This course will examine philosophical elucidations of and responses to the problem of nihilism. Nihilism represents the philosophical articulation of the meaning crisis. The meaning crisis is the loss of connection to oneself, others, and reality. This connection is realized in a coherent and transformative manner that makes life worth living in the face of all of its frustrations, futility, and failures.
While there are important historical, religious, and scientific drivers of the meaning crisis this course will concentrate on the philosophical dimension of nihilism and how philosophers have explicated it and tried to provide a viable response to it. For the thinkers we will consider, the rise of nihilism has been considered as bound up with the death of God, which is not simply a religious phenomenon.
It is a comprehensive loss of the sense of a deeper or more ultimate sense of reality that grounds a sense of sacredness that, in turn, provides deep orientation for life and the affordance of the deep connectedness so central to meaning in life.