Eternalism and nihilism are the simplest, and most extreme, stances toward meaningness.
- Eternalism says that everything has a definite, true meaning.
- Nihilism says that nothing really means anything.
Both these stances are wrong, factually. They are also unworkable, in their implications for living.
However, almost everyone falls into them at times, triggered by particular contexts. Each stance is based on genuine insights, and a powerful, emotionally appealing pattern of thinking. They also can seem to be the only possible alternatives, so we are forced into one by the repulsive qualities of the other.
Understanding the logic of eternalism and nihilism, and the resolution of the fundamental problem they address, is key to unlocking the material covered in this book. Because they are simple and extreme, the logic of these two stances is particularly clear. The other confused stances arise mainly as failing attempts to find some compromise between them.