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Nihilist Optimism

Nihilist Optimism: Creating Your Life From Nothing (Video)


If the possibility that life is meaningless frightens you, check this out…

Although at first, it may be difficult to accept, life is likely to have no definite sense or purpose. The fact that this is difficult to accept is because we usually learn, or we’re taught to believe, otherwise. And it may even be that much of our lives are spent, even bent, on answering these questions: Why are we living? What is the meaning of life? Why did we come into this world? And to answer these questions to which we’ve attached such great importance with a rather blunt statement, we might say that there is neither a reason, nor a meaning, nor any purpose to life. We may even feel a certain vertigo beneath us, as if the ground we believe to be so real has suddenly dissolved. It’s into an infinite void we’re about to rush headlong.

But what happens if, for just a moment, we stop thinking about our falling, and we look at nothingness in some other way? If we stick to the physical and biological evidence, the truth is that life is an accident. Nietzsche realized this, and he wasn’t the only one. “In some remote corner of the universe, poured out and glittering among innumerable solar systems, there once was a star on which clever animals invented knowledge. That was the highest and most mendacious minute of ‘world history’—yet only a minute,” the philosopher wrote at the beginning of On Truth and Lie in an Extra-Mortal Sense. It’s worthwhile to notice the verb: “invented.” Everything for humanity is an invention and always has been. Insofar as no one has ever disputed these theories of the world and reality, we’ve spent all of human history believing them to be true, incontestable, as close, in theory, to the phenomena as are the phenomena themselves. It’s as if phenomenon and theory are one and the same thing.

Black and white photo of Nietzsche

Looking beyond this can be distressing, it’s true. But it can also be liberating. Realizing that everything human is a cultural and collective invention robs us of certain stability of thought and experience. But, looked at it in another way, it also gives us full acceptance of the possibility of creation ex nihilo. As when we’re faced with a blank page and in its nothingness, we can do as we please: draw, scratch, write, annotate, lay the foundations for a novel, compose two or three rhymes, sketch the house of our dreams … or just leave it blank.


That’s, in part, the idea of “nihilistic optimism” proposed in the video below and produced by the philosophical YouTube channel, Kurzgesagt. These two words, which seem so strange when seen together, in this light, become consistent.

Why not think of nothingness as the best possible context for the creation of something? If life has no meaning or purpose, isn’t it the best condition for inventing the conditions of our own lives?

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