European Journal of Philosophy 15 (2):204–224 (2007)

Aaron Ridley
University of Southampton
There are passages in Nietzsche that can be read as contributions to the free will/determinism debate. When read in that way, they reveal a fairly amateurish metaphysician with little of real substance or novelty to contribute; and if these readings were apt or perspicuous, it seems to me, they would show that Nietzsche's thoughts about freedom were barely worth pausing over. They would simply confirm the impression—amply bolstered from other quarters—that Nietzsche was not at his best when addressing the staple questions of philosophy. But these readings sell Nietzsche short. He had next to no systematic interest in metaphysics, and his concern with the question of freedom was not motivated by metaphysical considerations. Rather—and as with all of Nietzsche's concerns—his motivations were ethical. He was interested, not in the relation of the human will to the causal order of nature, but in the relation between freedom and the good life, between the will and exemplary human living. Read from this perspective, Nietzsche's remarks about freedom actually add up to something. And what they add up to is one aspect of his attempt to understand life after the model of art. Beauty, for Kant, was an image of the moral.1 For Nietzsche, by contrast—and the contrast can be hard to spell out—art was an image of the ethical.2 My hope here is to begin to explain why Nietzsche might have thought that the issue of freedom was relevant to that. In sections 1–3, I attempt to show why Nietzsche is not best read as a participant in the standard free will/determinism debate; in sections 4–6, I try to spell out the ethical conception of freedom that he develops instead
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1111/j.1468-0378.2007.00259.x
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 54,536
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Ethics and the Limits of Philosophy.Bernard Williams - 1985 - Harvard University Press.
Mind, Value, and Reality.John Henry McDowell - 1998 - Harvard University Press.

View all 31 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Nietzsche’s Cultural Elitism.David Rowthorn - 2017 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 47 (1):97-115.
Pulling Oneself Up by the Hair: Understanding Nietzsche on Freedom.Claire Kirwin - 2018 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 61 (1):82-99.
Friedrich Nietzsche.Robert Wicks - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Why Should We Care About Nietzsche's ‘Higher Men’?Omri Ben-Zvi - 2017 - European Journal of Philosophy 25 (3):638-656.
VIII-Nietzsche,Amor FatiandThe Gay Science.Tom Stern - 2013 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 113 (2pt2):145-162.

View all 12 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Nietzsche's Intentions: What the Sovereign Individual Promises.Aaron Ridley - 2009 - In Ken Gemes & Simon May (eds.), Nietzsche on Freedom and Autonomy. Oxford University Press. pp. 181--196.
Nietzsche on Freedom.Robert Guay - 2002 - European Journal of Philosophy 10 (3):302–327.
Nietzsche on Freedom and Autonomy (Review).Mark P. Jenkins - 2010 - Journal of Nietzsche Studies 40 (1):85-90.
Nietzsche’s Daybreak.Carl B. Sachs - 2008 - Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy 13 (1):81-100.
Freedom as a Philosophical Ideal: Nietzsche and His Antecedents.Donald Rutherford - 2011 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 54 (5):512 - 540.


Added to PP index

Total views
66 ( #146,713 of 2,385,502 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
1 ( #560,835 of 2,385,502 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes