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Traditionalism contributes to nihilism.

Life, morality, and all that are most likely to be seen as pointless, meaningless, or absurd when one tries to look at it from a detached and 'objective' point of view where, in fact, nothing is valued. This view is abstract and not actually held by, say, the universe.

I attribute this in part to prior societal or personal beliefs in all seeing or all encompassing entities such as the God, Odin, or Brahmin. A person who finds himself raised in a culture steeped in such religious or spiritual ideas, even if they are no longer explicit or prevalent, may find himself naturally open to the idea of seeing things from an objective, universal, and perhaps detached viewpoint. He may even think this standard is more important, realistic, or rational than the abstract stance of societies or the actual stances of individuals.

This belief is buyoued by the classical, popular, and perhaps standard view that values (be they physical, moral, aesthetic, or perhaps even economic) are neither subjective nor relative but are objective. This is often accompanied by the claim that at least some objects (humans, for example) have innate and objective value. But when one finds oneself questioning the traditional source of these mores, it can be troublesome discovering a new source of values and valuation. This is especially true when one still expects things to be objective. Often, one begins to doubt the values themselves in such a process.

I suppose most people naturally go through something like this as teenagers, but if they cannot find a new source, or if their new abstracted standard is too detached and impersonal, they are likely to find everything purposeless or ridiculous.

One way to avoid this sort of thing, which many view as a problem (and not without some justification), may be to abandon systems which teach that values are indeed objective, foundational, or innate. This would not require abandoning religion, spirituality, or the like. After all, there have been many religious subjectivists, relativists, and (loosely) existentialists. Even the New Testament claims that nothing is sinful in and of itself.

Not that a "revaluation of values" is an easy task. >_>

Despite being a stalwart atheist, I find the sorts of Christianity (as I vaguely understand them) put forward by people like Blaise Pascal (who had one of the coolest names ever), Soren Kierkegaard, or even Charles Rozier to be more appealing than many more secular but foundationalist worldviews out there; for those Christians I mentioned at least implicitly recongize or anticipate this problem.

On the other hand, I'm not at all interested in very loose, all accepting stances wherein everything is right, or everything is right to or for itself or its believers. I find such ideas lacking in rigour and largely untenable. Worse, rejection of these overly subjectivist and realtivist views leads many right back to the dangers of strict objectivism, and makes it yet harder for those who believe in foundationalism and the like to understand and exchange ideas with more subtle subjectivists.


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