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Beliefs of nothing and everything

  1. Feb 12, 2006 #1
    What does it mean to believe in everything, nothing at all? How is it possible to believe in everything? Granted no practice attains perfection, but why concern yourself with perfection if you aren't concerned with being hypocritical? Is it wrong to ask that an element of character in the 'structure that is perfection' be the virtue of non-contradiction?

    Whats with nihilism? How can it exist? How is it possible to believe in nothing? Is believing in everything any less wierd?

    Isn't nihilism a belief? Wouldn't a nihilist acknowledge that they must believe to believe in nothing? Is it bad to contradict oneself like this? I'd imagine a nihilist would also not believe that contradictions are bad... but at the same time, a nihilist can't believe in right or wrong, and for that matter, good or bad.

    Similarly; a beleif in everything would produce contradictions since you'd have to believe that, for example, god exists, and god doesn't exist. Also similarly, one who believes in everything would say that they believe contradictions aren't bad. Then again, they would also have to believe that contradictions are bad. In essence, believing in everything must include nihilism as one of its subsets.

    Does it go against logic to always overlook contradictions? Does it go against science to believe in nothing or everything?

    as a side thought, are both of these beliefs sort of like an uncollapsed wavefunction... as in, a nihilist can't believe that the cat is dead, and a nihilist can't believe that the cat is alive (since a nihilist believes nothing). Likewise, a person who believes in everything would believe that the cat is both dead and alive. In a way, aren't the two beliefs really the same belief? Logically, saying "the cat is neither dead nor alive" is the same thing as saying "the cat is both dead and alive". Perhaps they are at the same footing, and nihilism is kind of like a glass is half empty type deal whereas believing in everything is like a glass is half full type deal...
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2006
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 12, 2006 #2
    You just need to try very hard and practice a lot, but eventually you manage to belive in nothing.
  4. Feb 12, 2006 #3
    nihlism is interesting to me. There are a few ways they explain it.
    1-nothing ,including yourself, exists.
    2-nothing exists except urself.
    3-things exist, but not this world.

    1-all there is is nothing
    2-all thats exists, is inside your mind, and nothing else exists except your mind.
    3-your basically in a virtual reality kind of thing. VERY MUCH like the MAtrix. the world as you know it is fabricated, and the real world is unknowable to you, or whatever reason.

    now #1 isnt tangable. as we have a sort of proof that proves that yourself exists. I cant remember it exactly. but it went something like this:

    I am thinking of a flower. This flower exists. but this flower only exists as long as "I AM". therefore I AM. This was the "I think therefore I am"

    #2 is plausable as since the above reason goes along with this. but just because the theory isnt contradictory to certain proofs doesnt make it true. Therefore you need evidence to corroborate or prove to theory. but we dont have this.

    Now #3 is the best set yet. as it doesnt break the above proof. and we have a logical arguement that sort of goes along with this. But isnt proof exactly.

    this is how the logical arguement goes sort of.

    1- I exist.
    2- there is a delay between your senses and the time your brain(you) know what happened.
    3- It is possible that a technology is what creates this delay and/or allows for manipulation
    4- everything you know must be sensed.
    5- therefore you cant be completely certain about anything.

    but again it comes down to evidence. and #3 isnt true without it.

    and your right. the opposite, perfection is highly contradictory and logically flawed out of existence on the premise alone.
  5. Feb 12, 2006 #4

    But so is nihilism, just on it's premise alone, since it is a belief. maybe I don't understand what you're trying to explain in this las part.

