Abstract
As I preliminary to treating the topic of this paper, I offer two observations about the practice of interpreting Nietzsche. My first observation is that this practice is sometimes carried out at an unusually high level of generality. I think that much of what we concern ourselves with, both in our private musings and in our disputes with others, is not merely the analysis of positions or the reconstruction of arguments, but what kind of philosopher Nietzsche was, and thus what sort of a philosophical enterprise we might attribute to him at all. What I have claimed so far, that different philosophers – never mind the nonphilosophers for a moment – read Nietzsche in radically different ways, will probably not shock anyone. Nevertheless, here are three examples of different ways of reading Nietzsche. To produce these examples I have culled details from more comprehensive readings. I cannot do justice to those readings or their authors here, but what should remain are a few genuine points of difference. On Gianni Vattimo’s reading, Nietzsche gradually develops from an Enlightenment cultural critic to an antihumanist. In the process that Vattimo describes, Nietzsche begins his philosophical career as a moralist who sheds light on the “spiritual tradition of humanity”1 by revealing its hidden origins, its basis in lies, and its groundlessness. Nietzsche breaks with Enlightenment, however, in dismissing the very availability of truth behind the “masks” of culture. Vattimo writes that Nietzsche’s project is only accomplished “… when you understand that even the notion of truth, belief in its value in preference to error, the very idea that there may..
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