The Monist 102 (3):369-385 (2019)

Maudemarie Clark
University of California, Riverside
I am going to begin by quoting something Nietzsche said about nihilism in The Will to Power, which is not a book that Nietzsche wrote. It is a set of notes, selected and arranged by his sister and her chosen editors, from the notebooks he carried with him in which to jot down his thoughts as he walked in the woods and around the lakes of the Swiss Alps. I mention this because I normally eschew use of Nietzsche’s notebook for interpreting his philosophy. But in the case of nihilism, I find this impossible, or at least very difficult. The twenty-nine references to nihilism in his published work are just too sketchy and disconnected to provide an adequate basis for understanding Nietzsche’s take on nihilism by themselves.1 1 On the other hand, his notebooks contain a wealth of connected material on nihilism, material that he was clearly planning to use in something called “On the History of European Nihilism,” as he announced in GM. I therefore use this material as the starting point for my account of nihilism, but it is still Nietzsche’s claims about nihilism in the published work that I am ultimately attempting to understand.
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DOI 10.1093/monist/onz015
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