Ashley Woodward, Nihilism in Postmodernity: Lyotard, Baudrillard, Vattimo (The Davies Group, 2009)
Nihilism in Postmodernity is an exploration of the nature of the problem of meaninglessness in the contemporary world through the philosophical traditions of nihilism and postmodernism. The author traces the advent of modern nihilism in the works of Nietzsche, Sartre, and Heidegger, before detailing the postmodern transformation of nihilism in the works of three major postmodern thinkers: Lyotard, Baudrillard, and Vattimo. He presents a qualified defense of their positions, arguing that while there is much under-appreciated value in their responses to nihilism, they fail to address adequately the problem of contingency in contemporary life. Drawing on the critical encounters with nihilism in both existentialist and postmodern traditions, the author concludes by staking out future directions for combating meaninglessness.
"In this comprehensive and deep reflection on the problem of nihilism and postmodernity, Woodward offers a convincing and important thesis on the relations of postmodern life and thought to nihilism. He avoids the easy equation of postmodernism with nihilism and instead relies on careful interpretations of Nietzsche, Sartre, Heidegger, Baudrillard, Vattimo and Lyotard to demonstrate that these thinkers combine to offer not only one of the deepest diagnoses of our contemporary condition but also subtle and perhaps essential models for how to live beyond it. This book is proof not only of the high scholarly values of modern philosophical research, but also of its relevance and urgency." -James Williams, University of Dundee