Monday, 20 November 2017

Positive Nihilism: A Fallback Philosophy

In my youth I was troubled by an unbearable desire. In the years since I have learned to bear it.
Assuming God, for merely a moment, and if we accept that God didn't create herself, then the question of who created God - of why anything exists at all - simply cannot be answered. Like a child any answer you might think of can simply be responded to with "but why?". In the end we have to admit we have no idea because there can't be an answer. Why anything exists at all must forever be a complete mystery. As far as I can tell even God can't know because there can't be an answer. It just is.

This reminds me of the lovely philosophy Positive Nihilism. It's not necessarily the philosophy I ascribe to, although I think it may be possible to prove that it's functionally equivalent to the philosophy I do ascribe to. Positive Nihilism does however make a good fallback philosophy, even if you question everything else this is still true. If there's no inherent meaning or purpose in life then the only possible meaning and purpose is the meaning and purpose we create. If the meaning we create is the only possible meaning then that is complete and real, it's as real as it's possible to find.

In discussing this with Delia she pointed to Benjamin and said this is her meaning. And indeed that is meaning and purpose that Delia created, meaning and purpose literally grew inside her.

Benjamin is a little havoc-monger. Honestly, the world doesn't know what's going to hit it with that one. And he loves to hug. Tell me there's not meaning and purpose right there.

Irina does not love to hug. Sometimes she'll let me hug her, mostly if I can arrange it subtly so she can pretend she hasn't noticed I'm hugging her. Carrying her to and from school is the best excuse I've found so far for a long cuddle. Irina can be quite intimidating. She's going to be loved from afar by a lot of people who don't dare talk to her...

The question of free will has similarities to the question of meaning in life. The fundamental nature of reality is chaos and uncertainty, with a few simple principles of natural law that permit existence to blossom (and no-one knows why). Because true randomness exists, and we have no conception of any mechanism of natural law that would permit the perception of free will that we have, it is functionally impossible to distinguish between randomness plus the mere operation of natural law and true free will. So if it's impossible to distinguish then "do we have free will?" becomes another question that actually has no possible answer. So not worrying about it seems to be the only reasonable course of action available to us. If free will is an illusion then the perception of free will is the only possible definition of choice we can have, and if it's as much as we can have then we already have it all.

Love love, hate hate and kill death. Be happy about happiness and sad about sadness, depressed about depression. Worry at worry and give fear something to be afraid of. Be angry at anger and horrified at horror. 
Experience the full range of human emotions yet remain unperturbed, at peace. Mind as a still lake, reflecting what it sees.

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