[Book Review] Nihilism & Technology | Nihilism

A review of and response to Nolen Gertz’s Nihilism and Technology (New York: Rowman & Littlefield, Ltd.) and Nihilism (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2019).

Ecce Homo Creator: a Tragedy

Brian Kemple, PhD
Continuum Philosophical Insight
Executive Editor, Reality

No creature could be more convinced of standing at the center of the universe than the nihilist—or, at least, so it would be could any human person truly not only believe in a nihilist credo, but live according to it.  Thankfully, there is no such thing as a nihilist and never can be.

Such is the conclusion that anyone of critical mind and good philosophical principles will discover in reading Nolen Gertz’s 2018 Nihilism and Technology and 2019 Nihilism.  I have found it rather difficult to review these books.  They are cleverly-written, stylistically-pleasing, and intellectually-stimulating.  They are an impressive stew formed from the flavors of not only Nietzsche, but also of Marx, Heidegger, Ellul, Sartre, de Beauvoir, Lyotard, and Ihde.  Yet in stark contradistinction to these well-merited accolades and impressive narrative crafting, the ideas espoused within these two books penetrate but shallowly into the reality of human existence and thereby, even when insightful, distort the truth of how technology mediates our experiencing of that reality.  Thus, although they provide intellectual stimulation, in the end it is rather like the stimulation of looking for evidence of the diaphanous or the ether: an exercise in mental dexterity fixed upon a fictitious object, never to be found independently of our own fantasizing.

At the heart of both books is a Nietzschean distinction of nihilism into two distinct forms: passive and active.  The former is the “sign of the collapse and decline of spiritual strength” while the latter is the “sign of enhanced spiritual strength”.[1]  That we have given ourselves over, especially in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, to a technologically-mediated passive nihilism[2]—a nihilism which allows the present to destroy the future,[3] which is destruction for the sake of destruction,[4] a nihilism that tears apart traditional values[5]—is true.  The truth of this capitulation motivates Gertz’s appeal that we ought, becoming aware of the forces operant on our passivity, turn ourselves to an active nihilism: a nihilism that, rather than allowing ourselves to be carried from one meaningless endeavor to another, projects value from the self, from the will’s own determination of what is deemed worthy.  It is a struggle, because the culture dominated by a passive nihilism, though committed to destruction of tradition, nevertheless forms (or forces) one ephemeral attachment after another to the influences which affect the passive bearing of the individuals within it.  We become convinced that we should want this, or that, or some other way of life:[6]

According to Nietzsche, the meaninglessness of life is due not to the nature of the universe, but to the nature of our culture.  Life is meaningful, but only if we live.  But to live meaningfully—to live as humans, to live in accordance with our own values rather than those that have been imposed on us—would endanger our culture and would endanger those who are powerful because of our culture.  So to protect our society, those in power have led us to believe that there is only one way to be moral, that to be moral is to achieve self-control.  We learn to control our urges, our desires, our instincts, and go about our daily lives as civilized adults.  We do this, though, not because we want to live such lives, but because we have been raised to believe that we should want such lives.  Trying to live the lives that we should want is, according to Nietzsche, what makes us nihilistic, for which reason we come to see death as freedom, as freedom from life, from what our culture has defined as life…

If one takes seriously Gertz’s prescription of nihilism as the destruction of presupposed givens for the building of something better,[7] then the true nihilist—the one who embraces and realizes the reality revealed by the nihilistic disclosure—alone can bring meaning to bear on life, the one who can alone truly live life.  Such a person, this nihilist, would necessarily stand at the center of the universe.

1. Nihilating the Framing

Much has been done in recent decades to dissociate Nietzsche from the Nazi ideology—such coordination having evidently been the duplicitous work of his sister, Elizabeth Förster-Nietzsche.[8]  Close association with Nazi ideology today seems to result in an automatic cancellation; demonstrable dissociation gives rise to the possibility for being rescheduled.  Gertz’s work seems, in no small part, oriented toward doing just that: and most specifically, being a theme of both books, oriented towards demonstrating the usefulness of Nietzschean nihilism for dealing with the technologically-permeated world of our present and presumably future lives.

In other words, where the individual previously found a transmitted meaning for life from capitalism, Christianity, American dreams, aspirations of Western civilization, nationalist pride, or simply the poetic productiveness of work, today, we have our meanings given to us through technology.  We desire the Roomba because the Roomba will make us free to be human.[9]  We desire the FitBit because measuring our fitness (or a reductive and not truly-representative simulacrum thereof) gives a score to our lives.[10]  We choose Disney+ over Hulu (over Amazon Prime, over Netflix), perhaps not with our dollars, but with our attention, because it has the Best Content—which is to say, the algorithmically-suggested content which most closely conforms to our own depreciatingly-meaningful and increasingly comfort-driven preferences.[11]  We swipe through Tinder because everyone else is too busy staring at their own phone screens to meet our eyes in person, too shy to say, “Hello.”[12]  We do all this slavishly, unthinkingly; we are unfree in thinking we will be made free by the Roomba, for the freedom we believe ourselves to attain it is freedom as the advertisement defines it.  We victoriously improve our fitness metrics, not because fitness is something we value, but because we value fitness as the FitBit tells us to.  We watch Disney+ over Netflix, or buy an X-Box rather than a PlayStation, not because it has more of what entertains us, but because it does a better job of telling us what ought to entertain us; it does not satisfy our fantasies, but tells us what those fantasies are.  We swipe through Tinder not expecting actually to find a match among those close to us, but for the sake of judging the attractiveness of the pictures shown to us—people we may have passed on the street.

We see all the world, that is, increasingly through a technologically-constituted frame:[13]

The mediating influences of our technologies operate on us whether they are in our hands or just in our minds, as, for example, when we see an animal as not merely cute but as Instagram-worthy, or experience an event as not merely memorable but as Twitter-worthy.  Or to put it another way, the influence of technologies like Instagram and Twitter on us is such that Instagram-worthiness can determine what is cute and Twitter-worthiness can determine what is memorable, as if we saw the world not through our eyes but through the eyes of Instagram and Twitter.

The smartphone—more than any other device—has accelerated this technological “enframing” (Gestell pace Heidegger) of our lives.[14]  Where Heidegger primarily found himself concerned with the mass-technologies of industrialization, turning all beings into a “standing-reserve” to be transformed into resources for our purposes, we see today a diffusion of this kind of thinking into nearly all of our actions, those conducted through the omnipresent mediating magnet of the smartphone app most especially.  How many persons go more than a half a day, three hours, one hour, without touching their phones, checking some notification, scrolling through some app?  Many persons average less than fifteen minutes between uses of their phone.[15] We, looking ever-so-often at our screens, see the world itself through those screens; we prioritize what is on the screen, that is, over what is in itself, as it is in itself.[16]  We live in the digital sphere.

It is a danger, a threat truly, to our very humanity.  For Gertz, however, this threat is seen in that it affects us in passivity; that we are externally determined by the technological media, that our message becomes their message, and thus we lose our freedom.  That is, given the pervasion of our lives by technological enframing, we lose our freedom to see the things as they are outside those boxes and thereby lose our ability to choose freely.  We have endless options for choosing what we will watch on our streaming entertainment services: tens of thousands of shows, movies, documentaries, interviews, and episodes. Often, we find ourselves feeling like we have to choose, which is to say, in some sense, the choice has already been made for us, that we will watch this or that show, or this and that show—which is to say, we must watch something.

We do not want from ourselves originally, but from what we are told to want.  Thus, they may give us what we want, but first by telling us that what they have is what we want.[17]

It is all quite tiring, is it not?

That is: who has not—particularly those given to self-reflection—found themselves tired of social media, of televisual media, of the entertainment complex, of the consumerist techno-social dominance of our lives?  Who has not found him or herself burdened under the sense of an exteriorly-decided personhood, an extrinsically-shaped identity.  Are we still ourselves, if we are not the selves we want to be, that we would choose to be if we only knew how to choose?

What stands in the way of our attaining this freedom?  (Nearly everything.)  Can we even escape the technological permeation of our lives?  As Gertz writes:[18]

We may log out of our apps and our devices, but our apps and our devices do not log out of us.  This is why we must not try to flee from our technologies or try to somehow get outside of technological mediation, as the belief that such escape is possible merely reinforces the illusion that technologies only influence us so long as we are using them.  Technologies are invasive not only in terms of our privacy but also in terms of our perceptivity.

