Graduation Year


Date of Thesis Acceptance

Spring 5-6-2018

Major Department or Program



Julia Ireland


This thesis follows a historical thread which traces a history of nihilism. Beginning with Friedrich Nietzsche’s pronouncement “God is dead” and continuing through the philosophy of Martin Heidegger and Emmanuel Levinas, it asks after the contemporary legacies of nihilism and the multi-faceted and diverse ways that this philosophy of nothingness has permeated and shaped the earth. This thesis aims to explore and uncover new ways of thinking which have come about as a consequence of Nietzsche’s philosophy, and to discover what possibilities there are for us to act ethically and to know without appealing to transcendent or absolute principles. By way of a thoroughgoing critique of metaphysics and metaphysical thinking, I argue that rather than hope to discover a singular, redemptive, or absolute overcoming of nihilism, we ought instead continue to question and to remain open to the reorientations that come from our encounters with otherness.

Page Count


Subject Headings

Nietzsche, Friedrich Wilhelm -- 1844-1900‚ Heidegger, Martin -- 1889-1976‚ Lévinas, Emmanuel‚ Nihilism‚ Ethics‚ Metaphysics‚ Other (Philosophy)‚ Existentialism‚ Philosophy‚ Whitman College 2018 -- Dissertation collection -- Philosophy Department

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Document Type

Public Accessible Thesis

Included in

Philosophy Commons



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