I’d like to know if there were philosophers who proposed the basic presupposition of existential nihilism as the reason to live life passionately. Put otherwise, were there philosophers who explained nihilistic concepts in an optimistic light?

I understand that one of the core beliefs of existential nihilism is that life is meaningless. It seems to me though that if it is so, one is free to live it as one pleases. Life would essentially be an ideological vacuum void of regulations or standards; its meaning would then be reduced to something individual and private, i.e., whatever you want it to be, however you want to live it. I think this train of thought could touch on hedonism as well, though I assume the connection would be superficial. I’d love to know if there were actual philosophers that explored this concept.

Thanks in advance :)

  • Does this answer your question? What's the best way to deal with nihilism?
    – user14511
    Commented Nov 19, 2022 at 4:49
  • Even if life is meaningless, there are constraints on what one can do. E.g., some ways of enjoying life can make it short or render the rest of it unenjoyable (e.g., handicapped or behind the bars )
    – Roger V.
    Commented Nov 19, 2022 at 10:59
  • I don't believe in nihilism.
    – Boba Fit
    Commented Nov 19, 2022 at 20:12

1 Answer 1


Once the current or old values are deemed false it impels a revaluation of values. I.e. from Heidegger's Off the Beaten Track (GA 5: Holzwege) pages 167-168:

In this way Nietzsche recognizes that, even with the devaluation of the hitherto highest values for the world, the world itself remains; and above all that the world grown value-less is inevitably impelled toward a new dispensation of value. After the hitherto highest values have lost their validity, the new dispensation of value is changed, in regard to the former values, into a "revaluation of all values." The no to the former values is derived from the yes to the new dispensation of value. Since (in Nietzsche's view) this yes neither negotiates nor compromises with the previous values, an absolute no is part of this yes to the new dispensation of value. In order to secure the absolute character of the new yes against a regression to the former values, i.e., in order to ground the new dispensation of value as a countermovement, Nietzsche calls even the new dispensation of value "nihilism," namely, a nihilism which, through devaluation, completes itself in a new and exclusively normative dispensation of value. This normative phase of nihilism Nietzsche calls "fulfilled," i.e., classic nihilism. By nihilism, Nietzsche understands the devaluation of the hitherto highest values. Yet at the same time Nietzsche finds himself affirming nihilism in the sense of a "revaluation of the highest values." The name "nihilism" is therefore ambiguous; seen in relation to its extremes, it always has two meanings from the start, in that it designates the pure devaluation of the former highest values, but at the same time it also means the absolute countermovement to devaluation.

Furthermore, these are the paragon qualities for one who undertakes such a revaluation, from Heidegger's Nietzsche, Vol 1. The Will to Power as Art (GA 6.1: Der Wille zur Macht als Kunst) pages 73 & 71:

Against the nihilistic philosopher of morality (Schopenhauer hovers before Nietzsche as the most recent example of this type) must be deployed the philosopher who goes counter, who emerges from a countermovement, the "artist-philosopher."

Nietzsche says explicitly that with a view toward the essence of the artist the other configurations of will to power also — nature, religion, morals, and we might add, society and individual, knowledge, science, and philosophy — are to be observed. These kinds of beings hence correspond in a certain way to the being of the artist, to artistic creativity, and to being created.

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