    It's interesting how you analyze it though. It seems that the second and third options are solipsism in disguise.
  6. Feb 12, 2006 #5
    the first option i do believe is solipsism also. as from what i remember. the nihilist movement basically used the solipsism beliefs. Which really isnt all that suprising. alot of beliefs are stolen. Christianity-Mithras/pagans.

    the nihilism has alot of other ethical parts about them. but i didnt think it was really all that important to add here. anyhow i have written a paper on this before. but i was the only one to ever read it sadly. My hardrive got a S.M.A.R.T. bad rating and wouldnt boot and when i slaved it, all my writtings were wiped. I had a rather good paper on how faith is the antithesis to fact. sadly lost it also before anyone could read it. Im only 20 and not in school, and my english is very poor so I'd never bother sending anything i wrote to any publishing things. Though at least. I just started reading. The End of Faith by Sam Harris. and the basic idea of my paper is related. Its a good book so far.

    know whats wierd with this. ive had alot of christians in real life say that i simply need to pray ALOT and ill start believing.
    But thats the problem. even if you start doing all the rituals of a certain belief. it doesnt truely make you believe. its sorta like ad nauseum fallacy. Do it enough and eventually you start believing, even if its not true. This is seen alot with young children. December 25th is around the corner and you hear from everywhere and everything that santa is real. and so the kid believes. and same thing goes for the household beliefs.
  7. Feb 12, 2006 #6


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    What is the context in which this is put forth? Does anyone really claim to believe "everything"?

    In any case, you're right that literally believing in everything would entail an infinity of contradictions. There is nothing to debate about that.

    As for nihilism, I think you are mistaken to hold that this term means something like "a position characterized by a lack of any sort of belief." Where did you encounter this definition?
  8. Feb 13, 2006 #7
    Belief is a choice. It is possible to believe in everything and nothing at the same time as long as you require no proof to substantiate your beliefs.
    Logic is the art of non-contradiction.
  9. Feb 14, 2006 #8
    Do I have the wrong definition? My friend (who claims to be a nihilist) has explained to me that nihilism means to believe in nothing.

    This is my source of a definition. So it's not a lack of any sort of belief, rather it's the belief of nothing. It is a belief, but it's a belief that holds that itself doesn't exist. To believe nothing means to believe something, and that something is the belief that nothing should be believed. So to believe nothing means to also not believe that you belive nothing.

    As for the reason why I'm thinking about the belief of everything... It's just because my parents always said "true love believes everything" and that got me thinkin'. That quote has always been in the back of my mind, and to some extent it sort of makes sense. Now if I formalize it into a belief that someone lives by, I find that it's basically the same thing as Nihilism (as defined by my friend), but rather an optimistic view of the same "terrain".
  10. Feb 14, 2006 #9
    Perfection is just an opinion.
    Absolute belief would be a 100% belief and absolute disbelief is the opposite.
    It seems a reasonable middle ground is to view EVERYTHING from a perspective of "probability" where nothing is ever quite 100% for sure.
  11. Feb 14, 2006 #10
    there are different levels of nihilism. as there are different levels of atheism(strong vs weak)
  12. Feb 14, 2006 #11
    Hello Munky, and anyone else who might have an interest,
    You mentioned "End of Faith" by Sam Harris. If you like that one you will probably enjoy this one.
    "An Intelligent Person's Guide to Atheism" by Daniel Harbour
    ISBN 0 7156 2915 8 Published by Gerald Duckworth & Co. Ltd. London
    It' s title is somewhat misleading. The author's argument is that atheism
    is "superior" to theism. Thereby, he avoids getting wrapped up in trying to
    prove or disprove things about gods. His argument revolves around having different world views. A very good book by a very smart young man.
  13. Feb 14, 2006 #12


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    He is correct. One of the incarnations of nihilism is simply the logical end of skepticism. Personally, I have to question whether it is even psychologically possible for a human being to operate without beliefs of any sort. For example, presumably he believes that every day when he eats breakfast, it will nourish him and take away his hunger. Otherwise, why do it? I can see where pyrrhonic skepticism can fit in here, that one may doubt the existence of the food and its nourishing properties in some way as being illusory, but one seemingly has to at least believe that the sensation of hunger will go away, regardless of whether it be a purely mental phenomenon or not.

