In 1872 Nietzsche shocked the European philological community with the publication of the Birth of Tragedy. In this fervid first book Nietzsche looked to ancient Greek culture in the hope of finding the path to a revitalization of modern German culture. Cultural health was at this point unquestionably his paramount concern. Yet postwar Nietzsche scholarship has typically held that after his Untimely Meditations which followed soon after, Nietzsche’s philosophy took a sharply individualist turn—an interpretation largely due to Walter Kaufmann’s noble (...) and influential effort to counter the Nazi appropriation of Nietzsche by stressing Nietzsche’s anti-political individualism and downplaying his seemingly more noxious Kulturphilosophie. But even after Nietzsche gave up on the idea of German culture as something blessed with inner truth and greatness and Nietzsche gave up on the idea of German culture as something blessed with inner truth and greatness and pregnant with the potential for renewed splendor–heaping scorn instead on the Germans and their newly-founded Reich–he still, I argue, continued to take culture, as a collective social achievement, to be something of prime importance. Indeed, it is for this reason that he took the flourishing of great individuals–especially artists and intellectuals–to be vital. Their singularity and their excellence redeems the decadent cultural landscape from the bovine blight of the “last man” and the self-satis!ed, uncreative, and barren mediocrity he represents. My dissertation uses Nietzsche’s perfectionistic ideal of a flourishing culture as a point of departure for investigating many of the central themes in his work: his criticism of the ideals enshrined in conventional morality; his attack on Christianity; his celebration of individual human excellence and cultural accomplishment; his lamentations about cultural decline; his troubling remarks about the need for slavery (“in some sense or other”) if a society is to flourish; and his grand ambitions for a “revaluation of all values.”. (shrink)
Can a person ever occurrently believe p and yet have the simultaneous, occurrent belief q that this very belief that p is false? Surely not, most would say: that description of a person’s epistemic economy seems to misunderstand the very concept of belief. In this paper I question this orthodox assumption. There are, I suggest, cases where we have a first-order mental state m that involves taking the world to be a certain way, yet although we ourselves acknowledge that we (...) are in m, we reflectively disavow m’s propositional content. If such an epistemic stance is possible, does this irrationally persistent first-order state m really deserve the title of belief, or should it instead be classified under some other, less doxastic appellation? I argue in this paper that the belief terminology is warranted, and thus, that we can be correctly described as having the second-order belief that a specific first-order belief that we nonetheless continue to hold is false. In such cases, our first-order state is what I refer to as a naughty belief. Like naughty toddlers, naughty beliefs are recalcitrant in the face of epistemic authority. (shrink)
Health is a central concept in Nietzsche’s work. Yet in the most philosophically sophisticated secondary literature on Nietzsche, there has been fairly little sustained treatment of just what Nietzschean health consists in. In this paper, I aim to provide an account of some of the central marks of this health: resilience, discipline, vitality, a certain positive condition of the will to power, a certain tendency toward integration, and so on. This exposition and discussion will be the main task of the (...) paper. Then in the concluding section of the paper, I consider a line taken in some related secondary literature, which would suggest that health might ultimately be understood in formal or dynamic terms, relating to one’s will to power and/or the unity of one’s drives. I will present the beginnings of an argument against such an account of health. In focusing on the formal and dynamic side exclusively, it cannot get the full story. In particular, it seems to me to miss the substantive dimension that is essential if we are to understand health properly. As I shall suggest, the core concept of Nietzschean health is not fully explicable except by reference to normative terms. (shrink)
Nihilism is one of Nietzsche’s foremost philosophical concerns. But characterizing it proves elusive. His nihilists include those in despair in the wake of the “death of God.” Yet they also include believing Christians. We have, among these nihilists, those fervently committed to frameworks of cosmic meaning. But we also have those who lack any such commitment, epitomized in the “last man.” We have those who want to escape this life. And we have those who wouldn’t dream of such a prospect. (...) Extant accounts have shed helpful light on the particularities of these various manifestations of nihilism. Yet they have not explained what ties these together. In this paper, I propose a unifying thread. Nihilists, on my reading of Nietzsche, are those who have come unmoored from the most important values. That is not to say that there is nothing more to nihilism than being wrong. But it is to say that we don’t understand Nietzschean nihilism fully if we just focus on the descriptive psychology of valuers. The unifying thread of Nietzschean nihilism, on my reading, in fact turns out to be structurally similar to the familiar idea of it we get in a number of other 19th century thinkers and authors—and ironically with those moralists who brand Nietzsche himself a nihilist. Where he differs from them is not in his account of what nihilism fundamentally is, but in the values he sees nihilists as having come unmoored from. (shrink)
