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Introduction

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  10 March 2023

Jon Stewart
Affiliation:
Slovak Academy of Sciences
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Summary

The Introduction begins with an attempt to understand the concept of nihilism itself. Six different aspects of the concept are identified and briefly explored. While nihilism is usually associated with twentieth-century schools, it is argued that in fact the true origins of modern nihilism can be found in the rapid development of the sciences in the Enlightenment. The scientific perspective revealed the seemingly insignificant role of humans in the universe and led to a struggle with nihilism, which became an important topic for many thinkers in the nineteenth century. Five theses are outlined: (1) the problem of modern nihilism arose in the wake of the scientific development of the Enlightenment; (2) nihilism was not a local issue confined only to a specific place or country, but instead was something central to the general Zeitgeist of the entire nineteenth century in Europe and the West; (3) nihilism was not a problem confined to philosophy, but it received detailed treatment in works of poetry, drama, and other forms of literature; (4) the problem of nihilism is more widespread than has been acknowledged; and (5) the discussions of nihilism in the nineteenth century anticipate the key topics of the existentialist movement.

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Chapter
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A History of Nihilism in the Nineteenth Century
Confrontations with Nothingness
, pp. 1 - 34
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2023

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  • Introduction
  • Jon Stewart, Slovak Academy of Sciences
  • Book: A History of Nihilism in the Nineteenth Century
  • Online publication: 10 March 2023
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781009266734.002
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  • Introduction
  • Jon Stewart, Slovak Academy of Sciences
  • Book: A History of Nihilism in the Nineteenth Century
  • Online publication: 10 March 2023
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781009266734.002
Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • Introduction
  • Jon Stewart, Slovak Academy of Sciences
  • Book: A History of Nihilism in the Nineteenth Century
  • Online publication: 10 March 2023
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781009266734.002
Available formats
×