Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Self-Determination and Privilege

I wanted to write a post elucidating my thoughts on the interaction between Nihilism and Socialism, but I think I need to write about the concept of self-determination as I see it first.
To me, self-determination means having the ability to shape your course in life. I have this in excess, and am extremely privileged to have it (if it can be described as an it?). As a teenager I was encouraged by my family to explore my passions and interests, so I did. I got really into music, played in several bands, and eventually decided to go and study Jazz at university. I later decided that being a professional Jazz musician was not for me, so switched degrees and started studying biology and statistics instead, and was supported through this transition. On top of this, I live in a country where, assuming you have sufficient support (government assistance really isn't enough) you can do this. I'll get more to this point in the next post I have planned about Nihilism and Socialism.

A while back a friend asked me what the relationship was between atheism and privilege, and I had to think about it for a while. The capacity to form independent opinions on metaphysical issues at odds with your instilled cultural values seems to me to be largely contingent on education and socio-economic privilege. So it could be said that Atheism in the modern western sense, particularly the odious brand of it dubbed 'New Atheism' is a first world phenomenon. Most people struggling to get by in third-world countries don't have the luxury to set time aside to study philosophy and contemplate the existence or non-existence of gods and their place in the universe. So while I don't think there is any 'privilege' associated with atheism itself, there does seem to be a correlation between socio-economic privilege and 'New Atheism' at the very least.

Following from this, self-determination in your direction in life is also contingent on privilege. People in poverty typically have greatly diminished options in life, often being forced out of economic desperation to go straight into work if they can find it straight after high school or even drop out early to support their family. This happens in so-called first-world countries. So it follows from this that the distribution of privilege in the capacity that it allows an individual to meaningfully determine their own course in life is not equal. In a capitalist system, those with more wealth are accorded more freedom to do whatever they want in life, to the point where in some capitalist societies *cough* America *cough* they apparently have the freedom to buy politicians, and rig the political system in their favour.

To be continued soon, hopefully.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Pessimism and Nihilism

It has been said by many a great thinker that pessimism leads to nihilism. In fact Nietzsche even said this, and he saw nihilism as something of a disease. Though it may be true that pessimism can lead to nihilism, I would suggest that it need not be the case. Personally, although I express a level of pessimism towards humanity in general that is probably well above average, my pessimism within the scope of my own life is low. Perhaps this is internally inconsistent, or perhaps it means subconsciously I am setting myself apart from the rest of humanity.

I hope that it is neither of those things, but regardless, my path to nihilism was not an emotional one at all. It did not arise out of a sense of despair at a lack of meaning, as I had already rejected inherent meaning in life or the universe many years prior to realising that this was, in fact nihilism. Even then, when I first came to the conclusion that a lack of meaning logically followed from a non-teleological view of the world I experienced no existential crisis. Self-created meaning just flowed naturally and intuitively to me.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Reclaiming Nihilism

It's a bit of a facetious title, but as I wrote on my other blog recently (which I don't post on very much anymore) I only recently came to grips with the fact that I am indeed a nihilist. Although I had really been a nihilist for years, I had fallen prey to the pop-culture caricature of nihilism. For some bizarre reason I thought that the image of the "we believe in nothing!" nihilists in The Big Lebowski somehow reflected reality. The purpose behind starting a new blog is to explore the ideas of nihilism and related philosophical positions unattached to any other terms with their own baggage. This is why I am choosing not to continue posting on the topic of nihilism on Undeniably Atheist, my old blog. Nihilism must be examined in its own light.

I created a page on Facebook for the blog