One could log out of all the apps, turn off all the devices, could even do so long enough to perhaps allow perceptual habits to shift away from the techno-permeation they currently suffer.  But friends, family?  Can we truly unplug within a society that functions and interacts through the device, without unplugging from that society itself?  Short of retreat to the wilderness, no; and even then, the technological presses upon us (just ask Ted Kaczynski).  If we are to be free within the technological—or perhaps, if we are to be free within anything—we must, Gertz says, “try to turn our passive nihilism into active nihilism”:[19]

Our willingness to destroy any and all traditional ways of life, traditional relations with others, and traditional forms of engagement with the world in the pursuit of the posthuman is simultaneously our greatest danger and our greatest opportunity.  Our dissatisfaction with reality, our disappointment with all new realities that technologies have brought into being, can either lead us to destroy ourselves or it can lead us to destroy the values that have put us on this path to self-destruction.  If passive nihilism has so far led us to question every value that is seen as contrary to technological progress, then passive nihilism may soon lead us to question the value of technological progress itself, and with it the value of human progress.

…We must attempt to take advantage of where passive nihilism has already led us so that, as Nietzsche did, we can motivate in advance a critique of our values, a critique of what values lurk beneath such seemingly benign ideas as those concerning the relationship between “human progress” and “technological progress”.

It is hard, in reading these books, to argue with Gertz.  We do allow ourselves a capitulation to something other; to what Heidegger identified as das Man in his Sein und Zeit, to “what one ought to do, according to the notion of what one does in this or that situation.”  We sign up for this or that service because we ought to engage in this or that activity, in this or that entertainment, in this or that practice—without questioning the source of that “ought” (seldom, today, an “is”, but rather a “can be”—a progression, the next, the new, the “better”).  All along, we do not question the values that we accept, adopt, and promote (while destroying the old, and awaiting some new value, to destroy those adopted in the present).  Doing so thoughtlessly, uncritically, produces a junkyard of discarded ideologies, beliefs, and practices.

And so an active nihilism, we are told, will change this.  If we transform the disillusioning acceptance from without of one meaningless attractor after another into the illuminating projection of meaning from within, if we determine and decide our own values from our own valuation, from our own genesis, we will truly be free.

But despite this kinder, gentler sounding nihilism, it remains now as always a deleterious belief for any human being to adopt—the active no less, and perhaps quite a great deal more, than the passive.

2. Incoherence of the Nothings

It is difficult, in reading Gertz’s books, to argue against his answers.  Upon reflection, the difficulty is that he seems really to have no answers at all.  Behind the curtain of “active nihilism” one finds only more nothing, a fantasy of the most extreme kind, sold to modern philosophy and its ultramodern deviations by an itself-unrealized determination of Cartesianism and the subsequent bifurcation of dualistic oppositions—of mind from body, of person from essence, of culture from nature—to the extreme point of believing that the “self” is a being in its own individual right, a something apart from everything else.

That is, the Nietzschean nihilist inherits a nothingness from the impermeable noumenal veil of Kant.  In the words of Nietzsche himself:[20]

Nihilism represents an intermediary pathological condition (the vast generalisation, the conclusion that there is no purpose in anything, is pathological): whether it be that the productive forces are not yet strong enough—or that decadence still hesitates and has not yet discovered its expedients.

The conditions of this hypothesis: that there is no truth; that there is no absolute state of affairs—no “thing-in-itself”.  This alone is Nihilism, and of the most extreme kind.  It finds that the value of things consists precisely in the fact that these values are not real and never have been real, but that they are only a symptom of strength on the part of the valuer, a simplification serving the purposes of existence.

In other words, the “intermediary pathological condition” stems from the burgeoning of the “most extreme kind” of nihilism, namely, the denial that the world has any meaning in itself; not only meaning in the sense of purpose, but also—and necessarily—in the sense of intelligibility belongs to anything outside of ourselves.  That is, if things have no meaning of purpose, it can only be because they have no meaning of intelligibility; admit the latter, and the former cannot be true.  Reality, “what is”, for the nihilist is not anything in the things themselves.  The world is what it is because it is thought to be that, not because it is that in itself; that “meaning is and always has been socially constructed.”[21]

Where then does meaning come from?  How does society create meaning?  From individuals, presumably—individuals who impose their views on others, who yet impose those views on others further.  But from whence do the individuals create their views, their meanings?  The Will?  Is the will a creator?  Does it, from nothing, bring something into being?  Does an active nihilism allow us to become creators:[22]

For nihilism does not mean that life is meaningless but rather that our search for a transcendent source of meaning, for a source of meaning external to us, external to our lives, results in our lives not being lived.

