- Nietzsche and Phenomenology: Power, Life, Subjectivity ed. by Élodie Boublil, Christine Daigle
The interconnections between Nietzsche and phenomenology constitute an area that is surprisingly underexplored. Besides Nietzsche’s well-known influence on Heidegger, and Heidegger’s Nietzsche sitting on the throne of metaphysics, there is very little written about the topic. This is a strange lacuna, one likely explanation for which is the difficulty of such comparative work. For, as the editors of Nietzsche and Phenomenology, Élodie Boublil and Christine Daigle, state in their introduction, “there is not one Nietzsche confronting one phenomenology” (3). The multifarious corpus of Nietzsche poses enough interpretive difficulties; however, the phenomenological movement to which Nietzsche is compared is itself reevaluated through each of its major figures. In the case of Husserl, phenomenology is reconceptualized almost at every juncture of his career. Thus Nietzsche and Phenomenology has a deceptively simple title and is a commendable undertaking in comparative philosophy.
The book consists of fifteen essays grouped in three main parts: “Life and Intentionality,” “Power and Expression,” and “Subjectivity in the World.” There are contributions from well-known Nietzsche scholars, such as Keith Ansell-Pearson, Babette Babich, and Lawrence J. Hatab; from well-known phenomenologists such as Rudolf Boehm, Françoise Dastur, and Galen A. Johnson; and also from exciting new voices including Élodie Boublil, Frank Chouraqui, and Saulius Geniusas. One minor criticism is that the groupings under the main headings are not particularly helpful here: some essays could belong to different parts, and some could fit in more than one simultaneously. Nevertheless, the essays are of great quality, with the book as a whole displaying significant unity via the ways it addresses the question “Could phenomenology actually qualify as a fröhliche Wissenschaft?” (2). Two subsidiary, interrelated questions generate this unity: whether Nietzsche can be considered a proto-phenomenologist or a phenomenologist avant la lettre; and whether subsequent varieties of phenomenology have more or less covert Nietzschean trends of thought.
As Boublil and Daigle introduce the collection, the essays provide interpretive suggestions, and since the book is merely the “opening of the inquiry” (5), the modesty is appropriate. However, there are discussions about such major concerns of philosophy as consciousness, intentionality, and the body. Therefore, the volume could be of interest not only to students and scholars of Nietzsche and of phenomenologists, but also to philosophers working in the continental tradition more generally. The majority of contributions are about either Nietzsche and Husserl or Nietzsche and Merleau-Ponty. Heidegger is often mentioned, and one of the most interesting essays concerns Eugen Fink; but Sartre, for instance, is addressed only in passing. For those interested, one of the editors, Christine Daigle, has published on the connection of Nietzsche and Sartre, but in her contribution to the volume, there are only minor references.
Due to limitations in scope, it is not possible to give a comprehensive overview of each essay. Also, the unity of the book does not consist in a central argumentative line; rather, the essays comprise individual, often related suggestions regarding how to interpret various connected dots in the large net of interconnections between Nietzsche and phenomenology. Probably one of the most illuminating threads that could guide the reader is the tension between Nietzsche’s metaphysical thinking about the will to power and the insistence of various phenomenologists that there is no gap between appearance and reality. Husserl began to investigate how consciousness constitutes the world of medium-sized and observable objects, while Nietzsche had before uncovered the abyss of [End Page 356] will to power beneath such an anthropomorphic world, arguing that appearance is everything; so the tension is inherent in Nietzsche’s philosophy itself.
The majority of contributions to Nietzsche and Phenomenology are original. The works by Françoise Dastur and Françoise Bornadel were translated by Ron Ross from French. There are some essays that were published before but not in English: the two closing pieces by Didier Franck were translated by Bettina Bergo, one of the contributors...