Radio Nietzsche, or,
How to Fall Short of Philosophy
Radio-activity It's in the world for you and me. KRAFTWERK, “Radioactivity”
I grant you also a very general but not universal agreement could come from a transmission diffused throughout the whole of mankind. LEIBNIZ, New Essays on Human Understanding
A good place to start is from where and whom we distance ourselves, even if ultimately we all think, make our decisions, and act “in the emptiness of a distance taken. ” 1 Well-known statements by Gadamer observe a certain distance from Nietzsche, and Gadamer is not the explicit subject of my intervention in this anthology devoted to him and his repercussions. An essay on Nietzsche may be out of place, hors de saison et de combat, so I should justify my inclusion here with a prologue.
Distance from Nietzsche demarcated Gadamer from other philosophers in what mirabile dictu has just been dubbed “Gadamer's century. ” 2 Heidegger and Derrida are the ones he publicly highlighted in his “Nietzsche connection, ” but it is crucial not to forget Strauss. As for “Gadamer's century, ” I'd prefer the term “current period of the globalizing tendency of liberalparliamentarian free-market capitalism, ” though perhaps they amount to much the same thing—both promoting “moderation, ” “dialogue, ” and the like. Two of Gadamer's remarks about Nietzsche are especially well known and yet insufficiently analyzed individually or together.
Gadamer welcomed part of Strauss's epistolary response to Wahrheit und Methode. In Gadamer's published paraphrase, whereas “the point of critical orientation for Heidegger was Nietzsche, for me [it was] Dilthey. ” 3 This distanced him also from Strauss, who is by common consensus Nietzschean, though not qua Heideggerian (and certainly not Diltheyan). 4 Gadamer never mentioned that Dilthey and Nietzsche had had a brief but intense contretemps in the 1880s over the then new concept of “inner experience”