What is Nihilism?
Nihilism is an existential philosophy in which someone believes that nothing matters. This extreme and total rejection of meaning necessitates nihilists to not believe in any higher power what-so-ever. In some cases, believing that nothing matters may liberate an individual because they may not feel bound by moral code or expectation. However, nihilism has gained the reputation of being a fatalist philosophy, as humans tend to value significance.
Nihilism can influence a number of facets of an individual’s life or lifestyle. For example, an intelligent student may not choose to attend college because they believe all life actions will resolve into the same basic feelings and not see the point of enduring difficult study for no real gain. However, it is also possible for an intelligent student to choose to attend college because they feel the difficult study will not effect them in a significant way and since nothing matters anyway they don’t see a problem with jumping through hoops or waking up for class. These examples should make it obvious that a nihilist can not be classified as such due to their actions but only due to the logic behind their actions.
What is Absurdism?
Absurdism is the existential belief that meaning can never be proven (thus the name in itself; individuals of this philosophy find a quest for justified meaning absurd). Therefore, an absurdist does not reject the idea of a higher power or even of a God from an organized religion. However, they think that proving such a higher power exists would be impossible and therefore attempts to do so are also useless. An absurdist may believe meaning cannot be proven for a multitude of reasons. In some cases, an absurdist believes that humans cannot comprehend cosmic significance. In other cases, an absurdist may believe reality is too subjective to define objective meaning.
Absurdism does not influence an individual in a specific way, either. On one hand, an absurdist may laugh at those trying to attain higher education because they think information is too subjective to mean anything. On the other hand, an absurdist may attend college and laugh at themselves for absorbing such subjective information as truth. Like the nihilist, an absurdist is not defined by their choices but by the reasoning behind their actions.
Differences Between Nihilists and Absurdists
An absurdist does not deny all meaning as a nihilist does. An absurdist merely believes a human can never determine meaning, and therefore all attempts to prove the opposite are a waste of time. This differs strongly with the belief of a nihilist; a nihilist thinks they know with complete certainty that nothing matters. However, both nihilists and absurdists believe trying to find meaning will always be fruitless.
The societies in which the majority of the human race live are largely based around meaning, thus a nihilist or absurdist, in rejecting meaning, may feel displaced or isolated. Furthermore, other people may not want to associate with someone who so radically denies the foundation of their belief system. However, an absurdist may better integrate with religious or significance-believing people, as they do not necessarily think these types of individuals are mistaken as a nihilist does. An absurdist merely believes there is a possibility these people are wasting their time but does not insist upon it with complete certainty.