JNS 45.1 Abstracts
Review Symposium: Clark and Dudrick, The Soul of Nietzsche's "Beyond Good and Evil"
This review critiques three aspects of Clark and Dudrick’s book. First, I question Clark and Dudrick's claim that Nietzsche recognizes a distinct will to value. Second, I argue that Clark and Dudrick’s analysis of Nietzschean drives is philosophically and textually problematic. Third, I investigate their claim that Nietzsche understands the self as a “normative ordering” of drives, which they distinguish from a “causal ordering.” I raise some doubts about the cogency of this distinction.
Clark and Dudrick claim that Nietzsche takes Plato’s theory of the soul to be "a hypothesis, which his own psychology is an attempt to refine." This essay accepts that claim, but argues for a more streamlined account of the relation between Nietzsche and Plato than Clark and Dudrick give. (1) There is no justification for their suggestion that Nietzsche diagnoses an "atomistic need" as responsible for what he objects to in Plato’s model. (2) The claim that "reason" is a motivationally inert set of cognitive capacities is not necessarily a point of disagreement with Plato. (3) Nietzsche’s psychology does not require a generalized "will to value" as a counterpart to the will to truth. (4) Clark and Dudrick fail to recognize the Platonic soul-elements as drives, and that the element which for Plato should govern in the best of souls can be interpreted as closely analogous to Nietzsche’s will to truth.
In this short essay I present several challenges to Maudemarie Clark and David Dudrick’s bold claim that one of Nietzsche’s main goals in Beyond Good and Evil is to establish himself as “Kant’s true heir.” First, I critique their argument that the Prefaces to the Critique of Pure Reason and BGE bear a “striking similarity” to each other. Second, I try to refute their claim that Nietzsche in BGE 11 is “positioning himself […] as the true successor to Kant.” Nietzsche does not exhibit the positive interest in the a priori that one expects from even the most minimal Kantian, and his norms are hardly Kant’s. Finally, in my conclusion I draw some qualified connections between Nietzsche’s normative project and a more naturalistic option within the history of philosophy—viz., American pragmatism.
This paper argues that Clark’s and Dudrick’s study of Beyond Good and Evil, despite numerous qualities and the correct conclusion that Nietzsche pursued a normative project, remains dissatisfying for two main reasons: 1) The methodological distinction between esoteric and exoteric doctrines, problematic as it is from the outset, would require a detailed genetic reconstruction of Nietzsche’s ways of obscuring his "real views" and of translating them into a new language. Clark and Dudrick, however, seem to use that distinction mainly to accomodate Nietzsche to their understanding of philosophy. 2) Their reconstruction of empiricist and idealistic epistemologies, given in terms of exclusive opposites, fails to appreciate how Nietzsche tries to replace such false contradictions with gradational differences and how he dialectically distributes approval and criticism to both through the composition of his aphorisms.
Proceedings from meetings of the North American Nietzsche Society
Nietzsche’s account of Apollo and the Apollinian in The Birth of Tragedy contains under-appreciated distortions. Apollinian moments in some tragedies are described as Dionysian. The Apollo seen in BT fails to interpret dreams (indeed this book renders dreams impervious to interpretation) and scarcely prophesies. Most importantly, Nietzsche’s vision of the Apollinian as surface and bounded plane image denies Greek uses of sculpture in just the opposite way, namely to effect communication between the visible and invisible realms. It is improbable to suppose that Nietzsche is ignorant of such a prominent aspect of Greek culture, or that he simply wants to keep his aesthetic categories neatly demarcated. More likely, he represses the communicative Apollo in a gesture against modern Europe’s nostalgic treatment of antiquity. Thus the familiar question of BT’s accuracy sheds unexpected light on the familiar question of its relationship to nostalgia.
As a classical philologist, Nietzsche was extremely familiar with the work of many ancient Greek writers. It is well known that Nietzsche made a practice of identifying with and praising ancient thinkers with whom he feels a kinship. It is worth investigating, then, whether Nietzsche’s mention of Hippocrates in Daybreak signals a sustained interest in the so-called father of medicine. I argue that there is no evidence that Nietzsche paid special attention to Hippocrates or the Hippocratic corpus. Instead, Nietzsche’s curious allusion to Hippocrates is likely influenced in part by his reading of the Comtean positivist Émile Littré. Finally, I argue that, if Nietzsche is consciously “Hippocratic” at all, he is so in virtue of the “medical posture” he adopts in D, where Nietzsche’s remarks suggest his mission is to relieve humankind of the psychological suffering caused by morality.
This essay considers aspects of Nietzsche’s identification with the ancient Greek philosopher Epicurus, focusing in particular upon how Epicurus’ anti-teleology (his denial of an ultimate metaphysical principle) was significant for Nietzsche’s views on religion and knowledge. I make a case for the claim that Nietzsche’s practice of philosophy, specifically his perspectivism, was influenced by Epicurus’ practice of multiple explanations, a form of scientific explanation rooted in ethics and anti-teleology. In conclusion, I examine the ways in which Nietzsche’s manner of reading Epicurus may cause us to revise not only our interpretations of the Greek thinker but also elements of Nietzsche’s own identification with that thinker.