SEAN D. KELLY “Navigating Past Nihilism” http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/12/05/navigating-past-nihilism/

SEAN D. KELLY氏はハーヴァードの哲学科学科長。All Things Shiningというblogを書いている*1

There is much debate about the meaning of Nietzsche’s famous claim, and I will not attempt to settle that scholarly dispute here. But at least one of the things that Nietzsche could have meant is that the social role that the Judeo-Christian God plays in our culture is radically different from the one he has traditionally played in prior epochs of the West. For it used to be the case in the European Middle Ages for example ─ that the mainstream of society was grounded so firmly in its Christian beliefs that someone who did not share those beliefs could therefore not be taken seriously as living an even potentially admirable life. Indeed, a life outside the Church was not only execrable but condemnable, and in certain periods of European history it invited a close encounter with a burning pyre.
という解釈はそれほど面白いものではない。というか、これは宗教社会学で普通に〈世俗化(secularization)〉と呼ばれている事態とあまり区別がつかない。わざわざニーチェを引っ張らなくてもいいじゃんということになる。個人的には、「神は死せり」或いは「ニヒリズム」に関してより深刻なのは、(今様の表現を敢えて使えば)聖なるものが社会的な構築物(social construct)であることが明らかになってしまったことの方なのではないかと思っている。独逸語圏を中心とする近代的な文献学の発展、特に「高等批評」は聖書の物語を歴史的に相対化してしまった。Karen Armstrong The Battle for God*2でも、「高等批評」が進化論とともに後の基督教原理主義を動機付けることになる大きな〈脅威〉であったことが指摘されている(p.95)。但し、これは後の論の前提となるので、Kelly氏の論を追うことにする。神の「社会的役割」の変容について、さらに

God is dead, therefore, in a very particular sense. He no longer plays his traditional social role of organizing us around a commitment to a single right way to live. Nihilism is one state a culture may reach when it no longer has a unique and agreed upon social ground.

The 20th century saw an onslaught of literary depictions of the nihilistic state. The story had both positive and negative sides. On the positive end, when it is no longer clear in a culture what its most basic commitments are, when the structure of a worthwhile and well-lived life is no longer agreed upon and taken for granted, then a new sense of freedom may open up. Ways of living life that had earlier been marginalized or demonized may now achieve recognition or even be held up and celebrated. Social mobility ─ for African Americans, gays, women, workers, people with disabilities or others who had been held down by the traditional culture ─ may finally become a possibility. The exploration and articulation of these new possibilities for living a life was found in such great 20th-century figures as Martin Luther King, Jr., Simone de Beauvoir, Studs Terkel, and many others.
これが「ニヒリズム」のポジティヴな側面だとすれば、当然ネガティヴ(ダーク)な側面もある。エリオット*3やサミュエル・ベケットの登場人物が抱える宙吊り感。また、 David Foster Wallace*4のいう「胃袋レヴェルの悲しみ」(”a sadness that drives them to distract themselves by any number of entertainments, addictions, competitions, or arbitrary goals, each of which leaves them feeling emptier than the last”)。まとめると、”The threat of nihilism is the threat that freedom from the constraint of agreed upon norms opens up new possibilities in the culture only through its fundamentally destabilizing force.”ということになる。勿論、そういうのは文学的な修辞或いはインテリの自意識にすぎないという批判もある。健全な庶民は〈ファスト風土*5だろうが〈マクドナルド化*6だろうが、モダン・ライフをエンジョイしているじゃないか(日本で言えば、例えば『東京から考える』における東浩紀の発想とか)! そのような論の代表として、「郊外」における「静かな絶望」を描いたJonathan Franzenの小説Freedomを批判したDavid Brooksのコラム*7を採り上げる。Kelly氏のBrooksに対する反論は、Brooksは彼が称揚する「幸せ」が「自己欺瞞(self-deceit)」である可能性に目を瞑っているということである。曰く、

(…) there really is no agreement in the culture about what constitutes a well-lived life; God is dead in this particular sense. But many people carry on in God’s shadow nevertheless; they take the life at which they are aiming to be one that is justifiable universally. In this case the happiness that Brooks identifies in the suburbs is not genuine happiness but self-deceit.
The Battle for God: A History of Fundamentalism (Ballantine Reader's Circle)

The Battle for God: A History of Fundamentalism (Ballantine Reader's Circle)

東京から考える 格差・郊外・ナショナリズム (NHKブックス)

東京から考える 格差・郊外・ナショナリズム (NHKブックス)


(…) Writing 30 years before Nietzsche, in his great novel “Moby Dick,” the canonical American author encourages us to “lower the conceit of attainable felicity”; to find happiness and meaning, in other words, not in some universal religious account of the order of the universe that holds for everyone at all times, but rather in the local and small-scale commitments that animate a life well-lived. The meaning that one finds in a life dedicated to “the wife, the heart, the bed, the table, the saddle, the fire-side, the country,” these are genuine meanings. They are, in other words, completely sufficient to hold off the threat of nihilism, the threat that life will dissolve into a sequence of meaningless events. But they are nothing like the kind of universal meanings for which the monotheistic tradition of Christianity had hoped. Indeed, when taken up in the appropriate way, the commitments that animate the meanings in one person’s life ─ to family, say, or work, or country, or even local religious community ─ become completely consistent with the possibility that someone else with radically different commitments might nevertheless be living in a way that deserves one’s admiration.
Kelly氏はメルヴィルに見出した可能性を「多神教(polytheism)」と名付ける――”The death of God therefore, in Melville’s inspiring picture, leads not to a culture overtaken by meaninglessness but to a culture directed by a rich sense for many new possible and incommensurate meanings.” また、

Not every life is worth living from the polytheistic point of view — there are lots of lives that don’t inspire one’s admiration. But there are nevertheless many different lives of worth, and there is no single principle or source or meaning in virtue of which one properly admires them all.
これは哲学的には例えばジャン=フランソワ・リオタールの議論とかに関わってくるのだろうけど、宗教的な面においては、近代の状況を「異端の普遍化」と認識した上で、「帰納的信仰(inductive faith)」の可能性を論じたピーター・バーガーを思い起こさせる(Heretical Imperative)。
Heretical Imperative: Contemporary Possibilities of Religious Affirmation

Heretical Imperative: Contemporary Possibilities of Religious Affirmation