Defining Nihilism

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Burning ghost
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Re: Defining Nihilism

Post by Burning ghost » January 19th, 2018, 5:42 am

Judaka -

Where is it wrong? I love being wrong :D
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Judaka
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Re: Defining Nihilism

Post by Judaka » January 19th, 2018, 6:10 am

What do you mean, I already told you where it's wrong in my post. You confuse objectivity with objective truth, objective truth with objective meaning, you make a few categorically incorrect statements and I've already explained it,

Steve3007
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Re: Defining Nihilism

Post by Steve3007 » January 19th, 2018, 6:13 am

BG:
If we take moral nihilism to mean there is no morality, of say mountains, then it is utter nonsense.
As far as I'm aware nobody does take it to mean that. My understanding of moral relativism/nihilism is that it rejects ideas of moral absolutes which are often associated with ideas about a God, or something similar - an eternal, non-human source of guidance as to what is right and wrong that is not subject to change due to changes in human cultures.
Given that we cannot possible talk about "morality" without another person and language with which to say "morality," whenever we talk about "subjective/individual morals" we're talking about an individual relative to the group consensus. Killing is 'wrong' and so is 'lying', but there are situations in which we could say they are not completely wrong.
With its talk about individuals versus group consensus, the above sounds like a description of a moral relativist position. A moral absolutist would (I think) argue that morality is about more that just consensus; more than just what the majority thinks. They would argue that some things are right and wrong regardless of what the majority, or an individual or any other humans might think. They would often invoke a concept of Absolute Good - or God.

As I understand it, this is the position with which moral relativists generally disagree.

Burning ghost
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Re: Defining Nihilism

Post by Burning ghost » January 19th, 2018, 6:50 am

Judaka -

I don't see how? Can you have objective truths without objective meanings? If so, please supply an example. If all agree that torturing someone is a pretty bad affair and that no one, by definition, enjoys being tortured then it follows that we have an objective truth based on an objective meaning.

If you're a nihilist you see nothing wrong with people being tortured to death.

If you're pushing the moral position that you need not be lawful to be moral, then I am 100% behind you (I've stated the very same thing elsewhere.) No matter what though you'll naturally have to assimilate the "idea" of what others deem as right and wrong regardless of your own position ... which if you held this positon it would seem distinctly non-nihilistic to me.

The main danger being in either rejecting the idea of moral rules out of hand or never questioning them in the slightest. Both are equally perverse the major difference being the latter is more likely to gain a mass following and cause untold destruction. TRUE morality, yes I said it, comes from moral conflict. Without moral conflict there is no conceptual framework for "morality."

Just because we don't really know what "good" or "bad" means in the greater context of existence doesn't make it cease to be a rather obvious item of day-to-day living.

On a biological level empathy exists. I see no escape from the objective grounding of morality when there is scientific evidence for it; unless you take on a wider reaching net of nihilism ... which is generally my view of nihilism. Its a cold empty pool to swim in so don't stay in too long.

Steve -

Well, yeah. It does sound like moral relativism. Moral nihilism is worth considering hypothetically, but in practice its abhorrent and simply nothing more than a destruction of responsibility. It is a rebellion against the fact that the structure of the universe gives us no guide book upon our coming into the world.
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Steve3007
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Re: Defining Nihilism

Post by Steve3007 » January 19th, 2018, 7:01 am

BG:
Moral nihilism is worth considering hypothetically, but in practice its abhorrent and simply nothing more than a destruction of responsibility.
I think a moral nihilist, if they were roughly the same as a moral relativism would argue that it is the opposite of that. I think they'd argue that it assigns the responsibilities for our moral decisions with ourselves and doesn't allow us to abdicate them to a God.
It is a rebellion against the fact that the structure of the universe gives us no guide book upon our coming into the world.
If it is a rebellion, I think it's a rebellion against the opposite of that. It's a rebellion against the idea that there is a guidebook.


Anyway, as I said earlier, if we believe that words are defined by a general aggregate of their current usage then I for one am happy to accept that nihilism is, by definition, a negative, pessimistic and not very helpful world view. And, as such, it's not the same as moral relativism.

For example, according to the character of Howard from the movie The Big Lebowski, nihilism ranks below Nazism:
If Howard is representative, then I disapprove of nihilism, as popularly defined.

