Relationship with existentialism and nihilism

Absurdism - Wikipedia

relationship with existentialism and nihilism

Nihilism and Existentialism are basically polar opposite philosophies. Immanuel Kant have long discussed the difference between nihilism and existentialism. Existential nihilism begins with the notion that the world is without meaning or purpose. Given this circumstance, existence. The difference between nihilism and and existentialism is that nihilism proclaims that there is no meaning, whereas existentialism (mostly) states that each.

If the absurd experience is truly the realization that the universe is fundamentally devoid of absolutes, then we as individuals are truly free. The freedom of humans is thus established in a human's natural ability and opportunity to create their own meaning and purpose; to decide or think for him- or herself. The individual becomes the most precious unit of existence, representing a set of unique ideals that can be characterized as an entire universe in its own right.

Existential nihilism

In acknowledging the absurdity of seeking any inherent meaning, but continuing this search regardless, one can be happy, gradually developing meaning from the search alone. Camus states in The Myth of Sisyphus: By the mere activity of consciousness I transform into a rule of life what was an invitation to death, and I refuse suicide.

The meaning of life[ edit ] According to absurdism, humans historically attempt to find meaning in their lives. Traditionally, this search results in one of two conclusions: Elusion[ edit ] Camus perceives filling the void with some invented belief or meaning as a mere "act of eluding"—that is, avoiding or escaping rather than acknowledging and embracing the Absurd. To Camus, elusion is a fundamental flaw in religionexistentialismand various other schools of thought.

If the individual eludes the Absurd, then he or she can never confront it. Camus also concedes that elusion is the most common. God[ edit ] Even with a spiritual power as the answer to meaning, another question arises: What is the purpose of a belief in God?

relationship with existentialism and nihilism

Kierkegaard believed that there is no human-comprehensible purpose of God, making faith in God absurd itself. Camus on the other hand states that to believe in God is to "deny one of the terms of the contradiction" between humanity and the universe and is therefore not absurd but what he calls "philosophical suicide".

Camus as well as Kierkegaardthough, suggests that while absurdity does not lead to belief in God, neither does it lead to the denial of God. Camus notes, "I did not say 'excludes God', which would still amount to asserting". People may create meaning in their own lives, which may not be the objective meaning of life if there is onebut can still provide something to strive for.

However, he insisted that one must always maintain an ironic distance between this invented meaning and the knowledge of the absurd, lest the fictitious meaning take the place of the absurd. Freedom[ edit ] Freedom cannot be achieved beyond what the absurdity of existence permits; however, the closest one can come to being absolutely free is through acceptance of the Absurd. Camus introduced the idea of "acceptance without resignation" as a way of dealing with the recognition of absurdity, asking whether or not man can "live without appeal", while defining a "conscious revolt" against the avoidance of absurdity of the world.

In a world devoid of higher meaning or judicial afterlife, the human nature becomes as close to absolutely free as is humanly possible. Hope[ edit ] The rejection of hope, in absurdism, denotes the refusal to believe in anything more than what this absurd life provides. Hope, Camus emphasizes, however, has nothing to do with despair meaning that the two terms are not opposites. One can still live fully while rejecting hope, and, in fact, can only do so without hope.

And in his last novel, the short and sardonic, The FallCamus posits that everyone has bloody hands because we are all responsible for making a sorry state worse by our inane action and inaction alike. In these works and other works by the existentialists, one is often left with the impression that living authentically with the meaninglessness of life is impossible. Camus was fully aware of the pitfalls of defining existence without meaning, and in his philosophical essay The Rebel he faces the problem of nihilism head-on.

In it, he describes at length how metaphysical collapse often ends in total negation and the victory of nihilism, characterized by profound hatred, pathological destruction, and incalculable violence and death. Antifoundationalism and Nihilism By the late 20th century, "nihilism" had assumed two different castes.

  • Difference Between Existentialism & Nihilism

In one form, "nihilist" is used to characterize the postmodern person, a dehumanized conformist, alienated, indifferent, and baffled, directing psychological energy into hedonistic narcissism or into a deep ressentiment that often explodes in violence.

