There are many around you who use language for its flavor. They talk about what they want to believe, rather than what makes sense, because they are trying to construct an identity or an excuse for their own failings.
They’re not interested in anything but themselves and how cool they look to their friends.
The philosopher F.W. Nietzsche remains tied to nihilism because he was the first to intelligibly discuss it beyond the idea that some people just wanted to destroy everything. He realized that an impulse toward senseless destruction was not nihilism, but a reverse of it; it was in itself a belief.
Nietzsche’s realization was that we as a species were coming out of a time when we believed in an inherent order: a God above, a single right way of doing things inherited from nature, a divine order of kings and aristocrats, and even an exceptional position to humans and earth.
What replaced that vision was modern science paired with the populist revolutions of 1789: we were one planet of many, the individual is alone in the universe, a lack of logical reasons for God and a democratic order replacing aristocrats. There was no inherent order to anything, only a baffling array of choices and science which revealed connections but could not prescribe a social order or meaningful direction to life.
As Nietzsche noted, our immediate tendency when confronted with this situation is to manufacture false inherencies. He saw Christianity as false: seeing the emptiness of existence, it invented pleasant symbols. Also false was liberalism, which originated in Christianity: the idea of a brotherhood of humans, all equal and pacifistically friendly with each other, was a false kind of inherency for Nietzsche.
He asked instead that we take a few moments to think, and look at the three paths available to us:
- Inherency. Life was created by a single God for a single purpose, so we are means to that end.
- Materialism. Nothing exists except us and our pleasures, so we make the right to those inherent.
- Aestheticism. Life is the only thing that is inherent; we can choose an adaptation that brings beauty to our lives, or indulge in stupidity.
His point was that the radical reaction to the loss of God, which was the idea of a meaningless life in which self-pleasure was the only goal, was another type of false inherency. In this false inherency, we assume that because material objects exist, they are important. Starting with ourselves, which we view as a material object, of course.
As a good Schopenhauerian, Nietzsche knew that our “worlds” are composed our thoughts reflecting the world around us. We live in our heads. As a result, we need to look at all objects as how they relate to our consciousness, not their material role in a world “out there” that we can barely perceive. The self is the result of a physical thing, Nietzsche argued, but it is fundamentally an object of consciousness; perhaps, then, we should stop treating it as a material object because materialism feels more “inherent” than consciousness.
Nietzsche realized that the “nihilism” of the angry Russian mob was not an assertion of no-order, but an assertion of a simple material order: we exist, and we have desires, so we demand that others support us in the pursuit of those desires.
Why? Because we’re human too. We must all be equal, because we’re all human, and we all have these desires.
Nietzsche saw the above as parallel to Christianity, an assertion of inherent order based on shared humanity. Science and Nietzsche agree that humans vary so widely that to construct a universal “human nature” or “human morality” is a pointless endeavor toward false inherency. No such thing exists; some humans rise above others.
Anarchy, liberalism and other false social notions of equality and the inherent importance of man are entirely anti-nihilistic. In fact, they’re descendants of Christianity: they are falsely inherent orders based on human desires for the universe to be centered around humans. It is not. We are thinking monkeys, and it’s great we have come so far, but it’s not really that far. We’re not that great. And most of us are morons, perverts, lazybones, selfish people, criminals, or people who smoke in bed.
If you want to confront the true face of nihilism, you cannot do it through anarchy or liberalism. You need to instead reject all notions of the inherent, and entirely make a choice based on cause/effect reasoning toward beauty. What will the effects of my actions be? Will that get me closer to a life of grace, beauty, joy and wisdom, or will that make me more like the humonkeys around me, ignorant and proud of it?
Demanding that the universe center on the human form is the opposite of nihilism. Christianity, liberalism, anarchy and libertarianism demand that we consider a brotherhood of humanity where we all live as equals, but this is itself based on the false notion that the universe centers on humans and human desires, and that all of us are somehow important for magical religious reasons. There is no logic behind it.
Nihilism is transcendence of the need for inherency. We are products of a logical universe and our goal is to adapt to it — like any other species. If our consciousness has attributes of the universe, that’s because it shaped us, and not the other way around. Our desires, including the social desire for happy anarchy, are entirely irrelevant. What matters is what we do with this opportunity to live, perceive, decide, create and then die.