What is nihilism?


We are living in this world where we observe various happenings happening around us. People are born and then die after a certain period of time. We have control over giving birth to the child but there is no one who can stop death. During the whole life span, we develop various attachments with people; we love them and wish to be with them forever. But it’s not more than a wish. Sudden news pops up giving us a jerk that we have lost our people. A cold wave altogether from head to toe and we are just suspicious that what is next?


There is a storm of hues and cries for the loss. But the thing is nobody can predict what happened after that. A scientific perspective says that a dead body is meant for decomposition by the microbes which ultimately add humus to the soil for keeping the life cycle on track. We have witnessed that people are dying but nobody came back to tell us what happened afterlife. People have several beliefs which are given to them by the deities. Some hope for the afterlife and others believe that people are reborn after leaving this world in another form. The concepts and beliefs go on and what exactly reality is, beyond the perspective.

Believe in nothingness:

It is very difficult for us to tell what the meaning of life is. We don’t know where and how we came into existence; we also can’t predict why we are here? The future is uncertain and we don’t know where we are going. This is why how we can say that our present actions have some meaning? It is the uncertainty of both future and past that allows us to question that “What is the meaning of life?” As a species, we fail to answer this question.

Believe in nothingness
Believe in nothingness

 Most of us find comfort in different ideologies to subdue the anxiety. Some say that the entire universe is made by a deity and what we do in this universe will decide how we live in the afterlife. Some call life as spending time with our loved ones and for other existence in itself is worthy. But for a nihilist, life is meaningless. All sufferings, emotions, good, evil, etc. are meaningless and there is no outcome of it.

Questioning old beliefs:

Most of us have gone through nihilist thoughts at a time in our life. We go through suffering and when there is nothing that is working at this site we question that there is no meaning in my life. It is the life when we think beyond the boundaries which are set by our parents. We think critically to find our own solution. All of those old beliefs are void in front of us and what we want is to build a perspective that seems more solid.

No way to find answer:

Just take a moment to think about your sufferings. Your life was never designed for giving you comfort rather it was meant for giving pain. We question and there is no answer to it. At that point, we think there is nothing before and there will be nothing after. All of those religious ideologies and scientific discoveries are not able to answer those questions.


Alan Watts says “Life is nothing more than a trip from the maternity ward to the crematorium”.

The term nihilism came from the Latin word “nihil” meaning “nothing” and “ism” meaning “ideology”. It is an ideology of nothingness but that does not make us able to understand it completely.

Nihilism and pessimism:

People usually confuse nihilism with pessimism. But both are entirely different concepts. Pessimists believe in the worst outcomes. Their life is surrounded by negative thoughts and all they believe is that in the end evil will overcome the good. There is nothing better and they are focused on the darker side of the story.


On the other hand, nihilist believes in nothingness. They do not think of any outcome. There was no meaning that we come here, we live here and in the same manner, we will leave one day. For them, there is no good and evil and all morality concepts are built by humans. Everything happens as it has to be and there is the thing that can overcome others.


Let’s take an example of a glass of water. A pessimist will say that half glass is filled with water but a pessimist emphasizes that it is half empty. For a nihilist, there is nothingness. He will say to throw the glass to shatter because all these good, bad, standards are meaningless. We all have to die at the end.

Comparison with other philosophies:

Nihilism is also compared with several other philosophies such as cynicism and apathy. But still, it is a far different concept. For cynics, we all are selfish, working and acting for our own benefits. What we do is motivated by self-interest. If something is relatable for us, we will cheer to practice it. The idea that humans are not good, goodness exists out there, somewhere but not just in humans.

The apathy is the one who doesn’t care. They believe that there are certain outcomes of good or evil but they simply don’t care about them. For a nihilist, there is nothingness. There is no idea of good and evil. People are not good or bad; they just act or react according to the situation.

Nihilist paradox:

If you believe in nothingness, there is still belief so it can’t be categorized as nihilism. For nihilists, there is no belief, there is nothing and then there is no outcome.

Types of nihilism:

Different people defined nothingness differently. They have given various explanations but the core concept is the same. As the result, it is divided into various types.

  • Political nihilism: They believe that for humanity to move forward as species, all political, social and religious orders must be destroyed.
  • Ethical nihilism: It rejects the idea of absolute ethical or moral values. Both good and bad is decided by the society so it should not be followed if we want absolute freedom.
  • Existential nihilism: It is the most popular form about which we are talking throughout. For nihilist, there is no meaning to the life. The existence of the things likes the state, religious bodies and even communal, the concept of morality is a hurdle in the way of freedom. If we are unable to do what we actually want to do then are we truly free?

Wrapping up/ Conclusion:

Our life observations and experiences direct us towards a new perspective of life. We were grown with the traditional views and ideas that were granted to us by our forefathers but after thinking critically at a certain life stage, all was changed. All was gone. Those hateful experiences and our spontaneous questioning that is it really what we wanted in our life?

Here people start believing in nothingness. The concept knows as nihilism. It is no good or evil but all moral standards are built by humans. If we have to think in a certain framework then what exactly freedom is? This concept is explained by various nihilists who divided nihilism into various types but the core concept is the same.

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