nihilism

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iambiguous
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nihilism

Post by iambiguous »

Books
All Things are Nothing To Me by Jacob Blumenfeld
Douglas Groothuis thinks nothing of Max Stirner’s nihilism.
...Stirner’s quest for absolute autonomy alienates him from any moral truths outside of his own subjective property-making. Yet to deny objective moral truths is both counterintuitive and counterfactual. It is morally wrong to torture the innocent for pleasure, full stop. Female genital mutilation is an offense against women wherever and whenever it occurs, full stop. Human trafficking is wrong, full stop.
On the other hand, in the absence of God, as has been noted by some, "all things are permitted". And, for the sociopath, who starts with the presumption that right and wrong revolves solely around that which sustains his or her own self-gratification, any behavior can be rationalized.

And where is the philosophical argument that refutes this?

Also, there are those who argue that clitorectomies are inherently immoral while sanctioning the right of women to abort the unborn. Half of which will be female.

Full stop? How exactly would that be demonstrated...deontologically? Again, its not for nothing that those like Kant eventually came around to God as a necessary component for objective morality.

That most are repulsed by certain behaviors does not establish that these behaviors are necessarily immoral. Or, in fact, can this be established?
Humans have certain ‘inalienable rights’, as The American Declaration of Independence puts it. The United Nations Declaration on Human Rights (1948) agrees when it affirms “the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.” These ideas are not ‘spooks’, they are truths.
Okay, take particular examples of moral conflagrations that have rent the species down through the ages...abortion, capital punishment, animal rights, homosexuality, gun ownership, social justice, economic equality, the role of government, conscription, just wars...and on and on and on.

"Inalienable rights" from whose point of view? Based on what set of political prejudices that evolve over time historically and culturally.
Stirner’s paltry – if big-talking – ego is helpless to falsify or relativize them. There is such a thing as intrinsic moral meaning. The best I can say about Stirner here, is that at least he recognized that if there is no God and no objective moral values, then the unique one had to be ‘self-referentially confined’ – have no external reference point for its judgements – and thus have no recourse to anything beyond its arbitrary positing of value. If this is not nihilism, then nihilism does not exist. But nihilism does exist, and nihilism is false, given the objective existence of the moral truths just mentioned, and many more.
It's not completely arbitrary of course. It's not like in the absence of God and objective moral values, an individual just plucks a moral narrative or political agenda out of thin air. Instead, he or she is "thrown" at birth into a particular historical and cultural context, is indoctrinated as a child to believe certain things and then has a series of uniquely personal experiences that predispose them to believe this and not that.

And, again, to the extent that someone insist that there is "the objective existence of the moral truths", I'd be interested in how they actually go about demonstrating that in a No God world.



FYI: this is the latest post on a thread I started at ILP: https://www.ilovephilosophy.com/viewtop ... 1&t=195600
promethean75
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Re: nihilism

Post by promethean75 »

"Stirner’s quest for absolute autonomy alienates him from any moral truths outside of his own subjective property-making."

That's my Max.

"Yet to deny objective moral truths is both counterintuitive and counterfactual."

Nonsense.

"It is morally wrong to torture the innocent for pleasure, full stop."

Meaningless statement. A more meaningful statement would be: torturing the innocent for pleasure may cause the tortured to suffer and the torturer to experience consequences such as legal repercussions and feelings of guilt.

"Female genital mutilation is an offense against women wherever and whenever it occurs, full stop."

Nope. It should be reworded to: female genital mutilation is an offense against a woman who does not want her genitals mutilated.

"Human trafficking is wrong, full stop."

Not if traffickers observe the rules and traffick safely. Signal when turning or merging, stop at red lights and stop signs, maintain the speed limit, etc.

"On the other hand, in the absence of God, as has been noted by some, "all things are permitted"

It's even worse than that. All things are permitted even if there is a god.

"And where is the philosophical argument that refutes this?"

Alas.... there isn't one.

"These ideas are not ‘spooks’, they are truths."

Nah, they're spooks. Definitely spooks.
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RCSaunders
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Re: nihilism

Post by RCSaunders »

iambiguous wrote: Thu Jan 27, 2022 9:13 pm ... in the absence of God, as has been noted by some, "all things are permitted". And, for the sociopath, who starts with the presumption that right and wrong revolves solely around that which sustains his or her own self-gratification, any behavior can be rationalized.

