Worldly Nihilism and Theological Nihilism — A Possible Definition

  • Eugenio Mazzarella
Conference paper


What is nihilism? Nihilism is a feeling. Nihilism is a fact. Both things concern existence, human dasein, or as Sartre says, taking up a fundamental concept from Heidegger1, “Man is the being through whom nothingness comes to the world” [3]. Which, furthermore, means that the “world” in reality has no knowledge of nothingness. Presence as such — “being” — does not know, nor can it know nihilism, a problem regarding nothingness, as its absence having been thought of, in general, as thought, is a presence, and declares that in our “we are,” being as such always goes on, and surpasses us. On the pathway of truth — i.e., of the manifestation that takes form in thought — nothingness does not exist, it cannot be investigated, it cannot be found:

Come now, I will tell you — and bring away my story safely when you have heard it — the only ways of inquiry there are to think: the one, that it is and that it is not possible for it not to be, is the path of Persuasion (for it attends upon Truth), the other, that it is not and that it is necessary for it not to be, this I point out to you to be a path completely unlearnable, for neither may you know that which is not (for it is not to be accomplished) nor may you declare it [4]2.


False Vacuum Creative Evolution Pure Possibility Primary Interpretation Pure Knowledge 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    M. Heidegger: Was ist Metaphysik?. In: Wegmarken, Gesamtausgabe Band IX (Vittorio Klostermann, Frankfurt a. M. 1996)Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    H. Bergson: Creative Evolution, eng. tr. by A. Mitchell (The Modern Library, New York 1944)Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    J.-P. Sartre: Being and nothingness, eng. tr. by Hazel E. Barnes (Washington Square Press, New York 1966)Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    R.D. McKirahan Jr.: Philosophy Before Socrates (Hackett Pubblishing Company, Indianapolis/ Cambridge 1994)Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Plato: The Sophist & The Statesman, ed. by R. Klibansky and E. Anscombe (Thomas Nelson and Sons LTD, London 1961)Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    M. Heidegger: Wissenschaft und Besinnung. In: Vorträge und Aufsätze (Günter Neske Vr., Stuttgart 2000)Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    St. Augustines’s Confessions, eng. tr. by W. Watts (Heinemann LTD, London 1979)Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Plotinus: Enneads, eng. tr. by A.H. Armstrong (Heinemann LTD, London 1980)Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    E. Jünger: Sämtliche Werke (Klett-Cotta, Stuttgart 1979)Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    J. Ratzinger: Introduction to Christianity, eng. tr. by J.R. Foster (Herder and Herder, New York 1970)Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    G.W. Leibniz: Principles of Nature and Grace Based on Reason. In: Philosophical Essays, edited and translated by R. Ariew and D. Garber (Hackett Publishing Company, Indianapolis/Cambridge 1989)Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    G.W. Leibniz: Essais de Théodicée. In: Die philosophische Schriften von G.W. Leibniz, hrsg. von C.I. Gerhardt (unveränderter Nachdruck der Ausgabe Berlin 1875–90) (Hildesheim 1965)Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    M. Heidegger: Nietzsche, Gesamtausgabe Band 6.1 (Vittorio Klostermann, Frankfurt a. M. 1996)Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    I. Kant: Critique of pure reason, eng. tr. by P. Guyer and A.W. Wood (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 1998)Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    F.W.J. Schelling: Philosophie der Offenbarung. In: Schellings Werke, Ergänzungsband VI, hrsg. von M. Schröter (Beck und Oldenbourg, München 1954)Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    W. Kasper: Glaube und Geschichte (Matthias-Grünewald-Verlag, Mainz 1970)Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, translated and edited by G. W. Bromiley (Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids-Michigan 1964)Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    E. Benveniste: Le vocabulaire des institutions indo-européennes. 2. Pouvoir, droit, religion (Les éditions de minuit, Paris 1969)Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    E. Mazzarella: Pensare e credere. Tre scritti cristiani (Morcelliana, Brescia 1998)Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    E. Mazzarella: Cristianesimo e storia. In: Millenarismi nella cultura contemporanea, pp. 157–173, a cura di E. Rambaldi (Milano, Franco Angeli 2000)Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    W. Pannenberg: Anthropology in Theological Perspective, eng. tr. by M.J. O’Connell (The Westminster Press, Philadelphia 1985)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Italia 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Eugenio Mazzarella
    • 1
  1. 1.Dipartimento di FilosofiaUniversità degli Studi di Napoli “Federico II”Italy

Personalised recommendations