Came, Daniel (2018) Nietzsche. Polity Press. ISBN UNSPECIFIED

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Item Type:Book or Monograph
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The prevailing tendency in much recent Nietzsche scholarship has been to attempt to show that Nietzsche’s philosophy intersects with the concerns of mainstream Anglophone philosophy. Maudemarie Clark in her seminal Nietzsche on Truth and Philosophy claims that Nietzsche’s ‘perspectivism regarding knowledge […] constitutes his most obvious contribution to the current intellectual scene’ (Clark 1990: 127). More recently, Brian Leiter in his Nietzsche on Morality has argued that Nietzsche deserves recognition as a leading philosophical naturalist and, in more recent work, to be ‘a live participant in contemporary debates’ in ethics (Leiter and Sinhabubu 2007: 2). While Nietzsche does have views on normative and metaethical questions, on free will and the nature of the self, he does not have a systematic interest in these matters. For example, his fundamental objection to Judaeo-Christian morality (and its secular derivatives) was not that it is false (‘it is not error qua error that horrifies me at this sight’ [EH, IV, 7]), but rather that as an expression of the ‘ascetic ideal’ it is involved in life-denial and nihilism. For Nietzsche, the principal problem with Judaeo-Christian morality is not that it presupposes false beliefs, but that it manifests an attitude and orientation of hatred towards life—that it ‘taught men to despise the very first instincts of life’ (ibid.)

In this monograph I develop an analytical reformulation of Nietzsche’s philosophy according to which Nietzsche’s concerns were in fact primarily existential. Specifically, I consider the central themes of Nietzsche’s philosophy—art and tragedy, the death of God, master and slave morality, guilt, truth, self-creation, the affirmation of life—in the light of the problem that was bequeathed to him by Schopenhauer, and which I argue is the central problem of Nietzsche’s philosophy—namely, the problem of pessimism. The core intuition here is that there is something radically defective about the world and human life. Schopenhauer’s conclusion is something like a negative theodicy—the world is the worst of all possible worlds and non-existence would be preferable to existence. Nietzsche’s fundamental concern, I argue, is to repudiate that verdict—principally through bringing about a re-evaluation of suffering and its significance. This, I argue, is the leading idea behind Nietzsche’s critique of traditional morality and the alternative, putatively life-enhancing ethical vision with which he seeks to supplant traditional morality. Thus Nietzsche’s writings on morality were not constructed with the intention of addressing questions of ethical theory in anything like the modern sense. Rather, his thoughts about morality are driven by existential concerns, not an interest in morality as such.

Keywords:Nietzsche, Schopenhauer, pessimism, affirmation of life, theodicy
Subjects:V Historical and Philosophical studies > V500 Philosophy
Divisions:College of Arts
ID Code:30441
Deposited On:22 Oct 2018 15:15

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