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Laughing at Nothing
Humor as a Response to Nihilism
Laughing at Nothing
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John Marmysz - Author
Price: $54.50 
Hardcover - 217 pages
Release Date: August 2003
ISBN10: 0-7914-5839-3
ISBN13: 978-0-7914-5839-6

Price: $31.95 
Paperback - 217 pages
Release Date: August 2003
ISBN10: 0-7914-5840-7
ISBN13: 978-0-7914-5840-2

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Summary Read First Chapter image missing

Explores the concept of nihilism and argues that it need not imply despair, but can be responded to positively.

Disputing the common misconception that nihilism is wholly negative and necessarily damaging to the human spirit, John Marmysz offers a clear and complete definition to argue that it is compatible, and indeed preferably responded to, with an attitude of good humor. He carefully scrutinizes the phenomenon of nihilism as it appears in the works, lives, and actions of key figures in the history of philosophy, literature, politics, and theology, including Nietzsche, Heidegger, Camus, and Mishima. While suggesting that there ultimately is no solution to the problem of nihilism, Marmysz proposes a way of utilizing the anxiety and despair that is associated with the problem as a spur toward liveliness, activity, and the celebration of life.

"Marmysz is original, insightful, and displays a keen knowledge of the typologies of nihilism, craftily tracing, among other things, the historical, existential, and political uses and misuses of the word. This is one of the best books I have read." — Weaver Santaniello, author of Nietzsche and the Gods

"Engagingly written, well-organized, and succinctly argued, this book shows how humor can bring the threat of nihilism into new, less disabling perspectives and teach us how to find affirmative, hopeful lessons in its outlook." — Donald A. Crosby, author of A Religion of Nature

John Marmysz teaches Philosophy at Corning Community College.

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Table of Contents


Introduction: The Problem of Nihilism

PART I: Scrutinizing Nihilism

1. German and Russian Nihilism

German Nihilism
Russian Nihilism

2. Nietzschean Nihilism

The Christian, the Anarchist, and Socrates
Apollo and Dionysus
Healthy Culture and the Well-Ordered Society
Ascent, Decline, and the Eternal Return of the Same
Heidegger and Nietzsche

3. World-War and Postwar Nihilism

The National Socialists
Camus and the Existentialists
Yukio Mishima and Asian Nihilism
Nihilism in America

4. Nihilistic Incongruity

The Descriptive, Normative, and Fatalistic Premises of Nihilism
The Historical Complication
Pyrrho, Stirner, Rorty, and Skeptical Pragmatism

PART II: Decline, Ascent, and Humor

5. Decline, Decay, and Falling Away

6. Ambition, Aspiration, and Ascent

7. Humor and Incongruity


Conclusion: Humor as a Response to Nihilism





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