When it comes to philosophy, two of the most misunderstood and often confused schools of thought are Nihilism and Existentialism. Both deal with questions about existence, meaning, and purpose, but they approach these questions in vastly different ways. In this article, we’ll explore the key differences between Nihilism and Existentialism.
Nihilism is a philosophy that asserts that life has no inherent meaning or value. According to Nihilists, the universe is indifferent to human existence, and there is no objective morality or purpose to life. This viewpoint can be traced back to the ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus, who famously said “everything flows” and argued that everything is in a constant state of change.
Nihilists believe that because life has no inherent purpose or meaning, any attempt to impose one is ultimately futile. They reject traditional values and beliefs as arbitrary constructs created by humans in an attempt to make sense of a chaotic world. In other words, they believe that there is no ultimate truth or universal morality.
Types of Nihilism
There are several different types of nihilism:
- Epistemological nihilism: The belief that knowledge is impossible.
- Metaphysical nihilism: The belief that reality doesn’t exist.
- Moral nihilism: The belief that morality doesn’t exist.
- Existential nihilism: The belief that life has no meaning or purpose.
Existentialism is a philosophy that emphasizes individual freedom and choice. Unlike Nihilists who believe life has no inherent meaning or value, existentialists argue that individuals must create their own meaning and purpose in life. They believe that existence precedes essence, meaning that individuals are not born with a pre-determined purpose or nature, but rather must create their own through their actions.
Existentialists reject the notion of objective truth or universal morality, instead focusing on the subjective experiences of individuals. They believe that individuals must take responsibility for their own lives and choices, even in the face of a seemingly indifferent universe.
Types of Existentialism
There are several different types of existentialism:
- Atheistic existentialism: The belief that there is no God or higher power.
- Christian existentialism: The belief that Christianity provides a framework for individual freedom and choice.
- Existential psychoanalysis: The use of existentialist philosophy in psychological therapy.
Differences Between Nihilism and Existentialism
While Nihilism and Existentialism share some similarities – both reject traditional values and beliefs – they approach questions about existence and meaning in vastly different ways.
The key difference between the two is in their view of purpose and meaning. Nihilists believe life has no inherent value or purpose, while existentialists argue that individuals must create their own meaning through their actions.
Another difference is in their view of morality. While Nihilists reject the notion of objective morality, existentialists emphasize the importance of individual responsibility and ethical decision-making.
Nihilism and Existentialism are two important philosophical schools with distinct viewpoints on existence, meaning, and purpose. While nihilists believe life has no inherent value or purpose, existentialists argue that individuals must create their own through their actions. Both schools reject traditional values and beliefs but approach questions about existence in vastly different ways.