Macbeth by William Shakespeare Out, out, brief candle!Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player That struts and frets his hour upon the stage And then is heard no more; it is a tale Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, Signifying nothing.
Nihilism• Arose as a reaction to the despair and isolation produced by a growing atheism and reliance on science and human rationality (naturalistic and materialistic worldview)
Industrialization had left many people feeling dehumanized and isolated
The brutality and inhumanityof WWI had left many without hope
Impact of WWI– despair over man’s inhumanity and brutality
People found themselves feeling alone and adrift in aseemingly absurd, cruel, and uncaring world
What is nihilism?Not a true philosophyDenial of everything truth knowledge morality beauty meaning purpose
Nihilism rejected• The complete confidence in Enlightenment rationality• Confidence in science and empiricism• Traditional philosophy and philosophical assumptions• Religion• The notion of a universal truth
How does nihilism addressthe worldview questions?
Prime realityNo ultimate reality or truth No God
External reality• Cold and indifferent universe • Chaotic • Unpredictable • Absurd • Harsh • Lonely• The universe is a determined (Closed) system• Humans cannot “act significantly”
Human beings• Humans are physical beings ONLY • (no soul or spirit)• We are solitary and alone• Humans have no free will • (seen as a delusion)
Death• Complete extinction• Death is the ultimate absurdity in an absurd and indifferent universe
Knowledge• There is no knowledge• The human intellect and rationality cannot be trusted.• If the human mind is just physical matter, why should we trust it?
Moral ethics• There are no universal moral standards• Man must live according to his passions and instincts• The primary focus is on power• “Reason cannot establish values” Nietzsche
History• Endless cycle of meaningless events in a meaningless universe
Friedrich Nietzsche - 1844-1900 German philosopher son of a Lutheran minister
Nietzsche’s major ideas• Believed that Christianity produced a “weak, slave” mentality• Believed that a race of “supermen” would ultimately rule over the weak and inferior• Believed that the ideal human being was beyond the concept of good and evil
• Proposed that man must embrace his essential nature • Live according to his instincts and passions • Power and force• For Neitzsche,women were seen as weak and too emotional to ever act in authentic ways.
“In our whole unhealthy modernity there is nothing more unhealthy than Christian piety. To be physicians here, to be inexorable here, to wield the scalpel here- that is our part, that is our love of man….”
“God is dead. We have killed him.”Nietzsche believed that humanity had “killed”the idea and importance of God by ceasing tobelieve. Religion and the notion of God hadbecome irrelevant.
Nietzsche’s endless repetition of life: the same thing over and over again with no meaning or purpose.
According to nihilism,humans would have to facethe void of a world without God, truth, purpose or meaning. “The abyss”
Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad“But his soul was mad. Beingalone in the wilderness, it had looked within itself and, byheavens I tell you, it had gone mad." “The horror…the horror” Kurtz’s last words