Naturalism = Nihilism?
Post Reply
 
Thread Rating:
  • 0 Votes - 0 Average
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
21-07-2014, 11:29 PM
Naturalism = Nihilism?
It appears to me, that atheism/naturalism can only lead us to nihilism, when taken all the way to it's logical conclusions... yet I see almost no one who will acknowledge/address this.

What grounds can we stand upon when we wish to call something "wrong"?

Are right/wrong merely subjective preferences?
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
22-07-2014, 12:01 AM (This post was last modified: 22-07-2014 12:32 AM by Dee.)
RE: Naturalism = Nihilism?
Please explain, before you see the crazy come out in us, how/what you are thinking when you say "naturalism=nihilism," and how atheism relates to "naturalism=nihilism" it. I just don't see the connection.

"If you want a happy ending, that depends, of course, on where you stop your story." Orson Welles
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
22-07-2014, 12:31 AM
RE: Naturalism = Nihilism?
Hello! Welcome to the forum. Smile

(21-07-2014 11:29 PM)nietzsche101 Wrote:  It appears to me, that atheism/naturalism can only lead us to nihilism, when taken all the way to it's logical conclusions...

Well... appearances can also be deceiving. Wink


(21-07-2014 11:29 PM)nietzsche101 Wrote:  ...Yet I see almost no one who will acknowledge/address this.

*Raises hand* I'm more than happy to have a go at addressing this. As, I am sure, will quite a few other forum members. Smile

(21-07-2014 11:29 PM)nietzsche101 Wrote:  What grounds can we stand upon when we wish to call something "wrong"?

This is a really big, complicated question, you know? Filled with many shades of black, grey and white. Things such as "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few." etc. There's also the train/tunnel/5childrenVs1Worker thought experiment.

(21-07-2014 11:29 PM)nietzsche101 Wrote:  Are right/wrong merely subjective preferences?

Well... a look over the past history (From an anthropomorphic point of view) would seem to indicate (Again, for many things) that the answer would be 'Yes'.

Much cheers to all.
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
[+] 2 users Like Peebothuhul's post
22-07-2014, 12:48 AM
RE: Naturalism = Nihilism?
The main question I'm concerned with is morality.. if "god is dead" then what does "morality" mean?
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
22-07-2014, 01:17 AM (This post was last modified: 22-07-2014 01:22 AM by Reltzik.)
RE: Naturalism = Nihilism?
(22-07-2014 12:48 AM)nietzsche101 Wrote:  The main question I'm concerned with is morality.. if "god is dead" then what does "morality" mean?

Generally speaking, a morality or moral code is system for evaluating our behaviors, actions, and so on and ranking them as laudable (moral) or contemptible (immoral), or possibly neither (amoral or lacking a moral component, eg, whether your favorite color is blue or green). This is true regardless of whether God is dead, alive, risen, or never-existed. Often there is a rationale behind morality, dictating its judgements of what is moral or immoral, such as helping the most people possible, kissing the ass of a powerful government or an imagined god, or so on. It is also possible to describe distinct moralities -- that is, different schemes for identifying actions as moral or immoral. For example, under one morality, eating shellfish might be perfectly fine, while under another, it might be an abomination.

You seem to be looking for something more specific. Often there is proposed some notion of "objective" morality, where we identify some particular moral code as being the one true morality (with all the others being false concepts of morality), and this one true objective morality applying universally. There are two different concepts of objective morality: The concept wherein the "objective" morality is somehow truer than other, "subjective" morality, and the concept wherein all who are judged by this morality, are judged by the same standard regardless of several factors such as time, place, race, gender, so on. Objective morality rarely has its definition so clearly stated, but is usually meant by a speaker to be in the overlap of these two concepts.

Obviously, it's easy to construct an objective morality, in the egalitarian sense, without a god involved. You just forbid special pleading. But objective morality in the sense of something truer than other moralities also does not require a god. In Western culture, there is a long tradition of God (or, before then, the gods) writing their particular codes of morality into reality, or simply having it elevated above all others because it's theirs, making that morality objective in the sense of being truer than others. However, Eastern culture includes things like the Tao and Dharma. These are moralities which are depicted as being fundamentally true, written into the natural and supernatural nature of the universe, and yet not the product of any god. They simply are, the way that gravity is. No god required.

For myself, I regard morality as a social construct (founded on, and constrained by, our the particular instinctive and neurological makeup of our species, technological advancement, available resources, and other factors) rather than some universal, meta-physical truth. But I regard it as a USEFUL social construct, one that keeps my neighbors from slitting my throat and vice-versa. (Not that I LIKE slitting throats, but if I were paranoid enough about my neighbor's willingness to do so to me...) Think of it like which side of the road we drive on. There's no fundamental law of the universe saying we must drive on the left. There's no fundamental law of the universe saying we must drive on the right. But if we don't get together and somehow agree on one side (ANY side), the results are going to be nasty. So socially-constructed morality is useful, and I don't wish to jetison it. I might try to improve upon it where I think it's flawed (eg, ending persecution of gays), but overall it's a keeper.

Note, again, that this is all true REGARDLESS of whether some god, or for that matter ANYTHING supernatural, happens to exist. The discussion might be reframed in terms of trying to read such a thing's mind as to what it desires of us, or rejiggering the expected consequences of certain behaviors (and thus possibly their moral value) based on the belief in such a supernatural thing. But at a base level, the moral understanding we discuss and adhere to in everyday society is a social construct (even if it's the understanding which society has assembled of some underlying supernatural truth), and we would be wise to keep it and improve upon it, rather than do away with the notion entirely.
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
[+] 1 user Likes Reltzik's post
22-07-2014, 01:37 AM
RE: Naturalism = Nihilism?
Thanks for the reply.

