Nihilism and weak thought


Rita SerpytytE



The weak thought (il pensiero debole) is an expression which was first used in the beginning of 90’s by a contemporary Italian philosopher, Gianni Vattimo, in one of his articles. However this expression very soon (as Vattimo himself claims in To Believe in Believing, 1996) became the name not only for a collection of articles and, later, for an issue of a periodical but also for of all Italian postmodernism represented by Vattimo, Amoroso, Carchia, Comolli, Costa, Crespi, Dal Lago, Eco, Ferraris, Marconi etc. Even more, today it is the name of a philosophical position and thought. Nowadays weak thought became a philosophical paradigm. The goal of my article is not to clarify whether the weak thought is a philosophical movement or a specific mode of contemporary thought, but to discuss the philosophical position of the weak thought represented by Vattimo himself.

What is the weak thought? What kind of the disposition of thought is supposed in the adjective weak which from the first sight could hardly go as an attribute to the noun thought. Yet this word combination is how Vattimo called his philosophical position. The exposition of the program of his position was first presented in The End of Modernity (1985), which consists of separate articles which during the previous years had been published in periodicals. Later this position was re-discussed and re-specified in order to reveal it’s new and unexpected aspects, as well as to indicate and to solve separate problems from the position of the weak thought.

The anti-metaphysical view of Nietzsche was conditioned by the horizon of Heidegger’s thought. It is easily distinguishable as a formal feature of this thought in comparison with other postmodern thinkers (Rorty, Derrida). Here it seems rather to be one of similarity than of originality for the essence of the weak thought is to be sought by responding to the question of what these formal features hide.


Why Nietzsche and Heidegger?


In his preface to The End of Modernity Vattimo says that this book was dedicated to elucidate the relationship between the outcome of Nietzsche’s and Heidegger’s thoughts and the discourse on the end of Modernity and Postmodernism. Only the discussion about the post-modern relationship with Nietzsche’s theme of eternal recurrence and Heidegger’s position of the overcoming of metaphysics could reveal the peculiarities of post-modern thought. Both these philosophical insights are important as they can not be reduced to the simple Kulturkritik which pervaded the philosophical thought until the 20th century. Thus Vattimo considers both Heidegger’s critique of humanism and Nietzsche’s announcement of an accomplished nihilism as "‘positive’ moments for a philosophical reconstruction, and not merely as symptoms and declarations of decadence". It can be clearly seen in the preface to the mentioned book that the post-modern relationship that Vattimo keeps with Nietzsche and Heidegger is the same attitude that these thinkers established in regard to the heritage of European thought. Despite all the differences, Vattimo indicates in their thought a common point of view which opens the perspective in which the essential feature of European thought becomes clear: European thought is merged with an idea of history. Namely Hegel’s historicism leads philosophy to evaluate the former heritage in view of a demand for its critical overcoming (Aufhebung); the Enlightenment’s idea of progress now is directed against philosophy itself. According Vattimo, "from the point of view of Nietzsche and Heidegger […] modernity is in fact dominated by the idea that the history of thought is a progressive ‘enlightenment’ which develops through an ever more complete appropriation and re-appropriation of its own ‘foundations’. These are often also understood as ‘origins’, so that the theoretical and practical revolutions of Western history are presented and legitimated for the most part as ‘recoveries’, rebirths, or returns (recurrences). The idea of ‘overcoming’, which is so important in all modern philosophy, understands the course of thought as being progressive development in which the new is identified with value through the mediation of the recovery and appropriation of the foundation-origin". In this case Nietzsche’s and Heidegger’s positions are united by a refusal of the critical overcoming or progressive development of the former philosophical heritage. The other aspect of this attitude is its "anti-foundationalism". Vattimo says: "Precisely the notion of foundation, and of thought both as foundation and means of access to a foundation, is radically interrogated by Nietzsche and Heidegger". The rejection of Hegel’s ideas of historicism and foundationalism is the factor that, according Vattimo, can define the post-modern point of view. This attitude is complicated enough as, on the one hand, it is necessary to take up a critical distance from Western thought insofar as it is foundational; on the other hand, there is no possibility to criticize Western thought in the name of another, "truer foundation". And this is a critical situation in which Vattimo finds both Nietzsche, Heidegger and himself. However, are Nietzsche’s and Heidegger’s anti-historicism and anti-foundationalism the same? Or maybe that identity of Nietzsche’s and Heidegger’s positions is the identity seen by the eyes of Vattimo? The identity that defines the position represented by Vattimo himself, i.e. the post-modern position of the weak thought?

Vattimo appeals constantly to Nietzsche and Heidegger, not only in describing his starting point but also in formulating the philosophical problems that emerges in the horizon of his thought. Frequently, when indicating the sources of his thought, he will refer to Nietzsche, Heidegger and Christianity. The latter sounds paradoxical and even shocking. But the second enables us to understand the first one, that is to find the point from which the identity of Nietzsche’s and Heidegger’s thought is revealed.

In his To Believe in Believing Vattimo seeks to justify himself for setting the background on this strange combination: Nietzsche, Heidegger and Christianity. According to his words, he prefers these two thinkers "and (or even especially) because" their propositions seem to accord harmonically with the "religious, and specifically Christian, substratum which remained alive" also in Vattimo himself. "I return to think about Christianity, because I constructed a philosophy inspired by Nietzsche and Heidegger and in its light I interpreted my experience in the actual world; most probably I constructed this philosophy with a preference of these authors because I started to move from this Christian heritage, which, it seems, I discover now, but which, in fact, I have never really abandoned". This circulus vitiosus is how Vattimo describes his philosophical identity and, to his mind, it is how the relation between our world of the late Modernity and the Christian heritage could be described as well.

But in which way should we see the Christianity to be able to reveal from its perspective the identity of Nietzsche’s and Heidegger’s positions? On the other hand, how should we see Nietzsche and Heidegger that the identity of their positions could become the perspective of the interpretation of Christianity? Vattimo does not seek to run away from this circle. This circle in a certain way defines the horizon of his philosophy…


Thought as the history of Being (the Event)


The melting of the idea of history inevitably makes us put a question about the sense of place for our thought, that is whether it is possible to indicate the locality of our thought beyond the idea of history. The post-modern thought of our days considers the definition of its own place in history to be very important. Thus we should ask a natural question: on which concept of history is weak thought based, after having rejected the idea of history? In the history of thought of the latter two ages the tendency to deny the possibility to base thought on the stable structures of Being as on an immutably true background is easily noted. According to Vattimo, this melting of the stability of Being was only partially carried out in the main philosophical systems of the 19th century. It was only Nietzsche and Heidegger who radicalized this tendency, because they "conceive of Being as an event, for both of them it is vitally important, in order to be able to speak of Being, to understand at ‘what point’ we are, and at ‘what point’ Being itself is". Thus ontology for Vattimo is "nothing other than the interpretation of our condition or situation, since Being is nothing apart from its ‘event’, which occurs when it historicizes itself and when we historicize ourselves". The latter proposition of Vattimo is not only the reference point from what he thinks of weak thought as ontological hermeneutics, but reference to a certain concept of historicity "because firstly Heidegger considers philosophizing and practices it as his own time conceived by thought, as a reflected expression of themes which before belonging to everyday consciousness are the history of Being, the epoch constituting moments". So there is no doubt that the concept of historicity that imposes itself upon Vattimo derives from Heidegger. This concept of historicity is demonstrated comprehensively by Heidegger in regard to Nietzsche’s philosophy. To recall Heidegger’s thoughts we could notice that he supposed Nietzsche’s philosophical thought to be that kind of "knowledge", which "is staying inside the moment opened to our times by the history of Being". The philosophy of Nietzsche, according Heidegger, essentially is an answer to the question "What is being in its Being?". And since the setting of truth about the world of beings is the essence of metaphysics, he considers Nietzsche’s philosophy still as a moment of the history of metaphysics, and not a step for overcoming metaphysics. Vattimo accepts this position of Heidegger with respect to Nietzsche.

But what kind of relationship does Vattimo keep with Heidegger himself? Defining his position as weak thought Vattimo singles out the two ways of "reading" Heidegger. The weak thought is the one that in Heidegger’s reconstruction of "metaphysics as the history of Being", i.e. the totality of Ge-schik, openness, is not able to see only maintenance of the metaphysical difference between Being and being. The thought that takes into its account that the real Being (God) can not be identified with any being, but is settled beyond every being, every name, every metaphor, according Vattimo, could only be the "negative theology". That is why it legitimates the infinity of names, metaphors of Being, since the efforts to grasp the real Being (God) are always unsuccessful. Vattimo calls Heidegger’s right the interpretation of Heidegger which thinks of the ontological difference in terms of negative theology. That is, if we think that the end of metaphysics opens the way to metaphor and different names of God this means that we read Heidegger as a negative theologian or even as a metaphysician.

But this latter position in regard of Heidegger does not take into serious consideration the real significance of Heidegger’s concept of historicity. The left of Heidegger, according Vattimo, is represented by the weak thought. This thought both takes into account the ontological difference and fulfils the demand to think "metaphysics as the history of Being". For Vattimo this means to think the ontological difference as the "happening" of weakening, reduction, "continuous farewell", in which "Being consolidates and becomes valuable as far as it liberates itself and withdraws".

From the point of view of weak thought, or the left of Heidegger, one of the greatest risks of hermeneutic philosophy that influenced Heidegger’s heritage becomes clear, namely, this philosophy legitimates the non-reducible multitude of the images of the world. Cultural relativity, as Vattimo says, is nothing other than the last and more insidious form of the objective metaphysics. It considers all re-descriptions (myths, metaphors) to be legitimate ways to represent the world.

From the point of view of the left of Heidegger, the "liberation of metaphor" occurs as the outcome of the process of the conclusion/accomplishment of metaphysics. This process in no way opens the real structures of Being but appears as having significance, showing direction, "giving the guiding thread which leads from the confusion". Heidegger gives the name of a "thread" to the diminution of Being, to its liberation and withdrawal. This "thread", according Vattimo, is the way Being gives itself as a "trace" or "memory"10 .

Thus the weak thought is the disposition of thought that knows its limits. It is an idea of thought which rejects the pretensions of global metaphysical visions. If Heidegger’s critique of objective metaphysics makes us reject the pretension to create the adequate concept of Being, it becomes necessary to think Being as in no sense able to be identified with a presence which can be attributed to an object.

Vattimo, after many times having called himself as a "debolist", consistently seeks also to read "debolistically" Nietzsche, Heidegger and the Christian heritage. This means that he finds "the guiding thread" in the weakening of firm structures. Vattimo considers the moment of Western metaphysics in which we live as an overcoming of metaphysics which has not yet been concluded.


The history which has THE name of Nihilism


On the other hand, the fact that Vattimo finds the end of thread of the history of Being in the weakening of the firm structures of Being means for him that Being has a nihilistic vocation. It means that to reduce, to withdraw, to liberate itself, to weaken is the feature of Being that defines the letting-presence of Being in the epoch of the end of metaphysics. Thus the history of weakening of Being, according Vattimo, is the history of nihilism. The problems of nihilism, for Vattimo, is not historiographical, but geschichtlich in the sense of the connection made by Heidegger between Geschichte (History) and Geschick (Destiny)11 . Even Heidegger pointed out that nihilism like a move of Western history towards Modernity was firstly recognized by Nietzsche. The same Heidegger, confirming Nietzsche’s diagnosis, supposed that Western thought is inevitably to fall in nihilism. Vattimo, while speaking about the nihilistic vocation of Being, doesn’t seek to hide that the origin of his attitude on nihilism derives from Nietzsche and Heidegger. He speaks about nihilism in which Nietzsche and Heidegger are able to see not only the outcome (result) of Western history but also its sense. Thus the name of Western history as the history of Being has the name of nihilism. But giving a name to history we still do not indicate what our place in this history is, or, speaking in terms of Heidegger, we still do not define "which moment of hidden Western history do we stand in, or, to put it more generally, whether we stand, or fall or already lie"12 .

