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Gianni Vattimo “Nihilism as Emancipation”

September 20, 2011 Leave a comment

Vattimo, Gianni 2009. Nihilism as Emancipation. – Cosmos and History: The Journal of Natural and Social Philosophy vol. 5 no. 1: 20-23

Nihilism is understood in the sense inaugurally outlined by Nietzsche: the dissolution of all ultimate foundations, the awareness that—in the history of philosophy and Western culture in general—‘God is dead’ and ‘the real world has become a fable’. (20)

[…] with this nihilism becomes hermeneutics: a thought that knows it can aim at the universal only by passing through dialogue, agreement, or caritas, if you like it […] (21)

[…] truth is born in agreement and from agreement, and not vice versa, that we will reach agreement only when we have all discovered the same objective truth. (21)

Emancipation is for us the meaning of nihilism proper if we read this Nietzschean term in the light of another crucial expression of the German philosopher: ‘God is dead, and now we wish for many gods to live’. The dissolution of foundations […] is that which frees us […] (21)

[…] ‘truth is only that which frees you’; truth is thus first of all the ‘discovery’ that there are no ultimate foundations before which our freedom should stop, which is instead what authorities of every kind that want to rule precisely in the name of these ultimate foundations have always sought to make us believe. Hermeneutics is the thinking of accomplished nihilism, the thinking that aims at a reconstruction of rationality after the death of God, in opposition to any drift towards negative nihilism, that is, towards the desperation of those who continue to grieve because ‘there is no more religion’. (21)

[…] in order really to achieve the rights of freedom preached by liberalism, we should not let things take place ‘according to their own principles’, as for example, in the laws of the market (there is an unacceptable ‘naturalism’ in Adam Smith!). Rather, we must build conditions of equality that, indeed, are not given ‘naturally’. (22)

It is in nihilism thought in this way that equality finally establishes itself, and what Richard Rorty calls solidarity becomes possible—or better necessary—for life, the only possible basis for a truth that does not claim to evade the historical conditions in which existence is always ‘thrown’. (22)