Authentic Nihilism: Crediting to Nietzsche Heidegger's Debt

Ami Harbin


Nietzsche is ultimately placed by Heidegger within the metaphysical tradition—as the consummation and finale which facilitates Heidegger’s movement henceforth. Nietzsche’s position is crucial, Heidegger says, for without it his own questioning of Being itself could never have begun. I consider both Heidegger’s naming of Nietzsche as an inauthentic nihilist and his placement of Nietzsche within the realm of metaphysics—moves Nietzsche himself would fervently and adamantly oppose. I look briefly at Heidegger’s early claims about nihilism and authenticity, and appraise where, how, and to what end Nietzsche is located in the midst of these schemes. I conclude that, given Heidegger’s use of Nietzsche, his early account of authenticity neither adequately accounts for nor gives sufficient credit to one’s socio-historical context. I will suggest that holding Heidegger’s views accountable to a more social view of autonomy would strengthen authenticity and clarify its importance.


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University of Victoria