Since my article on optimistic nihilism was not very well received, I shall take a new approach to tackling this complex issue of nihilism. Correct, the environmental approach to why the world needs more nihilism.
I covered in my previous article why I believed optimistic nihilism (the sub-branch of nihilism that focuses on, as the name suggests, the optimism nihilism brings) was the solution to escaping lies such as “everything happens for a reason” or “if it’s meant to be-” society tells us to appease our minds.
This may seem like a contradiction since nihilists are known for believing that life is meaningless, but all too often are we thought to be hypocrites for choosing to live and to make conscious decisions, always valuing one over another and by extension, attributing some sort of meaning to our actions.
To counter this misunderstanding of nihilism, I must explain how we must embrace the meaninglessness of our lives; the randomness of the Universe that has led to our being born in the circumstances that we were.
How can our lives and our actions have meaning if our existence is a fluke? A statistical anomaly? Most sperms and eggs never become a living being, and most humans throughout history have died before being able to reproduce and pass their genes down, so the chances of us even being born are astronomically small.
The questions you are undoubtedly asking are “Ok but how do you embrace meaninglessness without resulting to suicide?” and “How the **** does this relate to the environment??”
Patience, friends, I’m getting there.
I am no life coach, and I’m not here to force my worldview upon you, but if you wish to embrace meaninglessness, you must start by accepting that if nothing happens when you die, then it’s not the end of the world… well, I mean, it is for you, but it’s not that bad. If you can’t remember the 13.75 billion years that happened before you existed, then you won’t notice the trillions of years that will occur after you die and, not to burst your bubble, but the world will go on without you.
However, this certainly does not mean we should kill ourselves to speed up this process and this does not mean everything we do is futile. The reason we must embrace meaninglessness is precisely so we can make the most of our time on earth and make a difference.
The reason eco-nihilism is the solution to the environmental crisis we are faced with today is that our ancestors have always relied on the gods to save the earth. Truth is, there is no god to save the planet that we, humans, are ruining! Humanity must wake up and realize that for as long as we are alive, we are the only hope Earth has to survive.
We are the cause for the destruction of our planet and unless we go extinct, leaving the world to go on without us, we must save it.
You might think I sound more like an existentialist than a nihilist, but contrarily to existentialists, I do not believe meaning can be attributed to our lives or to our actions and I do believe Earth would fare much better with the extinction of humanity.
To put it in the words of Kelly C. Smith in the abstract of her paper “Homo reductio”: Eco-nihilism and human colonization of other worlds: “Eco-nihilists argue that, until and unless humans can demonstrate an ability to live in harmony with our environment, humankind deserves extinction and thus colonization of other worlds in the foreseeable future would be immoral”.
She argues against eco-nihilism by saying how the implicit assumptions of “the inevitability of doom, radical moral egalitarianism, and collective guilt” are highly debatable at best, saying how the debate shouldn’t be whether or not we should colonize other planets, but when and how we should.
Ironically, I fear she may have inadvertently proven that eco-nihilism is the only way to save the planet since this philosophy focuses on saving Earth instead of abandoning it to colonize and ruin another one.
By Sophie Dufresne