Steve3007
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Re: Defining Nihilism

Post by Steve3007 » January 19th, 2018, 7:17 am

My bad. He's not called Howard. He's called Walter. He just reminds me of someone I used to know who was called Howard.

Judaka
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Re: Defining Nihilism

Post by Judaka » January 19th, 2018, 7:18 am

I don't know BG, you may want to have an argument but if we're not on the same page at all then it just can't happen. It's been fascinating to see how someone can have such a different view of what nihilism means than Steve and myself but as an intellectual exercise it's boring to as it was with Dlaw, to need to stop and debate every single sentence of your comments because I disagree with content and validity (or even intelligibility) of every little thing you say.

Burning ghost
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Re: Defining Nihilism

Post by Burning ghost » January 19th, 2018, 11:37 am

Steve -

No guide book is the same as there not being one.

How is it not a destruction of responsibility? If your position is that there is no meaning

Judaka -

I admit my contrast with buddhist philosophy is a little misleading (I have an older thread covering that theme a little more), but over all it is not me getting definitions "wrong" :
Nihilism is the belief that all values are baseless and that nothing can be known or communicated. It is often associated with extreme pessimism and a radical skepticism that condemns existence. A true nihilist would believe in nothing, have no loyalties, and no purpose other than, perhaps, an impulse to destroy. While few philosophers would claim to be nihilists, nihilism is most often associated with Friedrich Nietzsche who argued that its corrosive effects would eventually destroy all moral, religious, and metaphysical convictions and precipitate the greatest crisis in human history.
From : http://www.iep.utm.edu/nihilism/

Here is something else:
Moral skeptics can then argue that the definition of moral nihilism forestalls any refutation. Since moral nihilists question all of our beliefs in moral wrongness, they leave us with no starting points on which to base arguments against them without begging the question at issue. Moreover, moral nihilists' explanations of our moral beliefs predict that we would hold exactly these moral beliefs, so the truth of its predictions can hardly refute moral nihilism. If this trick works, then it fits right into a skeptical hypothesis argument.
From : https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/skepticism-moral/

NOTE : I want to be wrong, the nihilist has no such position because they reject the idea of "wrong."
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Steve3007
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Re: Defining Nihilism

Post by Steve3007 » January 19th, 2018, 12:10 pm

Burning ghost wrote:It [moral nihilism] is a rebellion against the fact that the structure of the universe gives us no guide book upon our coming into the world.
Steve3007 wrote:If it is a rebellion, I think it's a rebellion against the opposite of that. It's a rebellion against the idea that there is a guidebook.
Burning ghost wrote:No guide book is the same as there not being one.
Re-read the above 3 quotes carefully. You said it's a rebellion against the idea that there is NO guidebook. I disagreed and said it's a rebellion against the idea that there IS a guidebook. You then said something which is true by definition (no guide book = no guide book) and is therefore irrelevant.

Can you see that this is what you have done? I'm afraid I agree with Judaka that you seem to have a bit of a basic problem with English language comprehension.

---
Steve3007 wrote:Moral nihilism seems to me reasonably closely related to moral relativism. As I said, this doesn't in itself imply a belief that there is no such thing as morality. It simply says that there is no such thing as morality as a thing which exists in the absence of human minds.
Burning ghost wrote:How is it not a destruction of responsibility? If your position is that there is no meaning
I've told you this.

Re-read the quote above yours. I've made this point several times and it's really very simple. The position of a moral relativist is NOT that there are no morals. The position of a moral relativist is that there are no morals existing independently of human beings or groups of human beings. After I said this you may recall that you then said something irrelevant about mountains. I then pointed out that moral absolutists often believe that a concept like God is the independent and unchanging ("absolute") source of morals. and moral relativists dispute this.

Do you remember this conversation happening?

Burning ghost
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Re: Defining Nihilism

Post by Burning ghost » January 19th, 2018, 12:55 pm

Steve -

But ... there is no guide book? At least no one told me about! :( Are you telling me you were given one at birth?

Joking aside I see the misunderstanding. I was simply saying what drives people to nihilism is that there is NO guide book. They feel cheated by life and when no answers or guidance comes in their life they insist there is no meaning to anything because they know they cannot understand anything for certain.

Why do I have a problem with English comprehension? I never said that the position of the Moral Relativist is that is that they say there are no morals did I? Quote where I said that.

