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Published:October 30th, 2009 11:32 EST
Nihilism and its Cultural Implications part I

Nihilism and its Cultural Implications part I

By Sean Beelzebul

                Nihilism is a term in philosophy that refers to belief in nothing. With the Latin root nihil " in the prefix, the word literally means; nothing-doctrine " or nothing-belief ". However, the word is still confusing to many, and misleading to many others. This short series will attempt to explain nihilism and its effects on society.

                As a belief in nothing, what does nihilism refer to? What is nothing? Is not the belief in nothing still a belief in something? Heidegger himself stated that nothing nots " indicating that nothing is itself still something. So, why is there a concept centered around nothing?

                Nihilism is often used to refer to the absence or lack of a certain idea, principle or belief. For example, moral nihilism is the belief that there are no moral values. Many people have lumped Nietzsche in this category, but this is incorrect (see my Nietzsche; Freedom Fighter or Fascist " series).

It is true that Nietzsche himself stated that in order for his grand scheme to take place a revaluation of all values " had to take place, namely the inversion of Pauline Christian and Platonic values. However, this did not mean an eradication of morality. It meant something more like a new beginning, for new values to be posited. In this manner, Nietzsche was an anti-nihilist " as he felt that his philosophy could provide a more coherent set of beliefs than his predecessors, especially Kant. Kant`s categorical imperative to Nietzsche was moral nihilism.

In a nutshell, the categorical imperative was a part of Kant`s philosophy which basically states: Act in a manner in which your actions could be made a universal law "(Kant Metaphysics of Morals). Since, according to Nietzsche`s philosophy these standards have no universal arbiter, no empirical evidence and no other proof for existing in the real world, they are nihilism.

Here is the tricky part, and the grounding statement for this first article in the series. Although a belief in technically nothing, the word nihilism to Nietzsche and his successors is often used to classify a system of beliefs with empty designators "that is objects, entities, concepts or beliefs with no grounding in the real world.