Does Following The Christian Precepts Of Truthfulness Lead To Nihilism?
"I am the way and the truth" said Jesus. Also "speak truth to you neighbor and put away false hood".
This reverence for truth in Christianity also leads to its undoing in the information age of science and technology.
Nihilism is often associated with the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, who provided a detailed diagnosis of nihilism as a widespread phenomenon of Western culture. Though the notion appears frequently throughout Nietzsche's work, he uses the term in a variety of ways, with different meanings and connotations. Karen Carr describes Nietzsche's characterization of nihilism "as a condition of tension, as a disproportion between what we want to value (or need) and how the world appears to operate." When we find out that the world does not possess the objective value or meaning that we want it to have or have long since believed it to have, we find ourselves in a crisis. Nietzsche asserts that with the decline of Christianity and the rise of physiological decadence,[clarification needed] nihilism is in fact characteristic of the modern age, though he implies that the rise of nihilism is still incomplete and that it has yet to be overcome. Though the problem of nihilism becomes especially explicit in Nietzsche's notebooks (published posthumously), it is mentioned repeatedly in his published works and is closely connected to many of the problems mentioned there.
Nietzsche characterized nihilism as emptying the world and especially human existence of meaning, purpose, comprehensible truth, or essential value. This observation stems in part from Nietzsche's perspectivism, or his notion that "knowledge" is always by someone of some thing: it is always bound by perspective, and it is never mere fact. Rather, there are interpretations through which we understand the world and give it meaning. Interpreting is something we can not go without; in fact, it is something we need. One way of interpreting the world is through morality, as one of the fundamental ways that people make sense of the world, especially in regard to their own thoughts and actions. Nietzsche distinguishes a morality that is strong or healthy, meaning that the person in question is aware that he constructs it himself, from weak morality, where the interpretation is projected on to something external. Regardless of its strength, morality presents us with meaning, whether this is created or 'implanted,' which helps us get through life.
Nietzsche discusses Christianity, one of the major topics in his work, at length in the context of the problem of nihilism in his notebooks, in a chapter entitled "European Nihilism". Here he states that the Christian moral doctrine provides people with intrinsic value, belief in God (which justifies the evil in the world) and a basis for objective knowledge. In this sense, in constructing a world where objective knowledge is possible, Christianity is an antidote against a primal form of nihilism, against the despair of meaninglessness. However, it is exactly the element of truthfulness in Christian doctrine that is its undoing: in its drive towards truth, Christianity eventually finds itself to be a construct, which leads to its own dissolution. It is therefore that Nietzsche states that we have outgrown Christianity "not because we lived too far from it, rather because we lived too close". As such, the self-dissolution of Christianity constitutes yet another form of nihilism. Because Christianity was an interpretation that posited itself as the interpretation, Nietzsche states that this dissolution leads beyond skepticism to a distrust of all meaning.
Brokeback Watchtower, you gave some points to think. Yet I disagree with you.
The strongest argument against any nihilism is that it is ultimately impossible to believe in the nihilism itself if you purport to believe in nothing. That means nihilism is not an important subject but it appeared as the offspring of some special circumstance. Yet there is nothing wrong in that nihilism appeared because people go mad after seeing many perspectives such as ‘there is no truth, truth is relative, truth is absolute, truth is God …. etc.’ So is the case with other related subjects. Sadly, conflicted religions and their scriptures add to this confusion. Hence the question arises: Is truth really a complicated subject? What is the truth about truth?
One may feel truth changes according to circumstances. For example, to the question “Is water life-saving?” one may say “yes” because drinking water in moderation helps; yet another one would say “no” because drinking water more harms. To the question “Does the sun rise in the east?” One may say “Yes, sun rises in the East (which is right for the ordinary); another one may say “No, where the sun rises is East” (which is right for the educated); another one may say “No, sun neither rises nor sets” (which is right for the highly educated ones). Something that is true could be false in larger perspective. For example, when a traitor is dismissed, the management might explain he used his truthfulness to make the entry with the ulterior aim of undermining company’s good-will, which means truth used as a means for a greater evil is actually part of falsehood. In contrast, something that is wrong could be right at another time. Driving the vehicle without headlight on is wrong, yet right during war-time because it ensures well-being of the whole citizens.
Many would say they believe only what can be ascertained by their senses which means experience is the key. But we can be tricked even by our own experience. (1) Lukewarm water would be felt as cold water if you touch it after dipping your finger in hot water; and the same lukewarm water would be felt as warm water if you touch it after dipping your finger in cold water. (2) Senses can sometimes give only half-truth. When you see cards arranged as a pyramid you do not see more important aspect of it—forces acting in various directions, nullifying each other thus making the pyramid shape possible.
