Mereological nihilism is the philosophical position that there are no items that have parts. If there are no items with parts then the only items that exist are partless fundamental particles, such as the true atoms (also called philosophical atoms) theorized to exist by some ancient philosophers, some contemporary physicists, and some contemporary philosophers. With several novel arguments I show that mereological nihilism is the correct theory of reality. I will also discuss strong similarities that mereological nihilism (...) has with empirical results in quantum physics. And I will discuss how mereological nihilism vindicates a few other theories, such as a very specific theory of philosophical atomism, which I will call quantum abstract atomism. I will show that mereological nihilism also is an interpretation of quantum mechanics that avoids the problems of other interpretations, such as the widely known, metaphysically generated, quantum paradoxes of quantum physics, which ironically are typically accepted as facts about reality. I will also show why it is very surprising that mereological nihilism is not a widely held theory, and not the premier theory in philosophy. (shrink)
(Version 2.4) I have argued elsewhere for ascribing an error theory about all normative and evaluative judgements to Nietzsche. Such a nihilism brings with it a puzzle: how could we—or at least the select few of us being addressed by Nietzsche—continue in the face of this nihilism? This is a philosophical puzzle and so, defeasibly, an interpretive puzzle. If there is no theory it would make sense for Nietzsche to have about how the select few could go on, (...) then this is some evidence against the proposed interpretation of him as a nihilist. I defended the interpretation by arguing that Nietzsche’s declarations about creating values point to a practice of generating honest evaluative illusions. Such honest evaluative illusions are tricky things, though, and, precisely because they are honest, one might worry that they lack the motivational power of genuine evaluative belief. Can they truly play the role that evaluative beliefs play in our psychological economies? I suspect that Nietzsche does not want the honest illusions to play exactly the role that evaluative beliefs played. The cheerfulness, the playfulness, the lightness that Nietzsche hopes for are, I have suggested, a function of the shift from belief to pretence, from illusion to honest illusion. The question, nonetheless, is whether the resulting picture is too light. Can I go through life merely acting, as a critic might put it? My suggestion in this essay will be that the thought of eternal recurrence is meant to add weight to the lightness of acting—“acting”, obviously, in both the here relevant senses of the word. (shrink)
For Nietzsche’s hypothesis of a threat of nihilism to be intelligible, this chapter attributes to him at least three assumptions that underpin his philosophical project: (1) what there is, is becoming (and not being), (2) most (if not all) strongly believe in being, and (3) nihilism is a function of the belief in being. This chapter argues that Nietzsche held two doctrines of becoming: one more radical, which he believes is required to fend off nihilism, and one (...) much more moderate—the ontology of relations he develops under the label ‘will to power’. Based on the latter he attempts (but ultimately fails) to develop an ‘adualistic’—neither monistic nor dualistic—practice of thought, a ‘simultaneity-thinking’ ("Zugleich-Denken") that would no longer be subject to nihilism. (shrink)
Nihilism, Nietzsche and the Doppelganger Problem Was Nietzsche a nihilist? Yes, because, like J. L. Mackie, he was an error-theorist about morality, including the elitist morality to which he himself subscribed. But he was variously a diagnostician, an opponent and a survivor of certain other kinds of nihilism. Schacht argues that Nietzsche cannot have been an error theorist, since meta-ethical nihilism is inconsistent with the moral commitment that Nietzsche displayed. Schacht’s exegetical argument parallels the substantive argument (advocated (...) in recent years by Wright and Blackburn) that Mackie’s error theory can’t be true because if it were, we would have to give up morality or give up moralizing. I answer this argument with a little bit of help from Nietzsche. I then pose a problem, the Doppelganger Problem, for the meta-ethical nihilism that I attribute to Mackie and Nietzsche. (If A is a moral proposition then not-A is a moral proposition: hence not all moral propositions can be false.) I solve the problem by reformulating the error theory and also deal with a variant of the problem, the Reinforced Doppelganger, glancing at a famous paper of Ronald Dworkin’s. Thus, whatever its demerits, the error theory, is not self-refuting, nor does it require us to give up morality. (shrink)
