Professor Ken Gemes (Birkbeck) – Nietzsche on Nihilism and the Death of God
This lecture introduces Nietzsche as the philosopher of the death of god. Nietzsche claims that we have not yet fully understood the ramifications of the modern rejection of belief in God. Giving up on belief in God undermines all our values, though many cling to those values, for instance the value of compassion and the value of truth, in the absence of God or of any other justificatory basis for those values. When we truly appreciate the meaning of the death of God we will, says Nietzsche, lapse into nihilism; the inability to find any values in the world. This Nietzsche presciently predicts as the future of Europe for the next two hundred years. Nietzsche does not endorse nihilism but seeks to move beyond it to a new affirmation of this, the one and only, world.