In the Infamous Opening Sections from Part IX of Beyond Good and Evil, Nietzsche celebrates a strident kind of elitism and countenances, in however attenuated a form, the institution of slavery. “Every enhancement of the type ‘man,’” he writes, “has so far been the work of an aristocratic society—and it will be so again and again—a society that believes in the long ladder of an order of rank and difference in worth [Werthverschiedenheit] between man and man, and that needs slavery (...) [Sklaverei] in some sense or other” (257). In the section that follows, Nietzsche describes a “good and healthy aristocracy” as “accept[ing] with a good conscience the sacrifice of untold human beings who, for its sake [um ihretwillen] .. (shrink)
In this paper, I treat the question of the meta-axiological standing of Nietzsche's own values, in the service of which he criticizes morality. Does Nietzsche, I ask, regard his perfectionistic valorization of human excellence and cultural flourishing over other ideals to have genuine evaluative standing, in the sense of being correct, or at least adequate to a matter-of-fact? My goal in this paper is modest, but important: it is not to attribute to Nietzsche some sophisticated meta-axiological view, because I am (...) doubtful that he has one. It is, however, to show that Nietzsche's texts do not necessitate the sceptical meta-axiological positions that have been attributed to him in the recent secondary literature. And it is thereby to suggest that we need not give up on the idea that Nietzsche takes the values he champions to have genuine evaluative standing – not because he has some sophisticated realist theory to this effect, but in a more philosophically unreflective way. (shrink)
It is a truism that Nietzsche is a critic of morality. But what does Nietzsche have against this institution of morality? I consider the prominent interpretation of Brian Leiter’s that Nietzsche takes morality to task for its bad effects in hampering the flourishing of great individuals and cultures. There are good reasons, I argue, to resist this reading as the best, and certainly as the exclusive, account of the grounds for Nietzsche’s criticism of morality. I go on to propose an (...) alternative construal that sees Nietzsche as objecting to the expressive character of moral values themselves . My project, in the first instance, is the exegetical one of understanding what is going on in Nietzsche’s texts when he criticizes morality. Nonetheless, there are important philosophical lessons to be learned here from Nietzsche’s work, if not necessarily about the actual failings of morality itself, the.. (shrink)
Is there a distinctively artistic value that works of art have over and above their aesthetic value? No, Dominic McIver Lopes claims in a recent paper. He canvases various non-aesthetic options for underwriting artistic value. Yet he dispenses too quickly with a promising account of artistic value that would look to the artwork's status as an achievement as the basis of its value: On this achievement-based view, the value of the work of art as art (that is, its distinctively artistic (...) value) consists in the artistically-relevant achievement that it itself constitutes. While I will not seek to vindicate the achievement view itself, I do want to show that Lopes's arguments against it are unsound. Moreover, I argue that Lopes's claim that artistic value might be nothing over and above aesthetic value is untenable, unless it is supplemented by the more basic claim that the aesthetic value in question is something achieved by an artist. Lopes's argument thus only works if he makes recourse to the achievement conception of artistic value that he is keen to reject. (shrink)
Book synopsis: The first full and sustained discussion of Parfit's views on objectivity in ethics Leading philosophers respond to Parfit's criticisms and advance our understanding of the arguments An essential companion volume to Parfit's On What Matters, Volume Three In the first two volumes of On What Matters Derek Parfit argues that there are objective moral truths, and other normative truths about what we have reasons to believe, and to want, and to do. He thus challenges a view of the (...) role of reason in action that can be traced back to David Hume, and is widely assumed to be correct, not only by philosophers but also by economists. In defending his view, Parfit argues that if there are no objective normative truths, nihilism follows, and nothing matters. He criticizes, often forcefully, many leading contemporary philosophers working on the nature of ethics, including Simon Blackburn, Stephen Darwall, Allen Gibbard, Frank Jackson, Peter Railton, Mark Schroeder, Michael Smith, and Sharon Street. Does Anything Really Matter? gives these philosophers an opportunity to respond to Parfit's criticisms, and includes essays on Parfit's views by Richard Chappell, Andrew Huddleston, Katarzyna de Lazari-Radek and Peter Singer, Bruce Russell, and Larry Temkin. A third volume of On What Matters, in which Parfit engages with his critics and breaks new ground in finding significant agreement between his own views and theirs, is appearing as a separate companion volume. (shrink)
