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Postmodernism's use and abuse of Nietzsche

Gemes, Ken (2001) Postmodernism's use and abuse of Nietzsche Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 62, (2), pp. 337-360. (doi:10.1111/j.1933-1592.2001.tb00059.x).

Record type: Article


Postmodern readings of Nietzsche typically misunderstand his various attacks on dogmatic philosophy as paving the way for acceptance of a self, a world, characterized by fundamental disunity. In contrast I suggest that Nietzsche's attack on essentialist dogmatic metaphysics is less a gesture at philosophical reform than a call to engage in a purposive self creation under a unifying will, a will that the possesses the strength to reinterpret history as a pathway to "the problem that we are". Nietzsche agrees with the postmoderns that unity is not a pre-given. Where he parts from them is in their complete rejection of unity as a goal. On the descriptive side, Nietzsche and the post-moderns agree that the received notion of the unified Cartesian subject is a myth, however on the prescriptive side, while the postmoderns celebrate the death of the subject Nietzsche rejects this valorization of disunity as a form of Nihilism and prescribes the creation of a genuine unified subjectivity to those few capable and hence worthy of such a goal. To this extent the postmoderns are nearer Nietzsche's idea of the Last Man than his idea of the Overman.

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Published date: March 2001
Keywords: nietzsche, postmodernism, unity, foucault, self


Local EPrints ID: 48466
ISSN: 0031-8205
PURE UUID: 4acf3975-c286-4433-83b4-1e9e4e3e43bb

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Date deposited: 27 Sep 2007
Last modified: 17 Jul 2017 14:59

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Author: Ken Gemes

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