So here arises the question whether the diagnosis of nihilism is not nihilistic as well. "We all are nihilists" – F. Dostoyevsky used to say. Does Vattimo, when turning back to Nietzsche and Heidegger, also pronounce that all? Nietzsche separated nihilism understood as a revaluation of values from the "classical nihilism" represented by himself. However, according to Heidegger, Nietzsche is a classical nihilist as far as, without being aware of it, he takes the position of disillusioned defensiveness against the knowing its essence13 . Nietzsche is not able to think through to its end the essence of nihilism. He is seen as a classical nihilist and as giving "a word for the history that actually occurs"14 ;  he "recognizes and grasps nihilism as he himself thinks in a nihilistic way. Nietzsche’s concept of nihilism itself is a nihilistic concept"15 . After having placed Nietzsche inside nihilism, Heidegger bends to set himself "outside" it. For Heidegger nihilism doesn’t mean the same thing as for Nietzsche. In his Seinsfrage, dedicated to Jünger, Heidegger says that the essence of nihilism can’t be grasped in the simply phenomenological field, i.e. by showing that nothing (or nothingness) remains from the sense of Being. On the contrary, it has to be grasped starting from Nothingness, from the possibility that the totality of being could be another way or not at all; otherwise nihilism obscures nothingness. There arises the question, says Heidegger, "whether the intimate essence and power of nihilism does not consist of the fact that people consider Nothingness as something empty, and nihilism as a naked adoration of emptiness, a negation that can easily be defeated by an assertion. Maybe the essence of nihilism is that people do not consider the question about Nothingness as a serious one"16 . Drawing the conclusions from Heidegger’s opinion of Nietzsche, it becomes clear that, on the one hand, their concepts of nihilism are not equal, that Nietzsche was a nihilist in another sense as it seemed to himself; and finally, that Heidegger does not think himself a nihilist in the sense in which nihilism is attributed to Nietzsche.

Is there any sense in asking once more about the essence of nihilism? Vattimo, who announced the theme of nihilism as not historiographical but geschichtlich, supposes, that it does. Nihilism acts (occurs). Our state can be described using the definition of Nietzsche’s "accomplished nihilism". "The accomplished nihilist, says Vattimo, has understood that nihilism is his or her sole opportunity. What is happening to us in regard to nihilism, today, is this: we begin to be, or to be able to be, accomplished nihilists"17 . But what concept of nihilism does Vattimo incline to use when giving a diagnosis of our state, and, according Heidegger, indicating where we "stand", or whether we "stand" at all, whether we "fall", or even "lie"?

On the one hand, the concept of accomplished nihilism, "the last opportunity", as it is called by Vattimo himself, allows one to see the origin of the weak thought in L. Pareyson’s ontology of freedom. Namely through the ontology of freedom the weak thought adopts the critique of traditional metaphysics which abolished Nothingness. Pareyson considers Nothingness, the shadow of Being, its symmetrical duplicate, to be an indispensable satellite of Being, but not something that is finally abolished, as it is treated by metaphysical thought. The ontology of freedom tells the history of Nothingness that contradicts the metaphysical history of nothingness. It is the history of nothingness which opens itself not as a negativity that Being calls its opposition and at the same time abolishes, but as a principle which changes Being to Freedom. Being is no longer supposed to be a rational principle, and it is showed that it can be other than a rational principle. Even more, it is shown that Being cannot be at all. However, in the ontology of freedom, for Pareyson, the history of nothingness doesn’t coincide with the history of nihilism. Still it is not without the so-called Turin school and his direct teacher that Vattimo accepted the attitude that the phenomenon of nihilism can hardly be explained if we do not take into account its historical roots, i.e. the nothingness which was not only the paradigm of crisis and fall, but firstly the power that in the space of Being opened the possibility of a certain style of life, for self-determination for or against certain values, or even for a new manifestation of divinity. Thus it becomes clear that it is not possible to explain the phenomenon of nihilism in separation from its profound connection with the problematic field of the ontology of nothingness. Only from the first sight it could seem that nihilism has nothing in common with a fundamental question "Why Being, rather than nothing(ness)?". This way of putting the problem of nothingness separates Vattimo from the position which criticizes onto-theology (Derrida, Rorty). Nothingness is the central point of weak thought, inspired by the ontology of freedom, while the critique of onto-theology evades the theme of nothingness; its discourse avoids discussing it.