And where is the philosophical argument that refutes this?
Do you really believe a human being can do just anything and get away with it, without any consequence. Do you really believe the nature of physical reality can be defied and nothing bad will happen to you?

Begin with identifying the requirements of your own nature--both physiological (biological) and psychological (intellectual) requirements and how you must acquired and use them or die.

Even the most radical hedonist knows you can't spend all your resources immediately in the pursuit of pleasure because it would end all prospect of any further pleasure. One must at least take, "the long view," if one wishes to enjoy another day.

The truth is, "there is no God, and nothing is permitted." Reality is a much more ruthless judge than any God. You cannot do wrong (defy reality) and get away with it, and there is no forgiveness in reality.
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Immanuel Can
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Re: nihilism

Post by Immanuel Can »

iambiguous wrote: Thu Jan 27, 2022 9:13 pm
Humans have certain ‘inalienable rights’, as The American Declaration of Independence puts it. The United Nations Declaration on Human Rights (1948) agrees when it affirms “the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.” These ideas are not ‘spooks’, they are truths.
They're getting it from John Locke's rationale, but without explicit mention of Locke.

But Locke started from the position that God exists, God gave us life, and God judges the value of the life He gave us. He built his rationale upon those foundations. Those were his base premises, apart from which Locke had no rationale for rights to offer at all.

Both the American Declaration and the UN Declaration (and indeed, many other such charters, such as the Canadian or French) don't acknowledge their derivation, even while parroting Locke. They carry on as if their dropping of, and the subsequent absence of Locke's fundamental premises make no difference to their ability to keep asserting his conclusions: they act as if it's just obvious that we can have rights without Anybody to bestow them upon us.

In the American case, they assert both that man was "endowed by his Creator with certain unalienable rights," but also assert that these are "self-evident." Subsequently, secular America has paid almost no attention to the former, while trusting solely in the latter.
It's not like in the absence of God and objective moral values, an individual just plucks a moral narrative or political agenda out of thin air. Instead, he or she is "thrown" at birth into a particular historical and cultural context, is indoctrinated as a child to believe certain things and then has a series of uniquely personal experiences that predispose them to believe this and not that.
Correct. I think that's true.

But the problem, then becomes the old problem of Cultural Relativism. And that's not easy to escape.

If, say, female forcible circumcision or child-marriage is an ancient and culturally-approved tradition in the tribes of North Africa, why is it an abomination in North America? If slavery was an august and general practice in the pre-bellum American South, why did it become anathema to the American North, and why is it today?

To decide such things, we would have to refer to a Universal Code that transcends and is capable of evaluating the different traditions of Africa and America. Then we could say, "The North Africans are doing evil because of Universal Principle X, and the North Americans are on the right side of that issue, because of the same universal principle."

But where is that Great Code? Where do we get that principle?
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Immanuel Can
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Re: nihilism

Post by Immanuel Can »

RCSaunders wrote: Thu Jan 27, 2022 10:25 pm Do you really believe a human being can do just anything and get away with it, without any consequence. Do you really believe the nature of physical reality can be defied and nothing bad will happen to you?
Joseph Stalin killed around 20 million people, and died old and in his bed. Mao died of a heart attack at 82, having killed 65 million of his countrymen. Jeffrey Epstein raped at least 36 girls, as young as 14, before he finally slipped on a bar of soap and hanged himself.

So explain how the price "reality" exacted from them was anywhere comparable to what they got away with, please.
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RCSaunders
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Re: nihilism

Post by RCSaunders »

Immanuel Can wrote: Thu Jan 27, 2022 10:40 pm
RCSaunders wrote: Thu Jan 27, 2022 10:25 pm Do you really believe a human being can do just anything and get away with it, without any consequence. Do you really believe the nature of physical reality can be defied and nothing bad will happen to you?
Joseph Stalin killed around 20 million people, and died old and in his bed. Mao died of a heart attack at 82, having killed 65 million of his countrymen. Jeffrey Epstein raped at least 36 girls, as young as 14, before he finally slipped on a bar of soap and hanged himself.

So explain how the price "reality" exacted from them was anywhere comparable to what they got away with, please.
Not being privy to either the inner experience of your life or Stalin's, I have no way to judge them. Judging merely on the basis of what I do know about those lives, either would make me very unhappy, though both you and Stalin seem to be satisfied with them.

