Nihilism is the philosophical belief that life and the universe have no meaning. In general, nihilists are considered to be wanton hedonists, since their life has no meaning, although classical Russian nihilism concerned itself primarily with trying to destroy pretty much everything. (Because nihilism here meant "everything old is bad, so it has to be torn down for the new way.") Things would start over ex nihilo-from nothing... supposedly.
For some reason, despite the number of atheistic philosophies that still find purpose and joy in life, many religious people consider nihilism the logical extension of atheism. This is despite the fact that the most eloquent expression of nihilism is actually found in a holy book:
- "Ve are nihilists. Ve care nuttink for your pain!"
Søren Kierkegaard was one of the first modern philosophers to discuss Nihilism. He posited a philosophy of nihilism known as levelling, -- a process of suppressing and removing individuality to such a point where an individual lacks the traits that make him unique. Without being an individual, life and one's very existence becomes void of any meaning. This philosophy is not the fully developed nihilism that was to come because Kierkegaard believed leveling created a life without meaning or value, but that life itself has inherent meaning and value, Modern nihilism, beginning with Nietzsche, would claim life has no inherent meaning period.
Perhaps the most recognized nihilist and the first philosopher people think of when nihilism is mentioned, is Friedrich Nietzsche. Nietzsche generally describes nihilism as "a condition of tension, as a disproportion between what we want to value (or need) and how the world appears to operate." Nietzsche, however, is mainly associated with the philosophical statement "God is dead", which holds that the Christian God is no longer a viable source of any moral principles, therefore leading to a rejection of an objective and universal moral law, with a lack of moral basis ultimately turning into nihilism. However he also states that with God out of the way, human creative abilities could fully blossom and without turning an eye toward a spiritual realm, humanity could begin to acknowledge the value of the world.
On an unrelated note, nihilism is the most metal of philosophies, being propounded by both Toki Wartooth and Skwisgaar Skwigelf. ANUS (American Nihilist Underground Society) is also one of the first heavy metal databases (founded back in 1987), who like to use big, complex words to daze the reader into believing they are accomplished intellectuals, as well as finding ways to draw correlations between nihilism and any metal band whatsoever.