Thus the history of nihilism told by Vattimo coincides with the history of nothingness or the history of the oblivion of the ontological difference.

In this sense Vattimo has to decide not only for the Nietzsche’s "accomplished nihilism", but also for Heidegger’s horizon that was consolidated by the ontology of freedom: the nothingness of Ground (Grund), the separation of Grund and Boden that lets us consider the sense of Being as Freedom.

What then is Vattimo’s concept of nihilism? We have to note that Vattimo, who calls himself a nihilist, is able to do this only because, following Heidegger, having read nihilistically Nietzsche, he also reads Heidegger himself nihilistically. His attitude in regard to nihilism becomes clear when we recognize the strategy of relating Nietzsche and Heidegger.

In the first chapter of The End of Modernity called "An Apology for Nihilism" Vattimo first of all speaks about these moments of Nietzsche’s and Heidegger’s nihilism which, to his mind, do coincide. He says that nihilism signifies here what it means for Nietzsche: the situation in which ‘man rolls from the centre toward X’. Then he clarifies: nihilism in this sense is the same as it meant for Heidegger, namely the process in which, at the end, ‘there is nothing left’. To Vattimo’s mind, both positions coincide as they do not speak about man at the psychological or sociological level, but concern Being itself. The latter situation which for Nietzsche means that man without ambiguity recognizes the absence of foundation as the constitution of the human situation. The non coincidence of Being and foundation is one of the least ambiguous moments of Heidegger’s ontology as well.

Nietzsche and Heidegger, according Vattimo, come into accord when speaking about contents and ways of manifestation. In this case the process of nihilism for Nietzsche coincides with the "death of God" and the "revaluation of the highest values". For Heidegger nihilism is demolished as it is completely transformed into values. As mentioned above, Heidegger involves also the "accomplished nihilist" Nietzsche in the process of nihilism as the transformation of Being into values. Vattimo admits that it is possible to carry into effect Heidegger’s posing of Nietzsche against nihilism. But right here he makes another unexpected step: he poses Nietzsche’s nihilism against Heidegger. "Heidegger himself – from a more Nietzschean that Heideggerian point of view – is also a part of the history of the accomplished nihilism, for nihilism seems to be precisely that mode of thought beyond metaphysics for which he is looking"18 . Undoubtedly, this statement expresses rather the position of weak thought than "Nietzsche’s point of view" on… Heidegger. And indeed, the configuration of the problem of nihilism in Vattimo’s philosophy lets us assert without ambiguity that for Vattimo it is much more important to carry out this "Nietzsche’s point of view on Heidegger" than vice versa, i.e. to read him as an accomplished nihilist, as it is only then when the nihilism perceived by Heidegger starts to be "active". On the other hand, only the execution of both procedures of putting each against the other enables us to consider nihilism as the process of overcoming metaphysics which is not yet concluded. This is how the weak thought represented by Vattimo treats nihilism.

Thus the concept of Vattimo’s nihilism is for the most part based on the background of Heideggerian nihilism. Because it is only through the hermeneutical development of Heidegger’s thought the nihilism appears as the sole opportunity of contemporary thought. But will Vattimo succeed in demonstrating the firmness of "Nietzsche’s point of view on Heidegger" as a nihilist?

In the seventh chapter of the third part of The End of Modernity named "Hermeneutics and Nihilism" Vattimo asserts that it is possible to qualify the Heideggerian connection (identity) between Being and language (i.e. that on which hermeneutical ontology is based) in a nihilistic way. This kind of assertion, according Vattimo, if proved could have fundamental importance for the development of the theory of hermeneutics. Vatimo singles out the two elements of Heideggerian hermeneutics that indicate the relationship between Being and language and allow for this relationship to be interpreted in a nihilistic way: 1) The analysis of Dasein as a hermeneutical totality, and 2) An attempt to define thought beyond metaphysics in terms of An-denken (re-collection, keeping in mind).

