This post is a comment on Eisel Mazard’s video entitled Nihilism vs Lauren Southern vs Nihilism.
While i don’t think he provides his own definition of nihilism in the video (i didn’t comb throught it carefully), he does say that it’s “a critique of belief itself” (around 13:00).
Right away you’re slapped in the face with contradiction, since a belief in nihilism is a belief in something.
For someone that often lambasts others for being idiots, advocating nihilism demonstrates the most basic lack of consistency.
Eisel begins by making the valid point that taking up a belief system to give your life a sense of purpose, without regard to its truth or meaning, is counterproductive.
If it’s not true and its meaning is questionable, the belief system both deceives you and is harmful to a greater or lesser extent eg if you become a devotee of Islam, become convinced that infidels deserve death, then act on that belief.
However he then claims that nihilism has “its own analytical value… even its own ethical value and it makes people’s lives meaningful.”
He also says that because of this, choosing nihilism as a philosophy is “a lot more positive than, for example, joining Islam.”
He reaches this conclusion because that’s how it’s turned out for him.
Adopting nihilism freed him from his desire to believe in something, and his subsequent disappointment when he found these things weren’t true.
Now he could look at things in a detached way, without making a personal commitment to them.
This is a curiously shortsighted view. That is, while he feels his nihilistic frame was of great benefit to him, he doesn’t recognise that the interpretation he gave it and the effect it had on him are not the effects it will have on others.
As the Internet Encylopedia of Philosophy says, “A true nihilist would believe in nothing, have no loyalties, and no purpose other than, perhaps, an impulse to destroy.”
A 2016 article on nihilism and jihadism makes the point that many of the the people who committed violence on behalf of IS had a tenuous connection with Islam, which was just “a convenient ideology to attach meaning to their nihilistic fury.”
In an article from four years before, Stuart Chambers argues that nihilism can also be a positive philosophy, in a similar way to how Eisel sees it.
Yes, it can be positive if you set aside its basic contradiction and retain some fundamental beliefs (the right ones).
What Eisel either doesn’t acknowledge or wants to sweep aside is that nihilism isn’t a search for truth. A denial of belief is a denial of truth.
This is not the meaning Eisel attaches to it, but because he maintains that nihilism is “a critique of belief,” that also means a critique of a belief in the truth.
Nihilism is uncommitted to the truth. It’s a well-honed utility robot, ready to soothe or explode at any moment: much like Eisel’s videos.
Maybe this is why they’re like that: they reflect the wild divergence of nihilism, from the thoughtful to the raging.
Of course Eisel believes in the truth: with his critiques of what he thinks is wrong, with his strident defences of what he thinks veganism is, with the pain and suffering he accepts that animals go through as part of their slavery.
It’s sitting right there in front of him, he knows he believes in truth, yet he shapes what he thinks nihilism is in what might be the same way he shaped his belief in Buddhism (and the other beliefs he was disappointed by).
Recommending nihilism to people is poor advice, on par with the religion he suggests they avoid.
What Eisel hasn’t yet grasped is that “the truth is out there,” in the languages he knows he speaks, the food he desires and feels satisfied by (at least to some extent), the bridges he drives over, the microphones he speaks into, the video platform that calmly accepts his videos.
These things and many more like them are staring him in the face, yet he’s unable to see what’s right before his eyes.
The problem isn’t that there’s nothing to believe in—just that you need to find the right things to believe in.
Reading Ayn Rand’s The Objectivist Ethics would be a solid place to start.