Here’s a video from Kurtzgesagt, on what they term “Optimistic Nihilism.”
Over two million views, after ONE DAY. Damn, those are some mighty big numbers for nihilism, which used to be the lazy pedant’s go-to-rejoinder to any social criticism, a cop-out red flag placed by believer intellectual .
Now, however, nihilism has a new face. Bright, day-glo animation, professional British narration, low-key synthesizer music, and voila, the human intellectual universe sees another flavor-of-the-month, wrapped in this shiny, appealing bite-sized presentation.
Not that the video is going to reform the supersystem. There is some “Up-With-People” cheapjack boosterism in it, giving the reality of the human predicament a light salad tossing, not much more.
If the universe has no principles, the only principles relevant are the ones we decide on.
We are truly free in a universe-sized playground.
Do the things that make you feel good.
Thank you so much Kurztgesagt, for solving the riddles and anxieties of the modern world. Phasers on Phun! Wow, good times, great oldies, alles is klar, everything solved and made fresh and beauteous!
There are problems with this “optimism.” “We” do not get to decide on salutary “principles” – these have been fashioned over the hundreds of millennia of human existence, borrowing freely from our mammalian past. Human existence depends on the fortunes of quotidian reality associated with ineluctable forces like money, trying to get it without ending up behind bars or dead, without any genuine relationship between the worth or enjoyment of the practice of work with its bounteous financial reward. That’s not a “principle” – that’s a collectively established social fact, except for those who enter into the existential drama of a money-straitened life. Family, spouses, culture, are not elected “principles,” but complex, convoluted inherited arrangements that will not do your bidding, except for the good days and nights.
Does this make us “free in a universe-sized playground”? Not for a social being, whose expectations and diversions are fear and anxiety-based. Without “free will,” the concept of choosing to do whatever sounds like “fun” collapses, and can lead just as easily to a drug problem, divorce, disinheritance, and chronic friendlessness as to 1,000 days of unadulterated sexual frolics and ecstatic sing-alongs. “Doing the things that make you feel good” is a libertarian mantra, not a rational rejection of religion’s dubious injunctions to feel bad and refrain. In a broken system that still demands fealty to established social and economic norms, the individual will do many actions that do not “feel good,” but will keep the wheels of social progress moving down the track.
The more abjectly philosophizing koans of the video can be fun for the young set, as the views will climb higher into the public consciousness that befits millions of views, but all of us will still stumble around with wavering notions of life, death, purpose, and meaning.
Yes, one day we will be dead, the electrical system that is our brain will stop its functioning, and that will be that for the neurons that have met up to define the being that is “us.” The universe has seen this process of life becoming death for billions of humans, and seems to indicate no special effect from that passing into darkness and nothingness.No more electrical impulses swapping between neurons in our brain, nor more that special, wonderful being that is us. Fun or anxiety-ridden, that is this temporary form called a human life, and it is no way “free,” nor should it be considered as needing to be. It is contingent as hell, on all that surrounds us.