Nihilism In David Foster Wallace's All Things Shining

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All Things Shining has a number of important themes, but perhaps one of the most important is its focus on descriptions of nihilism. The authors, Hubert Dreyfus and Sean Dorrance Kelly, provide both a description of what nihilism is and its effects on society. They are, of course, very bearish on nihilism, noting that if it is not checked properly, it can have a detrimental impact on society at large. This view of nihilism can be contrasted with the views of many other famed thinkers, including David Foster Wallace, who presents both a picture of nihilism and a solution for it. The picture of nihilism painted by the authors is one that is more complex than other iterations in other works. The authors describe nihilism as being more than just that people do not have anything to believe in. While this is certainly an element of nihilism, there is more to it in the view of these…show more content…
David Foster Wallace sees nihilism as something that is extremely freeing. It breaks people from some of the chains of thought that they might have otherwise had. However, he also sees it as something with a very negative downside. According to Wallace, Nihilism produces an in-kind “stomach level sadness.” This, it seems, is the kind of deep sadness for which there is very little fix. People are empty, and they do not have the meaning that they need in order to be fulfilled. For him, this leads to a host of different devices, as people seek to fill the holes in their lives in ways that are suitable to them. This might mean addictions to substances or things like gambling. It might mean distractions with various forms of entertainment. It might even mean chasing arbitrary financial goals, as some financiers have done in order to fill their days with meaning. Wallace sees these things as being the destruction of man, and he understands that nihilism is a root cause of the

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