Comments on “You’ve got nihilism wrong”

What’s wrong with

Brad 2019-05-12

What’s wrong with existentialism? Just curious, but it seems to be the most realistic all things considered.


David Chapman 2019-05-12

See this (incomplete) page about it.


rissa timmons 2020-07-25

Nihilistic enlightenment is simply a realization, that’s all it is, and that realization is that objective meaning is nonexistent.
That’s it! that’s all it is, nonetheless, objective meaning does not eliminate meaning but merely renders it subjective. There exists aspects of my own life which are meaningful to me however, those particular meanings are again, subjective, which means I personally get to determine what is meaningful to me despite the universal fact of existences destitution of purpose, reason, value, or the slightest tincture of meaning whatsoever.

Existentialism vs. a paper towel tube

James 2020-07-25


If meanings were subjective, I could live a meaningful life by beating myself over the head with a paper towel tube a few times every day, simply because that’s what I’ve decided is meaningful for me.

And if meanings were subjective, that strikes me as a pretty good choice! It would require a lot less time, effort, and risk than many of the more conventional ways of finding meaning.

The reason I don’t do that is I know it would not be very meaningful, no matter how much I tried to decide it was. There’s no realistic context in which I would find that action meaningful.

Paper Towel Roll nihilism

Alice 2021-03-14

It is entirely possible to find a life of hitting yourself on the head with a paper towel roll meaningful.

YOU, James, do not find this meaningful because you have experienced a culture with various norms and beliefs which has shaped what you consider meaningful.

Most feral children, raised independent of such cultures, find masturbation to be the height of meaning. You might too, if you were raised without a culture to covey to you a template on which to base your assessments.


cody 2021-06-05

just wanted to catch ur attention with OMG. i completely agree with rissa James and Alice. I’m not as intelligent sounding as u guys and don’t have that much input but i completely agree with the reasoning behind the main idea of what u guys said. that really it all comes down to what”meaning” is. how can we define that term in order for it to be used the same way everyone interprets it? there is no one exact word for word definition of it bc we all interpret it differently even if says otherwise. bc if we don’t define it, then debates upon what this meaning is really is will be irrelevant bc the term “meaning” is perceived differently thus making it subjective like you all said. idk what i thought initially, mostly just there is no real purpose in the big picture (but like one stated there is much more meaning in the smaller picture which i will assume is our planet) but i didn’t want to live that way and thought it was not the most accurate way to look at things so i thought one could make meaning in life whatever they want which brought me to this conclusion here. it’s funny how some are so interested and go deep into like we do but in a mere thousand years this thread of messages will b completely outdated and probably never to be seen by anyone ever again. this whole website will probably not even be active at all. but who knows, we might still use sites like these on the internet or Earth might not have been destroyed/unihabitable yet. ya nvm i ranted so i had much input woops. but whether or not we have the same opinion, to each their own:)

How's that paper towel feeling these days?

John 2021-07-07

I agree with Rissa, Alice and Cody. Nihilism has this misunderstanding of being something dark and gloomy when it’s just honestly and freedom. Why would I care if you’re smacking your head with a paper towel is meaningful or not? I have things that, by my own definition, are more important in my life and the fact that you would hyperthedically be concerned about what I think is worthy of your life is wrong.

When we fully realize “we” are not real, just some random point of consciousness in a grand “mind”…

Kelly 2021-07-30

We are desperate to find meaning and purpose everywhere and in anything because the terror of facing the fact that “we” as egos or temporary personas are not real and therefore, if there is some great mind or consciousness we call “God”, experiencing itself as “separate points of temporary consciousness”, you finally come to an understanding and acceptance that the whole thing is no-thing. All you have to do is study sacred geometry. I’ve been through the gamut of spiritual seeking for several decades. We’ve deluded ourselves to the extent of causing madness. Personally, I’ll be glad to check out when my time comes. Tired of playing the game. Think about it this way, we are the same as the avatars we play in video games. Good luck to you in finding true meaning in your life!

Why I can’t explain anything to you

Jojo Banks 2021-08-28

I’m full of grief and pain and all I can say after being raised as. Lutheran, finding I am really agnostic, then Taoist/Wiccan, and now finally nihilistic is because it s true. Nothing really matters. We’re all going to die and no one will remember long enough for it to matter. We’re all just dinosaurs. Destined for extinction.

Impermanent meaning is not none

David Chapman 2021-08-28

I am sorry that you are in pain. Nihilism is awful.

It may be true that nothing matters in the end, but it seems many things matter a lot in the middle! It is sad that we will die. It may be sad that we will go extinct (I’m not sure about that).