I understand that in a certain sense "morality" refers to social constructs.. but unless these constructs are founded upon something real, they are ultimately meaningless (or at best... maybe a noble lie, to keep society together), nothing more than an appeal to authority...

This foundation would have to be something greater than the natural world - I don't see the difference between "god" and "dharma".. care to explain?


I've been an atheist all my life, but it has dawned upon me that I do (and it appears everyone eles) has some notion of a right/wrong that is beyond there mere subjective preferences.
I make many sacrifices in my life, just because it is the "Right" thing to do.... this is what my heart feels, although my head/atheism would say it is insanity.
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
22-07-2014, 06:12 AM
Re: Naturalism = Nihilism?
It may seem beyond subjective by how would you actually know of it was or not. You've already been ingrained socially by the time you're trying to judge if it doesn't come from something you experienced socially.

I see this argument brought up and talked about plenty, mostly from atheism detractors.

I get that we can logically follow down the path to nihilism, but there's no logical reasoning making one stuck there. I've seen other philological arguments saying we must break down to nihilism, to then take a step back.

If you believe morality comes from nowhere outside like an existentialists, we are forced to create it ourselves. But I don't see that being anyway less logical than disregarding morality in general. It could be of a mindset of lying about their significance or accepting their points are absurd but it's still a way of accepting morality in a logical scope.

"Allow there to be a spectrum in all that you see" - Neil Degrasse Tyson
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
22-07-2014, 07:06 AM
RE: Naturalism = Nihilism?
(22-07-2014 01:37 AM)nietzsche101 Wrote:  I understand that in a certain sense "morality" refers to social constructs.. but unless these constructs are founded upon something real, they are ultimately meaningless (or at best... maybe a noble lie, to keep society together), nothing more than an appeal to authority...

Do note: there is a big difference between "there is no universal truth behind something" and "nothing matters".

What "matters" is that at the end of the day, you have one life to live, and certain choices and outcomes are going to affect the quality of that life. So, just because there's no universal truth behind something doesn't mean that you can't find a reason to do something or avoid something.

That being said, a lot of subjective morality is based on trying to achieve certain objective results (even if our evaluation of what is good or bad, or superior or inferior is ultimately subjective). We accomplish more working together than we do working individually. Cooperation and trust are foundational to a higher standard of living and quality of life. So, whether or not there's an invisible super-cop behind a morality system or not is beside the point; the fact that we can all (mostly) agree on one means I get to talk to you over the Internet and eat Taco Bell, and frankly, that's awesome.
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
[+] 2 users Like RobbyPants's post
22-07-2014, 07:33 AM
RE: Naturalism = Nihilism?
(22-07-2014 12:48 AM)nietzsche101 Wrote:  The main question I'm concerned with is morality.. if "god is dead" then what does "morality" mean?

Since there is no god, our interpretation of morality is simply an acknowledgement that morality comes from a rational thought process. This has the benefit of being able to change over time as we gain new insight into human physiology (homosexuality is genetic, for example). We can rationally assent to a change in how we perceive morality and society moves forward.

I think we can all agree that divine command theory has caused some of the most horrifying atrocities in human history.

Gods derive their power from post-hoc rationalizations. -The Inquisition

Using the supernatural to explain events in your life is a failure of the intellect to comprehend the world around you. -The Inquisition
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
22-07-2014, 07:40 AM (This post was last modified: 22-07-2014 08:05 AM by true scotsman.)
RE: Naturalism = Nihilism?
(22-07-2014 12:48 AM)nietzsche101 Wrote:  The main question I'm concerned with is morality.. if "god is dead" then what does "morality" mean?

Morality is a code of values to guide ones choices and actions. The purpose of morality is to help man to live a successful, happy life, happiness being the achievement of one's values.

Why does man need a code of morality?: Man, being a living organism, faces a fundamental choice - life or death. If a man chooses to live then he must discover the values he needs in order to do that. We are not born with automatic knowledge of what is good for us and what is bad. So what are values?

According to my philosophy, Objectivism, "Value is that which one acts to gain or keep", Ayn Rand, For The New Intellectual, Pg. 121. By our nature we require values to live. These values are not automatic. They must be discovered and the virtues needed to obtain them have to be learned.

A code of values is absolutely essential to man since by his nature he faces a fundamental alternative, life or death, and life requires a specific course of action. He needs this code to guide his actions and choices since knowledge of what is good for us is not automatic. He needs to choose an Objective standard of value, his life. He needs to practice the virtues needed to obtain his values - rationality, productiveness, honesty, pride, self esteem and etc. All of this is true whether there is a god or not. Man has no choice about that. His only choice is whether his code of values is arrived at through reason or is just accepted without question from some authority.
All that supports and furthers a man's life is the good and all that harms and destroys man's life is the evil.

Do not lose your knowledge that man's proper estate is an upright posture, an intransigent mind and a step that travels unlimited roads. - Ayn Rand.

Don't sacrifice for me, live for yourself! - Me

The only alternative to Objectivism is some form of Subjectivism. - Dawson Bethrick
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
Post Reply
Forum Jump: