Over the past few years, I have received hundreds of questions and comments about the NIHILISTS' CORNER web site. Of the questions, the following have been the most commonly asked:
The following letter is one of my favorites because it includes many of the comments and questions that come up frequently...and it's so passionately expressed.
you guys are seriously messed up in the head! You don't make any sense at all. Look at everything around you...how can you say that there is not a God! How can you guys live with yourselves...you must be depressed all the time and want to die. Why don't you just kill yourselves if your life is meaningless. Believing in nothing is a belief in itself. You say your families are just people that you resent and wouldn't be friends if they weren't so codependent on each other...my family is the most important thing in my life and I don't know what I would do without them, I feel bad for u, your families must hate you. Your mother gave you the gift of life and all you guys do is sit around and feel sorry for yourselves and tell each other that your life is meaningless... GET OFF OF YOUR ASS AND DO SOMETHING PRODUCTIVE WITH YOUR LIFE!!!!!!!!!!! YOU GUYS ARE A BUNCH OF BABIES WHO WANT ATTENTION. GET OVER YOURSELVES AND QUIT TRYING TO RUIN OTHER PEOPLE'S LIVES!!!!!!!!!!!!! The world could be alot worse but instead of thinking how much worse it could be why not think how much better it is.
That's all I have to say. You guys piss me off!
How can you say you're a nihilist. Obviously you believe in something. You believe in nihilism. That's a belief.
There are people who must feel pretty threatened by the idea that a person could reject all belief systems and value systems. Otherwise why would they find it necessary to argue that it is impossible, based on this specious, semantic argument.
The definition of nihilism is: the rejection of customary beliefs and morality. The belief that there is no meaning or purpose to existence.
What is so hard to understand?
If it comforts some folks to think it is not possible to be a nihilist, be my guest. Perhaps you would like to assign another name to my world view.
Similarly, some argue: nihilism is not a consistent philosophy because you cannot not believe in anything. At the very least you believe in nihilism.
I'm sure there are inconsistencies in some of the things I've written or said. Ralph Waldo Emerson observed that, "Consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds." (What ever a hobgoblin is.)
Consistency does not trouble me. I do not believe in it. All philosophies include inconsistencies. If they don't, they are of little use to humans who are by nature inconsistent. It's just that nihilism does not pretend consistency. Why would it.
How can you do anything if you don't believe in anything. How can you get out of bed. It seems like a depressing and debilitating cosmology.
I think that some people may find a godless, chaotic universe a hellish place in which to live. But there are others who would find an orderly, god ruled universe equally hellish. Not all people have the same needs. Nihilism suits mine. It is not depressing--it is freeing. I am able to do things because they make me happy, not because they are "good," not because god has instructed me to do so. As a result, I have spent my life learning about what makes me happy, and striving for that.
This letter expressed a different kind of concern.
I took the time to write because you give nihilists a bad name. A true nihilist would care about nothing and no one except his continued existence and the absence of pain because we are all born human. If you believe in nothing, do it. Do nothing. Prove you don't care. Prove your apathy. Prove your indifference. Take your life over the meaninglessness. Labeling yourself a nihilist is disrespectful to those who really are. You might be at the elementary school level on your way to a Ph.D. of Nihilism. If you believe in nothing, then believe it and go for it.
If you don't believe in anything, why are you proselytizing? Why even make a web site?
I do not intend this site to convince anyone to believe or not believe in anything. That is something that seems pointless, if possible at all. I understand that very few people have the inclination to see the cosmos the way I do. Nothing I could say would change that number.
I created this web site because I'm an artist. The nature of artists is that they develop skills to communicate the way they see the world to others. The reasons for this behavior are in the psychology of the artist. I suspect it grows out of a sense of isolation which many artists feel. I know I do. Making one's world view comprehensible to others creates the illusion that maybe we are not so isolated after all. This is different from trying to convince anyone of anything.
This contributor also asked a very common question.
what is this, a joke? I don't really undersigned what you are trying to say. Are all of those freaks that fear 2000 nihilists, or are you merely making fun of them. You seem to be very uneducated, crude people, but I could be wrong. I was looking for information so that I could write a paper, but I guess I took a wrong turn. Hitler was a nihilist and he was a crazy nazi. Are you crazy nazis too?
Wasn't Hitler a nihilist. Do you share the same world view as he?
The word nihilism has often been applied to people who hold beliefs which others find abhorrent. The word has come to be used synonymously with evil and satanic. But if the question is, "Did Hitler not believe in anything?" the answer is clearly no. He believed in many things, and he did so unquestioningly, like true believers of many creeds. He believed that Jews were evil. He believed in nationalism, specifically the greatness of Germany. He believed in military power and the use of force to change history in a way he felt just.
You guys seem to like guns. What's that about?
On my web site, I use images of guns for a couple of reasons. Guns are primarily used ironically, playing on the way many consider nihilism to be scary and threatening. So brandishing weapons is funny to me. My world view seems so benign to me that posing as a scary guy is amusing. It's exaggerated to point up the foolishness of being threatened by a person like me. I know explaining jokes is not funny, but for the ironically challenged out there, I'm happy to clue you in to my intentions.
What's nihilism have to do with sex? There are pictures of that naked guy, and balls and all sorts of stuff. And are you gay. Is that what it's about?
