Nihilism on a troubled earth. Friedrich Nietzsche and the nihilisms of the anthropocene

Begin - Einde 
2021 - 2025 (lopend)
Vakgroep Letterkunde



This project uses the critical philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche to develop a comprehensive understanding of the meaning and function of the nihilism(s) confronting us in today’s ecological crises. Despite increased references to the philosophical problem of nihilism by environmental scholars, in-depth engagement with existing nihilismliterature or theoretical clarification regarding the precise environmental meaning of nihilism is still missing. While some argue that nihilism is a cause of the Anthropocene (Stiegler, Heidegger), others see it as a result of the Anthropocene (Morton, Latour) or point to the nihilistic tendencies of environmental discourse itself (Hamilton, Emden, Brassier). Due to this lack of theoretical consensus, it remains fundamentally unclear how to (better) respond to, overcome or come to terms with the nihilistic dimensions of the Anthropocene. The value of a Nietzschean intervention is that it (1) shows how the different forms of nihilism at play in environmental discourse are interconnected, (2) thereby allows to see through the contradictions and inconsistencies currently troubling environmental discourse, while (3) offering the ethical and ontological tools needed to adequately respond to Anthropocene-nihilism. By developing a more integrated account of Anthropocene-nihilism, this research will contribute to a more adequate understanding of the moral-existential contours of present-day ecological crises.