Nietzsche Humanist

Nietzsche Humanist

Nietzsche Humanist

Nietzsche Humanist


Starting from the supposition that Nietzsche is a humanist, this book asks the question what then?. It inquires if our age's preference for the novel and revolutionary mean than unmasking Nietzsche as a humanist will amount to his inevitable diminishment.


Supposing Nietzsche is a humanist -- what then? Are there not grounds for the suspicion that we have not been well enough attuned to the ancient dimensions of our own identities to know what to do with this knowledge? Does our age's preference for the novel and the revolutionary mean that unmasking Nietzsche this way will amount to his inevitable diminishment -- and might that not be for the best, after all?

We may have needed to see him -- and in his later years he may have felt the need to present himself -- as the radical overturner of all things, as the beginning of a new millenium. We do want to feel that things are moving forward, do we not? and if they leap forward, then so much the better! But self-presentation as dramatic as Nietzsche's makes us wonder. Might it have been a strategy for obtaining a readership, one worked out during years of increasing isolation? Or was it perhaps compensatory grandeur for his utter neglect, or therapeutic ventilation, or the beginning of his breakdown? It is not at all impossible that he was simply caught up in a creative whirlwind as he fashioned his own Galatea, and that his intellectual art began to operate independently, following its own dynamics and seducing the artist whithersoever it willed. Or maybe the author was simply collapsing, as any mortal would, under the rush of a breathtaking in-breaking vision that he indeed was the first of the race to behold.

Perhaps, too, his late visions were deeply implicated in a long-labored upward-and-downward spiralling climb through many and many a beloved text -- ah, through many a beloved meaning -- toward what he had hoped would be his own beatitude. in that case, this "unmasking" might result not in the diminishment but in the expansion of Nietzsche's own meaning.

At least we have had a convenient screen that would allow us to use him for certain ends. and that, of course, has a certain legitimacy. But Nietzsche the classical scholar? Nietzsche the humanistic pietist?! the true companion of those recidivists Schopenhauer and Wagner, not to mention Emerson and Montaigne, Petrarch and Erasmus, or Plutarch and Seneca?

Do we recognize this Nietzsche? Should we?

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