I believe I am nihilist. I had the realization that there's no meaning to life and everything we've created is just to fill that empty void, every social construct is merely a "philosophical suicide". Then that raises the question, is life worth living. As you are reading this, I decided it is. My interpretation of the myth of Sisyphus is finding happiness in the meaningless task of existence and defiantly accepting there is no meaning and stopping all search for it. I do live just to piss of the Absurd. Does that make me an absurdist or a nihilist? Both involve accepting the lack of meaning in life, and after that it's just a pragmatic decision on how you choose to live it. Do all nihilists kill themselves? Or do those that don't become absurdists? Sorry if this comes of as rambling, am having trouble collecting my thoughts about this.

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    Existentialism basically states that existence precedes essence. Absurdism states the impossibility of finding a meaning in life despite ones search for it. I think absurdism is a life denying philosophy despite the fact that Camus tries to justify life over death. It doesn't reflect the world we find ourselves experiencing. We can definitely find meaning. Nihilism is a terrible philosophical idea and it became apparent after the devaluations of religious values. So this shows that people had values and a purpose to life before Nihilism was manifest. We can find meaning in life. Aug 27, 2020 at 3:55
  • Existentialism explains why we think Nihilism is true at a certain point in life and absurdism tells us how any response to overcoming Nihilism fails. Aug 27, 2020 at 3:58
  • Not all nihilists kill themselves, some become Gnostics... :-) anyway, if you plan on keep living other people are bound to be your enemies alongside some friends, but are they really friends? Behold; never trust anyone Every shadow shields a traitor Always keep your friends near you And your enemies even closer the lyrics from Collapsing Words of Insomnium. Aug 27, 2020 at 6:49
  • I am not sure that Camus would agree with your interpretation, see Relationship of absurdism to existentialism and nihilism:"Absurdists, following Camus's formulation, hesitantly allow the possibility for some meaning or value in life, but are neither as certain as existentialists are about the value of one's own constructed meaning nor as nihilists are about the total inability to create meaning". If anything, absurdism can be characterized as one step back from nihilism, pragmatic is a meaning of sorts.
    – Conifold
    Aug 27, 2020 at 20:34
  • Nothing is the next step after nihilism because it is nihilism. Hedonism is a good follow up though.
    – D J Sims
    Aug 29, 2020 at 9:24

2 Answers 2


Sounds a bit like you are talking yourself down from a ledge, after enjoying the wide, bleak view. Nihilism has varied meanings, beginning with the Russian variety of political anarchism in the late 19th century. I would call it an offshoot of European Romanticism and Romantic Nationalism on the darker side.

If you find the universe meaningless but carry on, then I guess you'd be called an "Absurdist" in the manner of Camus. Just as the Lisbon earthquake shook the faith of the Enlightenment era, as expressed in the atheism of Voltaire, so WWII shook the concept of human progress, self-generated meaning, for the existentialists, with any number of reactions, Camus' being an idiosyncratic one with great rhetorical sway.

Even this stance, taken generally, has a long premodern history, from Diogenes to the epoche of the Pyrrhonists, a welcome, pragmatic suspension of ultimate belief and disbelief alike. Personally, I have never understood the expression "life has no meaning," if we think of meaning as the intersection of the actual and the possible.

It makes more sense to me just to say life is unhappiness, or life is brutish and short, or there is no God or ultimate set of values, or infinity is overwhelmingly terrifying, or there is no limit point to skeptical judgments. But to imply that there is an object called "meaning" that one cannot discover "out there" is unsurprising.

To be an Absurdist may not be as elevated a position as one might hope. It means to examine the grounds of belief skeptically and perhaps emotionally and find no solid footing, no end to the skeptical stance. I suspect most people live like this, only preemptivley curtailing the skepticism, then lively "absurdly" or "inauthentically" under the shadow of mortality, as Heidegger, the godfather of existentialism, might put it.

Fortunately, the Absurdist can live gloomily or cheerfully, and the choice is a little like Pascal's wager--in that case, well, um...why not cheerfully? I highly recommend this outcome, since we are social, genealogical, never truly discrete beings and while skepticism is healthy, unhappiness is, like Covid-19, both highly contagious and potentially fatal to others.

  • okay i get it. theres a variety of responses to nihilism. 1) the obvious one, suicide. 2) existentialism 3) "philosophical suicide" i don't know if existentialism would be a part of philosophical suicide too. and 4- absurdim. I am definitely an absurdist, and a much happier one at that then one i believed in things. Aug 28, 2020 at 1:11
  • Well, I am glad to hear that! Many varieties of skepticism are like medicine, healing in the right doses, poison in excess. I always suggest that when people have an interest in something, like "nihilism," the first step is to go to the the OED and get the complete etymology, with examples of usage through the centuries. Half your "philosophical" inquires are already done! Aug 28, 2020 at 1:49

I read quite a lot of good points but I think I can contribute to this discussion with the following remark: dealing with uncertainty.

I think from a pragmatic perspective it is key to be able to deal with uncertainty hence accepting no "absoluteness" can really be reached no matter the effort spent in its search.

As I think there are many contact points between philosophy and physics (in fact I am a physicist myself interested in psychology and a bit of philosophy) then the angle I am currently adopting is a Schroedingerian one: I am at the same time both searching and not searching for a meaning.

I think this is an interesting contact point with philosophy because it gets you out of the classic "hard logic" path, in the land of uncertainty without giving up to it.

It ultimately means it is possible to survive nihilims and absurdism, maybe this will push towards a more quantitative way of thinking (this is something I should really elaborate more on but I have not finalized my thinking yet)

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    Am a physicist too. I really your schrodingerian interpretation. Sep 1, 2020 at 13:04

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