Does Nihilism lead to suicide?

Does Nihilism lead to suicide?
IlliniHusker15
Initiate

Usergroup: Members
Joined: Jun 24, 2010

Total Topics: 15
Total Posts: 25
#1 - Quote - Permalink
Posted Aug 1, 2010 - 10:00 AM:
Subject: Does Nihilism lead to suicide?
Nihilism is a scary thing and it kind of makes sense to me. When you look at it deeply everything has no meaning. Relationships, joy, suffering, passions, and etc... All are pointless in a Nihilistic point of view. I mean if one thinks this way wouldn't the best answer be to just end all conciousness? Are there any Nihilst that don't take their own lives? Are there any Nihilst that do take their own lives? What is everyone's take on this?
BitterCrank
PF Addict

Usergroup: Sponsors
Joined: Mar 01, 2008
Location: Minneapolis

Total Topics: 184
Total Posts: 9194
#2 - Quote - Permalink
1 of 1 people found this post helpful
Posted Aug 1, 2010 - 10:31 AM:

It would seem that people who post pro-nihilistic viewpoints on this forum do not commit suicide at a rate any higher than the general population. That is a good thing.

Your statement "When you look at it deeply everything has no meaning" seems purely arbitrary. You could just as easily have said, "When you look at it deeply everything has meaning." Presumably a statement that everything does or does not have meaning should be preceded by some arguments showing how you arrived at the conclusion.

Further, the statement "I mean if one thinks this way wouldn't the best answer be to just end all consciousness?" is as arbitrary as the statement that everything is meaningless (or meaningful). Besides, "Relationships, joy, suffering, passions, and etc" -- things you describe as meaningless in a nihilistic point of view -- would seem to be the source of meaning, or at least a motivation to continue living, rather than being without meaning and a reason to jump off a cliff.

I will readily grant that the world can appear meaningless at times, but as thinking beings we can usually parse out reasons for why the world looks that way at the moment. Perhaps your family and friends have all died in a great calamity and you survived. Perhaps you have been very sick for a long time and there doesn't seem to be any likelihood of improvement. Perhaps you are mentally ill with severe depression and are being held captive so to speak by the unfortunate condition (which can usually be successfully treated, if not cured 100%).

These are understandable reasons for feeling like life has lost its meaning, though they still aren't a good argument for meaninglessness.

It seems like you would need to show that there is no possibility of anyone giving meaning to life to demonstrate that nihilism is valid, and consequently the experience of joy or love is meaningless and that suicide is meaningless. If some people can give meaning to life, even if you can't, wouldn't that rule out the validity of nihilism?

You would also need to show, it seems like, that there could not be any inherent meaning in the world. If no body could see inherent meaning, then nihilism might have a point. But if some people can see an inherent meaning, wouldn't that rule out nihilism?

Nihilism strikes me as a theory that says something like, "There is no light in the universe." but oddly the nihilist casts a shadow.

There are alternatives to nihilism that can leave you someplace other than the bottom of a deep pit without having to sound like Pollyanna. You could, for instance, conclude that the world is just not arranged for our continual happiness, which is what Sigmund Freud said. That doesn't lead one to meaninglessness, it just leads one to not expect winning hands every time the cards are dealt. Some hands are going to be better than others. Have patience.
Will i was
Newbie
Avatar

Usergroup: Members
Joined: Jul 20, 2010
Location: Texas

Total Topics: 0
Total Posts: 9
#3 - Quote - Permalink
Posted Aug 1, 2010 - 1:59 PM:

IlliniHusker15 wrote:
Nihilism is a scary thing and it kind of makes sense to me. When you look at it deeply everything has no meaning. Relationships, joy, suffering, passions, and etc... All are pointless in a Nihilistic point of view. I mean if one thinks this way wouldn't the best answer be to just end all conciousness? Are there any Nihilst that don't take their own lives? Are there any Nihilst that do take their own lives? What is everyone's take on this?


Arthur Danto from his Transfiguration of the Commonplace:

"So it is not as if we use zero for the expression variable; there is no expression variable in the imagined equation to assign even zero to." (p. 148)

This is the form I take the the issue of meaning to take at its essence. Replace "expression" (where Danto means the expression of an art piece) with "meaning" to give us:

So it is not as if we use zero for the meaning variable; there is no meaning variable in the imagined equation to assign even zero to."

It's not that there's no meaning, or purpose, or value in life; there's no "equation" at all -- no issue, no problem. The problem's factitious. At which point you can assign as much or as little meaning you want to things because the problem's illusory from the start.

And I have to agree with BitterCrank that suicide would be just as meaningless as the nihilist would perceive life to be (or, it wouldn't technically be "meaningless" because of what I said above).

And I'd be pretty amazed to hear that a nihilist, who finds no value or meaning in life, thought he should do something because of this perceived lack of meaning -- "should" here being the operative word. Since when do nihilists subscribe to moral obligation, or any obligation at all?
transfinite
PF Addict
Avatar

Usergroup: Sponsors
Joined: Apr 25, 2010

Total Topics: 159
Total Posts: 1754
#4 - Quote - Permalink
2 of 2 people found this post helpful
Posted Aug 1, 2010 - 2:19 PM:

Even if we believe life is meaningless, why commit suicide if we enjoy sex and gourmet food? Suicidal people usually think their life is not worth living, not that it is necessarily meaningless. The only people who would commit suicide because they believe life is meaningless are those who lack the imagination and courage to exploit the liberation from a predetermined meaning.

parsonstreet
Resident

Usergroup: Members
Joined: Mar 31, 2007

Total Topics: 61
Total Posts: 114
#5 - Quote - Permalink
Posted Aug 1, 2010 - 2:46 PM:

I think that feeling meaningless is due to a rejection of whats in offer in life for complex psychological reasons. You could argue that just existing in some forms creates meaning.

