Passing Through the Disorienting Wilderness of Nihilism: Hope, Constructive Atheism and the Importance of Jamesian Meliorism (full draft version)

Wim Van Moer

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference paper

Abstract

Does New Atheism have anything more to offer than a mere negative criticism
of religion? Critics of this movement, such as John F. Haught, often propose
legitimate retorts. Atheism seems to offer little or no response to some pivotal
questions: What does the absence of God really mean? How to pass through the
disorienting wilderness of nihilism? How to avoid life numbing cynicism in a
contingent reality? Is all hope lost once we embrace atheism?
I will show how William James's ontological anarchism holds a strong
message for atheists who want to surpass the merely negative deconstruction of
religion and spread a message of hope. James's philosophy might contribute to a
constructive/positive atheism and offer hope and encouragement for those who try
to establish progress. The pragmatic perspective treats progress as possible, thus
avoiding utopian or dystopian teleological ends, while at the same time making the
possibility of progress and salvation depend on our own efforts, hence rejecting
cynicism and nihilism and therefore offering hope.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHope in All Directions
PublisherInter-Disciplinary.net
Pages1-5
Number of pages5
ISBN (Print)978-1-84888-259-1
Publication statusPublished - 5 Feb 2013
EventUnknown -
Duration: 5 Feb 2013 → …

Conference

ConferenceUnknown
Period5/02/13 → …

Keywords

  • Hope
  • Meliorism
  • Pragmatism
  • Ontological anarchism
  • William James
  • Pluralism
  • Atheism
  • Leo Apostel
  • Positive/constructive atheism

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