Emotion, Cognition, and the Value of Literature: The Case of Nietzsche’s Genealogy

One striking feature of On the Genealogy of Morals concerns how it is written. Nietzsche utilizes a literary style that provokes his readers’ emotions. Recently, Christopher Janaway has argued that this approach is integral to Nietzsche’s philosophical goals: feeling the emotions Nietzsche’s style arouses is necessary for understanding the views he defends. This paper shows that Janaway’s position is tempting but mistaken. The temptation exists because our emotions often function as “tools of discovery.” They bring things into focus we otherwise could not see. However, once we grasp what they reveal, we can communicate it to others without first having to arouse their emotions. Thus there may be truths none of us would know unless one of us consulted his or her emotions. But it is not the case that each of us must consult his or her emotions in order to understand these truths.
Keywords Friedrich Nietzsche  Aesthetic Cognitivism  Emotions  Christopher Janaway
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Nadeem J. Z. Hussain (2012). Nietzsche and Non-Cognitivism. In Simon Robertson & Christopher Janaway (eds.), Nietzsche, Naturalism & Normativity. Oxford University Press.

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