Bernard Reginster, in his book THE AFFIRMATION OF LIFE: NIETZSCHE ON OVERCOMING NIHILISM, takes up the challenge of figuring out what Nietzsche might mean by nihilism and the revaluation of values. He argues that there is an alternative, normative subjectivist interpretation of Nietzsche's views on nihilism and revaluation that makes as much sense as—indeed, he often clearly leans toward thinking that it makes more sense than—a fictionalist reading of Nietzsche. I argue that his arguments do not succeed. (...) Once we have looked carefully at the details of the positions and the arguments ascribed to Nietzsche, the fictionalist option is the more charitable interpretation of the texts. I focus on the metaethical issues that play a central role for Reginster in his articulation of Nietzsche's nihilism and Nietzsche's strategy for overcoming nihilism. (shrink)
In the twentieth century, we often think of Nietzsche, nihilism, and the death of God as inextricably connected. But, in this pathbreaking work, Michael Gillespie argues that Nietzsche, in fact, misunderstood nihilism, and that his misunderstanding has misled nearly all succeeding thought about the subject. Reconstructing nihilism's intellectual and spiritual origins before it was given its determinitive definition by Nietzsche, Gillespie focuses on the crucial turning points in the development of nihilism, from Ockham and the nominalist (...) revolution to Descartes, Fichte, the German Romantics, the Russian nihilists and Nietzsche himself. His analysis shows that nihilism is not the result of the death of God, as Nietzsche believed but the consequence of a new idea of God as a God of will who overturns all eternal standards of truth and justice. To understand nihilism, one has to understand how this notion of God came to inform a new notion of man and nature, one that puts will in place of reason, and freedom in place of necessity and order. (shrink)
In 2002, a remake of the 1975 film Rollerball was released in theaters. It flopped at the box-office, disappearing quickly from movie screens and reappearing shortly thereafter on home video. While aesthetically horrendous, the remake of Rollerball is instructive, as it provides a point of contrast to the original film, highlighting a change in our culture’s manner of engagement with the difficult philosophical problem of nihilism. Both films share a roughly similar plot, yet in the differing manners that they (...) explore and develop that plot, we can glimpse two separate ways in which nihilism may be discovered, confronted and dealt with. (shrink)
Mereological nihilism is the thesis that there are no composite objects—i.e. objects with proper material parts. One of the main advantages of mereological nihilism is that it allows its supporters to avoid a number of notorious philosophical puzzles. However, it seems to offer this advantage only at the expense of certain widespread and deeply entrenched beliefs. In particular, it is usually assumed that mereological nihilism entails eliminativism about ordinary objects—i.e. the counterintuitive thesis that there are no such (...) things as tables, apples, cats, and the like. In this paper, I argue that this assumption is false—mereological nihilists do not need to be eliminativists about tables, apples, or cats. Non-eliminativist nihilists claim that all it takes for there to be a cat is that there are simples arranged cat-wise. More specifically, non-eliminative nihilists argue that expressions such as ‘the cat’ in sentences such as ‘The cat is on the mat’ do not refer to composite objects but only to simples arranged cat-wise and compare this metaphysical discovery to the scientific discovery that ‘water’ refers to dihydrogen oxide. Non-eliminative nihilism, I argue, is not only a coherent position, but it is preferable to its more popular, eliminativist counterpart, as it enjoys the key benefits of nihilism without incurring the prohibitive costs of eliminativism. Moreover, unlike conciliatory strategies adopted by eliminative nihilists, non-eliminative nihilism allow its supporters to account not only for how we can assert something true by saying ‘The cat is on the mat’ but also for how we can believe something true by believing that the cat is on the mat. (shrink)
Camus published an essay entitled ‘Nietzsche and Nihilism,’ which was later incorporated into The Rebel . Camus' aim was to assess Nietzsche's response to the problem of nihilism. My aim is to do the same with Camus. The paper explores Camus' engagement with nihilism through its two major modalities: with respect to the individual and the question of suicide in The Myth of Sisyphus , and with respect to the collective and the question of murder in The (...) Rebel . While a Nietzschean influence thoroughly suffuses both books, it is in the second that Camus' most explicit, and most critical, engagement with the German philosopher takes place. The crux of Camus' critique of Nietzsche is that the absolute affirmation of existence he proposes as a response to nihilism cannot say ‘no’ to murder. In the terms of Camus' discussion in The Rebel , Nietzsche's philosophy is thus culpable in the straying of rebellion from its own foundations and its slide into bloody revolution. First, the paper argues that Camus' criticisms of Nietzsche are misplaced. Camus focuses his analysis on sections of the problematic text The Will to Power and misses important sections of Nietzsche's published texts which in fact support the condemnation of revolution which is the project of The Rebel . However, the paper argues that Camus moves beyond Nietzsche in radically democratizing the response to nihilism. While Nietzsche's hopes for the creation of meaning are focused on exceptional individuals, Camus insists that any response to nihilism needs to be accessible to the average person. Such a move is laudable, but it raises a number of questions and challenges regarding the type of problem nihilism is, and how these might be addressed. (shrink)
