The Growing Desert: Nihilism and metaphysics in Martin Heidegger's thought

Thesis Type: Doctorate

Institution Of The Thesis: Orta Doğu Teknik Üniversitesi, Graduate School of Social Sciences, Turkey

Approval Date: 2009


Supervisor: AHMET İNAM


In this study, we explore Heidegger’s understanding of nihilism as the essential dimension of metaphysics, of metaphysical experience of Being, and in the following, we address his responses to it. Heidegger takes nihilism as rooted in the metaphysical way of thinking, hence metaphysics and nihilism standing in a primordial identity. Such metaphysical way of thinking as a framework in which Being is experinced and articulated, explicitly or implicitly in all areas of Western culture, from art to science, gives us the deep history or movement of Western tradition. Heidegger considers such movement to be presenting an ever growing threat, indeed as something to be consummated in the eeriest possibility of world history, that is, total destruction of human essence as an openness for the disclosure of Being. He points out to this underlying phenomenon with various designations: forgetfullnesss of Being, abandonment of Being, darkening of the world, Gestell and devestation are some of them. In this tradition, Being, from Plato and Aristotle onwards, becomes nothing at all, that is, excluded from any thoughtful consideration, reduced to a mere abstraction. Anything nihilistic, if fully delved into, would prove to conceal at its heart an alienation to the true sense of Being. Therefore, we need to develop a way of thinking outside the dominion of metaphysics, which should not only discover No-thing as the concealment dimension of Being, thus be deeply open to our finitude, but also learn to respond thoughtfully and thankfully to the gift of Being in, through and towards which we ex-sist as human beings. Vis-a-vis the futural potentials of nihilism in this long end of Western history, the futural character of Heidegger’s thinking, his search for a new way of thinking that would incipate the other beginning, harbours a strange Tension that is characteristic of his whole philosophy.