Few philosophers have been as widely misunderstood as Nietzsche. His detractors and followers alike have often fundamentally misinterpreted him, distorting his views and intentions and criticizing or celebrating him for reasons removed from the views he actually held. Now __Nietzsche__ assesses his place in European thought, concentrating upon his writings in the last decade of his productive life.
'Clearly explains some of the debates in Nietzsche scholarship. Schacht does much to avoid professional tunnel-vision and invite nonprofessionals to think about Nietzsche.'-Kathleen Higgins, author of Nietzsche's 'Zarathustra'.
A central thesis of my interpretation of Nietzsche has long been that he fundamentally was a naturalistic thinker, who had a significant philosophical agenda that is best understood accordingly.1 This is a characterization with which many—in the analytically minded part of the philosophical community, at any rate—have come to agree. But there are many kinds of things called "naturalism" in the philosophical literature; and it would be a mistake to suppose that any of them in particular is what Nietzsche espoused (...) or was moving toward—especially since there are some kinds of naturalism of which he himself is quite disdainful, and even scathingly critical. For example, there is the "mechanistic" kind he calls one of .. (shrink)
We want to become those we are—Menschen who are new, unique, incomparable, who give themselves laws, who create themselves. To that end we must become the best learners and discoverers of everything that is lawful and necessary in the world: we must become physicists [Physiker, i.e., natural scientists] in order to be able to be creators in this sense—while hitherto all valuations and ideals have been based on ignorance of physics [Physik, i.e., natural science] or were constructed so as to (...) contradict it. Therefore, up with physics [Hoch die Physik]! And even more so [höher noch] that which compels us to it [das was uns zu ihr zwingt]—our intellectual integrity [Redlichkeit]!Nietzsche is quite relentless in his .. (shrink)
Few musical works loom as large in Western culture as Richard Wagner's four-part Ring of the Nibelung. In Finding an Ending, two eminent philosophers, Philip Kitcher and Richard Schacht, offer an illuminating look at this greatest of Wagner's achievements, focusing on its far-reaching and subtle exploration of problems of meanings and endings in this life and world. Kitcher and Schacht plunge the reader into the heart of Wagner's Ring, drawing out the philosophical and human significance of the text and the (...) music. They show how different forms of love, freedom, heroism, authority, and judgment are explored and tested as it unfolds. As they journey across its sweeping musical-dramatic landscape, Kitcher and Schacht lead us to the central concern of the Ring--the problem of endowing life with genuine significance that can be enhanced rather than negated by its ending, if the right sort of ending can be found. The drama originates in Wotan's quest for a transformation of the primordial state of things into a world in which life can be lived more meaningfully. The authors trace the evolution of Wotan's efforts, the intricate problems he confronts, and his failures and defeats. But while the problem Wotan poses for himself proves to be insoluble as he conceives of it, they suggest that his very efforts and failures set the stage for the transformation of his problem, and for the only sort of resolution of it that may be humanly possible--to which it is not Siegfried but rather Brünnhilde who shows the way. The Ring's ending, with its passing of the gods above and destruction of the world below, might seem to be devastating; but Kitcher and Schacht see a kind of meaning in and through the ending revealed to us that is profoundly affirmative, and that has perhaps never been so powerfully and so beautifully expressed. (shrink)
This article examines various readings of Nietzsche’s Genealogy of Morality. It treats key issues regarding each of the book’s three essays. The first essay presents slave morality as arising out of ressentiment against masters; Nietzsche thinks that this resentful attitude or affect becomes ingrained and is inherited in later generations. The second essay centers on the phenomenon of “bad conscience.” Nietzsche treats this not just critically, but also as enabling the “artist’s cruelty” which makes possible a new kind of human (...) enhancement. The third essay is about the “ascetic idea,” a “will to transcend” certain essential features of life—such as appearance, change, even willing—from which life suffers. Although Nietzsche finds this ascetic ideal present in the “unconditional will to truth,” this by no means implies that Nietzsche abandons truth as an aim. These three stories should be viewed as “conjectures” and as examples of the kind of thinking needed to understand morality and values. (shrink)
“If you can keep your head while people all around you are losing theirs,” the saying goes, “maybe you just don’t understand the situation.” There are times when this is no mere joke. And so one may likewise wonder about the fact that philosophy seems to be relatively free of the kind of canon warfare that has become one of the hallmarks of the humanities in recent years, despite the fact that, as canons go, ours is almost paradigmatic. Don’t we (...) understand the situation? Don’t philosophers realize that canons are supposed to be either venerated, valorized, vindicated, and vaunted or else vilified, vitiated, and eviscerated if not simply verboten, but in any case vociferously and violently fought about? Why don’t we do that? Why don’t we go at each other about it the way our colleagues in other disciplines do? Are we so slow on the up-take that we haven’t caught on yet? Or are we so bloodless that we can’t even get worked up about issues relating to the heart and soul of our very enterprise? (shrink)
