The Nature and Future of Philosophy (Columbia Themes in Philosophy)


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2. Critique of Religion and Morality

There are books that have opposite values for soul and health, depending on whether the lower soul… or the higher and more vigorous ones turn to them. Commentators have therefore expended considerable effort working out rational reconstructions of these doctrines. This section offers brief explanations of three of the most important: the will to power, the eternal recurrence, and perspectivism.


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Others receive it as an anti-essentialist rejection of traditional metaphysical theorizing in which abstract and shifting power-centers replace stable entities Nehamas 74—, Poellner —98 , or else as a psychological hypothesis Kaufmann [] , Soll ; Clark and Dudrick , or a quasi- scientific conjecture Schacht ; Abel ; Anderson , b. As we saw 3. Some commentators take this to suggest a monistic psychology in which all drives whatsoever aim at power, and so count as manifestations of a single underlying drive or drive-type.

He thought that past philosophers had largely ignored the influence of their own perspectives on their work, and had therefore failed to control those perspectival effects BGE 6; see BGE I more generally. This famous passage bluntly rejects the idea, dominant in philosophy at least since Plato, that knowledge essentially involves a form of objectivity that penetrates behind all subjective appearances to reveal the way things really are, independently of any point of view whatsoever.

There is of course an implicit criticism of the traditional picture of a-perspectival objectivity here, but there is equally a positive set of recommendations about how to pursue knowledge as a finite, limited cognitive agent. In working out his perspective optics of cognition, Nietzsche built on contemporary developments in the theory of cognition—particularly the work of non-orthodox neo-Kantians like Friedrich Lange and positivists like Ernst Mach, who proposed naturalized, psychologically-based versions of the broad type of theory of cognition initially developed by Kant and Schopenhauer see Clark ; Kaulbach , ; Anderson , , ; Green ; Hill ; Hussain The Kantian thought was that certain very basic structural features of the world we know space, time, causal relations, etc.

In particular, the Genealogy passage emphasizes that for him, perspectives are always rooted in affects and their associated patterns of valuation. Thus, theoretical claims not only need to be analyzed from the point of view of truth, but can also be diagnosed as symptoms and thereby traced back to the complex configurations of drive and affect from the point of view of which they make sense.

Nietzsche makes perspectivist claims not only concerning the side of the cognitive subject, but also about the side of the truth, or reality, we aim to know. These efforts argue for strong connections between perspectivism and the will to power doctrine section 6. Nietzsche himself suggests that the eternal recurrence was his most important thought, but that has not made it any easier for commentators to understand.

But the texts are difficult to interpret. Skeptics like Loeb are correct to insist that, if recurrence is to be understood as a practical thought experiment, commentators owe us an account of how the particular features of the relevant thoughts are supposed to make any difference Soll already posed a stark form of this challenge. Three features seem especially salient: we are supposed to imagine 1 that the past recurs , so that what has happened in the past will be re-experienced in the future; 2 that what recurs is the same in every detail; and 3 that the recurrence happens not just once more, or even many times more, but eternally.

The supposed recurrence 1 plausibly matters as a device for overcoming the natural bias toward the future in practical reasoning.

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Since we cannot change the past but think of ourselves as still able to do something about the future, our practical attention is understandably future directed. By imaginatively locating our entire life once again in the future, the thought experiment can mobilize our practical self-concern to direct its evaluative resources onto our life as a whole. Similar considerations motivate the constraint of sameness 2. If my assessment of myself simply elided any events or features of my self, life, or world with which I was discontent, it would hardly count as an honest, thorough self-examination.

The constraint that the life I imagine to recur must be the same in every detail is designed to block any such elisions. As Reginster —7 observes, it is more difficult to explain the role of the third constraint, eternity. Reginster proposes that the eternity constraint is meant to reinforce the idea that the thought experiment calls for an especially wholehearted form of affirmation— joy —whose strength is measured by the involvement of a wish that our essentially finite lives could be eternal.

More modestly, one might think that Nietzsche considered it important to rule out as insufficient a particular kind of conditional affirmation, which is suggested by the Christian eschatological context, and which would leave in place the judgment that earthly human life carries intrinsically negative value.

