1. The Five Major Rubrics of Nietzsche's Thought

The first philosophical use of the word nihilism presumably stems from Friedrich H. Jacobi. The word nothing appears quite frequently in Jacobi's letter to Fichte. There he says, "Truly, my dear Fichte, it would not annoy me if you or anyone else wished to say that what I set against Idealism—which I deplore as Nihilism— is Chimerism."*

Later the word nihilism came into vogue through Turgeniev as a name for the notion that only what is perceptible to our senses, that is, only beings that one experiences oneself, only these and nothing else are real and have being. Therefore, anything grounded on tradition, authority, or any other definitive value is negated. Usually, however, the name positivism is used to designate this point of view. Jean Paul, in his Elementary Course in Aesthetics (sections 1 and 2) employs the word in describing romantic poetry as poetic nihilism. We might com- pare this usage to Dostoievsky's Foreword to his Pushkin Lectures (1880). The passage in question runs thus:

As far as my lecture itself is concerned, I simply want to make the following four points regarding Pushkin's importance for Russia:
1. That Pushkin, with his profound, penetrating, and highly compassion- ate mind, and through his truly Russian heart, was the first to see and recognize for what it is a significant, morbid manifestation among our intelligentsia, our rootless society which seems to hover high above the common people. He recognized it, and enabled us to place graphically before our

* Friedrich H. Jacobi, Werke (Leipzig, 1816), Ill, 44; from the section "Jacobi to Fichte," which first appeared in the fall of 1799. I am grateful to Dr. Otto Pöggeler, who provided the reference to Jacobi while working on the proofs of the present book. — M. H.

Nietzsche IV European Nihilism (GA 6.2) by Martin Heidegger page 3