“Kierkegaard and Nietzsche: Despair and Nihilism Converge”

In Modernity – Unity in Diversity? Essays in Honour of Helge Høibraaten. Oslo, Norway: pp. 455-477, (2016)
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Abstract

This article investigates the convergence between Kierkegaard’s concept of despair and Nietzsche’s concept of nihilism. The piece argues that (1) both Kierkegaard and Nietzsche rely on an internal critique of ways of life which collapse on their own terms; (2) both despair and nihilism involve a radical, existential aporia and double-mindedness which can be (3) either conscious or non-conscious; (4) there is some overlap between the main types of nihilism and the different types of inauthentic (non-conscious) despair; (5) finally, a comparison with Nietzsche makes it possible to make sense of inauthentic despair without resorting to theological presuppositions or a twentieth century depth psychology notion of the unconscious.

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