Thus firstly Vattimo announces the vision of Heidegger’s hermeneutical constitution of Dasein as nihilistic. Dasein as a hermeneutical totality, i.e. one that may not be identified with some Kantian a priori structure, is well-founded only when connected with mortality: Vattimo says: "Dasein establishes itself as a hermeneutical totality only insofar as it continually lives the possibility of no-longer-being-there. This condition may be described by saying that the foundation of Dasein coincides with groundlessness: the hermeneutic totality of Dasein exists only in relation to the constitutive possibility of no longer being there"19 .

Vattimo also indicates that the relation between grounding (founding) and un-grounding of Sein und Zeit in his final works corresponds to the concept of the event as Ereignis. The latter means the being of the thing, given as something, for self-demolition, for appropriating itself, as it is taken up in ‘the mirror-play of the world". It has the fashion of the ‘round dance’, but not of the dialectical founding of totality. Do Dasein, Sein-zum-Tode and Ereignis demonstrate well-enough Heidegger’s nihilism? "In what sense can this vision of the hermeneutic constitution of Dasein be called ‘nihilistic’? – this is Vattimo’s question.

Not only the possibility of reading Heidegger consistently, but also the solidity of Vattimo’s nihilistic position depend on the response to this question. According Vattimo, the nihilism which is attributed to Heidegger may be described by Nietzsche as the situation in which ‘man rolls from the centre towards X’. For Nietzsche this situation means that the human subject recognizes that the lack of foundation is a constitutive part of its condition20 . Therefore after having turned Nietzsche’s nihilism against Heidegger, Vattimo finds the equivalents of the latter nihilism also in Heidegger’s texts, though Heidegger himself did not qualify them nihilistically. Vattimo refers to Sein und Zeit where Heidegger speaks of the necessity of "forgetting about Being as foundation" if we do wish to become closer to the thought which is not directed to objectiveness21 . After having turned Nietzsche against Heidegger, after having recognized the identity of their positions and, at the same time, having applied the Nietzschean nihilism to Heidegger, the nihilistic elements both in the demonstration of hermeneutic totality and in the concept of Ereignis become undoubted.

However, here we face another doubt which is obvious, or – to be more exact – which is being revealed by Vattimo for demonstrating the doubtfulness of the doubt. "Nevertheless it would appear that Heidegger’s mode of thought is the opposite of nihilism, at least in the sense in which nihilism signifies that process which not only eliminates Being as foundation but forgets about Being altogether"22 . In other words, it seems that nihilism for Heidegger is something different than for Nietzsche, as the latter says that nihilism is the process in which at the end "there is nothing left from Being as such". Will the demonstration of the doubtfulness of the doubt be successful, that is, shall we succeed in proving the possibility of calling Heidegger’s hermeneutics nihilistic also in this sense, contradicting Heidegger’s texts? Or will it also the second attempt to turn Nietzsche against Heidegger be successful? For the realisation of this task one needs to demonstrate that the overcoming of the oblivion of Being does not contradict Nietzsche’s "there is nothing left from Being as such" and this would mean that the overcoming of the oblivion of Being could only be nihilistic. The Heideggerian An-denken seems to provide the latter possibility. To Vattimo’s mind, the second of above indicated moments in Heidegger’s philosophy, should reveal itself as evidence that "this second meaning of nihilism can also be applied to Heidegger’s philosophy"23 . An-denken is presented as the form of thought that opposes metaphysical thought which is dominated by the oblivion of Being. In his late works Heidegger himself sought to carry out Andenken, the form of recollecting thought, reviving in his memory the greatest moments of the history of metaphysics, i.e. re-thinking the creations of the greatest thinkers and poets. Establishing the relation between these two perspectives of nihilism, Vattimo writes: "The fact of mortality, which founds the hermeneutic totality of existence, appears more clearly in Heidegger’s late works as Andenken or re-collective thought. It is by retracing the history of metaphysics as the forgetting of Being that Dasein decides for its own death and in this way founds itself as a hermeneutic totality whose foundation consists of a lack of foundation"24 . Vattimo asserts that this An-denken is nothing else but leap into the abyss "in which we, as mortals, always already find ourselves"25 . This is the way how An-denken, as the entrusting to the liberating bond with tradition, becomes an opposite to metaphysical thought.

