The theory of Nihilism has attracted attention since it was developed in the 17th century. In fact, the theory has received criticism and appraisal in ethics and philosophy, becoming one of the most debated topics in the last few centuries. Several authors, philosophers, and ethic enthusiasts have proposed various arguments in an attempt to develop an understanding of the concept (Carr 57). Nevertheless, despite the large volume of literature attempting to analyze the concept, a concise method or paradigm of explaining the theory has not been achieved. Each author seems to develop a distinct argument based on personal perception and individual methods of analysis. The purpose of this paper is to determine how various authors have argued and perceived the theory of nihilism.
Although he did not develop the theory of nihilism, Friedrich Nietzsche is often associated with the concept because he is the first individual to provide a comprehensive analysis and explanation of the term. According to Nietzsche, there is no “real truth” because “truth” is an objective created by humans. In addition, he argues that there is no basis for any value, and that reason is nothing but “an impotent” notion. According to the author, there is no single truth in the world because every belief is false (Carr 176). Thus, he argues that all values are human-imposed. As such, every consideration of truth originates from humans, which means that nothing is true. The highest values are self-destructive because they have a natural characteristic of devaluing themselves.
On his part, Soren Kierkegaard, a 19th-century theorist, argues that a process of suppressing individuality exists in nature, which causes an individual’s uniqueness to cease to exist, making everything meaningless. This process, which he called ‘leveling’ causes a form of nihilism in that everything associated with the unique individuality will eventually cease. As such, this was a form of early nihilism because it argued that there is a state of nature.
Martin Heidegger, a 20th-century theorist, attempted to elaborate and explain the concept of nihilism based on incorporating Nietzsche’s theory into his own methods. According to Heidegger, he attempted to devaluate the high values using the concept of ‘the will to power’ (Carr 289). In this concept, the author argues that both metaphysics and philosophy did not consider the value of discriminating between the notion of “being” and “a being”. Thus, he argues that the history of western philosophy is metaphysics that advocates for the destruction of “being”. He attempts to argue that nihilism is a part of the western thought that essentially destroys “the being”.
In the post-modern concept, a number of authors have attempted to explain and analyze the idea of nihilism. However, most authors analyze the concept based on early theories. For instance, Dreyfus and Kelly (127) have shown that individuals like Rene Descartes, Plato, Wallace, and Homer would have distinct or different arguments of nihilism. According to their analysis, the authors attempt to state that Descartes would hold that Nihilism is a wrong idea because there is at least some truth in the world. Moreover, they attempt to argue that Plato would have advocated for a state of nihilism that depends on the society of reference. In addition, it is worth noting that the authors argue that Homer would uphold the idea of nihilism because there is nothing known as the truth, but rather the truth exists within the human mind.
Carr, Karen. The Banalisation of Nihilism. New York, NY: State University of New York Press, 2008. Print.
Dreyfus, Hubert and Sean Kelly. All things shining. New York: Springer, 2011. Print.