I'm not in the business of judging how others live. Everyone has to judge for themselves what is right for them. You seem to think you would be satisfied with a life like Epstein, Mao, or Stalin (else why would you use them as examples of lives that were not failures). If you wouldn't, what makes you so certain they were? [The question is rhetorical. I'm not quizzing you.]
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Immanuel Can
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Re: nihilism

Post by Immanuel Can »

RCSaunders wrote: Thu Jan 27, 2022 11:21 pm
Immanuel Can wrote: Thu Jan 27, 2022 10:40 pm
RCSaunders wrote: Thu Jan 27, 2022 10:25 pm Do you really believe a human being can do just anything and get away with it, without any consequence. Do you really believe the nature of physical reality can be defied and nothing bad will happen to you?
Joseph Stalin killed around 20 million people, and died old and in his bed. Mao died of a heart attack at 82, having killed 65 million of his countrymen. Jeffrey Epstein raped at least 36 girls, as young as 14, before he finally slipped on a bar of soap and hanged himself.

So explain how the price "reality" exacted from them was anywhere comparable to what they got away with, please.
Not being privy to either the inner experience of your life or Stalin's, I have no way to judge them.
I think you do. You just don't want to.

Anybody who kills millions of people or rapes little girls...you know what to think. That is, unless morality is just something you know nothing at all about. You judge them by what they did.
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RCSaunders
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Re: nihilism

Post by RCSaunders »

Immanuel Can wrote: Thu Jan 27, 2022 11:27 pm
RCSaunders wrote: Thu Jan 27, 2022 11:21 pm
Immanuel Can wrote: Thu Jan 27, 2022 10:40 pm
Joseph Stalin killed around 20 million people, and died old and in his bed. Mao died of a heart attack at 82, having killed 65 million of his countrymen. Jeffrey Epstein raped at least 36 girls, as young as 14, before he finally slipped on a bar of soap and hanged himself.

So explain how the price "reality" exacted from them was anywhere comparable to what they got away with, please.
Not being privy to either the inner experience of your life or Stalin's, I have no way to judge them.
I think you do.
Think what you like.
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Immanuel Can
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Re: nihilism

Post by Immanuel Can »

RCSaunders wrote: Fri Jan 28, 2022 3:34 pm
Immanuel Can wrote: Thu Jan 27, 2022 11:27 pm
RCSaunders wrote: Thu Jan 27, 2022 11:21 pm
Not being privy to either the inner experience of your life or Stalin's, I have no way to judge them.
I think you do.
Think what you like.
I don't need to merely "think" it: you've confirmed it. You imagine that morality can be merely instrumental rather than objective. But nothing in your system provides for a way of judging the outcome toward which an action is instrumental or expedient. So you allow that evil things can be done, so long as the most expeditious instrumental means are used to achieve it.

So if slavery 'works' for somebody in that way, if it's instrumental to his goals, then it's not wrong, according to your theory. That follows, as day follows night.
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RCSaunders
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Re: nihilism

Post by RCSaunders »

Immanuel Can wrote: Fri Jan 28, 2022 3:53 pm
RCSaunders wrote: Fri Jan 28, 2022 3:34 pm
Immanuel Can wrote: Thu Jan 27, 2022 11:27 pm
I think you do.
Think what you like.
I don't need to merely "think" it: you've confirmed it. You imagine that morality can be merely instrumental rather than objective. But nothing in your system provides for a way of judging the outcome toward which an action is instrumental or expedient. So you allow that evil things can be done, so long as the most expeditious instrumental means are used to achieve it.

So if slavery 'works' for somebody in that way, if it's instrumental to his goals, then it's not wrong, according to your theory. That follows, as day follows night.
There is no point to this discussion. What you mean by wrong is some floating abstraction without objective or purpose. To you, something is just wrong (because God said so or for some other mystical reason unrelated to any ultimate purpose, goal, or objective). That is the intrinsic or inherent view of values. I don't care if you hold that view, but since it means what you mean by, "right," and, "wrong," are totally different concepts from what I mean by right and wrong, there is nothing to debate.

