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Reviewed by:
  • Nietzsche e as ciências ed. by Miguel Angel de Barrechenea et al.
  • Eduardo Nasser
Miguel Angel de Barrechenea, Charles Feitosa, Paulo Pinheiro, and Rosana Suarez, eds., Nietzsche e as ciências. Rio de Janeiro: 7 Letras / UNIRIO, 2011. 358 pp. ISBN: 978-85-7577-764-0. Paper, R$44.

Nietzsche e as ciências (Nietzsche and the Sciences) is a product of the Sixth International Philosophy Symposium, “Thus Spoke Nietzsche,” which took place at the Federal University of the State of Rio de Janeiro (UNIRIO) in 2009. Divided into two parts and composed of twenty-seven chapters, the book has the main virtue of conferring scientific credibility on Nietzsche, reinforcing the current campaign in Nietzsche-Forschung against the caricature of him as a dilettante and inconsequential thinker. In this respect, Nietzsche e as ciências is comparable to another collection with a similar objective, the renowned Nietzsche and Science, edited by Thomas Brobjer and Gregory Moore (Ashgate, 2004). However, unlike its English counterpart, Nietzsche e as ciências portrays Nietzsche as a philosopher related more to Geisteswissenschaften than to Naturwissenschaften, and this is both the book’s strength and its weakness. For it fills a gap left by Brobjer and Moore’s volume, which in giving priority to the relationship between Nietzsche and the natural sciences neglected his involvement with the humanities. Unfortunately, however, Nietzsche e as ciências is equally unbalanced in the opposite direction, since it does not give so much emphasis to the relationship between Nietzsche and the natural sciences.

Admittedly, the relationship between Nietzsche and the natural sciences is not entirely absent from the first part of the collection, entitled “Ciências do corpo e da natureza” (Sciences of the body and nature). As an example, one can take the book’s epistemological theme. Regarding this, the natural sciences are invoked as an instrument complementary to epistemological issues: Nietzsche is presented as a thinker strongly influenced by the first neo-Kantians, particularly Friedrich Lange, who resorted to physiological studies to resolve epistemological difficulties, especially those regarding the Kantian deduction of the a priori. Rogério Lopes alludes to this in the first essay of the book, “Filosofia e ciência: Nietzsche herdeiro do programa de Friedrich Lange” (Philosophy and science: Nietzsche as heir to Friedrich Lange’s program). Against the tradition he calls “hegemonic,” which unquestioningly accepts Nietzsche’s adherence to Schopenhauereanism, Lopes presents him as an heir to the Langean program. This commitment—which weakens with time—shows itself in Nietzsche’s approval of the naturalization of epistemology through studies in the physiology of perception. But it also manifests itself at the cultural level, in Nietzsche’s adaptation of Schopenhauer’s metaphysics to the nontheoretical demands of Lange’s Begriffsdichtung. In this regard, Katia Hanza’s “Escepticismo como voluntad de poder. Nietzsche, lector de Lange” (Skepticism as will to power: Nietzsche as reader of Lange) is also worth mentioning.

Another issue that deserves to be highlighted is Nietzsche’s relation with Darwinism. Nietzsche positions himself critically vis-à-vis the evolutionist model of life inherent in the Darwinian tradition, supposedly in tune with Christian values, and proposes another, diametrically opposed model, guided by the will to power. The details of this criticism are investigated, and its success evaluated, by André Itaparica in “Darwin e Nietzsche: natureza e moralidade” (Darwin and Nietzsche: Nature and morality). Also notable in this regard is Scarlett Marton’s essay, “Da biologia à física: vontade de potência e eterno retorno do mesmo. Nietzsche e as ciências da natureza” (From biology to physics: Will to power and eternal recurrence of the same: Nietzsche and the natural sciences), the only essay that directly addresses Nietzsche’s relationship with the natural sciences, or at least the only one that evaluates it. Focusing primarily on Nietzsche’s involvement with the biology and physics of his time, Marton makes some strong claims. For example, she states that “for a long time, and for different reasons, scholars of Nietzsche’s philosophy have tried to ignore the fact that, at times, his concerns were dictated much more by the passionate issues of scientific investigation of his time than by the philosophical or philological problems...


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