Nevertheless, there is a lot to live for in the mean time, and its passing does not mean that it is not meaningful now.

Potato mashers do not last forever. That doesn’t make them useless for mashing potatoes so long as they are still working.

Meanings are ways we enjoy and make sense of the world. The fact that they do not last forever doesn’t negate their significance and usefulness while they do.

I’ve spent the last couple days reading Iddo Landau’s book Finding Meaning in an Imperfect World. It covers this topic, and many others that may be causing you pain. It’s really good; I recommend it.

I’ll also be writing about this particular issue soon I hope—death and extinction and how they affect meaningfulness—but don’t wait for that, check out Landau’s book.


Katherine 2021-09-16

“Nihilism promises you don’t have to care, because nothing means anything. But you do care—and you can’t escape that.”

I think you’ve got nihilism wrong. Nihilism isn’t a bad thing, it’s simply seeing the universe as it is.

If God existed and the ten commandments were a real thing, then meaning would exist objectly, because even after every living thing had died and the universe was cold and dead, murder, for example, would still be wrong, because God said so, and he is the before and after who created all things and lives forever, and he could impose that sense of meaning on the next people he creates, to give their life meaning too. Alas, there’s a lot of assumption in this line of thinking.

But if God doesn’t exist, then nothing means anything objectively and once we’re all dead and gone, there will be no meaning, because there will no consciousness of any sort to impose any meaning.

Nihilists simply accept that there is no God and therefore nothing means anything objectively. There’s nothing unhealthy about that. In fact, it embraces freedom and responsibility, things I advocate wholeheartedly.

Hey I just read your article.

Fresh Balls 2021-11-16

So like, why do you think nihilism is bad?


David Chapman 2021-11-16

See this page.

Nihilism is great

Alice 2021-11-16

Strong disagree. Nihilism is great, and nothing in any of the pages you’ve posted has suggested otherwise.

Nihilism is not merely not awful, not merely okay, but better than the alternatives. Prove me wrong, without appeals to authority or slippery slope arguments like the “nihilistic apocalypse”, which is easily disproven from simple game theory.

Or just admit you specifically don’t like nihilism, even if you can’t come up with a coherent argument against it. That’s fine too!
But currently, you are just being intellectually dishonest.


Dantheman 2021-12-02

Personally, I don’t have a problem with Nihilists although I don’t respect their viewpoints. If you want to live your sad life where you have no meaning, then by all means go ahead. but don’t try to spread your ideas to others that are obviously happy with their lives. I am not saying that you shouldn’t inform others, but don’t try to make them be a nihilist. I mean, honestly, you don’t even have to inform people about nihilism. There is no point, unlike educating people about things like racism. Its really well portrayed by memes. Buff dude: “God made us in his image and we all have meaning!” Based. Fat person: “The sun will explode in 9 billion years and nothing matters” Cringe. Just sayin’

To Dantheman

Katherine 2021-12-03

You say you don’t have a problem with Nihilists, then state that they lead ‘sad lives’.

How rude! I don’t consider myself a nihilist (I’m not overly keen on labels) but I clearly am one by definition, as, beyond the meaning which each individual imposes upon their reality, I don’t believe the universe possesses any inherent meaning. But I am a very happy individual and lead a fulfilling and conscientious life. So to refer to all people with a nihilist perspective as ‘sad’ is not only the worst sort of generalising but a tad antagonistic too.

You also write ‘I am not saying that you shouldn’t inform others, but don’t try to make them be a nihilist’.

Why not? What’s wrong with putting forth the idea that you are free to believe what you want without shame or guilt, and that you can embrace this personal freedom in a responsible way to lead a fulfilling and conscientious life? And anyway, these days, nihilists that try to actively convert others to nihilism are, beyond the healthy debate that exists between friends, acquaintenances and intellectual sparring partners, so rare that it’s not an issue. Perhaps you should direct your instruction to the proselytising religions, the true masters of conversion.


Dantheman 2021-12-03

Well I didn’t know that nihilist could be that, though if you are calling yourself a nihilist only because you don’t think the universe has any inherent meaning I don’t know if that is a true nihilist. If it is though, then thanks for clearing that up. and when you say “What’s wrong with putting forth the idea that you are free to believe what you want without shame or guilt, and that you can embrace this personal freedom in a responsible way to lead a fulfilling and conscientious life?” I was thinking more a nihilist that doesn’t believe in religion or such, rather nothing at all, than being able to believe what they want. I have no problem with people believing what they want, if that is what you are getting at. But I thought nihilists didn’t believe anything, and the thing is that Nihilists don’t care about leading a fulfilling life and rather do jack with it because they don’t think it matters. Or am I wrong


Katherine 2021-12-04

Thanks for the thoughtful response.

