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Nihilism & the Postmodern


The 19th-century philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche wrote, “There can be no doubt that morality will gradually perish: this is the great spectacle in a hundred acts reserved for the next two centuries in Europe”. And, with chilling predictions like these, ‘Nihilism’ was born. The hard view that morals are pointless, loyalty is a weakness, and ‘truths’ are illusory, has excited, confused and appalled western thinkers ever since. But what happened to Nietzsche’s revolutionary ideas about truth, morality, and a life without meaning?

Existentialism can claim lineage to Nietzsche, as can Postmodernism, and many others. With so many interpretations, and claims of ownership from the left and the right, has anything positive come out of the great philosopher of ‘nothing’? Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss such in this BBC episode of In Our Time. The guests are Rob Hopkins, Senior Lecturer in Philosophy, University of Birmingham; Professor Raymond Tallis, Doctor and Philosopher; Professor Catherine Belsey, University of Cardiff.

[Video and text source: Philosophy Overdose YouTube channel]