Nietzsche's Skepticism of Agency


Nietzsche’s view of the self and will seems to culminate in a naturalistic account of human agency. If we understand Nietzsche as primarily a naturalist who thinks philosophy should more or less be modeled on the sciences whose investigations are restricted to empirical observation and whose explanations, like causal explanation, are natural, then ascribing a naturalistic account of human agency to Nietzsche is appropriate. However, I argue that attributing a naturalistic account of agency, or any account of agency to Nietzsche, misunderstands Nietzsche’s skepticism. I attempt to demonstrate the primacy of Nietzsche’s skepticism by showing how “his” naturalistic “account” of agency is best understood as an instrument in the service of his purely critical and deflationary project. To show the instrumental character of his “account,” I show how the account is used to oppose traditional notions of agency without itself becoming Nietzsche’s theory of agency.



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Ben Lorentz
Georgia State University

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References found in this work

The Non-Governing Conception of Laws of Nature.Helen Beebee - 2000 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 61 (3):571-594.
Nietzsche and the ancient skeptical tradition.Jessica Berry - 2011 - New York: Oxford University Press.
Nietzsche on Agency and Self-Ignorance.Paul Katsafanas - 2012 - Journal of Nietzsche Studies 43 (1):5-17.
Nietzsche and the Ancient Skeptical Tradition.Jessica N. Berry - 2010 - , US: Oxford University Press USA.

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