Perhaps I am more of an existentialist nihilist, if such a thing exists. There are apparently many branches of nihilism, and I’m an expert in none of them!

For some, nihilism has acquired a bad name and is associated with negative and even destructive approaches to life and those around us. Undoubtedly, there are those who associate their own innate or acquired negativity with nihilism, and I think these people tend to ignore the obvious (cause and effect - for example, my parents treated me badly, therefore I am angry with them and society and want to destroy) and blame the universe instead. But for some, nihilism and existentialism are springboards to personal liberation, and that springboard is the realisation that if there is no God, then the universe is inherently meaningless and we are free, unshackled from all constraints, seeing the universe as it is, ready to step forward into the future and create our own subjective reality.

I think those that have that sort of philosophical realisation and suddenly turn to despair and hate are extremely rare. There’s usually something going on in the first place.


Dantheman 2021-12-04

Haha yeah, I don’t know much about the branches myself, but I guess I have a basic concept or something. One of the smarter things I have heard though Is that Nihilists are more scared of there actually being meaning in the universe than there not being. Think about it this way, you have two options. One, you can choose to believe that nothing has any signifigance, and what you do doesn’t really matter. Or two, everything you do matters and will have some outcome on what happens. That’s a scary thought right? Every move you do is carefully scrutinized or evaluated to determine what happens next, which I think scares some nihilist, so they choose not to believe that. And sure they could lead a life free from god and unshackled, but I can’t see the motive for that. Maybe depending on what country you live in, especially third world countries, but I really don’t think there should be any nihilists in America. I mean, do you not have a reasonable amount of freedom? Can you not lead a fulfilling life? What can you not do? Rob? Be a all around jerk? Not saying that you are a jerk of course. Just saying that I don’t necessarily see a necessity to be a nihilist. I mean, if you can be a nihilist and not bring everyone around you down, then go ahead. But one thing you should know, I am in highschool. And it is filled with fakes. This has a point, just wait. It’s just that some kids have a nihilist viewpoint, (Though most aren’t smart enough to know what nihilism is), and yet this was brought on by nothing. Really, It just seems the cool thing nowadays to pretend to be depressed and stuff like that. But I’m getting off track. Now, I don’t know if that example was real or nothing more than an example, but if it is real, I don’t want to tell you how to live your life. But I don’t think you should turn to nihilism because of that. You should re-evaluate. Look at your life, see what you have to be grateful for. See WHO you have to be grateful for. Appreciate them, because no one knows what we are put on this earth to do. Meaning is just what you have to determine for yourself. Look at who sticks with you and carries you and picks you back up. How do you think they would feel if all that they did for you was meaningless, and you told them that? You did say that you are a happy individual and lead a conscientious life, and if so, good on you then.


Dantheman 2021-12-04

also, I know I said “you” a lot, but I wasn’t specifically referring to you in general, just talking about Nihilists in a whole


Katherine 2021-12-04

Funnily enough, I agree with most of what you say, and there’s plenty of good advice in what you wrote. The aspect that I find interesting is when you say that nihilists are more scared of there being meaning in the universe than there being none. I haven’t heard this before - perhaps it’s something you observe in US high schools (I’m from UK and long since out of education), and perhaps this is the root of our differing perspectives.

The nihilists and existentialists I have known (including myself, although I would never be so arrogant to claim that I know myself!) are certainly not scared of there being meaning. In fact, in the past, we would have loved to know for sure that God exists externally to humankind and that meaning comes from God, and that there is an external and predefined purpose to life, and that if you lead a virtuous life, then you go to heaven and live forever. In fact, in our own ways, we all explored the possibility. I can imagine that those who are capable of having faith in God’s existence gain much comfort from it.

Alas, for existentialists and nihilists, there is no God, only a meaningless universe. There is no motive for believing that, it’s just accepting observable reality for how it appears. To us, acts of love and hate have no cosmic value, they simply feed into the chain of cause and effect. But this has, in fact, liberated us, because now, we get to decide what is meaningful, not God. We are unshackled from God’s rules. No God, no fate, no destiny, no sense of guilt at the very thoughts that pass through our heads, only personal freedom and responsibility for our actions. I have much meaning and many values in my life, towards my family, my friends, my work etc, but they are entirely subjective, and because, like most people, I want to enjoy life, my decisions and actions are based upon enjoying it and doing what I can to help others enjoy their lives too, because that will benefit all. Living in a meaningless universe does not necessarily mean handing yourself to the Darkside!