This paper addresses the most fundamental question in metaphysics, Why is there something rather than nothing? The question is framed as a question about concrete entities, Why does a possible world containing concrete entities obtain rather than one containing no concrete entities? Traditional answers are in terms of there necessarily being some concrete entities, and include the possibility of a necessary being. But such answers are threatened by metaphysical nihilism, the thesis that there being nothing concrete is possible, and (...) the subtraction argument for this thesis, an argument that is the subject of considerable recent debate. I summarize and extend the debate about the argument, and answer the threat it poses, turning the tables on it to show how the subtraction argument supports a cosmological argument for a necessary being. (shrink)
Nihilism is the logic of nothing as something, which claims that Nothing Is. Its unmaking of things, and its forming of formless things, strain the fundamental terms of existence: what it is to be, to know, to be known. But nihilism, the antithesis of God, is also like theology. Where nihilism creates nothingness, condenses it to substance, God also makes nothingness creative. Negotiating the borders of spirit and substance, theology can ask the questions of nihilism that (...) other disciplines do not ask: Where is it? What is it made of? Why is it so destructive? How can it be made holy, or overcome? Genealogy of Nihilism rereads Western history in the light of nihilistic logic, which pervades two millennia of Western thought and is coming to fruition in our present age in a virulently dangerous manner. From Parmenides to Alain Badiou, via Plotinus, Avicenna, Duns Scotus, Ockham, Descartes, Spinoza, Kant, Hegel, Heidegger, Sartre, Lacan, Deleuze and Derrida, a genealogy of nothingness can be witnessed in development, with devastating consequences for the way we live. Conor Cunningham's elaborate and sophisticated theology, spanning the disciplines of philosophy, science and popular culture, permits us to see not simply how modernity has formulated its philosophies of nothing, but how these philosophies might be transfigures by the crucial difference theology makes, and so be reconcilable with life and the living - with the very gift which being is. (shrink)
Morrison offers an illuminating study of two linked traditions that have figured prominently in twentieth-century thought: Buddhism and the philosophy of Nietzsche. Nietzsche admired Buddhism, but saw it as a dangerously nihilistic religion; he forged his own affirmative philosophy in reaction against the nihilism that he feared would overwhelm Europe. Morrison shows that Nietzsche's influential view of Buddhism was mistaken, and that far from being nihilistic, it has notable and perhaps surprising affinities with Nietzsche's own project of the transvaluation (...) of all values. (shrink)
Disputing the common misconception that nihilism is wholly negative and necessarily damaging to the human spirit, John Marmysz offers a clear and complete definition to argue that it is compatible, and indeed preferably responded to, with an attitude of good humor. He carefully scrutinizes the phenomenon of nihilism as it appears in the works, lives, and actions of key figures in the history of philosophy, literature, politics, and theology, including Nietzsche, Heidegger, Camus, and Mishima. While suggesting that there (...) ultimately is no solution to the problem of nihilism, Marmysz proposes a way of utilizing the anxiety and despair that is associated with the problem as a spur toward liveliness, activity, and the celebration of life. (shrink)
I believe in metaphysical nihilism, the thesis that there could have been no concrete objects, because I believe in a version of the subtraction argument, the subtraction argument*, that proves it. But both Jonathan Lowe (2002) and Alexander Paseau (2002) express doubts about the subtraction argument*. Paseau thinks the argument is invalid, and Lowe argues that invoking concrete* objects is unnecessary. Furthermore Lowe attempts to rebut my objections (Rodriguez-Pereyra 2000) to his anti-nihilist argument (Lowe 1998). In this paper I (...) defend the subtraction argument* from Paseau's and Lowe's criticisms as well as show that the premises of Lowe's anti-nihilist argument are still lacking support. (shrink)
