ab nihilo

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Huda

Senior Member
Arabic-Egypt
Please help me.
Would anyone please tell me what "ab nihilo" means in the following context and is it a French expression? This text is excerpted from Digital Sociology which is edited by Kate Orton-Johnson and Nick Prior, chapter 6: Afterword: Digital Spaces, Sociology and Surveillance.

In social media worlds the outcomes are not predetermined but they do depend on the activities of users in conjunction with the sort of tech-agency (through software) described by Burrows and Beer. And, importantly, they are never innocent. Thus, the mantra of ‘user-generated content’ has to be understood not as some free creation ab nihilo but framed and even in part constituted by codes of commerce, entertainment and government.
 
  • Huda

    Senior Member
    Arabic-Egypt
    In Latin, ab nihilo means ''from nothing''. I would interpret 'free creation ab nihilo' as a fully new creation completely independent of all the rest, i.e. coming from nothing or from nowhere.
    I don't think the expression has anything to do with the French language.
    Thank you very much.
     

    Snodv

    Senior Member
    English - Mid-Southern US
    As "ex nihilo" this phrase was once the root of a philosophical controversy between those who believed and those who denied that there was such a thing as creation of something out of nothing.
     

    Huda

    Senior Member
    Arabic-Egypt
    As "ex nihilo" this phrase was once the root of a philosophical controversy between those who believed and those who denied that there was such a thing as creation of something out of nothing.
    What's the relation of what you said with ab nihilo?
     

    Snodv

    Senior Member
    English - Mid-Southern US
    Ab nihilo from your quote and ex nihilo from philosophy mean essentially the same thing. Ab simply means "from" and ex means "out of," and they are synonymous here: made from nothing = made out of nothing.
     
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