Sunday, July 16, 2006

Two More Things about Nihilism

Alright, I post about nihilism some. Okay, a lot. One of my fellow bloggers over at Right Reason (I hardly knew ye...) said I was a nihilist albeit a conservative. Anyways. Two points more.

The first is that a healthy (or more precisely, virtuous) adjustment to life requires, as they say, “not taking things too seriously.” It requires steeling oneself to the hard nocks of outrageous fortune. It requires equanimity and composure when most people would find it astonishing that one is able to exhibit them. It resembles the grizzled jadedness of the nihilist. You have to “take things in stride.” Again, as they say. They say these things because they’re right.

The loss of what matters most will happen. You must be able to take it. You must resemble the nihilist. He doesn’t care about it.

This resemblance is not merely superficial. Both virtue and nihilism understand that this is all there is. There is nothing else. You will not be bailed out. Virtue lies precisely in being able to produce an admirable life with the deeply flawed hand that reality deals us. The Pollyanna hasn’t the tools to produce virtue. Even the person whose expectations lie between the realist and the Pollyanna does not. When he gets hit with what he scoffed at as only worth the pessimist’s planning for, he is unable to produce an admirable response. But he shares with the realist an upbeat attitude nevertheless. Virtue is not pessimistic.

The other thing about nihilism is that, as I replied to my fellow blogger, I not only reject nihilism, but there is nothing that I would count as evidence that it is true. We have a large and coherent set of desires and there is a large set of ways of life that we find fulfilling of these desires. The desires are manifold and well-knit together, along with the ways forming culture. It is possible for many of us to succeed for the most part in exemplifying this culture, this fulfillment, in various ways peculiarly suited to our individual tastes. Given that fact, nothing counts as evidence that nihilism is so. Not death, not the absence of a god or afterlife. Nihilism is a confusion, therefore.