Nothing matters: philosophical and theological varieties of nothingness
Blakeburn, Jason Lowry
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I trace the concept of nothingness in twentieth century philosophical theology from the work Paull Tillich through that of Martin Heidegger and Keiji Nishitani toward Robert Neville and Ray L. Hart all of whom have taken up the challenge of nothingness. As a specific metaphysical concept or category, these philosophers and theologians would undoubtedly disagree on a specific definition of nothingness; however, I argue they would agree on the vague function of nothingness, which is a relief or contrast to being. Tied up with existence contra nothingness are the possibilities of existence or meontic nothingness. At stake in the encounter with or exposure to nothingness is the ability to refund or redeem one’s ownmost potential and possibilities. How one responds to the specter of nothingness makes nothing matter (or not) in the way one turns from nothingness back to existence. In other words, the stakes are not merely the metaphysical (non)status of nothingness, but the desire to find meaning and value in human, finite existence in the face of radical contingency and the specter of nihilism.