what exactly is existential nihilism? I have found different sources and from my understanding it is the belief that you can't create any meaning. The meaning an individual creates, even though they may change their mind and create a new meaning, and the meaning from a transcended source. An Example is from god. Is this correct summary of existential nihilism? I understand how someone reaches the conclusion that meaning is created by the self and not from some higher authority but I can't seem to understand why an individual could not give themselves meaning. Could you explain this to me very very simply? Also how would someone refute existential nihilism using atheism and not a religious answer? Does existentialism allow for you to believe in a determined universe? What I mean is a universe where science can predict everything. Thanks for your help I am not advanced in philosophy so I need an easy to understand answer

It may disappoint you but I do not have an answer for you - existential nihilism sounds dangerous to the heart and mind, so I guess I've avoided it. Let me pose a question: if you or I cannot point to the locus of meaning or value does it imply non-existence?

To a certain extent, all value claims are faith claims of a sort: even the market "value" of crude oil is based on faith in unseen and unforeseeable forces. We feel its effects and some of us place a great deal of stock in the reality of this force, but in what sense is it real?

Perhaps meaning-making is both discovered and created. To be concrete, the value of "love" is not verifiable or objective in a material sense. And yet, I do not accept that this is my creation alone, nor is it pure discovery of an objective meaningful reality. Perhaps there is a meeting place of subjective and objective "reals" that we bump into that are irreducible to categories of existence or non-existence. I find Charles S. Pierce to be helpful here, but because you asked for a non-technical response, I do not recommend Pierce to you!

What I do recommend is to view this or any other theory in light of its explanatory power for your experience. Many theories sound very convincing because of their simplicity - psychological egoism, for an example - but given that it is so unhelpful in explaining my world, I accept it as an interesting suggestion that cannot help me decide what I ought to do with my life. I simply don't ask the question of whether altruism is possible. I act on faith that it might be, but in the end, does it matter? Personal experience does not have the last word, of course, but leaving the question of meaning making open suggests a much livelier engagement with discovering what matters most deeply to you and the meaning-world you choose to inhabit.

-bjm

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