I mentioned the mountains to illustrate the absurdity of the idea that morals can be applied to non-humans (independent of humans.) Ah! I see the problem there! haha! We merely articulate what we do and express it as best we can. That does not make it non-existent only physically tangible.
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Steve3007
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Re: Defining Nihilism

Post by Steve3007 » January 20th, 2018, 3:58 am

Burning ghost wrote:I was simply saying what drives people to nihilism is that there is NO guide book. They feel cheated by life and when no answers or guidance comes in their life they insist there is no meaning to anything because they know they cannot understand anything for certain.
Maybe, but I don't know. I haven't asked any nihilists why they adopt that worldview. If we were to say that a moral nihilist is the same as a moral relativist then I wouldn't say that's an accurate description. It doesn't seem accurate to say that, as a general rule, moral relativists feel cheated by life. I think they just think we're responsible for our own morality.
Burning ghost wrote:Why do I have a problem with English comprehension? I never said that the position of the Moral Relativist is that is that they say there are no morals did I? Quote where I said that.
You said this:
Burning ghost wrote:How is it not a destruction of responsibility? If your position is that there is no meaning
It's sometimes difficult to interpret your words and their relevance to the conversation. We were talking, among other things, about moral nihilism being equivalent to moral relativism. We appeared to be using the words "meaning" and "morals" approximately interchangeably. Your use of the word "your" in this sentence can't have been referring to me, because I hadn't been talking about my own views. I had been talking about the views, as I understand them, of moral nihilists/relativists. So I assume the "your" must have been referring to those people. Given all of that, you appeared to be stating here that the position of moral relativists/nihilists is that there is no meaning/morality. My own understanding, as I'd already stated, is that they don't think that. They believe that there is no objectively existing meaning or morality. i.e. they believe that the meaning and morality is made by human beings, not, for example, by an eternal and unchanging god.
Burning ghost wrote:I mentioned the mountains to illustrate the absurdity of the idea that morals can be applied to non-humans (independent of humans.) Ah! I see the problem there! haha! We merely articulate what we do and express it as best we can. That does not make it non-existent only physically tangible.
Nobody was talking about applying morals to non-humans. The idea of morals existing independently of the morality of individual humans or groups of humans - the position of the moral absolutist - does not mean that.

I don't understand the relevance of the part after "Ah! I see the problem there!..."

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Re: Defining Nihilism

Post by Judaka » January 20th, 2018, 4:22 am

Well let me tell you BG, I’ve already given quite a long argument about how I felt moral nihilism/nihilism/moral relativism can be used in a practical sense that promotes self-esteem, empowerment of self, happiness and so on. Rather than address anything I said, you made a rather incomprehensible argument which misused terms and ideas. You haven’t thought about these ideas through and your uses of terms are bad, I already gave you an explanation to why I think that and you did not address it. Your argument to begin with relied on objectivity and objective truth being the same thing, they aren’t, your reply is that objective truth relies on objective meaning, I cannot fathom how that could be the case. If you’re going to make such huge claims, can you at least give some logic or evidence for it?

It seems to me you are just targeting the components of a long post that you feel are easiest to attack or disprove. And rather than addressing criticism, just going on the offensive. I am happy to debate anyone that is happy to deal with my arguments but if it’s just going to be me saying my piece and you saying your piece, I come to the forum for an interactive experience, if I wanted monologues then I’d read books instead.

As for your given definitions of nihilism and moral nihilism, I really think those definitions are worthless because they go too far. It’s like defining communism as “Communism is a political idea that focuses on extreme egalitarianism, people who believe in it are generally naïve or uneducated as the general concept is unrealistic”. If Nihilism isn’t a psychological condition but a philosophy then defining the behaviour of a nihilist in the definition of nihilism is absolutely absurd and biased. Similarly I can define Christianity “Christians are people who believe that God sent Jesus Christ down to earth to save mankind from sin, they are generally optimistic people emboldened by the promise of heaven for righteous people. Christians are generally very moral people because to get into heaven, they need to follow the God’s rules.”

There are definitions like new atheism and such which also do this, I think it’s absurd. You can say “well that’s the definition if you don’t like it then tough ****” but no, I just reject the language being used. I don’t need to accept biased and stupid terms; I’ll just boycott them or debate against those definitions. A philosophy definition should just be the position and nothing else, for nihilism that is “a belief that no objective meaning or purpose exists in the universe” or “a belief that no valid meaning or purpose exists in the universe” or whatever else. In spite of that, let me say that how you have broken down your beliefs about how nihilism functions with regards to your terminology, comprehension and causal arguments are just as weak.

