Remember that arcane feeling that sometimes takes our imagination flying to the end of the universe or to the beginning. At a point where space-time seizes to exist. To the pure nothingness. Horrid isn't it! Makes us question the purpose of life? If we go to the core of this though dilemma what we find horrid is death. or more so the idea of not being of nothingness. the oblivion of or by our own consciousness.
Some may think: but there is a Heaven, a Hell, and maybe a Purgatory too. Where good deeds will be rewarded, sins will be punished and scores will be settled; once in for all. At this point, I quote one of my favourite last lines in books.
“Isn't it pretty to think so.” ~ Ernest Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises
So in this post, I am going to consider an ideological concept named Nihilism. Nihilism is a Latin origin word in Latin nihil means nothing. To put it in the simplest terms, Nihilism is a philosophy that nothing is objective truth and the traditional values and beliefs have no strong foundation and are the constructs of humanity. It points out that existence is senseless and useless. Which if we think objectively about makes a lot of sense.
Question: Do you think Maths is a subjective construct of humanity or Do you think It is an objective truth?
In my younger self's opinion, the presence of universal constants made the concept of Maths an objective truth. for example, the value of Pi that is approximated say, up to two decimal points is 3.14. This value of Pi is a constant for the whole universe. But, when one brings in the einstein's Theory of relativity; Which, in broader terms suggest that space-time is subjective. Space-time continuum in an elementary form includes a single dimension that can be measured in length, so inferring that length is subjective. Which in turn shakes my younger self's firm opinion of maths being an objective truth. The mental debate of If Maths is an objective truth is still on and remains unsettled. Let me know what you think.
The only reason we think things matter and we place this false sense of belief in the life is because we are distracting ourselves from the inevitability of Death. We are consciously and/or unconsciously terrified of death. We are aware that we do not have any escape from life but, death. The point of life just diminishes if we think that we are all going to die in the end. We are desperate for an objective, we looking for a meaning and purpose of our existence. So, we organize our life around a fabricated goal and lifestyle. The timeline of life's goals that is well crafted in communities to distract us from the empty feeling of Nihilism. We go to educate ourselves, pick a profession to practice, find a "companion", have children. A decided pattern to feel accomplished in life to distract ourselves.
We need something to strive on, something to achieve that is beyond this life. Religion, perhaps! Historically religion has saved people from the empty feeling of purposelessness. Since there were no scientific advancements. People believed in miracles, Incoherent ideas were not refuted or questioned rationally. But as civilizations grew and irrationality was put up to test. that comfort of religion was taken away from many analytical people. Soren Kierkegaard (an 18-century Danish Philosopher) advised when faced with nihilism, turn off the rational thinking and take a "Leap of Faith" . He wrote, "To have faith is to lose your mind and win God". However, Kierkegaard's solution to the problem of nihilism is not quite convincing. His argument is irrational. The idea of defying logic is not an inclination of a human brain. Thus, many of us don't take that "Leap".
Furthermore, with an advancement in Science, we have reached a to a point where we need Empirical Evidence to support a grand claims of Religion. We cannot be satisfied with scriptures that lack logic and defy the universal laws. That Religion does not offer satisfactory evidence. One may say, person refuting the religious claims must disprove the religion entirely. To make a counter-argument to that claim I bring in a thought experiment called Russell's Teapot. Russell's Teapot is an analogy to refute the idea that the burden of proof lies upon the skeptic to disprove a claim. Bertrand Russell, claims that a teapot orbits the Sun somewhere in space between the Earth and Mars, it is nonsensical for him to expect others to believe him on the ground that they cannot prove him wrong.
Another Philosopher who is often associated with Nihilism is Friedrich Nietzsche. Nietzche argued that Nihilism is corrosive and would eventually destroy all moral, religious, and metaphysical belief and lead to the greatest crisis in human history. When Nietzche found himself disenchanted with the ideas of religions, subjective morals, and the illusion of the objective truth. He said, "God is Dead!" He inferred, he no longer subscribe to the ideas of constructed morality.
Interestingly, Nietzsche himself provide a solution. Nietzche said that If we survived the process of destroying all interpretations of the world, we could then perhaps discover the correct course for humankind. He said the one who will successfully be able to do so in the future may be called a Übermensch. Übermensch is a german word that literally translates into "SuperMan" Until Nietzche's Übermensch arrives or we are released by the kiss of Death, let us keep on being distracted by whatever works for us.
For me, I subscribe to an optimistic approach to Nihilism. Yes, nothing is True, we are all going to Die and Knowledge is a invent and Life as we know it, is Subjective. So what I am going to do? I will be living my Life doing whatever makes me happy. Try to make the people I love happy. Surround me with delightfulness. This life, it is all we got, might as well make it worth it until we are here.
PS If you have been looking for the answer to the ultimate question of the Life, Universe, and Everything. The answer is 42. (If you know what I mean ... #TheHitchhikersGuideToTheGalaxy)
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