Nietzsche’s enthusiasm for art in The Birth of Tragedy was so great that further reflection could only have tempered it—as it in fact did. The Nietzsche of the subsequently attached “Attempt at a Self-Criticism” is no longer the ardent “art-deifier” he sees himself as having been in BT. And as he indicates in an entry in his notebooks from the same period as this “Self-Criticism,” he had long since ceased to subscribe to the gospel of “Art and nothing but art!” (...) according to which art is “the only superior counterforce to all will to denial of life.” Moreover, obviously thinking of this early work, he writes in the contemporaneous Fifth Book of The Gay Science that “initially I approached the modern world with a few crude errors and overestimations”—among which, he goes on to make clear, he numbers certain of his views with respect to art. (shrink)
This important collection of essays, originally published in 2000, the year of the centenary of Nietzsche's death, offers a full assessment of his contribution to philosophy and represents a helpful guide to the current landscape of Nietzsche studies. In Beyond Good and Evil Nietzsche calls on new philosophers to carry on the process of reinterpretation and revaluation that will constitute the philosophy of the future. This reconsideration will be pursued in what Nietzsche describes as a 'postmoral' manner. The nine prominent (...) interpreters in this collection examine different aspects of this postmoral agenda and show how Nietzsche's efforts to reorient philosophical thinking are of great importance to the way we understand ourselves, our values, our concepts of virtue, and our morality today. (shrink)
Some analytic philosophers like to make “twin earth” thought-experiments, in which a second earth is imagined that is like this one in every respect but one. Maudemarie Clark and David Dudrick (henceforth C&D), in their long-awaited recent book on Nietzsche’s Beyond Good and Evil (BGE1)—punningly entitled The Soul of Nietzsche’s Beyond Good and Evil2—(henceforth ‘Soul’), in effect present us with such an experiment. On each earth there was a Nietzsche, who wrote exactly the same things as the other one did. (...) The single relevant difference between the two earths is that on one of them the Nietzsche—call him ‘exo-Nietzsche’ (as in ‘exoteric’)—actually meant the things he said in what he wrote and published, at least .. (shrink)
One of the things for which Kierkegaard is both best known to English and American philosophers and most criticized by them, is his contention that “truth is subjectivity.” His discussion of “truth” and “subjectivity” occupies a considerable part of his most important philosophical work, Concluding Unscientific Postscript; and his contention that “truth is subjectivity” is the pivotal claim around which virtually the entire work revolves. Yet few of Kierkegaard's claims have been more frequently misunderstood; and a misunderstanding of this claim (...) has led many philosophers wrongly to dismiss him as unworthy of serious consideration. (shrink)
Written at the height of the philosopher's intellectual powers, Friedrich Nietzsche's _On the Genealogy of Morals_ has become one of the key texts of recent Western philosophy. Its essayistic style affords a unique opportunity to observe many of Nietzsche's persisting concerns coming together in an illuminating constellation. A profound influence on psychoanalysis, antihistoricism, and poststructuralism and an abiding challenge to ethical theory, Nietzsche's book addresses many of the major philosophical problems and possibilities of modernity. In this unique collection focusing on (...) the _Genealogy_, twenty-five notable philosophers offer diverse discussions of the book's central themes and concepts. They explore such notions as _ressentiment_, asceticism, "slave" and "master" moralities, and what Nietzsche calls "genealogy" and its relation to other forms of inquiry in his work. The book presents a cross section of contemporary Nietzsche scholarship and philosophical investigation that is certain to interest philosophers, intellectual and cultural historians, and anyone concerned with one of the master thinkers of the modern age. (shrink)
We want to become those we are—the new, the unique, the incomparable, the self-legislators, the self-creators. [Wir aber wollendie werden, die wir sind—die Neuen, die Einmaligen, die Unvergleickbaren, die Sich-selber-Gesetzgebenden, die Sich-selber-Schaffenden!] (GS 336, 1882)Verily, the individual himself [der Einselne selber] is still the most recent invention. (Z I:15, 1883)My philosophy aims at an ordering of rank: not at an individualistic morality. (WP 287, from the notebooks of 1886–87)If we place ourselves at the end of this tremendous process . . (...) . ,where society and the morality of custom at last reveal what theyhave simply been the means to: then we discover that the ripest fruit is the sovereign individual [souveräne Individuum], like only tohimself, liberated again from the morality of custom, autonomous and supramoral . . . , in short, the man who has his own independent,protracted will and the right to make promises. (GM II:2, 1887)Every particular individual [ Jeder einzelne] may be regarded as representing the ascending or descending line of life. When onehas decided which, one has thereby established a canon for the value of his egoism. If he represents the ascending line his valueis in fact extraordinary. . . . If he represents the descending development . . . , then he can be accorded little value. (TI “Skirmishes”33, 1888)The particular person, the ‘individual’ [Der einzelne, das ‘Individuum’], as people and philosophers have hitherto understood him,is an error: he does not constitute a separate entity, an atom, a ‘link in the chain,’ something merely inherited from the past—heconstitutes the entire single line ‘Mensch’ up to and including himself. (TI “Skirmishes” 33, 1888)Goethe conceived of a strong, highly cultured human being, skilled in all physical accomplishments, who, keeping himself incheck and having reverence for himself, dares to allow himself the whole compass and wealth of naturalness, who is strongenough for this freedom. . . . A spirit thus emancipated stands in the midst of the universe with a joyful and trusting fatalism, inthe faith that only the particular individual [das Einzelne] may be rejected, that in the totality everything is redeemed and affirmed.. . . But such a faith is the highest of all possible faiths: I have baptized it with the name Dionysus. (TI “Skirmishes” 49). (shrink)