Nihilism Is Awesome

Nihilism as an experience is an all-encompassing feeling that the whole of existence, aside from being cold, cruel, and worthless, has no ultimate standards or purpose for being. It just is, despite what humans may conclude otherwise.

Taken straight from Nietzsche's mouth, a nihilist is defined as:

"[one] who judges, of the world as it is, that it ought not to be, and of the world as it ought to be, that it does not exist. Accordingly, existing has no sense: the passion of 'in vain' is the nihilist's passion" (XVI 84. Cf. XV 146, 182; VI 197 ff.)

What this quote is saying is that no part of existence has any inherent value of any sort. Obviously, for the average human being, this is a shock and a terrible feeling:

"The shudder over the discovered 'falsity'...Empty; not a thought left; strong passions revolving about objects without value...The strongest purpose no longer knows what for. Everything is there, but no purposes. - Atheism as ideal-lessness." (XVI 405)

So the real question is: Why do people automatically think of nihilism as such a terrible, depressing thing?

The answer is of course that humanity as a whole needs meaning in life: a goal, a drive, some sense of serving the Greater Good. Nietzsche himself made it his life's journey to forge new meaning in the modern world, after his experience with nihilism. Ask anyone who loves their job, and most of them will probably say that benefiting their community/the world/future generations is a motivation for them every day. Or most days.

Nihilism sucks the bottom out of everyone's peaceful, often loosely-religious existences. With nihilism, the frailty and senselessness of not only the human condition but the universe as a whole is fully realized. The world truly just exists and, whether humans like it or not, does not and cannot conform to humans' arbitrary standards. The Greater Good you're supposedly working for doesn't give a shit whether you live or die.

See why nihilism is often appealing to angsty teenagers who think the world sucks? Luckily for me, I "invented" nihilism in mid-elementary school. This meant that I have had more years come to terms with it than most people get. After you get over the fact that all human constructs are no more or less important than anything else's constructs, nihilism ends up being awesome.

You see, the reason nihilism is beautiful is because it epitomizes the inherent blank-ness of existence. The world is a blank slate, the marker scribbled on it erased along with its writer. Humans and their flimsy constructions are temporary, the meanings we assign to things finite. This notion, however depressing, is extremely powerful.

It means that every person gets to create for themselves what they think the universe means, and what to do with that information. Nihilism is the epitome of freedom.

And if that isn't the most beautiful concept ever, then I don't know what is.


  1. What will you do with your freedom? There are so many "gurus" with recommendations. e.g., Jon Kabat-Zinn.


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