Nihilism is a term that comes from Latin nihil, What does it mean “any”. It’s about the denial of all religious, social and political principles. The term was popularized by the novelist Ivan Turgenev and by the philosopher Friedrich Heinrich Jacobi. Over time, it came to be used as a mockery of the more radical generations and to characterize those who lack moral sensitivity.
Specifically, we can establish that the aforementioned Turgenev was the first to use the term that we are now dealing with. Specifically, he used it in his novel “Parents and children”, in which he came to make it clear that a follower of nihilism is a person who is clear that he cannot and does not want to submit to anyone, to any type of power, doctrine or authority.
However, it should not be overlooked that throughout history many other thinkers and artists have opted to express their opinions about the aforementioned nihilism. This would be the case, for example, of the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. He used the term to create a profound theory in which he came to make it clear that the society of the moment was dominated by him.
But not only that. This German thinker was also clear that the way to end nihilism, among other things, was to destroy the moral values of the people who were enslaved. In this way, other “social and moral norms” would be imposed that would ruin the aforementioned nihilism.
At the time of being able to establish what would be the origin of this current, of nihilism, we would have to emphasize that it is found in the so-called Cynical School, which was key in Ancient Greece. In the 4th century BC it was when it was launched that was characterized by harshly criticizing what was morality and the order established at that time.
Nihilism is a philosophical position that denies dogmas. It holds that human existence does not objectively have any higher essential meaning or purpose. That is why it opposes everything that preaches a purpose that does not have a verifiable explanation.
Nihilists want to abandon preconceptions and lead a playful life, with options for realization that are not tied to things they consider non-existent. It is important to note that nihilism is not linked to pessimism or lack of belief, but, by denying all dogma, it is a position open to infinite options.
The philosophers They tend to distinguish between this positive and active nihilism that proposes new alternatives to negative or passive nihilism, embodied in ideas of neglect and self-destruction.
Nihilism as a political expression is linked to anarchism since it rejects hierarchies, authority and the domination of man over man. In some countries, like Russia, the nihilist cultural movement was the origin of the anarchist political groupings that fought for the abolition of the Condition.
Nihilism is also often associated with punk, a cultural and musical movement that defends self-management, criticizes the church and is opposed to consumerism.