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The Banalization of Nihilism: Twentieth-Century Responses to Meaninglessness Paperback – 6 Feb 1992


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Product details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: State University of New York Press (6 Feb 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0791408345
  • ISBN-13: 978-0791408346
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 1.2 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,461,949 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on 6 Nov 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I was, perhaps, hoping for a wider survey of 20th century responses to nihilism that I actually got here so a little disappointed in this book overall.

That said, it does a terrific job of putting together a taxonomy of different flavours of nihilism that I and others (See Ashley Woodward's "Nihilism in Postmodernity") have found useful.
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Amazon.com: 1 review
40 of 40 people found the following review helpful
A lucid and readable analysis of a beguiling subject. 13 Jun 1998
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
This is not only the best work that I have ever seen on the difficult subject of nihilism, but it is possibly the most well-written work of non-fiction that I have ever read.
Carr begins by describing how nihilism became conceptualized and articulated with the onset of modernity. She then carefully defines her terms, clearly differentiating aspects or modes of nihilism (alethiological, epistemological, moral, metaphysical, and existential), in anticipation of what follows: a carefully considered analysis of the conceptual development of nihilism, as traced through the thinking of Friederich Nietzsche (for whom nihilism was the great crisis of the modern world, a terrific disease that threatened civilization, yet offered the opportunity for a genuine affirmation of life by wiping out false and outmoded valuations); theologian Karl Barth (for whom nihilism was the shattering precondition of faith and genuine religiousity); and contemporary post-modernist critic Richard Rorty (for whom nihilism would seem to be a welcome means of undermining or dissolving the oppressive power structures of the status quo). Carr concludes by convincingly arguing that the contemporary willingness to embrace nihilism wholesale as a liberating conception, without careful consideration of its more harmful potentials, ultimately undermines whatever liberating potentials it may hold, and, ultimately and ironically, reinforces the status quo rather than undermining it.
Carr manages to make a good deal of sense out of extremely difficult material; her work is highly readable and well presented. Recommended reading for anyone with an interest in modern western intellectual history or contemporary cultural criticism. If you are about to throw the baby out with the bathwater, this book will make you think twice.
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