A connection is often made between postmodernism and nihilism, but the full meaning of such a connection is rarely explored. The contemporary Italian philosopher Gianni Vattimo is one of the few philosophers to have devoted much work to explaining this connection. Vattimo extrapolates the relevance of Nietzsche’s theory of nihilism for the postmodern condition, arguing that the concept of the postmodern can only be thought rigorously in relation to the nihilistic destiny of the West. This article explores Vattimo’s (...) postmodern reading of Nietzsche and argues that this reading helps to illuminate (1) the connection between nihilism and the postmodern; (2) the postmodern transformation of nihilism, which was originally a theory of the ails of modernity rather than of postmodernity; and (3) why postmodernists may wish to affirm nihilism rather than take the accusation that postmodernism is nihilistic as a charge that must be refuted. (shrink)
This paper addresses the problem of reflexivity in modern social inquiry in general and in sociology in particular. This problem is inherited from Weber''s very conception of sociology, is transformed by phenomenology and ethnomethodology, deepened by the linguistic turn of hermeneutics and Wittgenstein''s later philosophy, and has been the central concern of the work of Alan Blum and Peter McHugh. The issues and spectres raised by reflexivity are methodological arbitrariness, the need to take responsibility for one''s own talk (and the (...) cultural assumptions embedded in talk) and, finally, the deep fear of nihilism – the sense that with regard to inquiry (along with everything else in the world) nothing matters. As such, reflexivity raises the most fundamental issue that can be raised for modern social inquiry. Through an oriented interpretation of the work of Blum and McHugh and other contemporary social theorists (particularly Gadamer and Arendt), this paper works through what a dialectical engagement with these issues look like. (shrink)
Ted Sider argues that nihilism about objects is incompatible with the metaphysical possibility of gunk and takes this point to show that nihilism is flawed. I shall describe one kind of nihilism able to answer this objection. I believe that most of the things we usually encounter do not exist. That is, I take talk of macroscopic objects and macroscopic properties to refer to sets of fundamental properties, which are invoked as a matter of linguistic convention. This (...) view is a kind of nihilism: it rules out the existence of objects; that is, from an ontological point of view, there are no objects. But unlike the moderate nihilism of Mark Heller, Peter van Inwagen and Trenton Merricks that claims that most objects do not exist, I endorse a radical nihilism according to which there are no objects in the world, but only properties instantiated in spacetime. As I will show, radical nihilism is perfectly compatible with the metaphysical possibility of gunk. It is also compatible with the epistemic possibility that we actually live in a gunk world. The objection raised by Ted Sider only applies to moderate nihilism that admits some objects in its ontology. (shrink)
The central questions raised by Allan Bloom's The Closing of theAmerican Mind are often overlooked. Among the most important ofBloom's themes is the impact of nihilism upon education. Bloom condemnsnihilism. Interestingly, we find among his critics two alternativejudgments. Richard Schacht, citing Nietzsche, asserts that nihilism,while fruitless in and of itself, is a necessary prerequisite tosomething higher. Harry Neumann, affirming the accuracy of nihilism,declares that both Bloom and Nietzsche reject nihilism out of ignoranceborn of weakness. All three (...) philosophers understand that the purpose ofeducation emerges from one's position on nihilism. If nihilism is true,then it is senseless and cowardly to teach one's students that there aregrounds for moral judgments. On the other hand, if one believes thatthere is an objective higher and lower in moral matters, then one cannotat the same time consistently endorse nihilism or the atheism upon whichit rests. There is reason to believe that a consistent nihilism isimpossible and hence that the concept is bankrupt. But then something istrue, and there are grounds for moral judgment. Education must respondaccordingly. But even Bloom with his emphasis on the Great Books fallsshort of what is required. An education which aims to defeat nihilismmust, at the very least, hold out the promise that through thecultivation of reason one may indeed arrive at the truth. (shrink)
I argue that mereological nihilism fails because it cannot answer (what I describe as) the special arrangement question: when is it true that the xs (the mereological simples) are arranged F-wise? I suggest that the answers given in the literature fail and that the obvious responses that could be made look to undermine the motivations for adopting nihilism in the first place.
