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Nihilism and Thomas Hibbs: Shows about nothing?

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  • iambiguously
    From Thomas Hibbs, Shows About Nothing page 5: Nihilism calls into question democratic ideals such as individual rights and human dignity, the politics of
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 29, 2003
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      From Thomas Hibbs, "Shows About Nothing" page 5:

      "Nihilism calls into question democratic ideals such as individual
      rights and human dignity, the politics of equality and consensus,
      the pursuit of happiness, the possibility of progress, even modern
      science and medicine. These ideals supply the framework for the good
      life and the principles for our discernment of good and evil. If
      they are exposed as bankrupt, to move beyond good and evil, to
      attempt to transcend moral conventions, can be seen as liberating, a
      perverse affirmation of life and freedom in opposition to a
      degrading moral system".

      This perspective is typical, in my view, of those who try to set up
      nihilism as a strawman. Nihilism is seen as in opposition to "the
      good life"; it is further construed as deconstructing human
      existence as "meaningless" and devoid of "all value". In short, we
      are expected to understand it as Hollywood does: Hells Angels and
      Anarchists and Nazis and the madness and mayhem that is Mickey and
      Mallory, the Natural Born Killers.

      This, in fact, is what I refer to as the "dysfunctional and
      pathological psychological aggenda" nihilism. It bears very little
      resemblance to nihilism as a serious and sophisticated philosophical
      point of view. At least insofar as I construe it.

      What does the philosophy of nihilism tell us about the world we live
      in? Well, it starts with a reasonable and fundamental assumption
      that, in a universe without God, there can be no moral vantage point
      that reflects an omniscient point of view. Thus, without the
      capacity to speak of human moral or political or legal or cultural
      or historical or religous interactions in First Person Omniscient,
      no mere mortal has a monopoply on behavior deemed to be either Right
      or Wrong, Good or Bad.

      Over the course of the next few weeks I will offer my own insights
      into the points Mr. Hibbs raises in his book. The thrust of my
      argument will be that, on the contrary, nihilism is not the
      infection that threatens our democratic values but the only
      reasonable cure in a world that is increasingly infected with self-
      righteous and arrogant and dangerous politcial and moral and
      religous aggendas that would like nothing better than to impose
      their own sacred or secular "theocracies" on the rest of us.

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