A groundbreaking classic of contemporary philosophy for the first time in English translation
In 1969, Emanuele Severino underwent a Vatican trial for the ‘fundamental incompatibility’ between his thought and the Christian doctrine, and was removed from his position as professor of philosophy at the Catholic University in Milan. The Essence of Nihilism published in 1972, was the first book to follow his expulsion, and to firmly establish Severino’s preeminent position within the constellation of contemporary philosophy.
In this groundbreaking book, Severino reinterprets the history of Western philosophy as the unfolding of ‘the greatest folly’, that is, of the belief that ‘things come out of nothing and fall back into nothing’. According to Severino, such a typically Western understanding of reality has produced a belief in the radical ‘nothingness’ of things. This, in turn has justified the treatment of the world as an object of exploitation, degradation and destruction.
To move beyond Western nihilism, suggests Severino, we must first of all ‘return to Parmenides’. Joining forces with the most venerable of Greek philosophers, Severino confutes the ‘path of night’ of nihilism, and develops a new philosophy grounded on the principle of the eternity of reality and of every single existent.