Is the youth culture, or more precisely aparticular kind of it, to be characterized as nihilistic ? And is this a threat or ablessing for education? To deal with this nihilism is first characterized generally andfollowing particular attention is paid toNietzsche's own version and revaluation ofvalues. Then Foucault's concept of life as awork of art is brought to the forefront as aparticular manner to give shape to one's life.It is argued that some of the more popularforms of pleasure nowadays (...) may contrarily towhat is generally believed, be reminiscent of arevaluation thus to overcome nihilism.Implications for education include for theeducator to realize the unavoidability to offerherself as who she is, furthermore to be fullyaware of the fact that many boundaries in theeducational process are arbitrary, and last butnot least the acceptance of the need to createthe room for the child to develop an image ofherself which she can live with. (shrink)
This paper is a philosophical analysis ofHeidegger and Nietzsche's approach tometaphysics and the associated problem ofnihilism. Heidegger sums up the history ofWestern metaphysics in a way which challengescommon sense approaches to values education.Through close attention to language, Heideggerargues that Nietzsche inverts thePlatonic-Christian tradition but retains theanthropocentric imposition of âvaluesâ. Ihave used Nietzsche's theory to suggest aslightly different definition of metaphysicsand nihilism which draws attention to theontological parameters of human truths as astruggle between competing sets of conflictingor contradictory values (perspectives) (...) thatopens space for rethinking and re-educatinghuman possibilities. How this openness willshow up in educational theory and practice isonly beginning to be evoked. The twophilosophers indicate an approach to issues ofmorality, decision making and knowledgeproduction which may surprise and disconcerttraditional views. As the forefathers ofpost-structuralist thinking, Nietzsche andHeidegger offer a critique of Humanism whileretaining the Renaissance tradition ofpositioning education as the well spring ofvalues in society. It is through the generationof new knowledges, the development of critiqueand the nurturing of character that societyreformulates itself in relation to the earth.The ethical evaluation of these new forms ofknowledge is crucial to the creative and caringregeneration of the human environment, asopposed to the corrosive adoption ofconsumerism and usury. (shrink)
This paper critically examines Deleuze’s treatment of the Nietzschean problem of nihilism. Of all the major figures in contemporary continental thought, Deleuze is at once one of the most luminous, and practically a lone voice in suggesting that nihilism may successfully be overcome. Whether or not he is correct on this point is thus a commanding question in relation to our understanding of the issue. Many commentators on Nietzsche have argued that his project of overcoming nihilism is (...) destined to failure because of the affinity between the problem of nihilism and the logic of negation. While Nietzsche wants an absolute affirmation of life, Spinoza’s principle that “all determination is negation,” as well as Hegel’s dialectical conception of negation, suggest that affirmation free of negation is not possible. However, some commentators indicate that Deleuze successfully shows how overcoming nihilism is possible because his “logic of difference” allows for an affirmation which is not dialectically reappropriated by negation. This paper argues that beyond such logical considerations, there are metaphysical and existential reasons why Deleuze’s interpretation of nihilism fails to show that it can be overcome. For Deleuze, the overcoming of nihilism hinges not just on a logic of difference, but on a radical interpretation of Nietzsche’s doctrine of eternal return as “selective being.” Drawing on recent scholarship and on Nietzsche’s own writings I argue that this is not a tenable interpretation, and also, more importantly, that the metaphysical and existential implications of this understanding of eternal return reinstate nihilism at the very point where it is supposedly overcome. Moreover, I argue that there are attendant ethical and political dangers to Deleuze’s position on nihilism. (shrink)
The article addresses the ‘messianic turn’ in contemporary continental philosophy, focusing on the concept of the katechon as the restraining force that delays the advent of the Antichrist in the Second Letter to the Thessalonians. While Carl Schmitt held the passage on the katechon to ground the Christian doctrine of state power, Giorgio Agamben’s reading of Pauline messianism rather posits the ‘removal’ of the katechon as the pathway for messianic redemption. In our argument, the significance of this text goes beyond (...) the persistence of a vestige of the theological in modern politics. On the contrary, the logic of the katechon only comes into its own under modern nihilism as the resolution of the problem of social order in the absence of the eschatological dimension. The article focuses on the lethal paradox of the logic of the katechon, whereby the function of protection and restraint is converted into violence and anomie, and global political order becomes indistinguishable from global civil war. We conclude by outlining the conditions for suspending the katechonic function in a critical engagement with Agamben’s messianic politics. (shrink)