Reading Nihilism and Technology, one finds that not all sacredness has been nihilated.  Just as Kant had to presume the faculty of the will to ground his morals, so too the Nietzschean; and this will, the core of the self, gives rise to a sacrament of choosing, and a sacredness of the individual.  While this receives no overt statement, all of the “sins” enumerated in both books are those that inhibit some the autopoiesis of the human psychological subject, the individual self:[23]

The danger of the nihilism of everyday life is that if it is human to make decisions, to make oneself accountable, to be responsible, then to avoid decision-making is to avoid being human.

And:[24]

…entertainment for the masses creates a society of the masses, a society where individuality becomes untenable, since everyone is supposed to be watching what everyone else is watching, and everyone is supposed to be talking about what everyone else is talking about, especially since that is of course what the characters we are watching on television are doing too.

And:[25]

The cost of making ourselves so predictable is, as Nietzsche suggests, that we have become not only “calculable” but also “necessary, uniform, like among like, regular,” that we have become deindividualized.

And:[26]

…it is in joining with others, in merging our interests and actions with those of other people around us, that we can overcome our individual weaknesses and replace them with the newfound strength of the whole.  In groups we are able to avoid not only our powerlessness, not only our burden of accountability, but our very individuality.

Yet, in a work published just a single year later, Nihilism, there is an evident about-face, away from the individual and towards the social, the political:[27]

Nihilism is therefore not best understood as an individualistic experience to be found wherever nihilistic individuals go, but as an experience generated by a system that feeds off nihilism, by a system that extends into every facet of human life.

And:[28]

When we think of nihilism as a way to describe an individual’s moral beliefs (or the lack thereof), we reduce nihilism to a matter that only individuals could resolve on their own.  When we think of nihilism as a way to describe the universe’s meaningfulness (or the lack thereof), we elevate nihilism to a matter that only gods could resolve on their own.  Either way of thinking about nihilism thus prevents us from recognizing the need to confront nihilism as a matter that could only be resolved collectively, at the level between that of individuals and of gods, at the level of the political.

And:[29]

…if politics means freedom, and freedom means becoming human, then an individual cannot become human alone.

And:[30]

If being driven away from each other and being driven into ourselves is what creates [passive] nihilism, then individualistic responses to nihilism will never overcome nihilism but will instead only help to perpetuate nihilism.

And (finally):[31]

If we are to create a future without nihilism by opposing individualistic ideals and the nihilism-inducing systems that champion them, then we must realize that such systems are not only political but also technological.

Perhaps this turn away from the sacredness of the individual to the desacralized but practical polity—the turn away from necessarily becoming a god to a group whereby we may “overcome our individual weaknesses and replace them with the newfound strength of the whole”—represents an development of Gertz’s thinking.  Or, perhaps, he is simply trying to avoid the feeling of powerlessness, the burden of accountability, and his own individuality.  I do not know.

What I do know is that the apparent conversion from the individual to the collective changes the appearance but not the substance of anyone adhering to the tenets of active nihilism.  In other words, if there are political and technological resolutions (following political and technological destructions) affected by a nihilist collective, such must still issue from the will of individuals—a will adhered to by other nihilists, by other wills, by those who accept sacrificing their autopoietic individuality for the sake of something willed together.

And yet: “there is no truth… there is no absolute state of affairs—no ‘thing-in-itself’.”

Is it more feasible to be a contributor to creation, to be one among a community of co-creators, than to carry the burden of creation alone?  The problem plaguing the communal nihilist remains the same as the lone wolf: “there is no truth… there is no absolute state of affairs—no ‘thing-in-itself’.”  And all the world together, acting as one, cannot make the thing-in-itself, cannot constitute an absolute state of affairs, cannot produce, ex nihilo, a single truth.  Without something from which, there can come nothing out of which—no matter the politics and no matter the technology.

