Atheism and Nihilism/Hedonism.
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03-03-2017, 05:09 PM
Atheism and Nihilism/Hedonism.
Hello all. I was curious, is there any correlation between atheism and nihilism or hedonism?

Hedonism is of course the philosophy that pleasure of any kind is the ultimate end game, and Nihilism is that nothing and no one has any ultimate meaning or purpose.

Admittedly I have spent time as an atheist and have found it hard to avoid falling into either temptation.

As human beings we want things. Whether those things be sex, drugs, money or food. We are intrinsically selfish, in that we often feel inclined to place ourselves above all others. I am guilty of this myself.

Jehovah is not merely another god like Zeus, Ra or Quexacotal. He demands things from people, wishes us to live to a certain moral standard.

Without the realization that one day my life will end and I will indeed face judgement and then heaven,purgatory or hell, I may indeed take on the philosophy of "Eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow I may die."

And Nihilism is the idea that there is no ultimate goodness, no ultimate truth. Without God the ultimate good, it seems difficult for me to comprehend why we would not be nihilistic given all the evil in the world.

Also, why be good if no good? I don't mean why don't murder people or why not steal, I suppose everyone knows those are wrong and destructive.

Why not take on the extra burden, to help someone in need, or to go the extra mile inadvancing the good and dignity of all people. It's not easy to do, and I do believe in concupiscence, the natural inclination to be self-absorbed, and put ones own needs above anyone elses no matter what.

Their is a certain freedom in helping and being kind to others, and knowing I am pleasing the creator of all the world(including all the posters here...you were willed and created by God, and loved as well) is all the more motivation for me.
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03-03-2017, 05:31 PM
RE: Atheism and Nihilism/Hedonism.
(03-03-2017 05:09 PM)ProudCatholic Wrote:  Hello all. I was curious, is there any correlation between atheism and nihilism or hedonism?
No.
(03-03-2017 05:09 PM)ProudCatholic Wrote:  Admittedly I have spent time as an atheist and have found it hard to avoid falling into either temptation.
Not my personal experience.
(03-03-2017 05:09 PM)ProudCatholic Wrote:  As human beings we want things. Whether those things be sex, drugs, money or food. We are intrinsically selfish, in that we often feel inclined to place ourselves above all others. I am guilty of this myself.
All living creatures have drives / desires / needs. Humans have a uniquely powerful ability to make present sacrifices for future benefit to themselves and/or others. The concept of "sin" adds nothing to understanding this.
(03-03-2017 05:09 PM)ProudCatholic Wrote:  Jehovah is not merely another god like Zeus, Ra or Quexacotal. He demands things from people, wishes us to live to a certain moral standard.
Hardly a unique characteristic. Many other gods make demands and promulgate rules. Try again.
(03-03-2017 05:09 PM)ProudCatholic Wrote:  Without the realization that one day my life will end and I will indeed face judgement and then heaven,purgatory or hell, I may indeed take on the philosophy of "Eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow I may die."
Why? What has one to do with the other?
(03-03-2017 05:09 PM)ProudCatholic Wrote:  And Nihilism is the idea that there is no ultimate goodness, no ultimate truth. Without God the ultimate good, it seems difficult for me to comprehend why we would not be nihilistic given all the evil in the world.
You do not understand Nihilism then. Don't feel bad; few do. But for the sake of argument, I will say that the absence of "ultimate" truth in no way negates the existence or utility of the truth that actually exists.
(03-03-2017 05:09 PM)ProudCatholic Wrote:  Also, why be good if no good [sic]? I don't mean why don't murder people or why not steal, I suppose everyone knows those are wrong and destructive.
Thanks for refuting your own argument.

Why NOT be good if no god?

Personally I don't do good because a divine enforcer will nuke me if I don't. I do good because I choose to, because it's in my rational self interest to live in a civil society under the rule of law and to have healthy interdependence with others.
(03-03-2017 05:09 PM)ProudCatholic Wrote:  Why not [sic] take on the extra burden, to help someone in need, or to go the extra mile inadvancing the good and dignity of all people. It's not easy to do, and I do believe in concupiscence, the natural inclination to be self-absorbed, and put ones own needs above anyone else's no matter what.
Self-absorption is just an immature (lack of) perspective, a failure of self-empathy ironically enough. Because empathy with one's future self is what enables you to see the value in making present sacrifices for future benefits. That's why sociopaths tend to be impulsive; their lack of empathy extends even to themselves.
(03-03-2017 05:09 PM)ProudCatholic Wrote:  Their is a certain freedom in helping and being kind to others, and knowing I am pleasing the creator of all the world(including all the posters here...you were willed and created by God, and loved as well) is all the more motivation for me.
There is plenty of freedom / purpose / meaning / satisfaction in helping and being kind to others, apart from what an invisible man in the sky might or might not be claimed to think of it.

