Rameau's Nephew: Nihilism

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In Rameau's Nephew the titular character comes across as something of a "devil," or at least the Enlightenment's version of a devil -- a thoroughly self-conscious scamp without any principles whatsoever, who comes across as much more clever than "Diderot," who stands in for the conventional philosopher. As an Enlightenment devil, he exposes the emptiness of morality, but likewise lacks moral depth himself. Diderot here struggles with the nihilism bound up with the Enlightenment view of the universe that Nietzsche will a century later proclaim as "the death of God," that is, the transformation of the purposeful cosmos of antiquity and the middle ages for a universe devoid of purpose, meaning, and truth -- Enlightenment figures like Diderot

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