A book on ethics and philosophy of values

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

The classical subjectivism is not an anthropocentrism: in this theory, universe is deprived of all values, that is why it is a kind of nihilism, and man is the source of values; but as they are mere fictions and that man has not 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 in this case, man is creator of all values, and has this power, that is why it is also an anthropocentrism, in its second phase, which could be summed up as follows: “nothing has value, except man”, or even an egocentrism “nothing has value, except me”, if it is maintained that each individual gives value to what he wants.

So the creative subjectivism is, for its part, a consistent doctrine: as it includes two moments, it is reducible neither to a simple nihilism, nor to a simple anthropocentrism. In fact, this doctrine consists in an original combination of nihilism and anthropocentrism by the theory of the creation of values.
So it could have been accepted as a consistent axiological position -naturally, we cannot refute it by merely showing that this theory is pretentious, after our epoché of values- but we can reject it at once, because it is based on the impossible and meaningless idea of the gift of value.

As we have seen, it is impossible to give values: the only meaning that this expression can have, is that man considers that this or that thing has a value, which is quite different from the gift of values as defined in this theory.
Accordingly, subjectivism can be seen as a failure, either because it is not a consistent doctrine, either it is impossible.


f) Final remark about a new characteristic of nihilism

Our reflection enables us to answer a question that I have raised in my enquiry into the meaning of the concept of nihilism1: what practical behavior can the nihilist adopt?

Indeed, as he holds that nothing has value, it seems that he can choose no particular mode of action: he can neither commit suicide, nor be overwhelmed with sadness, nor resign himself, nor even be happy, since this would involve that he assigns a value to one of these behaviors.

Now the answer comes to us: the classical subjectivism, as a disguised form of nihilism, allows all behaviors: sadness, disappointment, but also joy, serenity. But we will always add: “everything is relative”!
In other words, the nihilist will be happy, but will always remind us that there is no reason for that. He could choose any behavior, provided that he says he could as well have chosen another quite different one. He is likely to enjoy the world, while recalling that world has no value at all.
If the world is deprived of value, the wise man can only enjoy himself. He will enjoy his own perfection, not that of the world – a relative and subjective perfection, of course.
To conclude, it is possible to be a nihilist and to attain happiness, at the same time; one can be a “happy nihilist” – one has just to hold that everything that makes one happy has no real value.

The time seems to have come for a summary of the main results of my enquiry – now I can try to answer the question “where to find the value of things?”.


1. Book II, I, B, 1