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Another view from Nihil: Ligotti's "Conspriacy Against the Human Race"

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posted on Jul, 5 2015 @ 02:41 PM
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Recently, I have read Thomas Ligotti's "Conspiracy Against the Human Race" and found it to be a good primer for understanding the philosophical school of pessimism. While the author is better known as a cult horror writer, (and a very good one, in my humble opinion) his 2011 treatise on the value of non-existence has intrigued me as greatly as his fiction.

Though dense by modern standards, the treatise is very approachable and if nothing else serves as a very good reading list for students of philosophy. As a brief synopsis: Using many past philosophers to approach his thesis, Ligotti produces a very clear (though at times redundant) argument in favor of voluntary non-existence - a pretty term for suicide. While this is hardly "Life Affirming" at first glance, when one treads further down this road with Ligotti as a guide, there is a certain "awakening" to the fact.

At base, the argument relies on certain axioms to operate correctly. First and foremost is the absence of a notion of "god" as an interactive being, followed by an honesty to oneself that life is meaningless outside of the meaning we create for it. In short, the universe could give a damn about our happiness, and at times almost seems to work against it. If we must create meaning in a meaningless world, are we not simply deluding ourselves into believing our own lies in order to wake up and face each new day with all of its negativity and turmoil only to inevitably repeat this process until our own end finds us?

I found this book to be very intriguing, and while I'm certainly not going to remove myself from existence for the mere sake of it, I do find that my own reluctance to reproduce falls in line directly with the core notion presented in "The Conspiracy Against the Human Race". I highly suggest a read through of it for anyone who is interested - it is available at the normal online retailers in digital and physical form.

I invite anyone who has read the book to post their own feelings about the content, and extend that invitation to the curious as well. I will try my best to respond to the honest questions and positions for or against this philosophical position.

As always, thank you for your time and I look forward to any replies.




posted on Jul, 5 2015 @ 03:17 PM
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a reply to: OrdoAdChao

I used to be a pessimist, aka, "the human race is dumb", "the human race is doomed", " the human race is a threat to nature".

But now that I am older, and have seen more wisdom, I have subscribed to a much newer line of thought...

I think that even though the universe does not give a damn about our existence, and even though the human race does make mistakes, we nevertheless have very real effects on the worlds we inhabit. Every actions we make now... have an infinities of causal effects in the future, a principle often called the "butterfly effect". Every single one of us are factors in the future, and the human race is bound to spread to the stars, to the universe. Coupled together, these two concepts demonstrate an important philosophical point: the last thing the human race is, is "negligible" or "worthless".

Giving up to pessimism is giving up our power, our one and only true power: the ability (and responsibility) to make the Worlds better places. The ability to evolve.

It is never too late.


edit on 5-7-2015 by swanne because: (no reason given)



posted on Jul, 5 2015 @ 03:30 PM
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a reply to: OrdoAdChao
Well,I love horrific books.
Probably not one for people who are depressed or on the edge I guess?
Reading some amazon reviews,Ligotti is hailed as a sucessor to HP Lovecraft for his "interior sense of the horrific,weird and uncanny."

I would be game to give it a go,and may report back my feelings on the book if I manage to get a cheap copy
Aaaand,I have found one for less than a tenner.
Book ordered.

I doubt it can be as bad as some books I have read that have given me PTSD and nightmares I have woken screaming from.
We shall see.

Thanks for the heads up.



posted on Jul, 5 2015 @ 03:49 PM
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a reply to: swanne

I am not meaning to be pedantic, but what you're leaning towards is misanthropy, which is more along the lines of hating mankind(humans). My OP is more along the lines of existence in general, and on some level consciousness. I see where there is nearly an invisible fine line to these notions, but as far as I can tell, philosophical pessimism is more a hatred of existence, not one directed toward a specific member or group of existence.

I'll play pessimist for a moment and attempt to respond in that fashion. It seems that this sort of pessimism recognizes the fact that we matter, especially unto ourselves as a specie, and the fact that we matter is what should drive us into non-existence. In other words, the fact that any and all of our potential actions could and do affect another is simply more evidence that non-existence would be preferred in that removal of that possibility would be the only moral action one could take to absolve one of future affect.