Heidegger’s critique of European nihilism seeks to expose self-legislation as the governing principle of central manifestations of modernity such as science, technology, and the interpretation of art as aesthetics. Need we accept the conclusion that modern constitutional democracies are intrinsically nihilistic, insofar as they give political and legal form to the principle of collective self-legislation? An answer to this question turns on the concept of power implied in constituent and constituted power. A confrontation of the genealogies of modern subjectivity (...) proposed by Heidegger and Blumenberg suggests that there is indeed a metaphysical core to the concept of constituent power developed by various political theorists, including Schmitt and Habermas. By contrast, closer consideration of the paradoxical relation between constituent and constituted power illuminates the ambiguity of collective self-legislation, which means both enactment of a legal order by a collective self and the enactment of a collective self by a legal order. To the extent that constitutional democracies are a way of preserving rather than dissolving this ambiguity, they imply an interpretation of power and human finitude that parries the charge of nihilism. (shrink)
I show how scientism leads to deconstruction and both, in turn, lead to nihilism. Nihilism constitutes a denial both of the existence of fallacious moral reasoning and the existence of a moral dimension to fallacious reasoning. I argue against all of these positions by maintaining that (1) there is a pre-theoretical framework of norms within which technical thinking function, (2) the pre-theoretical framework cannot itself be technically conceptualized, and (3) the explication of this framework permits us to identify (...) both fallacies of moral reasoning and the immorality of fallacious reasoning. (shrink)
This paper argues the Lyotard's The Postmodern Condition is to be interpreted as a response to nihilism, especially in relation to the question of the legitimation of knowledge and the so-called crisis of narratives, and that, therefore, it provides an appropriate response to the question of nihilism in educational philosophy. The paper begins with a discussion of Nietzsche's and Heidegger's views of nihilism as a prolegomenon to Lyotard's views concerning European nihilism and the end of grand (...) narratives. These are important sources for a philosophical reception of the problem and the context in which Lyotard formulates his response and the immediate sources against that conditions Lyotard's response. The problem of nihilism raises its head in education in a double way: in relation to both the foundation of knowledge and the problem of its legitimation (The Postmodern Condition) and the problem of values (The Differend). (shrink)
The presentation of nihilism as a phenomenon integrated in the category of illnesses is very common in the scientific literature. This paper is centered on the fact that nihilism is a major disease of the axiological conscience, an illness that can be diagnosed and treated by the philosopher like a ‘physician of culture’.
This volume aims to inspire a return to the energetics of Nietzsche's prose and the critical intensity of his approach to nihilism. For too long contemporary thought has been dominated by a depressed "what is to be done?" All is regarded to be in vain, nothing is deemed real, there is nothing new seen under the sun. Such a "postmodern" lament is easily confounded with an apathetic reluctance to think engagedly. Hence the contributors here draw on a variety of (...) issues--the future of life, the nature of life-forms, the techno-sciences, the body, religions--as a way of tackling the question of nihilism's pertinence to us now. (shrink)
Machine generated contents note: Introduction -- Possible Worlds -- The Subtraction Argument -- The Metaphysics of Subtraction -- World and Object -- Metaphysical Nihilism -- Anti-nihilism -- Conclusion -- Index.
Nihilism, American style -- The quest for evil -- The negative zone : suburban familial malaise in American beauty, Revolutionary road, and Mad men -- Normal nihilism as comic : Seinfeld, Trainspotting, and Pulp fiction -- Romanticism and nihilism -- Defense against the dark arts : from Se7en to the Dark knight and Harry Potter -- God got involved : sacred quests and overcoming nihilism -- Feels like the movies.
