Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Nihilism - some thoughts..

Nihilism is often described as a belief in the nonexistence of truth. In its more extreme forms, such a belief is difficult to justify, because it contains a variation on the liar paradox if it is true that truth does not exist, the statement "truth does not exist" is itself a truth, therefore showing itself to be inconsistent. .

Listening to Leonard Cohen's 'The Future' track, it struck me that though this is the darkest moment of his mood songs, what underlined it for me was it nihilism, a philosophy that negates the point of our lives, negates everything in actual fact, human thought is not even allowed to balance on the proverbial pinhead, everything must be swept away for it does'nt really have any meaning. It is a philosophy one should never teach the children about, as they grow up they will come on it in books and songs but hopefully will only grasp its teachings imperfectly for it is a truth that is both frightening and destructive of the human soul.
There are plenty of explanations in that invaluable resource Wikipedia;
it was noted in modern music, you see it in 'millenia doom', the end of the world 2012, there is a fear of the unknown, the impending chaos of natural forces too large to be beaten by human endeavour.
Denying that a god or that many gods exist leads to that ultimate thought that there is no 'truth', that we can only explain in terms of the physical, the sciences, Darwinism, to make sense of the world we live in. Even here we are struck by the limitations of such sciences, these building blocks are as yet incomplete, another 'truth' in the future could sweep them aside.
Our western culture, so contemptuous of the rest of the world, is naive in its youthful appraisal of others, and perhaps especially of the intellectual development that has taken place in other cultures and religions, our truth is thinly balanced on our experiences of a historic background founded on a narrative that is patently made up for the benefit of the society that lives in it.
Religion and beliefs of course provides the much smaller stories that make up our lives, they are the myths created to underwrite our societal needs.
Nihilism is a bleak force, it negates the point of living, it can be used selfishly by the young to lead fruitless lives because nothing is important therefore why bother. Its blackness appeals to the dark time of the emotions when pessimism rules, like a dark cloud it sweeps through ones thoughts but conversely the strong warmth of the sun and the blueness of a beautiful sky will lift the spirit. It is a philosophy that has been explained in great detail, and it is a reminder that 'truth' is as ephemeral as water.

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