JNS 43:1 Abstracts
Nietzsche frequently claims that agents are in some sense ignorant of their own actions. But what exactly does Nietzsche mean by this claim, and how would the truth of this claim affect philosophical models of agency? I argue that Nietzsche intends to draw attention to the fact that there are influences upon reflective episodes of choice that have three features. First, these influences are pervasive, occurring in every episode of choice. Second, these influences are normatively significant, in that their presence typically affects the outcome of deliberation. Third, these influences are difficult to detect, in that one needs to acquire a great deal of self-knowledge in order to begin to counteract their effects. I briefly sketch the way in which these claims follow from Nietzsche's philosophical psychology.
Meaning, in the sense that interests Nietzsche, is possible only on the basis of what he calls “obedience over a long period of time and in a single direction” (BGE 188). That he considers one’s authority as a speaker to be in this way a function of obedience suggests that a better understanding of training more generally might help us understand his conception of the achievement of intelligibility. To that end, I begin an exploration in this paper of the notions of authority and obedience in Nietzsche’s work through the perspective of the formal obedience training of dogs. I contend that understanding the distinction between predictability and reliability in the context of dog training sheds new light on what we might think of as the normative dimension of the sovereign individual’s reliability as described in the Genealogy and helps to make clear why, for Nietzsche, individuality is best understood as form of mutuality.
This paper argues that Nietzsche’s 1888 writings should be understood as a Dionysian comedy that parallels important formal structures of Aristophanes’ early plays. Whereas works such as The Twilight of the Idols and The Case of Wagner resemble the agonal elements of Dionysian comedy, Ecce Homo should be understood as a comic parabasis of self-definition.
This paper addresses the Kantian background to Nietzsche’s metaphysics. Focusing on the issues of causality and force, I argue that Nietzsche’s will to power thesis emerges in response to Kant’s approach to the question of causality. I contend that Nietzsche sides with Kant, contrary to Schopenhauer, in his identification of force with efficient causality, indicating his approval of Kant’s restriction of the objective applicability of the concept of causality to the phenomenal sphere. However, Nietzsche contends that Kant fails to fully execute his project due to his retention of the thing-in-itself as the realm in which the inner determinations of things reside. I argue that Nietzsche makes it his task to complete the Kantian project by reconciling force with its disinherited inner determinations at the level of phenomena rather than things-in-themselves.
Nietzsche reflects on translation at two key points in his published works, GS 83 and BGE 28, and these passages have been frequently anthologized in translation studies readers. He was not otherwise much exercised by questions of translation, though, and when he uses the German word for translation (Übersetzung), the majority of instances are figurative. As an academic classicist Nietzsche himself translated between German, Greek and Latin, but his command of modern foreign languages was relatively unimpressive, and he viewed language-learning as a necessary evil, looking forward to the time when a new lingua franca would obviate the need for language-learning or translation at all. Nonetheless Nietzsche was very keen to secure translators for his own works: early French translations in his mentally active lifetime were followed by a flurry of further translations from the 1890s, when English translations also began to appear. After the Second World War Walter Kaufmann and R.J. Hollingdale’s English versions achieved pre-eminence, but by now the range of English translations is very diverse. The stylistic challenges facing the prospective translator of Nietzsche filled Peter Newmark with apprehension, but the present author adopts a more pragmatic position and concludes by speculating that the translator might represent the best approximation to Nietzsche’s ideal reader.
No one has loomed larger in Nietzsche’s English-language translation history (and interpretation history) than Walter Kaufmann. We owe much to him. It seems to me, however, that just as he needed surpassing as an interpreter, he also needs surpassing as a translator; for there is a good deal that is problematic about his Nietzsche translations, in a variety of respects—some of which has affected his interpretation in ways that I consider unfortunate. I identify and discuss a number of them, of various sorts. My larger concern in doing so is to draw attention to some of the texts and aspects of Nietzsche’s thought to the perception and understanding of which, by English-speaking readers, Kaufmann’s translation decisions have contributed, and to use this “case” to underscore the need for English-speaking interpreters of Nietzsche to pay close and careful attention to what he actually says in his German texts.
Bernard Reginster’s book The Affirmation of Life (2006) purports to fill a gap in our understanding of Nietzsche’s philosophical project by explaining why Nietzsche regards the affirmation of life as his defining philosophical achievement. Reginster is not alone in emphasizing the centrality of life affirmation to Nietzsche’s thought. What makes Reginster’s book new and original is his systematic approach—his attempt to isolate a core of Nietzsche’s philosophy and show how everything else, especially the affirmation of life, is related to it. This article challenges the systematicity Reginster finds in Nietzsche’s work; above all, it rejects Reginster’s claim that what has led to nihilism (and must therefore be overcome) is the condemnation of suffering, a view Nietzsche is said to inherit from Schopenhauer. Here, I raise questions about how much of Schopenhauer’s view Nietzsche in fact retains and about how well Reginster’s account of affirmation fits with Nietzsche’s account of the will to power, which, as I have argued elsewhere, has played an essential part in producing all the things Nietzsche values.
Bernard Reginster, in his book The Affirmation of Life: Nietzsche on Overcoming Nihilism, takes up the challenge of figuring out what Nietzsche might mean by nihilism and the revaluation of values. He argues that there is an alternative, normative subjectivist interpretation of Nietzsche’s views on nihilism and revaluation that makes as much sense as—indeed, he often clearly leans towards thinking that it makes more sense than—a fictionalist reading of Nietzsche. I argue that his arguments do not succeed. Once we have looked carefully at the details of the positions and the arguments ascribed to Nietzsche, the fictionalist option is the more charitable interpretation of the texts. I focus on the metaethical issues that play a central role for Reginster in his articulation of Nietzsche’s nihilism and Nietzsche’s strategy for overcoming nihilism.
(1) While agreeing with Bernard Reginster, that Nietzsche’s advocacy of the will to power as a psychological thesis is much more fundamental than his extension of it as a cosmological or metaphysical thesis, I criticize him for failing to support this interpretation, and I attempt to supply an analysis that does support it. (2) Then, I take issue with the common tendency to sanitize Nietzsche’s theory of the will to power, to make it more palatable,—and with Reginster’s treatment of this issue. (3) This leads me to an examination of Nietzsche’s conception of power—and a critique of Reginster’s account of it.
Bernard Reginster, "Replies to My Critics: The Affirmation Of Life: Nietzsche On Overcoming Nihilism"
I offer replies to my critics: I discuss Hussain’s objections to my attribution of a form of normative subjectivism to Nietzsche, Clark’s reservations about the importance I grant the problem of suffering, and Clark’s and Soll’s criticisms of my account of the will to power.