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Nietzsche's Animal Philosophy

Culture, Politics, and the Animality of the Human Being

Vanessa Lemm

Publication Year: 2009

This book explores the significance of human animality in the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche and provides the first systematic treatment of the animal theme in Nietzsche's corpus as a whole Lemm argues that the animal is neither a random theme nor a metaphorical device in Nietzsche's thought. Instead, it stands at the center of his renewal of the practice and meaning of philosophy itself. Lemm provides an original contribution to on-going debates on the essence of humanism and its future. At the center of this new interpretation stands Nietzsche's thesis that animal life and its potential for truth, history, and morality depends on a continuous antagonism between forgetfulness (animality) and memory (humanity). This relationship accounts for the emergence of humanity out of animality as a function of the antagonism between civilization and culture. By taking the antagonism of culture and civilization to be fundamental for Nietzsche's conception of humanity and its becoming, Lemm gives a new entry point into the political significance of Nietzsche's thought. The opposition between civilization and culture allows for the possibility that politics is more than a set of civilizational techniques that seek to manipulate, dominate, and exclude the animality of the human animal. By seeing the deep-seated connections of politics with culture, Nietzsche orients politics beyond the domination over life and, instead, offers the animality of the human being a positive, creative role in the organization of life. Lemm's book presents Nietzsche as the thinker of an emancipatory and affirmative biopolitics.This book will appeal not only to readers interested in Nietzsche, but also to anyone interested in the theme of the animal in philosophy, literature, cultural studies and the arts, as well as those interested in the relation between biological life and politics.

Published by: Fordham University Press


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pp. c-iv

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. v-viii


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pp. ix-x

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pp. xi-xii

Before all and most of all I am greatly indebted to my husband, colleague, and friend, Miguel Vatter, for his careful and timely reading of the various versions of the book manuscript in its entirety and for challenging me with his criticisms throughout the writing process. My special gratitude...


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pp. xiii-xvi

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pp. 1-9

The theme of the animal was largely overlooked in twentieth-century Nietzsche scholarship and has only very recently started to attract attention in philosophy and the humanities.1 This book aims to provide the first systematic treatment of the animal in Nietzsche’s philosophy as a...

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Culture and Civilization

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pp. 10-29

This chapter investigates the formations and transformations of human life and culture through a reevaluation of Nietzsche’s discourse on culture and civilization. The key to this discourse is to understand culture and civilization as antagonists: ‘‘Civilization and Culture: an antagonism’’ (KSA 13:16[73]). In my view, the antagonism between culture and civilization...

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Politics and Promise

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pp. 30-47

For Nietzsche, the possibility of human self-overcoming is represented by the promise of the overhuman. In this chapter, I investigate the idea of this promise through a reevaluation of Nietzsche’s distinction between promise as an artifact of civilization (the memory of the will [Gedächtnis des Willens]) and promise as an artifact of culture (the promise of the sovereign...

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Culture and Economy

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pp. 48-60

One of Nietzsche’s narratives about becoming overhuman takes the form of a vision of a ‘‘higher aristocracy’’ of the future (WP 866; 898). This vision has frequently been interpreted as if Nietzsche were offering a political program that pursues the implementation of ‘‘higher culture’’ by means of authoritarian politics of domination and exploitation.1 The view...

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Giving and Forgiving

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pp. 61-85

Nietzsche’s opposition to Christian morality is commonly thought to be an aspect of his immorality or nihilism. In this chapter, I argue that Nietzsche rejects Christianity in favor of a positive morality that has its source in the practice of gift-giving. Gift-giving is of great importance to Nietzsche—...

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Animality, Creativity, and Historicity

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pp. 86-151

In this chapter, I consider one of Nietzsche’s untimely considerations (Betrachtung), ‘‘On the Use and Disadvantage of History for Life,’’ in order to explain the importance of animality and animal forgetfulness in Nietzsche’s conception of history.1 In the recent literature on this essay, one can distinguish two basic interpretative approaches to Nietzsche’s remarks...

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pp. 152-156

While it has been widely accepted that Foucault’s notions of sovereign and disciplinary power have their conceptual origin in Nietzsche’s genealogy of morals, the relation between Foucault’s notion of biopolitics and Nietzsche’s political thought has only recently entered the scholarly debate.1...


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pp. 157-214


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pp. 215-228


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pp. 229-244

Back Matter

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pp. 245-248

E-ISBN-13: 9780823247042
Print-ISBN-13: 9780823230273
Print-ISBN-10: 0823230279

Page Count: 256
Publication Year: 2009