Wednesday, June 8, 2016

What is Nihilism?

Some of The Coracle's readers know that I taught philosophy for a decade or so [along with poetry, theology, general literature, and ancient history during my twenty-one years as an educator], so I tend to frame contemporary events with whatever philosophical school best corresponds.

Lately, I notice nihilism in everything from the demands for "safe" spaces on college campuses to the bizarre presidential election season and its equally bizarre candidates.  The tendency in social discourse to label those with whom one disagrees by brutal terms such as "racist", "sexist", "breeder", "meat-eater" etc. in order to shame them to silence and claim a self-constructed moral high ground is a classic sign of the rejection of common perspective and the meanings of words.

But, since I'm warming to this theme, I thought it might be helpful to offer a definition of the term so that my musings are clear; or as clear as they can ever be.

Nihilism - the rejection of all religious and moral principles, often in the belief that life is meaningless; extreme skepticism maintaining that nothing in the world has a real existence.