However one may draw a conclusion that Vattimo considers as most essential here that aspect of An-denken which refers to the impossibility of carring out the re-collection of Being in any other way than non-representative thought. Vattimo says: "Being can never really be thought of as a presence, and the thought that does not forget it is only that which remembers it or, in other words, already thinks of Being as absent, vanished, or gone away"26 . This opportunity of Heideggerian thought revealed by Vattimo to re-collect Being as non present unifies the overcoming of the oblivion of Being with nihilism, when "there is nothing left from Being as such". The outcome of this second turning of Nietzsche against Heidegger is not only the demonstration of the nihilism of the latter, but also weak thought itself as a contemporary opportunity of thought. It is easy to notice that the weak thought is valid not only because of reading Nietzsche in a Heideggerian way, but also because of reading Heidegger in a Nietzschean way. Accomplished nihilism understood as a sole opportunity is "debolism", the weakness of Being, the letting-presence of Being not as an object accessible for a representative thought but as recollection or as trace.

Finally, using another two provocative Vattimo’s quotations, it should be necessary to open the perspective which enables this kind of reading of Nietzsche and Heidegger:

"We recognize that the history of Being has a reductive, ‘nihilistic’ sense, that it has a tendency to assert the truth of Being through the reduction of the significance of beings (be it a political power, or threatening and angry God of natural religions, or the self-consideration of a modern subject to be the last guarantee of the truth) – all this we recognize only if we are raised in the Christian tradition"27 .

"The overcoming of metaphysics may not occur in any other way than a nihilistic one. The sense of nihilism […] may not be other than a non-defined process of reduction, decrease, weakening. Is it possible to imagine this kind of thought beyond the horizon of Incarnation? May be this is the crucial question to which contemporary hermeneutics should search for an answer (if only it really seeks to go the way that was opened by the invitation of Heidegger to recollect Being; and this is what Ereignis really is)"28 .




 1 Vattimo, G. The End of Modernity. Nihilism and Hermeneutics in Postmodern Culture. – Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1991, p. 1.

 2 Ibid., p. 2.

 3 Ibid., p..2.

 4 Vattimo, G. Credere di credere. – Milano: Garzanti, 1996, p. 24.

 5 The End of Modernity, p. 3.

 6 Ibid.

 7 Vattimo, G. "La traccia della traccia" – In Derrida, J. Vattimo, G.(cur.) Annuario filosofico europeo. La religione. – Roma-Bari: Laterza, 1995.

 8 Heidegger, M. "Evropeiskij nigilizm" – In Vremia i bytie. – Moskva: Respublika, 1993, p. 69.

 9 Vattimo, G. "Fine del secolo, fine della secolarizzazione?". – In Trascendenza. Trascendentale. Esperienza. Biblioteca dell’ "Archivio di filosofia", 12. – Padova: CEDAM, 1995, p. 148.

 10 Ibid.

 11 The End of Modernity, p. 19.

 12 Heidegger, M. Evropeiskij nigilizm, p. 68.

 13 Ibid.

 14 Ibid., p. 74.

 15 Ibid., p.. 75.

 16 Ibid., p. 74.

 17 The End of Modernity, p. 19.

 18 Ibid., p. 20.

 19 Ibid., p. 116.

 20 Ibid., pp. 117-118.

 21 Ibid., p. 29.

 22 Ibid., p. 118.

 23 Ibid.

 24 Ibid., p. 119.

 25 Ibid.

 26 Ibid., p. 120.

 27 Credere di credere, p. 37.

 28 La traccia della traccia, p. 105.