Rehearsing the horrors of nihilism

This page is unfinished. It may be a mere placeholder in the book outline. Or, the text below (if any) may be a summary, or a discussion of what the page will say, or a partial or rough draft.

When most ploys for maintaining eternalism have failed, sometimes the best that can be said for it is that it is less bad than nihilism. And, if nihilism were indeed the only alternative, that might be true.

Reminding yourself of how bad nihilism is can help you maintain the eternalist stance. Reminding others of how bad it is can help stabilize them in the stance.

This is the hellfire and brimstone of eternalist preaching. It’s likely to produce fear and loathing.

Also, it can backfire. It’s hard to explain the harm of nihilism without explaining how nihilism works. Explaining nihilism is likely to make it seem plausible. So rehearsing nihilist horror can actually pop you into nihilism, rather than keeping you out!

The antidote to this ploy is to compare eternalism with the complete stance rather than with nihilism.

The nihilist apocalypse

This page, when finished, may introduce the nihilist apocalypse. I’ll definitely discuss that in several places later in the book, but this might be a good point to begin.

The nihilist apocalypse is the supposed catastrophe that would occur if nihilist views became widespread. In the imagination of some eternalists, eternalism is the only thing keeping the rabble in check. Nihilism, if widely adopted, leads to a world of total license, in which the masses naturally follow their basest instincts and engage in the worst sort of depravity.1 The dangerous idea that there are no absolute moral rules gradually spreads from the decadent intelligentsia to the coarse lower classes, who then lose all respect for authority, indulge in their natural promiscuity, breed like rabbits, play vile music, worship blood-drinking demons, casually commit rape and murder, tear down all institutions, destroy Western civilization, and let loose a wave of anarchy and violence that precipitates a thousand-year Dark Age.

Social breakdown is not impossible, and nihilistic ideas are indeed harmful to social cohesion. However, the apocalyptic worst-case fantasy is unrealistic. It’s highly exaggerated, precisely because eternalism is also unrealistic. Only extreme threats justify extreme solutions—and eternalism is extreme.

The nihilist apocalypse often features in the rhetoric of political and ethical eternalism.

  • 1. The worst sort of depravity involves aardvarks. Just so you know. The details can only be hinted at, of course. It’s probably best just to avoid aardvarks altogether.

Navigation

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

The next page in this section is ⚒ Purification.

The previous page is ⚒ Mystification.

This page’s topics are Eternalism and Nihilism.

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.