Project Topics

NIHILISM IN NIETZSCHE; A CRITICAL EVALUATION OF NIGERIAN SITUATION

NIHILISM
IN NIETZSCHE; A CRITICAL EVALUATION OF NIGERIAN SITUATION

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Title
…………………………………………………………………i

Certification…………………………………………………………ii

Dedication………………………………………………………….iii

Acknowledgement………………………………………………….iv

Table of Contents         …………………………..……………………..vi

CHAPTER ONE

GENERAL
INTRODUCTION

1.1   Introduction…………………………………………………….1

1.2   Nietzsche’s biography…………………………………………..4

1.2   Statement of the problem……………………………………….5

1.3   Purpose of the study ……………………………………………7

1.4   Scope of the study………………………………………………7

1.5      
Methodology ……………………………………………………7

 

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER TWO

THE CONCEPT
OF NIHILISM

2.1   Notion of nihilism………………………………………………..8

2.2   Nihilism in the history of
thought………………………………..9

2.3   Kinds of Nihilism  ………………………………………………19

 

CHAPTER THREE

NIHILSM IN
NIETZSCHE

3.1
Preliminary remark……………………………………………….23

3.2
Background of Nietzschean nihilism……………………………..23

3.3 God is
dead; Nietzsche’s nihilistic thought……………………….24

3.4 Implication of Nietzsche’s nihilism……………………………….28

 

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER FOUR

EXPOSITION OF
NIGERIAN SITUATION

4.1
Preliminary remark………………………………………………..32

4.2 Moral
nihilism……………………………………………………..33

4.3 Religious
nihilism………………………………………………….36

4.4
Educational nihilism……………………………………………….42

4.5 Economic
nihilism…………………………………………………47

4.6 Political
nihilism…………………………………………………..49

 

CHAPTER FIVE

CRITICAL
EVALUATION AND CONLUSION

5.1
Evaluation………………………………………………………….57

5.2
Conclusion…………………………………………………………62

BIBLIOGRAPHY…………………………………………………….63

CHAPTER ONE

 

GENERAL
INTRODUCTION

1.1              
 INTRODUCTION

In the history of thought,
Nietzsche occupies a fundamental position especially in the contemporary era.
His ideas and postulations are not only thought provoking but brain storming;
not so much because of his originality but for daring the ‘undared’. In the
light of this, Copleston confirmed: “For whatever one may think about
Nietzsche’s ideas, one cannot question his vast reputation and the power of his
ideas to act like a potent wine in the minds of a good many people”.1 Nietzsche’s fame is not busted by his
postulations of the Superman, Eternal Return, Transvaluation of Values and not
even the Will to Power. The landmark that makes him remembered today is his
famous nihilistic acclamation ‘God is dead!’ Nietzsche identified this calamity
with European nihilism. The European culture, once a religious culture, had
become religionless. However, since this culture was built on the foundation of
the Christian religion, the death of God in the hearts of the 19th century
European meant the collapse of the foundation of their culture, moral values,
tradition, and this was for Nietzsche a tragedy. To buttress this Omoregbe
opined: “Nietzsche foresaw and
predicted in a prophetic way that Europe was heading for a period of gloom and
eclipse, a period of instability, aimlessness, emptiness and darknes”.2 Furthermore, in his magnum opus ‘The
Will To Power’
Nietzsche wrote:

What I relate is the history of the two centuries. I
describe what is coming, what can no longer come differently: the advent of
nihilism…for sometime now, our whole European                                                                                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                                                                                                       culture
has been moving as toward a catastrophe, with a tortured tension that is
growing from decade to decade: restless, violently, headlong, like a river that
wants to reach the end, that no longer reflects, that is afraid to reflect.3

With
regard to Nigerian situation, there is no gainsaying the fact that Nietzschean
nihilistic principles have been directly translated into Nigerian experience.
Nigerian situation is that whereby the concept of God has become a dead
concept. This is so because God is dead in the hearts of Nigerians. Consequently
everything is permitted; nothing is meaningful and nothing works, no central
objective and rallying point. Morality is thrown to dogs and meaning goes with
it. This explains why there are crisis, violence, lawlessness, assassination,
armed robbery, embezzlement, injustice, anarchy and chaos in Nigerian society
and this without mincing words or exaggeration is what I identified as Nigeria
in nihilism. However to explore Nigerian nihilism with clarity and precision,
and to bring it to limelight; moral nihilism, religious nihilism, educational
nihilism, economic nihilism and political nihilism, remains the focal point of
this memoir. Hence, what does Nietzsche mean by nihilism? What are the
consequences and implications? And how do we evaluate Nietzschean nihilism with
regard to Nigerian situation?

This project is divided into
five chapters. Chapter one introduces the whole frame of the study with the
general introduction and methodology. It further states the problem, the
purpose of the study and the scope of the study. Chapter two focuses on
definition of the term nihilism and traces its historical account in the
history of thought, which is literature review. Chapter three centres on
nihilism in Nietzsche where we shall see what he meant by nihilism and its
implication. The exposition of Nigerian situation where we shall witness the
influence of Nietzschean nihilism in Nigerian society is the proper locus of
chapter four. Chapter five takes care of evaluation and conclusion. It is this
final chapter that bears my opinion concerning the topic.

