Philosophy research papers on existential nihilism custom written at Paper Masters.
Nihilism as a philosophical concept is lacking in belief in some of the facets of life that are believed to be the most meaningful. Existential nihilism, the core principles of which were made popular through the works of Friedrich Nietzsche, takes this one step farther and maintains a disbelief in the significance of any one individual or the entire human race as a whole. This theory posits the following:
- Life has no inherent value or meaning;
- Humans, individually or collectively, have no purpose
- Humans are unlikely to ever really exhibit change.
This position has existed in western civilizations from the onset; it can be traced back to some of the earliest philosophers in one form or another, and it is seen in the writings of some of the greatest authors in history, including William Shakespeare's play, Macbeth.
Existential nihilism also holds true the idea that man can never fully understand the "why" of any aspect of life. As a result, man is forced to create his own meaning, all of which is, essentially, meaningless. Anything man thinks or feels is merely in response to something else; free will to create one's own thoughts and feelings is inherently denied, thus depriving man the ability to create any true meaning to life. Any meaning found in religion or philosophy are also equally meaningless, as these are only created in response to the fear man feels of death and an end of his existence. Life, in essence, has no meaning; existential nihilists believe that individuals claiming to understand the meaning of life are being utterly dishonest with themselves and their existence.
Nietzsche's philosophy possesses certain illuminating propositions, but places too much emphasis on the destruction of old systems, which amounts to fundamental nihilism. He is against rationalism, religion, art, aspects of science, and many traditional views of philosophy. I each case, he views these expressions as encouraging false values that are from the truth. At the same time, Nietzsche uses rational means to arrive at the nihilist conclusion that nothing can actually be known. That is, he criticizes rationalism, yet uses a rational process to arrive at his irrational outlook. In Will to Power Nietzsche writes:
The world in which we are concerned is false, i.e. is not a fact but a fable, an approximation on the basis of a meager sum of observations; it is 'in flux', as something in a state of becoming, as a falsehood always changing but never getting near the truth: for - there is no 'truth' (Nietzsche, 298).
Nietzsche's view that the value of the world lies in subjective interpretation rather than in the evidence of reason would be considered sophistry by many Athenians. The sophists, who taught the art of argument rather than a process for discovering knowledge, arrived at a similar conclusion as Nietzsche, regarding the permanent value of things. For both, value was a matter of subjective interpretation, rather than the application of a rational process. The dialogues of Socrates, which relied on reason for their outcomes, were a response to the nihilistic nature of sophistry. Likewise, the rational process displayed by the Socratic dialogues may be used to refute Nietzsche's claims. Athenians would argue that Nietzsche's philosophy was irrational, and therefore was unable to be proven by any purely rational means.