Presents the author's evolving views of the best current positions on certain core philosophical and psychological problems. These positions together suggest a skeptical or nihilist perspective modified by evolutionary psychology and contemporary philosophy that embraces our desire to live as best we can and the relative and psychological reality of values, free will and other phenomena while recognizing limitations on their foundations and our understanding. The below makes no claims to originality for most of the ideas expressed, drawing on a range of mostly unreferenced texts (which will be familiar to philosophers and psychologists working in this area). Readers may want to start at the bottom with the first entry. - Marc Krellenstein (personal info here)
Does a nihilist viewpoint affect one’s day to day life? The lack of objective values does not eliminate the (contingent) values an individual has by birth, upbringing and choice (at least, compatibilist choice) and that one’s behavior is guided by and towards, so the effect may not be pronounced. Similarly, lack of free will may be more a technical observation than a practical operating principle. Sitting back and waiting for non-free-will determined behavior to take place gets boring.
Still, there’s an impact. A belief in the underlying physical and ‘unwilled’ causality of behavior may relax the urgency or import of making decisions and feeling responsibility for them. This is not to eliminate the useful notion of responsibility as it occurs in law or relationships, or in creating a happier life, but it does soften it.
Sensual pleasures may also become more important and seen as more acceptable to the extent they are otherwise deemed less than equal to intellectual or moral satisfactions. Is beauty less important and more superficial than intelligence? Hardly, it would seem. Both may largely be the accidents of birth, and both provide pleasure to an individual or society that, if different, are not ‘better’ than one another if objective value is undermined, though one or another may provide more perceived benefits to more people.