The Dadaists used sexual imagery to get the attention of their audience, to break rules, to stretch the boundaries of their art. I found myself using nudity is a similar way. If you found these pictures of me sexually exciting, you are very unusual. By posting them, I was not trying to improve my social life. These pictures are clearly not titillating. On the contrary, they are either funny or disturbing. So they are not really about sex at all, but about the nature of our humanity. In my mind, people are neither dignified, nor in control of their lives. We are all vulnerable naked animals. We are sexual, each in our own funny ways. I'd like to think that these pictures express this.
One visitor asked an obvious question I had simply not thought about when putting this page up.
I have one question for the FAQ you've started to write; do you not not believe in god? What I mean is; I don't not believe in god. I don't believe in god, I just don't think that he applies to me or anyone else due to life's meaninglessness. That, and it wouldn't matter anyways.
I forgot about god. I know god is an important issue for many people. Believing in god makes many feel better, as though they are alive for a reason and something more powerful than they values them. If this makes others happy, I don't really care. Personally, I tend to agree with your position.
I am not going to try to prove that there is no god because I don't think it is possible to either prove or disprove that. As humans, we have no actual information about a possible spiritual reality. I know religious people may disagree, but to debate the point is too involved to address here. If you want a very interesting discussion of this issue, I recommend a new book by Michael Shermer called How We Believe. Dr. Shermer is the current head of the Skeptics Society.
Because the God question cannot be settled by observation or scientific experiementation, the question becomes a matter of personal preference. As far as I'm concerned, I would not be happy if I thought there was a god. Some people prefer order, and some prefer freedom. I am in the later (and smaller) group. Since there is no proof one way or the other, I am free to believe that the universe is chaotic and the product of chance. I am happy with that thought. Those who believe in god feel they must do god's will or something bad will happen to them. I am freed from this terror. Instead, I am able to try to understand what makes me happy, and to pursue those things. To me, this controversy amounts to a matter of taste. My tastes tend to the godless.
For me, it comes down to this. People choose to believe in a god because it makes them feel better. I choose not to because that makes me feel better. I can see no proof either way. And if somehow someone could prove there was a god, there would be no way of knowing its will, because it does not communicate with humans in an unambiguous way. So even if a god existed, that would not change anything in our lives. We would continue to do what we do, and we would say it was god's will, just as we do now.
A high school student doing a report on nihilism asked:
How could you disprove your existence when you have knowledge of your birth? When your mother carries the memories AND the pains of YOUR birth? When birth just makes all things... tangible?
In the More About Nihilism part of the website, I note that people say, "If you don't believe in anything, do believe that you exist?" I said, "No." This is a joke.
The point of the joke was to exaggerate how little humans can count on. Our senses and memories are not perfect. They are constructs in our brains combining flawed inputs from our sense organs with flawed our expectations of what the world is like. For example, there are many studies that find that eye witnesses to crimes are wrong about who did what more often than they are right. Also, have you ever seen one of those optical illusion pictures, like the cow head, that just looks like some gray splotches? Have you ever seen a magician make things appear and disappear? How often do you remember an incident differently than someone else who experienced it with you?
My point is that people are convinced of the reality they experience and remember, but that reality is rarely what we believe. This is because we are limited by our senses, lack of information, and the way our brains are wired. So when I say I don't believe I exist, I am saying that no one can be certain of anything, maybe even including existence.
Just for example, I have an image of myself that is certainly not perfectly accurate. All people imagine themselves different, better or worse, than they are. So I could say that the person I believe I am certainly does not exist. Some person may exist, but that person is not who I think. Here is another possibility. What I think is me could be someone else dreaming. In that dream, he dreams he is me. So I am him, dreaming I am some other person created by my (his) mind. In that case I wouldn't exist. I am just imagined by another person.
These hypothetical may seem far-fetched. But the point is people should examine what they can know as a certainty. It is less than meets the eye.
I recently stumbled upon your website about Nihilism, and had a few questions about your belief system.
As you believe that morals do not exist, how do you view murder, rape, incest, etc...?
Do you condone them, as society (which was developed by morals) is what determines these acts to be wrong?
Would you be mad if someone killed your sister, your boyfriend, etc... Or would you just be passive, as morals are what defines what is right and wrong. Is it wrong to steal, cheat on your spouse, etc... Or should the whole world be left in anarchy, where anyone can do as he or she pleases?
Please do explain this to me. I am very curious as to what you have to say on this, since you guys claim to believe in nothing but the power of the human mind.
a genuinely confused student
You make the assumption that belief in morality, religion or philosophy can stop people from hurting one another. However, a majority of people who do such things are believers of one sort or another. And they believe, unquestioningly, in the rationale they use for their actions. Either they chose a moral system which calls for punishing those who offend their world view, or their minds distort the situation in order to justify what they feel they need to do. From Charles Manson to Adolf Hitler, they rationalize their cruelty couched in the language of morality. I am not saying morality leads to cruelty. But it certainly has not stopped it. And the human tendency to adopt a moral system as an unquestionable absolute leads to this ironic behavior. In step the nihilists who challenge people to question such things.
As for the power of the human mind, I’m not a big fan.
As for anarchy, it may or may not be an improvement over religion and greed controlling society. It could go either way.
If I haven't answered you questions on this page, I hope you'll write in. I plan to up-date this page again one day.
Besides these questions,
many of you have written in comments which express the nihilist
point of view very eloquently. I appreciate these comments as
well as the challenging ones. Keep them coming.
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