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BOOK REVIEWS 167 to present a coherent analysis of the meaning of ethical existence (and its correlative characteristics) and a sympathetic analysis of SK's conception of Christian existence. Sometimes the latter is stated so strongly that one has the impression that the only authentic life, the only authentic ethical existence, is within the domain of Christianity. And there is perhaps too much optimism about the notion that SK has managed to escape from the circle of subjectivity to the objective reality of God, a circle that is so tightly woven by him that it prohibits transcendence to God, except in words which Walker, in the final analysis, seems to accept as 'truth'. GEORGE J. STACK SUNY, Brockport Alexander Nehamas. Nietzsche. Life as Literature. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1985. Pp. x + 961. $17.5o. The strategy of this book is intriguing: to interpret Nietzsche's achievement in the light of Ecce Homo. Not that the author provides us with yet another "life and works" approach to Nietzsche. Ecce Homo is the key to his reading of Nietzsche because of the ideal character it presents, viz., that eccentric and unforgettable "free spirit" familiar to readers of Nietzsche books--not to be confused with "the miserable little man who wrote them." What Alexander Nehamas has attempted to do in this profoundly original and thought-provoking book is to avoid the self-referential pitfalls involved in all traditional readings of Nietzsche, which make of him one more "philosopher" with various theses to defend, while at the same time rejecting the trivialization implicit in the currently more fashionable view that Nietzsche is not really a philosopher at all ("the first of the last philosophers"), but limits himself to exposing the impossibility of philosophy as generally conceived, in order--to do what?--to "change the subject." According to Nehamas, Nietzsche took traditional philosophy and philosophical problems very seriously indeed. Preoccupied as he was with problems of self-reference, while at the same time convinced that the most objectionable--and pervasive--feature of all past philosophy (as of"morality"), is precisely its dogmatism, Nietzsche's problem was to find some way to present his critique of philosophy and morality, as well as his own "positive views" concerning knowledge, reality, morality, and the nature of philosophy , in a manner which would avoid any appearance of dogmatism. His solution to this "existential" version of the liar's paradox was to have recourse to showing rather than to saying. But at the same time Nietzsche was an inveterate "sayer," a superbly accomplished literary artist, and not a Zen master; and thus his "showing" was accomplished precisely by means of his "saying." Consequently, Nietzsche's positive views are not to be found in any collection of "aphorisms" culled from his writings, but rather in the "ideal character" whom these writings simultaneously fashion and embody. Nietzsche's answer to the complex epistemological, metaphysical, and axiological problems that his own writings raise is---"Nietzsche." Ecce homo: the author as literary character, life as literature. 168 JOURNAL OF THE HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY 26:1 JANUARY ~988 Such is the thesis which Prof. Nehamas advances and defends in his remarkable new book. Taking a cue from Zarathustra, he has baited his hook well. His text is dramatically plotted, elegantly composed, and tastefully spiced with entertaining wit. Nor has he failed to pay his academic dues nor to count scholarly coup on appropriate occasions. In the course of developing the evidence for his new reading of Nietzsche, Nehamas offers his own interpretations of such familiar landmarks as Nietzschean "perspectivism," "the will to power," "the eternal recurrence," "master morality," etc., about all of which he has sensible and sometimes novel things to say. Thought he wears his learning with becoming lightness, this is a deeply learned treatise. Nehamas is not only well-versed in the texts, but displays a broad acquaintance with the pertinent secondary literature. It is rare indeed to encounter an author who seems to be as comfortable discussing Heidegger and Derrida as Danto and Foot. What distinguishes this reading of Nietzsche from all others is, first of all, the emphasis which it places upon Nietzsche's "aestheticism" (along with his concomitant "immoralism"), an...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1538-4586
Print ISSN
0022-5053
Pages
pp. 167-169
Launched on MUSE
2008-01-01
Open Access
No
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