Nietzsche as Philosopher

Nietzsche as Philosopher: Expanded Edition

Arthur C. Danto
Copyright Date: 2005
Pages: 336
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    Nietzsche as Philosopher
    Book Description:

    Few philosophers are as widely read or as widely misunderstood as Friedrich Nietzsche. When Danto's classic study was first published in 1965, many regarded Nietzsche as a brilliant but somewhat erratic thinker. Danto, however, presented a radically different picture, arguing that Nietzsche offered a systematic and coherent philosophy that anticipated many of the questions that define contemporary philosophy. Danto's clear and insightful commentaries helped canonize Nietzsche as a philosopher and continue to illuminate subtleties in Nietzsche's work as well as his immense contributions to the philosophies of science, language, and logic.

    This new edition, which includes five additional essays, not only further enhances our understanding of Nietzsche's philosophy; it responds to the misunderstandings that continue to muddy his intellectual reputation. Even today, Nietzsche is seen as everything from a precursor of feminism and deconstruction to a prophetic writer and spokesperson for disgruntled teenage boys. As Danto points out in his preface, Nietzsche's writings have purportedly inspired recent acts of violence and school shootings. Danto counters these misreadings by elaborating an anti-Nietzschian philosophy from within Nietzsche's own philosophy "in the hope of disarming the rabid Nietzsche and neutralizing the vivid frightening images that have inspired sociopaths for over a century."

    The essays also consider specific works by Nietzsche, including Human, All Too Human and The Genealogy of Morals, as well as the philosopher's artistic metaphysics and semantical nihilism.

    eISBN: 978-0-231-50938-1
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Preface to the Expanded Edition
    (pp. xiii-xviii)
    Arthur C. Danto
  5. Preface to the Morningside Edition
    (pp. xix-xxii)
  6. Original Preface
    (pp. xxiii-xxviii)
  7. Nietzsche as Philosopher
    • ONE Philosophical Nihilism
      (pp. 1-17)

      Nietzsche’s books give the appearance of having been assembled rather than composed. They are made up, in the main, of short, pointed aphorisms, and of essays seldom more than a few pages long; each volume is more like a treasury of the author’s selections than like a book in its own right. Any given aphorism or essay might as easily have been placed in one volume as in another without much affecting the unity or structure of either. And the books themselves, except for their chronological ordering, do not exhibit any special structure as a corpus. No one of them...

    • TWO Art and Irrationality
      (pp. 18-49)

      Nietzsche occupies an assured place in the history of aesthetic theory. His early book on the birth of tragedy stands as an acknowledged, if puzzling, classic in the skimpy canon of this least advanced field of philosophical inquiry and speculation. His enthusiasts are typically those who, like Nietzsche at the time the book was written, maintain a high and sometimes exalted view of the arts. In his case, partly in consequence of certain biographical events and partly as a result of a natural philosophical development, he came in time to attach decreasing value and importance to art. He perhaps never...

    • THREE Perspectivism
      (pp. 50-81)

      Nietzsche held a view of human beings in accordance with which we have, for whatever reason, evolved into creatures “so delicate, sensitive, and suffering, that we have need of the highest means of healing and consolation.”¹ He is not of course referring merely to modern men, for the diagnosis applies equally to the Greeks, no less “delicate children of life” than ourselves. The evidence for this claim, he would say, is to be found in the plain and patent need, apparently felt in every age and culture, for religious and metaphysical solace and for some assurance, upon some high authority,...

    • FOUR Philosophical Psychology
      (pp. 82-111)

      I have spent some time in laying out Nietzsche’s thesis, endlessly elaborated in his many books, that what passes at any time for knowledge is but a confection of simplifications and falsifications, brought forth out of ourselves, by means of which we may house ourselves in the blank, indifferent universe. “Our cognitive apparatus is an abstracting and falsifying mechanism,” he writes in the Nachlass, “directed not toward knowledge but rather toward mastery and possession.”¹ We have managed to live, and even to enjoy life, at the price of persisting in ignorance, and this is so no less in what is...

    • FIVE Moralities
      (pp. 112-143)

      It is not a criticism of the beliefs we hold regarding the world when one says that all of them are false. It is not the fact that they are false to which Nietzsche objects when he considers these beliefs critically. “It is here that our new language sounds perhaps strangest.”¹ What he is concerned with is a belief about these beliefs, a second-order belief, in accordance with which they should be true, that they should correspond with facts as they are. It is not our language, as we might say today, but our metalanguage which goes astray, insofar as...

    • SIX Religious Psychology
      (pp. 144-176)

      The Genealogy of Morals, as a title, nicely conveys the intentions of the book it names. It perhaps would have been a shocking title to the nineteenth century, at least more so than to our own. For it suggests that moralities have a genealogy, which is to say that they descended and evolved and were not, as it were, handed down from on high by some supreme and superhuman giver of laws. It is an old and well-entrenched idea that the bases of our morality are commandments, transmitted to us, which we must obey. People have often felt that the...

