Nihilism, 7.5 credits

Academic year 2022/2023

  • Spring 2023, 100%, Campus

    Start date: 27 March 2023

    End date: 30 April 2023

    Application deadline: 17 October 2022

    Application code: UU-00802 Application

    Language of instruction: English

    Location: Uppsala

    Selection: Higher education credits (maximum 285 credits)

    Registration: 22 December 2022 – 5 February 2023

Entry requirements: Fulfilment of the requirements for a Bachelor's degree with the main field of study within the humanities.


If you are not a citizen of a European Union (EU) or European Economic Area (EEA) country, or Switzerland, you are required to pay application or tuition fees. Formal exchange students will be exempted from tuition fees, as well as the application fee. Read more about fees.

Application fee: SEK 900

Tuition fee, first semester: SEK 12,500

Tuition fee, total: SEK 12,500

About the course

Friedrich Nietzsche famously defined nihilism as a situation in which "everything is permitted", i.e. where there is no universally recognised hierarchy of values, of better or worse, true or false, right or wrong. But if anything goes, it wouldn't seem to make any difference what we say or do, since there is no criterion of meaning, truth or goodness by which we can assess the value of our thoughts, actions or statements. Any valuation we perform, reasons we give to explain or justify a claim will be arbitrary and thus ex nihilo, that is, grounded in nothing. In the case of knowledge, nihilism is associated with skepticism, in morality, with relativism. It has been claimed that we live in a nihilistic epoch, due to what has been called "the crisis of reason", that is, our loss of faith in getting things right through thinking.

Through a careful reading of Friedrich Nietzsche's The Birth of Tragedy, together with three of the most important works dealing with the concept and socio-political reality of nihilism in the last 50 years­­--Stanley Rosen's Nihilism: A Philosophical Essay, Gillian Rose's Dialectic of Nihilism: Post-Structuralism and Law, and Gianni Vattimo's Nihilism and Emancipation: Ethics, Politics and Law--we will discuss and analyze conceptual issues having to do with nihilism understood as a philosophy or form of life characterized by lack of ultimate significance, principle or purpose, as well as its social, cultural and political conditions and consequences.

More information


Department of Philosophy

Engelska parken, Thunbergsvägen 3 H

Box 627, 751 26 UPPSALA

Course Administrator Ulrika Valdeson


Telephone: +46 18 471 72 99