I am truly sad that the motivation you believe you have for doing good has to be augmented by pleasing / avoiding the displeasure of some divine enforcer. I do get the impression that many Christians think they would go off the rails and pillage and rape and kill if god weren't there to frown upon it. Thankfully, that is mostly just operant conditioning; most Christians would be pleasantly surprised to find they were good people in the first place, and losing their faith not only has no impact on their behavior, it often has a POSITIVE impact. That was certainly my experience.
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03-03-2017, 05:31 PM
RE: Atheism and Nihilism/Hedonism.
(03-03-2017 05:09 PM)ProudCatholic Wrote:  Hello all. I was curious, is there any correlation between atheism and nihilism or hedonism?

Hedonism is of course the philosophy that pleasure of any kind is the ultimate end game, and Nihilism is that nothing and no one has any ultimate meaning or purpose.

Nihilism is not a philosophical position. Nihilism is fact. Existentialism is how you deal with that fact.

Atheism and hedonism are not correlated. Nihilism is, but I can almost guarantee that your personal view of nihilism is a bit warped. It is almost certainly not what you think it is.

(03-03-2017 01:40 PM)PETE_ROSE Wrote:  Also, why be good if no good?

Why not?

If you're the type of person to think that it's only the existence of God making you refrain from raping and murdering indiscriminately... well, I think that's rather an issue with you, not with atheists.

"Owl," said Rabbit shortly, "you and I have brains. The others have fluff. If there is any thinking to be done in this Forest - and when I say thinking I mean thinking - you and I must do it."
- A. A. Milne, The House at Pooh Corner
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03-03-2017, 05:32 PM
RE: Atheism and Nihilism/Hedonism.
(03-03-2017 05:09 PM)ProudCatholic Wrote:  Hello all. I was curious, is there any correlation between atheism and nihilism or hedonism?

Not in my experience.

Quote:Admittedly I have spent time as an atheist and have found it hard to avoid falling into either temptation.

What made you an atheist?

Quote:We are intrinsically selfish, in that we often feel inclined to place ourselves above all others. I am guilty of this myself.

You are also guilty of assuming that everybody else feels the way you do.

Quote:Jehovah is not merely another god like Zeus, Ra or Quexacotal. He demands things from people, wishes us to live to a certain moral standard.

Something tells me that you know very little about Zeus, Ra or Quexacotal.

Quote:Without the realization that one day my life will end and I will indeed face judgement and then heaven,purgatory or hell, I may indeed take on the philosophy of "Eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow I may die."

Many say that. Few seem to do it when they lose their religion.

Quote:And Nihilism is the idea that there is no ultimate goodness, no ultimate truth. Without God the ultimate good, it seems difficult for me to comprehend why we would not be nihilistic given all the evil in the world.

Ignoring the odd definition, we can do what we can to make our brief existence as positive as possible for ourselves and for others.

Quote:Also, why be good if no good? I don't mean why don't murder people or why not steal, I suppose everyone knows those are wrong and destructive.

You pretty much answered your own question. It doesn't take a god to figure out that things are better when people don't go around stealing and killing.

Quote:Why not take on the extra burden, to help someone in need, or to go the extra mile inadvancing the good and dignity of all people. It's not easy to do, and I do believe in concupiscence, the natural inclination to be self-absorbed, and put ones own needs above anyone elses no matter what.

There you go again assuming that you are representative.

Quote:Their is a certain freedom in helping and being kind to others, and knowing I am pleasing the creator of all the world(including all the posters here...you were willed and created by God, and loved as well) is all the more motivation for me.

There is pleasure in helping others because it stimulates the reward centers in our brains. That's what comes of having evolved as a social species. I can't imagine a worse feeling than believing I am the tool of some invisible agent and can only advance by becoming a slave. Religion doesn't provide morality, it steals it and warps it into something utterly disgusting.

Atheism: it's not just for communists any more!
America July 4 1776 - November 8 2016 RIP
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03-03-2017, 05:33 PM
RE: Atheism and Nihilism/Hedonism.
^ I didn't say murder and rape indiscriminately. Plenty of reasons not to do that (self preservation being one.)

Btw, rape and murder aren't usually in peoples best interests.

I mean just overocming the everyday petty selfish instincts we as humans have.
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03-03-2017, 05:41 PM
RE: Atheism and Nihilism/Hedonism.
(03-03-2017 05:33 PM)ProudCatholic Wrote:  ^ I didn't say murder and rape indiscriminately. Plenty of reasons not to do that (self preservation being one.)

Btw, rape and murder aren't usually in peoples best interests.

I mean just overocming the everyday petty selfish instincts we as humans have.

Because being a petty selfish cunt excessively turns you into a bitter asshole. If you're an asshole people won't want to have anything to do with you. That would result in being lonely and depressed. That's not fun, is it?

