By Charlie Gere (auth.)
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81 For Heidegger this nihilism is not a historical phenomenon among others, but the ‘fundamental movement of the history of the West ... the world-historical movement of peoples of the earth who have been drawn into modernity’s arena of power’. 82 Michael Gillespie suggests that nominalism affected pretty well the entire course of philosophical modernity from Descartes, who with his ‘cogito’ attempted to ‘open up a space for man, a realm of freedom invulnerable to the powers of God’,83 to Kant, Fichte, Hegel and the Romantics (and what he calls the ‘demonic’), the Russian nihilists and onto Nietzsche.
Finally, he turns to the clergyman and says, ‘Look at me, Mr Holmes. I have no eyes. ’73 Diderot, notoriously an atheist, anticipates Darwin’s monstrous conception of evolution and natural selection as well as its blindness to the future. Among the more practical suggestions in the ‘Letter on the Blind’ is the idea of teaching the blind to read through the sense of touch. Following on from Diderot, in 1821 Louis Braille adapted a system for military communication at night, devised by Charles Barbier for Napoleon’s army (though never used) as a means to enable the blind to read.
80 As Nietzsche understood well, nihilism is not the antithesis of religion but its necessary concomitant. In The Will to Power, he describes Christianity as a ‘nihilistic religion’ inasmuch as it denies the world as it is and seeks refuge in a transcendent realm. According to Heidegger, by God Nietzsche means not only the Christian God, whose death ‘is beginning to throw its first shadows across Europe’, but also the ‘supersensory world’, the realm of ideas and the ideal, which has been a part of Western thinking since Plato.
Community without Community in Digital Culture by Charlie Gere (auth.)