The edited collection Nietzsche, Culture, and Education assembles seven articles together, some reprinted for this particular collection and others derived from the Nietzsche Society Conference in Durham, England (2000). The theme of that particular conference was "100 Years of Nietzsche: Society, Culture, and Education." The purpose of the book is to discuss the effects, and use, of Nietzsche's cultural critique on educational theory. The collection is another important contribution to a small but growing literature concerning the relationship between Nietzschean thought and education.
The book is implicitly organized around the Nietzschean themes of solicitude and solitude. Thomas E. Hart, the editor, defines 'solicitude' as "the realization that things need not be the way they are, appear or happen to be, and that improvement is always an option, if we are willing to put in the effort" (xv). Unlike solicitude, the concept of solitude resists early definition and represents a substantial Nietzschean concept analyzed throughout most of the subsequent chapters. The book's implicit frame of solicitude and solitude is designed to provoke readers into an "attitude of concern" regarding the state of education (xvi); and, further, this binary is designed to generate ideas that "can, and more importantly should, be applied to the world we live in" (xvi). While solicitude is defined early in the text, I would have enjoyed a more thorough examination of the related concepts "improvement," "effort," and "application" from the contribution. Questions regarding how educational reform (perhaps, cultural change) is actualized have been a persistent area of concern. Nevertheless, the book sufficiently riles up concern while adding a solid contribution to the rather large, and unfortunate, chasm between Nietzsche's philosophy and educational theory.
The book's frame of "solicitude" and "solitude" could be placed alongside other educational agones as foils for a more nuanced application of Nietzsche's educational theory. For instance, an explicit discussion about the purposes of education (and schooling) might generate a fruitful political exegesis that aligns nicely with the book's stated goals around solicitude. The educational tensions between "public" and "private" could be used to illuminate the stark distinctions that Nietzsche makes between the generative force of education and the harnessing of this force for the production of docile bodies and slave moralities for state consumption. "For whom?" then, is a classic political question about the purposes of education. Additionally, the educational agon concerning indoctrination or emancipation remains a quintessential debate about the role education plays within liberal democratic theory. If we substitute the conjunction 'and' for the conjunction 'or' in this latter agon, it provides an important elucidation of Nietzsche's will to power, generating a variety of new, potential curricular theorizations in education. Next, I briefly review each chapter to provide readers an insight into the collection.
Richard Smith opens the book by examining the contemporary institutionalization of higher education. Smith deftly demonstrates how various "educational" discourses act as contemporary policy technologies that have polarized teaching and learning in the academy into authentic and inauthentic performances. He identifies "accountability," "neoliberalism," "globalization," and "standards" as policy discourses (i.e., technologies or mechanisms) that governments use to produce slave moralities. The chapter notes how these policy technologies are used in the academy, enacting the virulent nihilism that Nietzsche steadfastly warned about. Smith illustrates how Nietzsche critiqued the idea of educational accountability (the contemporary "audit culture"), and he discusses the ways contemporary accountability policies have bureaucratized the university, likening educational morality to choices encountered during shopping trips to the mall. Smith's chapter sits squarely in [End Page 91] the book's solitude axis, providing an entrée for analysis into the educational concept for subsequent chapters. In the end, the chapter avoids a solicitudinal recommendation for the academy, even though the author ends with a reasonable conclusion about the imperative for universities to develop "creative imagination and fresh values" that are sorely needed to replace the current performative culture of the university (11).
Babette Babich interrogates the playful and curious Nietzschean aphorism "become the one you are...