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This diary was induced by the successful attempt to explain an Atheist's thoughts of Christmas as a religious holiday.

So discussing the deeper meanings of philosophical standpoints was besides the scope of that diary. I try to touch on these issues in this diary.

Firstly I need to define that these philosophical beliefs are not important without them being put to practice. Thus by definition nihilists ought to be suiciding at the moment of the realization of their beliefs.

In my view, monotheistic religions are a vague attempt of providing a reference point and protecting humans from the paralyzing realization resulting from the absurdity of the human condition.

Personally, I believe that things that all such things matter are make-believe. That's right, I believe that any faith not just in the supernatural but to friends, is make-believe. This system of faith only works because people buy into it. Faith matters because we, or our survival genes, compel ourselves - usually not by choice - to buy into it. While this convention disturbs me, I accept it and try move on. That is not nihilism. It's hypocrisy to the interest of self-preservation.

Similarly the more liberal versions of religions are general make-believe conventions that simply try to persuade humans to make the best of their lives so that they don't become paralyzed or self-destruct.

In this view of existence, everybody but acting nihilists, believe in the preservation of human life; people have simply devised different poetic forms of expressing these views and concluding that life is worth living.

The subcategorization of "believers" in humans vs god simply attempts to explain whether the origin and geographical existence (inside and by us or outside of and by God) of good and evil in different ways but has accepted the definition of good and evil. A further subcategorization of believers is based on how much of what we do comes from God or from us. This is the Palin/Falwell vs Obama/Kennedy version of religion.

These subcategorizations are important but not primary in answering the original question. As Camus wrote the primary philosophical debate is whether life is worth living. I wholly subscribe to this points of view. Nihilists don't.

Originally posted to ystasino on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 02:06 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  To be fair... (0+ / 0-)

    Nihilism is not Existentialism.

    Every day's another chance to stick it to The Man. - dls.

    by The Raven on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 02:10:27 PM PST

    •  Camus died before he explained it (0+ / 0-)

      but if you search for his unpublished thoughts it is clear that this worried him.

      He had not devised a way to avoid nihilism as an existentialist.

      •  How does one search for unpublished thoughts? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Divination? Phrenology?

      •  Can you write this diary again in english please? (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Jules Beaujolais, Arken, Indexer, BlueTape

        I can't wade through all the pedantic jargon to arrive at any sort of thesis.  It looks like someone pulled some philosophy and religion papers out of the shredder and tried to re-assemble them.  
        Sorry, I hate to be critical, because I think there is some interesting ideas in there somewhere, I just can't decipher them.

        George W Bush: 8 years of Presidency, 13 Years of War (and counting...).

        by XNeeOhCon on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 02:32:05 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  You think that's bad... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
        •  Not taken personally (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          But I am not sure which part is hard to follow. The point of the diary is that in the hierarchy of questions about human existence, the one at the top is Camus's:

          Is life worth living? Nihilists would, I believe answer that with a no. Non-religious humanists or religious people would answer that with a yes. They would just offer different versions of that yes: Religious people particularly those of the monotheistic kind would project good and evil to something outside them and possibly even beyond their control. Humanists would not, though it would be hard to say what they would project in a few sentences because they come in different flavors.

          Is this better?

          •  If nihilists all answered no, (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Jules Beaujolais

            there would be no nihilists. Just because life is meaningless doesn't mean it's not worth living. A universe devoid of meaning doesn't diminish the human capacity for pleasure.

            •  I understand but then (0+ / 0-)

              they wouldn't be nihilists, but they would believe in nihilism.

              •  Why wouldn't they be nihilists? (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                jaywillie, Jules Beaujolais

                Nihilism says nothing about pleasure or desire for it.

                •  Because following a philosophy means... (0+ / 0-)

                  living it.

                  eg: You can believe in Christianity but not be a Christian.

                  Like I said believing in nothing means not believing in life itself.

                     A nihilist is a man who judges of the world as it is that it ought NOT to be, and of the world as it ought to be that it does not exist. According to this view, our existence (action, suffering, willing, feeling) has no meaning: the pathos of 'in vain' is the nihilists' pathos — at the same time, as pathos, an inconsistency on the part of the nihilists.

                     – Friedrich Nietzsche, The Will to Power, section 585, translated by Walter Kaufmann

          •  that seems to conclude that (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Jules Beaujolais, Arken, The Raven
            a nihilist would, by definition, be suicidal.  I think that nihilism, despite the initial impression the philosophy tends to generate, is a little more complex than just "there is no reason to live."  I'm not sure that the catergories of Nihilist, Humanist, Religious, etc are all mutually exclusive.  

            Are you just trying out a peer-reviewed philosphy paper on Camus or something? Are we the guinea pigs in an elaborate attempt to craft an original set of definitions of Nihilism, Humanism, Atheism, and Religious motivation amoungst progressives?  

            Again, not trying to be a dick, but I still don't quite get the point of this rhetorical excercise.

            George W Bush: 8 years of Presidency, 13 Years of War (and counting...).

            by XNeeOhCon on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 02:50:50 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Excellent point! (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              I think that a little more complex than just "there is no reason to live."

