These nihilism quotes offer insight into what a nihilist is (and is not) and what they believe.
What is “nihilism” and what kind of things do nihilists believe? Well, nihilism translates to “nothingism” and nihilists believe that life is meaningless and that there are no religious, moral, political, or societal bounds that should be followed. Many people in the world found comfort and happiness in those institutions.
So, does this mean that nihilists cannot be happy?
The answer is that, of course, they can be happy. Nihilism itself does not prevent happiness, it just means that a nihilist must seek their own happiness.
Many nihilists find happiness in love and indeed can feel the emotion. Nihilists focus on the human condition, which includes feelings like love and happiness (because of the chemical reactions in the brain), but without the restrictions of God, societal rule, and other outside factors.
True nihilists would believe in nothing and have no loyalty, but that doesn’t mean they do not acknowledge that these emotions exist because of brain chemistry. Keep reading these nihilism quotes to learn more.
Funny nihilism quotes that will make you laugh or question everything
1. “Nihilism is best done by professionals.” ― Iggy Pop
2. “Even nihilists put sugar in their coffee to make it more sweet.” ― Marty Rubin
3. “I am a superhero! I am the Nihilist! My superpowers include logical detachment, emotional invincibility, and the ability to blend in anywhere. I work alone and am never compromised by romantic entanglements, and I don’t have a costume because who the fuck cares?” ― Lianne Oelke
4. “Nihilism is a subject for comedy.” ― Marty Rubin
5. “Nihilism, there’s really nothing to it.” ― Dean Cavanagh
6. “Somethingism is better than nihilism.” ― Anthony Marais
7. “Nihilism in American comedy came along way before ‘The Simpsons.’ There was a fairly nihilistic point of view to ‘Saturday Night Live,’ for instance, back in the beginning, and a lot of really dark comedy had a really anti-sentimental take on life.” ― Matt Groening
8. “Unmitigated Blackness is coming to the realization that as fucked up and meaningless as it all is, sometimes it’s the nihilism that makes life worth living.” ― Paul Beatty
9. “My father has taught me not to succumb to nihilism, and my mother has taught me the value of hard work and determination.” ― Michael Tubbs
10. “Horror, almost better than any of the other genres, pits the will to live against the will toward nihilism. I just think that’s worth exploring. I don’t know what is more important, actually, to explore than that very dynamic.” ― Karyn Kusama
11. “This is what our essential being-in-the-world is—nihilistic annihilation.” ― Arvydas Šliogeris
Existential nihilism quotes about what it is, and what it is not
12. “Nihilism is a natural consequence of a culture (or civilization) ruled and regulated by categories that mask manipulation, mastery, and domination of peoples and nature.” ― Cornel West
13. “Nihilism is an honest evaluation of what a universe without God would look like. Nietzsche was right about that. Where he went wrong was in thinking this was true of the actual universe.” ― Jon Morrison
14. “Nihilism is but the other side of conventionalism; its creed consists of negations of the current so-called positive values, to which it remains bound.” ― Hannah Arendt
15. “Nihilism is… not only the belief that everything deserves to perish; but one actually puts one shoulder to the plow; one destroys.” ― Friedrich Nietzsche
If you’re enjoying these quotes, you’ll also love our collection of Friedrich Nietzsche quotes from the German philosopher, essayist, and cultural critic.
16. “The fundamental principle of Nihilism, properly so-called, was absolute individualism. It was the negation, in the name of individual liberty, of all the obligations imposed upon the individual by society, by family life, and by religion. Nihilism was a passionate and powerful reaction, not against political despotism, but against the moral despotism that weighs upon the private and inner life of the individual.” ― Stepniak Stepniak
17. “Like alcoholism and drug addiction, nihilism is a disease of the soul. It can never be completely cured, and there is always the possibility of relapse. But there is always a chance for conversion — a chance for people to believe that there is hope for the future and a meaning to struggle… Nihilism is not overcome by arguments or analyses; it is tamed by love and care.” ― Cornel West
18. “Nihilism has no substance. There is no such thing as nothingness, and zero does not exist. Everything is something. Nothing is nothing.” ― Victor Hugo
19. “Famously, there’s not really anywhere to go after nihilism. It’s not progressing toward anything, it’s a statement of outrage, however brilliant.” ― Alan Moore
20. “Nihilism, denying the significance of our actions, makes no sense. It is a self-fulfilling prophecy. If we believe that we are not going to make it, we will actually not do anything.”― Agustin Argelich
21. “Nihilism isn’t sustainable as a magic feather. I don’t want to be able to sleep at night because I don’t care about what’s happening tomorrow.” ― Liz Harris
Nihilism quotes about being a Nihilist
22. “I feel like an expressionist nihilist deep in my heart. And I think nihilism can stop the wheel from going around, around, around, around, around – saying the same thing, reacting the same way.” ― Tom Burke
23. “My grandfather was a practicing Quaker. My father was a nihilist. But nihilism, if you like, is the beginning of faith, anyway.” ― Sebastian Horsley
24. “Certainty is not to be had. But as we learn this, we become not more moral but more resigned. We become nihilists.” ― Allen Wheelis
25. “The nihilist sees avoid. I see everything that fills it.” ― Marty Rubin
26. “How obtuse these nihilists are! Because I will die someday, does that mean I shouldn’t enjoy my life now?” ― Marty Rubin
27. “Nihilists embrace life’s existence by the acceptance of nothingness.” ― Martijn Budel
28. “As a nihilist, I recognize that meaning does not exist. If we exterminate ourselves as a species and vaporize our beautiful world, the universe will not cry with us (a condition called the pathetic fallacy). No gods will intervene. It will just happen and then — and then the universe will go on. We will not be remembered. We will simply not be.” ― Vjay Prozak
