Nihilism And The Postmodern In Vattimo's Nietzsche

Minerva 6:51-67 (2002)

Authors
Ashley Woodward
Dundee University
Abstract
A connection is often made between postmodernism and nihilism, but the full meaning of such a connection is rarelyexplored. The contemporary Italian philosopher Gianni Vattimo is one of the few philosophers to have devotedmuch work to explaining this connection. Vattimo extrapolates the relevance of Nietzsche’s theory of nihilism forthe postmodern condition, arguing that the concept of the postmodern can only be thought rigorously in relation tothe nihilistic destiny of the West. This article explores Vattimo’s postmodern reading of Nietzsche and argues thatthis reading helps to illuminate the connection between nihilism and the postmodern; the postmodern transformation of nihilism, which was originally a theory of the ails of modernity rather than of postmodernity; and why postmodernists may wish to affirm nihilism rather than take the accusation that postmodernism is nihilistic as a charge that must be refuted.
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