Nimbostratus

Zero Point

Scene I – Two friends talking: (one friend is A and the other S)

S: You could say Nihilism is a world view – but it’s really a denial of everything.
A: Even knowledge?
S: Even Existence!
Nothing has meaning; no knowledge, no ethics, no beauty, no reality,
Yet when you think about it…
It’s only a short walk from Naturalism!

A: Sounds more like a jump off a cliff!!

It seems such a long way from the factual reasoning of naturalism. Fogetting, for the moment, your claim that there is no real base in naturalism.

S: For human value; naturalists, generally do have a high regard for humans.
We’re the only self-conscious self-determined beings in the universe,
Rulers of all… Free even to control the future of our own evolution:
What more could a body ask for?
If you really want to know – and many do not, because where you stopped is a popular place to stop. You could go back to the point you decided to forget for the moment.

A: There is no base for all these assumptions, about human value;
And besides, the notion of extinction at death is so disturbing
It undermines the point of living. Nihilism, is the natural child of Naturalism.

S: Remember, naturalists hold that matter is all there is, So we are matter only. They say the Cosmos is a closed system of cause and effect, yet they try to hold on to human freedom.

………….

Scene II

(Friends eating sandwiches, drinking coffee and doing philosophy.)

S: I want a sandwich. I can buy one, or if I choose to, I can steal it!
I am self-determined, but then I think – “Am I?”
…If I am simply the product of genetic make-up and the effect of my environment,
Then I am purely the result of the past over which… (coffee time again) …

A: I appear to be free, but really, events occur because other events occured, like dominoes. Freedom is an illusion. We just don’t know what “caused” us to decide!

S: Does a person act on the world or does the world act on a person?

A: So , we can’t be held responsibe for our actions. Some would even say that the genuinely new is the product of chance. That life, for instance, emerges from the co-operation of chance and necessity over eons of time. Whether or not we are products of chance or of pre-determined forces, we are machines, and that’s no basis for significant human action.

S: But what is chance? It could simply be a bigger domino we can’t see, or just plain irrational: ~ causeless and purposeless ~ it’s there. But it might not have been!

Charles Darwin believed …The horrid doubt always arises whether the convictions of man’s mind, which has developed from the mind of the lower animals, are of any value or at all trustworthy."

A: Amazing! We’re not only boxed in by our past, ~ our origins in inanimate matter..we’re boxed in by our present as thinkers! But any argument to check the validity of an argument is itself an argument ~ which could be mistaken!

S: It’s like a dog chasing its tail. But viturally nobody is a fully paid-up nihilist.
I’m simply showing the irony.
Naturalism, born in the Age of Enlightenment, was launched on the belief in the human ability to know; yet it leads to nihilism because they have no basis for confidence in their knowing.

A: The skeptic is never for real. The skeptic stands, cocktail in hand, left arm draped langourously on one end of the mantelpiece, telling you that we can’t be sure of anything, not even of our own existence.
I’ll give you my secret method of demolishing universal skepticism in four words:-
Whisper: – “You’ve got lipstick on your teeth.”, or “You’ve spilt your drink” If knowledge is so all-fired impossible, why do they always look?

S: But…There are some frightening implications in all this…If you seriously believe you cannot know, you’re in deep trouble! You simply couldn’t function! Yet, it is the logical conclusion.

A: But you and I are more likely to meet the half-baked skeptic than the real cases; there’s just too much evidence that knowledge is possible.

S: What we need is a way to explain why we have it!

(the two friends now mimic a drum roll drrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr…da da da da da da!!!!)

S announces to A after a moment of thought:-

“I saw a human pursuing the horizon;
Round and round they sped.
(the human and the horizon that is)
I was disturbed at this;
I accosted the human.
“It is futile,” I said, "You can never – “You lie the human cried,
And ran on.”

© Copyright – Suzanne German – 9th December 2007.

Nimbostratus

Suzanne German

Cambridge, United Kingdom

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Artist's Description

Naturalism, born in the Age of Enlightenment, was launched on the belief in the human ability to know; yet it leads to nihilism because they have no basis for confidence in their knowing. The skeptic is never for real.

Artwork Comments

  • MissKristy
  • John Segon-Fisher,  RPA
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