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Nihilism

Nihilism is the broad idea is that traditional morals and relations of authority are based on falsehood. Whether this claim actually means believing in 'nothing' depends on whether one believes that traditional morals and authorities are the only morals and authorities that can exist. Turgenev was apparently responding in part to the views of the novelist and critic Nikolai Chernyshevsky[?], who had definite beliefs in natural science and utilitarian ethics.

Belief in nothing is now attributed to persons the speaker wishes to denounce as heretics, subversives, and dropouts of all sorts.

There are two sorts of nihilism. There is the violent nihilism, which proposes that change will never come until society's current structures are destroyed, allowing, in theory, a re-making of societal constructs. Then, there is the existential nihilism, which has its roots in postmodern philosophy and Friedrich Nietzsche. This is the above-mentioned belief in nothing.

Another meaning of nihilism is the belief that nothing is valuable, in other words that there isn't anything which should be valued. Malachi Martin attributed this view to demons that were cast out during Catholic exorcisms in his book, Hostage to the Devil. Some contemporary music genres that seem to be about this type of nihilism include Gothic rock and Punk rock.

The word nihilism comes from the Latin word 'nihil' which means 'nothing'. It is the closest translation of the Greek word anarchy (absence of all rules, a condition similar to chaos). Note also that there is the Greek word midenismos (from miden meaning nothing) that describes exactly the nihilism word. The Greek word anarchy seems not to have an exact translation in English. See Anarchism for an alternate translation of anarchy. Nihilism was coined by the Russian novelist Ivan Turgenev in his novel Fathers and Sons (1862), to describe the views he attributed to young intellectual critics of the Tsarist regime[?] and feudal society.



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