Nihilism as Emancipation


  • Gianni Vattimo Former Professor of Theoretical Philosophy, University of Turin


Apel, Emancipation, Equality, Freedom, Hermeneutics, Heidegger, Nietzsche, Nihilism


Is the philosophical idea of nihilism compatible with a project of emancipation based on concepts such as autonomy, equality and freedom? This is the question to which Vattimo's contribution seeks to provide a response. For Vattimo, the notion of nihilism is inseparable from that of hermeneutics, understood as the historically situated character of universal claims. Rather than undermining emancipation, for Vattimo a nihilistic hermeneutics is precisely what frees us from foundations, and should thus be understood as an emancipatory force. The article tries to counter a purely tragic understanding of nihilism with the constructive political horizons opened up by a nihilistic hermeneutics, which allows us to think anew the ideas of freedom and equality.




How to Cite

Vattimo, G. (2009). Nihilism as Emancipation. Cosmos and History: The Journal of Natural and Social Philosophy, 5(1), 20–23. Retrieved from