Religion Past and Present

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[German Version]

The word “nihilism” is derived from Latin nihil (“not”) or nihilum (“nothing”); the medieval Latin preliminary concepts nichilianista (“one who believes in nothing,” “heretic”) and annihilare (“to destroy, to negate,” in the sense of a total annihilation of the world) exerted no direct influence on the modern history of the concept. The concept of nihilism that has been commonly employed from the 19th century to the present refers to a mental situation in which all schemes of human life (norms, purposes, …

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Großheim, Michael, “Nihilism”, in: Religion Past and Present. Consulted online on 26 February 2021 <>
First published online: 2011
First print edition: ISBN: 9789004146662, 2006-2013

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