Philosophy of Nietzsche

Philosophy of Nietzsche

Rex Welshon
Copyright Date: 2004
Pages: 240
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  • Book Info
    Philosophy of Nietzsche
    Book Description:

    Nietzsche's influence upon European philosophy has been, and continues to be, profound. Indeed, recent years have seen Nietzsche scholarship become the battleground for debates over philosophical method between the analytic and continental traditions. This fresh introduction to Nietzsche's philosophical work provides students new to Nietzsche with an excellent framework for understanding the central concerns of his philosophical and cultural writings and why Nietzsche's ideas continue to spark controversy in philosophy and in allied disciplines. The book is divided into three parts. In the first section "Nietzsche Against the Tradition", the author shows why Nietzsche rejects wholesale certain components of the Western philosophical and religious traditions and examines the implications of rejecting them. Those components are considered under the headings of morality, religion and nihilism. In the second part "Nietzsche and the Tradition", the author explores Nietzsche's ambivalent and sophisticated reflections on some of the central topics in the Western philosophical tradition. These include Nietzsche's criticisms of metaphysics, his analysis of truth and knowledge, and his reflections on the self and consciousness. In the final section "Nietzsche Beyond the Tradition", Welshon discusses some of the ways in which Nietzsche does, or is thought to, transcend the Western philosophical tradition with chapters on the will to power, politics and education, artistry and the flourishing life. The book provides readers with balanced, clear analysis and is ideally suited as a companion resource for students tackling Nietzsche's challenging prose style.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-8530-0
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Abbreviations
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-14)

    Friedrich Nietzsche (1844–1900) is the world’s most controversial philosopher. He is also the world’s most relentlessly interesting philosopher. There is no other philosopher who writes as beautifully about as many topics as does Nietzsche, and no other philosopher whose ideas are more notorious. For all his notoriety, however, Nietzsche is increasingly remembered for his trenchant criticisms of the Western philosophical and theological traditions, for his celebration of creativity and flourishing, and for his tireless campaign to replace woolly-minded metaphysics with a philosophical view that is naturalistic and closely aligned with science. This change is welcome. For a century, Nietzsche...

  6. CHAPTER 1 Morality
    (pp. 15-36)

    Morality is that branch of philosophy that studies what is good and what is right. It immediately divides into two sub-disciplines: meta-ethics and normative ethics. Meta-ethics is concerned with analysing moral concepts and claims, and normative ethics is concerned with identifying and explaining moral values. Nietzsche is primarily concerned with meta-ethical issues, although some of his most amazing claims against morality are directed to substantive, normative claims of morality. Nietzsche is probably the most trenchant critic of morality in the philosophical tradition (the only close competitor is the French existentialist Jean-Paul Sartre). The following passage fromTwilight of the Idols...

  7. CHAPTER 2 Religion
    (pp. 37-56)

    Nietzsche is the most notorious philosopher because he is alleged to be an anti-Semite, a proto-Fascist and an anti-Christian. He is neither anti-Semite nor proto-Fascist, but he is anti-Christian. Nietzsche announces that God is dead inThe Gay Scienceand spells out the reasons in his searing attack on Christianity inThe Anti-Christ.This book in particular has made Nietzsche a target of vilification by most Christians and political conservatives. Unlike the other two sources of infamy, however, Nietzsche’s notoriety onthisscore is accurately attributed and entirely deserved. He despises most religions and Christianity in particular. Consider:

    In Christianity...

  8. CHAPTER 3 Nihilism
    (pp. 57-74)

    Nietzsche is a self-professed nihilist, although, if we are to believe him, it took him until 1887 to admit it (he makes the admission in aNachlassnote from that year). No philosopher’s nihilism is more radical than Nietzsche’s and only Kierkegaard’s and Sartre’s are as radical. Nietzsche’s nihilism is certainly more radical than the theatrical nihilisms paraded around for public consumption by the terminally hip. Compared to Nietzsche, such nihilists are flimsy poseurs. Although they may espouse a morose detachment from bourgeois society and flaunt their anxiety about political and moral legitimacy, and although they may recognize that moral...

  9. CHAPTER 4 Metaphysics
    (pp. 75-96)

    Metaphysics studies the basic elements of existence. The field of metaphysics immediately divides into two sub-fields:ontology,which studies the basic categories of existence; andmodality,which studies the nature of necessity and possibility. Nietzsche has a lot to say about both ontology and modality, and what he has to say about each is fascinating albeit in the end incomplete and fragmentary. As we should expect, Nietzsche has no patience for the views of most metaphysicians. He calls himself a “godless anti metaphysician”(GS344), and for good reason; as far as he is concerned, the history of metaphysics is...

  10. CHAPTER 5 Truth
    (pp. 97-114)

    More than most people, philosophers take truthveryseriously, for they take as one of their primary tasks the investigation of thenatureof truth. In many ways, this is a peculiar task: philosophers are not as interested in identifying true claims as they are in understanding what it means to say that a claim is true when it is true. Suppose we have some true statement. Here’s one: “grass is green”. Philosophers want to know what unique properties that statement has that make it true. For instance, they will ask: if a statement is true, is it true for...

  11. CHAPTER 6 Logic and epistemology
    (pp. 115-134)

    Logic studies reasoning and epistemology studies knowledge. The two are obviously linked: being justified in believing something, a topic of epistemology, presupposes for most beliefs that we are reasoning well about the subject of the belief, a topic of logic. Yet logic is a more abstract undertaking than epistemology, for its subject is reasoning in every field of knowledge, whether mathematics, physics or theology. Logic is concerned with, among others, the following questions: what makes a valid deductive argument valid? What makes it sound? What is the difference between the syntax of a language and its semantics? Are there options...

  12. CHAPTER 7 Psychology
    (pp. 135-156)

    Perhaps no other philosopher has as many interesting things to say about the self as Nietzsche. His reflections on the metaphysical status of the self, on consciousness and on some of the darker elements of human psychology have had a dramatic impact both in philosophy and, through the work of Sigmund Freud and others, also in psychology. For all his insight into the role of the unconscious in determining our character, and subtlety in debunking the pretentious claims philosophers make on behalf of consciousness, what Nietzsche is most remembered for is his commitment to the will to power as a...

  13. CHAPTER 8 The will to power
    (pp. 157-188)

    The will to power is Nietzsche’s most infamous contribution to philosophy. It is also among his most poorly articulated and defended concepts. To begin with, he never decided what will to power was: was it a psychological category of explanation, a reduction base for causal relations or an overarching ontological category? He says things that support all three alternatives. Nor did he ever determine how the will to power could be consistent with his rejection of the will or causality, for that matter.

    Moreover, he neither needed it nor used it for many of his philosophical undertakings and, where he...

  14. CHAPTER 9 Life, virtue, politics
    (pp. 189-212)

    Having been introduced to the range of Nietzsche’s philosophical views, we are in a good position to return to his positive thoughts about ethics and social life. These thoughts are spread across every book he wrote. Of course, as we should expect by now, his views change over time and he nowhere lays out a definitive statement of his positive views, so it is not possible to identify his ethical or politicaltheory.In fact, he does not have theories about these topics at all, if by “theory” we understand a systematic view with reductive principles and derivations from them....

  15. Guide to further reading
    (pp. 213-220)
  16. Index
    (pp. 221-227)