29. “For me, the more I think about the problems of the world, I feel I have to be positive. I wouldn’t like to fall into cynicism or nihilism. That’s not in my nature.” ― Manu Chao
30. “I might be a nihilist except that I don’t believe in anything.” ― Mitchell Heisman
Nihilism quotes about humanity and meaning
31. “There’s nothing in the dreary, nihilistic, atheistic vision of scientific sophistry peddled by the likes of Sam Harris that could ever transform the human race. Humanity needs the right experts to lead it, not the wrong ones: not the charlatans, gurus and glory hunters.” ― Mike Hockney
32. “Though nihilism has been relentlessly criticized for overemphasizing the dark side of human experience, it might be equally true that this overemphasis represents a needed counterbalance to shallow optimism and arrogant confidence in human power. Nihilism reminds us that we are not gods and that despite all of the accomplishments and wonders of civilization, humans cannot alter the fact that they possess only a finite amount of mastery and control over their own destinies.” ― John Marmysz
33. “It’s time for the human race to escape the nihilism of scientism. It’s time for meaning, purpose, life, mind, and qualia to be restored to their rightful, primary, defining place. Amazingly, it’s mathematics that allows the universe to be a living organism once again rather than a dead machine.” ― Mike Hockney
34. “I believe that we are all, openly or secretly, struggling against one or another kind of nihilism.” ― Ellen Willis
35. “If you live today, you breathe in nihilism … it’s the gas you breathe. If I hadn’t had the Church to fight it with or to tell me the necessity of fighting it, I would be the stinkingest logical positivist you ever saw right now.” ― Flannery O’Connor
36. “The middle way is a view of life that avoids the extreme of misguided grasping born of believing there is something we can find, or buy, or cling to that will not change. And it avoids the despair and nihilism born from the mistaken belief that nothing matters, that all is meaningless.” ― Sharon Salzberg
37. “I think there is an element of nihilism about, but I don’t think most artists feel their work is meaningless.” ― Leonard Baskin
38. “Scientists are skeptics. It’s unfortunate that the word ‘skeptic’ has taken on other connotations in the culture involving nihilism and cynicism. Really, in its pure and original meaning, it’s just thoughtful inquiry.” ― Michael Shermer
39. “Nihilism brings us down to earth by forcing us to confront our puniness, our failures, and our finitude. It reminds us that we are not gods and thus helps to put us back into our appropriate place.” ― John Marmysz
40. “The philosophy that prepares a revolution and the sentiment that underpins the philosophy have, in every case the two pillars of nihilism and mysticism.” ― Yukio Mishima
41. “There were many slippery slopes to nihilism in this new world, and the higher up you were, the easier it was to fall down one of them.” ― Tom B. Night
42. “Some kind of philosophical mission, something that would push back, if only for a moment, against the inescapable nihilism of this place.” ― Marie Brennan
Nihilism quotes about government, society, and civilization
43. “In many ways, anti-anti-Trumpism mirrors Donald Trump himself because, at its core, there are no fixed values, no respect for constitutional government, or ideas of personal character ― only a free-floating nihilism cloaked in insult, mockery, and bombast.” ― Charlie Sykes
44. “Nearly half of the American population is eagerly anticipating the end of the world. This dewy-eyed nihilism provides absolutely no incentive to build a sustainable civilization. Many of these people are lunatics, but they are not the lunatic fringe.” ― Sam Harris
45. “I think you can get to a point where nihilism if that’s the right word, is overwhelming, and the basic laws that society has set up – either religious or social laws – become meaningless.” ― Bruce Springsteen
46. “Liberal capitalism is not at all the Good of humanity. Quite the contrary; it is the vehicle of savage, destructive nihilism.” ― Alain Badiou
47. “The modern mind is in complete disarray. Knowledge has stretched itself to the point where neither the world nor our intelligence can find any foot-hold. It is a fact that we are suffering from nihilism.” ― Albert Camus
48. “Our own civilization has lost its way, and this makes us even more vulnerable to Islamist nihilism.” ― Tom Tancredo
49. “Nihilism, intimately involved with a frustrated religious movement, thus culminates in terrorism. In the universe of total negation, these young disciples try, with bombs, and revolvers and also with the courage with which they walk to the gallows, to escape from contradiction and to create the values they lack.” ― Albert Camus
50. “In account after account of exorcisms, the demonic voices will propound nihilism of one variety or another.” ― J. R. R. Tolkien
What did you learn from these optimistic nihilism quotes?
Nihilism is a philosophy that is most often associated with Friedrich Nietzsche. Nietzsche argued that the harmful effects would erode all moral, religious, and metaphysical convictions. He referred to the erosion created by nihilism as ‘the greatest crisis in human history.’ However, he believed human beings could work through nihilism and chart a course that would correct human behavior.
There is a term called optimistic nihilism which argues that nihilism is not all doom and gloom followed by destruction. According to Louis Laves-Webb, “Optimistic nihilism views the belief that there is no underlying meaning to life from a perspective of hope. It’s not that we’re doomed to live in a meaningless universe–it’s that we get the chance to experience ourselves and the universe we share. The optimistic nihilist looks at a world lacking meaning and purpose and sees the opportunity to create their own.”
This belief can empower people because it means that we have the power to change our thoughts and experiences. For example, if you want to be “happier”, instead of praying for peace and things that will make you happy, try focusing more on self-care, making decisions that serve your interests, and spending time with those people who build you up.
What do you think of nihilism? Is there really nothing out there? Share your thoughts in the comment section below. Don’t forget to also mention any other nihilism quotes and sayings that you’d like to see included in this collection.
May 12, 2021 7:00 AM EST