It is unlikely that reality as such consist of a physical and mental world, rather what we consider to be the physical world is, in fact, a part of consciousness together with the mental. This means that what we consider to be matter is a property of consciousness and not vice versa, which makes sense since nobody has ever witnessed matter apart from consciousness (which we must consider to be real because we know ourselves to be made from it. Descartes famous statement “I think therefore I am” could be rewritten as, “I think therefore consciousness is real”, without making any assumptions what consciousness could be).
Objective reality is what our thinking, words, and logic, points at. Without an objective reality, there would be nothing true or false. Everything would break down into nonsense. Words wouldn’t mean anything. When I point to a cup and say to my guest, “this is a cup”, then my friend understand (understand meaning to ‘make sense’/’meaning’ out of something) the meaning behind my pointing and utterances, and we think it means that a real physical object in the shape of a cup is present in front of us. Without an objective reality, there wouldn’t be a cup and our conversation would be pointless.
If nihilism is true, then all moral statements would be neither true nor false. Any time anybody uttered a moral statement, it would be like talking about a cup that didn’t exist. Imagine pouring tea into a cup which isn’t there. If morality does not have an objective basis, then any statement about morality would be a meaningless fiction, and rape would be as good as feeding the poor. Murder would be as good as saving your friend from a drug addiction. Some people contend that we can still talk about morality and that morality would still be important, but that is fictitious talk, a reduction of the most important to mere emotions and opinion.
The nihilism that has swept over the Western World properly arose due to discoveries in science. The classical explanation is that man discovered that he was not at the center of things as was imagined in the Christian world view. Instead, he found that he was some inherently unimportant phenomenon just arising in a sort of meaningless universe that arose mainly to produce stars and planets and other more complex stuff, which I find is a strange explanation, because in my world consciousness comes before dead matter. But to the modern man hierarchy has been destroyed and all phenomenons are declared equally important.
We are beings which makes sense and meaning out of the world, and even though we might declare God to be dead, we still act as if He is alive. If morality is nonsense, we still act as if it is real. We are inherently moral beings, always judging our actions to be either good or evil. If nihilism is true, then this behavior would be like pouring tea into a cup that isn’t there but being totally convinced that there is a cup. Our moral judgments would be like hallucinations.
The classical view of an absolute morality, is best expressed by Platon through Socrates in one of his dialogues. The moral is not moral because the gods like it, but the gods like the good because it is good. This means that the good exists independently of the gods in what Plato called the Forms. If we assume that the good exists, then we at the same time make a hierarchical judgment and assume that good is inherently better than evil.
What if reality itself broke down and everything we are used to believe to be true turned out to be pure nonsense? What if the causes we think are constant, that is, never fail, are just random phenomena that are constant only because we believe them to be? What if C could follow from A instead of B? What if we literally made our own reality, meaning that it could be anything since none of it would be real. Then, quite literally, the meaning we experience in the world would fall apart. We would live, so to speak, in a state without a roof over our heads, and with no floor beneath us.
Scientific discoveries relies on experiments being proved true by constantly producing the same result. What if it were merely a trick by a god who preferes staying behind the scene, fooling humanity into believing they know something when they don’t? Meaning and common sense could break down at any time, revealing a radical different true state of things. The Hindus use the concept maya to describe the world, which translated would mean something like a magicians trick or spell.
Yet, even if that were the case, we would properly still act as if there were common sense meaning in the world. We would use our kettle to pour tea into a cup that isn’t there, but even if we understood intellectually that this was the case, we would still see tea pour into our cup.
And like the cup which is not there, you too would cease to exist.
What if the world were a meaningless form of madness and the true reality turned out to be God?