Nihil Unbound pp 205-239 | Cite as

The Truth of Extinction



Nothing will have happened: Nietzsche’s ‘fable’ perfectly distils nihilism’s most disquieting suggestion: that from the original emergence of organic sentience to the ultimate extinction of human sapience ‘nothing will have happened’. Neither knowing nor feeling, neither living nor dying, amounts to a difference that makes a difference — ‘becoming aims at nothing and achieves nothing’.3 Yet Nietzsche’s entire philosophy is dedicated to overcoming this nihilistic conjecture. It is nihilism understood as the triumph of indeterminate negation, as assertion of the ultimate indifference or convertibility of being and becoming, truth and lie, reality and appearance, that Nietzsche seeks to vanquish by affirming the coincidence of being (identity) and becoming (difference) in a gesture that would simultaneously overthrow both their metaphysical distinction and their nihilistic indistinction. The instrument of this overturning and the focus of this affirmation are provided by the hypothesis of eternal recurrence, Nietzsche’s ‘thought of thoughts’,4 which is poised at that ‘mid-point’5 of (Western) history marking not only the culmination of European nihilism, but also the possibility of its overcoming.


Organic Life Protective Shield Manifest Image Ethical Sense Human Intellect 
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  1. 1.
    F.Nietzsche, ‘On Truth and Lies in a Nonmoral Sense’ in Philosophy and Truth: Selections from Nietzsche’s Notebooks of the Early 1870s, ed. and tr. D. Breazeale, Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey: Humanities Press, 1979a, 79.Google Scholar

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© Ray Brassier 2007

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