Created By: ilniaj on July 3, 2013 Last Edited By: ilniaj on July 19, 2013

Paradoxical Nihilist

Someone who believes that all of existence has an intrisic higher meaning but acts like a Straw Nihilist.

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The Paradoxical Nihilist believes that all of existence has a higher meaning. Despite (or perhaps because of it) they'll act in a highly nihilistic manner, claiming that the acts of pitiful mortals are all insignificant in comparison to the higher meaning of existence.

This kind of higher meaning can take many forms. If their idea of a higher meaning is religious in nature then they're a Fundamentalist. They may be a believer in fate and that it's impossible to fight it.

On the Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism this places rather oddly. A Paradoxical Nihilist will be highly idealistic in the sense that they think that things will get better when this higher meaning is achieved while at the same time will be highly cynical because they believe that any attempt to make things better by mortal efforts will always be doomed to failure.

Compare Straw Nihilist. Contrast the Anti-Nihilist.

Yes they exist in real life. There still shouldn't be real life examples.



  • The Big Bad from Sunshine (2007) uses this as an excuse to kill the astronauts going to recharge the dying sun.
    "We are dust, and to the dust, we shall return. It is not our place, to challenge God!"


  • The famous-within-the-fandom 'Death And Dust' speech from Stephen Colbert. Even stranger because the character is (usually) a die-hard Catholic. Shortly after the 2000 Florida recount, having decided that all the debate and argument is irrelevant and who's President doesn't even matter:
    Stephen: You see, nothing means anything. Mankind is just a random collection of self-replicating protoplasm, floating in a godless universe where the stars blindly run and however frantically we may try to deny it, all our efforts amount to nothing more than death... and dust.
    [long pause]
    Stephen: [cheerful] Oh, and I'm having a Christmas cocktail party...

Community Feedback Replies: 5
  • July 3, 2013
    Flannery O'Connor's "Good Country People" is about a Hollywood Atheist who thinks she can seduce and convert a bible salesman. The bible salesman turns out to be a Straw Nihilist who steals her prosthetic leg and leaves her paradoxically asking about higher concepts of fairness and justice.
  • July 4, 2013
    I kinda thing that we can't talk about real life for this for many kind of reasons.
  • July 4, 2013
    And if the initial example is a real life one, I smell a Licence To Whine.
  • July 8, 2013
    ^^ Okay. Fair enough.
  • July 19, 2013
    No responses despite this being two weeks old. I better discard it.