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The Irony of Nihilism (Also, Philosocom's Directory on Nihilism)

Updated: Mar 11

An absurd abstract painting.


The irony of nihilism is that nihilists can have it easier to live a happy life, simply because they don't depend on finding or creating an exalted sense of purposefulness in their identity. As such, they not only have a shorter route to happiness, but they're also more independent of needing to carry a sense of depth and importance in order to be satisfied. That is the benefit of being a nihilist: to live life without taking it too seriously or too sacredly.

We are taught that we need a specific meaning to adhere to in order to live a fulfilling life, and that meaningfulness is inseparable from happiness. However, this does not have to be true. Finding or creating meaning requires more effort than living life without a specific meaning.

This is why nihilists can have it easier living happily, just as they can have it easier living depressingly; they do not depend their state of being on meaning or a lack of it. Thus, even if they are less productive and contribute less to society, they can easily be happier than people who are convinced that they need a philosophical purpose in order to be happy, just like they can be easily more depressed.

Nihilists are to purposefulness as ascetics are to materialism; they have ascended beyond the desire to have it to live a satisfying life. For nihilists, drinking coffee can be as joyful as an artist attempting to draw a masterpiece; it's not that the coffee they're drinking is their purpose like the purpose of the artist; it is that they can feel as joyful when drinking coffee, the same as when the artist attempts to draw a masterpiece, because their mindset does not have to include a greater purpose to feel satisfied.

Of course, the opposite could be true for nihilists, depending on what they feel about the belief that existence has no inherent meaning. If they are convinced that they need meaning in order to feel satisfied, while they believe no such meaning exists, they can easily be depressed the same they could've been happier if they believed they don't need meaning, or if they simply don't care about meaning at all.

All of the logic behind this article comes from the understanding of what nihilism is and only is: that existence is devoid of any meaning whatsoever. It does not indicate to us in any way what we should feel or conclude about the claim or about those who follow it. Hence why much of what some of us may associate with this concept is but a generalization of our own interpretation, as if the latter is actually a part of the concept's definition.

It's like believing atheists are against religion while basically they simply deny the existence of one or more gods. Of course, some of them may hate religion, but that's beyond the realm of initial atheism. Apply the same logic to nihilism and to nihilists that apply the same premise differently to their lives. The basic premise should therefore be distinguished from the subjective conclusions that are followed.

Take note that I am not a nihilist, but an existentialist. I believe that meaning, even in a meaningless universe, can be created and followed. My own motivation behind existentialism is to increase my productivity and contribute to the world. Therefore existentialism is the premise behind my philosophy and this website in general, but I digress.

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Tomasio A. Rubinshtein, Philosocom's Founder & Writer

I am a philosopher from Israel, author of several books in 2 languages, and Quora's Top Writer of the year 2018. I'm also a semi-hermit who has decided to dedicate his life to writing and sharing my articles across the globe. Several podcasts on me, as well as a radio interview, have been made since my career as a writer. More information about me can be found here.

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