3. Ex Nihilists, Nihil Fit

I noted, above, that Gertz draws upon Martin Heidegger and specifically his concept of das Gestell, “enframing”: the technologically-instigated tendency, most especially instilled in human habit by industrial machinery, to view the world as a standing-reserve of resources to be used for our designs.  But the concern of Heidegger was not primarily about how technology challenges forth the natural world to render itself useful to our designs, or the ecological ruin brought about through such industrial plundering.[32]  Rather, the danger of das Gestell is that we become active nihilists: that, seeing the world as standing-reserve of resources, we see all things as matter to be manipulated, all things as possibilities to be overcome and an inability to discover whether there is truth or not:[33]

But Enframing does not simply endanger man in his relationship to himself and to everything that is.  As a destining, it banishes man into that kind of revealing which is an ordering.  Where this ordering holds sway, it drives out every other possibility of revealing.

And:[34]

Thus the challenging Enframing not only conceals a former way of revealing, bringing-forth, but it conceals revealing itself and with it That wherein unconcealment, i.e., truth, comes to pass.

The danger of enframing, in other words, arises in mistaking our ability for ποίησις (poiesis) as an ability for creation, rather than as one of revelation.  If we are to make something anew, it can only be from what already is; from the possibilities already contained therein.  We can better understand this ποίησις-as-revelation in contrast to thinking in terms of values, a thinking, Heidegger says, that robs a being of its worth:[35]

To think against “values” is not to maintain that everything interpreted as “a value” – “culture,” “art,” “science,” “human dignity,” world,” and “God” – is valueless.  Rather, it is important finally to realize that precisely through the characterization of something as “a value” what is so valued is robbed of its worth.  That is to say, by the assessment of something as a value what is valued is admitted only as an object for human estimation.  But what a thing is in its being is not exhausted by its being an object, particularly when objectivity takes the form of value.  Every valuing, even where it values positively, is a subjectivizing.  It does not let beings: be.  Rather, valuing lets beings: be valid – solely as the objects of its doing.  The bizarre effort to prove the objectivity of values does not know what it is doing.  When one proclaims “God” the altogether “highest value,” this is a degradation of God’s essence.  Here as elsewhere, thinking in values is the greatest blasphemy imaginable against being.  To think against values therefore does not mean to beat the drum for the valuelessness and nullity of beings.  It means rather to bring the clearing of the truth of being before thinking, as against subjectivizing beings into mere objects.

To think of something as being a value, or has having a value, in other words, is to misunderstand what that something is in itself.  It obscures.  To be sure, we are motivated by our technological environments to form values in accord with those technological media themselves; we value Roomba because the Roomba ad tells us why we ought to value the Roomba.  But the human being, whether alone or as part of a collective, cannot “create new values, new goals, and new perspectives”;[36] and attempts to do so perpetuate only the obfuscation of what really is, to prevent the clearing of truth being brought before thinking.

From where would such a value come?  Can we will anything into being from nothing?  Can we cause a becoming without there having been some being from which it comes?  Is the world and all it holds meaningless, devoid of in-itselfness, and therefore a primordial soup of chaos into which we alone can bring ordering?

In conclusion, the nihilist believes that by destroying the old values, we might finally become creative.[37]  But homo creator as the highest value—this, too, denigrates an essence; indeed, every essence.


References Historically Layered

DIETHE, Carol (1943—).

2003. Nietzsche’s Sister and The Will to Power: A Biography of Elisabeth Föster-Nietzsche (Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press).

GERTZ, Nolen.

2018. Nihilism and Technology (New York: Rowman & Littlefield International, Ltd.).

2019. Nihilism (Cambridge, MA: MIT University Press).

HEIDEGGER, Martin (26 September 1889—1976 May 26).

1947. “Brief über den ‘Humanismus’” in Wegmarken (Frankfurt am Main: Vittorio Klostermann, 1976): 313-64. English translation by William McNeil in Pathmarks (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1998): 239-76.

1953. “Die Frage nach der Technik” in Vorträge und Aufsätze (Frankfurt am Main: Vittorio Klostermann, 2000): 7-36. English translation by William Lovitt, “The Question Concerning Technology” in The Question Concerning Technology and Other Essays (New York: Harper & Row Publishers, Inc., 1977): 3-35.

HOLUB, Robert C. (22 August 1949—).

