By Jakob Christy
We live in a large and confusing world. Sometimes you might just take a moment to look around. What is our purpose? How were we made? What does it mean to die? Is our place in the universe significant to the bigger picture? Is there a god, and if so, which one? I think, therefore I am? How does Descartes even know if my thoughts are my own, and not merely an illusion of the ever-lasting nothingness?! Are my thoughts even my own?!?
Well, some people might have a very simple answer to all of that. We have no purpose, we were never made, and death is meaningless. Actually, everything is meaningless. According to the philosophical idea of nihilism, the ideals of society are quite irrelevant. These religious and moral ideals many of us draw throughout our lives truly have no genuine meaning in the eyes of the nihilist.
“But what do the nihilists strive for, exactly? Why do they disregard all of our societal expectations? Why does this vaguely remind me of that one scene from that one movie I watched years ago, the Big Lebowski?” There’s a lot of questions that come from such an extreme ideology, and there’s a lot of answers to be had. Coined at first by a derogatory term from the Russian conservatives in 1829, nihilism has always been rooted in the rebellious idea against the state, hypocrisy for many at the time. Later, philosophers began to examine the idea, which fights against the idea of all authority and belief, rooting all trust in the studies of science. Though it may sound like a pretty modern philosophy, it’s most captivating beliefs stem from the 19th Century philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche.
So, what do nihilists strive for, exactly? Well, the “evils” of nihilism would often be found in the ideas beyond science and expanded into the realm of human emotion and spirit. This can include the ideas of morality, religion, control of the state, family bonds, and pretty much any of what our modern American society stands for today. This, of course, doesn’t imply nihilists plan on tearing down the structures of society, and many of the beliefs of nihilism have no intention of destruction at all. Extremists of the nihilist idea might be associated with the idea of anarchism (the belief of tearing down the government and depending on the voluntary cooperation of society to help keep things going), but even then the proper idea of nihilism isn’t that common a belief, with all those who uphold it’s standards today only posting their dramatic photos on their Facebook page, and leaving behind quotes from the Joker movie.
With it’s crumbling foundations, nihilism is a dying belief, one that believes in nothing, and holds no value in the meaningful. An unfortunate tale of almost any belief, the only ones who hold it’s passion are raging teens on the social media. For now, may its roots die out, and for you to find your own meaning in life.
The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica. “Nihilism | Definition & History.” Encyclopedia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, inc., 12 Mar. 2020, http://www.britannica.com/topic/nihilism.