    • SEVEN Übermensch and Eternal Recurrence
      (pp. 177-195)

      Nietzsche’s Nihilism—his idea that there is no order or structure objectively present in the world and antecedent to the form we ourselves give it—has, he believed, the consequence that the men who accept it will have no temptation to disesteem human life by contrasting it with something eternal, inalterable, or intrinsically good. As a metaphysician, he sought to provide a picture of the world as it actually is—a blank picture, as it happens, since the world has neither structure nor order—so that men might have no illusions either about it or about themselves, and, unimpeded by...

    • EIGHT The Will-to-Power
      (pp. 196-210)

      I have felt forced from time to time to use the expression “Will-to-Power” in exposing this or that doctrine of Nietzsche’s. Any other expression would have misrepresented his thought, and I felt it better to use his phrase, albeit unclarified, and let the implications of context serve for the stipulation of its use. Now I must try to explicate this central expression or the concept which it connotes. Like the Eternal Recurrence theme, this expression appears spontaneously in Nietzsche’s writings without much explanation of what he means by it or, for that matter, any indication of the importance it had...

    • Nachwort
      (pp. 211-214)

      Such was the philosophy of Nietzsche, so far as I have been able to make it out. I have sought to elaborate it with as much system as I think it admits of, which is considerably in excess of what it is commonly thought to have. I have tried to show the disproportion between the role that the notorious moralistic theses play in his system, and their role in his reputation. In his system, they are either heavily capitalized particularizations of general principles to which he subscribed or, as I have suggested, lurid, expressionist illustrations for texts which were more...

  8. Aftertexts
    • 1 The Tongues of Angels and Men: Nietzsche as Semantical Nihilist
      (pp. 217-228)

      Donald Barthelme’s mock disquisition “On Angels” begins with the following piquant remark: “The death of God left the angels in a strange position. They were overtaken suddenly by a fundamental question . . . . The question was ‘What are angels?’ ” Poor, forsaken angels: “New to questioning, unaccustomed to terror, unskilled in aloneness, the angels (we assume) fell into despair.” A spokesangel had, however, this to say: “For a time, the angels had tried adoring one another but had found it, finally, not enough . . . . They are continuing to search for a new principle.” And Barthelme,...

    • 2 A Comment on Nietzsche’s “Artistic Metaphysics”
      (pp. 229-232)

      When Joseph Beuys declared, in the 1970s, that everyone is an artist, he effectively meant that anything can be art—a proposition made possible though the particular history of art to which Beuys himself contributed, but which would have been unthinkable a century earlier, when, in his 1873 opuscule On Truth and Lie from an Extra-Moral Point of View, Nietzsche declared that we are all artists. Obviously, Nietzsche did not and could not have meant that we are all artists in the received sense of that term, but that certain activities, which define us as a species, are, abstractly considered,...

    • 3 Beginning to Be Nietzsche: On Human, All Too Human
      (pp. 233-244)

      Human, All Too Human must be judged quite differently, depending upon whether we view it retrospectively, in the light of the masterpieces that followed it, or prospectively, from the perspective of the author whose first philosophical work, properly speaking, it was. When Nietzsche wrote it, he had behind him the extraordinary The Birth of Tragedy out of the Spirit of Music (1872)—a work of speculative philology—and four of a projected suite of thirteen pamphlets of cultural criticism, published as Thoughts out of Season (1873–76), to use the poetic Edwardian translation of their overall title. These works show...

    • 4 Nietzsche’s Daybreak: Thoughts on the Prejudices of Morality
      (pp. 245-250)

      It was Peter Gast, Nietzsche’s copyist, claque, practical nurse, and constant correspondent, who gave this book its epigraph from the Rig Veda: “There are so many days that have not yet broken.” It may have been a fateful ornament, since Rig Veda 1:113 (To Dawn) chants, “She, first of endless morns to come hereafter, follows the path of morns that have departed,” and the doctrine of eternal recurrence struck Nietzsche with the force of a revelation later that year—1881. But it in any case suggested the title Eine Morgenröte to Nietzsche. “There are so many gay and particularly red...

    • 5 Some Remarks on The Genealogy of Morals
      (pp. 251-268)

      The third essay of the three that compose On the Genealogy of Morals is, according to Nietzsche’s preface to the work, a gloss on its prefixed aphorism, which reads: “Unconcerned, mocking, violent—thus wisdom wants us. She is a woman, and always loves only a warrior.” What sort of warrior is unconcerned? One, I suppose, for whom the means is an end, for whom war making is not so much what you do but what you are, so that it is not a matter of warring for but as an end. There is, he tells us in the first essay,...

  9. Notes
    (pp. 269-278)
  10. Index
    (pp. 279-290)