In contemporary analytic philosophy, metaphysical nihilism is the thesis according to which there might be nothing, i.e. a possible world with no concrete objects in it, but that can contain (or must contain) abstract objects. After summarizing the set of premises from which the analytic metaphysics deals with nothing, I propose a set of premises that could be fit to continental metaphysics. Then I propose a new set of premises for the question of nothing that derives from a synthesis (...) of the two above mentioned sets. By means of this new set, I try to show that nothing as a possible world with no objects at all is not a self-contradictory entity and I propose an argument for proving that the empty possible world exists. (shrink)
In the summer of 1914, Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated in Sarajevo, an event which led to the horror of World War I and which many historians suggest marked the beginning of the twentieth century. In 1992, Sarajevo again lurched into prominence as the focal point of one of the century’s bloodiest civil wars. Yet Sarajevo at one point epitomized the dreams of the Enlightenment, a city where Christians, Jews, and Muslims peacefully coexisted. In the midst of Sarajevo’s recent decline (...) into chaos and destruction, Susan Sontag decided to produce Act I of Waiting for Godot, which, despite ever-looming danger, played to packed houses. Why? Why did this city of hope lie crushed at the end of the twentieth century? Why did Sontag stage an artistic production in the middle of such overwhelming tragedy? Why Waiting for Godot ? And, most important, why the appreciative, silent tears of audience members who risked their lives to attend a play in the middle of a war?These are the questions that guide David Toole’s theological reflections in Waiting for Godot in Sarajevo, where he seeks to come to terms with what it means to live a life of dignity in a world of undeniable suffering. Toole skillfully weaves together Friedrich Nietzsche’s views on nihilism with Michel Foucault’s analysis of power to produce a metaphysics of tragedy, or a “politics of dying.” Such politics are then used to shed new theological light on the Christian apocalypse and what it means to be alive at the end of the twentieth century. In making his argument, Toole draws innovative connections between such diverse figures as John Milbank, Alasdair MacIntyre, Euripides, John Howard Yoder, and Norman Maclean (author of A River Runs Through It and Young Men and Fire ), all the while using Beckett’s play as a compass for his direction. The end result is a fascinating, eminently readable, unexpectedly adventurous theological inquiry into the meaning of life. (shrink)
Gianni Vattimo reexamines the roots of modernism and postmodernism in Nietzsche, Benjamin, and Heidegger. Exploring the links between concepts of nihilism and destiny in nineteenth-century humanism, Vattimo follows these trends in aesthetic and scientific theory from Benjamin to Bloch, Ricoeur, and Kuhn.
Absolute devaluation : Friedrich Nietzsche -- Homelessness : Martin Heidegger -- Fatal positivities : Theodor Adorno -- The naive calculation of the negative : Maurice Blanchot -- Bad violence : Jacques Derrida -- The fracture : Giorgio Agamben -- Distortions, or, Nihilism against itself : Gianni Vattimo -- The denial of (Greek) thought : Alain Badiou.
Nihilism in Postmodernity is an exploration of the nature of the problem of meaninglessness in the contemporary world through the philosophical traditions of nihilism and postmodernism. The author traces the advent of modern nihilism in the works of Nietzsche, Sartre, and Heidegger, before detailing the postmodern transformation of nihilism in the works of three major postmodern thinkers: Lyotard, Baudrillard, and Vattimo. He presents a qualified defense of their positions, arguing that while there is much under-appreciated value (...) in their responses to nihilism, they fail to address adequately the problem of contingency in contemporary life. Drawing on the critical encounters with nihilism in both existentialist and postmodern traditions, the author concludes by staking out future directions for combating meaninglessness. (shrink)
Upon its release in 1968, George Romero's Night of the Living Dead was attacked by many critics as an exploitative low budget film of questionable moral value. I argue in this paper that Night of the Living Dead is indeed nihilistic, but in a deeper philosophical sense than the critics had in mind.
This is a lively and engaging introduction to the contentious topic of Nietzsche's political thought. It traces the development of Nietzsche's thinking on politics from his earliest writings to the mature work in which he advocates aristocratic radicalism as opposed to 'petty' European nationalism. The key ideas of the will to power, eternal return and the overman are discussed and all Nietzsche's major works analysed in detail, such as Beyond Good and Evil and The Genealogy of Morals, within the context (...) of the concerns of modern political theory. The book concludes with an assessment of Nietzsche's enduring relevance and of the insights afforded by contemporary liberal and feminist readings. This textbook will be essential for all students of Nietzsche and of the history of political ideas. It includes a chronology of Nietzsche's life and works and a guide to further reading. (shrink)
Finding inspiration in Heidegger's lament, "In what soil do the roots of (Descartes's) tree of philosophy find their support?" (and not allowing that the tree might be hydroponic), Steiner proceeds to ground the "concrete content and absolute authority" of Descartes's moral principles in his Christian faith (13). Caught between the two, Descartes's thinking is pulled in opposing directions, towards the "earthly ethos" and its twin ideals of technological mastery over nature and the autonomy of reason, and the "angelic ideal"-a transcendent (...) ideal according to which truth and goodness are conceived sub specie aeternitatis as a gift from God. (shrink)