1.2 NIETZSCHE’S BIOGRAPHY

Fredrick
Wilhelm Nietzsche was born in October 15th 1844 at Rocken in
Prussian Saxony (present day Germany), into a family where his father and
grandfather were Lutheran pastors. When Nietzsche was barely five years, his
father died. Consequently, he was brought up at Naumburg in the feminine
company of his mother, sister, grandmother and two aunts. Between 1854 and 1864
he studied at Pforta. There, his admiration for Greek thought was ignited, as
he was particularly attracted to the Greeks gods, writing of Plato, Aristotle
and Aeschylus. In October 1864, Nietzsche went to the University of Bonn. Later
that year he moved to Leipzig, to further his philosophical studies under
Ritsch. During his stay in Leipzig, Friedrich gradually abandoned Christianity,
occupying his mind with atheism of Schopenhauer. As at 1869, Friedrich
Nietzsche was appointed professor at Basel at the age of 24 years.

In
the years between 1869 and 1889, Nietzsche had published a lot of works
including ‘The Dawn of Day’, ‘Joyful Wisdom’, ‘The Birth of Tragedy’,
‘Beyond Good and Evil’
and ‘Thus Spake Zarathustra’, etc. From his
multiple works, he was able to posit ideas of the Superman; The Will to Power,
Eternal Return, and God is Dead etc. As at 1888, with the publication of the Antichrist
and Ecce Homo, clear signs of mental disorder manifested in Nietzsche.
Though he was hospitalised in January 1889, he never recovered fully from the
insanity till the end of his life. He died on August 25th 1900. 

1.3 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM.

We live in the era when men are more concerned with
power, pleasure, wealth and connection than character formation. An era when
Hobbesian theory of man being wolf to man, the Machiavellian principle of might
is right, and the Darwinian evolutionism of survival of the fittest are not
only accepted but also cherished and adopted as the guiding principle in human
relation. Today, what matters is how successful one is, with little or no
regard to the means of the attainment of that success thus instead of the means
justifying the end, the reverse is the case. Thus honesty is disregarded,
indolence is extolled, probity is derided, and ostentation is paraded. Hence,
there is apparent disregard of rule of law. Crime is committed with impunity.
Therefore, there is loss of order and the society is chaotic.

This is not unconnected with Friedrich Wilhelm
Nietzsche’s nihilistic proclamation. Having seen the meaninglessness,
nothingness and absurdity of Judeo/Christian belief in God, Nietzsche announced
to the world his shocking discovery that “God is dead”.4 He does not simply say that
God does not exist, but that God is dead. What a catastrophe? Strengthening
this, Omoregbe opined that: “What
formerly gave meaning and sense of direction to human existence is no longer
there. Men are now left simply with nothing, with emptiness and a meaningless
existence”.5 Thus, the
nothingness and nihilism of human existence, according to Nietzsche is the
consequences of the death of God. It is this apparent lack of meaning and
nihilism is what we are experiencing in Nigeria today. The situation in Nigeria
has grown worse that she is “being described in international circles as the
second most corrupt country in the world”6,
by The Transparency International. It is to elicit this cankerworm or virus and
to quarantine it that is the major problem of which this research sets out to
resolve.

 

 

 

1.4 THE PURPOSE OF THE STUDY 

Among
philosophers, the term ‘nihilism’ is mostly associated with Nietzsche. Thus,
the sole aim or purpose of this project is to make clear what Nietzsche meant
by nihilism and to see how far this has affected the situation in Nigeria.

 

1.5 THE SCOPE OF THE STUDY

Even though Nietzsche said many
things, this study is limited to his idea of death of God, from which
Nietzsche’s nihilism is interpreted. Nigerian situation is also a follow up to
Nietzsche’s nihilistic doctrine.

         

1.6
METHODOLOGY

This work is
purely expository, interpretative and evaluative. Radically, Nietzsche’s dictum
‘God is dead’ is exposed as it were, which forms the base from which his
nihilism is interpreted. This is followed by critical evaluation of Nigerian
situation using Nietzsche’s nihilism as guideline.                 

1 F. Copleston, History of Philosophy,
vol. 7, Part II, (New York: Image Books, 1965) p. 164

2 J. Omoregbe, A Philosophical Look at
Religion,
(Lagos: Joja Press, 1993) p.126

3 F. Nietzsche, The Will to Power, (ed.)
W. Kaufmann et al., (New York: Vintage Books, 1967) p.3

4 S. Stumpf, Philosophy: History and Problems,
(New York: Kingsport Press, 1971), p.386.

5 J. Omoregbe, A Simplified History of Western
Philosophy
, vol. II, (Lagos: Joja Press, 1991), p.171.

6 E. Ezeani, Education in
Nigeria
, (London: Veritas Lumen Publ., 2005), p.7.