Toraldo Marta and Maria Rita Serio
The author presents the contemporary age as one in which young people is affected by a sort of nihilism. Nihilism, the negation of any and all values, was described by Nietzsche as “the most disturbing of all guests”. Science and technology today have lost their social significance and are unable to provide any truth or certainty. The concepts of individual identity and freedom, as well as those of nature, ethics, politics, religion and history, no longer give meaning to life. This brief essay argues that in Italy the situation has been exacerbated by the social-psychological phenomena occurring between 1994 and 2011, when Silvio Berlusconi was the dominant force in Italian politics.
An important issue from a psychological standpoint, but also in social, philosophical and ethical terms, is the development of moral sense in young people, and it is precisely in this field that the most serious consequences of neo-nihilism are seen. An understanding of the mechanisms of moral development in today’s society can thus provide insight into the pathological aspects of young people’s behaviour and the factors affecting it. The formation of ethical values in the younger generation is also affected by the economic crisis and by the consequent lack of social and economic independence of young people. Understanding how ethical values are formed may shed some light on the role of youth in terms of their interaction with society and on the educational and moral criteria that enable healthy values to be inculcated.