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Sons and Daughters

October 28th, 2021 | 10 min read

By Stephen G. Adubato

When philosopher Umberto Galimberti began working as a psychoanalyst in 1979, his patients’ problems “were grounded in emotions, feelings, and sexuality. Now,” however, “they concern the void of meaning.” According to Galimberti, young people are plagued by a sense of nihilism.

Fr. Julian Carron asserts that this nihilism cannot be staved off with sentimental answers or political ideologies. Rather, each of us must look more closely at how this need for a lasting meaning emerges in our daily experiences. Carron then points to the crisis of authority implicated in the struggle with nihilism. He suggests that young people’s sense of meaninglessness stems from the lack of “true authority figures” to turn to. Today, true authority has been replaced by what we can call “authoritarianism”— characterized by regulating rather than forming the freedom of the other, and a permissiveness that takes a relativistic attitude toward life’s meaning and morality.

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Stephen G. Adubato

Stephen G. Adubato is a journalism fellow at COMPACT Magazine and a professor of philosophy in NYC. He is also the curator of the Cracks in Postmodernity blog, podcast, and magazine.