New Book Challenges Conventional Vision Of Nihilism

Controversional author Brett Stevens, who was interviewed here some time ago, has released his first book, Nihilism: A Philosophy Based in Nothingness and Eternity on Manticore Press. This book attempts to understand nihilism in a way our culture has up to now been afraid to.

The summary of the book states:

Most people see the world in binary categories. They believe that there is either an inherent moral good that we must all obey, or there are no rules and life is pointless anarchy. Nihilism argues for a middle path: we lack inherent order, but are defined by our choices, which means that we must start making smarter choices by understanding the reality in which we live more than the human social reality which we have used to replace it in our minds.

A work of philosophy in the continental tradition, Nihilism examines the human relationship with philosophical doubt through a series of essays designed to stimulate the ancient knowledge within us of what is right and what is real. Searching for a level of thought underneath the brain-destroying methods of politics and economics, the philosophy of nihilism approaches thought at its most basic level and highest degree of abstraction. It escapes the bias of human perspective and instructs our ability to perceive itself, unleashing a new level of critical thinking that side-steps the mental ghetto of modernity and the attendant problems of civilization decline and personal lassitude.

While many rail against nihilism as the death of culture and religion, the philosophy itself encourages a consequentialist, reality-based outlook that forms the basis for moral choice. Unlike the control-oriented systems of thought that form the basis of contemporary society, nihilism reverts the crux of moral thinking to the relationship between the individual and the effects of that individual's actions in reality. From this, a new range of choice expands, including the decision to affirm religious and moral truth as superior methods of Darwinistic adaptation to the question of human survival, which necessarily includes civilization.

Inspired by transcendentalist thinkers and the ancient traditions of both the West and the Far East, the philosophy of nihilism negates the false intermediate steps imposed on us by degenerated values systems. In the footsteps of philosopher Friedrich W. Nietzsche, who called for a "re-evaluation of all values," nihilism subverts linguistic and social categorical thinking in order to achieve self-discipline of the mind. As part of this pursuit, Nihilism investigates thought from writers as diverse as William S. Burroughs, Aldous Huxley, Arthur Schopenhauer and Immanuel Kant. For those who seek the truth beyond the socially-convenient explanations that humans tell one another, nihilism is a philosophy both for a new age and for all time.

Where this differs from most is that it does not view nihilism as a type of moral relativism, but a style of extreme realism that rejects the idea of human-centric visualizations of reality. Instead, it posits that all is choice. We can choose to know more of reality, and to push our minds through self-discipline to see more of the abstract truths and structures behind matter, or we can choose another path. But our choices define us.

This escapes the normal trap of thinking that we can define an objective reality that everyone can understand, which is nonsense given that language is interpreted by the individual with varying degrees of accuracy because individuals are not equal. Instead of relying on tools like language, law, and morality to guide us as interpreted by human individuals, Nihilism argues that should measure all humans by cause-to-effect results of their actions and derive intent from those.

Most people fear nihilism because it kicks out the supports that they rely on. Those are usually social illusions, or those comprised of what a group of humans can compromise on in order to keep the group together. Stevens' conception of nihilism is antisocial and operates on the level of history and mythology, rejecting the narcissistic individualism that represents the true evil, or error, inherent to humanity.