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138Philosophy and Literature Beyond Nihilism: Nietzsche without Masks, by Ofelia Schutte; xiii & 233 pp. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1984, $22.00. Not the least entertaining part of this stimulating confrontation widi Nietzsche is die subtide. It raises expectations in the reader which the text soon confounds , for it is our masks which have to go radier than Nietzsche's. His are for the most part blatant and thus not so much of a problem according to Ofelia Schutte. We on the other hand approach Nietzsche unaware of our own masks and so distort his writings to suit our own prejudices. This might well seem poetic justice for a man who constandy insists on die perspectival nature of all knowledge, but, as Schutte argues, we can only fully understand Nietzsche if we take seriously his claim to have developed a consistent vision of the world in the course of his struggle against nihilism. The author obviously sympathizes with Nietzsche's heroic struggle to replace the persistent dualism of Western thought with a Dionysian monistic view oflife expressed in a kaleidoscope ofmetaphors. She points out, however, that as far as Nietzsche is concerned both terms in these metaphors are derived from a world of appearance so diat it would be illegitimate to consider one term to be more "metaphysically substantial dian the other" (p. 95). It is thus quite improper for commentators to shuffle die metaphors until an acceptably demonic or congenial Nietzsche emerges. There is no "real" Nietzsche to be found behind the metaphors and mis book sets out to show that, given die nature ofhis quest and his mediod of communicating it, he must inevitably appall and delight his readers. His goal, expressed most powerfully in the metaphor of die Will to Power, is the creation of a new humanity able to affirm life and overcome nihilism. Fatefully, however, Nietzsche believed that this could only be achieved in certain exceptional individuals, and as a result, according to Ofelia Schutte, he fell victim to a dualism inherent in die metaphors he used to differentiate these individuals from die mass, that is, metaphors of weakness and strength, sickness and health. Obsessed by the vulnerability of die strong, Nietzsche concludes that they can only survive if they dominate the weak totally. A number of prominent writers on Nietzsche (Kaufman, Jaspers, Stern) are taken to task for failing to show diat diis darker side to Nietzsche, diough not essentia] to his main task, die improvement of humanity, is nevertheless inevitable given his concentration on the individual radier dian the community. One section of diis book is devoted to Nietzsche's political views, but die discussion remains theoretical and this indeed prompts my only reservation. Widi a woman's heightened awareness of Nietzsche's paternalism Ofelia Schutte shows us how his initial philosophical-poetical vision of the higher man is vitiated by a relapse into reactionary and indeed nihilistic political views. To explain bodi the vision and its corruption one must examine Wilhelminian society, and in particular die exclusion of the educated middle class from positions of Reviews139 political responsibility. A tantalizing glimpse of the social context of Nietzsche's work is provided in a long and fascinating footnote on his interest in the work of two leading physicists, Friedrich Mohr and J. Robert Myer. Sadly Nietzsche could not find even among scientists diat sense of a shared vision for which he yearned. After eagerly studying their views on the conservation of energy he concluded that they were metaphysically confused. Fortunately Ofelia Schutte is not, and her delightfully lucid study is a pleasure to read. University of WarwickGodfrey Carr Reception Theory: A Critical Introduction, by Robert C. Holub; xiv & 189 pp. London: Methuen, 1984, $8.95 paper. This is die first general presentation in English of German "reception theory." Like many of die volumes in Mediuen's excellent "New Accents" series, this one offers both a clear, nontechnical exposition and a critical perspective that makes it well worth reading even for those already familiar with its subject. The author has also provided a very useful annotated bibliography. Holub wisely chooses to focus his discussion on the scholars associated with the University of Constance and with the...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. 138-139
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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