After all, the devout Christian might affirm her earthly life as a test of faith , which is to be redeemed by an eternal heavenly reward should one pass that test—all the while retaining her commitment that, considered by itself, earthly life is a sinful condition to be rejected. It is held in many university libraries and is typically cited by volume and page number using the abbreviation KGA. This entry cites published works in the English translations listed below, and for the unpublished writing, it cites the useful abridged version of the critical edition, prepared for students and scholars the Kritische Studienausgabe , KSA.

Those references follow standard scholarly practice, providing volume and page numbers of the KSA , preceded by the notebook and fragment numbers established for the overall critical edition. English translations have now appeared containing selections from the unpublished writing included in KSA , and those volumes WEN , WLN are listed among the translations in the next section.

The full bibliographical information for the German editions is. Citations follow the North American Nietzsche Society system of abbreviations for reference to English translations. For each work, the primary translation quoted in the entry is listed first, followed by other translations that were consulted. Original date of German publication is given in parentheses at the end of each entry. I am grateful to Rachel Cristy for exchanges that helped me work out basic ideas for the structure and contents of this entry. Joshua Landy, Andrew Huddleston, Christopher Janaway, and Elijah Millgram provided helpful feedback on a late draft, and each saved me from several errors.

Friedrich Nietzsche First published Fri Mar 17, Life and Works 2. Critique of Religion and Morality 3. Value Creation 3. The Self and Self-fashioning 5. Key Doctrines 6. Critique of Religion and Morality Nietzsche is arguably most famous for his criticisms of traditional European moral commitments, together with their foundations in Christianity.

GM III, 15 Thus, Nietzsche suggests, The principal bow stroke the ascetic priest allowed himself to cause the human soul to resound with wrenching and ecstatic music of every kind was executed—everyone knows this—by exploiting the feeling of guilt. A well-known passage appears near the opening of the late work, The Antichrist : What is good? What is bad? Everything that is born of weakness. What is happiness? The feeling that power is growing , that resistance is overcome. For example, in GS 2 Nietzsche expresses bewilderment in the face of people who do not value honesty: I do not want to believe it although it is palpable: the great majority of people lacks an intellectual conscience.

Nietzsche often recommends the pursuit of knowledge as a way of life: No, life has not disappointed me… ever since the day when the great liberator came to me: the idea that life could be an experiment for the seeker for knowledge…. GS Indeed, he assigns the highest cultural importance to the experiment testing whether such a life can be well lived: A thinker is now that being in whom the impulse for truth and those life-preserving errors now clash for their first fight, after the impulse for truth has proved to be also a life-preserving power.

GS A second strand of texts emphasizes connections between truthfulness and courage , thereby valorizing honesty as the manifestation of an overall virtuous character marked by resoluteness, determination, and spiritual strength. GS But even in the face of such worries, Nietzsche does not simply give up on truthfulness.

Nietzsche raises a more specific worry about the deleterious effects of the virtue of honesty—about the will to truth, rather than what is true—and artistry is wheeled in to alleviate them, as well: If we had not welcomed the arts and invented this kind of cult of the untrue, then the realization of general untruth and mendaciousness that now comes to us through science—the realization that delusion and error are conditions of human knowledge and sensation—would be utterly unbearable.

GM III, 12 As the passage makes clear, however, Nietzschean perspectives are themselves rooted in affects and the valuations to which affects give rise , and in his mind, the ability to deploy a variety of perspectives is just as important for our practical and evaluative lives as it is for cognitive life. The Self and Self-fashioning A probing investigation into the psyche was a leading preoccupation for Nietzsche throughout his career, and this aspect of his thought has rightly been accorded central importance across a long stretch of the reception, all the way from Kaufmann to recent work by Pippin , Katsafanas , and others.

