Nihilism and Postmodernism are somewhat similar in the sense that they both annihilate, and deconstruct meaning for their respective adherents. Yet, I think there’s enough of a difference to throw them in a cage with each other, and let them fight it out.
Starting in one corner of this match is Nihilism, who weighs in with nothing and stating that everything has no meaning inherent. Including itself, as a self-contradictory notion, but it doesn’t care about this. It won’t acknowledge that it destroys its own definitions of value for itself. A meaning that destroys meaning destroys it’s own meaning, essentially.
In the opposite corner, there is Postmodernism, who is in such a dizzy state that it’s constantly asking, “what does it mean?”, and there’s no reference in which to apply value. Your good is just as good as my good. It’s all relativistic to who does what in what circumstances, and conditions. There is no basis of judgment.
Stumped by why these mindsets seem so prevalent? So am I. Thus let us tilt at both of them then. Historically, it is Nihilism that was first cogitated, so it has a claim there for being the progenitor of Postmodernism. Although it probably won’t admit to it. It gets deconstructed for itself. The self-contradiction of its own logic.
Stepping out beside these two, there’s a void of meaning on the Nihilistic pole of this spectrum. All the way up to the, “Meanings everywhere, and they’re all equally valid”, of postmodernism. Thus it’s almost like saying Nihilism (0/Nothing) to Postmodernism (Infinite). Both perspectives may be “valid” as intellectual constructs/curios, but they fail in reality. Big time. For if one where to be a die-hard nihilist, why do they continue living? Nothing has meaning in the First sense. That that of everything being negated, and left purposeless. Applied to a postmodernist mindset of, “All meanings are constructed”, one is left with no edifice in which to ground themselves. Suicide, is prevented by the State/Society which holds Human Life as sacrosanct based off of Christian Theology. If one doesn’t support this view, just off oneself. There’s no meaning to hold one back. Thus how many people are willing to take the plunge over that cliff? Not many, I’d assume.
Thus to struggle out of that void, of being in an ocean with no boat, or surface to cling too. One is in the depths of Being, that infinite potentiality realm. This is what postmodernism writ large is. That everything has the same potential to exist, and just as valid as another to exist. If that be the case, why does one value default to existence over non-existence? Simply put, one has to exist to have thoughts about both existence, and non-existence. This is truth.
Who’s to say in all this postmodernist struggle that one won’t be reborn/resurrected again? You didn’t choose to be in here in the first place, thus there is the mindset to negate and destroy all things as illusion. Thus why wouldn’t you not exist by getting dragged into existence again? Thus suicide, is such an asinine move on so many levels it just seems stupid. And here’s why;
- You’ll never know if you succeed, because if you are; you’re logically not there/here to see said success.
- You will only end up crippled, and/or worse off for every attempt made.
- You may just get reincarnated once again, and against your will. Much like you were the first time.
- It doesn’t “solve anything”.
This is what the postmodern/relativistic/nihilistic mindset climaxes in. Starting again at point A. Thus to build from there, and that plane of “nothingness”. Let us consider that, “Nothing has meaning” in a second sense. That of which, somethings simply mean “Nothing”. Nihilism becomes a tool at this point. It allows one to constrain their system of awareness/growth to a manageable realm. Especially when applied to postmodernism. Postmodernism (infinite meaning). Bloats itself up to the grandiose level itself. A sort of , I can recreate and apply new meaning to everything because the “Author is Dead”, and there is no Inherent Meaning!
Good luck with that, if one wishes to create from scratch, and Sui genesis. By all means attempt to do so, but realize that if you’re playing this way. Everyone else is too. Why should I adopt your given meanings over my given meanings? Thus remains relativism.
If you adhere to the relativistic mindset, you can’t change anything because you are paralyzed by the mere notion that all are equal in all senses. Thus I have to put no stock into your “Truths”, and if you wish to violate another by imposing your truth upon them through force…well, you’re no longer Relativistic. You are merely another tyrant.
Note: This era is likely the “Great Leveling” that Kierkegaard feared, and the “Re-evaluation of all Values” that Nietzsche prophesied was coming back in the 1800’s upon hearing and thinking about the “American Experiment”, and Democracy. Taken to the extreme, Democracy fails. Even the Ancient Greeks knew this.