David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Nietzsche’s philosophical endeavor can be broadly characterized by two complementary ambitions acting throughout his corpus: a relentless critique of traditional metaphysics, epistemology, and axiology; and an effort to confront the nihilistic predicament which seems to result from these negations. Nowhere are these ideas more directly relevant and their implications more dramatic than in the discipline of philosophy itself; the task of the philosopher must be transformed by these revaluations of its tools and subject matter. Accordingly, Nietzsche’s writings ought to recommend a sort of thinker fitted to the pursuit of this task, but owing to his literary style there exists in his works no list of definite prescriptions for philosophical practice nor a simple portrait of such a philosopher. The aim of this paper is to interpret Nietzsche’s writings and extract from them a coherent position on this question. I look mainly to his numerous and varied explorations of the pursuit of knowledge in order to seek out the considerations that shape his normative conception of the philosopher; these largely take the form of case studies of hypothetical truth-seekers. I do not intend to address Nietzsche’s practice as a philosopher himself, only his prescriptions – in general it cannot be assumed that he obeys his own recommendations. It should also be noted that I attend to his descriptive claims only insofar as they relate to this topic, as this is a discussion of prescriptions and not ontology, psychology, etc., and that I limit myself to the published works.
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