Events Nihilism and Realism

4th December, 2023 15:30:00~18:00:00 JST

Workshop moderator: Paolo Livieri (University of Messina)
Speakers: Paul Ziche (Utrecht University) and Tobias Bartneck (Kyōto University)

1) Paul Ziche: "Nihilism and Realism – Friedrich Heinrich Jacobi’s (and others‘) rejection of idealism"

Abstract:
The word "nihilism" seems to originate in Germany around 1800, in debates that criticize idealist philosophers. Authors such as Friedrich Heinrich Jacobi and Thomas Wizenmann use the term "nihilism" to reject claims by idealist philosophers such as Kant and Fichte. Their argument is interesting: An idealist, who assumes that the most fundamental starting point in our reconstruction of human cognition needs to be the human mind with its faculties and a priori structures, always runs the risk to remain within the confines of the humanly possible. Put concisely: An idealist philosophy may never go beyond what could just as well be a figment of our imagination. Or, in terms that both Jacobi and Johann Gottlieb Herder are using: An idealist is prone to a narcisstic overestimation of the human faculties, up to outright blasphemy: taking the human mind as the very foundation of cognition and certainty leads to anthropocentrism and, in the final conclusion, to atheism. They charge the idealists with propagating a nihilism that does not reject all values, but rather argue that the idealist arguments operate with faulty, one-sided values. Even more interesting is their counter-argument: If we want to get beyond this idealistic nihilism, we also need to go beyond cognitive certainty. The strongest argument against a subjectivist stance in philosophy is, in the arguments presented by Jacobi and Herder, to be found in the fact that the world is, ultimately, unintelligible.  Again, put succinctly: We can only overcome nihilism if we do away with the human claim as to intelligible certainty. In this perspective, nihilism is not problematic because it does away with certainty, rather, it claims too much certainty, and that on a shaky basis. These arguments are strongly informed by the religious agenda of Herder and Jacobi.
This lecture will reconstruct both the critical arguments against idealism that lead to the term "nihilism", and will pay special attention to the anti-nihilistic arguments with their intriguing inversion of the role of certainty.  

2) Tobias Bartneck: “Messianism — Nihilism — Buddhism: From Nietzsche to Nishitani“ 

Abstract:
In this presentation, I will examine the Kyoto School philosopher Nishitani Keiji’s project of “overcoming nihilism.” For this purpose, I will first retrace and discuss Nietzsche’s reflections on the Christian genealogy of nihilism, and second elucidate the claim of an essential equivalence between messianism and nihilism. Against this background, I will read Nishitani’s engagement with the problem of nihilism from a Mahayana Buddhist standpoint of emptiness. I will attempt to show how the Buddhism which inspires his philosophy can be read as a radical alternative to the Christian messianism lying at the origin of modern, “secular” nihilism. I will elaborate the thesis that Nishitani’s project of “overcoming nihilism through nihilism” can be deciphered as a project of “overcoming the Christian nihilism of messianic love through the Buddhist nihilism of awakened compassion.” Based on these considerations, I aim to tentatively draw out some politico-theological implications of Nishitani’s critique of modern nihilism.

The link to participate via zoom is: 

トピック: Nihilism and Realism
時刻: 2023年12月4日 03:30 PM 大阪、札幌、東京

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