Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Nihilism

In Tolkein's LOTR, Galadriel contemplates taking the ring, and as she illuminates in full temptation, she rises up and declares "All will love me and despair!" To me this statement is genius. It fully captures the duplicity of altruism. Look at Oprah and see Galadriel with loving intentions.

Very few people will hear me declare that I am a "Nihilist" in public. I am not stupid enough to do such a thing. I refrain from using the word at all except at a distance, and most importantly to emphasize my worldview.

I value altruism and human companionship, caring, and that meaningless word "love". The rub is that I see all these things as Darwinian games within a game selected for by nature to provide social leverage, sexual currency, and protection for offspring. It's not that I see these things as merely being related to these three competetive benefits, it's that I see these things existing exclusively for these reasons, and for no other purpose. Nature could have just as easily
selected for killers and rapists. But anyone can see that such an environment is not good for anyone's survival and reproductive success. Altruism is a win-win situation.

Consider that the two best ways to demonstrate your social superiority over someone else are:

1.) Provide, nurture, love, and edify them (thus opening a bank account for future reciprocation for yourself, and your offspring).

or

2.) Smash their head in with a large rock.

Choice one makes much more sense and that's what nature went with.

Using Danny (the soul-less Tourette's syndrome sufferer) as our example, we can witness the natural disadvantage of not being altruistic and caring. In this clip, Danny is lucky if he doesn't get his hamburger bun dipped in someone's special diaper sauce.

http://www.cheesies.net/videos/drivethru.wmv

When Oprah Winfrey says that it makes her feel good to give to the poor or to give everyone in an audience a new car, she without question actually believes herself. But when you introspect deeply into the nature of humanity, you will find that the kernel of this process of altruism is tied up as a deep-seated desire to observe and display one's own superiority and mastery over other people. This is where the exciting rush and feeling of aliveness comes from. It doesn't matter that Oprah doesn't realize this, it only matters that her altruism provides her with the social power nature intended. Nature doesn't care "why" you take an action, as long as you take the action you were designed to take.

Picture two people arguing over who pays the bill at a restaurant. Neither are upset that they have to get rid of their money. In fact, both parties would rather part with a few extra bills just to avoid the humilitation of being nurtured by the other. Neither party wants to be nurtured and each of them wants to display superiority while masking this absurd process as "altruism". Just complicate this a bit more, make it a bit less transparently obvious and throw in families, jobs, politics, sex, "love" and property and you have the same exact event being played out in the guise of human altruism day in and day out all over the planet.

We can rest assured that Oprah will reach her dying die without having the slightest understanding that natural selection created human nature, and will rest naively in her open coffin, veins puffed with liquid chemicals and even more make-up than she normally wears, not having the remotest fucking clue about her total lack of personal autonomy. Gawd what I would do to be able to sew my cherry back on and be like her, completely at ease with self-deception.

I think most naturalists are closet Nihilists. But in our world, being happy and healthy is totally unrelated to being honest and truthful. Publicly declaring one's self as a nihilist in the sense I have described here is suicidal, despite being thoroughly supported by mainstream science. In fact, I think it is true by definition that this sort of nihilism (which I have adopted against my will kicking and screaming against the cold facts) is simply the only worldview supported by mainstream science. As far as I know, no other testable theory exists.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

What's this test?

Aaron said...

This is the SAT right?

Charles said...

The only testable theory. Last line of your blog. Show me the way to nothingness, I can handle it really.

Aaron said...

Whats up charles? Do you think that Zen is nihilistic? Of course, zen people say no. Zen's accusers say yes. I am a zen nihilist. I wanted to point that out but forgot. I *do* think that zen is nihilistic. My spiritual path went:

fundamentalist christian-15yo

-Literalism, ignorance, desire for justice and coherence

confused ex-christian- 18-19yo

Curiosity and cursory knowledge of biology make it impossible to be a fundamentalist. Nothing yet to replace it due to ignorance.

spiritualist- 19~27yo

Explosion of knowledge into histories of spiritual systems, meditation, OBEs, NDEs, ESP, meaning, love, compassion, karma, lesson learning, life adventure, immortality of the personality.

Zen-

Spurred by reading Ken Wilber. The dawning of realization that spirituality simply doesn't work. The realization that spirituality is an immature grasping on to fantasy.

Atheism-

Further knowledge into neuroscience (ie temporal lobe epilepsy), biology and evolution, human nature, the loss of belief in ESP, the realization that zen satori is a brain state that says nothing of anything ultimate.....

I still favor zen. Zen is the only spiritual system which does not require beliefs to make happen. Satori is real, it is profound, it is true and its insights are true and real..though I am convinced it is a brain state which provides no information on whether consciousness survives death. Good zen people will admit they have no idea.

Oh and to respond to your inquiry, the way to perfect equanimity, satisfaction, and "nothingness" is to remove all the testosterone from your body completely.

http://207.70.82.73/ra/220.ram

Zen in a nutshell (NPI)

"Act One. Life at Zero. The interview with a man who lost his testosterone continues. He explains that life without testosterone is life without desire. Desire for everything--food, conversation, even TV. And he says life without desire is unexpectedly pleasant."

vtpoet said...

Life without desire?

No thanks. Let 10 beautiful women reject me. The thrill is in the chase and nothing is better than winning the eleventh.

Buddhism is just institutionalized pouting.

Aaron said...

institutionalized pouting, ha I like that. I don't necessarily agree though. I think Buddhism is just old age.