              Absolutely. Even if "there is no reason to live," it does not follow that "there is a reason to die."

              As for the Existentialists, John Paul Sartre had a lot more to say on the matter than Camus.

              Every day's another chance to stick it to The Man. - dls.

              by The Raven on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 05:57:17 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

      •  Certainly Sartre managed it. (0+ / 0-)

        Camus was a twisted fuck, so who knows?  But existentialism, whatever one thinks of its intellectual credibility, accepts the possibility of choice in human affairs, whereas for a nihilist, all choice is but an illusion in the hopeless morass of existence.

        I bow to those who seek the truth; I flee from those who have 'found' it.

        by SERMCAP on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 05:12:10 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  If Sartre's support of Stalin, the goulags... (0+ / 0-)

          and what the French did in Algeria wasn't fucked up then you need to get your brain checked.

          •  Sartre and Stalin! (0+ / 0-)

            Guilt by association is a legitimate tactic, of course, but is his support for Russia under Stalin the sum total of the man?  I'd opt for a different choice, though I too would hope to have criticized such a choice were I alive at the time.  On the other hand, bringing up this, when the issue is Camus' ideation and my comment mentioning that Sartre played a central role in the development of existentialism without giving in to nihilism, seems anomalous.  At least, unless your purpose is anticipatory red-baiting, this decision on your part seems strange.  Is anticipatory red-baiting your purpose?

            In any event, you need to 'go back to school' about several issues.  First of all, Sartre turned on the bureaucratic state capitalism of Russia in the '60's, so nothing akin to unqualified support characterized his life.  As the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy makes the point,

            He summarized his disillusionment in an essay "The Communists are afraid of Revolution," following the "events of May," 1968. By then he had moved toward the radical Left... .

            Do you know anything about Jean Paul Sartre other than the fact that he long supported the CCCP?  If not, SEP and other sources have great articles for you to check out.

            As to the apparently savagely intended syllogism that represented the sum total of your reply, once again, your facts seem malapropos for the position which I presume you espouse.  Camus, though socially critical of French imperialism in such work as The Stranger, was a staunch supporter of the French butchery in North Africa.  

            Sartre was equally powerfully opposed to the murder that France promulgated in its former colonies as superior civilization.  Again, Stanford's materials make this clear, in the signed article there to which I referred you.

               Never one to avoid a battle, Sartre became embroiled in the Algerian War, generating deep hostility from the Right to the point that a bomb was detonated at the entrance to his apartment building by supporters of a French Algeria. Sartre's political critique conveyed in a series of essays, interviews and plays, especially The Condemned of Altona, once more combined a sense of structural exploitation (in this case, the institution of colonialism and its attendant racism) with an expression of moral outrage at the oppression of the Muslim population and the torture of captives by the French military.
               Mention of the play brings to mind the role of imaginative art in Sartre's philosophical work. This piece, whose chief protagonist is Frantz "the butcher of Smolensk," though ostensibly about the effect of Nazi atrocities at the Eastern front on a postwar industrialist family in Hamburg, is really addressing the question of collective guilt and the French suppression of the Algerian war for independence raging at that time.

            Anyhow, I appreciate this chance to develop this interesting thread further on this day of the return of the light.  Merry Christmas.

            I bow to those who seek the truth; I flee from those who have 'found' it.

            by SERMCAP on Thu Dec 25, 2008 at 11:26:38 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  If you're going to call Camus a twisted fuck... (0+ / 0-)

              1968??? LOL

              I think Sartre's non-opposition of mass murder under Stalin ranks up there with the support of Franco by Dali. Those two I would be more inclined to call twisted fucks.

              And by the way Google is a useful tool:


              Even this Sartre-lover writes that Sartre supported the Algiers massacre.

              Sartre reacted to the demonstration against NATO commander Gen. Matthew Ridgway, smashed in Paris by the police, with his famous "an anti-Communist is a dog." His basic premise at the time was that the Communist Party was the only revolutionary representative of the French working class and that the Soviet Union was a socialist state in need of repair (en panne). He then wrote a pamphlet in honor of a French Communist sailor resisting the French invasion of Indochina; he spoke at the peace congress in Vienna in 1952; he also traveled to Russia and wrote things that he should not have: for instance, that "freedom of criticism there was complete." Yet even then, collaboration between Sartre and the Communists was mutually suspicious, and it broke off in 1956, when Soviet tanks entered Budapest. Sartre then proclaimed that he would sever links with Soviet writers who did not condemn this massacre; "as to the men who at this time direct the French CP, it is not, and it would never be, possible to resume relations."

