Nihilism manifests itself in various contexts—for example, individual and collective, historical and psychological—and different expressions, for instance, ontological, epistemological, ethical, political, logical, theological. Its types are also variegated:

  • incomplete,
  • complete,
  • extreme,
  • consummate,
  • ecstatic.

I've also heard of

  • reactive,

  • active, and

  • passive.

These latter three appear in Deleuze, when he claims that the "higher man" is just a means for reactive men to deify themselves:

The prophet is a prophet... representative of passive nihilism, prophet of the last man... The ugliest of men represents reactive nihilism: the reactive man has turned his ressentiment against God, he has put himself in the place of the God he has killed (Nietzsche and philosophy p155)

What does each mean?

  • i think it's meant to be incomplete / reactive (history of nihilism), complete / passive (despicable men), extreme / active (artists?), consummate (nietzsche), ecstatic (heidegger), but i'm guessing
    – user38026
    Apr 25, 2019 at 13:00
  • 1
    Nihilism is a term covering everything from the philosophical rejection of existence to the pervading feeling induced by clinical depression.
    – Richard
    Apr 25, 2019 at 13:29
  • 1
    well, even from a technical philosophy position, Nihilism has multiple exact meanings.. hence the OP's question.
    – Richard
    Apr 25, 2019 at 13:46
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    There is a commonly used logical or (grammatical) opposition active/passive and also a more physical one "active/reactive". Both are indeed in Deleuze writings, not necessarily connected with nihilism. And the rest here is just a bunch of adjectives.
    – sand1
    Apr 25, 2019 at 21:02
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    Isn't this too broad even by your standards? What exactly unites these "nihilisms" aside from a common name? And if we are talking Deleuze and Heidegger, even one of these senses might take a page or two. Is there one sense in particular you interested in and can focus this on?
    – Conifold
    Apr 25, 2019 at 21:49


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