Gepubliceerd op: woensdag 6 juni 2012

Nihilisme is niet meer

Robert Zaretsky, professor geschiedenis aan de universiteit van Houston, schetst in een stukje op de Wall Street Journal opgang (met als vroedvrouw Turgenevs ‘Vaders en zonen“) en ondergang (met als oorzaak de ‘gelijkmoedigheid’ van de hedendaagse mens) van het nihilisme:

“One-hundred-and-fifty years ago, nihilism was born. Its midwife was the Russian novelist Ivan Turgenev, whose greatest work, “Fathers and Sons,” appeared in the spring of 1862 and heaved the immense figure of Yevgeny Bazarov into the world. Doctor by vocation and nihilist by avocation, Bazarov today would scarcely recognize what has become of the philosophy he launched. Nihilism is not what it once was and we are marking the most meaningless of anniversaries. ”

“More than a century later, nihilism isn’t what it used to be. Unlike with the heroic challenges issued by a Bazarov and Zarathustra, we live in an age where meaninglessness is, well, meaningless. For some, this is quite as it should be. As literary theorist Terry Eagleton observed in his 2007 book “The Meaning of Life,” while all men and women ponder the meaning of life, “some, for good historical reasons, are drawn to ponder it more urgently than others.” Our age, Mr. Eagleton believes, lacks the urgency for such philosophical pondering—a situation that he views with equanimity.”


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