point of view: a modern nihilism

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)

June 12, 2005

1. The origin of the universe cannot be understood.

We can see no reason why the universe exists, and it doesn’t seem we could ever find one. Any explanation would become part of what has to be explained. This is the familiar but no less profound possibility of always asking “why?”: any explanation becomes part of what is to be explained. Given the way our minds are constructed, no final satisfactory explanation seems possible. Even a newly discovered law of physics would pose the question as to why that should be the case — why anything should exist at all or ever come into existence (see, for example, Nozick, 1981, or Krellenstein, 1995).

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