Journal of Nietzsche Studies 47 (2):287-302 (2016)

Tom Stern
University College London
The aim of this paper is to begin a conversation about how we read and write about Nietzsche and, related to this, other figures in the history of philosophy. The principle of charity can appear to be a way to bridge two dif-ferent interpretative goals: getting the meaning of the text right and offering the best philosophy. I argue that the principle of charity is multiply ambiguous along three different dimensions, which I call “unit,” “mode,” and “strength”: consequently, it is not a single, neutral or independent principle to which we can helpfully appeal and it cannot, in itself, perform this bridging function. Nietzsche, I suggest, is particularly ill suited to some forms of charitable reading. I compare charity to what I call “misreporting” a philosopher’s words, in order to highlight some problematic structural similarities. Finally, I assess what charity might be doing instead, if it is not intended to bridge meaning and best philosophy.
Keywords Principle of Charity  Method in the history of philosophy
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DOI 10.5325/jnietstud.47.2.0287
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References found in this work BETA

Nietzsche.John Richardson & Brian Leiter (eds.) - 2001 - Oxford University Press.
Analytic Philosophy and History: A Mismatch?Hans Johann Glock - 2008 - Glock, Hans Johann . Analytic Philosophy and History: A Mismatch? Mind: A Quarterly Review of Philosophy, 117:867-897.
A Note on Interpretation.Jonathan Bennett - 1982 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 12 (4):753 - 755.

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