Antidote to Nihilism: The Nature of Human Beings

It is best not to have been born at all: but, if born, as quickly as possible to return whence one came.

Sophocles

What is the nature of human beings? It’s a very difficult question to answer in all its certainty but some base conclusions can be logically deduced from certain assumptions. These conclusions may not be anything new in any way but in some sense articulating it might be beneficial in understanding the proper way to act in the world.

Starting the above quote by Sophocles might be a new perspective to approaching the question. I am in partial agreement with the above quote, especially the first assumption. But there is no practical utility in thinking about it. So as to extract the most useful solution out of this question, let’s consider what human beings should do after being born. There are two cases to consider here: Either a person wants to suicide or doesn’t want to suicide. I’m going to move under the assumption that a person is reluctant to suicide because I do believe in legalizing euthanasia. What should you do if you don’t want to suicide?

An equivalent paraphrasing of the question would be: What is the proper way to act and navigate in this world? One thing that we can say with absolute certainty is the fact that one needs an aim in their life. Directly or indirectly, we always aim at something before taking any kind of action. Even a nihilist will have some indirect, inarticulate aims as long as he is alive. So we do need some kind of aim to function. Based on the necessity of aims in life, it’s better to map out some kind of aim rather than wandering around in life with an unclear view of the world.

How do we choose the aim then? I believe in the Nietzschean dictum of visualizing the highest possible goal you can conceptualize and aiming towards it. Part of the reason why this resonates with me is that I believe this is the greatest thing a person can achieve. Meditating on this can be one of the hardest things a person can do. To completely conceptualize this supreme aim, one has to push one’s imagination to its complete limits. While constructing this, one is essentially constructing a superior version of one’s own self.

To indulge in this process of self-creation is one of the noblest things a person can do. It takes immense courage to be authentic about what you want and moves towards it without fear. Above all, value authenticity. Becoming who one is can make you feel like a god and rightfully so. In the words of Nietzsche, “But, by my love and hope I entreat you: do not reject the hero in your soul! Keep holy your highest hope!”.


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