A recent Radiolab episode explored the possibility that nihilism is not so much about negating meaning in existence but accepting the inevitability of the possibility of our impossibility. Or if you don’t prefer Heidegger’s abstruse description of it: death. The implication? Nihilism is courage. Maybe even authenticity.

I found this pleasant intellectual escape meaningful. So am I a coward?


  1. dasfuller

    I think the final verdict on Nihilism, at least as far as its use in pop culture, was that it was just posturing. And how does authenticity enter into this, especially as something that may be “above” courage?

  2. Luigus

    Courage being the bridge to authenticity. Or the staircase if we’re creating a hierarchy. Either way, some threshold is being crossed, or there’s some emergence from an abyss (as the episode notes about Nietzsche’s optimistic view of nihilism’s possible end). As nihilism is used in pop culture, where it can only be posturing and performance, there is mostly conformity, not courage. And then certainly not authenticity. But this presupposes authenticity (undefined here) as a worthy end (which then also presupposes it as a possibility). Anything expressed to an audience could be argued as posturing/performance. Authenticity is inexpressible, to the point that even if you achieve it, you don’t even know, or at least you can’t articulate it to yourself. Of course, this is so abstract that it’s meaningless. Or I’m just aiming for something authentic, and I can’t ever reduce it.


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