Nietzsche, Consciousness, and Human Agency

Idealistic Studies 41 (1-2):11-30 (2011)
This paper examines how Nietzsche’s view of the mind and its relationship to nature informs his account of human agency. In particular, it focuses on his approach to the causal efficacy of conscious mental states. By examining the Leibnizean and Kantian background to this approach, I contend that Nietzsche proposes a naturalist but non-eliminativist account of mind, central to which is his anti-Cartesian denial that consciousness is intrinsic to the mental. However, Nietzsche ultimately oscillates between two accounts: the first, which I call the ‘enchantment thesis,’ sacrifices the extrinsicality of consciousness but secures the causal efficacy of conscious mental states, whilst the second avoids enchanting nature, securing the extrinsicality of consciousness but sacrificing its causal efficacy. I argue that it is possible to reconstruct his arguments to combine elements of the conflicting accounts and to successfully hold together his anti-Cartesian account of mind with the possibility of autonomous human action
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    Manuel Dries (forthcoming). Freedom, Resistance, Agency. In Peter Kail & Manuel Dries (eds.), Nietzsche on Mind and Nature. Oxford University Press.
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