I think that other peoples philosophies and veiwpoints can make you feel disempowered or nihilistic.

I feel that atheism could lead to feelings of justified nihilism when it is offered as a theory that nothing exists other than inanimate soulless matter and it by products.

Therefore I don't think anyones thoughts are entirely their own product unshaped by multifarious social influences.
transfinite
PF Addict
Avatar

Usergroup: Sponsors
Joined: Apr 25, 2010

Total Topics: 159
Total Posts: 1754
#6 - Quote - Permalink
2 of 2 people found this post helpful
Posted Aug 1, 2010 - 2:56 PM:

I don't believe we should passively wait for what is offered. Rather, I think we should aggressively define our own meaning and pursue our own goals. If someone gave you a blank sheet of paper and some crayons, would you be disappointed because there wasn't a picture already on the paper?

IlliniHusker15
Initiate

Usergroup: Members
Joined: Jun 24, 2010

Total Topics: 15
Total Posts: 25
#7 - Quote - Permalink
Posted Aug 1, 2010 - 3:40 PM:

I get what you guys are saying. But wouldn't ending conciousness completely save the hassle of struggling through Nihilism? I mean if you end conciousness then no more problems right? Im not sure what to believe.
BitterCrank
PF Addict

Usergroup: Sponsors
Joined: Mar 01, 2008
Location: Minneapolis

Total Topics: 184
Total Posts: 9194
#8 - Quote - Permalink
1 of 1 people found this post helpful
Posted Aug 1, 2010 - 4:36 PM:

IlliniHusker15 wrote:
I get what you guys are saying. But wouldn't ending conciousness completely save the hassle of struggling through Nihilism? I mean if you end conciousness then no more problems right? Im not sure what to believe.


If you are tired of thinking about nihilism, and it seems reasonable that one would get tired of thinking about it after about 15 minutes, then just stop thinking about it. You don't have to shut down consciousness to stop thinking about nihilism, do you? Think about something else. Don't you have to go to work tomorrow morning? Why don't you think about that instead. (Oh wait, thinking about the job might be even worse than nihilism.) How about television? I don't know where you live, but 60 Minutes still has about 30 minutes to go, so watching that for 30 minutes might be an improvement. NBC is running a golf tournament. Maybe golf would be better. Or sex and food, always popular topics. Maybe it's time to stop thinking about nihilism and go to the kitchen and fix something to eat. Sex? Got a friend you can have over for a pleasant Sunday evening roll in the hay?
Paulb
Initiate
Avatar

Usergroup: Members
Joined: Jul 21, 2010

Total Topics: 4
Total Posts: 36
#9 - Quote - Permalink
1 of 1 people found this post helpful
Posted Aug 1, 2010 - 5:13 PM:

IlliniHusker15 wrote:
I get what you guys are saying. But wouldn't ending conciousness completely save the hassle of struggling through Nihilism? I mean if you end conciousness then no more problems right? Im not sure what to believe.


[Being somewhat of a nihilist myself]
By ending conciousness, killing yourself, you would remove thought and also the nihilistic perspective. However, if nothing means anything or more precisely nothing matters then why kill yourself (what is the point in life, well what's the point in death?). Simply, that this would cease suffering; and so would have meaning and matter.

To put nihilism in perspective, that everything in a 'universal totality' is inherently without meaning is true. Meaning is human specific. Human life isn't conducted via the established' real' of meanings but by there very absence. Thus allowing constant interpretation and conduction of the human in the world.

Baudrillard might be worth while reading if you haven't already. My interpretation, is that (western) culture is itself nihilistic, characterized by individualistic fulfilment of [b[lets just enjoy[/b]. Shop, eat, drink,work, but forget politics and development.[This is complicated in it's intertwinement with capitalistic/consumer culture] In this sense people in a way are already unconscious.

Being truly nihilistic, would be to say since nothing means anything in itself, then what does meaning mean. To end up killing yourself would be to assume that meaning must mean something. My expanded presumption on meaning is similar to the simulacra of mathematics (that mathematics isn't ''real'' but a 'system' which can be held up against the world ), but that of being concious in the world.

Persecrates1
Unmoderated Member

Usergroup: Unmoderated Member
Joined: Jul 06, 2010

Total Topics: 7
Total Posts: 243
#10 - Quote - Permalink
Posted Aug 1, 2010 - 6:32 PM:

IlliniHusker15 wrote:
Nihilism is a scary thing and it kind of makes sense to me. When you look at it deeply everything has no meaning. Relationships, joy, suffering, passions, and etc... All are pointless in a Nihilistic point of view. I mean if one thinks this way wouldn't the best answer be to just end all conciousness? Are there any Nihilst that don't take their own lives? Are there any Nihilst that do take their own lives? What is everyone's take on this?


If you think that life is meaningless/purposeless (which to put it bluntly is), be creative: Invent your own life, imagine YOUR purpose, YOUR meaning for YOUR life.
You'll find it revigoring, freeing.
If nihilism has a purpose it's to make you realize that you are the only master of your life... of YOUR life... Be wise in regards of others...

The way I see it, the only problem you have is the multitude of choices in front of you. It maybe overwhelming, but now (after reading this) you know you have them.
locked
Download thread as
  • 20/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5



This thread is closed, so you cannot post a reply.