The Question of Value: Thinking through Nietzsche, Heidegger, and Freud


A consideration of the ethical implications of an aesthetic view of life, The Question of Value reintroduces the Nietzschean imperative to weigh the things of the world anew. James S. Hans assumes that we must and do value the world we live in every day. Rejecting the deconstructionist view, which is always willing to defer the question of value because there are no grounds for considering it, he argues that we continue to measure the world in spite of the apparent lack of reason for doing so, and that we ought therefore to give serious thought to the way we make our choices. The book begins with the premise that the major task Nietzsche set for the Western world has yet to be undertaken in its fullest sense and connects this task to Heidegger's mode of questioning in his later work and to Freud's reflections on the death instinct and the pleasure principle. The study's central premise is that Nietzsche was correct in diagnosing the ills of our culture and in prescribing a cure because he came to recognize the essential connection between time and revenge. He saw that the desire for revenge stems from our disgust at being temporal creatures and that a new system of values will only be possible once we overcome that self-loathing and the endless acts of revenge that stem from it. This is the most difficult of human tasks, but it is the only one worth attempting once one is able to see the full consequences of the human desire for revenge. Instead of being a critical discussion of Nietzsche's, Heidegger's, or Freud's work, then, The Question of Value is an attempt to think through their ideas and to implement them in our world in a new way. It establishes the necessity to affirm the value of time and seeks to provide a framework through which such an affirmation of temporality can take place on a larger ethical scale.

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