‘Strike out, right and left!’: a conceptual-historical analysis of 1860s Russian nihilism and its notion of negation

Studies in East European Thought 71 (2):73-97 (2019)
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Abstract

The aim of this essay is to synthesize as well as to analyze the conceptual evolution of 1860s Russian nihilism in general and its notion of negation in particular. The fictitious characters that traditionally have been informing the popular notion of “Russian nihilism” mainly refer to an antinihilistic genre. By analyzing nihilism also on the basis of primary sources, the antinihilistic notion of nihilism is nuanced, enabling a more comprehensive analysis of the movement’s different aspects. In some instances, Russian nihilism has been taken out of context and portrayed as a monolith; its pursuit of “negation” interpreted literally. In this essay, a dialectical relation emerges, between affirmation and negation on the one hand as well as between the nihilist “children” and their idealist “fathers” on the other. Despite its radical stance, nihilism consists of a reconciliation of opposites. Although nihilists fought for autonomy, revolution and a new society, the movement was ironically stuck in a continuous negation of its inspirers and forerunners.

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Phänomenologie des Geistes. Hegel & Georg Lasson - 1908 - Revue Philosophique de la France Et de l'Etranger 65:218-219.
Nikolaj?erny?evskij and Soviet philosophy.James P. Scanlan - 1967 - Studies in Soviet Thought 7 (1):1-27.
Nikolaj ěernyševskij and soviet philosophy.James P. Scanlan - 1967 - Studies in East European Thought 7 (1):1-27.

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