Just for the record I am not attacking you, I am sure you understand that.
edit on 5-7-2015 by OrdoAdChao because: clarity



posted on Jul, 5 2015 @ 03:53 PM
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a reply to: Silcone Synapse

Always happy to post signs for thought, thanks for the reply and I hope you enjoy!

I am a Lovecraft aficionado, and love to explore his works with others - perhaps a Lovecraft thread is in order! If nothing else, feel free to toss me a PM if you'd like to discuss Lovecraft.

Again, thank you.
edit on 5-7-2015 by OrdoAdChao because: too little



posted on Jul, 5 2015 @ 04:02 PM
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originally posted by: OrdoAdChao
I see where there is nearly an invisible fine line to these notions, but as far as I can tell, philosophical pessimism is more a hatred of existence, not one directed toward a specific member or group of existence.

Yes, quite true. But then we are the group of existence proposing this philosophical pessimism in the first place...




the fact that any and all of our potential actions could and do affect another is simply more evidence that non-existence would be preferred in that removal of that possibility would be the only moral action one could take to absolve one of future affect.

Ah! But who said that "affecting another" is a bad thing? How can evolution progress if no interactions (either good or evil) can ever occur between existences? If life existence is to be abolished, then what about the existence of matter, or energy? Remember that after all, life is but a complex architecture of matter and energy.

Should the whole of reality be denied existence simply because a few parts of it (of said reality) might undergo occasional negative experiences?



Just for the record I am not attacking you, I am sure you understand that.

Do not worry, I enjoy philosophical debates.



edit on 5-7-2015 by swanne because: (no reason given)



posted on Jul, 5 2015 @ 04:05 PM
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a reply to: OrdoAdChao

Never heard of this writer thus never read his writings, but from what you say : I don't think that giving ourselves goals that we have defined ourselves - as long as we are sure that those goals have not been implanted into us by others and that we follow them blindly, constitute lies. I think for example trying to understand how the universe works is objectively one of those goals any intelligent life form - not only humans - could pursue without lying to itself. Ultimately we are the universe trying to understand itself.



posted on Jul, 5 2015 @ 04:33 PM
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originally posted by: swanne

originally posted by: OrdoAdChao
I see where there is nearly an invisible fine line to these notions, but as far as I can tell, philosophical pessimism is more a hatred of existence, not one directed toward a specific member or group of existence.

Yes, quite true. But then we are the group of existence proposing this philosophical pessimism in the first place...


Only because we are presently the sole proprietors of the faculties to do so in this odd corner of the heartless universe. ;-)



Ah! But who said that "affecting another" is a bad thing? How can evolution progress if no interactions (either good or evil) can ever occur between existences? If life existence is to be abolished, then what about the existence of matter, or energy? Remember that after all, life is but a complex architecture of matter and energy.


To avoid spiraling down a rabbit hole of "what is good" and "what is bad" I'll simply posit that from the pessimistic and largely the classical philosophical perspective any injustice is bad and to be good, that is "moral" or "ethical", from the pessimistic standpoint at least, one must remove oneself from the potential of injustice, whether it be ones own action or ones own reception of it.



Should the whole of reality be denied existence simply because a few parts of it (of said reality) might undergo occasional negative experiences?


And for a little snark, negative effects are all well and good - until one is the target of said negative effects. ;-)
So, from the pessimistic perspective, yes, all existence is inherently bad due to the unavoidable negative effects ones own existence causes and therefore it is immoral to simply exist.



Do not worry, I enjoy philosophical debates.



Yay! Great way to spend a Sunday afternoon!

edit on 5-7-2015 by OrdoAdChao because: diction and format



posted on Jul, 5 2015 @ 04:33 PM
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originally posted by: OrdoAdChao
a reply to: Silcone Synapse

Always happy to post signs for thought, thanks for the reply and I hope you enjoy!

I am a Lovecraft aficionado, and love to explore his works with others - perhaps a Lovecraft thread is in order! If nothing else, feel free to toss me a PM if you'd like to discuss Lovecraft.

