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22533Re: [existlist] Re: Nihilism and "democratic liberalism"

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  • George Walton
    Oct 2, 2003
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      Clark,

      That is a good point about folks who embrace Christianity or Liberalism or Conservativism or Marxism or Ojectivism or Anarchism or Judaism or Naturalism or Et Ceteraism. Their so-called Ethical and Political and Religious "Truths" are always relative to those who are willing to embrace them. This is why many point to these folks as the "real nihilists" because their teleological aggendas are ripped right out of the way in which human social interactions actually unfold out in the real world as an intertwining series of existential relationships.

      Human existence is always about becoming someone else. From day to day to day the increments, however, are generally so small as to be indiscernable. It is only as we age and look back into the past that most of us see the way in which our understanding of the world around us has changed. Then we have to rationalize that by convincing ourselves that, while we have, indeed, changed [sometimes dramatically] it is only because we have become wiser and have fianlly discovered or evolved into our "true self".

      Biggie

      Biggie

      summerz95 <summerz95@...> wrote:
      I have not read Hibbs' book, but from the quotations you gave, it
      appears that he is talking largely about moral relativism rather than
      nihilism. Seinfeld or Simpsons are about everyday insecurities and
      petty problems, and people who *care* about this stuff. This is not
      nihilism, which disdains all this day-to-day fuss and focuses on will
      to power instead.

      Regarding moral relativism, yes I agree it pervades everyone and
      everything. Only a few will honestly admit it though. Even the most
      stubborn moralists are also relativists because their made-up rules
      apply only to a limited set of people (who belong to one religion, one
      country, race, species, etc).

      Clark

      --- In existlist@yahoogroups.com, "iambiguously" <iambiguously@y...>
      wrote:
      > From Thomas Hibbs' "Shows About Nothing" page 6 in p/b edition
      >
      > "...nihilistic premises pervade our popular culture, not just
      > through horror films and violent movies-of-the-week, but through the
      > most succesful sitcoms of the last decade, "The Simpsons"
      > and "Seinfeld". Is there perhaps some link between American
      > democracy and nihilism? Can our contemporary popular culture be seen
      > as drawing out the natural consequences of certain strains of
      > liberal individualism?...That thinkers as diverse as Friedrich
      > Nietzsche, Alexis de Tocqueville, T.S. Eliot and Hannah Arendt have
      > detected a subtle link between nihilism and certain forms of
      > democratic liberalism lends credibility to affirmative answers."
      >
      > First, of course, I note Hibbs standard, accredited APA rendition of
      > nihilism [which, by and large, overlaps with popular accounts, as
      > well] in references to "horror" and "violence". As though to embrace
      > nihilism was, ipso facto, to embrace these, in turn. Yet, while
      > nihilism can, indeed, unleash the beast [we are, after all, Naked
      > Apes, right?], it can also unleash the creative artist, the tendency
      > to embarce politcal moderation and the man and woman not content to
      > go the way of "civilization". And lest we forget, folks like Lenin
      > and Hitler and Mao did not construe their own political and
      > philosophical aggendas as nihilistic---on the contrary, Adolph
      > embraced My Kampf by wanting it to be Your Kampf, as well. And
      > Vladimir was not motivated to pursue the dictatorship of the
      > proletariat merely because he hungered for the "horror"
      > and "violence" of revolutionary upheavel. He embraced it, instead,
      > because he was a passionaite Marxist and genuinely believed he was
      > on the front lines of the class struggle. And would you call the
      > Capitalist ruling classes who have unleashed their global economy on
      > the world and brought with it a staggering toll of human suffering
      > and politcial repression, nihilists? Was Bush a nihilist when
      > invaded and occuppied Iraq? Is "The Simpsons" and "Seinfeld"
      > responsible for the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children wdo died
      > since the US forced the UN to impose sanctions on that country?
      > Consider: On May 12th, 1996 Lesley Stahl, from CBS's 60 Minutes was
      > interviewing Madeleine Albright: "More than 500,000 iraqi children
      > are already dead as a direct result of UN sanctions. Do you think
      > the price is worth paying?" Albright replied: "It is a difficult
      > question. But, yes, we think the price is worth it."
      >
      > Was Albright accused of being a nihilist for saying saomething like
      > that? No, she was not. Perhaps because she did admit that the death
      > of 500,000 children was, indeed, a "difflicult question".
      >
      > Secondly, although it may appear as though I am setting Hibbs up as
      > a strawman myself [in the way I construe him setting up The
      > Nihilist], I will state right upfront that his arguments are very
      > sophisticated, often quite compelling and definitely worth taking
      > very seriously. He is, after all, not an Ann Coutler or Robert Novak
      > or John Ashcroft. He is, instead, a professor of philosophy at
      > Boston College and I was enormously impressed with many of the
      > points he made.
      >
      > He is just discussing "nihilism" as that which I do not embrace
      > myself, at all.
      >
      > Biggie



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