Imaginary George: Freedo, what do you think happens when we die?
Freedo: Death is merely the realization that nothing exists.
George: But…that doesn’t make any sense…
Freedo: I apologize George, you need clarification. Allow me to take us back to another conversation I have had that may shine some light on this conundrum.
*waves hands around, imaginary portal appears*
Imaginary Steve: So Freedo, why do you think there is something as opposed to nothing?
Freedo: Perhaps a better question is “what’s the difference?”
Freedo: We, in the something, ask ourselves “how did we come from nothing?” Well, I’m sure that those in the nothing are asking themselves the same question, except “how did we come from something?”.
To us the question is baffling but, when you think about it, there are probably a lot more things that don’t exist than those things which do…so it must be even MORE baffling for them.
Steve: Come on now, Freedo. Be serious for a change.
Freedo: Not so fast Steve! You may say “NOTHING IS NOTHING and SOMETHING IS SOMETHING, lets just leave it at that!” But humor me for a moment, perhaps the somethings are only real to other somethings and the nothings are only real to other nothings, but not to each other!
George: I see…..so..what you’re saying is that we become nothings when we die and it is in this sense that we “realize nothing exists” for the other nothings become real to us and the something that was before becomes the new nothing?
George: Well….that is all very interesting but–
Imaginary Jack: May I interject into this conversation?
Freedo: Shut up Jack, you’re imaginary.
Jack: So is George. >_<
George: Wait, what? This is getting weird…
Freedo: That’s correct George, you see, you are one of those nothings I was speaking of. You had not realized this because, too you, I am the nothing.
George: That actually makes a lot of sense…I think I understand now.
Freedo: I have to go now. You’re a good man, George, I look forward to meeting you when I leave my somethings.
George: The same. Goodbye Freedo.
“The highest form of self awareness is realizing you’re just a character in someone else’s dream”
That was a question posed to me by a Christian.
My appalling reply:
“If it turns out there really is a God I would gladly ask to go to hell in some strange twist of half-deranged spitefulness towards God’s appearent kicks he would get out of striking fear into people’s hearts with his abusive ego, so large and infathomable, that it baffles even my own.”
This is actually pretty interesting. This is video recording a study done by the Canadian Wildlife Service. The effects of LSD, caffeine, THC, alcohol and cocaine actually aren’t too far from what you might expect but it’s kinda funny watching it.
It has been my humble observation that many of the non-religious are confused with the topic of morality and ethics in how it would be rationally extended from their particular breed of reasoning. Don’t get me wrong, the religious aren’t the masters of logical consistency, but this is specifically directed towards the unbeknownst confusion asserted from those who claim the negation of faith. By confused I refer to internal inconsistency within their perspective. In this blog-post I will discuss how the rational extension of non-religiosity in regard to ethics leads to Nihilism.
Regardless of how unpleasant it may seem to refer to morality as an illusion, the intellectually-honest non-religious individual must do so in-order to hold internal consistency.
First, a definition of terms; morality and ethics is a description of values and behavior that one ought to have. It is not simply describing behavior that is but rather behavior that ought to be.
To define ethics as simply a type of behavior in no way means that one ought to behave that way. The famous philosopher, David Hume, aptly pointed out that it is logically impossible to derive an ought from an is–or a value from a fact. So while you may define Altruism, compassion, and kindness as ethical behavior, you are really just describing a type of behavior that is, not one that ought to be.
It’s important to properly understand that ethics and morality is based on how things ought to be. To say giving food to the homeless is kind is completely different than saying that one ought to give food to the homeless. The statement that giving food to the homeless is kind, that is a fact. But to derive a value out of that, saying being kind is a value, that does not logically derive from the fact that giving food to the homeless is kind. You could also say the statement that beating up the homeless for fun is unkind is a fact–so would you then say that you ought to value being unkind, simply because it is a fact? No, all you are doing is stating facts and you’ll never get a value out of that. If someone kills another in cold-blood, it is a fact, it is what is whether or not one ought to have done it.
Now, remember, saying one ought to do this or do that is entirely different than the subjective statement of “I prefer to do this or that”. For example, I prefer water to soda but that does not mean I say one ought to drink water. A Nihilist may be reading this now who understands and agrees with everything I’ve written so far. Most likely they are someone who would say “I prefer people to be kind” or “I strongly dislike killing”, but they acknowledge that as their own subjective preference and they don’t believe in any kind of morality. So subjective preference, of preferring things to be a certain way, is in no way at all what morality and ethics is about. In this sense, Nihilists are Egoists. The Egoist who says self-pleasure is moral has purely a semantical difference with Nihilism, in actuality there’s no difference in how they behave.
To pull morality out of a hat, to derive an ought from an is, requires some convoluted sense of faith. So if you’re an individual who claims to be non-religious and asserts no code of morality then, congratulations, your ethics are consistent with your reasoning which produced your rejection of faith.
I also find it necessary to point out two different attitudes of Nihilism; Passive and Active.
Passive Nihilism is indicative of a decline in a personal sense of control. It is characterized by the inability to create, or in the extreme to react. The Passive Nihilist is one who, when faced with the world’s uncertainty, withdraws and refuses to engage the world. For him, uncertainty is a sufficient condition not to proceed through life, and so paralyzed by fear of the unknown and unknowable he does nothing or even to the extent that it can no longer be bared which results in insanity or suicide. The famous philosopher Frederich Nietzsche described this condition as “the weary Nihilism that no longer attacks..a passive Nihilism, a sign of weakness”.
Active Nihilism on the other hand, is indicative of a relative increase in a sense of personal control. The Active Nihilist sees freedom where the Passive Nihilist sees loss or meaninglessness. He chooses action and creation instead of passivity and withdrawal. For him, the lack of objective standards of moral truth motivates self-created standards and criteria. The Active Nihilist is not active despite the unknown but because of it. He possesses a store of creative energy and power which allows him to impose personal meaning on the world while never forgetting that he is the source of it all and progenitor of that meaning. He is heroic in this sense, facing the world with courage and purpose.
This short inquiry is not exhaustive in the least and would be chancy to change any minds but I felt it necessary of my own desire to give my two cents on the matter. Nihilism can be a very confusing thing for some people, especially those who see Nihilists like me who would easily confuse me with come kind of Gandhi character espousing robust Altruism. But so I don’t disappoint their mis-guided view of Nihilism as a meaningless, heartless and void of all things good I’ll close off by saying that I wish all my Nihilist friends well while they go brutally anal rape some crippled people and blow-up a church.