Again, thank you.


Lovecraft was a truly great writer IMO.
I read that he experienced his younger years in a house where his parents were in the final stages of syphillitic brain rot-we can only imagine the demented ravings he would hear as he hid his head under the pillow at night.
That must have influenced his writings I think.
The man had a way with words and an imagination which still chills the bones today.

Some of his creations sound so similar to a friend I have who(has never read Lovecraft) suffers from intense pharmacutical induced hypnagogic hallucinations.
Very similar to the paintings of the late great H R Giger,but coming out of the walls and ceilings in full HD,along with brain destroying noises.
All tentacles,insectoid appendages and black slime,bursting into our reality from some distant yet unknowable realm.
Wonderful stuff.



posted on Jul, 5 2015 @ 04:45 PM
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a reply to: Silcone Synapse

My, madness is truly the seed of horror. Sorry to hear about your friend, that is a terrifying fate.

Lovecraft's early life was certainly disturbing at best, and then his later life being spent with his two spinster aunts is also quite unnerving and telling of his imagination. I have always felt that he tapped into some strange and sinister root of the human psyche, as his imagery has been a source of fear from time and memorial.

To bring Lovecraft into this discussion, I feel that many of his works, especially those pertaining to indescribable cosmic horrors, are related to philosophical pessimism (as to whether or not that was his intent we can only theorize), in that "The things that should not be" are precisely that, and without consciousness/existence would never have had a chance to become some kind of reality.
edit on 5-7-2015 by OrdoAdChao because: clarity



posted on Jul, 5 2015 @ 05:14 PM
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a reply to: gosseyn

I see your point as far as goals are concerned. I agree - but, inserting meaning is really the center of the pessimistic argument. I see a goal more as a somewhat concrete idea with the goal itself being a logical endpoint. For example: Graduating college is a goal. It in and of itself is just an end to a process and any meaning that comes from this is purely invented by the person achieving the goal and to a certain extent society at large.

In terms of philosophical pessimism the meaning of it, or any meaning at all, is a lie to make ourselves feel better in a universe completely devoid of it. To lie is, in any sense, "wrong" and in the philosophical sense "unjust" or "immoral". So, to create any meaning at all in order to drag oneself along in a meaningless universe is - by the standards of philosophical pessimism - unjust.



posted on Jul, 5 2015 @ 05:37 PM
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originally posted by: OrdoAdChao
a reply to: gosseyn

I see your point as far as goals are concerned. I agree - but, inserting meaning is really the center of the pessimistic argument. I see a goal more as a somewhat concrete idea with the goal itself being a logical endpoint. For example: Graduating college is a goal. It in and of itself is just an end to a process and any meaning that comes from this is purely invented by the person achieving the goal and to a certain extent society at large.

In terms of philosophical pessimism the meaning of it, or any meaning at all, is a lie to make ourselves feel better in a universe completely devoid of it. To lie is, in any sense, "wrong" and in the philosophical sense "unjust" or "immoral". So, to create any meaning at all in order to drag oneself along in a meaningless universe is - by the standards of philosophical pessimism - unjust.


I would say that what you call 'wrong' or 'unjust', I would call 'incorrect', which results from the impossibility to know. Any definition we give to anything is always incorrect and/or incomplete. And if we can't even define the things that we see, how are we to give those things meaning ? I would remove the moralistic aspect of what you presented to give it a more cognitive/scientific approach without any moral judgement.

And then there is the other face of the coin : even if there was an objective meaning to this universe and us within it and we were 100% sure of it(like if god presented himself in front of us..), we could still choose to ignore this meaning, and THAT would be real nihilism.



posted on Jul, 5 2015 @ 06:42 PM
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a reply to: gosseyn

I apologize for causing confusion with my terms. I am using terms like "moral" and "just" along with their negatives in the classic philosophical sense. I wasn't intending on bringing in cognitive science - a burgeoning and young field when compared to classical philosophy - mainly because it didn't cross my mind as cognition has very little to do with the question of meaning in the universe and if existence is moral and just in the classical idea of philosophy. As for a strict scientific approach, I agree that the results could not ever be attained for this argument, as with a lot of philosophical arguments, due to the fact that there is so much to prove scientifically before we could even pose the question of an objective meaning to existence.

