Nietzsche Contra the Naturalists

Journal of Nietzsche Studies 55 (1):67-96 (2024)
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Abstract

Even among scholars who emphasize Nietzsche’s naturalism (“the naturalists”), what it actually involves is disputed. This article identifies the foundations of Nietzsche’s naturalism and then elaborates on these foundations through a critical analysis of the works of those naturalists who also identify them. Nietzsche is a methodological naturalist, who, epistemically, is a reliabilist, and while he acknowledges the innate limitations of our cognitive inheritance, which is reflected in his perspectivism, he sees no reason to conclude that we cannot grasp the natural world truly. As to the primary issue in scientific explanation, causation, Nietzsche adopts a regularity theory as early as The Gay Science, and, on the basis of this theory, rejects determinism. One consequence of this analysis is that Nietzsche’s naturalism is not as restrictive as the naturalists tend to portray it, and this opens up new possibilities for interpreting many of his other commitments.

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