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from Agency Adjacent
  • Thanks to the title of a symposium at Goldsmith’s College in 2007, Meillassoux has been tentatively housed with Ray Brassier, Iain Hamilton Grant, and Graham Harman under the philosophical shingle “speculative realism.” But this title does little to unite the different positions of these four thinkers, which range from neomaterialism to neonihilism (p4)
from Buddhism
  • This short talk by Thich Nhaat Hanh mentions eternalism/nihilism and suggests that freeing yourself from them gives you superpowers and frees you from anxiety
from Nihilism in Art
  • A great deal of contemporary art seems to share this fascination, it seems like the great theme of the modern and postmodern era. It's not a topic I seek out, but I keep seeing it poking through many of the works I admire. So this is mostly just a list of various works of art I've encountered that seem to be somehow grappling with nihilism as such, implicitly or explicitly.
from Blood Meridian
  • The book's action takes place around the Texas / Mexico border in the 1850s, and is loosely based on real events (making it that much more disturbing). The protagonist (more or less) is nameless but occasionally referred to as The Kid, a runaway from Tenessee who finds his way into a group of mercenaries headed by John Glanton (a historical figure) and animated by the monstrous and demonic figure of Judge Holden, who like Anton Chigurh in No Country for Old Men is an incarnation of not just death, but of pitiless and absolute nihilism.
from What Motivated Rescuers During the Holocaust?
  • This stance, while not wrong, is in conflict with the everyday lived experience of personal morality, and tends to undermine it. Folk morality holds people responsible for their actions; to do so is vital to have any notion of morality at all. Get rid of it, and the result is nihilism. This problem of incommensurability between the causal language of science and the moral language of daily life is a common source of confusion and controversy, eg in the matter of how much we should hold criminals responsible for their crime versus assigning blame to their environment and upbringing.
from Meaningness
  • One aspect of Meaningness that took me awhile to appreciate was that it has a very complex and well-worked out formal structure, and the ideas form a sort of multi-dimensional lattice. There's an extremely simple idea at the core (which is straight out of Buddhism): people tend to fall into two separate, opposed and equally false modes of thought or being: eternalism (in which meaning is well-defined, fixed, and objective) and nihilism (in which there is no meaning whatsoever); and that it's possible to transcend this sterile polarity with better, richer ways of being (completeness). But this ultra-simple idea is elaborated into a precise and structured algebra of being.
from eternalism
  • I felt that if nihilism had its own page than its opposite deserved one as well. Can't say I have a lot to say about it but see monotheism I guess?
from Materialism, Terry Eagleton
  • There is then, an ethical dimension to materialism as well as a political one. In the face of a hubristic humanism, it insists on our solidarity with the commonplace stuff of the world, thus cultivating the virtue of humility...Materialism of this kind fosters not nihilism but realism...Aware of the intractability of matter, materialist thought promotes a respect for the otherness and integrity of the world, in contrast to the postmodern narcissism that sees nothing but reflections of human culture wherever it looks. (p5)
from stance
  • This idea of a stance is partly inspired by David Chapman aka Meaningness who defines a stance as "a simple, compelling pattern of thinking and feeling". One his important points is that stances trump systems, that is, people's deepest beliefs are best thought of not so much as systematic ideas, but instead as attitudes or patterns of attitudes. Chapman is talking about something fairly specific: "patterns of thinking and feeling about meaningness", where meaningness is his neologism for "problems of value, purpose, and selfhood". His stances are defined in terms of large-scale philosophical positions like nihilism and eternalism. (see stance/meaningness for my attempt to understand his concept of stance).
from Coen brothers
  • nihilism is a common presence in Coen bros movies – implicitly and occasionally explicitly, sometimes defining the mood of the film and sometimes as a sort of comedic or antagonistic presence.
    • A Serious Man (very explicit)
    • Barton Fink
    • No Country for Old Men (Chigurh as a representation of the force of nihilism – "I got here the same way the coin did".)
    • The Big Lebowski (even more explicit – one of the antagonists is a gang of actual nihilists), and it produces one of the greatest lines in movie history.
    • Fargo (after a bleak comedy of nihilistic violence, the Frances McDormund character puts it all in its place – although she also says she doesn't understand it)
    • Burn After Reading
    • Hudsucker Proxy
    • Raising Arizona (the vision of the biker)
from White Noise
  • And eventually advocating violence as the only answer to dealing with death (in this he started to resemble the character of Judge Holden in Blood Meridian, another loquacious spokesman for nihilism and violence:
from stance/meaningness
  • I can barely imagine what it's like to be an eternalist, I'm so far on the other side of the spectrum. So I don't find myself committing those errors very often, whereas I'm very prone to fall into nihilism.

nihilism

28 Dec 2020 10:50 - 28 Aug 2021 11:11

    • The term ‘nihilism’ has a hackneyed quality. Too much has been written on the topic, and any sense of urgency that the word might once have communicated has been dulled by overexposure. The result is a vocable tainted by dreary over-familiarity and nebulous indeterminacy. Nevertheless, few other topics of philosophical debate exert such an immediate grip on people with little or no interest in the problems of philosophy as the claim of nihilism in its most ‘naive’ acceptation: existence is worthless.
      • the experience of nothingness is now the point from which nearly every reflective man begins his adult life. (p14)
    • The spectre of nothingness has haunted Western civilization ever since the modern era dispensed with the traditional religious view of the cosmos, leaving us in with a picture of it as atoms in the void, with the void predominating.
    • I find it to be a difficult topic to write about. It's too big; it's unavoidably pretentious. It's embarrassing in the same way that talking about god or religion is embarrassing. But I'm also drawn towards it because iti
    • Nihilism ≡ nothingness ≡ death, . But it lurks beneath the surface regardless, it exerts an irresistible attraction
      • When I realized how much my consumption of fiction and culture was trending to the nihilistic, I assembled a collection in Nihilism in Art.
      .
    • Meaningness has a lot to say about nihilism. It's one side of the false dichotomy he aims to overcome (eternalism being the opposite error). To him, it's a stance, a posture people take towards the problem of making sense of their lives. He provides a detailed story about the dynamics of the nihilist stance; why people fall into it; how they escape out of it.
    • This is a very pragmatic way to think about nihilism, like it's sort of a crude form of thinking that one can grow out of, or be trained out of.
    • Nihilism of course is commonly held to be a disease of youth. Adults generally do grow out of it, in order to fabricate real lives for themselves. Families and jobs are good defenses against nihilism, since they entail real responsibilities and do not leave time for silly questions about the ultimate purpose of people or of work.
    • What are we even talking about?

      • Nihilism is maybe not the best label for the subject, since it sounds like an ideology like communism (and at one point it actually was). But here at least it actually more like the negation of all values (and hence all ideology). It makes more sense as a stance or inescapable feeling than as a kind of system one can devote oneself to, like socialism.
      • It's pretty obvious that nobody can actually operate on the basis of that kind of nihilism. Nihilism as an ideology or identity is thus inherently kind of stupid and comical, or as an affectation of teenagers.
      • But nihilism as a condition, or feeling – that is not quite as silly. The lack of any sort of ultimate value or foundation for morals or meaning – that's just what everybody lives with. It's more like capitalism than socialism, if we have to locate it in -ism space.
      • Beyond that, nihilism can be an experience; in exactly the same sense that one can have religious experiences. Some people have them, others have not, and while such experiences can be described, they cannot be shared. (See The Experience of Nothingness)
    • Nihilism and Agency
      • It's pretty obvious that my obsession with agency is in part simply my own personal to fight off nihilism.
    • Rationalism and nihilism

      • Modern nihilism is largely a side-product of the success of the Enlightenment. All that rationalism and materialism left a god-shaped hole in the human mind. Nietzsche was the most accurate diagnostician of this ailment, but pretty much everybody is aware of it.
      • I come from a background of fairly radical materialism – my late advisor Marvin Minsky delighted in calling humans "meat machines". I think this was mostly to deliberately needle his humanist enemies, who were incapable of appreciating that machines can be wonderfully intricate embodiments of intelligence. He was not a nihilist, but the materialist concept of mind that he advocated could seem that way from the outside.
      • The need to find some kind of value or purpose in a meaningless universe is kind of an unacknowledged note throughout Rationalism discourse, emerging in its nightmare dreams of like the paperclip maximizer or Roko's Basilisk or its attempts to wax poetic about utilitarianism. This is not really meant as a criticism. I see Rationalism as a sincere attempt to build something necessary – a religion, a shared way of making meaning – on top of the unpromising nihilist foundations of the materialist worldview. I'm sympathetic to their goals and efforts but kind of dubious about their solution.
    • Political nihilism

      • The elevation of Trump, and the associated movements on the right seem utterly nihilistic, there's a burn-it-all-down impulse that has been far more successful than similar tendencies on the left.