Humans live in dual worlds: an inner world and an outer.
The inner world contains a model of the outer world, and allows us to understand it, but can also obliterate reality if our own thoughts or those of other humans over-write the reality-based information.
The outer world contains a model of the inner world, as seen by others, and can be used to manipulate that inner world. This manipulation feels like inner thought, but represents a surrender of moral and intellectual agency to the appearance of our selves to others.
Nihilism is a form of extreme realism with a twist: its goal is the purging of the false inner world, which is actually the outer, and the restoration of the inner as a means of discovery of truth in coordination with external experience. It is denial of human impulses by subordinating them to reality.
Why might this be useful? you might ask. It is the only path toward truth, because only through joining intuition and intellect can we discern the patterns of reality and therefore, what is likely to be true. Without that, we are dependent on material proof of details, and the conclusions we draw from those will be based on those details in isolation and miss the bigger picture.
What is nihilism like? Here, let a grieving woman tell you:
After what seemed like an eternity, the police officers told me plainly, “Aletha is dead.” What followed that stark statement was a sudden moment of lucidity in which only one thing mattered: the truth.
I had to be honest. I had to tell the truth.
That sudden moment of lucidity is nihilism. Ideas have consequences. Illusions are ideas. Act produce results. We are responsible for the consequences of our acts. We have a duty to find out what is true so that our acts turn out well, or at least as we have intended.
Most human activity is designed to promote a myth that human feelings, thoughts and judgments (moralizations) are more important than results in reality. That way, if you wanted an A on the test but got a C instead, you can say, “Oh well, at least I’m more interesting/moral/sexy/friendly than the people who got As.”
This leads to illusion, because the goal is replaced by sour grapes, a scapegoat, a superstition or some other mental pitfall. With goal replacement, purpose is lost, and people become dependent on external worlds for guidance, since they have sabotaged their inner worlds.
Nihilism is beautiful.