The past decade and a half has seen a considerable flowering of interest in Nietzsche’s metaethics. In this time, Nietzsche has been presented with nearly as wide a range of views in metaethics as there are exegetical options on the table—views ranging from nihilism to subjective realism to expressivism to fictionalism to objective realism to, most recently, constructivism and constitutivism. Interpreters must square Nietzsche’s apparently skeptical remarks about the objectivity of value with his seeming commitment to a certain privileged set (...) of values, in light of which he purports to “revalue” the values of the moral tradition. Is this apparent commitment nothing more than rhetorical bluster? Or does he think... (shrink)
This essay is one of ten contributions to a special editorial feature in The Journal of Nietzsche Studies 49.2, in which authors were invited to address the following questions: What is the future of Nietzsche studies? What are the most pressing questions its scholars should address? What texts and issues demand our urgent attention? And as we turn to these issues, what methodological and interpretive principles should guide us? The editorship hopes this collection will provide a starting point for discussions (...) about the most fruitful directions for Nietzsche scholarship to take and the most promising avenues for building on the best recent work. (shrink)
Aesthetic beautification is a familiar artistic phenomenon. Even as they face death, heroes and heroines in operas still sing glorious music. Characters in Shakespearean tragedies still deliver beautifully eloquent speeches in the throes of despair. Even when depicting suffering and horror, paintings can still remain a transfixing delight for the eyes. In such cases, the work of art represents or expresses something to which we would, in ordinary life, attribute a negative valence, but it does so beautifully. Doubtless there is (...) not a single explanation for what transpires in art of this sort or in our experience of it. With some aesthetically beautified art, its foremost goal might be giving aesthetic pleasure, and the beauty of the aesthetic form, even when depicting horrors, is in the service of this primary aim. In other art, the beautification might seek to be jarring and thought-provoking, highlighting a disconnect between the aesthetic frame and what is portrayed. These routes explain much of aesthetic beautification. But I am particularly interested in considering another, still more specific, response: finding ourselves somehow consoled by the beautification. I begin with some reflections on aesthetic beautification in general, and then turn to consider how beautification and consolation might be connected, and what to make of this. (shrink)
According to Hegel, art in its ‘supreme task’ is engaged in ‘bringing to our minds and expressing the Divine, the deepest interests of mankind, and the most comprehensive truths of the spirit’. Raymond Geuss, in a highly illuminating paper, has connected Hegel’s conception of art’s supreme task with the project of theodicy. In this paper I explore Hegel’s aesthetics of comedy through this theodicy-based framework Geuss has proposed, and I consider what light this framework can shed on comedy and, reciprocally, (...) what light comedy can shed on it. In particular, invocation of a theodicy can give the impression of art as a kind of defense of the status quo. Yet Hegel’s brief, but pivotal remarks on comedy complicate this picture in an interesting way. The best comedy does reassure us about the basic rationality and goodness of the world. Yet Aristophanic comedy—the sort Hegel lauds as the best and the most truly comic—has a strongly social-critical streak that Hegel notes with great admiration. Hegel’s theory of comedy says as much about him as it does about the genre. But if we are attentive to Hegel’s remarks on comedy, they will offer us a point of resistance against overly Panglossian interpretations of the Hegelian supreme task of art and will help us better understand in what way active social criticism through art is compatible with that higher calling. (shrink)
We find numerous discussions of art and aesthetics stretching from Nietzsche's first book The Birth of Tragedy to his final books of 1888. In what follows, I seek to give an overview of Nietzsche's views. I proceed in a roughly chronological fashion, but try to group key themes together insofar as possible.
