Wayne Holland: The Irrational Universe

Ethical Nihilism

... make-up ... June 20, 2008


I am an ethical nihilist. I do not support the more commonly held views about right and wrong, except of course in the most practical sense.

I do not believe there is anything wrong with any human behavior, including murder. I staunchly refuse to engage in such an activity, however, because of the sheer hassle associated with it. My reasons for not committing murder are purely practical. I have no desire to give up my freedom (and quite possibly my own life) for such an expenditure of energy, which is yet another reason to refrain from such widely disparaged behavior. I am quite lazy (and unabashedly so). The commission of a murder would require an investment of energy that I am reluctant (in the extreme) to undertake.

Whenever I hear someone say that it is wrong to kill another human being, I have to resist the laughter that surges inside me. I never discuss the matter. I more or less pretend to go along with them and keep my opinions to myself.

But I do think about it.

And what I think is that no one knows anything about right or wrong. It's stuff we just made up, like the lines on the map; very useful for finding your way across the wide open ocean, but non-existent nevertheless. Yes, right and wrong are just a couple of words we made up in an attempt to express our feelings, which quite often are simply beyond words.

Murder is not wrong. It is merely undesirable.

And that is all that it is. No one wants it. It is not right. It is not wrong. We are deeply afraid of it. This is the real truth of the matter. We know nothing of death, except for the fact that the deceased is no longer around, a situation that we, for the most part, cannot bear, especially since it so ominously reflects our own disappearance, an event that we truly cannot bear.

There is nothing wrong with any human behavior.

To suggest that there is, is to propose in the same breath that there is therefore something right with other behaviors, the ones that we approve of. When we begin to suggest that certain behaviors are right, we ipso facto introduce the idea of righteousness into the human commune, a notion that has been the source of more pain and suffering quite possibly than all the murders ever committed, perhaps (in many cases) the very cause of those murders.

And what laziness we indulge in by calling something wrong or evil; what utter laziness. We don't want to make the effort to describe what we are really feeling (thereby adding dishonesty to the mix), so we resort to the convenience of calling it right and/or wrong.

If anything might be wrong it is the way we teach this nonsense to our children. When a child asks why we should not kill another human being we should take the time to explain it to them, not sweep the subject under the rug by claiming that some all-powerful invisible being (who has the power to kill us on the spot) says that it's wrong and it is therefore pointless to argue with Him, or further discuss the matter.

Put some honest effort into the instructions you give your children. Tell them the truth. We should not kill human beings because we don't want to be killed ourselves, which is what is very likely going to happen if ever we do murder someone. If they ask why this will happen, answer that nobody wants to die; that they all want to live. People get very angry and scared about their lives being taken from them. Yes, be honest. Tell your child what fearful and scared creatures human beings are, how territorial, vindictive, duplicitous and utterly terrified they are. Do not hide the truth from them.

And when they ask how the world got here in the first place, tell them that we quite honestly do not know. We suspect that there was this big explosion a long time ago that cooled off to become huge oceans of stars that we call galaxies. No one was around to actually see this happen, but when we play the movie backwards it looks like this is most likely what took place.

Admit to (and fully embrace) the mystery. Do not try to solve the mystery by telling them that God made the world.

Solving mysteries stifles wonder and therefore creativity. A child who wonders (because he/she does not have all the answers) is a child who explores and learns. We would have more astronomers and scientists if we told our children the truth, that we don't know everything, that we are trying our best, however, to find out. If a child accepts the idea (and since it comes from their parents they most likely will) that a Supreme Architect created the world, they are most likely going to stop searching for any more information on the subject. They will thus find themselves enclosed (incarcerated) inside the same box that their parents are rotting in.

I am an ethical nihilist. I am devoid of knowledge regarding matters of cosmological beginnings and feel no need whatsoever to propose the existence of invisible beings in order to account for the existence of the world around me. It is there; I am sure. I sense it, and feel that I came from it.

I am an ethical nihilist. I know what I feel and not much more. I desire; to be free; to experience as much of the world as I can; to touch, taste and feel the world around me, the world that I came from. I observe that world. My eyes devour the sheer marvel of its existence and are never sated with its mystery.

I do not know what it is. I feel that it is part of me, or that I am part of IT. I see nothing right or wrong in the world. I attach no such qualities to it. It would be meaningless to do so, an instance of feeble sounds issuing from my mouth, as if I were spitting into the ocean.

As far as I can tell, the world merely acts as it does for no reasons at all, other than to act. It is the action itself that matters, not its outcome. We, somewhat static creatures that we are (with our predilection for definite beginnings and endings), are concerned with outcomes, with the results of actions. It is surely the symptom of an illness, the sickness of being closed up inside a box filled with social programming.

If we could escape from the boxes our parents put us in (to protect us no doubt, and with the best of intentions I'm sure), and embrace the world as it is, in all of its endless wide-openness, and truly see that it acts without the purpose that we have been assured it wields, a purpose that would literally constrain and choke it and thus prohibit its ever-burgeoning dynamic (its duration, as Bergson put it), how much more alive we would feel, as alive perhaps as the great living world itself, the world that is nothing more (nor less) than our very background, a background that (to all appearances) never ends, which means that we will never end, since we are inextricably attached to its virtually endless expanse.

I am an ethical nihilist. I am unimpressed by Society's contrived infrastructure, cultivated in the soil of mortal apprehension.

Embracing nothing, I see through cultural madness, and embrace the mystery of the universe, my own true soil (and everlasting soul).

Embracing nothing, I am empowered by nothing and able to clearly see that the greatest nothing of all is me, and yet ... it is undeniable that somewhere in the vastness (and endless power) of eternal nothing my life is always happening. Over here I see I am not yet born, while over there I have been dead for millions of years.

I am an ethical nihilist. I am thus able to discern the sheer fabrication that is my own identity, which is based upon little more than words; my given name and the personal pronouns of the language I learned from the family I happened to inherit. Take away the words (especially the personal pronouns) and the feeling of my self dissipates and the "I" that was socially programmed into my brain fades into the infinite background from which it emerged, but from which it never truly left, ever enveloped by ITs constant presence, and thus understandably insensitive to IT; at the same time ever floundering in the restless sea of words constantly emanating from the swarming confusion of humanity.

I am an ethical nihilist. I do not die, because I never lived; and since I was never here, I can never leave. Only the universe was here. It acted without hesitation, apprehension or forethought. It played in a wide open expanse, unimpeded by restriction or purpose. It sang songs and thought thoughts, but never uttered a single word in doing so. One of ITs thoughts was the life I think of as mine. But it wasn't mine; it was but one of ITs thoughts, or songs or dances. Every thought that I have ever had I never had. The universe had them. They were never my thoughts. They were always ITs own completely random wanderings.

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