Is Nietzsche a Nihilist?

Is Nietzsche a Nihilist?

Karel Blackman

Honors Philosophy


Is Nietzsche a Nihilist?

I can see how Nietzsche can be conceived as a nihilist. When I started reading the Gay Science I thought so too. Nietzsche talked about tearing down higher values and the death of God. I perceived this as a tearing down of values on a whole and I was concerned that negative values would come from nihilism. But I don’t think Nietzsche was a true nihilist, not in the Latin meaning. Nietzsche believed in the destruction of higher values but not in the destructive nature that might come out of it.

Nihilism derives from the Latin word nihil meaning nothing. A definition from the Webster dictionary that I think is based off of Nietzschean concepts is “a doctrine that denies any objective ground of truth and especially of moral truths; doctrine or belief that conditions in the social organization are so bad as to make destruction desirable for its own sake independent of any constructive program or possibility.” Based on the Latin meaning, I think of a nihilist as someone who believes in nothing, absolutely nothing; no higher values and no guidelines to live their life by. One of the main questions asked after that was, what happens next? My fellow students felt that people would find something to replace those values and the outcome would be bad. Deleuze said that nihilism no longer signified a will but rather a reaction.

Based on Deleuze’s writings I was introduced to different aspects of nihilism, the first one being negative nihilism. Negative nihilism is the nullity of higher values. Not the nullity of life itself but the devaluation of every morality that is associated with life. Belief in God is gone and everything that is connected to it is also gone. Negative nihilism seems to me to be a good way to tear down those higher values, and will allow people to start from a clean slate. But when I read deeper is was a little too negative, it suppresses will to power and...

Similar Essays