Is nihilism a valid philosophy?
1. The pursuit of truth in a fundamentally unknowable world has value in and of itself. We can never be ‘right’ be we can always try to be less wrong.
2. A value or ideology can must be judged on its application as well as intent. If the intent and outcome are BOTH ‘good’ : it is good.
3. The rejection of beliefs is of itself a belief. If Nihlism is hailed as the true approach to life, it becomes no different than any other blind faith.
4. Reason and meaning are different. Reason is knowable: cause and effect: we exist BECAUSE we were born, we dislike pain and seek pleasure because we are programmed to survive and perpetuate. Meaning is subjective and thus far unknown: eg) we exist TO *insert religious/spiritual/personal/psychological/philosophical ideaology here*
5. The pursuit of truth must be in delicate balance with the appreciation of beauty and good. Whether or not there is meaning, there is subjective value in admiring flowers and being kind to people. A rejection of meaning, should not entail a rejection of cause and effect.
I construct my arguement on the basis of these pillars:
Nihilism, treated as a truth is unhelpful. Nihilism treated as a method is helpful.
If nihilism encourages the pursuit of truth and the appreciation of beauty, it is ‘good’ (1) but only if it does not undermine ‘good’ (5). The effect of nihilism is relative to the individual (2) the optimist may rejoice, the pessimist may dispair but the words are the same ‘nothing matters’. On a collective scale, a nihilistic society may have greater or less respect for life. If nihilism discouraged senseless discrimination and promoted respect and appreciation, it would be good, but it is equally possible some may wield as an excuse to be dicks (3) such is the downfall of any ideoalogy) but this a problem of philosophy, not psychology. Because good and bad judged by intent and outcome is an extremely complex and relative formula, it is better to aim for ‘true’. Thus aim for a philosophy and society based on objective ‘truth’ whilst retaining meaning as subjective (4).
In the end, we all choose on the basis of our own biases. I try to constantly re-evaluate and update mine. I hope this, my current thoughts on nihilism may prove insightful, and if not, you’re more than welcome to debate with me.
Now to the artwork...
Why I painted this to represent nihilism:
It depicts the ideoalogies and emotions of nihilism. Biologically the reason for life is procreation. The subject of the painting can be seen as raw and crude, just nature fulfilling its spiral... but that depends on the perspective (as shown in the elegant style). Life without meaning is no less beautiful, it is not meaning that gives life beauty. Life is inherently beautiful. Meaning adds nothing, only changes the image. The nature of that change comes from who is witnessing it (how I chose to paint it). ‘Nothing matters’ is a terrible agony or a greatest joy. Personally I see nihlism as beautiful, elegant and calming. A truth, no matter what it is, is only scary if you’re afraid. Stare into the void, and smile.
Acrylic on canvas
60 x 60 cm