Nietzsche

I am one of the first to consider Nietzsche's epistemology and metaphysics in the context of the Neo-Kantian tradition within which he wrote.* In particular, I highlight the important influence on Nietzsche of the Ukrainian philosopher Afrikan Spir (1837-1890).


Nietzsche and the Transcendental Tradition (University of Illinois Press, 2002)

Despite some warts (e.g. typos and misquotations), I stand by this book. The most important part is the first three chapters, which discuss Spir's influence. Things move slowly in philosophy and citations to it have only just started to pick up, but I've been very happy with the positive reception it has received, sometimes from surprising corners. (Recently it was the subject of a reading group at the Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais in Brazil.) The primary goal of this book is to provide a philosophically satisfying account of Nietzsche's radical error theory - that is, his claim, which can be found expressed repeatedly in both his notebooks and his published works, that all our judgments are false.


Was Afrikan Spir a Phenomenalist (and What Difference Does It Make for Understanding Nietzsche)?, 44 Journal of Nietzsche Studies (forthcoming 2014)

In this essay, I respond to the criticisms of my reading of Afrikan Spir and Nietzsche offered by Nadeem Hussain in Nietzsche’s Positivism, 12 European Journal of Philosophy 326 (2004), and Review of Michael S. Green, Nietzsche and the Transcendental Tradition, 113 The Philosophical Review 275 (2004). In particular, Hussain argues that Spir and Nietzsche were phenomenalists and that their phenomenalism is incompatible with the antinaturalist theory of cognition I attribute to them. (According to an antinaturalist theory of cognition, thought requires a non-natural faculty - that is, a faculty that cannot be known through the senses and that is not subject to causal laws.)

I argue that Hussain's criticisms fail. His main mistake is emphasizing the early part of Spir's book Denken und Wirklichkeit (entitled "Vorbereitung"). As the title "Vorbereitung" suggests, this part provides the background to Spir's arguments. The arguments themselves are offered only later in the book. When these later arguments are considered, the passages from Vorbereitung upon which Hussain relies fails to undermine the reading of Spir and Nietzsche I offered in Nietzsche and the Transcendental Tradition.

 

Nietzsche’s Place in Nineteenth Century German Philosophy, 47 Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 168-88 (2004)

This is a review essay on Will Dudley's book Hegel, Nietzsche, and Philosophy: Thinking Freedom (Cambridge U. Press, 2002). In it, I discuss how Hegel's and Nietzsche's different responses to the problem of the schematism in Kant's Critique of Pure Reason expressed themselves in their different approaches to other philosophical topics, particularly their accounts of human freedom. Dudley, in contrast, sees many similarities between Hegel and Nietzsche. I now regret how hard I was on Dudley in this review. His discussion of Hegel on freedom was excellent and the faults of this book are very much the forgivable ones that one finds in a doctoral dissertation that is turned into a book.

White and Clark on Nietzsche and the Transcendental Tradition: A Response, 36 International Studies in Philosophy 169-99 (2005)

This is the product of an "Author Meets Critics" session held at a meeting of the American Philosophical Association in San Francisco in 2003. Maude Clark made some very helpful comments, in particular one that forced me to reformulate the position I took on Nietzsche's views about logic. Unfortunately, the editing process was botched and a number of passages in this piece came out as gibberish. Some day I'll get around to posting a clean copy of it.


Nietzsche on Pity and Ressentiment, 24 International Studies in Philosophy 63-70 (1992)

If anyone can find this short article, it contains a rather nice account of the evaluative contradiction that Nietzsche finds in both pity and ressentiment. The idea is that the discomfort of pity, as Nietzsche understands it, leads one to reject the evaluations in the light of which one pities. So understood, pity is hostile to life.


*Other examples are Thomas H. Brobjer, Nietzsche's Philosophical Context: An Intellectual Biography (University of Illinois Press 2008); R. Kevin Hill, Nietzsche's Critiques: The Kantian Foundations of his Thought (Oxford University Press, 2003); and the under-rated Robin Small, Nietzsche in Context (Ashgate, 2001).


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