If mind can be tricked by what physical our eyes see, how much more it would be tricked when it ventures into the realm of the invisible such as What is before and after this life … What was before Big Bang or God, What is His purpose for us …etc. This explains why we have conflicted religions and scriptures which prompt people to say there is no truth, or truth is relative. Yet for an analytical mind truth is not a complicated subject because they find out that there are truths that are relative and there are truths that are absolute. For example, Mike Gallagher declared: “Right and wrong are not relative terms. There are fundamental truths. Evil flourishes, but good men continue to battle it – and win.” Interestingly, everyone knows what is right and wrong because people are quick to notice the wrong when it is committed by others [which means they know what is wrong] and are quick to seek glory for the good when it is committed by them [which means they know what is right]. That means those who say truth is relative have a limited view. They are like a farmer who describes a plant as useless calling it a weed without knowing it is highly valuable for herbalists, or like those who dismiss Cause and Consequence Principle (that says “you reap what you sow”) as useless without knowing that there are many who derive great benefits from this principle by doing good and thus receiving good in return.
Thus the big picture shows that there are truths that are relative and there are truths that are absolute. In other words, what exists for a limited period is real/true for a limited period, and what exists for unlimited period is real/true for unlimited period. For example, a seed has a physical appearance which exists for a limited period; yet more importantly it has an invisible software program in which all its billions and billions of future generations remain protected and this invisible aspect can be called true for unlimited period. This applies to humans too. Our body which is destined to grow to maturity and to finally disintegrate is real for a limited period, yet more importantly life, the invisible software-like entity acting through the visible body is real for unlimited period about which we are unable to study because it is invisible and immaterial.
I call myself a Nihilist because it's the easiest way to explain it.
I'm not influenced by any writings of anyone anymore. I go with my gut.
Having said that, if I want a good laugh, I go for Schopenhauer.
I would call myself opposite to nihilist because I am endowed with reason! It is only by the exercise of reason that man can discover meaning. Take away that reason, and he would be incapable of understanding anything. Everything we behold carries in itself the internal evidence that it did not make itself. Every man is an evidence to himself that he did not make himself; neither could his father make himself, nor his grandfather, nor any of his race; neither could any tree, plant, or animal make itself, which is infinite into the past and will be infinite into the future. All things have inherent purpose and meaning (whether we know it or we can know it is a different matter). All the forces of existence are working together with purpose, and by design. The world is imbued with meaning, as if every instance is part of an unfolding master plan.
venus - All the forces of existence are working together with purpose, and by design. The world is imbued with meaning, as if every instance is part of an unfolding master plan.
Thanks for your words of encouragement. That's not how I see things, really. I agree it's a nice place to be but I'm not there.
I see the world as not made for we humans. We have adapted to survive in it. Then we die...and that's your lot, mate. Game over.
There is no master plan.
Seeing patterns where none exist is an evolved trait.
Brokeback it would have been interesting if you had explained your idea in your own words. Nobody cares to plough through a copy-paste from Wiki.
In way do you think one leads to the other exactly?
My reason tells me that I should live life, and find meaning, and enjoy life, for its own sake, rather than for the sake of something external to life. I know nothing happens without a reason. Even when someone hurts me, I know that it’s some settlement of account which I am not aware of, hence I pleasantly accept everything that happens in my life.
venus - I know nothing happens without a reason.
For me, I 'know' there is no rhyme or reason for anything. It's all chaotic.
Even when someone hurts me, I know that it’s some settlement of account which I am not aware of, hence I pleasantly accept everything that happens in my life.
Not me. I 'know' that it's just how life is with no higher purpose. There is no meaning, just the struggle to try to enjoy our brief life before the grim reaper gets us for the long sleep with no dreams. I'm not looking forward to it. I won't know about it afterwards. It's just reality.
Venus you proudly live an evidence - free life. That is your choice.
I choose to ground my beliefs in reality. It is disconcerting to many people who need to believe there is a meta-narrative but the only explanation that fits with the facts is "shit happens".
Cofty, I appreciate your view. There comes a point in life when we find everything meaningless. Who we are and what we have done, suddenly appear to be inconsequential and worthless. When we look around, everyone else also seems to be confined in a similar ‘futile’ existence. In this context, we start losing hope and develop a gamut of psychological (or even physical) disorders. Is this our destiny? Perhaps not, because, alongside the darkness, there exists light for those who try out of the box. For example, I do not plan anything according to others’ view (because their views are shaped by their mind and their experience); but I look to the silence within me after stilling the mind. Once mind is stilled, what comes out from deep within is truth, beneficial truth. Why do I say beneficial? Because whenever I have listened to this (something other than my mind), I have benefited whereas whenever I have listened to mind, I have gone into trouble.