Sexy cyncism and nihilist elitism | Meaningness
7 min read
Recognizing meaninglessness requires unusual intelligence, courage, and toughness. Nihilist elitism renders you stupid, cowardly, and helpless, though.
You are a special, superior individual. Your intelligence overmatches the meek-minded herd: you have discovered the truth of meaninglessness. You are harder and bolder than the lazy weaklings who take refuge in comforting lies: you face up to the pitiless cold glare of the bleak, empty universe. Or, more likely: you don't consider yourself a nihilist at all. But sometimes you nihilize anyway. There are domains of meaning you don't want to look at—so you don't. Understanding nihilist motivations may clarify reasons you choose that, and its costs and benefits.

Nihilist elitism is half right. It takes uncommon intelligence to recognize that eternalism is categorically wrong: that no belief system can provide a foundation for meaning, and that there are no ultimate, transcendent, or objective meanings. It takes uncommon courage to defy social conventions of meaning, and to accept the outcaste label "nihilist." It takes uncommon grit to accept the agonizing amputation of meaning.

And, nihilist elitism is half wrong. Meaning is obvious everywhere, and it takes deliberate stupidity to pretend not to see it. If you are smart enough to figure out that eternalism is wrong, you should be smart enough to figure out why nihilism is also wrong. Eternalism is cowardly in clinging to illusory meanings, but nihilism is also cowardly in clinging to illusory meaninglessness. If you are tough enough to let go of the comforting simplistic certainty of religion or scientism, you should be tough enough to let go of the comforting simplistic certainty of nihilism.

Adopting the nihilist stance renders you dazed and confused. Intellectual arguments can't fully suppress the jarring dissonance between "nothing means anything" and the obvious meanings of everyday life. When you are genuinely nihilistic, not merely materialistic or existentialistic, usually you are hurting, scared, and lost. Your brave front of sophisticated contempt may go about two millimeters deep.

Bolstering your ego…
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