    I don't agree with your original objection, though, that a belief in nothing is still a belief. To conclude this is to falsely reify "nothingness," and those of us who have wasted years of our lives studying men who did this know what craziness ensues. As far as I'm concerned, to believe in nothing is a purely negative statement. You might get him by saying that in telling you that with any conviction, he must believe that he holds such a belief, however.
  14. Feb 21, 2006 #13
    Actually the belief in everything simultaneously with nothingness is existentialism, which has its own complexities that are rather brilliant, not nihilism. Sartre not Nietzsche. And the belief in nothingness, as is claimed in nihilism, is quite attainable if faith is lost, or some insight into the inner workings of the mind in question has been made. There is a sense of contentment in the realization that there may be nothing more than this plain for us, and that man must overcome his delusions of grandeur in order to fully appreciate the passions and beauties of this world.
  15. Feb 21, 2006 #14
    Firstly I do believe that at the time of Kant and Nietzsche, when this final form of the philosophy was created, that there was no concept of computer simulated realities. Nihilism is more of an afirmation of a thought that Christian morality is a false concept, that passions and true understanding of the world can only be obtained by a loss of the boundries that restrict through a thought that supression is needed in order to be accepted by a power that is driven by loss of will.

    Number three is said to be brought about once man surpasses the boundries of the thought process that is held in place through theism. And only then can man truely visualize things for what they are. On the note that none of the theoretics can be true because they are impossible to prove, can you prove that god had sex with a virgin and out came a baby in a barn that can abolish all of our "sins". Or can you scientificly prove that there is some man sitting in the coulds that magically created all of the matter in the universe, i use the term universe loosely due to the fact that they claim that all of existance short of heaven and hell is based solely on our planet, in seven days through sheer will?
  16. Feb 21, 2006 #15
    As they say, there are no true nihilists left alive.
    I haven't dug very deep into this philosophy of life, but believing in nothing is something very few can do.

    You believe in nothing, this doesn't mean that you have no beliefs at all.
    I would say that believing nothing means that, you don't value things like other people do.
    Where others constantly value meanless things in day to day living, a nihilist would instead try to only value that which is important to him.
    And a true nihilist wouldn't even value that.
    If we are all thrown between stardust in a random cluster of energy, then our lives are indeed pointless, and any value which we create, is an illusion created by us.

    But I disagree with nihilism in the fact that any value we create, is actually much more purposeful, than the universe is as a whole.
    Each value we create, means so much more, when contrasted against the meaningless of it all.

    And I quote;

    The greatest mystery is not that we have been flung at random between the profusion of matter and of the stars, but that within this prison we can draw from ourselves images powerful enough to deny our nothingness. --Andre Malraux

    This is one of my favorite quotes, and it explains everything so well.
  17. Feb 21, 2006 #16
    But it is not the values that we have created within ourselves that, in the theoretics of nihilism, must be rebeled against, it is the archaic code of morality that, with its lack of basis and reson that must be extracted from our being. It is opressing our ability to fully envision and observe our world as it truely is. In a sense very similar to the theory of observer and observed, but instead of differing perspectives it is more of a question of the clarity in which we can truely observe.
    On Octelcogopod's reply, I do appreciate the fact that you are obviously at least with some formal introduction into the concept, and are not basing your statement off of popularized media portrayals of nihilism, but there is one key question that I must ask, if each value we create has such a great value, then wouldn't the anti-value, and in turn a value in itself, of a comfort in the posibility of nothingness have just as great of meaning to it?
  18. Feb 23, 2006 #17
    Good or bad? If nihilism is for to escape religious 'moral' dictums, let's not throw out the baby with the bathwater.
  19. Feb 23, 2006 #18
    Would you care to elaborate on that?
    If it is more of a base question of the corruption of basic values of nihilism, then there has been that ever present problem in every philosophical ethos. If not then the question of "good or bad" is in turn one of the moral values that are discommunicated through nihilism, that dogmatic right and wrong has been jaded through fear and agression over millenia, and we are searching for a more pure sense of the terminology.
  20. Feb 23, 2006 #19
    Your's is a good point where believing in nothing remains a belief in itself. Its like saying someone is a "good evil person"... there remains the constant construct of "good" which is necessary to the support and existence of evil. In other words, as you say, people who believe in nothing actually believe in something (that they've called "nothing")

