Colluding for eternalism

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Because eternalist delusion is so desirable, we collude to maintain it. We implicitly agree to agree to whatever meanings our social group comes up with. We support each other in not-seeing the nebulosity that contradicts those meanings. We choose not to mention it; to distract each other from it; to pretend the elephant of meaninglessness is not taking up most of the room.

This is genuinely compassionate activity. We all want to save each other from nihilism.

People are often passionately attached to some eternalist system or other, but the details are insignificant. All that matters is that they hold nebulosity at bay. It’s common for people to switch from intense commitment to one political ideology, or religion, to another. What they seek is a supportive social group that confirms that everything makes sense.

Since the details don’t matter, those are typically delegated to the leaders of an eternalism-based institution, such as a church or political party. Such institutions are tools for organizing eternalist collusion.1

The antidote to collusion is pointing out nebulosity. As an individual, one can smile and remain silent when someone tries to get you to agree that everything is meaningful; and that is usually best. However, changing the social dynamic does require active contradiction.

This is quite tricky, and must be done skillfully. There are always ethical complexities in trying to change other people. Switching away from eternalism is one of the most profound changes anyone can make; and it can easily lead into nihilism, which may be worse. So the stakes are quite high.

The Angry New Atheists and the Speculative Realists seem examples of un-skillful contradiction. The tirades of the Angry Atheists are tinged with nihilistic rage and intellectualization; Speculative Realism is tinged with nihilistic anxiety, depression, and intellectualization. This is unhelpful (although the New Atheists overall have probably done much good.) As with all attempts to change people’s political or religious opinions, the tendency is to score points to enhance your status in your in-group, rather than to sincerely engage with the people you are trying to convert in order to help them.

Humor is the best method for demonstrating nebulosity and meaninglessness. Not “jokes” as such, but pointing out how cute it is when meaning and meaninglessness, pattern and nebulosity, play together like puppies, nipping and tickling each other, tumbling over and over.

  • 1. The Guru Papers provides much insight into the workings of eternalist social groups.


This page is in the section Eternalist ploys and their antidotes,
      which is in Eternalism,
      which is in Meaning and meaninglessness,
      which is in Doing meaning better.

The next page in this section is ⚒ Hiding from nebulosity.

The previous page is ⚒ Pretending.

This page’s topics are Atheism and Eternalism.

General explanation: Meaningness is a hypertext book (in progress), plus a “metablog” that comments on it. The book begins with an appetizer. Alternatively, you might like to look at its table of contents, or some other starting points. Classification of pages by topics supplements the book and metablog structures. Terms with dotted underlining (example: meaningness) show a definition if you click on them. Pages marked with ⚒ are still under construction. Copyright ©2010–2017 David Chapman.