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nihilism

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nihilism

Postby ThomasGR » Thu Nov 29, 2007 10:35 pm

[nihilism] was first introduced into philosophical discourse by Friedrich Heinrich Jacobi (1743 – 1819), who used the term to characterize rationalism, and in particular Immanuel Kant's "critical" philosophy in order to carry out a reductio ad absurdum according to which all rationalism (philosophy as criticism) reduces to nihilism, and thus it should be avoided and replaced with a return to some type of faith and revelation. A related concept is fideism.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nihilism

Do you agree with the above emphasized conclusion? I think one would never be able to trace his thoughts that follow rationalism straight to the end. Always at some point one will restrain, draw back from his meditation, fearing that the conclusions would be terrible. At some point he will always declare the command "thou shalt not steal" as an unquestionable dogma that one is not allowed to discuss further. That explains also why atheists though reject Christianity, are so fond of Christian moral and ethics and speak so much about human rights that are universal, being aware at the same time that those human rights are not the result of rationalism, there is nothing rational on them, but of Christian religion. It tells me that religion is still necessary for the organization of a society. At the end I may claim that faith is quite rational.
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Postby Arvid » Thu Nov 29, 2007 11:32 pm

I would proudly call myself a Rationalist and I believe that Reason should be followed as far as it takes us. I couldn't agree less that a concern for human rights is based on Christian theology; is this the same Christian theology that gave us the Crusades, the Inquisition, the Wars of Religion, the Thirty Years War, the Salem Witch Trials, etc., etc., et endlessly cetera? The only distinctive contribution Christianity (or Judaism or Islam) makes to the discussion of morality is their insistence that this supposedly all-powerful God of theirs, who created the entire universe (of course, a much more cramped, dingy, simplistic, claustrophobic universe than the rest of us live in,) this omnipotent, wise, all-seeing God's major, overriding concern is enforcing the primitive sexual mores of some random tribe of flea-bitten nomads from 4000 years ago.

Of course, a concern for others and for human rights, and treating people decently, is based on the Golden Rule, which is shared by many other societies that have never suffered under thralldom to YHWH the Wind God. Even as a purely selfish motivation, it works: treat people decently, and they will treat you decently, or at least you'll have grounds for complaint against them if they don't, that will be recognized by others.

I reject the "Rationalism as Nihilism" identification; this may have been Jacobi's intent when he coined the word, but "nihilism" has come to mean a total lack of concern for others, in other words, a rejection of the Golden Rule, and I consider the Golden Rule eminently rational.

Of course a real problem with both the the Golden Rule and religion-based morality is that they only affect our dealings with other humans. That may not have been so important centuries ago, but now when we have the ability to render the Earth uninhabitable (if the thermal runaway that will render Earth just like Venus hasn't already started) neither one of them address the problem. It's only that much-maligned rationalism that says: "hey, maybe destroying the planet so some fat cat can make a few extra bucks isn't a good idea." The fundamentalists seem to embrace the opposite argument: since they expect the end of the world any minute now, if there's a tree left uncut or a single useful mineral left in the ground, or a single species except Man and his domestic animals and crop plants left alive, they've somehow failed in their duty. This was very much the attitude of Reagan's Interior Secretary, James Watt, and with the fundies infesting the Bush administration it's gotten even worse.
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Postby TortoiseDream » Tue Jun 03, 2008 10:20 pm

Arvid wrote:I would proudly call myself a Rationalist and I believe that Reason should be followed as far as it takes us. I couldn't agree less that a concern for human rights is based on Christian theology; is this the same Christian theology that gave us the Crusades, the Inquisition, the Wars of Religion, the Thirty Years War, the Salem Witch Trials, etc., etc., et endlessly cetera? The only distinctive contribution Christianity (or Judaism or Islam) makes to the discussion of morality is their insistence that this supposedly all-powerful God of theirs, who created the entire universe (of course, a much more cramped, dingy, simplistic, claustrophobic universe than the rest of us live in,) this omnipotent, wise, all-seeing God's major, overriding concern is enforcing the primitive sexual mores of some random tribe of flea-bitten nomads from 4000 years ago.

Of course, a concern for others and for human rights, and treating people decently, is based on the Golden Rule, which is shared by many other societies that have never suffered under thralldom to YHWH the Wind God. Even as a purely selfish motivation, it works: treat people decently, and they will treat you decently, or at least you'll have grounds for complaint against them if they don't, that will be recognized by others.

I reject the "Rationalism as Nihilism" identification; this may have been Jacobi's intent when he coined the word, but "nihilism" has come to mean a total lack of concern for others, in other words, a rejection of the Golden Rule, and I consider the Golden Rule eminently rational.

Of course a real problem with both the the Golden Rule and religion-based morality is that they only affect our dealings with other humans. That may not have been so important centuries ago, but now when we have the ability to render the Earth uninhabitable (if the thermal runaway that will render Earth just like Venus hasn't already started) neither one of them address the problem. It's only that much-maligned rationalism that says: "hey, maybe destroying the planet so some fat cat can make a few extra bucks isn't a good idea." The fundamentalists seem to embrace the opposite argument: since they expect the end of the world any minute now, if there's a tree left uncut or a single useful mineral left in the ground, or a single species except Man and his domestic animals and crop plants left alive, they've somehow failed in their duty. This was very much the attitude of Reagan's Interior Secretary, James Watt, and with the fundies infesting the Bush administration it's gotten even worse.


Defend your claim that we should follow reason to where it takes us; you will find that you cannot do this without reason, and thus already assuming your conclusion before your argument. Try the opposite, try to attack reason; you will find that you cannot do this as well, for if you try you will use reason, and thus contradict yourself. Then you become the ultimate skeptic.
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Postby MiguelM » Wed Jun 04, 2008 12:12 am

Never before "Rationalism" has there been a thought that'd state That which I do not understand does not exist. Rationalism is arrogant in all its extents, and naïve in its purpose.

