Psuedo Philosophical… and a double post

I didn’t feel the following had anything to do with my last post, hence the double post.

I remember when I was first starting to read Nietzsche my friends and I would always make fun of a famous quote by him. It was something along the lines of “if you stare into the abyss, the abyss stares back at you.” Now, I haven’t been fortunate enough to read the quote in its full context yet, but I think maybe I’ve uncovered part of its mystery, and I hope that I am not perceived as being pretentious for doing so.

The concept that we as humans have attempted to confine to the idea of “truth” (I know, saying “truth” would have been so much easier, but truth doesn’t necessarily encompass “fact”, “what is”, and a host of other concepts) is perhaps the very abyss Nietzsche was talking about. Humans can look into the abyss, but often times it is a frightful thing to look into . Perhaps this is because of an inability to cope, perhaps this is because of the revelation that a glimpse of truth is able to inspire, or perhaps this is because of another reason, but it seems that the true, unreported number one fear of humans is in fact not public speaking but a true firm understanding of “what is” (perhaps we can call it truth, but we can only do that by realizing that the standard conception of “truth” is not in fact “truth”). Perhaps we as humans, as a race and as a vast set of individuals, are so fearful of falling into a Nihilistic spiral that we have to come up with meanings and purposes, have to construct lies and deceit, have to deceive ourselves so that perhaps we cannot fully understand ourselves and the mistakes we make. Perhaps we are incapable of understanding ourselves because “truth” is that abyss that we are so fearful of looking into. (Borrowing from concepts learned in economics) Perhaps the opportunity cost of comprehending “truth” are far inferior to the benefit of discovering it. Is it worth the possibility of falling into a nihilistic depression to understand “truth”?

That, I think, no one can answer.

8 thoughts on “Psuedo Philosophical… and a double post

  1. this is, i think, where theism (and atheism) comes in.
    by the way, i created a wordpress account just so i could comment on your blog… aren’t you honored? =P

  2. Ok, now I have to chime in :).

    I may agree with you in an empathetical sense, but in terms of pure technicality, our existence is living, and what we do on an emotional level, on a metaphysical level, doesn’t determine whether or not we live. To honestly ask the question of “what makes life worth living” with an unbiased desire to discover the answer is to force yourself to evaluate every high value you hold dear, and the truly honest will evaluate the concepts of good and evil.

    My point was more along the lines of “sometimes we know we can know the answers but are afraid to discover them because that would force a massive re-evaluation of everything we hold dear.” I’ll try to remove any form of arrogance out of my writing voice when I say this, but when I did it (and not completely, mind you), I was forced to come to some very grim conclusions (and I emphasize that I’m not setting up a forum of philosophical superiority by saying this; I’m just saying I understand it’s hard). Regardless, I think even after such an analysis is made (or perhaps beforehand), we can (and maybe ‘should’, but as you will see, this results in a paradox) evaluate whether or not such an evaluation is important. I personally believe that such an evaluation leads to perhaps an ability to cope with what is, get over it, and then (the holy grail of philosophy) open yourself to ask a more insightful and useful question.

    So what does all this mean? Perhaps after such an evaluation, you will change your perspective on what the purpose of life is, or whether it has any purpose at all, and if not, whether or not that is problematic.


    I’m so honored. You just gave me a sense of importance!

    I did somewhat touch on theism and atheism when I made the references to coping, and maybe that gives away my perspective on religion (but maybe again, it doesn’t). But then again, my perspective on religion, theism, and atheism shifts day to day.

  3. you need the sense of importance. =P

    hmm i don’t think you really gave away your perspective, but if you meant that people create religion because the prospect of a meaningless existence is too scary and they’re afraid that if meaningless existence IS truth they will have to give up this concept of life after death and god and reincarnation and the ten commandments and all that… i think you can look at it another way too: the people who don’t believe might be too afraid to find out that in fact theism holds truth, and then they’ll have to accept religion and all that carries with it, which might lead to a major restructuring of their values and principle, and in fact their entire way of life.

    did that make sense? =P

  4. Dellelled…I think theists are more afraid of finding out that their truth is incorrect or that faith isn’t the truth. I believe that true agnostics or atheists have accepted whatever the world may be. Somehow, I don’t find it as devastating to not believe in anything and then find reason to believe. I think it is far more devastating to the soul to believe in something strongly and then find evidence against those beliefs.

  5. it would definitely be devastating for people who believe in something strongly to find out what they believe isn’t what they thought it was, for sure… but i also think there is a very strong fear in a lot of people about what believing would entail. i also think accepting the world for whatever it may be implies that you have found “truth” or what you think is “truth”, and finding out that that “truth” is indeed false would be as devastating IF you believed it as much as someone else did in God. or you could just be content knowing that “truth” is beyond us all and not really care about what happens beyond this life, in which case you wouldn’t be devastated either way.

  6. it’s an interesting question, i think, and one i think about pretty frequently (especially when i think about religion). i think there are some things that exist (like faith, for example) where the existence of it is more important than the correctness, or “truth” in it.

    moreover, i think you’ve made some really insightful assessments about meaning in life. things matter to us only because they have to, and i think it is very correct to say that humans, as such, fear (what is ultimately true) that living in itself doesn’t matter to us and so we socially construct these “meanings” that are “important” to us.

    well said.

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