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Experience of Nothingness

3.8  ·  Rating Details ·  54 Ratings  ·  6 Reviews
In The Experience of Nothingness, Michael Novak has two objectives. First, he shows the paths by which the experience of nothingness is becoming common among all those who live in free societies. Second, he details the various experiences that lead to the nothingness point of view. Most discussions of these matters have been so implicated in the European experience that th ...more
Paperback, 145 pages
Published October 15th 2008 by Transaction Publishers (first published January 1st 1971)
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marie monroe
Feb 09, 2008 marie monroe rated it it was amazing
i clung to this book when my father died. i was 19. it helped to know that alienation, isolation and meaninglessness could be a peak spiritual experience.
Robin Becht
May 08, 2012 Robin Becht rated it really liked it
You probably think, having read the title, this book is a complete downer. Maybe it is. Depends on your point of view. For me, it was actually rather uplifting. It's kind of like a handbook for rebranding existentialism. Or, how to reframe emptiness as fullness. (How's that for twisted optimism?)

If this quote speaks to you, it might be worth a real read:

"The choice to remain faithful to the drive to question (the fertile source of the experience of nothingness) brings with it an obscure joy. For
...more
RWM
Feb 26, 2017 RWM rated it really liked it
Important and clearly written apologetic of nihilism. Exhilarating to consider but empty and hopeless in the end.
Andrew Calderon
Oct 27, 2012 Andrew Calderon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this book, mainly because Novak did a good job of capturing emotions and thoughts I've been grappling with for some time now. He made arguments about democracy and capitalism, and its effects on American society, i.e., the effects it has on us morally and intellectually. This topic seems to have been in fashion during the 1970s. He evinced the importance of Aristotelian ethics in contemporary society as a palliative for his diagnosis of American culture. Diagnosis: we have fallen prey ...more
Allison Tungseth
Jan 19, 2009 Allison Tungseth rated it really liked it
interesting look on American society
Lauren
Jun 06, 2014 Lauren rated it it was ok
Overall I found Novak's central argument(s) compelling and well-researched but he often lost me in his roundabout, somewhat convoluted train of thought.
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Michael Novak is an American Catholic philosopher, journalist, novelist, and diplomat. He is George Frederick Jewett Scholar in Religion, Philosophy, and Public Policy at the American Enterprise Institute

Novak served as United States Ambassador to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights in 1981 and 1982 and led the U.S. delegation to the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe in 19
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“I need not to be afraid of the void. The void is part of my person. I need to enter consciously into it. To try to escape from it is to try to live a lie. It is also to cease to be. My acceptance of despair and emptiness constitutes my being; to have the courage to accept despair is to be.” 17 likes
“The choice to remain faithful to the drive to question (the fertile source of the experience of nothingness) brings with it an obscure joy. For to be faithful to that drive...is to be constantly expanding one's horizon, constantly losing one's life, and constantly regaining it. It is to be as alert to other persons, to situations, and to events as one can: to their fragility and terror, as well as to their obscure coherence and often veiled beauty. To be faithful to the drive to question is to accept despair as one's due, to accept risk as one's condition, and to accept the crumbs of discovery as joy. [...] The darkness is habitable...Those who accept the darkness as their lot are instantly secure, not through some newfound solidity but through the perception that insecurity is man's natural state, a truthful state, a healthy state.” 4 likes
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