Babette Babich, “Ex aliquo nihil: Nietzsche on Science and Modern Nihilism,” American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly, Special Issue on Nietzsche. 84/2 (Spring 2010): 231-256.


Continental Philosophy | Epistemology | Ethics and Political Philosophy | German Language and Literature | History of Philosophy | Philosophy


This essay explores the nihilistic coincidence of the ascetic ideal and Nietzsche’s localization of science in the conceptual world of anarchic socialism as Nietzsche indicts the uncritical convictions of modern science by way of a critique of the causa sui, questioning both religion and the enlightenment as well as both free and unfree will and condemning the “poor philology” enshrined in the language of the “laws” of nature. Reviewing the history of philosophical nihilism in the context of Nietzsche’s “tragic knowledge” along with political readings of nihilism, willing nothing rather than not willing at all, today’s this-worldly and very planetary nihilism includes the virtual loci of technological desire (literally willing nothing) as well as the perpetual and consequently pointless threat of nuclear annihilation and the routine or ordinary annihilation of plant and animal life as of inorganic nature.



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