    Nothing, by its very nature and virtue, does not exist. But that doesnt' stop people from believing in it because we are able to believe in non-existent entities as well as existent ones. That's our position in nature where we have this ability to form an opinion and an idea. This illustrates our ability to recognize and utilize potential.

    Believing everything and anything may be a normal survival trait where this ability prepares the mind for as many situations and curcumstances as are potentially probable. Those who are unable to imagine a potential situation, ie: look ahead, are destined to live a life of shock and disorientation which, by many standards, doesn't even resemble survival .
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2006
  21. Feb 24, 2006 #20
    Essentially the choice of right and wrong which arise from the options presented by virtue of the human attribute of reason should be based on that which makes such choices possible, the life (survival and well-being) of a rational (human) being.
  22. Feb 26, 2006 #21

    hmm... this is getting confusing. Nothing doesn't exist, but the idea of nothing does exist? the word nothing is attributed with non-existance, and non-existance is an idea. It is true that all ideas exist, since we can be aware of them. Or perhaps is there a better way to define what exists to us besides the necessity of our awareness of it? Are you sure that we can believe in non-existant things? Nothing is a thing that exists, maybe not in space-time, but in our minds it exists. It's a thougt that runs through our minds, ie. when we think it, we are aware of it. Is it possible to be conscious, and yet have no thoughts whatsoever? Because this would be the ideal situation for a nihilist, since in this situation, the person is not aware of anything, and hence nothing exists for that person.

    If I were to believe in something that doesn't exist, like... Disney World on Mars in the year 2000 B.C. I'm executing a belief in something non-existant in space-time, but existant in thought space. So what definition of existance should we use? Granted this is all philosophy, so naturally we must be speaking of the definition of existance of ideas, perhaps if we so desire, logic too. I guess I'm not really offering more direction in this thread, perhaps I'm being too convergent on a particular idea...
  23. Feb 26, 2006 #22
    One must believe in something in order to believe in nothing, and one must believe in nothing in order to believe in everything.

    Why must it go any further?
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2006
  24. Feb 26, 2006 #23
    It would be confusing if we didn't have neurophysicists and neurobiologists to explain the nature of ideas and thoughts. A thought of "nothing" only exists as a series of impulses along an axion and along the dendrites of a neuronal cell or series of cells.

    This would be to say that "nothing" does not exist yet, the act of contemplating non-existence (nothing) does exist and occur in a physical manner and in the nature of physics.

    The thought of "nothing" and/or "anything at all" exists simply as a thought process performed by neurons. The subject (configuration) of the thought does not influence the fact that the thought exists as a physical phenomenon. So, thoughts of "nothing" exist (because of the physical nature of the neuron) whereas nothing, by its own definition, does not exist.

    Also, the physical behaviour of the neurons creates an environment in these cells which impinges upon the genetics of the cells and surrounding cells, creating a molecular memory of that condition and behaviour. With the repeated firing of these neurons with regard to ideas and thought processes that have to do with contemplation of "nothing"... etc.... the "idea" can begin to seem to exist separate from neuronal functions... when, in actuallity... it only exists as the physical phenomenon known as a "thought" and "memory".

    Many extend this condition to include the idea that there is really no reality other than perception and that all objects and conditions are really only existent as neuronal perceptions.

    But, this "idea" falls short of explaining the physical nature of the thought... or the very physical "neuronal process". And we can extrapolate from the physical reality of neurons out, into the objective world and calculate what exists and what does not exist from there.
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2006
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