TortoiseDream--

Reason and Irrationality are not mutually exclusive. Just because you attack pure reason with reason does not mean it is all shattered-- just that you acknowledge that you can't fall into extremes.
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Postby BillD » Tue Jun 24, 2008 3:25 am

I don't know how I missed this thread before. I usually don't post a lot but this required a (belated) response:

Arvid wrote:I would proudly call myself a Rationalist and I believe that Reason should be followed as far as it takes us. I couldn't agree less that a concern for human rights is based on Christian theology; is this the same Christian theology that gave us the Crusades, the Inquisition, the Wars of Religion, the Thirty Years War, the Salem Witch Trials, etc., etc., et endlessly cetera?

This is not an argument; it's simple name calling. Rather than promote your own view, you engage in a lame attempt to tear down Christian theology. Whether you profess to practice an organized religion or not, to believe that the moral framework of Western Civilization is not based amost entirely on Christian teaching and philosophy is just foolish.


and wrote:The only distinctive contribution Christianity (or Judaism or Islam) makes to the discussion of morality is their insistence that this supposedly all-powerful God of theirs, who created the entire universe (of course, a much more cramped, dingy, simplistic, claustrophobic universe than the rest of us live in,) this omnipotent, wise, all-seeing God's major, overriding concern is enforcing the primitive sexual mores of some random tribe of flea-bitten nomads from 4000 years ago.

Give me a break. If you really believe this then you clearly have not studied Christianity (or Judaism or Islam) deeply enough to engage in any sort of insightful debate. Whether you believe in the tenets of Christianity (or Judaism or Islam) or not, you should at least gain a clearer understanding of these systems of belief before dismissing them in such simplistic terms.


and wrote:Of course, a concern for others and for human rights, and treating people decently, is based on the Golden Rule, which is shared by many other societies that have never suffered under thralldom to YHWH the Wind God. Even as a purely selfish motivation, it works: treat people decently, and they will treat you decently, or at least you'll have grounds for complaint against them if they don't, that will be recognized by others.

Are you unable to comment on this topic without resort to ridicule and insult? Do you honestly believe that the Golden Rule would have any application at all in a society that was not informed by centuries of teaching and belief based on a transcendent moral authority? Your sarcasm does you a disservice.


and wrote:I reject the "Rationalism as Nihilism" identification; this may have been Jacobi's intent when he coined the word, but "nihilism" has come to mean a total lack of concern for others, in other words, a rejection of the Golden Rule, and I consider the Golden Rule eminently rational.

Of course a real problem with both the the Golden Rule and religion-based morality is that they only affect our dealings with other humans. That may not have been so important centuries ago, but now when we have the ability to render the Earth uninhabitable (if the thermal runaway that will render Earth just like Venus hasn't already started) neither one of them address the problem. It's only that much-maligned rationalism that says: "hey, maybe destroying the planet so some fat cat can make a few extra bucks isn't a good idea." The fundamentalists seem to embrace the opposite argument: since they expect the end of the world any minute now, if there's a tree left uncut or a single useful mineral left in the ground, or a single species except Man and his domestic animals and crop plants left alive, they've somehow failed in their duty. This was very much the attitude of Reagan's Interior Secretary, James Watt, and with the fundies infesting the Bush administration it's gotten even worse.

For someone who professes to be guided by rationalism, you exhibit precious little of it in your writing. Perhaps I missed something but I failed to detect a single positive argument for rationalism in your entire screed. It was just a series of attacks on Christianity (or Judaism or Islam or Ronald Reagan or funamentalists...) that were unconvincing and left me with a lower opinion of your position than I had when I started.

I'm not especially religious. However, I am very tired of the sort of nonsense that passes for argument in our society. Yeesh! I'll get off my soapbox now.
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Postby Bert » Wed Jun 25, 2008 2:06 am

BillD wrote: I'll get off my soapbox now.

You can off your soapbox but you did very well while on it.
Thank you.
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Postby cold fusion » Sat Jun 28, 2008 2:58 am

As Kant believed,rational thought in the circle of phenomenal world is determined and rational thought itself cannot be used beyond the circle.In the noumenal world there is pure freedom,but that's in need of religion and God.It's rather right to say that pure "rationalism" will lead to nihilism,but that's just the result of being too "pure".I think Kant is right when he said only when we are concerning moral matters do we need God.
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Postby Essorant » Sat Jun 28, 2008 6:41 pm

All rationalism would reduce to nihilism if all people using it reduced it to nihilism, but that is not the case. There are many more travelled directions and reached destinations than "nihilism", and I have no doubt that every one of them includes a manner of belief and faith.<pre></pre>
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Re: nihilism

Postby dbigdawg » Sat Apr 04, 2009 1:21 am

Read Wittgenstein's On Certainty.
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Re: nihilism

Postby Nooj » Mon Apr 20, 2009 12:43 pm

At some point he will always declare the command "thou shalt not steal" as an unquestionable dogma that one is not allowed to discuss further.
I don't. A nihilist would declare that there are no unquestionable moral dogmas.
That explains also why atheists though reject Christianity
And all religions.

are so fond of Christian moral and ethics and speak so much about human rights that are universal, being aware at the same time that those human rights are not the result of rationalism, there is nothing rational on them
I don't agree. There are perfectly rational reasons behind some morals - that doesn't make those morals objectively true mind you.

, but of Christian religion.
What morals and ethics belong to the Christian religion solely?

It tells me that religion is still necessary for the organization of a society.
Even if this was true, that doesn't mean religion is true. It just means religion is useful.

At the end I may claim that faith is quite rational.
Why?
Dolor poetas creat.
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