What I mean by, "right," and, "wrong," are value terms which require some specific end, goal, purpose, or objective relative to which a thing or action is right or wrong--"right," if it furthers, enhances or achieves the goal or objective, "wrong," if it prevents or fails to achieve the goal or objective. Where nothing is at stake, there are no values.

There is no way for us to continue this discussion because we are talking about two totally different things.
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Immanuel Can
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Re: nihilism

Post by Immanuel Can »

RCSaunders wrote: Fri Jan 28, 2022 5:06 pm
Immanuel Can wrote: Fri Jan 28, 2022 3:53 pm
RCSaunders wrote: Fri Jan 28, 2022 3:34 pm
Think what you like.
I don't need to merely "think" it: you've confirmed it. You imagine that morality can be merely instrumental rather than objective. But nothing in your system provides for a way of judging the outcome toward which an action is instrumental or expedient. So you allow that evil things can be done, so long as the most expeditious instrumental means are used to achieve it.

So if slavery 'works' for somebody in that way, if it's instrumental to his goals, then it's not wrong, according to your theory. That follows, as day follows night.
There is no point to this discussion. What you mean by wrong is some floating abstraction without objective or purpose.
Heh. :D

An old error. The et tu quoque fallacy.

Criticizing me doesn't patch up any faults in your own answer. It's just a distractor tactic. Your theory allows for slavery. Indeed, if slavery is instrumental to a goal, it may even approve of slavery.
What I mean by, "right," and, "wrong," are value terms which require some specific end, goal, purpose, or objective relative to which a thing or action is right or wrong--"right," if it furthers, enhances or achieves the goal or objective, "wrong," if it prevents or fails to achieve the goal or objective.
Exactly the fault I have pointed out in your theory. Slavery "enhances and achieves the goal" of cheap labour. It's very successful in that. So you must approve of it, therefore. It must certainly then be, by the lights you have given, more "right" than the alternative of having to hire, pay and care for those who work for you.
There is no way for us to continue this discussion because we are talking about two totally different things.
Well, that's your fault. You're trying to talk about my beliefs, as you perceive them, instead of your beliefs. I'm talking only about what you have argued, and I save my own counsel for later.

So let's just talk about you.

And I put this challenge to you: your view has no condemnation for slavery, if it 'works' for some purpose you have in mind.
Alexis Jacobi
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Re: nihilism

Post by Alexis Jacobi »

My take so far: RC has only described why he would not enslave. But he can’t offer a universally applicable condemnation because, I gather, no such rule or law operates in the universe. He could choose to oppose enslavers though. But he would do so as an extension or application of his personal ethic.

IC on the other hand — for obvious reasons — recognizes and believes in a Law Giver and an ultimate moral authority who does, and will, judge and punish (or reward) human choices.

In this way these two views cannot be reconciled.
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RCSaunders
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Re: nihilism

Post by RCSaunders »

Immanuel Can wrote: Fri Jan 28, 2022 5:24 pm And I put this challenge to you: your view has no condemnation for slavery, if it 'works' for some purpose you have in mind.
See that's where our real difference lies. You believe that slavery could work for some positive purpose. I don't.
Alexis Jacobi
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Re: nihilism

Post by Alexis Jacobi »

Curious. Slavery certainly did work for positive outcomes, and benefit to some, and many. So to imply that getting a benefit is actually not a benefit, but a deficit, is the turn RC now takes. It is an odd assertion and I do not see how it could be supported.

If I rob someone of $10,000.00 and hand that money to you, yet you know not its origin, and you invest that money in a successful enterprise that benefits you, your children, your milieu, will that benefit magically recoil?

Please explain.
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Immanuel Can
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Re: nihilism

Post by Immanuel Can »

RCSaunders wrote: Fri Jan 28, 2022 9:12 pm
Immanuel Can wrote: Fri Jan 28, 2022 5:24 pm And I put this challenge to you: your view has no condemnation for slavery, if it 'works' for some purpose you have in mind.
See that's where our real difference lies. You believe that slavery could work for some positive purpose. I don't.
No, I don't, of course.

But then I'm not an instrumentalist, so I don't have to. But if we take your instrumental view seriously, you have to be...unless you simply now want to abandon that view, and claim something else. So long as any enslaver can find a good enough outcome to satisfy himself -- which, contrary to your hopes, he certainly can, of course -- instrumentalism requires that you approve his choice.
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