As for fakes at school…haha, that goes with the territory, I’m afraid. Teenage years are all about attempting to discover who you are and what your place in the world is, and for some, that takes some figuring out and leads down some very strange avenues. Especially these days! You have my sympathy though - from what I see, especially in the US, I’m certainly glad that my school days are long in the past!


Dantheman 2021-12-04

Well, I can see where you are coming from. It makes a bit more sense now, and I feel I can tolerate Nihilists a bit more now. Still not something I would pursue, But I could understand why someone would think that way. Good talk

Dantheman speculates wildly, more at 11

Alice 2021-12-06

Dantheman, you sound a lot like the author of this blog.
Arrogant. Conceited. Judgemental. Smug.
I’ll go further: holier-than-thou.

But note, I said “sound a lot like”, not “are”.
Because, quite frankly, I have no real evidence this is any more than a misunderstanding.
Tone is not conveyed well in text, we’re not always our best selves online.
It’s very easy to pick and choose more hostile words than intended.
That said, speaking using such words as “tolerate” certainly doesn’t help your case.

So, when you declare my life to be sad, that I should feel some sort of loss from this lack of meaning, I want you to understand that it comes across that way.
Perhaps this is simply a failing of the medium, perhaps you are intentionally provocative in order to set me on my back heel, but realistically, any reasonable person would simply find it, well, holier-than-thou.

My life as a nihilist is not sad.
I feel no sorrow from the lack of something I did not desire in the first place.
Going simply by your stated words, I’d say I’m quite a bit happier than you.
I can only interpret your desire for me not to spread my beliefs as a desire to keep others in the same conditions as yourself, and that, from my point of view anyway, seems just as torturous and immoral and unnecessary as you consider my point of view.

There’s no need to create some hierarchy of suffering to base this on either; there is as much a point to educating individuals on nihilism as there is racism, simply because misunderstandings of this kind are rampant and used as a cudgle against others.
The hierarchy would only serve to determine priority, not point.

I detect a “no true scottsman” in your statements as well, speaking of “true nihilism”.
Perhaps this is inadvertant, but in each post you’ve made, you’ve moved the goal posts of what you are attacking to a smaller and smaller subset of behavior and belief.
Have you considered that the problem is your understanding, not nihilism?

I am what you consider a “True Nihilist”; I am an antitheist, and I reject all religions.
I, as you say, believe that meaning is an incoherent concept.
Yet, I am also highly successful, engage in philanthropy work, etc etc.
I am not sad, and I do not consider my life sad; I don’t think you’d find it unfulfilling either.
I’m also not scared, and I find that far more prevelant in religion, with the “fear of god”, need for purification rits, etc etc.

Furthermore, why should a god somehow give my life meaning?
I would not consider a job forced on me to be meaningful.
I would not consider laws that are unjust or unsound to be meaningful.
I would not wish to follow a being that forces me to do things under threat of punishment that I do not myself believe in.
Why would you?

I am not afraid of being under a microscope; I live my life openly and I am not scared of scrutiny.
Why do you believe I have some fear of this?
It seems utterly speculative and judgemental; can you elucidate?

Why do you think that my lack of belief in meaning should result in any of these things?
I don’t mean to be antagonistic. But it really seems judgemental and unthinking.
If that’s the sort of attitude, tactic, and lack of understanding that a belief in meaning or indeed god creates, why would I wish for it

Reality is Objective

Jake 2021-12-06

Rissa said that nihilism is “realizing” that objectivity doesn’t exist. But I can prove that wrong with one simple statement. If objectivity didn’t exist, we wouldn’t be having this conversation right now. If everything was only subjective, then there would be no point in defining subjectivity because it would all be subjective! Do we not all agree that reality is intelligible for all of us in the same way that our perception of color is the same?


