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HUMANITIES 497 James's novella. Certainly, T. J. Lustig's brilliant HennJ James and the Ghostly (1994) deserved not to be ignored. Hoople does not fulfil his bold promise to identify a forward progress in the criticism. After its theoretically forceful early claims, the book offers only a review of the best-known critical stances. The idea of a unified conunentary on the nature of the critical tradition gets lost amid a chronological catalogue of evaluations, and the voice of the scold too often overtakes that of the teacher. (JONATHAN WARREN) Alex Mcintyre. The Sovereignty ofJoy: Nietzsche's Vision of Grand Politics University of Toronto Press. xii, 188. $6o.oo One of the great questions in political philosophy concerns the legitimization of regimes. What is legitimate government, and why should citizens obey? The dominant modern answers are based on the consent of the governed and the equality of persons. In the grandest sense of poljtics, a ruler is legitimate when governing in the interests of citizens and with their consent. Nietzsche considers this an enormous mistake. Many would agree that considered empirically, people do not exhibit equality but only endless differences of status, ability, virtue, luck, needs, and deserts. Thus the principle of equality is a postulated ideaL Nietzsche thinks that this ideality proves that the principle is eviL It represents a corruption of a natural and noble conception of humanity. He traces its invasion of European thought to two great sources: Christian doctrine that souls are equal before God; and Kant's doctrine that the freedom and autonomy of the rational self is the (ideal) foundation of ethics. He attacks both sources with unrestrained vigour. Recent books by Maudemarie Clarke, Peter Poellner, and John Richardson suggest that Nietzsche studies are becoming more philosophical. Alex Mcintyre's book joins them in arguing that careful examination of Nietzsche's metaphysics should be the foundation of a systematic attempt to understand his ethics. Mcintyre's aim is to include Nietzsche's scattered and sketchy views on political philosophy in such a systematic account. Two great questions of metaphysics are, what is reality, and what is the self? Nietzsche's metaphysics simply overturns Plato. Instead of treating the flux of a constantly changing world as mere appearance, copied from the unchanging reality of the Forms, Nietzsche teaches that Reality is undifferentiated becoming, while Appearance is atomized being. Language and thought break up reality into individual bits; and serve to alienate a subject from the unity of objective reality. Turning to the self, Nietzsche claims that the Apollonian spirit strives to establish the subject as an individual. This quest is doomed to failure, and a glimpse of the abyss, the inevitable loss of 'self' in the ultimate return to the undifferentiated 498 LETTERS IN CANADA 1997 becoming which is reality, is the essence of tragedy. (It is this Dionysian wisdom which paralyses Hamlet claims Nietzsche in a provocative aside.) It seems to follow that the great doctrines of 'modem' ethics are false. If there is no individual selt then autonomy (the ability to legislate morality for oneself) cannot be centrat and if individual autonomy is an illusion, then freedom and responsibility are false ideals. They are, Mcintyre explains, idealistic and also subjectivistic (in the special sense that they depend on isolating the subject from the objective world). If we permit this big move from metaphysics to ethics, how are we to reconceive Nietzsche's most notorious conceptions, the superman (Ubermensch) who rises above the common herd, his place beyond good and evit the love of fate and the eternal return? Mcintyre's account of the 'overman' differs radically from conventional ones. He describes first a character of a certain modesty, because he has willingly abandoned 'self' in the desire to embrace reality; second, a character who is not so much above as around others, encompassing them as becoming encompasses mere beings. This superiority is marked by compassion (a sort of identity with all things) and by joy, which not only attends but is constihlent of the overman's superior self-knowledge and activity. And if the overman enjoys any event, he recognizes its dependence on the entire pre-history of that moment and so...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 497-498
Launched on MUSE
2014-07-02
Open Access
No
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