A book on ethics and philosophy of values

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e/ Is subjectivism a consistent doctrine in each of its two forms?

Classical subjectivism is not anthropocentrism: it empties the universe of all value, which is why it is nihilistic, and makes man the seat of these values; but since they are fictitious and it does not confer on man the power to give them to the world, there is no real anthropocentrism.

Likewise, the creative subjectivism, emptying universe of all values, is a nihilism. But it makes man the creator of all value, gives him this power, which is why its nihilism is transmuted in a second stage into an anthropocentrism, which could be defined as follows: "Nothing has value except man" or even an egocentrism ("Nothing has value except me"), if we maintain that it is each individual who gives value to what he wants.

Creative subjectivism is therefore a consistent doctrine; insofar as it comprises two moments, it cannot be reduced either to simple nihilism or to simple anthropocentrism. In fact, it consists of the original articulation of nihilism and anthropocentrism through the theory of the creation of values.
We could therefore have accepted it as an axiological position that is tenable, since it is consistent (obviously it is not because it would demonstrate an inordinate or unsympathetic pride that we would have to reject it, since this would contradict our epoché of values), but we can reject it out of hand, because it is based on the impossible and meaningless phenomenon of the donation of values.

As we have seen, it is impossible to donate values; the only meaning this expression can have is that man considers that this or that thing has a value, which is quite different from the donation of values as this doctrine understands it.
Subjectivism therefore appears to be a failure, either because it is not a consistent doctrine, or because it is impossible.


f) Final remark about a new characteristic of nihilism

Our reflection has perhaps enabled us to answer a question we raised in our search for the meaning of the concept of nihilism 1: what practical behaviour can the nihilist adopt? Since he claims that nothing has value, it seems that he cannot choose any particular mode of action: he cannot commit suicide, nor be overwhelmed by sadness, nor resign himself and suffer, nor even be happy, since this would imply that he places a value on any of these behaviours, if he chose to do so. The answer is now clear: classical subjectivism, as a disguised form of nihilism, in fact authorises all kinds of behaviour: sadness, disappointment, but also joy and serenity. But we always add: "everything is relative"!
In other words, the nihilist can be happy, but will always point out that there is no reason for it. He can choose any attitude he likes, as long as he says he could have chosen to behave in a completely different way. He can "take pleasure in the world", while pointing out that world has no value at all.

If the world is devoid of value, the gaze turns inward, and the wise man can only enjoy himself. It is not the perfection of the world that the wise man will enjoy, but his own - relative and subjective perfection, that is.
So you can be a nihilist and still be happy, you can be a "happy nihilist"; all you have to do is say that everything that gives you happiness has no real value.

The time has come to summarise the main findings of our survey, and to try to answer the question "Where do we look for value?"


1. Book II, I, B, 1