Questioning your existence? You may be a nihilist

Think for a moment that there are stories other than yours, and that there are dreams and ambitions perhaps greater than your own. Now sustain this thought indefinitely. Consider, now, why your life is worth living in comparison to the lives of these others – the whole of humanity – and reason in a way that does not resemble an excuse or an appeal to emotion. If you cannot justify your existence, I implore you: do not exist.

Did you take offense to that last bit? If so: why? Existentialism and the raison d’?tre are not so recent developments of philosophy in the history of man, yet the Socratic entreaty (“An unexamined life is not worth living”) has become little more than a novelty phrase from antiquity tossed about in college philosophy departments. Reviving this spirit, let us unravel the many layers of preconceptions, indoctrinations and ideals and restructure our value system from the ground up. This is nihilism: subjecting every proclaimed truth to rigorous questioning, as a child does, until one can be certain of its validity and integrity. When he or she is, the truth may be incorporated into his or her worldview (and only then!).

Nihilism is not fatalism; nor is it simply skepticism. It is a belief system which places etiology, the study of causality and logic, above all else. It is a lens through which we view the world, one which does not conflate nor confuse cause and effect (or attribute wrongly where there is none), nor give way to emotion-laden argumentation.

Nihilism is a holistic worldview that acknowledges humanity’s relationship with nature and that, just as there is no ultimate goal to be seen in processes such as evolution, so does mankind remain unattached to any linear progression toward a determined end. This philosophy thus necessitates that humans remain grounded in practicality, appreciate order and excellence and sustain a cause. There is no compromise with regard to a temporally relative agenda.

To place nihilism on a personal level, and explain how it functions for the individual, one must abolish the modern liberal sense of “individuality,” opting instead to recognize his or her function in a greater order, albeit one that is perpetually changing form. While morality no longer relates to a finite, binary field as is characteristic of theistic religions, it still serves as a guideline for proper conduct so long as one recognizes how it facilitates well-being, if not transcendence. Empirically, one can compare lifestyle choices to find that there is, in fact, an incorrigible link to functional practicality.

Ultimately, however, nihilism places us in a place where we must critically assess the soundness of our ideals and worldview, to determine whether our conceptualization of reality is in agreement with reality as it truly is. To that end, we are asked to leave behind indoctrination, personal theory and subjective thought as a whole, and replace it with what is ultimately a stronger basis for experience and existence.

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