Stalking Nietzsche

Stalking Nietzsche

Stalking Nietzsche

Stalking Nietzsche

Synopsis

This introduction to Nietzsche's thought is geared to those who approach his work with grave skepticism. Belliotti begins each chapter with a brief exposition of a broad theme in Nietzsche's work, raising important questions of interpretation. He then turns the discussion into a dialogue between two characters who, in the topics they address, exemplify rather than merely explain Nietzsche's broad themes. In this manner, Stalking Nietzsche focuses on the connection between philosophy and living: How can reading Nietzsche change one's life? What links are there between accepting Nietzsche's broad philosophical themes and practical conduct? And what lessons, if any, can reading Nietzsche teach us about the human condition?

Excerpt

When I was an undergraduate, Friedrich Nietzsche was beginning to undergo a rehabilitation in the United States which was animated mainly by Walter Kaufmann's stunningly thorough scholarship of the early 1950s. Although Kaufmann viewed him as a master philosopher and psychologist, Nietzsche was more frequently portrayed as a cultural prophet with a strikingly eccentric literary style. This portrayal, however, was a step up from Nietzsche's earlier caricature as a philosopher of Nazism.

My first exposures to Nietzsche's work were typically accompanied by a host of professorial disclaimers: Nietzsche is not really a philosopher because he rarely advances arguments; his aphorisms may be stimulating but they certainly are not susceptible to critical analysis; Nietzsche is important as an historical figure, perhaps as a precursor of European existentialism, but his work is fatally flawed by pervasive self-contradictions; he embodies stylistic flair and a poetic temperament, but his writing is unrigorous and undisciplined; Nietzsche's work too often degenerates into abusive ad hominem arguments, genetic fallacies, and self-referential paradoxes; and he too frequently provokes and irritates readers by his rhetorical excesses and by his peculiar subjectivism.

From the standpoint of the analytic strains of philosophy dominant in Anglo-America during the 1950s through the 1990s, such charges were and are devastating. Nietzsche was permitted into the cherished enclaves of Anglo-American philosophy more as an amusing side show than as a full-fledged member.

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