2016. Nietzsche’s Jewish Problem: Between Anti-Semitism and Anti-Judaism (Oxford, UK: Princeton University Press).

IHDE, Don (1934—).

2010. Heidegger’s Technologies: Postphenomenological Perspectives (New York: Fordham University Press).

NIETZSCHE, Friedrich (15 October 1844—1900 August 25).

1883-88. Der Wille zur Macht, Erstes und Zweites Buch in Nietzsche’s Werke, Zweite Abteilung, Band XV (Leipzig: Alfred Kröner Verlag, 1922).  English translation of 1906 by Anthony M. Ludovici, The Will to Power (New York: Barnes & Noble, Inc., 2006).


[1] Nietzsche 1883-88: Der Wille zur Macht, n.22, p.156: “Nihilismus.  Er ist zweideutig:

  1. Nihilismus als Zeichen der gesteigerten Macht des Geistes: der aktive Nihilismus.
  2. Nihilismus als Niedergang und Rückgang der Macht des Geistes: der passive Nihilismus.”

The centrality of this distinction in Gertz’s own work can be seen at 2018: Nihilism and Technology, 10-11, 23, 208-12; and 2019: Nihilism, 162, 179-86.

[2] Gertz 2018: Nihilism and Technology, 23-24; and 2019: Nihilism, 179.

[3] Gertz 2019: Nihilism, 162.

[4] Gertz 2018: Nihilism and Technology, 10.

[5] Gertz 2019: Nihilism and Technology, 208.

[6] Gertz 2019: Nihilism, 80.

[7] 2019: Nihilism, 162: “to engage in active nihilism is to destroy the present to create the future, to destroy the destructive ideals of the present in order to create new ideals and bring about the future that we want.”

[8] Cf. Diethe 2003: Nietzsche’s Sister and the Will to Power: A Biography of Elizabeth Förster-Nietzsche.  More recent work (Holub 2016: Nietzsche’s Jewish Problem: Between Anti-Semitism and Anti-Judaism) has argued that, though not an advocate of systematic oppression of the Jewish people, and also having looked down on anti-Semitism as vulgar, Nietzsche nevertheless was himself thoroughly colored by anti-Jewish prejudice.  A few Google searches (e.g., “Nietzsche anti-Semitism”) should render a sense of how these views are being disseminated.

[9] Gertz 2018: Nihilism and Technology, 1-2.

[10] Ibid, 92-96.

[11] Ibid, 59-85; 96: What is at issue here is not that these algorithms claim to know us but that we believe them.  Algorithms make recommendations, recommendations that are claimed to be tailored to us—‘The more you watch, the better Netflix gets at recommending TV shows and movies you’ll love’—to our preferences, our profiles, and our past actions.”

[12] Ibid, 125-31.

[13] Ibid, 207.

[14] Cf. ibid 39.

[15] According to the study by Asurion, reported on here: “Americans check their phones 80 times a day: study” in NY Post, 8 November 2017.  A similar study conducted by Deloitte was reported on here: “Guess how often you use your phone every day” in Journal of Accountancy, 2 April 2018.

[16] Recalling the 11 December 2013 episode of South Park, “The Hobbit”, wherein many of the boys start dating girls based on photoshopped images—walking around with the girls really next to them, but commenting on how “hot” each girl is while showing one another the pictures on their phones.

[17] Gertz 2018: Nihilism and Technology, 205: “Tech companies therefore do give us what we want, but they also play a vital role in shaping what we think it is even possible to want.”

[18] Ibid, 207.

[19] Ibid, 210.

[20] Nietzsche 1883-88: Der Wille zur Macht, n.13: “Der Nihilismus stellt einne pathologischen Zwischenzustand dar (pathologish ist die unheure Verallgemeinerung, der Schluss auf gar keinen Sinn): sei es, dass die prudktiven Kräfte noch nigcht stark genug sind, — sei es, dass die décadence noch zögert und ihre Hülfsmittel noch nicht erfunden hat.

“Vorassetzung dieser Hypothese: — Dass es keine Wahrheit giebt, dass es keine absolute Beschaffenheit der Dinge, kein „Ding an sich“ giebt.  — Dies ist selbst nur Nihilismus, und zwar der extremeste.  Er legt den Werth der Dinge gerade dahinein, dass diesen Werthen keine Realität entspricht und entsprach, sondern dass sie nur ein Symptom von Kraft auf Seiten der Werth-Ansetzer sind, eine Simplifikation zum Zweck des Lebens.”

