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Re: [existlist] Re: Intellectual Dishonesty

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  • George Walton
    Philosophy in a dictionary? C. S. Wyatt wrote: ... A Nihilist is not destructive, nor does he or she call for destruction. Nihilism,
    Message 1 of 18 , Oct 2, 2003
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      Philosophy in a dictionary?



      "C. S. Wyatt" <existlist1@...> wrote:
      The following statement is technically inaccurate:

      > Christ, even bacteria have
      > a greater will to live than nihilists.
      >
      > Jo

      A Nihilist is not destructive, nor does he or she call for
      destruction. Nihilism, academically, is a theory that asserts that
      humanity will peak and then descend into chaotic existence. The peaks
      and valleys of this pattern move mankind forward, until a final
      descent -- thousands of years from now, in theory.

      When capitalized, Nihilism is a cousin to Anarchy. It was a political
      movement throughout Europe and found a center in the Slavic nations.
      Eventually, Nihilism even counted as a true force in the Russian
      Revolutionary Movements.

      Nihilism, noun. the beliefs and practices of a revolutionary party in
      Russia in the middle 1800's, which advocated destruction of the old
      order by violence and terrorism to make way for reform.

      On the other hand, nihilism (lowercase) is more a rejection of order
      than an assertion that everything is terrible and we should all die.

      ni�hil�ism n
      1. the general rejection of established social conventions and
      beliefs, especially of morality and religion
      2. a belief that life is pointless and human values are worthless
      3. the belief that there is no objective basis for truth
      4. the belief that all established authority is corrupt and must be
      destroyed in order to rebuild a just society
      5. Ni�hil�ism: a political movement in late 19th-century Russia that
      sought to bring about a just new society by destroying the existing
      one through acts of terrorism and assassination

      (from, of all places: Encarta� World English Dictionary � 1999)

      I could use any number of dictionaries and texts for longer
      definitions, but let us use these simplified definitions.

      The first two easily fit into the Existentialism of early Sartre,
      which is why many consider the two related. The idea that social
      values should be redacted and replaced by internal motivations,
      intrinsic values, is common to many Continental Philosophical schools
      of thought.

      Item 3 is closer to later movements. I hate to sound negative, but
      American "moral relativists" and "cultural relativists" often fall
      under the spell of the "no objective truth" assertion of nihilism.
      Personally, I think there are a few objective truths -- starting with
      mankind is an animal that seeks to survive.

      Items 4 and 5 are Sartre's weakness. In fact, Sartre admired and
      embraced Russian Nihilism as a romantic notion. Camus did the same, in
      "The Just Assassins" -- but he observed a clear distinction between
      Nihilism and nihilism. Dostoevsky and other Russian writers did the same.

      "Nihilism" and "nihilistic" are too often misused, like "Existential"
      and "existentialism."

      - C. S. Wyatt


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    • George Walton
      Words mean things. And God knows only nihilists are permitted to compile the dictionaries we use to confirm the meaning of all the words we use in philosophy.
      Message 2 of 18 , Oct 2, 2003
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        Words mean things. And God knows only nihilists are permitted to compile the dictionaries we use to confirm the meaning of all the words we use in philosophy.

        He does, doesn't he?

        "C. S. Wyatt" <existlist1@...> wrote:
        --- In existlist@yahoogroups.com, "Mary Jo Malo" <alcyon11@y...>
        > "If we are to fail, it is better in any case to have stood on the
        > side of those who choose life than on the side of those who are
        > destroying." - Camus
        >
        > Mary Jo
        >

        Camus, especially during the Algerian uprisings, came to see violent
        rebellion as no longer acceptable in the post-WWII environment. Like
        Merleau-Ponty, he came to view the Nihilists and Communists of Soviet
        Russia as suspect.

        Revolution often descends in to a cycle of violence. Camus lectured on
        this, near the time of his death. Camus struggled with the problem of
        violence, as did so many others during the 20th-Century.

        The Nihilists of Russia turned increasingly violent, without logic,
        and Camus studied this and other revolutionary movements. He came to
        view the Nihilists as basically hopeless and caught in a mob
        mentality. The violence lost its meaning -- equality for the workers
        -- and became nothing but destruction.

        Words mean things... which is why we have dictionaries and I am
        careful to post lexicons on my Web site.

        We toss about words too esily without historical context.

        - C. S. Wyatt



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