This perspective is derived from the existentialists' reflections on nihilism stripped of any hopeful expectations, leaving only the experience of sickness, decay, and disintegration. In his study of meaninglessness, Donald Crosby writes that the source of modern nihilism paradoxically stems from a commitment to honest intellectual openness. When sincere inquiry is extended to moral convictions and social consensus, it can prove deadly, Crosby continues, promoting forces that ultimately destroy civilizations.

Michael Novak's recently revised The Experience of Nothingnesstells a similar story. Both studies are responses to the existentialists' gloomy findings from earlier in the century. And both optimistically discuss ways out of the abyss by focusing of the positive implications nothingness reveals, such as liberty, freedom, and creative possibilities. Novak, for example, describes how since WWII we have been working to "climb out of nihilism" on the way to building a new civilization.

In contrast to the efforts to overcome nihilism noted above is the uniquely postmodern response associated with the current antifoundationalists. The philosophical, ethical, and intellectual crisis of nihilism that has tormented modern philosophers for over a century has given way to mild annoyance or, more interestingly, an upbeat acceptance of meaninglessness.

The Difference Between Existentialism, Nihilism, and Absurdism

French philosopher Jean-Francois Lyotard characterizes postmodernism as an "incredulity toward metanarratives," those all-embracing foundations that we have relied on to make sense of the world. This extreme skepticism has undermined intellectual and moral hierarchies and made "truth" claims, transcendental or transcultural, problematic. Postmodern antifoundationalists, paradoxically grounded in relativism, dismiss knowledge as relational and "truth" as transitory, genuine only until something more palatable replaces it reminiscent of William James' notion of "cash value".

The critic Jacques Derrida, for example, asserts that one can never be sure that what one knows corresponds with what is.

Since human beings participate in only an infinitesimal part of the whole, they are unable to grasp anything with certainty, and absolutes are merely "fictional forms. This epistemological cul-de-sac, Rorty concludes, leads inevitably to nihilism. In contrast to Nietzsche's fears and the angst of the existentialists, nihilism becomes for the antifoundationalists just another aspect of our contemporary milieu, one best endured with sang-froid.

In The Banalization of Nihilism Karen Carr discusses the antifoundationalist response to nihilism. Although it still inflames a paralyzing relativism and subverts critical tools, "cheerful nihilism" carries the day, she notes, distinguished by an easy-going acceptance of meaninglessness. Such a development, Carr concludes, is alarming.

What is the difference between existentialism, nihilism and absurdism? - Philosophy Stack Exchange

If we accept that all perspectives are equally non-binding, then intellectual or moral arrogance will determine which perspective has precedence. Worse still, the banalization of nihilism creates an environment where ideas can be imposed forcibly with little resistance, raw power alone determining intellectual and moral hierarchies. It's a conclusion that dovetails nicely with Nietzsche's, who pointed out that all interpretations of the world are simply manifestations of will-to-power.

Conclusion It has been over a century now since Nietzsche explored nihilism and its implications for civilization. As he predicted, nihilism's impact on the culture and values of the 20th century has been pervasive, its apocalyptic tenor spawning a mood of gloom and a good deal of anxiety, anger, and terror.

Interestingly, Nietzsche himself, a radical skeptic preoccupied with language, knowledge, and truth, anticipated many of the themes of postmodernity. It's helpful to note, then, that he believed we could--at a terrible price--eventually work through nihilism.

If we survived the process of destroying all interpretations of the world, we could then perhaps discover the correct course for humankind: I praise, I do not reproach, [nihilism's] arrival. I believe it is one of the greatest crises, a moment of the deepest self-reflection of humanity.

By Colby Phillips Many existentialists questioned traditional Platonic doctrines such as the immortality of the soul. All the great existentialist philosophers - Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Sartre and Camus - addressed the problem of nihilism, the viewpoint that life is ultimately empty and worthless and that nothing truly matters.

relationship with existentialism and nihilism

In doing so their work poses questions about the meaning and value of existence, human freedom, and the difference between right and wrong. They also address the spiritual issues raised by secularism and speculate about the emergence of new forms of faith. Each philosopher criticizes those who choose to remain indifferent, instead urging readers to take up their own struggle and discover personal truths about what makes life worth living. The Value of Existence Existentialist philosophers argue that existence has a meaning and value of its own, separate from traditional metaphysical doctrines.

This position counters the claims of nihilism that the failures of philosophy inevitably prove the meaninglessness of life.

Kierkegaard said that what truly mattered was the individual in relation to eternity.