Few philosophers have published at the impressively prolific rate that Roger Scruton has. Of the forty-two books by Scruton listed in a special bibliography at the end of Scruton’s Aesthetics, no fewer than nine of them have been devoted to topics in aesthetics. The present volume, edited by Andy Hamilton and Nick Zangwill, arises out of a 2008 conference devoted to Scruton’s seminal work in this field. While sympathetic in tone, the majority of the essays critically engage with Scruton’s views (...) on a number of topics in aesthetics, with particular attention devoted to issues of music and of architecture. Although Scruton’s frequently discussed and sometimes provocative views will be familiar to most readers, the contributions to this volume manage well in reconstructing enough of the background to be intelligible to the reader not already well-versed in Scruton’s wide-ranging body of work. (shrink)
Brian Leiter's Moral Psychology with Nietzsche draws together seven of his previous papers, expands and updates them, and weaves them together into a unified naturalist line of interpretation. The fundamental positions largely remain the same. The reader already familiar with Leiter's work will thus not be in for major surprises, but will have much to learn from reading the new exegetical and philosophical details in this book.The "moral psychology" indicated in the book's title is construed very broadly to encompass, for (...) example, metaethics in addition to the more familiar questions one might associate with moral psychology. While the book defends and challenges interpretive... (shrink)
In this paper, I suggest that we need to enrich our discussion of meta-normativity in the philosophy of art by moving beyond the traditional focus on aesthetic value, the putative properties underwriting such value, and the related concepts, discourse, and judgments. When it comes to much of the normativity arising in our engagement with art (in interpretation, performance, staging, display, and appreciation) such matters of aesthetic value are not decisive, and they are often beside the point. In these spheres, the (...) key normative issue instead often turns on the notion of being appropriate, both a) as a matter of general policy, relating to the appropriateness of a manner of staging, interpretation, etc., and b) as a matter of whether some particular staging, interpretation, etc., is appropriate for a given work, given its features, the context, and so on. Thus, I go on to argue, the extensive debates about objectivity and subjectivity in aesthetic judgment, and related issues, will be of little help when it comes to settling some of the key meta-normative questions in philosophy of art. We need to ask, when it comes to appropriateness, whether a claim to the effect, e.g., that ‘x is appropriate manner of staging y’ could really be right, and if so, in virtue of what. I go on to sketch some groundwork for an answer, and point the way to further work. (shrink)
ABSTRACT This article was presented in January 2020 to the North American Nietzsche Society at the American Philosophical Association Eastern Division Meeting as part of a book symposium on Andrew Huddleston's Nietzsche on the Decadence and Flourishing of Culture (2019). Here the author replies to critical commentaries by Kristin Gjesdal and Jacqueline Scott.
