Post
      Without guidance this is what happens. You start from scratch and there's real issues. At some point ime you start asking why you live at all and there doesn't seem to be an answer coming from inside anytime soon. I suppose (judging by the name) existentialism is a philosophy that revolves around the existance. And tried to formulate a reason for existance. Even though there isn't any initial reason apparent.
      This actually reminds me of how I felt a few months ago. This whole past year/year and a half I've been in a huge rut and feeling down about a lot of things. Just generally feeling stuck in life and without purpose, like the things I went to school for and my passions weren't enough or getting me anywhere. Thankfully I'm passing out of that stage, but I remember a distinct feeling of emptiness a few months ago where it felt like my passion for cello was gone. Like I had this void or hole in me, and my motivational drive forward was gone. So for me its taken lots of hangouts with new friends, drinking, hiking, video games, a local bar, quitting my retail job, and this huge jam band music hippy festival (Summer Camp 2017 in Chillicothe IL shoutout!) to bring me back to myself. I wouldn't recommend these method for others but its worked for me and I've also found a new goal for cello, which has re-motivated myself. I just remember for a while there retail and other crap kinda sucked the life (or aliveness ha) out of me and it got pretty dark for a while. So I don't know, was there no meaning to begin with and I just gave myself more meaning, or was there always meaning and I just lost it? Haha but yeah this just resonated a lot with me.

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