Nihilism a philosophical essay

Origins "Nihilism" comes from the Latin nihil, or nothing, which means not anything, that which does not exist. It appears in the verb "annihilate," meaning to bring to nothing, to destroy completely. Early in the nineteenth century, Friedrich Jacobi used the word to negatively characterize transcendental idealism. It only became popularized, however, after its appearance in Ivan Turgenev's novel Fathers and Sons where he used "nihilism" to describe the crude scientism espoused by his character Bazarov who preaches a creed of total negation.

Nihilism a philosophical essay

Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche Nihilism is often associated with the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzschewho provided a detailed diagnosis of nihilism as a widespread phenomenon of Western culture.

Though the notion appears frequently throughout Nietzsche's work, he uses the term in a variety of ways, with different meanings and connotations.

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Karen Carr describes Nietzsche's characterization of nihilism "as a condition of tension, as a disproportion between what we want to value or need and how the world appears to operate. Nietzsche characterized nihilism as emptying the world and especially human existence of meaning, purpose, comprehensible truth, or essential value.

This observation stems in part from Nietzsche's perspectivismor his notion that "knowledge" is always by someone of some thing: Interpreting is something we can not go without; in fact, it is something we need.

One way of interpreting the world is through morality, as one of the fundamental ways that people make sense of the world, especially in regard to their own thoughts and actions.

Nietzsche distinguishes a morality that is strong or healthy, meaning that the person in question is aware that he constructs it himself, from weak morality, where the interpretation is projected on to something external. Nietzsche discusses Christianity, one of the major topics in his work, at length in the context of the problem of nihilism in his notebooks, in a chapter entitled "European Nihilism".

Nihilism a philosophical essay

In this sense, in constructing a world where objective knowledge is possible, Christianity is an antidote against a primal form of nihilism, against the despair of meaninglessness.

However, it is exactly the element of truthfulness in Christian doctrine that is its undoing: It is therefore that Nietzsche states that we have outgrown Christianity "not because we lived too far from it, rather because we lived too close".

Because Christianity was an interpretation that posited itself as the interpretation, Nietzsche states that this dissolution leads beyond skepticism to a distrust of all meaning. Rejecting idealism thus results in nihilism, because only similarly transcendent ideals live up to the previous standards that the nihilist still implicitly holds.

Nihilism a philosophical essay

One such reaction to the loss of meaning is what Nietzsche calls passive nihilism, which he recognises in the pessimistic philosophy of Schopenhauer. Schopenhauer's doctrine, which Nietzsche also refers to as Western Buddhismadvocates a separating of oneself from will and desires in order to reduce suffering.

Nietzsche characterises this ascetic attitude as a "will to nothingness ", whereby life turns away from itself, as there is nothing of value to be found in the world. This mowing away of all value in the world is characteristic of the nihilist, although in this, the nihilist appears inconsistent: According to this view, our existence action, suffering, willing, feeling has no meaning: He approaches the problem of nihilism as deeply personal, stating that this predicament of the modern world is a problem that has "become conscious" in him.

I believe it is one of the greatest crises, a moment of the deepest self-reflection of humanity. Whether man recovers from it, whether he becomes master of this crisis, is a question of his strength! He wished to hasten its coming only so that he could also hasten its ultimate departure. This alternate, 'active' nihilism on the other hand destroys to level the field for constructing something new.Metaphysical nihilism is the philosophical theory that posits that concrete objects and physical constructs might not exist in the possible world, or that even if there exist possible worlds that contain some concrete objects, there .

Stanley Rosen says nihilism is the position that obtains when all speech becomes like silence- once all values become justifiable they also become meaningless. Wittgenstein and Heidegger represent the two movements in modern philosophy that Rosen accuses of rejecting the authority of pfmlures.coms: 4.

Although philosophy seeks to replace opinions by truth, it can- not succeed unless it is able to make an accurate identification of opinions, past and present, and perhaps especially of past opinions presently masquerading as truths.

Every philosophical essay contains an unavoidable polemical component.5/5(1). Nihilism: A Philosophical Essay. New Haven: Yale University Press, Editorial Reviews: “The growing importance of reason in philosophy concerns Stanley Rosen in this essay. Rosen’s primary objective is to defend Plato and classical philosophy against Martin Heidegger’s radical existentialist criticism.

Stanley Rosen was Borden Parker Bowne Professor of Philosophy and Professor Emeritus at Boston University. His research and teaching focused on the fundamental questions of philosophy and on the most important figures of its history, from Plato to Heidegger/5(1).

Nihilism.

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Nihilism is the belief that all values are baseless and that nothing can be known or communicated. and in his philosophical essay The Rebel () he faces the problem of nihilism head-on. In it, he describes at length how metaphysical collapse often ends in total negation and the victory of nihilism, characterized by profound.

Nihilism: A Philosophical Essay by Stanley Rosen