Worst of all, you are essentially like Dlaw in the sense that you make huge, huge claims without any respect. Dlaw says “men are worse at this this this, and then you ask for evidence, and he quickly googles some complete crap source and as though he doesn't care that he is making big claims that should have been thought hard about, I really don’t see the hard work here. When called out on that, he just ignores it and say “there’s no way I’m wrong” and moves on to the next easy mark. Your idol, Jordan Peterson, is very careful with his words, never says anything he can’t instantly back up with strong evidence and he’s great to listen to because he has great credibility since you know, when he does get called out on stuff – he can provide his reasoning and you know it’s going to be worth hearing.

On the other hand, I can’t engage with “Nihilism is bad because without objective meaning we don’t have any objective truths and that means subjectivity doesn’t exist either”. Every single thing you’ve said here has been a huge claim with zero respect for evidence, logic or any form of effort in philosophy.

Seeming you simultaneously act so lost and ignorant while also preachy and speaking in absolutes and with certainty. I don't see the difference between this and what Dlaw and Dachshund were doing. I'm running out of people whose opinions I take seriously here.

Burning ghost
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Re: Defining Nihilism

Post by Burning ghost » January 20th, 2018, 8:37 am

Thanks to you both.

I'll reassess this and try harder (I think the whole buddhist philosophy did nothing other than create mayhem, sorry for that.) Peterson isn't my "idol." I admire his work as I do the work of many people, dead and living.
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Burning ghost
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Re: Defining Nihilism

Post by Burning ghost » January 20th, 2018, 12:12 pm

Can we start by taken on the problem of what a "moral fact" is?

Am I right to assume that Judaka is saying there are no moral facts. If so, then I need a definition of what is meant by a moral fact. The obvious problem here is denial of something that cannot even be defined. This is like the denial of God, and so the argument then take on the same role.

I am correct in assuming we've moved onto defining "Moral Nihilism"? I am guessing the OP is dead? If not then I think it may be of value to remark on the difference between moral absolutism and moral objectivism, because the OP appears to frame moral objectivism as moral absolutism in part -

I can sympathise with the idea of nothing being "right" or "wrong", but yet still framing things as "good" or "bad." I can sympathise if some semantic groundwork is put down that explains the differences between "bad" and "wrong", and "good" and "right." If is unimportant ignore it - I am just fishing for clarity.

Judaka -
I’ve already given quite a long argument about how I felt moral nihilism/nihilism/moral relativism can be used in a practical sense that promotes self-esteem, empowerment of self, happiness and so on.
I will try and pick these out now then ...
BG, I agree that Nihilism isn't an inherently good thing, what I think Nihilism does is create a malleability in values which can cause people to suffer as you are describing. However I don't think Nihilism does that inherently, something already covered by views like Absurdism. Also I think Nihilism can be useful for separating yourself from values which lack practicality and that's my interest in it. I have a lot of views about Nihilism already but I always questioned whether what I am describing is really Nihilism or just something similar.


We have a pretty solid agreement here.

I was being a bit "preachy" I guess. I am general in the habit of perfecting my writing and when I am online I usually give myself more freedom and try to write as plainly as I can - long way to go yet! :)

I am generally on the same page here to:
If you destroy your old value systems with nihilism and replace it with nothing, then you get the dark nihilism where there's no reason to do anything, neither eat nor breathe, existential nihilism. However most of my views about this subject came before I knew about the term Nihilism, so I am still unsure about the exact definition.
I promise you I was not picking out the weak points. I could not respond to the rest because I couldn't make head nor tail of it (referring to the longer passage you wrote on page 2 - I will sleep on it and try and address that tomorrow.)

Steve -

It is probably not productive to start a back and forth. I did mean "your" in reference to the "others" not yourself.
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Re: Defining Nihilism

Post by Fooloso4 » January 20th, 2018, 1:59 pm

I distinguish between moral relativism and nihilism. If nihilism is the denial of value then it is the denial of relative value. On the other hand, not all forms of moral relativism make the claim that all moral determinations are equal. One can recognize the absence of an absolute moral standard and still hold that it is right or wrong or good or bad to do this or that. There may be no way to settle the issue or find universal agreement, but that is not a good reason to conclude that no decision is any better or worse than another.

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