“Notes on nothing: an inquiry into nihilism in Cioran’s thought and works” (Rodrigo Inácio R. Sá Menezes)

Anale. Seria Drept, volumul XXVI (2017) la editura Mirton Timisoara, ISSN 1582-9359

Abstract: Cioran is often labeled as a “nihilist”, which is to a great extent the result of his equivocal ties with Friedrich Nietzsche, one of his main youth influences. However, nihilism does not constitute a key notion in Cioran’s writings, and neither does the Romanian-born author of French expression employs it as self-describing category. Instead, he accepts the category of the Skeptic as that which best suits his intellectual stance. We shall argue that, even if it is inevitable to speak of nihilism when it comes to Cioran’s thought and works, it is nevertheless an equivocal concept that must be relativized and held only as a propaedeutic hermeneutical operator that should later be abandoned, as it does not manage to encompass the depth and the complexity of his thought. Where readers and critics would see ” nihilist ” , Cioran says ” skeptic “. Instead of labeling him as a nihilist in the strict sense of the concept, we suggest replacing the concept of nihilism for that of meontology: a theory of nothingness, which does not amount to the same thing as nihilism. Finally, our contention is that Cioran’s philosophical and theological concerns for issues such nothingness and evil does not make him a nihilist as the Nietzschean tradition of philosophy would put it. He is rather a meontological metaphysician and also a heterodox mystic spirit, and yet a tragic character of a kind.
Keywords: Nothingness, Evil, Nihilism, Skepticism, Pessimism, Gnosticism, Atheism, Mysticism, Meontology, Voidness