[21] Gertz 2019: Nihilism, 93.

[22] Gertz 2018: Nihilism and Technology, 202-03.

[23] Ibid, 16.

[24] Ibid, 64.

[25] Ibid, 102.

[26] Ibid, 137-38.

[27] Gertz 2019: Nihilism, 137.

[28] Ibid, 138.

[29] Ibid, 144.

[30] Ibid, 158.  Cf. ibid, 165: “As Arendt argued, such individualistic ideals can result in the very passive nihilism they are meant to counteract.”

[31] Ibid, 169.

[32] Contra, e.g., Ihde 2010: Heidegger’s Technologies, 127, 135-37.  This review is not the place to engage in the discussion, but, arguably, neither Ihde nor Gertz understand Heidegger at his roots—and a small mistake in the beginning becomes great in the end—as, e.g., at Gertz 2018: Nihilism and Technology, 44: “to focus as Heidegger does on Being rather than on becoming, on the destiny of humanity rather than on the humanity operating behind the concept of ‘destiny,’ is to commit the mistake of not having ‘ceased to look for the origin of evil behind the world’…” – as though Sein in Heidegger, “Being”, were somehow opposed to becoming!  But this, as stated, is another issue altogether.

[33] Heidegger 1953: Frage nach dem Technik, 28/27: “Allein, das Ge-stell gefährdet nicht nur den Menschen in seinem Verhältnis zu sich selbst und zu allem, was ist.  Als Geschick verweist es in das Entbergen von der Art des Bestellens.  Wo dieses herrscht, vertreibt es jede andere Möglichkeit der Entbergung.“

[34] Ibid: “So verbirgt denn das herausfordernde Ge-stell nicht nur eine vormalige Weise des Entbergens, das Her-vor-bringing, sondern es verbirgt das Entbergen als solches und mit ihm Jenes, worin sich Unverborgenheit, d.h. Wahrheit ereignet.”

[35] 1947: Brief Über den Humanismus, 349/265: “Das Denken gegen »die Werte« behaupt nicht, da´alles, was man als »Werte« erkärt – die  »Kultur«, die »Kunst«, die »Wissenschaft«, die »Menschenwürde«, »Welt« und »Gott« – wertlos sei.  Vielmehr gilt es endlich einzusehen, daß eben durch die Kennzeichnung von etwas als »Wert« das so Gewertete seiner Würde beraubt wird.  Das besagt: durch die Einschätzung von etwas als Wert wird das Gewertete nur als Gegenstand für die Schätzung des Menschen zugelassen.  Aber das, was etwas in seinem Sein ist, erschöpft sich nicht in seiner Gegenständigkeit, vollends dann nicht, wenn die Gegeständlichkeit den Charakter des Wertes hat.  Alles Werten ist, auch wo es positiv wertet, eine Subjektivierung.  Es läßt das Seiende nicht: sein, sondern das Werten läßt das Seiende ledighlich als das Obekt seines Tuns – gelten.  Die absonderliche Bemühung, die Objektivität der Werte zu beweisen, weiß nicht, was sie tut.  Wenn man vollends »Gott« als »den höchsten Wert« verkündet, so ist das eine Herabsetzung des Wesen Gottes.  Das Denekn in Wertn ist heir und sonst die größte Blasphemie, die sich dem Sein gegenüber denken läßt.  Gegen die Werte denken, heßt daher nicht, für die Wertlosigkeit und Nichtigkeit des Seienden die Trommel rühren, sondern bedeutet: gegen die Sujetivierung des Seienden zum bloßsen Objekt die Lichtung der Wahrheit des Seins vor das Denken bringen.”

[36] Gertz 2018: Nihilism and Technology, 212.

[37] Gertz 2019: Nihilism, 186: “As Nietzsche suggested, it is possible that we could become so nihilistic, that we could become so destructive, that we could destroy even our nihilistic values and the nihilistic systems that sustain them.  So to end on a hopeful note, if the nihilism generated by technological progress doesn’t’ make us too self-destructive, then perhaps instead it will make us just destructive enough to force us to finally become creative.  In other words, if nihilism doesn’t kill us, it might make us stronger.”