As a generic close to a principle: What is Nihilism?
In our last post we brought out something of this weatherworn question, but did not show where it brandishes itself. At first we mentioned the “unconstrained indifference” of nature. But in order see how nihilism first showed itself out of its essence in the 19th century we should mention how it first commands out of the rough facts of life. Because everything that gives us an opening to theorize, must have a place in the phenomena. Everyone has an inkling of nihilism, but no one thinks it properly. Just as everyone thinks of justice, but no one thinks justice in its essence. However unlike justice, nihilism is only recently come to raise its body amidst the histrorial world.
Someone who had the feeling that nature and trees were hiding something, a fundamental level of being, that is first given manifestation in physics, and is expressed in quantifiable systems that bridge billions of years, must have an inkling of the unconstrained indifference. But, yet, they are no nihilists. It is not as though nihilism were a matter of nature. If someone understood that there was no true or proper course in things, even though, they did not dwell on the thought, but allowed themselves to turn to the comforting notion of altruism, natural sacrifice, they would have yet not even had an inkling of nihilism through that thinking. But yet everyone knows something of nihilism! Just as we all know what the modern sciences are even if we can say little about them, even the blindest amongst us.
Nihilism at first dawns on someone who when they are distressed, notice that while they are in distress over some matter, involved in this distress, they see that it really is all about nothing. But they do not by that virtue become like the unconstrained indifference of the quantitative fact. Rather, this is something that first dawns on them, and only them, who see that thought is thinking a fact. That the fact, the rough fact, that as yet remains without explanation, the stone is warm, we do not yet know of thermodynamics, we do not even ask, why is it warm, nobody tells us even about the sun light. Does the sun light upon the stone, and so warm it? We do not know, does the heat come into that body, and excite the system? We do not ask. The rough facts as they first appear have come unbound from their hiddenness, and fall into the abyss of the thinking. Only one who begins to see this can take up or reject this abyss. Yet, everyone knows, that is, has some inkling of nihilism. They will have heard names such as Nietzsche, nihilism, what is it? Some idea, something not worth thinking about, some piece of literature. A thing that belongs in the department of literary studies, of critical theory. Nihilism? What is it, the illusion behind the Nazi hoard, the idea that some idiots thought? Nihilism.
When the inkling of the way the prowess of nihilism shines through the alleyway and the street light comes to be represented to thought, when the thought comes to be stated and conceptualized, the essence as a god begins to lead the world so far as its far-seeing look can hold the mortals. But the gods war. And each is against each one, or, at least, they do not all agree.
It is clear that the unconstrained indifference does not speak of the nature of the natural sciences, the prosthetic world gives voice to the essence of reason which demands the use of the prosthetic world. But nihilism undercuts reason, and if it thinks reason it thinks of something that is part of what it is supposed to be working on. Reason wants to be that lever that gets hold of the earth and moves it. Nihilism laughs. It laughs, but this mock can not claim victory. Nihilism is another reason, another leverage over things. Thus the abyss as a god. All this can’t easily be entered into, and when one is supposed to see the way being is thought, through another thinking that knows of the abyss and nihilism, one is very close to a war.
In Strauss, as we mentioned before, “good sense” stands over and against the “will” of this abyss, but we neglected to say that good sense is not common sense. In the same way, Heidegger too, wants to make thinking grow out of a special holding about what the inexact rough fact can say. These are attempts to distinguish the principle of reason as a place for the experimentum of being. Cf. Dostoevsky (this note refers to the whole topic)