Nietzsche's Will to Power, Causality, and Contemporary Physics

Review of Metaphysics 76 (1):51-93 (2022)
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Abstract

Abstract:It has become increasingly common to either dismiss Nietzsche's will to power thesis as a thesis about the nature of reality or else to interpret it as promoting antiessentialism. The latter tendency is evident in the recent ontic structural realist interpretation of Nietzsche. According to the latter view, Nietzsche proposes a constitutively relational ontology that he takes to be supported by natural science and which, it is argued, is now supported by contemporary quantum physics. The author argues, against the antiessentialist trend generally and the ontic structuralist realist interpretation in particular, that Nietzsche's will to power is a causal essentialist thesis that offers a metaphysics of causal powers that, although relational by virtue of being directed to produce effects, are also intrinsically constituted. The author argues that Nietzsche's causal essentialism, contrary to the ontic structural realist interpretation, emerges from his criticism of, rather than support for, the capacity of natural science to capture real causal power. Nonetheless, in contrast to both Nietzsche's view that science lacks the resources to support an appeal to intrinsic natures to secure real causal power and the ontic structural realist's claim that contemporary physics rules it out, the author argues that a particular wave function realist interpretation of quantum mechanics gives Nietzsche precisely what he wants by highlighting the causal significance of intrinsic natures of the wave function in configuration space. The article concludes that, contrary to his own expectations, Nietzsche's causal essentialism is scientifically vindicated.

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Tsarina Doyle
National University of Ireland, Galway

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