Optimistic Nihilism: Does it matter that it doesn’t matter?
First of all, I’m not a Nihilist nor philosopher, or even a religious person. This is just my take on explaining the aforementioned topic, “Optimistic Nihilism” to dummies that have curious minds like me.
The universe is such a colossal and huge abode that I sometimes wonder what we humans signify in this seemingly infinite cosmos? I mean there could be trillions of alien beings existing out there, billions of livable planets, and millions more mysterious wonders all in this huge place. Doesn’t that make you feel a bit small? We, humans, are just tiny dots of dust compared to this humongous place.
Our feeble human minds can’t fathom how vast, huge, and enormous the space we exist in is.
If that’s the case then, do our decisions in life matter? Just look at how irrelevant your troubles and worries are to this universe. We are only hairless primates, no better than monkeys and chimps. We live in a vast cosmos, and our planet is roughly the size of an atom in the solar system. We live and eventually perish as though we don’t have any purpose whatsoever.
In short, life is meaningless. All our dreams and goals have no substantial value. We’ll all die and will likely be forgotten like footprints on the soil during a rainstorm.
Does it sound so depressing? Absolutely! But the truth hurts, buddy.
This is where the philosophy of nihilism comes in specifically, existential nihilism. But what does it mean? Existential nihilism is the philosophical notion that existence has no fundamental purpose or value. A human as an individual is a speck in the eyes of the universe that is unconcerned with it. There is no fundamental reason for being or anything of the kind.
If everything is meaningless, then why bother doing anything? If we’re all going to die someday, then we might as well be dead right now, right? NO. It doesn’t have to be that way, we can turn this thing all the way around.
What if instead of indulging yourself in a depressing state knowing that nothing you do matters, you use it for motivation, perhaps an inspiration. But how?
Well, hear me out. Nothing matters. Yep, repeat that. “Nothing matters”, that means you can do anything that you want, after all, nothing you do matters, right? Just because everything is meaningless, it doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy ourselves in our lifetime. We can enjoy the life we have, even if it is limited.
Nobody exists on purpose which gives us some sort of freedom to give purpose or meaning to our own lives. Accepting the lack of purpose and using it to uplift oneself is the main concept of Optimistic Nihilism.
Optimistic Nihilism is the awareness that there is no meaning in the world and the cosmos as a whole can be liberating. We are the ones who can construct our route since there is no inherited purpose in life, no divine plan compelling you to act a specific way. In truth, we are the ones who create our purpose.
For instance, you’re reading this article, knowing that it will end soon, knowing that reading this has no fundamental reason but you still read it. You read it to enjoy and understand the aforementioned concepts. It’s like looking at every word of this article and saying, “That’s an awesome word.”
In short, Optimistic Nihilism allows you to appreciate things such as life even though knowing the fact that it will come to its inevitable end. We’ll all die and that’s our fate. However, if you focus your mind on the present, you’ll know that there are things to be joyful about. Life is about the journey rather than its destination. We will all eventually come to an end but we don’t know when it will happen.
So while we’re here, we should appreciate what we have while we have it. We can choose the purpose of our lives ourselves. We can define our meaning.
Then, what’s your purpose? The answer is up to you.
After all, it doesn’t matter that it doesn’t matter.