The Journal of Nietzsche Studies 25 (2003) 93-95
[Access article in PDF]
Richard Schacht, ed.: Nietzsche's Postmoralism: Essays on Nietzsche's Prelude to Philosophy's Future. 264 pp. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001. Cloth, $54.95. ISBN: 0-521-64085-7.
Schacht's newest collection of essays is an array of insightful and refreshing perspectives that portray Nietzsche as a "constructive" rather than purely "destructive" thinker. The nine essays collected in this volume (the sole exception being Schacht's paper) are the result of a conference that took place in October 1994 celebrating the 150th anniversary of Nietzsche's birth. Altogether the essays accomplish three objectives: (1) they present us with a distinct alternative [End Page 93] to the view that Nietzsche is a contradictory thinker whose works, at best, are incoherent and ambiguous; (2) they act as a first step toward articulating Nietzsche's belief that the "philosophy of the future" will be "beyond good and evil"; and (3) all of the essays, generally speaking, act as a further proof that Nietzsche is worthy of being taken seriously by contemporary philosophers, especially those working in the areas of ethics, metaphysics, moral psychology, and epistemology.
Since it impossible to deal with each essay in its entirety, I will restrict my comments to the most salient features of each. Soll's essay on The Birth of Tragedy shows a way out of the epistemological and metaphysical conundrums encountered in attempting to unravel Nietzsche's view of reality as a coherent thesis. In addition, Soll draws a fine distinction between the linguistic and experiential facets of Nietzsche's epistemology, which, in turn, help to isolate and explain the more complex elements of the appearance/reality debate that Nietzsche directly confronts, not only in The Birth of Tragedy but also in the Twilight of the Idols. Furthermore, Soll's efforts in these matters demonstrate that philosophically sophisticated work on Nietzsche's epistemology, metaphysics, and philosophy of language is not only necessary but also represents a direct challenge to those who believe Nietzsche has little to offer contemporary debates within these areas.
In the next two essays, both Bittner and Schrift deal with questions of agency as it regards Nietzsche's discussion of substance and the subject. Bittner's "Masters Without Substance" provides a solution to what he identifies as a tension between Nietzsche's "doctrine of the will to power" (GM II:12) and his denial of substance (GM I:13). He resolves this tension by denying the significance usually accorded to the will-to-power doctrine and emphasizing the more prominent role of the "likings" and "appreciations" of the agent as opposed to what he understands as Nietzsche's "myth of creativity" (i.e., the false belief that artists, like God, create ex nihilio). That is, Bittner claims that Nietzsche falls short of appreciating the unmediated episodes of life by focusing upon the "genuine activity" of a willing subject. While the tension Bittner identifies is a valuable one and will serve as a springboard for future debates on the subject, he should have done more to articulate clearly Nietzsche's doctrine of the will to power in works other than On the Genealogy of Morals before unfairly rejecting the doctrine as a failure on Nietzsche's part to "provide an understanding of life." For instance, and this is only a sampling from Nietzsche's published works, we find references to the will to power at GS 349; BGE 13, 22, 36; Z I. 15, and Z II. 12. Simply put, Bittner needs a more comprehensive investigation of Nietzsche's doctrine of the will to power before prematurely labeling this doctrine a lackluster attempt to comprehend the human condition. Schrift, in his "Rethinking the Subject: Or, How One Becomes-Other Than What One Is," relies on Foucaultian and Deleuzian themes to generate a reassessment of Nietzsche's Übermensch.
White's and Solomon's essays discuss Nietzsche's virtues. In "The Youngest Virtue," White elucidates Nietzsche's description of the etymology of Redlichkeit in The Gay Science. He rejects the...