Volume 14 (2010): Nietzsche

(Published November, 2010 ISSN 1209-0689)


Kenneth Kierans (University of King's College), Neil Robertson (University of King's College),
David Peddle (Grenfell Campus - Memorial University)

Preface (click to download)

Renato Cristi, Nietzsche On Authority and the State.

This paper criticizes the postmodern view that Nietzsche opposed authority in general and the authority of the state in particular. This view exaggerates Nietzsche's individualistic tendencies and ignores the important role that non-normative political authority plays in his thought. Nietzsche's preference for the aristocratic states of antiquity and his antagonism towards the modern democratic state should be taken into account. The modern democratic state demands normative authority based on popular consent, while the ancient aristocratic state made room for the non-normative authority of charismatic leaders as well as tradition

Daniel Brandes, Poetry & Polity: Tragic Perspectives on the Nature of Political Association.

This paper revisits the complicated question concerning Hannah Arendt’s debt to Nietzsche. Focusing on the promising activity as a privileged site of encounter, I suggest that the common tendency to emphasize the heroic and agonistic elements of Arendt’s account distorts both her dependence on, and departure from, Nietzsche. Instead, I emphasize the neglected dimensions of passivity, affectivity, and futurity that mark both theorists’ account of the promise. I argue that Arendt’s manner of framing the promising agent’s exposure to a radically undetermined future – not via a resolute will to interpretation, but rather a plea for forgiveness – proves decisive.

Bernard Wills, The Case of Nietzsche: A Wagnerian Riposte.

n the Birth of Tragedy Friedrich Nietzsche hails Wagner and especially his opera Tristan and Isolde as the harbinger of a Dionysian rebirth in German music. It is notorious, however, that in later works such as The Case of Wagner and Contra Wagner Nietzsche turned against Wagner as an arch-ascetic whose late opera Parsifal represents a reversion to Christianity and its life denying spirit. This paper argues that Nietzsche's polemic is on the whole a distorted picture of Wagner and of Parisfal especially. Nonetheless, it concedes that however wayward some of Nietzsche's specific criticisms might be, there is a genuine criticism contained in his polemic. Nietzsche is correct to sense a liberal Christian humanism at work in Parisfal that is, from his standpoint, unacceptable.

Marinus Ossewaarde, The Tragic Turn in the Re-Imagination of Publics.

In the past two decades, public sociologists have sought to revive what C. Wright Mills called a 'democratic society of publics'. The publics that such sociologists promote are intellectual ones that resemble Socratic dialogues in which people search for the good order. Nietzsche criticizes such publics for their plebeian character and introduces an alternative type of publics: aesthetic publics. Rather than Socratic dialogues, the art of tragedy is the model of such publics. In this article it is argued that the art of tragedy sheds a different light on the concept of publics and can only enrich the sociological discipline.

Edward Andrews, The Unworthiness of Nietzschean Values.

We thoughtlessly use the Nietzschean language of (moral, religious, aesthetic and cognitive) values to encompass our moral principles, our intuitions of the holy and the beautiful, our need for truth. Yet Nietzsche showed that “values” are the creations or products of human will, not discoveries of intelligence, illuminations of love, or exigencies of need. We hear talk of “absolute values” or “objective values” as if there can be values without evaluation: Nietzsche was clear that nothing is intrinsically good or valuable in itself; values are human choices, estimations, decisions, the expressions of human will. An alternative language is more appropriate to communicate what we hold to be intrinsically valuable, namely Würde (dignity or worthiness). Human beings have value if we can use them for our own purposes but they have an invaluable dignity beyond whatever purposes we may have in mind for them. Activities may have an intrinsic worthiness whatever the market demand or current estimation establishes their value to be.

David Peddle, Incipit Parodia/Incipit Tragoedia: A Commentary on Part One of Also Sprach Zarathustra.

This essay is a commentary on Part One of Thus Spake Zarathustra. It argues that the concept of the overman which develops in Part One must be understood in relation to the parodistic and tragic elements of the text. In particular, the claim is advanced that Zarathustra's notion of the overman derives from a tragic awareness unavailable to nineteenth century humanism.

Kenneth Kierans, On The Unity of Nietzsche's Philosophy.

In this paper, I argue that what is essential in Nietzsche's redemptive vision is his determination of human finiteness, human relativity, against which the will exerts its enormous power. As for the eternal recurrence, it transcends the will to power, but also contradicts it. That is at once the greatness and the weakness of Nietzsche's philosophy. His affirmation of eternal recurrence alternates with the negativity, the endlessness, of human willing. The affirmation and the negativity do not coincide, precisely because Nietzsche insists on the finiteness and illusory character of the ego even as he exposes its infinite, absolute character.


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