Comments on “No cosmic meaning”

Universe vs. cosmos

David Stevens 2021-12-02

Hi David,

What a fabulous piece of writing. Takes you by the hand and leads to you through the vales of despair to somewhere much sunnier.
One slight niggle on the distinction between universe and cosmos. This required a little work on my part to reorganise my thoughts to comprehend the new distinction (that bit’s fine, and very enjoyable). But after you finally made the distinction clear, there’s at least one place (may be more) where you continued to conflate the two terms, which somewhat muddied things for me. Eg. Unless I’m being dim, in the following paragraph, the final “universe” should be “cosmos”…
“Some, hungry for meaning, say they want to “make a dent in the universe.” What’s up with that lust for cosmic vandalism? You need unlimited power to compel the entire universe…”
Other than that, all very clear and thought provoking.


Unlimited power

David Chapman 2021-12-02

Glad you liked it!

Not sure I understand the niggle? You would need unlimited power to compel either the entire cosmos or the entire universe. The phrase “dent in the universe” is ~10x more common than “dent in the cosmos” (according to Google search). Nihilist manifestos are also usually phrased in terms of the universe rather than the cosmos.

I think you've got it right

Nikita 2021-12-03

I fell into nihilism and suicidal ideation after being excluded from school (for the reason of some romantic confrontation) and losing all meaningful relationships.

Then I started going to psychiatrists thinking I had some “chemical imbalance”, so I poisoned my brain with antipsychotics while ignoring the real cause.

Now reintegration into society is driving depression away, and I find meaning in a dream of changing wicked ways of psychiatry (that’s pretty romantic, too).

Thanks for your writings!


Basil Marte 2021-12-03

Their reign and achievements stretch across billions of stars

Actually, we would have noticed that. When a civilization is able to spread to other stars, it’s definitely able to surround a star and harness a large fraction of its power output, reradiating the waste power at a lower temperature. This is the archetypal “technosignature” that astronomers could find when they take the spectrum of a star.

Fortunately, we aren’t doing philosophy here. We’re figuring out how to get out of a pattern of thinking, feeling, and acting

(social media as simulated fame)
Obligatory xkcd:

Astrology and orderliness: I’d add that altitude is regularly positive-value. Angels, shining cities on hills, handsomely tall people. The stars, being a few kilometers up, were even higher up than the fluffy cloud heavens.

I thought at some time (18th, 19th c.?) it was thought that each planet had its own form of life and its own god running the local cosmos.

You’re right…

David Stevens 2021-12-03

I just reread the piece, and didn’t notice the bit that confused me first time through. Interesting. I think I was on a kind of fulcrum teetering over into getting the cosmos/universe distinction clear and for a moment there, I wobbled! It was worth the reread.

Loved it! Thx...

Justin Sigman 2021-12-03

Once upon a time, in some out of the way corner of that universe which is dispersed into numberless twinkling solar systems, there was a star upon which clever beasts invented knowing. That was the most arrogant and mendacious minute of “world history,” but nevertheless, it was only a minute. After nature had drawn a few breaths, the star cooled and congealed, and the clever beasts had to die. One might invent such a fable, and yet he still would not have adequately illustrated how miserable, how shadowy and transient, how aimless and arbitrary the human intellect looks within nature. There were eternities during which it did not exist. And when it is all over with the human intellect, nothing will have happened.

~ Nietzsche, Über Wahrheit und Lüge im außermoralischen Sinn (1873)

A correction to make it even more beautiful

Simon Grant 2021-12-04

The link at “Vastness is one form of such non-ordinary meaning.” doesn’t work at present for me. Please delete this comment when you’ve fixed that!


Marko 2021-12-06

Hi, thanks for posting this. I got a little more than halfway through so far and it helped me recover from my apathy that I woke up with this morning. Storytelling is amazing.

A Generality

Kurt Johnson 2021-12-09


Just finished reading this, and I wanted to thank you. I discovered your various sites a two or three years ago and have been going through intense discrete bursts of reading ever since. I’m currently some sort of ‘open-minded’ monist, but I’ve been all over the map through the years with my ‘beliefs’, and there’s always been a parallel current of (I hope) logic and skepticism, too. Studies in anthropology, history, and psychology have been as important to me as experience and practice. This has kept me at something of a distance from my more New Agey friends. At the same time, my interest beliefs and interests have somewhat isolated me from my more ‘rational’, ‘worldly’ friends. Discovering your writings (and the discussions in all the comments sections!) has been like finding a home…a home that is challenging and mind- and heart-expanding. Cheers!

p.s. Just wanted to say that the gateway to your work for me was your ‘Vampires’ page about DIY kanglings! Who knew where that would lead…


Kurt Johnson 2021-12-09

Haha why didn’t I proofread that?


David Chapman 2021-12-09

Well I read your comment twice carefully and can’t find the typo, so it must be somewhat subtle!

Glad you like the sites, and yes it’s funny the ways different readers come to them!

funny the ways different readers come to them

Nikita 2021-12-10

I was googling “refutations of nihilism” and “arguments against nihilism”. That’s how I got here.