Nietzsche and the alleged European nature of nihilism

I will elaborate Nietzsche’s idea of the European character of nihilism in discussion with philosophers from other cultures, or at least from other parts of the world (including Brazil and South Africa), who all are interested and prepared to cooperate. The project will be guided by several questions: (a) what are Nietzsche’s reasons to call nihilism a European phenomenon? (b) if Nietzsche is correct in his diagnosis of our contemporary culture as being nihilistic, what does that mean for a correct understanding of the differences between European and non – European cultures: are other cultures nihilistic to the same extent as they are ‘European’? Are there other forms of nihilism than the European one? Have other cultures resources that protect them against the nihilism that Europe is confronted with? Although ‘Europe’ will be at the core of this project, it will be an advantage to do the research while staying in a different cultural context: not only in order to facilitate the dialogue with other (especially African) cultures, but also because one – as Nietzsche writes – has to leave town in order to see the altitude of its towers.
I will also work on a book on ‘friendship as a moral ideal’ by reworking previous publications on the subject. The project is related to the first one to the extent that the idealization of friendship in the history of philosophy is in Nietzsche’s view a symptom of nihilism.

Project leader(s):
  • Paul van Tongeren (Centrum voor Ethiek, Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen)

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