Aesthetics, in many ways, is at the center of Adorno's philosophical enterprise. Politics and social critique are, in turn, very much at the fore in his aesthetics. His art criticism is thereby bound up with social and political critique. That much is of course a truism about Adorno. In this essay, I shall suggest that Adorno's social criticism (in one of its main manifestations) is related to his art criticism in another interesting way as well. Specifically, their form is similar. (...) The object of critical analysis, whether an artwork or other social phenomenon, is objectionable not simply because it promotes or fosters problematic things downstream – authoritarianism, anti‐Semitism, and the like – as cause to effect. Rather, it is objectionable because it contains, often in a way difficult immediately to detect, such objectionable ideologies covertly embedded in it. Critique will thus be a hermeneutic endeavor seeking to expose these ideologies. While this critical‐interpretive model is of course more familiar in the aesthetic sphere, Adorno extends it to unmasking a wider range of social phenomena. (shrink)
This chapter begins with some brief biographical information and some general remarks about Friedrich Nietzsche's philosophical methodology and style. Throughout his life, Nietzsche's books had a very small circulation. But by the end of his life, he was beginning to receive greater acclaim, and he was to have an enormous influence, not just within philosophy, but in the wider cultural sphere. In some recent literature on Nietzsche, the divide between naturalism and non‐naturalism has figured prominently. This reflects a broader debate (...) about where exactly to situate Nietzsche, with respect to his eighteenth and nineteenth century predecessors, as well as with respect to debates in contemporary philosophy, particularly surrounding moral psychology, the philosophy of action, and the philosophy of mind. The chapter also presents the discussion of his books themselves, beginning with The Birth of Tragedy (1872) and ending with his autobiography Ecce Homo (1888). It concludes by reflecting on Nietzsche's philosophical and cultural legacy. (shrink)
It has sometimes been held that instrumental music on its own, without text or program, is a kind of ‘pure’ or ‘absolute’ music, having no significant truck with extra-musical reality. While bird calls and canon shots might get countenanced, nothing in the vein of a philosophical worldview, a rich narrative, or a socio-political subtext is going to make the formalist’s strict cut. There has been considerable discussion in the analytic aesthetics of music about these issues and about closely-related ones concerning (...) musical expression and representation. But the discussion has focused almost exclusively on music’s *capacities* as a medium, or on our perceptual or imaginative capacities as listeners, in an effort to see how all of this might transpire. But as I will be arguing in this paper, this sort of approach, despite all its illuminating work, does not directly address one of the most important questions on the table between the partisans on different sides of the ‘pure’ music debate. And this question is the fundamentally normative one concerning *how this allegedly ‘pure’ instrumental music is to be appropriately appreciated.* When we appreciate this sort of instrumental music in content-involving ways, where our thoughts go beyond its basic and fairly uncontroversial expressive or representational features, is our mode of musical appreciation thereby deficient, or somehow ‘in the wrong,’ aesthetically-speaking? I argue that it needn’t be, and I further argue to the surprising conclusion that the answer to this normative question doesn’t crucially turn on whether music *possesses* the relevant content. Once we get this normative question in view, we should recognize a broader range of appropriate ways to engage with instrumental music, beyond the restrictive ideal of ‘pure’ listening that has thus far been championed by musical formalists. Then, in the final part of the paper, I shift gears to consider whether the sort of extra-musical content at issue is really as far-fetched as opponents can make it seem. I argue that it isn’t, and that this can be seen by looking to comparable sorts of content in the paradigmatically representational arts. (shrink)
Event synopsis: This conference will explore Friedrich Nietzsche's critical relation to Kantian political philosophy. Taking 'Kantian politics' to include modern and contemporary Kantian theories as well as Kant's own theories, the conference will examine Nietzsche's engagement with such Kantian themes as autonomy and rights, equality and democracy, morality and politics, war and cosmopolitanism, history and anthropology. The speakers are renowned scholars of political philosophy from the United States and Europe, and the format of the conferences involves the pre-circulation of papers (...) among participants and extended sessions, so as to allow much time for discussion. The conference is the sixth in a series examining Nietzsche's relation to Kant and Kantianism, each focusing on specific areas and texts of Kant's philosophy. Previous conferences were held on ethics in Leiden, aesthetics in London, epistemology in Lisbon, religion in Belo Horizonte, and anthropology in Lecce, and another will be held on the transcendental in Galway in March 2014. The conference is organized by Tom Bailey ([email protected]) and funded by John Cabot University. There is no conference fee, but if you plan to attend, please register with Tom Bailey, who will also provide you with practical information and the conference papers. All sessions will take place at the University's Guarini campus, in Via della Lungara 233, Trastevere, Rome. The Friday morning sessions will take place in the Aula Magna Regina, and the following sessions in the Board Room. (shrink)
Book synopsis: This volume documents the cultural-philosophical, aesthetic, and political dimensions of the confrontation between Nietzsche and Wagner from contemporary sources. It is the first comprehensive review to be published since the 1980s. Besides the aesthetic and cultural-philosophical dimensions of their differences, the issue of anti-Semitism is also explored, for which Wagner’s essay “Judaism in Music” is paradigmatic.