The Owl of Minerva 21 (1):91-96 (1989)

V. Alan White
University of Tennessee, Knoxville
We may wish to call this review “After Metaphysics” because Stephen Houlgate’s Hegel, Nietzsche, and the Criticism of Metaphysics invites comparison to Alasdair MacIntyre’s After Virtue. MacIntyre argues that the fundamental ethical conflict in the late twentieth century is that between Aristotle and Nietzsche; these two claim our particular attention, MacIntyre insists, because both reject modernity’s no longer viable liberal individualism. MacIntrye concludes, however, that only Aristotle offers a true alternative: “… the Nietzschean stance turns out not to be a mode of escape from or an alternative to the conceptual scheme of liberal individualist modernity, but rather one more representative moment in its internal unfolding”. Houlgate now extends MacIntyre’s attack on Nietzsche from the realm of ethics to that of metaphysics: Like MacIntyre, Houlgate argues that Nietzsche ultimately fails to avoid the limitations of the mode of theorizing he so stridently criticizes. As the proper opponent for Nietzsche, however, Houlgate presents Hegel rather than Aristotle. Just as MacIntrye contends that Nietzsche’s chrononlogical posteriority to Aristotle brings with it no epistemic privilege - “… the cogency of the Nietzschean rejection and refutation of modern moralities of rules, whether of a utilitarian or of a Kantian kind, [does] not necessarily extend to the earlier Aristotelian tradition” - so Houlgate argues that there is an initial parity between Nietzsche and Hegel: “Nietzsche … did not study Hegel’s texts in any depth and relied mainly on secondary sources for his interpretation and his evaluation of Hegel’s thought”; “his understanding of Hegel’s philosophy was … superficial and largely misconceived”.
Keywords Major Philosophers
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ISBN(s) 0030-7580
DOI 10.5840/owl198921129
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