It feels like you want to turn a purely philosophical debate into a hard science one with facts and figures and theories, which I suppose is fine, but not quite the topic of the thread. You're making great points from the scientific perspective, and I applaud the input as it is valid as any, however, that's a little beside the point of my OP.

I don't quite follow how my use of "wrong" should have been replaced with "incorrect" in regards to lying. I was pointing out that lying, in general, as per a human consensus, would probably be considered "wrong" and in the philosophical sense, "unjust" (Plato's Republic, et al.).

As to the subject of philosophical nihilism - which largely posits itself on an axiom of "no truth can be known" - I don't feel that any nihilistic argument would somehow deny the fact that god showed up and said "Here I am!", it would only care to point out that that isn't truth from their perspective, or really any philosophical perspective. What you suggest to be nihilism seems to me to be more of the definition of willful ignorance, which I've never read as being championed in any work considered "nihilistic" - but that could simply be my own ignorance as largely my nihilistic reading has been centered around the definition that "truth cannot be known".



posted on Jul, 5 2015 @ 10:55 PM
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a reply to: OrdoAdChao

I don't call it deluding myself into lies.

I call it seeking the highest truth. And for me the highest truth is the devine.

I believe the highest truths that philosophy has reasoned are Love and Reason itself. Therefore my God's are Love and Reason. The voice of Love and Reason is the voice of the Devine in me. I apply the logic of Love and Reason to every decision I make.

Deciding if Love and Reason are Devine is a personal choice. But do we have any higher truth than Love and Reason?
edit on 5-7-2015 by Isurrender73 because: (no reason given)



posted on Jul, 5 2015 @ 11:23 PM
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a reply to: Isurrender73

Thank you for the first, I daresay, 'spiritually' based reply. I find spirituality to be a fulfilling exercise for those who seek truth.

In the pessimistic sense (and I am arguing from this perspective to stay on topic) if love and reason are the highest truths, and as you say, divine truths, what has made them so? Is it your personal quest for truth that has led you to this conclusion? To the pessimist, reason - and I suppose the following from my amateur perspective - would be the main cause for human unhappiness. Love, to a pessimist, seems to lead us into love of that which is undeserving (objects, valuations etc.). Combining the two in the pessimistic perspective, how do reason and love reconcile as truth, if the only truth (again, from the pessimistic perspective) must be the our lack of understanding of these potentials due to them being constructs developed inside our minds and then put into the universe as some kind of existential reality?

Again, thank you for your reply. I look forward to your retort!



posted on Jul, 6 2015 @ 01:17 AM
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a reply to: OrdoAdChao

Love and Reason are self defining and always changing within us. To truly define Love and Reason would be to put a limit on them. We can however understand the effects of Love and Reason.

Those who have Reasoned apart from Love have lead the world into many wars and much suffering.

Those like Ghandi and Mandela who matched Love with Reason accomplished much more than those who have lead us into war, without suffering.

It is history that suggests the concepts of Love and Reason when combined inspire change apart from suffering. If we are seeking to change the world we should apply the greatest proven ideology. Historically change only occurs appart from suffering when Love and Reason are working together.

This is what makes Love and Reason the highest ideologies. I am optimistic that Love and Reason can prevail once again. The math is in our favor.


edit on 6-7-2015 by Isurrender73 because: (no reason given)



posted on Jul, 6 2015 @ 04:31 AM
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originally posted by: Isurrender73
a reply to: OrdoAdChao

Love and Reason are self defining and always changing within us. To truly define Love and Reason would be to put a limit on them. We can however understand the effects of Love and Reason.

Those who have Reasoned apart from Love have lead the world into many wars and much suffering.

Those like Ghandi and Mandela who matched Love with Reason accomplished much more than those who have lead us into war, without suffering.

It is history that suggests the concepts of Love and Reason when combined inspire change apart from suffering. If we are seeking to change the world we should apply the greatest proven ideology. Historically change only occurs appart from suffering when Love and Reason are working together.

This is what makes Love and Reason the highest ideologies. I am optimistic that Love and Reason can prevail once again. The math is in our favor.



What you call love and reason I call philosophy and science. Because what is philosophy ? It's the capacity to embrace the whole of mankind and even other life forms, and even the whole of the universe and to begin to think like if we were the things we embrace, it is truly empathy. Philosophy never fails to lead me to look at the big picture (because there is always one more parameter to add to the equation) and there cannot be a vision of the big picture without empathy, because looking at the big picture forces me to put myself in the shoes of others, it forces me to think about something else than myself. And ultimately, it leads to the old "don't do unto others what you don't want others to do unto you" adage because when I think as if I was them, I become them.

As for science/reason, it fills the holes that philosophy cannot fill. I am thinking more about the scientific method, using observation, deduction, producing a principle, then observing some more and deducing again and comparing etc.. To make sure that my subjectivity is not taking all the room.



posted on Jul, 6 2015 @ 05:17 AM
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originally posted by: OrdoAdChao
a reply to: gosseyn

I apologize for causing confusion with my terms. I am using terms like "moral" and "just" along with their negatives in the classic philosophical sense. I wasn't intending on bringing in cognitive science - a burgeoning and young field when compared to classical philosophy - mainly because it didn't cross my mind as cognition has very little to do with the question of meaning in the universe and if existence is moral and just in the classical idea of philosophy. As for a strict scientific approach, I agree that the results could not ever be attained for this argument, as with a lot of philosophical arguments, due to the fact that there is so much to prove scientifically before we could even pose the question of an objective meaning to existence.

It feels like you want to turn a purely philosophical debate into a hard science one with facts and figures and theories, which I suppose is fine, but not quite the topic of the thread. You're making great points from the scientific perspective, and I applaud the input as it is valid as any, however, that's a little beside the point of my OP.

I don't quite follow how my use of "wrong" should have been replaced with "incorrect" in regards to lying. I was pointing out that lying, in general, as per a human consensus, would probably be considered "wrong" and in the philosophical sense, "unjust" (Plato's Republic, et al.).

As to the subject of philosophical nihilism - which largely posits itself on an axiom of "no truth can be known" - I don't feel that any nihilistic argument would somehow deny the fact that god showed up and said "Here I am!", it would only care to point out that that isn't truth from their perspective, or really any philosophical perspective. What you suggest to be nihilism seems to me to be more of the definition of willful ignorance, which I've never read as being championed in any work considered "nihilistic" - but that could simply be my own ignorance as largely my nihilistic reading has been centered around the definition that "truth cannot be known".


Concerning "the other face of the coin", I was just pointing that in a universe where there is no apparent/obvious meaning, nihilism has no merit. Nihilism in a no-meaning-universe is just conformism. But I am guessing we have a different definition of nihilism here.

I am just looking at the big picture. For me, philosophy and science are closely linked. Philosophy without science leads to give random answers to random questions, and there is no way to ever be able to know if the answers are correct. When I say science, I am more talking about the scientific method which asks us to compare our theories to reality whenever it's possible. As for cognition, I was saying that if you talk about meaning, you cannot ignore that which permits us to detect meaning, so here is the big picture again.

As for lying, the concept of "lie" is closely linked to the concept of "truth" isn't it ? And the concept of "truth" is closely linked to concepts such as "true" and "false", "correctness" and "incorrectness". So, if someone believes in something that is not true, I prefer to call that belief "incorrect" rather than a "lie". Unless you're talking about something else than a "lie" : because a lie is something that is purposely deceitful. Can we really lie to ourselves - purposely deceiving ourselves with false knowledge - if we have no way to know what is true and what is false to begin with ?



posted on Jul, 6 2015 @ 11:18 PM
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a reply to: gosseyn

Like I said, they are self defining. Which is what makes us uniquely beautiful, so long as we hold to the law of do no harm to others.

Difference is good, debate brings out the best in mankind.




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