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408Philosophy and Literature metaphysics or metapsychology. Relatedly, the claim made by White, and others, that Nietzsche is the extravagandy gifted stylist he believed himself to be, is, to a more constant reader ofliterature, difficult to maintain. Ultimately, ofcourse, it is impossible to prove that Nietzsche is a better or worse stylist than, say, Hume or Schopenhauer, though technical discussions ofstyle are often quite revealing. As White wishes to place Nietzsche in a literary context, particularly one made up by such figures as Calvino, Kundera, and Proust (this last a predictable but not especially illuminating contrast), issues such as style—and irony and characterization and tone—become significant, as these figure so centrally in stories and novels, poems and plays. If the questions White puts to Nietzsche in this book seem, as indicated, at times almost child-like, that is because, as asserted in the final pages, he is writing for his own children. There is subsequently a moving but wrong-headed attempt to transform this most unassimilable inverter of moral evaluations into a proponent of family, democracy, and liberal humanism. One understands White's need, but a more useful volume exposing Nietzsche in all his genuine idiosyncrasy and difficult moral individualism, qualities Nietzsche does share with the literary figures White summons, remains to be written. University of PennsylvaniaMark Stein Friedrich Nietzsche and the Politics of the Soul: A Study of Heroic Individualism, by Leslie Paul Thiele; xiv 8c 233 pp. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1990, $35.00 cloth, $9.95 paper. A professor of political science, writing a volume in a series entitled "Studies in Moral, Political, and Legal Philosophy," might be expected, particularly in our current moment, to find in Nietzsche either the harbinger of the ghastly fascism he is sometimes linked with, or the prophet of a radical historicism, often connected with the intellectual left, which also occasionally adopts him. But Leslie Paul Thiele has written a persuasive and elegant book that eschews both of these possibilities, arguing instead that Nietzsche's political interest was circumscribed to—or delved as deep as—the politics of the individual psyche. Thiele also suggests, however, that the struggle to order conflicting internal impulses is not without political import, for the agon within mirrors the agon without, and, were we astute enough, to our political improvement. Critics of Thiele will complain that his is essentially a conservative—some might say re- Reviews409 actionary—analysis, and, having done so, dismiss him to the academic trashheap . Thiswill be unfortunate, for he has written one ofthe most knowledgeable and acute books on Nietzsche yet published, a book courageous in its insistence on giving us the most Nietzschean Nietzsche to be seen in a long time, and one that flies in the face of many fashionable interpretations of its subject. Future historians may understand better than we can just why the self was so frequently thought a dubious fiction in the latter halfofthe twentieth century. Nietzsche has been enlisted as one of the central theorists for this movement, and he did speak frequently of the "multiplicity of the soul," the "vast confusion of contradictory valuations" within a single individual. But he also insisted that while our aspects changed, our essence did not, and that his writings, inscribed with his own blood, spoke only of himself. Thiele, adopting the view that Nietzsche "rejected the assumption that there was something called 'the individual ' which had a certain fixity, continuity, and duration" (p. 37), nonetheless argues as well that the goal of life, its highest achievement, is the ordering, under the great stress of competing forces, of a single self, composed of the philosopher, artist, saint, educator, and solitary. This contradiction—that, on the one hand, the self is at best a sort of whirl of mirrors, at worst, a nullity, and, on the other, that the very purpose of life is to achieve a coherent, unified self—is not direcdy addressed. But if one takes with all seriousness Nietzsche's claim for the soul's emptiness, one cannot, it would seem, simultaneously argue for such an inner hierarchy. Moreover, Thiele does not push the contradiction far enough; had he, we might know more about the final cause of...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. 408-409
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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