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6 - Poul Martin Møller’s Criticism of Hegelianism and the Danish Discussion of Nihilism

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  10 March 2023

Jon Stewart
Affiliation:
Slovak Academy of Sciences
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Summary

Chapter 6 is dedicated to examining an article by the Danish thinker, poet, and writer Poul Martin Møller, “Thoughts on the Possibility of Proofs of Human Immortality.” This article represents the most substantial treatment of nihilism in Danish philosophy. Møller reviews some of the then recent works in German literature about the controversial issue of whether Hegel’s philosophy contained a theory of immortality. He claims not only that Hegel’s philosophy does not have a theory of immortality, but also, absent such a theory, that it leads to nihilism. Like Jean Paul, Møller believes that the denial of immortality would render human existence impossible. Møller’s argumentative strategy is to use a reductio ad absurdum to refute the view that denies immortality. To begin, he assumes the correctness of this view, and then tries to explore further what precisely it would mean to hold it. Then from this he deduces negative consequences, which demonstrate that the view must be abandoned as contradictory. He follows this strategy through many different spheres: the life of the individual, social and political relations, art, philosophy, science, religion, and so on. He claims that all these spheres would collapse into nihilism if the belief in immortality is denied.

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Chapter
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A History of Nihilism in the Nineteenth Century
Confrontations with Nothingness
, pp. 173 - 200
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2023

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