The Sovereignty of Joy

The Sovereignty of Joy: Nietzsche's Vision of Grand Politics

ALEX McINTYRE
Copyright Date: 1997
Pages: 192
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.3138/9781442682412
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  • Book Info
    The Sovereignty of Joy
    Book Description:

    Interprets Nietzsche?s political philosophy in terms of his conception of tragic joy and provides the context within which his most controversial political ideas can be understood as advocating neither a politics of oppression nor a utopian vision.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-8241-2
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-ix)
  4. Abbreviations
    (pp. x-2)
  5. 1 Joy, Sovereignty, and Atopia
    (pp. 3-21)

    There are many ways of finding and losing our way in the labyrinth of Nietzsche’s thought, and perhaps we can never become sufficiently lost before finally experiencing the joy of his writing as labyrinthine. Loss, tragedy, suffering, meaninglessness, evil, absurdity, and death – all these ‘negativities’ characterize Nietzsche’s conception of life and especially his understanding of joy. Perhaps the most labyrinthine and enigmatic feature of Nietzsche’s philosophy is his insistence upon this: that joy (Lust) is inseparable from loss (Verlust) and suffering, that joy is loss and fulfils itself precisely by encompassing its own negation, by longing for itself through...

  6. 2 Joy in the Actual
    (pp. 22-47)

    At the heart of Nietzsche’s philosophy and grand politics, there is a vision of freedom or sovereignty that is based on ‘joy in the actual and activeof every kind[Lust am Wirklichen, Wirkendenjeder Art]’ (H2:220;KGW4.3:110), a vision of the sovereignty of joy that entails a profound transformation of the notion of ‘reality.’ At the same time, he seems to understand humanity as an incorrigible concealer of reality: ‘Why does man not see things? He is himself standing in the way: he conceals things’ (D, 438). Is humanity an obstacle to its own liberation and sovereignty?...

  7. 3 The Seasons of a People: Community and Individuality in the Cycle of Natural Morality
    (pp. 48-73)

    Much of Nietzsche’s work appears to be a relentless and unadulterated attack on morality. He argues, for example, that morality is ‘the danger of dangers’ (GM, Preface, 6), that ‘the harm the good do is the most harmful harm’ (Z, ‘Of Old and New Law-Tables,’ 26), and that it is ‘not the corruption of man but the extent to which he has become tender and moralized [that] is his curse’ (WP, 98). Given this, one may well ask whether Nietzsche has a positive concept of morality, a concept of a truly natural morality.

    It is precisely this perspective, critical of...

  8. 4 Hierarchy and the Overman
    (pp. 74-99)

    With the word ‘nonetheless’ and the pregnant silence that follows it, the political life of the philosopher is defined as an inexorable paradox, a contradiction that determines his existence. It is the paradox that Nietzsche conjures up in his symbol of ‘seriousness in play’: the philosopher revolts against the seriousness of the city and man as seriousness itself; he laughs and dances high above the human things which he now looks down upon with contempt because he creates beyond himself and beyond his own seriousness. Yet in creation he rediscovers seriousness, the seriousness of the child at play. This child...

  9. 5 Nietzsche Contra Rousseau
    (pp. 100-126)

    In Rousseau, ‘the mythical Rousseau’ (WS, 216), Nietzsche finds the archetype of ‘modern man’: the type who embodies the modern theology of revolution, that strange and exhilarating combination of ‘social nihilism and political absolutism.’¹ Through his critique of Rousseau, he attempts to transcend and overcome ‘modernity’ itself. In Nietzsche’s hands, Rousseau assumes mythical status because he is elevated to a type, a symbol of the modern ‘virtue and disease’ (GS, 337) and, in particular, of the romantic individualism of the French Revolution. Despite many similarities with Rousseau (the critique of Christianity, a deep admiration for ancient culture, and a profound...

  10. 6 Communion in Joy: Will to Power and Eternal Return in Grand Politics
    (pp. 127-152)

    Joy in the actual and active of every kind plays the most fundamental role in Nietzsche’s philosophy because it expresses the affirmation of the homogeneity of all things, the continuous and undivided flow of the ‘innocence of becoming,’ in every moment. To be able to experience joy in what is presupposes a profound sense of belonging to the whole or ‘being in the world’; but it also presupposes the strength to affirm what is and has been as joyful not in spite of all suffering, butbecauseit includes,allsuffering; moreover, this strength is something one has and does...

  11. 7 The Poetry of the Future
    (pp. 153-156)

    Through his vision of grand politics, Nietzsche offers us a poetry of the future that attempts to imaginatively develop (fortdichten) a higher image of being-human: an image of a great and beautiful soul. Moreover, because greatness, for Nietzsche, implies a soul that is ‘loving and encompassing and spacious’ (Z, ‘Of the Great Longing’), it must take itself back into the innocence of becoming and embody a communion in joy that embraces and affirms what is coming to be in the past and present. In this sense, the great and beautiful soul personifies a joy in the actual and active.

    The...

  12. Notes
    (pp. 157-174)
  13. Works Cited
    (pp. 175-178)
  14. Index
    (pp. 179-187)