Although for some people it is fun, apparently. Not my cup of tea though.
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03-03-2017, 05:44 PM
RE: Atheism and Nihilism/Hedonism.
Given that the Christianity you describe is all about pursuing bliss in Heaven and avoiding the flames of Hell, I'd be hard-pressed to describe that as anything OTHER than hedonistic. It might be a more long-term hedonism than what you are criticizing, and it's based on dubious promises, but it's definitely hedonism.

As for nihilism, there are varying grades of it. In its mildest form, there is the absence of an absolute, intrinsic purpose, meaning, or value to things. At this level of nihilism, a rock is just a rock, with no objective purpose or value. Yet we, subjective beings that we are, can find a purpose to it or ascribe value to it. This low-grade nihilism is still in place, because what we ascribe to the rock is subjective rather than objective. But we still have the ability to live lives full of value, purpose, and meaning. We can hold things to be good and pursue that good, and see things as evil and oppose that evil.

There's a more extreme version of nihilism where even subjective purpose, meaning, and value are absent. That would be a truly depressing existence. But it doesn't take a god to avoid. It just takes the ability to value something, to have it mean something to you. In this, there is no good or evil.

It should be noted that your scenario in which things have purpose or meaning BECAUSE THAT'S WHAT GOD GIVES THEM is the first type of nihilism, because that's a subjective form of valuation rather than an objective one. Here, God is good or evil by subjective fiat. God could command murder (as he does several times in the Bible), and since God defines what is good or evil then murder BECOMES GOOD when God commands it. This is subjective only. For there to be an intrinsic, objective morality, you would need it to derive from a less-personal figure, such as the Tao.

Your difficulties in comprehending things speak only to your own handicaps, not the truth of the world.

Your approach to this is flat backwards. You're reasoning from first principles, saying "okay, here's what I think the consequences of this should be", when you should instead be using your eyes. We could argue motivations, philosophy, or psychology all we want, but that's just navel-gazing. Instead, do some research on the secular charities out there, or the "atheists in foxholes" who sacrificed their lives for something greater than them. Or, you know, ANY research at all, before you start discounting a group that does not deserve it. Fail to comprehend how this works all you want. It still works. Empiricism trumps reasoning every time.

For myself, I derive value in bringing happiness to others. On a fundamental level, I don't want to be a dead weight or so much flotsam. I want to feel like I have a measure of agency to affect the world around me and to change the future. I do this by helping to build something better, by helping to improve the lives of others, and yes, this gives me a good feeling. Does that count as hedonism? Maybe. The definition's flexible enough to argue it. But to the degree that it is hedonism, then hedonism isn't necessarily wrong, and to the degree that there is something wrong with hedonism, then this is not hedonism.
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03-03-2017, 05:45 PM
RE: Atheism and Nihilism/Hedonism.
(03-03-2017 05:33 PM)ProudCatholic Wrote:  ^ I didn't say murder and rape indiscriminately. Plenty of reasons not to do that (self preservation being one.)

Btw, rape and murder aren't usually in peoples best interests.

I mean just overocming the everyday petty selfish instincts we as humans have.
One's petty selfish instincts are not in one's rational self-interest either, except, occasionally, in the very near-term. Most people over a certain age have figured this out. They even manage to do it all by themselves.

Catholicism is basically a guilt generator to make a person feel a constant need for church-provided absolution. Protestantism just moves the role of confessor from an earthly proxy to a point in between your ears, and it uses somewhat different forms of guilt, fear and self-loathing to create the perceived need for forgiveness. It all amounts to the same thing: you're bad, and we'll fix it in exchange for your assent and participation in and financial support of our club.
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03-03-2017, 05:48 PM
RE: Atheism and Nihilism/Hedonism.
(03-03-2017 05:33 PM)ProudCatholic Wrote:  ^ I didn't say murder and rape indiscriminately. Plenty of reasons not to do that (self preservation being one.)

Btw, rape and murder aren't usually in peoples best interests.

I mean just overocming the everyday petty selfish instincts we as humans have.

The same point still applies.

If your belief in your god is all that keeps you from being a complete douchenozzle, that is your problem, not ours.

"Owl," said Rabbit shortly, "you and I have brains. The others have fluff. If there is any thinking to be done in this Forest - and when I say thinking I mean thinking - you and I must do it."
- A. A. Milne, The House at Pooh Corner
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03-03-2017, 05:54 PM
RE: Atheism and Nihilism/Hedonism.
(03-03-2017 05:33 PM)ProudCatholic Wrote:  ^ I didn't say murder and rape indiscriminately. Plenty of reasons not to do that (self preservation being one.)

Btw, rape and murder aren't usually in peoples best interests.

I mean just overocming the everyday petty selfish instincts we as humans have.

Someday you should check the stats for murder and rape and other violent crimes in generally secular countries vs more religious countries. Belief in a god doesn't make you behave better; it appears to have just the opposite effect in many cases. Maybe it's the realization that there is no sky-daddy and we aren't special and we all have to grow up and take responsibility for our own actions that is the better system.

Religion infantilizes adherents.

Atheism: it's not just for communists any more!
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