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Individual and Community in Nietzsche's Philosophy
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  • Edited by Julian Young, Wake Forest University, North Carolina
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Book description

According to Bertrand Russell, Nietzsche's only value is the flourishing of the exceptional individual. The well-being of ordinary people is, in itself, without value. Yet there are passages in Nietzsche that appear to regard the flourishing of the community as a whole alongside, perhaps even above, that of the exceptional individual. The ten essays that comprise this volume wrestle with the tension between individual and community in Nietzsche's writings. Some defend a reading close to Russell's. Others suggest that Nietzsche's highest value is the flourishing of the community as a whole and that exceptional individuals find their highest value only in promoting that flourishing. In viewing Nietzsche from the perspective of community, the essays also cast new light on other aspects of his philosophy, for instance, his ideal of scientific research and his philosophy of language.

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Contents

  • 8 - Nietzsche and the “Collective Individual”
    pp 174-194
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    Summary

    This chapter discusses social and political philosophy of Nietzsche within the communitarian tradition. Hegel refers share agreement as the Volksgeist, the 'spirit of the people', and says that it consists in the Sittlichkeit, the ethos or 'ethical substance' of a community. Hegel views education as essential to community because it is through it that we acquire a second nature, become habituated to the Sittlichkeit of the community. The younger Wagner's revolutionary social and political ideas were expressed in a number of theoretical works written between 1848 and 1852. Wagner's essential move is to abolish the Hegelian distinction between religion and art. Wagner's modified Hegelianism appears virtually word for word in The Birth of Tragedy. Nietzsche's descent into madness and Heidegger's birth both occurred in 1889. Nietzsche is committed to the idea that a truly enlightened society will respect Hegel's kinds of rights: freedom of speech, religion, morals, and political dissent.
  • 9 - “We Hyperboreans”
    pp 195-213
  • Toward a Nietzschean Topography
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    Summary

    Human, All Too Human provided Nietzsche with the occasion to initiate his critique of modern democracy. "The time is coming". - that is, the time for a new politics and a new conception of politics. He wrote in this spirit that the medieval Church had once aimed at being a universal institution and had sought to serve the highest interests of the mankind. The states and nations of history give a suffocating impression of being petty, mean, materialistic, and narrow in space. These states are, of course, serving real needs, whereas the politics of the Church had been built on illusion. The belief that the authority of government has divine origins reflects the dominant self-image of the modern absolute state. The Nietzsche's reflections on politics and the history and future of the state, contrast on the one hand, to Hegel's and, on the other, to Marx's.
  • 10 - Nietzsche, Language, Community
    pp 214-244
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    Summary

    Nietzsche's Birth of Tragedy promotes the claim that illusion is necessary for "existence and the world to appear justified". Nietzsche tells us that culture replaces old illusions with new ones; this allows that culture itself is one of those very illusions. Nietzsche's key objection to previous illusions is not that they are illusions but that they are no longer useful illusions for the modern world. Nietzsche's early project is best viewed as a project of understanding the ways in which cultures perpetuate myths that allow their members to affirm life despite its horrors. The slant that Nietzsche places on Schopenhauerian pessimism can plausibly be seen as owing much to Wagner's own idiosyncratic interpretation of Schopenhauer the philosopher. Nietzsche analyzes three distinct types of illusion that work at the level of culture as "exquisite stimulants". The Socratic illusion is the illusion most pertinent to the hyper-rationalism and scientism of modernity.

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