The Journal of Nietzsche Studies 29 (2005) 77-79
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Hoyer's lengthy work gives the reader a comprehensive account of Nietzsche's views on education and of his concept of his own role as educator. The work has six chapters and is divided into two parts: "Reception and Biography" (chapters 1–2) and "Pedagogic Theory" (chapters 3–6), respectively. Hoyer points out in his Introduction that Nietzsche's dictum "God is dead" blew away the old certainties in the realm of ideas. Hoyer wants to show us a cleverer Nietzsche than we perhaps anticipated in the field of education, for if the reader once learns to doubt Nietzsche's pronouncements, then the "hermeneutic circle" will be complete. Hoyer adopts this circle as a principle throughout his book. He argues that Nietzsche never gave us a theory of pedagogy, but there is a system in his lack of system, and Nietzsche's views, though provisional, are not unknowable. However, scholars will look in vain for a single connecting thread to unify his thoughts on education in Nietzsche's work.
The first chapter of Part One deals with the Nietzsche reception in three phases: 1890–1932; 1933–45, and 1946–98. We encounter a number of critics in the period 1890–1932 who are not as famous as Nietzsche's first critic, Georg Brandes, but who took broadly coherent views on Nietzsche and education. That Nietzsche took the role of educator seriously is manifested by the many occasions where he gives a work or project the title "Lehre," although, Hoyer contends, Nietzsche had no intention of occupying a permanent post of "teacher" to his readership. The many critics who take the opposite view, seeing Nietzsche as an educator tout court, justify their position in three ways: first, by examining Nietzsche's personal attitude toward education, often influenced by the chapter entitled "Fritz as Educator" in Elisabeth Förster-Nietzsche's biography of her brother, Das Leben Friedrich Nietzsche's (1895–1904). Martin Havenstein, for example, followed this line and saw Nietzsche as an educator rather than a pedagogue. The second way is by referring to certain trends in his philosophy (Peter Heller's verdict was: "Nietzsche always wants something," Hoyer, 44). The third way is by citing Nietzsche's hermeneutic practices. Just as Nietzsche seeks to discuss Schopenhauer's educational methods in "Schopenhauer as Educator," a critic like Fritz Tögel seeks to do precisely that with Nietzsche's texts. Hoyer points out that Nietzsche's chief period of pedagogic activity fell into the period 1866–74, when he was fully stretched as Professor of Philology at Basel University.
During the period 1933–45, National Socialist ideologues held differing views about Nietzsche's value for the educational activity of the new regime. Wilhelm Arp could see uses for Nietzsche's educational theory within the new ethos, while the physician Hans Debrunner was enthusiastic about [End Page 76] the potential use of Nietzsche's educational theory for the state's eugenic strategy. (Here I must stress that Hoyer keeps strictly to his topic, and the National Socialists' political use of Nietzsche's ideas is not discussed.) At the start of the period 1946–98, critiques of Nietzsche's educational ideas were sparse, until a consensus was achieved among scholars such as David Cooper and Richard Schacht that the chief educational tool bequeathed to humankind by Nietzsche was the concept of the é"bermensch, which enabled us "to gain a sense of direction even if not a clear description of our goal (which would be impossible)" (Schacht, cited in Hoyer, 65). For Cooper, the central question was "how people should live self-creating lives" (Hoyer, 64). In Germany, Karl Jaspers's short work Nietzsche had an influence well beyond its size. Some critics such as Beat Kissling stressed Nietzsche's call for freedom as his chief contribution to education, while others like Christian Niemeyer combined this...