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Paul Loeb discusses the intensely debated topic of Nietzsche’s philosophical naturalism and thinks that the crucial text is Nietzsche’s JS 109. For Loeb the argument has to do with removing anthropomorphic projective errors from our concept of nature. Loeb thinks that Nietzsche’s naturalism in TSZ leads him to endorse the truth of cosmological eternal recurrence and that this truth entails for Nietzsche a solution to the problem of radical flux and a means of curing the human feeling of impotence and spirit of revenge that is provoked by this radical flux. Loeb claims that Zarathustra gains a stronger sense of agency because his new understanding of the reality of circular time enables him to have a causal influence on the past – an influence which is embodied and displayed in the chronological narrative of TSZ.
Friedrich Nietzsche’s Thus Spoke Zarathustra: A Book for Everyone and for No One (TSZ) (1883–1885) is a text that was celebrated by creative artists and writers in the twentieth century and it continues to have a wide readership outside academia. This book has also been appreciated by some seminal thinkers in the history of continental philosophy – notably Martin Heidegger, Eugen Fink, Karl Löwith, and Gilles Deleuze. However, recent philosophical scholarship tends to marginalize TSZ and to downplay its significance in our engagement with Nietzsche’s thought. This neglect is no doubt understandable. The text is perhaps the best example we have of his self-confessed philosophical heterodoxy, and he himself pointed out its unusual relation to the rest of his corpus: “Suppose I had published my Zarathustra under another name, for example, that of Richard Wagner—the acuteness of two thousand years would not have been sufficient for anyone to guess that the author of Human, All-Too-Human is the visionary of Zarathustra” (EH “Clever” 4; EH 1989).
Nietzsche regarded Thus Spoke Zarathustra as his most important philosophical contribution because it proposes solutions to the problems and questions he poses in his later books – for example, his cure for the human disposition to vengefulness and his creation of new values as the antidote to nihilism. It is also the only place where he elaborates his concepts of the superhuman and the eternal recurrence of the same. In this Critical Guide, an international group of distinguished scholars analyze the philosophical ideas in Thus Spoke Zarathustra, discussing a range of topics that include literary parody as philosophical critique, philosophy as a way of life, the meaning of human life, philosophical naturalism, fatalism, radical flux, human passions and virtues, great politics, transhumanism, and ecological conscience. The volume will be invaluable for philosophers, scholars and students interested in Nietzsche's thought.
“What is philosophy?” is a question first raised by Plato when he invented the term and drew a sharp distinction between philosophical inquiry, on the one hand, and Homeric poetry, pre-Socratic natural science, and Sophistic argumentation, on the other. Plato’s definitional answer was that philosophy is the love of wisdom, which meant a search for truth, conducted primarily in the foundational areas of ontology, epistemology, and philosophy of mind, and having important consequences for the axiological fields of ethics, politics, and aesthetics. This answer remained constant throughout the subsequent history of philosophy, despite the important glosses added by Aristotle’s teleology, Descartes’ dualism, Hume’s skepticism, Kant’s idealism, Hegel’s historicism, and Schopenhauer’s voluntarism.