Nietzsche: Culture Warrior or a Sign of the Times?

Nietzsche Studien 51 (1):336-350 (2022)
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Abstract

A century and a half after the Kulturkampf in Germany, and three decades after James Davison Hunter’s account of the “culture warriors,” this book review examines what Nietzsche might have to say to us today about our understanding of the past and our relation to the future. It considers two studies of the four essays of Nietzsche’s Unzeitgemässe Betrachtungen taken as a whole, one study of Nietzsche’s second essay on history, one on Nietzsche’s general conception of decadence and culture, and a collection of essays on Nietzsche’s views of history and memory. Taken together, these studies not only complement each other in respect of their readings of the Unzeitgemässe Betrachtungen and the question of culture, they also throw light on other aspects of Nietzsche by reminding us of the rootedness of Nietzsche’s thought in the outlook of Weimar classicism and highlighting the vitalist aspects of Nietzsche’s thought. The review concludes that Nietzsche is more timely than ever, not least because of his critique of education, as well as his attention to such key themes as identity politics, Erinnerungskultur, and museumization; it is still possible to agree with Nietzsche’s sentiments as expressed in a motto from an early notebook of July 1862: “I prefer the past to the present; but I believe in a better future.”

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