- The Nietzschean Mind ed. by Paul Katsafanas
Paul Katsafanas has put together a valuable collection of essays covering many of the main areas of contemporary Anglophone, philosophically oriented Nietzsche scholarship. The title of the book may lead some to expect a volume that deals exclusively with Nietzsche's philosophy of mind or moral psychology, but in fact its themes are more varied. The twenty-eight chapters address Nietzsche's views on philosophical and moral psychology, the self, value, society and culture, metaphysics, and philosophy itself, and the book includes a welcome six-chapter opening section focusing on a selection of Nietzsche's major works.
Without space to comment on each of the twenty-eight chapters, I shall limit myself to some brief general observations about the volume in its entirety, followed by more specific critical responses to those essays that I found most thought-provoking. This should not be taken as an indicator of quality; there are many fine chapters in this book that I could not find space to include in my more detailed comments.
As a whole, the book is not evidently intended for a very specific readership, though it is clear the intended readers are philosophers (more on this in a moment). Among the best chapters are some excellent introductions to the content and character of Nietzsche's thought (see, for instance, chapters by Jessica Berry, Scott Jenkins, and Andrew Huddleston), some helpful introductions to popular debates in the philosophical study of Nietzsche, usually with a brief presentation of the author's own position in the debate (see, for instance, chapters by Tom Bailey, P. J. E. Kail, Alex Silk, and Neil Sinhababu), and some new scholarship (standout examples include chapters by Beatrice Han-Pile, [End Page 164] Paul Loeb, Allison Merrick, Donald Rutherford, and Herman Siemens). This variety means that there are chapters here for students new to Nietzsche, other chapters for more advanced students beginning to develop their own research on Nietzsche, and still other chapters for academics who are already very familiar with Nietzsche scholarship. It also means that there is no consistency in the level of familiarity with Nietzsche expected from the reader, and the collection does feel a little haphazard as a result.
The volume's chapters deal with topics that are more or less exactly what one would expect from a book intended for philosophical readers of Nietzsche (or more accurately, readers of Nietzsche within academic philosophy departments). But the selection is of course limited and partial, and it is worth reminding ourselves that there are other themes in Nietzsche's work that were evidently important to him that do not make the cut here. There are no chapters on, for instance, art and artists, philology and the classics, or Christianity and religion, and there is very little on science. It would be unreasonable to criticize the book for not addressing everything Nietzsche wrote about, but a large collection that attempts to cover a wide range of topics in Nietzsche's work sets a high bar for itself, and one wonders what readers of Nietzsche outside of philosophy departments would think about the fact that the book contains three chapters about Nietzsche's relation to contemporary metaethics but nothing about, for instance, tragedy.
The limited range of themes in the book is inevitable. The low number of women authors in the book is not. Only seven of the twenty-nine (just under one in four) authors in the book are women, and though I am reluctant to put a number on what would be a sufficient proportion of women to include in such a volume, it seems clear to me that this is not sufficient. This deficiency would perhaps not merit mentioning were it not for the fact that this is not an isolated occurrence. While other areas of Anglophone philosophy are currently very active in addressing diversity problems, post-Kantian history of philosophy seems embarrassingly behind the curve, and Nietzsche scholarship is sadly no exception. Indeed, The Nietzschean Mind fares better on this front...