“The hard question” is the irresolvable question of how to explain subjectivity, using language and objective references. Nihilism is trying to reduce all experience to the signifiers for experience, and then deciding that everything is empty of any meaning, because meaning is always contextual. (That must be the funniest comment Ive ever thrown away.) Ethics tries to use language to relate to the values of our experience. It attempts to rationally talk about the value of promoting happiness and avoiding pain, individually and socially.
A psychopath can be completely rational, and from the viewpoint of the nihilist, a psychopath can also be completely ethical. As the nihilist sees no inherent meaning and attaches no inherent values to either pleasure or pain, life or death, the Goth be-garbed coffee shop Nihilist sees the rational choices of the psychopath as on par with any other rational choices. Unless of course the psychopath is involved directly with her, in which case the nihilist takes a time out from philosophy.
Definitions from Wikipedia:
Ethics, a major branch of philosophy, encompasses right conduct and good living. It is significantly broader than the common conception of analyzing right and wrong
Nihilism (from the Latin nihil, nothing) is a philosophical position, sometimes called an anti-philosophy, which argues that the world, especially past and current human existence, is without objective meaning, purpose, comprehensible truth, or essential value. Nihilists generally assert some or all of the following:
- there is no reasonable proof of the existence of a higher ruler or creator,
- a “true morality” does not exist, and
- secular ethics are impossible
Consciousness is a characteristic of the mind generally regarded to comprise qualities such as subjectivity, self-awareness, sentience, sapience, and the ability to perceivethe relationship between oneself and one’s environment. It is a subject of much research in philosophy of mind, psychology, neuroscience, and cognitive science.
Some philosophers divide consciousness into phenomenal consciousness, which is subjective experience itself, and access consciousness, which refers to the universal availability of information to processing systems in the brain. Phenomenal consciousness is a state with qualia. Phenomenal consciousness is being something and access consciousness is being conscious of something.
An understanding of necessary preconditions for consciousness in the human brain may allow us to address important ethical questions.
As nihilists often deny the value of their subjective experience, even as they wallow in it, they often suffer from a lack of introspection. What are some signals that you might be a nihilist?
– Do you see all reasonable viewpoints as equally valid?
– Do you find any purpose or value or meaning in… anything? Laughter, sex, immediate moments? The question here isn’t if you have laughter and sex and if you appreciate immediate moments. The question is if you find that they hold any purpose or value or meaning.
– Does the notion of non-conceptual meaning seem metaphysical to you?
Nihilism as a stance of reason is obviously contradictory. We couldn’t possibly make a meaningful statement such that there is no meaning; it’s a logical contradiction. Nihilism is mostly an emotional stance, having much to do with hormones and depression making emotion unmotivated to push reason past a limp wristed half grasp at the complexities of inter-relationships. So, at what root do we find meaning, find value? In the provable objective data?
No, ethics and meaning rest much closer to a plainly common sense home, and it all comes down to…
Sex. Food. Wine, science, music and math. Being and enjoying being, and being revelling in being.