Dantheman 2021-12-07

Actually, I’d say I’m pretty happy, if anything, with the unfortunate events that have happened in my life, I am much happier than I should be, happier than someone who has lived a stress free or problem free life. I’m not a nihilist, more a christian, but not a hardcore christian. I strive to live my life along basic welldoing principles, and I have no problem with others believing what they believe. I know god is real, but I haven’t read a page of the bible. Really, what I believe is that religions are kinda like a school. You have the main god, God, as the principal, and the teachers in the school are the other religions which god has. And yet, with this belief, I have no problem. I love my life. I don’t feel restricted or judged on everything I do. I know what I do has meaning and signifigance, and I enjoy it. Heck, i don’t even curse, never have, not because of religion or anything, but just because I don’t want to. For your other points, well I never said a job forced on you is meaningful. Quite the opposite in fact, If a job is forced on you and it is uncreative not letting you show yourself through your work, then it’s not very meaningful. For sure, If laws are unjust or unsound, then work to change them. I am not saying you must completely abide by the government, and I feel you have misinterpreted me. A god that forces you to do things under threat of punishment, well, sure, just be an atheist, won’t make there not be a god. But Its all just in your head. I know god is real, I follow him, I pray, but again, I have never read a page of the bible. I don’t feel a need to carry out some mission of the lord, except if you count helping others as much as I can. But everyone should be doing that, not just religious people. Unless I got a clear message from god or he came to me in a dream and told me I had to do something, I’m not gonna go around willy nilly saying I am on a mission for god. As for the fear factor, my point is that I was saying that I think a big factor is that they don’t like to think that everything they do matters, or that it could have some big effect, and they don’t like that weight, so they rather choose to believe that nothing they do matters, and It won’t have some big effect, so they could relieve themselves of that weight. That is my point, you are living feeling you are free of scrutiny, which only helps to prove my point. You feel your decisions are not scrutinized and don’t have significance, so that is a weight off your shoulders. Now take me. I know everything I do has significance and meaning, so I would therefore feel a pressure to do the right thing. BUT THATS FINE. What is the problem with that? I help people out and give them advice and sacrifice a lot for others, caring for them more than me? Where is the problem with that? I love doing that, and it brings me happiness. Not saying that you are a jerk, but most of the time, I feel most nihilists just say that whole “free of constraint” thing because they are jerks hoping to get the jerky things that they do off their conscience by convincing themselves that what they don’t really matters. But hey, maybe you are right. I don’t understand Nihilism fully. On the other hand, I am not sure nihilists(you) Fully understand non-nihilists either.(Im sure non-nihilists is grammatically correct or something.) Most views that nihilists have of non is that you feel or think that we are thinking that every move we do is judged. Or that we feel constrained, or restricted somehow. But that isn’t the case at all. I don’t feel a necessity to do anything. And if you are a nihilist that leads a fulfilling life, then good on you. If you can share the ideaology without sending out a bad or negative or gloomy message. Nobody wants to be sad like that. And you can’t say, but “Sad but realized the truth.” You can’t 100% say that there is no meaning in the universe, and I can’t say 100% that there is. However, I have chosen to believe that nihilists truly have no meaning, and that those who aren’t do. Not to sound mean or anything. But yeah. Thats all im tryna say

Dantheman, use spacing please

Alice 2021-12-07

I can absolutely say 100% there is no meaning in the universe.
I’m doing so right now: there is no meaning in the universe.

Why? The concept is incoherent; it does not make sense.
To say there is meaning in the universe is the same as to say a proton has a color; it is not even wrong.
You say you “know” a lot of things that are absolutely not knowledge based as well, such as the existence of a specific particular god or that your life has meaning, yet you deny me the much less powerful statement of “This is incoherent”?
This is what I meant about holier-than-thou; you have a double standard you don’t even seem to acknowledge.
Yet if I said “I’ve read the bible, that’s how I know god isn’t real”, I doubt you’d extend me the same courtesy you ask me to extend you.

You say “most”, but I’ve very rarely seen any nihilist profess any views even similar to what you are currently saying “most” nihilists profess; have you considered you have selection bias?
The fact you say “I feel” a lot about things that don’t really line up to objective reality sort of shows that even you acknowledge you are misinformed and going based off of emotion rather than actual knowledge.
I would suggest most of the things you are saying fall into this category of “not actually knowledge, just things I think from very limited experience”.
There’s nothing wrong with that, per se, but it does seem to make your previous statements seem more arrogant.

I will reiterate, as you seem to have misunderstood.
I am not afraid. I do not care if I am scrutinized.
Even if god existed and scrutinized me, I would not care.
There is 100% no meaning in this universe.
And this is not sad.

Closing comments on this page

David Chapman 2021-12-07

Hi, thanks all for you comments. This seems to have become unproductive, and I am closing comments on the page for now.

Alice, you’ve made your point by bare assertion about 25 times so far. That’s enough; everyone can see where you stand now.


Dantheman 2021-12-07

Sad. You say that there is no way I can know these things then proceed to make just as a bold as a statement as I do. You have lost credibility in my eyes and I no longer take you seriously. Have a good day.