              Never say never. Circumstances altered. There was some hope of a thaw in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe and the putsch that brought de Gaulle to power in 1958. Add the anticolonial struggle (Sartre discovered Castro's Cuba and wrote the violent preface to Frantz Fanon's The Wretched of the Earth), especially the war in Algeria, during which, incidentally, Sartre's Paris flat was blown up by rightist OAS thugs. And so he reappeared on common platforms with Communists and resumed his fairly frequent journeys to the Soviet Union (we now know that these also had a sentimental reason: his beautiful translator and guide, Lena Zonina). But the collaboration was always strained, since Sartre was no man to march to a party line. For instance, he signed and published in his journal the famous "Manifesto of the 121," approving the desertion of French soldiers in the Algerian war, whereas the CP was against it. But the final break came in 1968: In May the student demonstrations and the strikes ultimately convinced Sartre that the French CP was not a revolutionary force. In August the tanks entering Prague persuaded him that the Soviet Union and its bloc needed much, much more than repairs. He ceased to believe in its progressive function.

              Whoa it took Sartre 20+ years to realize that distancing himself from Stalin's massacres and espousing his own twisted interpretation of Marxism. The Soviets had to invade Budapest and Prague for Sartre to realize they represented nothing more than a power grab.

              While Camus was not perfect, he fought fascism and supported Arab integration.

              Maybe you are just sorry he opposed the Marxism his former friend repeatedly studied and supported for decades.

              That's not mere association. Sartre repeatedly participated in CP functions through the 50s and the 60s.

            •  You should read: (0+ / 0-)


              You might want to hail Marxism, I don't think I will follow.

              Naturally you may seek to label me and sent me in some gulag :)

  •  All nihilists are suicides, (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    grayday101, dconrad

    but not all suicides are nihilists?

    The future will be better tomorrow. -D.Quayle

    by word player on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 02:12:00 PM PST

  •  Ve vant ze money, Lebowski. (9+ / 0-)

    Walter Sobchak:

    Nihilists! Fuck me. I mean, say what you like about the tenets of National Socialism, Dude, at least it's an ethos.

  •  asdf (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Firstly I need to define that these philosophical beliefs are not important without them being put to practice. Thus by definition nihilists ought to be suiciding at the moment of the realization of their beliefs.

    Then it is a good thing that the nihilists are not obligated to use your definitions. Nihilism is the believe that there is no objective meaning, purpose or objective value to existence. It is not the believe that there is no reason to remain alive.

    I think objective purpose is great - if you're a toy soldier. I'm not a nihilist, but I think some look in the wrong place for meaning and purpose.

  •  Watch 'The Meaning of Life' and 'The Life of (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Brian'. All will be revealed or reviled.

  •  I used to call myself a Hedonistic Nihilist (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Jules Beaujolais, Indexer

    as shorthand way of saying, "I really don't care and I'll do what I want". But I think that hurt the brains of my more philosophically minded friends.

    "What Do You Want for Christmas, Crow?" "I want to decide who lives and who dies."

    by Larry Madill on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 02:21:14 PM PST

  •  i have a degree (5+ / 0-)

    in philosophy from one of the top 25 depts. in the country.

    this is jibberish.

    •  nihilism (0+ / 0-)

      Did you have to pass a spelling test for the degree?

    •  Or the paradigms of your dept are....nt (0+ / 0-)
      •  the dept. (0+ / 0-)

        was heavy on history of philosophy.

        but i got to take a few sweet classes like phil/bio of brain/mind, existentialism, and a great political philosophy course.

        i had to hop over to comp lit and english to do a lot of post-marxist work that i wanted to do.

        •  Where was it.... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          and my comment was that academic areas are subject to fads, so while this diarist wasn't speaking in the idiom of current academic philosophy, he/she was trying to express his thoughts, his observations.

          A good friend of mine has a PhD in philosophy from Harvard, and taught for decades.  No one is more cynical of academic philosophy that he.

          An individual can say this diary didn't make sense, which is fair, but calling it gibberish is too harsh.

          •  University of Wisconsin - Madison (0+ / 0-)

            it reads like it came off the PoMo generator.

            it neither constructs useful concepts nor uses existing lexicon in a manner that makes any sense.

            it gets a big, fat, red F.

            Fail. Feel free to try again, of course.

            Also, it misses the boat re: Camus/suicide completely, the one near coherent point in the dairy.

            •  Hey, this is an informal diary.... (0+ / 0-)

              I wrote a serious comment on IMDB about a film, and the reaction was an angry....

              "And your comment doesn't have to be written like a master's thesis"

              And what's a "PoMo" generator, anyhow?  

              Philosophy shares a quality with other highly subjective disciplines, being there is no external validation possible, adherence to style becomes the only method to evaluate one's work.

              This is why an outsider can still make a splash in Physics (A. Einstein) or mathematics, since it is testable, and can be validated.

              String theory has taken theoretical physics closer to philosophy, since it is not testable.  And this is a shame.

              My only suggestion is be a bit kinder to someone who did not have the benefit of your educational experience.

    •  And that's different from other filosofy (0+ / 0-)

      how, exactly?


      I finally put in a signature!

      by Boris Godunov on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 04:20:50 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I don't believe a word of this diary. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jaywillie, bythesea, ffrf

    Having credibility when making an argument is the straightest path to persuasion.

    by SpamNunn on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 02:39:33 PM PST

  •  Famous bathroom saying: (0+ / 0-)

    "God is dead!" -- Nietzsche

    "Nietzsche is dead!" -- God

    Bonus points if you can spell Nietzsche without looking it up.

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