I will not pretend this question does not have personal significance to me, but that need not to be overly elaborated.

By studying cases in which existentialists attempt to give advice to nihilists (of the intellectual as opposed to emotional or moral varieties), the argument seem to revolve around the concept that under the absence of objective meaning, one ought to construct meaning of one's own.

I wonder if this is the only central command of existentialism, with "existentialism" being defined as effectively a philosophical system with which a person can find one's action free and meaningful despite knowledge and beliefs that supports a nihilistic attitude.

(My personal motivation derives from the fact that I am not able to accept the notion that one must construct one's own meaning, because I believe such constructions are ultimately determined by biology and existing social conditions. Also, I find personal concepts of meaning to lack imperiousness of something like religious commandments or mathematical theorems, which seems to be the only magnitude that can satiate my appetite)

  • 1
    Could you explain what you mean by intellectual nihilists?
    – viuser
    Feb 28 '17 at 17:47
  • @wolf-revo-cats I will not speak for everyone, but in the most general sense, nihilism as in believing that there is no intrinsic, objective value in anything (e.g. any object, events or actions) that can be attained or conceived in this universe.
    – user289661
    Feb 28 '17 at 20:26
  • You say under the absence of objective meaning, one ought to construct meaning of one's own but I think most existentialists would probably make a little less normative of a claim. Instead, try we can and do construct meaning for ourselves, and this makes us happy. An "ought" is really going to be a problem for these guys.
    – Canyon
    Mar 1 '17 at 9:48
  • @ Canyon: that's the problem isn't it? Some people are satisfied with doing "what makes them happy" without needing to feel compelled, but some others would settle for no less than hard-core imperatives.
    – user289661
    Mar 1 '17 at 18:58
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    I think the phrasing of this question is misleading. Existentialists are, by definition, nihilists; existentialism comes naturally from accepting nihilism and setting out to do something about it. Nor am I sure there are any appreciable, significant "intellectual" nihilists who are not also existentialists, at least among philosophers. As far as philosophical positions go, "pure" nihilism tends to be just a phase.
    – commando
    Mar 4 '17 at 19:10

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