Nihilism and Metaphysics

The Third Voyage

By Vittorio Possenti
Translated by Daniel B. Gallagher
Foreword by Brian Schroeder

Subjects: Continental Philosophy, Philosophy, Metaphysics, Hermeneutics
Series: SUNY series in Contemporary Italian Philosophy
Paperback : 9781438452067, 424 pages, January 2015
Hardcover : 9781438452074, 424 pages, May 2014

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Table of contents

Translator’s Introduction and Acknowledgments
1. The Question of Nihilism and the Knowledge of Being
2. Metaphysical Knowledge of Existence
3. Being, Intellect, and Abstractive Intuition
4. The Status of First Principles
5. Speculative Nihilism: Nietzsche and Gentile
6. Heidegger
7. Eight Theses on Postmetaphysical Thinking: Jürgen Habermas
8. The Two Roads of Hermeneutics
9. Logical Empiricism and Analytic Philosophy
10. Consequences of Nihilism
11. Toward the Determination of Practical Nihilism
12. Progress in Philosophy?
13. The Third Voyage
14. Ontological Humanism and the Person
15. Between the Present and the Future
Appendix 1: Antirealism and the Schism between Man and Reality
Appendix 2: Texts of Thomas Aquinas without Comment
Appendix 3: Intellectual Intuition, “Anticipation,” and Judgment in Karl Rahner
Appendix 4: More on Intellectual Intuition
Appendix 5: The Appeal to the Experience of Self as a Type of Natural Mysticism
Appendix 6: The Critique of Onto-theology
Appendix 7: What Is Nihilism? A Look at the Encyclical Fides et Ratio

An assessment and reevaluation of nihilism’s ascendency over metaphysics.


Challenging the idea that nihilism has supplanted metaphysics, Vittorio Possenti finds in this philosophical turn the grounds for a mature renewal of metaphysics. Possenti takes the reader on a "third voyage" that goes beyond the "second voyage" indicated by Plato in the Phaedo. He traces the ascendancy of nihilism in philosophy, offering critical examinations of Nietzsche, Gentile, Heidegger, Habermas, Husserl, Gadamer, Ricoeur, and Vattimo. With penetrating accounts of philosophical movements such as hermeneutics and logical empiricism, rich with both historical and theoretical insights, Possenti provides a compelling defense of the power of human reason to apprehend the most obvious but also the most profound aspect of things: that they exist. By exploring the ubiquity of nihilism and probing its philosophical roots, Possenti clears the way for a fresh reformulation of metaphysics.

Vittorio Possent is Professor of Political Philosophy at the Ca' Foscari University of Venice in Italy and the author of many other books. Daniel B. Gallagher is an Official in the Latin Section of the Vatican Secretariat of State.


"…offers the reader a bold thrust to the heart of theoretical nihilism from the standpoint of Thomism, perceived as the bulwark of the perennial philosophy of being. " — Maritain Studies