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Nihilism ({{#invoke:IPAc-en|main}} or {{#invoke:IPAc-en|main}}; from the Latin nihil{{#invoke:Category handler|main}}, nothing) is a philosophical doctrine that suggests the lack of belief in one or more reputedly meaningful aspects of life. The Greek philosopher and Sophist, Gorgias (ca. 485 BC–380 BC), is perhaps the first to consider the Nihilistic belief. Most commonly, nihilism is presented in the form of existential nihilism, which argues that life is without objective meaning, purpose, or intrinsic value.<ref>Alan Pratt defines existential nihilism as "the notion that life has no intrinsic meaning or value, and it is, no doubt, the most commonly used and understood sense of the word today." Internet Encyclopaedia of Philosophy</ref> Moral nihilists assert that morality does not inherently exist, and that any established moral values are abstractly contrived. Nihilism can also take epistemological or ontological/metaphysical forms, meaning respectively that, in some aspect, knowledge is not possible, or that reality does not actually exist.

The term is sometimes used in association with anomie to explain the general mood of despair at a perceived pointlessness of existence that one may develop upon realising there are no necessary norms, rules, or laws.<ref>Bazarov, the protagonist in the classic work Fathers and Sons written in the early 1860s by Ivan Turgenev, is quoted as saying nihilism is "just cursing", cited in Encyclopaedia of Philosophy (Macmillan, 1967) Vol. 5, "Nihilism", 514 ff. This source states as follows: "On the one hand, the term is widely used to denote the doctrine that moral norms or standards cannot be justified by rational argument. On the other hand, it is widely used to denote a mood of despair over the emptiness or triviality of human existence. This double meaning appears to derive from the fact that the term was often employed in the nineteenth century by the religiously oriented as a club against atheists, atheists being regarded as ipso facto nihilists in both senses. The atheist, it was held [by the religiously oriented], would not feel bound by moral norms; consequently, he would tend to be callous or selfish, even criminal" (at p. 515).</ref> Movements such as Futurism and deconstruction,<ref name=phillips>{{#invoke:Citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=journal }}</ref> among others, have been identified by commentators{{ safesubst:#invoke:Unsubst||$N=Who |date=__DATE__ |$B= {{#invoke:Category handler|main}}[who?] }} as "nihilistic".

Nihilism is also a characteristic that has been ascribed to time periods: for example, Jean Baudrillard and others have called postmodernity a nihilistic epoch,<ref>For some examples of the view that postmodernity is a nihilistic epoch see Toynbee, Arnold (1963) A Study of History vols. VIII and IX; Mills, C. Wright (1959) The Sociological Imagination; Bell, Daniel (1976) The Cultural Contradictions of Capitalism; and Baudrillard, Jean (1993) "Game with Vestiges" in Baudrillard Live, ed. Mike Gane and (1994) "On Nihilism" in Simulacra and Simulation, trans. Sheila Faria Glasser. For examples of the view that postmodernism is a nihilistic mode of thought, see Rose, Gillian (1984) Dialectic of Nihilism; Carr, Karen L. (1988) The Banalization of Nihilism; and Pope John-Paul II (1995), Evangelium vitae: Il valore e l’inviolabilita delta vita umana. Milan: Paoline Editoriale Libri.", all cited in Woodward, Ashley: Nihilism and the Postmodern in Vattimo's Nietzsche, ISSN 1393-614X Minerva - An Internet Journal of Philosophy, Vol. 6, 2002, fn 1.</ref> and some Christian theologians and figures of religious authority have asserted that postmodernity<ref>For example, {{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}</ref> and many aspects of modernity<ref name=phillips/> represent a rejection of theism, and that such rejection of their theistic doctrine entails nihilism.


Nihilism sections
Intro  Forms of nihilism   History    Nihilism and culture   See also   Notes    References    External links   

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