To the natural complaint that such telegraphic treatment courts misunderstanding, he replies that One does not only wish to be understood when one writes; one wishes just as surely not to be understood. Instead, the aphorism that requires so much interpretation is the compressed, high-impact arrival point of GM III, 1; the section begins by noting a series of different things that the ascetic ideal has meant, listed one after another and serving as a kind of outline for the Treatise, before culminating in the taut aphorism: That the ascetic ideal has meant so much to man, however, is an expression of the basic fact of the human will, its horror vacui : it needs a goal ,—and it would rather will nothingness than not will.

If this is right, the very vitriol of the Genealogy arises from an aim to be heard only by the right audience—the one it can potentially aid rather than harm—thereby overcoming the problem that There are books that have opposite values for soul and health, depending on whether the lower soul… or the higher and more vigorous ones turn to them. GM III, 12 This famous passage bluntly rejects the idea, dominant in philosophy at least since Plato, that knowledge essentially involves a form of objectivity that penetrates behind all subjective appearances to reveal the way things really are, independently of any point of view whatsoever.

Colli and M. Berlin: W. UM Untimely Meditations , R. Hollingdale trans. I, ; Vol. II, — I also consulted The Gay Science , J.

Nauckhoff trans. A The Antichrist , Walter Kaufmann trans. New York: Vintage, , Allison, David ed. Anderson, R. Came, Daniel ed. Reprinted in Clark — Heidegger, Martin, , Nietzsche , Pfullingen: Neske. Translated in 4 vols. Hussain, Nadeem J. Reprinted in Gemes and May — Leiter, Brian and Neil Sinhababu eds.

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Harvey Lomax trans. Pippin, Robert B. Wood and Songsuk Susan Hahn eds. Mandel trans. Richard, , Nietzsche , London: Routledge. Schopenhauer, Arthur, , Parerga and Paralipomena , Vol. I, Sabine Roehr and Christopher Janaway trans. Solomon, Robert ed. Solomon, Robert and Kathleen Higgins eds. Velleman, J. Reprinted in Williams a: — Academic Tools How to cite this entry. Enhanced bibliography for this entry at PhilPapers , with links to its database.

Acknowledgments I am grateful to Rachel Cristy for exchanges that helped me work out basic ideas for the structure and contents of this entry. Open access to the SEP is made possible by a world-wide funding initiative. Mirror Sites View this site from another server:.

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Werke: Kritische Gesamtausgabe , edited by G. Untimely Meditations , R. Daybreak: Thoughts on the Prejudices of Morality , R. The Gay Science , Walter Kaufmann trans. New York: Routledge, Cutting, Gary. No pages. Davies, Philip R.


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University of Sheffield, May 26, Derrida, Jacques. Limited, Inc. Evanston: Northwestern University Press, Edwards, Paul. Heidegger s Confusions. New York: Prometheus Press, Gericke, Jaco. The Hebrew Bible and Philosophy of Religion. Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, Hazony, Yoram. The Philosophy of Hebrew Scripture.

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Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, Healy, Mary and Robin Parry, eds. Milton Keynes: Paternoster, Johnson, Dru. Eugene, Oreg. Journal of Theological Interpretation Supplements Warsaw: Eisenbrauns, Leiter, Brian and Martin Rosen, eds. The Oxford Handbook of Continental Philosophy. Levy, Neil. Long, Eugene T. Twentieth Century Philosophy of Religion Handbook of Contemporary Philosophy of Religion 1. Dordrecht: Kluwer, O'Dowd, Ryan. Prado, Carlos G. Amherst, NY. Preston, Aaron. Rorty, Richard M. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, Schrift, Alan D. The History of Continental Philosophy.

Chicago: University of Chicago Press Press, Searle, John. Sekine, Seizo. Philosophical Interpretations of the Old Testament. Translated by J. Randall Short. Berlin: Walterde Gruyter, Sherwood, Y. New York: Palgrave Macmillan Press, Smith, Barry, et al. Sokal, Alan and Jean Bricmont. Intellectual Impostures. London: Profile Books, Stroll, Avrum. Twentieth Century Analytic Philosophy. New York: Columbia University Press, Trakakis, Nick. The End of Philosophy of Religion. London: Continuum, Box , Vanderbijlpark, Email: nwu.

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