Today’s word comes from a news article I read earlier this week.
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Part of Speech
- A viewpoint that traditional values and beliefs are unfounded, and existence is senseless and useless.
- A doctrine that denies any objective ground of truth and especially of moral facts.
- A doctrine or belief that conditions in the social organization are so adverse as to make destruction desirable for its own sake independent of any constructive program or possibility.
- A philosophy based on extreme skepticism.
From the Latin nihil, meaning “nothing.”
Friedrich Heinrich Jacobi popularized the term in the late eighteenth century when he framed one of the first systematic statements of nihilism. His writings represent early examples of the “God is dead” discourse later attributed to the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche.
Nihilism is the philosophical viewpoint that denies or lacks belief in any or all the meaningful aspects of life. It is commonly used as existential nihilism, meaning life has no purpose or value. Nihilism is used in many different contexts, such as those listed.
- Metaphysical nihilism: The belief that nothing exists.
- Epistemological nihilism: A form of skepticism in which all knowledge is accepted as being possibly untrue or as being unable to confirm as accurate.
- Mereological nihilism: The belief that “nothing is a proper part of anything.”
- Existential nihilism: The philosophy that life has no inherent meaning.
- Moral nihilism: The philosophy that nothing is morally right or wrong.
- Political nihilism: The belief that a society’s political and social institutions are so bad they should be destroyed. This form of political movement was first glimpsed in Russia in the 1860s. Following the assassination of Czar Nicholas II, political nihilism in the form of violence was used throughout Europe to bring about a change in politics.
- Medical nihilism: The philosophy that we should have little confidence in the effectiveness of therapeutic interventions.
Usage and Examples
Here are a few examples:
- You can stave off utter nihilism with some insightful human touches.
- Whatever he touches withers in his grasp and sinks from view into a muck of despair, negativism, and nihilism.
- Those who rejected nihilism and stood against evil in the past lead the way.